“Yes, I’ll do it”
It took me less than a minute to answer the Photo Editor of Virtuoso, when she asked me if I would like to travel to St. Barts for a shoot.
I was literally boarding the plane to Galapagos (on a different assignment) when I got that offer, so didn’t have too much time to contemplate. And why should I, right?
Flying to the French Caribbean and shooting the food and wine scene is always a good idea.
Mid March I found myself on the plane heading to St. Maarten and from there, a ferry ride to St. Barts. What was supposed to be a smooth ride, was not smooth at all. In a midst of a small storm and bad weather conditions, the 50-minutes ferry ride from St. Maarten to St. Barts was a deja-vu to one of the scenes in ‘Titanic’. Waves crashed on the ferry windows. I looked at my boyfriend who was trying to hide his fear. He had that weird expression on his face, apparently he was calculating the time it should take us to grab the life vests from the front.
Rest assured, we were OK and we didn’t need the life vests.
We landed safely in St.Barts, stamped our passports (because we were in a French island) and were so happy to be in-land.
Hotel Le Toiny
My first stop was Hotel Le Toiny, a 14- private villas hotel, with a private beach club and a great restaurant.
When I got to my room, excuse me, my villa, the first thing came to mind was how white and bright everything was. I belong to the type of guests who don’t feel comfortable from the cleaning lady thus make sure the room is not too messy. Having an all-white villa, I wanted to make sure it stays white.
After we checked in, we head to the beach to have lunch. We tucked our bare-feet in the sand while sipping rosé and nibbling delicious sea food. For those who are looking for the Relais & Châteaux experience, this is the place to be. The hotel is located on the hills at Anse de Toiny. If you fancy to go to the beach, there is a special car which drives the guests down the hill, right to the beach club.
My favorite place in Le Toiny (If I need to choose one beside the beach club) is the outdoor bar thanks to its fuchsia pink high chairs and shell-wall. And here is a scoop; this image almost made it to the cover of Virtuoso Life May/June issue.
Le Guanahani Hotel
Le Guanahani Hotel was the second one I shot and stayed in. The hotel is located in a beautiful – turquoise- water lagoon, at Grand Cul de Sac. Some of the villas are located on the beach, some have a beautiful view from the open terrace. Le Guanahani felt so Caribbean to me, thanks to its location and access to the beach. One of the things that gave the hotel its french flair is the Spa and amenities, all by Clarins.
If you happen to visit and stay in Le Guanahani, don’t skip lunch at the Indigo beach restaurant and order the avocado crab grapefruit appetizer, paired with a rosé wine, of course. And if you are adventurous, or want to get a postcard shot, climb up the rock at the end of the beach so you can get a view of the lagoon. I did it a few times, during sunrise and during sunset. You can see some of my favorite images of Le Guanahani here.
Le Tamarin Restaurant
Truth is, there are lots of great restaurants in St. Barts. There are those who offer a great view in addition to their food. A good example is Santa Fe restaurant, located on a mountain top and overlooking Saline beach. There are those who offer a great party scene such as Bonito restaurant, with a DJ on set, playing Euro Caribbean vibes into the wee hours. My favorite one was Le Tamarin, a hidden gem in a secret lush garden, which offers a French Asian cuisine while you are sitting under and in between the trees. If you are coming with a toddler, you will find Le Tamarin a very toddler friendly place, thanks to its kids area and toys, and the colorful parrots under the massive beautiful tree at the entrance.