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Thread: A Paean to St. Barth

  1. #1
    julianne is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Nov 2003 CT Posts: 3,048

    A Paean to St. Barth

    Although we have visited the island every year since 1988, I, typically, have not written trip reports. I don’t believe our choices would be of much interest to others and we tend to be private people. However, this year’s experience is worth sharing for a primary reason—-Gratitude! Over the years, we have received much more from the island than we have repaid in time and treasure. We felt very strongly this year that we HAD to go in the wake of Irma’s brutality to that special place.


    We had hoped to go through SXM but difficulty in getting flights made us switch. Despite the added expense, we flew to San Juan and then Tradewind. It worked out beautifully both ways. San Juan airport is in good shape and Tradewind does a first class job.


    Our week in early February was wonderful. We dined at Galawa, Bagatelle, Tamarin, L’Entracte, Les Bananiers and L’Isola. Saw many of our friends. Bent a knee at the Anglican Church. Spent some afternoons at Bar L’Oubli. Congratulated Jean Marc on re-opening Baz Bar. Relaxed at Rosita’s beautifully-restored EMM. Went to beaches. Jogged the roads in Saline and Grand Fond. Enjoyed the newly-paved track. Drove around the island and paused to absorb the beauty of familiar spots. And so on and so forth. We varied our routine and also, followed some tried and true habits. As always, the spirit of St. Barth shone through.


    We had excellent meals throughout. Galawa was a first for us—-it was such a treat to see Thierry, (whom we have followed to several restaurants, most recently the Hideaway), and the food was terrific. We like Bagatelle’s location on the harbor—and the menu is fine. Tamarin is exceptional—the service, the setting and the food selections. It hits all the right notes for us. Les Bananiers was great—had not been there in awhile. L’Entracte has been completely redone—-our waiter said during the storm the water rose halfway up the walls—-and even though they no longer serve pizza, the chicken cordon bleu on their menu was as tasty as ever. There was no one smoking the night we dined there. L’Isola, of course, never disappoints. Since we only had a week, we missed some of our usual haunts. But we will vary our choices next year.


    Yes, there are some unpleasant reminders of the storm. Vegetation is sparse in some areas; piles of refuse awaiting transport are visible; the increased number of large construction trucks makes driving a challenge; Eden Rock’s rock is being carved. Traffic and parking are issues that must be addressed——even with reduced tourist numbers, we found both to be difficult at times. We paid for valet parking in Gustavia one evening—-something I never thought we would do! We missed some of our favorite places—Gloriette, Hideaway, Santa Fe, Coté Port (we left before the opening of Hervé’s QG)—and it was too windy on the day we planned to try L’l Rock beach bar.


    Every year, we have left St. Barth refreshed and happy! When we were both working in stressful jobs, it restored our energy; in our retirement years, it has gifted us with a peaceful sojourn where time seems to stand still. Somehow, we are able to enjoy each other and our happy memories more intensely while we are there. I can’t paint a word picture. You either understand—-or you don’t. So how can we be anything but grateful for all that St. Barth has meant in our lives!


    Gratitude seemed to flow in a two-way stream during our visit! In all our years on the island, we have never felt such an outpouring of gratitude and love as we did this time. I lost count of how many comments of appreciation we received—-in restaurants, shops, in private conversations. My rejoinder usually was—-“We are so grateful to everyone who has worked hard to restore the island. You are amazing!” As I thought about it later, I concluded that maybe—just maybe—it might become a practice for both visitors and island hosts to continue in that vein——not merely taking gratitude for granted but rather expressing it to each other in the future!


    We saw tired eyes brighten a bit when they saw visitors empathizing. They have been through a lot, these resilient souls. It has taken a toll that should not be underestimated. My admiration for them has deepened. I am grateful for the effort they made for us, their visitors. To be sure, it is their livelihood—however, they have given a lower priority to their personal needs. That has to be painful.


    I want to encourage those who are able to go this year—to go! You will have a memorable trip. And for those can’t go this year, I hope you will book a visit next season so as to give the island a boost. I am a realist; I recognize there is a degree of uncertainty in hotel openings and the like. True, there are fewer beach bars at present but the beaches are still perfect for sunset strolls. St. Barth has never attracted those who want golf and casinos, extensive nightlife and/or high rises. And it won’t in the future. There are unexpected pleasures to be found in not doing the same-old/same-old. I believe there will continue to be visitors attracted by St. Barth’s unique blend of offerings. Like a fine wine, you know it when you taste it——and you want more!

  2. #2
    amyb is online now
    SBH Insider Joined: Apr 2008 Glen Cove,L. I., NY Posts: 24,588

    Re: A Paean to St. Barth

    So beautifully and eloquently written, Julianne. You said all that is in my heart and mind at this time. So great to have had a chance to see you and Dan and share this cleaned up and ready to be built up slice of heaven in the Caribbean. Stay well, take good care of each other, and God willing SAME TIME NEXT YEAR!
    Remember Yesterday, Dream About Tomorrow, But Live Today.

  3. #3
    KevinS is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Jul 2003 Boston Posts: 19,143

    Re: A Paean to St. Barth

    Nicely written, Julia. We're part of the "we understand" group. We returned to SBH about 10 weeks after Irma, and we'll return again in another 7-8 weeks. These two trips are as much about the people on the island as they are about us. There were a lot of hugs delivered in November. There will be more delivered in April.

  4. #4
    dadto6 is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Aug 2013 Northern Virginia Posts: 1,458

    Re: A Paean to St. Barth

    Very touching report. Touched me greatly, as we are also part of the "we understand" group. Been twice since Irma, coming three more times this year, God willing.

  5. #5
    andynap is online now
    SBH Insider Joined: Oct 2002 Philadelphia Posts: 43,354

    Re: A Paean to St. Barth

    Thanks Julianne. Nice thoughts. Glad we could get together for dinner this year. See you online until next February.


    Andy

  6. #6

    Re: A Paean to St. Barth

    Loved your report...
    We are looking forward to our trip in a few weeks..
    we too "understand".....
    Steve and Aimee

  7. #7
    GramChop is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jul 2007 Austin, Texas Posts: 16,741

    Re: A Paean to St. Barth

    Beautiful, Julianne...simply beautiful! Thank you.
    The waves of the sea bring me back to me.

  8. #8
    Tiffany is online now
    SBH Insider Joined: Jun 2014 Virginia Beach, VA Posts: 524

    Re: A Paean to St. Barth

    Such a wonderful report. We are booked for April and December. Can’t wait to support this special place in person.

  9. #9
    GMP62 is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Feb 2015 Martinsville, NJ Posts: 1,141

    Re: A Paean to St. Barth

    What a beautifully written post...made me well up in parts. We also "understand" and can't wait for our return. Thanks for sharing your experience this trip.

  10. #10
    andynap is online now
    SBH Insider Joined: Oct 2002 Philadelphia Posts: 43,354

    Re: A Paean to St. Barth

    Also thanks for posting in the right forum.


    Andy

  11. #11
    LMAC is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Feb 2003 Northern Virginia Posts: 1,494

    Re: A Paean to St. Barth

    What a wonderful report. So sorry that we could not be there to add our support. Next year!
    Libby

  12. #12
    tim is offline
    Moderator Joined: Jun 2003 Vélo, Virginia Posts: 16,822

    Re: A Paean to St. Barth

    Beautiful report! I'm sorry we missed you and Dan this year.
    The best moderation is the least moderation.

  13. #13
    julianne is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Nov 2003 CT Posts: 3,048

    Re: A Paean to St. Barth

    Many thanks for the kind comments. I sincerely hope that people will plant a stake in the ground and commit to a trip next year. In off-the- record remarks, the uncertain prospect of next year appeared to be the islanders’ greatest fear. We know that our forum participants are a small sample of what is needed to support the island. Whatever we can do will help. People can be fickle. The flavor of the year can quickly become old hat. Other islands will make a strong argument in their own favor.

    I hope the hotels will reopen with a strong marketing program. And perhaps the villa rental agencies will offer discounts and/or include a car with a rental, etc. The next season will be a critical turning point IMHO. I know the island has written off this season—so hope is focused on 2018-19.

    Cruise passengers are helping. Some scoff at them—do not! They are a vital source of revenue as the island comes back. While we were there, we noticed many cruise people wandering the streets of Gustavia and they had shopping bags! Moreover, a number of cruise passengers “discover” St. Barth’s and become future visitors.

    Stay the course; encourage your friends to visit and please provide moral support to the islanders in whatever way you can. St Barth’s reputation as a playground for the rich and famous is a double-edged sword—we know the true story—the people who live and work on the island are neither rich nor famous. Just hardworking and dedicated to preserving their way of life. And let’s face it, that way of life depends on visitors! Our beloved island will need ongoing sustanence from visitors who value its true spirit. We can be the “wind beneath their wings”!

  14. #14
    Reed is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Nov 2009 Nantucket - St. Barth's Posts: 1,079

    Re: A Paean to St. Barth

    Quote Originally Posted by julianne View Post
    Many thanks for the kind comments. I sincerely hope that people will plant a stake in the ground and commit to a trip next year. In off-the- record remarks, the uncertain prospect of next year appeared to be the islanders’ greatest fear. We know that our forum participants are a small sample of what is needed to support the island. Whatever we can do will help. People can be fickle. The flavor of the year can quickly become old hat. Other islands will make a strong argument in their own favor.

    I hope the hotels will reopen with a strong marketing program. And perhaps the villa rental agencies will offer discounts and/or include a car with a rental, etc. The next season will be a critical turning point IMHO. I know the island has written off this season—so hope is focused on 2018-19.

    Cruise passengers are helping. Some scoff at them—do not! They are a vital source of revenue as the island comes back. While we were there, we noticed many cruise people wandering the streets of Gustavia and they had shopping bags! Moreover, a number of cruise passengers “discover” St. Barth’s and become future visitors.

    Stay the course; encourage your friends to visit and please provide moral support to the islanders in whatever way you can. St Barth’s reputation as a playground for the rich and famous is a double-edged sword—we know the true story—the people who live and work on the island are neither rich nor famous. Just hardworking and dedicated to preserving their way of life. And let’s face it, that way of life depends on visitors! Our beloved island will need ongoing sustanence from visitors who value its true spirit. We can be the “wind beneath their wings”!

    Julianne,

    I am sorry we did not get a chance to catch up this trip. Your recent posts have been so spot on. Thank you for your heart felt beautifully written words.
    "Like" Us on Facebook! http://www.facebook.com/nantucketcatering

  15. #15
    dadto6 is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Aug 2013 Northern Virginia Posts: 1,458

    Re: A Paean to St. Barth

    I agree with everything you have written Julianne, which is why I have expanded to 4-trips in 12 months this post Irma season. Furthermore, taking even more family and friends to build up the numbers of visitors to the Island.

  16. #16
    cec1 is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jul 2008 Posts: 4,798

    Re: A Paean to St. Barth

    Quote Originally Posted by julianne View Post
    . . . St Barth’s reputation as a playground for the rich and famous is a double-edged sword—we know the true story—the people who live and work on the island are neither rich nor famous. Just hardworking and dedicated to preserving their way of life. And let’s face it, that way of life depends on visitors! Our beloved island will need ongoing sustenance from visitors who value its true spirit. We can be the “wind beneath their wings”!
    You've written succinctly and eloquently, Julianne, with observations about the current state of affairs and hopes and wishes for the future. I'm with you in all that you've said, and particularly appreciate your note about the "true story." People living on the island have shown in actions and words that they find our return to SBH to be meaningful.

  17. #17
    stbartshopper is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Dec 2013 Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.A. Posts: 7,332

    Re: A Paean to St. Barth

    Wow! We have tears! We understand and expressed and received gratitude from every one including the airport personnel, Gendarmes, cleaning ladies, jardinieres(sp?) , valets, servers, truck and scooter drivers and bus”boys.” We will return as long as we are able!

  18. #18
    elgreaux is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: May 2003 Saint Barth Posts: 10,066

    Re: A Paean to St. Barth

    A very nice insider's view from someone who knows and loves the island.. glad you enjoyed your week's stay!

  19. #19
    Eve is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jun 2008 Boston Posts: 7,985

    Re: A Paean to St. Barth

    Amazing. So well said
    We arrive in 23 days

  20. #20

    Re: A Paean to St. Barth

    Beautiful. Summarizes the love we feel.

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