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recently posted in News
 • Windstar Cruises Unveils New 2012 Collection of Luxury Sailings
 • Seaworthy savings
 • Hurricane Earl Update
 • Lionfish Spotted Around St. Maarten
 • Bits and Pieces
 • World's Oldest Resident Living in St Barth
 • Bits and Pieces
 • St Barth to Become a PTOM
 • Stadium in St Jean to Reopen
 • The Bucket Committee's Annual Gift to the Hospital
 • A Few Initiatives for 2010
 • National Geographic Traveler to Feature St. Barth
 • An Island Institution to Be Replaced
 • Island Projects for 2010
 • The Stadium - A Work in Progress


St. Barts Travel & News Blog   News

May 19, 2011

Windstar Cruises Unveils New 2012 Collection of Luxury Sailings

Nine New Itineraries and the Lowest Introductory Pricing in Years

From the Digital Journal:

SEATTLE, May 11, 2011, PR Newswire Windstar Cruises, which operates a three-ship fleet of luxury yachts that explore hidden harbors and secluded coves of the world's most treasured destinations, unveils its new 2012 collection of luxury sailing voyages in the Caribbean, Costa Rica, Baltic, Italy, Mediterranean, Greek Isles and Transatlantic Crossing.

Windstar's new 2012 collection of luxury sailing voyages visit enchanting destinations and provide unforgettable experiences at exceptional values. In addition to receiving the lowest introductory pricing in years, guests who book by June 30, 2011, receive a $200 shipboard credit per cabin. Windstar's Foremast Members receive an additional 5% discount on all itineraries.

Flavors of the Caribbean

Features a unique collection of islands highlighting diverse countries, styles, landscapes and cultures of the Caribbean. Seven-day sailings on Wind Surf from Philipsburg, St. Maarten to Philipsburg, St. Maarten visit Le Marin, Martinique; Pigeon Island, St. Lucia; Roseau, Dominica; Falmouth Harbour, Antigua; and Gustavia, St. Barts. Departures: December 31, 2011; January 14, 28; February 11, 25; and March 10, 24, 2012. Cruise fares starting from $2,299 per person, double occupancy.


May 10, 2011

Seaworthy savings

From The Calgary Herald:

Herald News Services April 13, 2011 SeaDream Yacht Club is offering savings of up to 62 per cent on select 2011 sailings in the Caribbean, Mediterranean and Northern Europe. For example, pay from $2,599 per person double (plus $392 port charges and service fee) for a seven-night Caribbean cruise aboard the SeaDream II departing Nov. 12 and sailing round trip from St. Thomas. By comparison, the brochure rate is $6,900, plus taxes and fees. The cruise visits St. John, Saba, St. Barts (overnight stay), Virgin Gorda, Norman Island and Jost Van Dyke. Info:www.seadream.com

September 17, 2010

Hurricane Earl Update

Hurricane Earl, at category 3, hit St Barth on August 29 and 30 with strong winds and rough seas. The strongest wind gusts were measured at 105m/h. The south side of the island was hit the worse (Gustavia, Corossol, Public, Colombier). Five planes that had been left at the airport were damaged, two almost completely. All of the commercial planes had been flown to Guadeloupe, Martinique or Curaçao. The airport was operational again by 9:00 am Tuesday morning, August 31. The electricity was restored for the most part by the end of Monday, with the remaining outages repaired by Wednesday. The project of putting the electrical lines underground certainly paid off for many residents and visitors. Hopefully, that will be completed island-wide before too long. Desalinated water from Gustavia was cut off Sunday afternoon but available again by Wednesday. Most of the damage was to trees and beaches. The sand on most of the beaches on that side of the island has been replaced with large boulders and rocks. Three months after hurricane Omar hit St Barth, the sand had returned to Colombier, so there is hope. The Collectivity had just completed adding sand to the beach at Corossol before Earl arrived and was preparing to start a project to add sand to Shell Beach. I guess the lesson learned is that nature is more powerful than man, and we should just let it take its natural course. Hopefully, the sand will find its way back to Colombier, Corossol, Shell Beach and Public with a little time. At right is a photo of the beach at Colombier after Earl. Still beautiful, just different.

August 13, 2010

Lionfish Spotted Around St. Maarten

lionfish.jpgThe lionfish, native to the Pacific Ocean, is a voracious predator with few natural enemies. It is also one of the venomous fish in the ocean with long, pointy spines. Although its venom is not fatal, a person being struck will have extreme pain and possibly headaches, vomiting and breathing difficulties. Recently, two young lionfish were found in the waters around St. Maarten. Thus far, none have been seen in St. Barth waters. Because the lionfish has few, if any, natural predators, it can decimate populations of other fish. In addition, it reproduces very quickly. The Nature Foundation in St. Maarten is trying to collect every lionfish that is found to try to halt this invasive species from taking over the Caribbean waters.

June 12, 2010

Bits and Pieces

Mia Zia, which has been in Gustavia for years, is having a liquidation sale before closing its doors forever.

La Superette grocery store in St Jean in the shopping center by the gas station has marked everything in the store down by 10% from May 27 until July 1 before closing for major renovations. I can't wait to see the new version!

Bacchus is a new wine bar situated in St Jean where the former coffee shop used to be up from Le Piment and Le Glacier. They are offering wine by the glass or the bottle, as well as champagne. Their hours are 9:00 am - 10:00 pm, Monday through Saturday.

La Plage, the restaurant at the Tom Beach Hotel in St Jean, is offering a salad, one drink and a chaise lounge for 20 euros.

Hermes, in Gustavia, will be closed from May 29 until July 17.

The Wall House restaurant on La Pointe in Gustavia is holding its annual "Empty the Refrigerator" dinner on June 6 from 7:00 pm until 11:30 pm. The chefs will be preparing and offering dishes from whatever remains in the refrigerator and drinks from their remaining alcohol supply before the restaurant's annual summer closing.

Carl Gustaf closed May 1 through November 14.

June 5, 2010

World's Oldest Resident Living in St Barth

According to CaribWorldNews, Eugenie Blanchard, known as "La Douchy" is the world's oldest person. She is currently 114 years old(!) and has been living at the hospital in Gustavia for the past 20 years.

May 17, 2010

Bits and Pieces

With the Euro at 1.23 for US$1, this is a great time to vacation in St Barth.

Carl Gustaf closed May 1 through November 14

Winair, the main airline flying between St Maarten's Princess Juianna International Airport and St Barth is now charging $16 to use Mastercard or Visa and $20 for Amex and Discover. I still say that as long as you don't get seasick, the ferry is a good option. The Great Bay Express, which leaves from Philipsburg, takes only 45 minutes to make the crossing and is considerably smoother than the Voyager, which leaves out of Marigot and takes 75 minutes.

If you can't make it down to St Barth this year, you can order certain merchandise from Pati de St Barth in Gustavia online at http://www.patidestbarth.com/pati2/index.php

May 16, 2010

St Barth to Become a PTOM

St Barth is in the midst of changing its political status once again. Not too long ago, the island became a Collectivity, which among other things, gave it more financial autonomy and less administrative association with Guadeloupe. Now, St Barth is poised to become a PTOM in January 2012. We'll have to wait and see what possible tax and other changes this new status brings with it.

May 2, 2010

Stadium in St Jean to Reopen

The inauguration of the stadium in St Jean will take place on Friday, April 16. The stadium has been closed for several months while artificial turf was installed and the athletic track improved. President Magras and the Territorial Council invite everyone to the opening festivities. The high point of the day will be the official inauguration ceremony at 7:00pm. Thanks to Ellen Lampert-Gréaux for this information!

April 23, 2010

The Bucket Committee's Annual Gift to the Hospital

The St Barth Bucket brings together some of the most magnificent sailing yachts in the world. However, it is also a charitable event. In 2008, the committee donated 175,000 dollars to purchase emergency equipment for the hospital. In 2009, they purchased 20 computers. They have also given donations to the rescue boat Snsm and to the Saint Barth Yacht Club. This year, they have decided to pay for a portable defibrillator for the hospital that will allow uninterrupted monitoring of vital functions.

March 16, 2010

A Few Initiatives for 2010

Beach Parking in Marigot The Collectivity is ready to purchase two parcels of land in Marigot that are close to the public access to the beach with the intent to add eight parking spaces.

Solar Hot-Water Heaters The Environment Commission is mandating that beginning in 2011 all new construction must include solar hot-water heaters. Several of the members of the Territorial Council are concerned that this requirement could be a burden for certain property owners. Thus, the Collectivity has allocated 220,000 euros to assist in the installation of the solar hot-water heaters and the solar panels that go on the rooftops. For an island where the sun seems to shine almost every day, this seems to be a step in the right direction.

More Road Improvements This year looks like it will be just as busy as 2009 regarding road improvement. The Collectivity has allocated 17.7%, or 14 million euros, for road work. In addition to completing several projects that begun in 2009 and suspended during the high season, the Collectivity has planned to undertake the following projects during 2010.

Villa Créole-Lorient The road from Villa Créole to Lorient will be repaved and the sharp curve will be reshaped.

Camaruche The steep hill leading to Camaruche from Lorient will be completely redone. This hill can be very slippery when it rains, and the repaving will address that issue. The addition of sidewalks may be on the agenda but is under further research due to houses that are close to the road and the potential cost.

Grand Fond-Petite Saline Once the work is completed on the farther part of the road leading from Lorient to Grand Fond, work will begin on the section at the intersection for Lorient and Saline. Residents of Grand Fond will have to make a large detour and go past Le Toiny to access other parts of the island. The work is estimated to take six months and will include repaving, sidewalks and stone walls.

Anse des Cayes The repaving of the higher part of the road in Anse des Cayes was postponed because residents requested sidewalks. This work will begin in 2010 along with providing the infrastructure to run cables.

Bridges in St Jean and Lorient The work to repave these two bridges is estimated at one month. Traffic in St Jean will be directed to take a detour around the salt pond. The bridge in Lorient presents a larger problem as repair work will limit access to Camaruche and that side of the island. The ideal solution is to try to create a detour via the road past the church. If this is not possible, the only alternative is to go via Grand Fond, where road work will also be underway. However, as the bridge has started to collapse, there is no choice.

March 1, 2010

National Geographic Traveler to Feature St. Barth

After a recent visit to St. Barth, Tatiana Shalygina, co-director of one of the largest publishing houses in Moscow, wrote an article on the island that will appear in the fall issue of the Russian edition of National Geographic Traveler. In addition, it will be published in 60 other magazines and newspapers published by the company. The number of Russian tourists in St. Barth has increased recently, and the influence of Roman Abramovich has definitely been felt on the island. The owner of the British soccer league Chelsea, Abramovich recently purchased a large, elegant villa compound next to Gouverneur Beach and financed the installation of artificial turf at the stadium in St Jean.

February 17, 2010

An Island Institution to Be Replaced

Super-U.jpg Big news for those of you who have shopped at Match, the large, upscale grocery store across from the airport: As hard as it is to believe, Match is planning to close at the end of March. It will be replaced by a French grocery store called Super U, which is part of the Système U corporation. Word is that the merchandise will remain the same, but their web site says that they also carry electrical goods, clothing and some "do-it-yourself" supplies. If you want a souvenir, Match is currently giving away their sturdy, large plastic shopping bags. Wonder if Super U will continue to have a variety of patés, a huge selection of French cheeses and a great wine selection.

Island Projects for 2010

3-year-projects.jpg The Collectivity has finalized the budget for 2010 and has several projects planned to improve the island. 2009 seemed to be the year of road improvements. Some of the projects planned for this year include a new water treatment plant, new equipment for the trash collection center, a study to build a dock in front of the Hôtel de la Collectivité that would protect the building and access to the port, reconstruction of the old town hall in Gustavia, a parking lot of 60-80 spaces in St Jean and additional parking across from the airport. In the addition, the project to build a retirement home next to the hospital will continue. Clearing of the land is already well underway (see photo). The completed building will provide 30 beds plus a few extra for patients with Alzheimer's disease and is expected to be completed in three years.

January 24, 2010

The Stadium - A Work in Progress

stadium-one.jpg stadium-two.jpgThe sports stadium in St Jean has been undergoing a major transformation thanks to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovitch, who recently purchased a villa compound in Gouverneur next to the beach. Abramovitch is also the owner of the British soccer team Chelsea FC and has spent an estimated 1.3 million euros to put artificial turf in the stadium and to improve the surrounding athletic track. Work is projected to be completed by the end of February. We can only assume that his soccer team will be practicing there and providing great entertainment to all the soccer aficionados of St. Barth.

January 19, 2010

St. Barth Rallies for Haiti

We've all read about the terrible disaster in Haiti and have seen live reports and videos of unimaginable devastation after the island was hit by a 7.0 earthquake. It seems that everyone, worldwide, is rushing to their aid, and St. Barth is no exception. Tomorrow, Saturday, January 16, the Rotary Club, the Lion's Club and the Red Cross in conjunction with all the shops on the island have organized a stock sale on the quay in Gustavia with all profits going to Haiti. The Rotary Club has donated 14,000 euros, which along with 25,900 euros from local businesses, will be used to order "Shelter Boxes" that contain survival materials for 10 people. Their goal is to be able to order 100 of these boxes, at a cost of 700 euros (about $1000) each. President Bruno Magras has also advised the Territorial Council to donate 200,000 euros to aid Haiti. The Lion's Club is working with Sister Jean Morice and a religious association in Haiti who helps children who will use funds to buy food and first-aid products. The Red Cross is already present in Haiti and is working hard to provide water for 40,000 people. In addition, the St. Barth Restaurant Association will be bringing food to the quay to sell as another way to raise funds. If you're on the island, please participate in this effort to help.

October 14, 2009

St. Barth Experiences Recession Effects

Not surprisingly, tourism during the first half of 2009 is down 17.7 % from the first half of 2008, which was down from 2007. As fewer people are traveling and the dollar falls against the euro, we could certainly expect this. However, the high season will be underway soon, and I expect St. Barth will be as lively as ever. Especially with the upcoming 60th anniversary celebration of Le Select November 6-8 and a concert by Jimmy Buffet - not to mention live music by several other excellent local bands. Maybe that weekend alone will make up for the decline earlier this year!

June 24, 2009

Strike Planned by Air Caraibes Pilots

The National Syndicate of Pilots for Air Caraibes has announced that the pilots are planning to be on strike every weekend from June 20 until September 7. They are striking in hopes of gaining more respect for time to relax between flights, paid vacation, improvement in working conditions, and new rules for calculating salaries. Air Caraibes is one of the airlines that flies between St Maarten and St. Barth. Others to contact are WinAir (www.fly-winair.com) and St. Barth Commuter (www.stbarthcommuter.com).

New Travel Requirements by the TSA

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is implementing new travel requirements and is giving each airline its own set of dates to meet these requirements. The requirement is that by mid-summer the name of a traveler's air reservation must exactly match the name as shown on the traveler's passport or other government-issued photo identification. If you have a Frequent Flyer account, you should ensure that the name on the account matches the names on your passport to guarantee that the booking process is smooth and that you receive your proper mileage credit. For additional information, visit the TSA web site TSA Secure Flight.

May 19, 2009

Bits and Pieces

Aquagym and adult swimming lessons are being offered at the municipal pool in St Jean. The schedule for Aquagym includes a focus on arms and legs on Mondays from 12:20 to 1:05 and on abs and gluts on Thursdays from 12:20 to 1:05. The swimming lessons will take place on Tuesdays and Fridays from noon until 1:00 and Wednesdays from 5:00 to 6:00. The lessons will focus on swimming techniques, endurance, resistance and breathing. Medical certificates are required for both classes. Both the pool and the facilities are top notch and the instructors are well qualified. I can vouch for the Aquagym - good exercise without getting hot and sweaty--for those of you who like to stay cool!

On June 1, an effort to clean up the beach of Petite Anse will be underway. They are looking for volunteers to clean up any garbage and other debris as well as trucks to cart the debris away. If you want to help, call 590 590 27 88 18 or pass by the office of the Marine Reserve on the quay in Gustavia.

The AirSoft SBH Iguana Association invites all AirSoft players to join them on Sunday, May 17. If you would like to participate or would like more information, call 590 690 39 04 94.

St. Barth has undertaken yet another anti-pollution initiative. Now, before cars are crushed for disposal, they are drained of all fluids: oil, gas, antifreeze and brake fluid. The service has been effect since last March and takes only 15 minutes.

Hotel Saint-Barth Isle de France on the beach in Flamands is offering a special summer rate of 95 euros for their spa services starting May 1.

May 6, 2009

Bits and Pieces

Trade Wind Aviation, which flies from San Juan, Puerto Rico directly to St. Barth, has recently released their schedule for 2009-2010. They will depart St. Barth at 10:00 am. Their special rate, which is good only through May1, is $350 for a one-way midweek flight and $450 for a one-way weekend flight. Normal fares are typicall $100 more, but you can contact them for more information at www.tradewindaviation.com.

The store Laurent Effel in Gustavia will be closing.

May 3, 2009

Improvements in Corossol

Corossol has recently seen some improvements and more are on the way. The pontoon has been renovated after some damage from Hurricane Omar and the boat chute, which is where fishing boats can be put into or taken out of the water, is almost finished as well. The boat chute also protects the beach by preventing rainwater that gathers along the road from washing away the sand. Other desired projects include repaving the road, addressing the parking problem along the waterfront and putting the electrical wires underground.

May 1, 2009

Attempts to Improve Mail Delivery

It's estimated that about 10% of the mail in St. Barth goes undelivered. Attempts to improve the delivery rate include new streets signs in Gustavia soon to be followed by putting numbers on the houses and buildings by year- end. Plans are to send a letter to everyone in Gustavia with their complete address and a request that they pass on their address to all businesses and other contacts. For other neighborhoods on the island, the thought is to group mailboxes together in specific areas, with parking.

March 25, 2009

Trying something new...

A lot of people seem to be using this service, so we thought we would make it available: Follow my blog with bloglovin'

March 16, 2009

First Territorial Council Meeting of 2009 Sets Forth a Few Projects

Rebuilding the Boardwalk in Gustavia
One casualty of hurricane Omar late last year was the destruction of the wooden boardwalk along the harbor in Gustavia. Besides providing a pleasant place to walk along the water, the boardwalk also provided mooring for around 40 small boats. The Territorial Council has allocated 2,215,000 euros to rebuild the 550'-long boardwalk. However, it will not be another wooden boardwalk. Instead, it will consist of a concrete pontoon on pylons and rocks or riprap to break the swells. Work is expected to begin in June and be finished before the fall tourist season. While the wooden boardwalk was pretty, the concrete version will be easier to walk on if you're wearing heels!

Land Purchases
A little over three-quarters of an acre behind the cemetery in St Jean, has been purchased. This land is next to about one-half of an acre that the Collectivity already owns. Plans for its use have not yet been finalized. In addition, three parcels of land in Terre Neuve were purchased with the plan to trade them for some property in Flamands where the Collectivity plans to build a parking lot for 20 to 25 cars.

Housing Subsidies
The Collectivity would like to provide 400-euros-per-month housing subsidy for a two-year period to professional firemen who are transferred to St. Barth. Currently, this subsidy would affect four or five firemen.

The new budget will be voted on by March 31. However, the Collectivity has already allocated 6 million euros for road work, 8 million euros for land acquisition, 5.3 million euros to construct a retirement home next to the hospital, and 1 million to lay fiber optic cable.

March 15, 2009

Public Projects Undertaken in 2008 and Those to Come in 2009

Work has been going on for several years to put all electric and telephone lines underground. The goal for 2009 is to continue putting cables underground and installing the necessary cable trays while other road work is being done. This will protect the lines from hurricanes and also allow the removal of unsightly telephone poles and electric lines. The Collectivity has also been putting water connections in the manholes so that repairs will not necessitate digging up the roads.

Many projects that were started in 2008 to improve the roads and public places in St. Barth are nearing completion.

Flamands
The road in Flamands has been widened and repaved and a sidewalk was added on one side. A new sidewalk is now being added from the road leading to the horse ranch toward the leeward neighborhood. This will make that morning walk or jog a bit safer.

Flamands-Colombier
By mid-April the road from Flamands to Colombier should be open in both directions. While the roadwork is being done, the electric company is putting electric lines underground and the Collectivity is improving the water pipes and installing housing for telephone cables.

St Jean
A clubhouse is being built at the new tennis courts by the Stadium. Panels are being built around the archery area to keep stray arrows from flying onto the tennis court (good idea!). In addition, a wall is being constructed behind the targets to stop arrows. Future plans include adding a walking path behind the archery area and the tennis courts. Repaving of the road by the municipal pool has been completed. The road is currently being repaved between the tennis courts and the intersection near the pond. Next up is the repaving of the road from the Suzuki garage to Le Diamant restaurant. While repaving the road, the Collectivity is also replacing the water pipes and installing facilities for future underground networks. All work is expected to be complete by March.

March 6, 2009

Strike in Guadeloupe Not Affecting St. Barth

As many of you may have heard, the residents on the island of Guadeloupe have been on
strike since January 19 to protest the high cost of living. The State Department has issued a Travel Alert warning tourists about the current conditions and instability of the island. President Magras of St. Barth has issued a statement confirming that no strikes or protests are taking place on St. Barth. In fact, it's very difficult to imagine that they ever would.

February 20, 2009

St. Barth is Home to Two New Radio Stations

Two brothers have recently created two new radio stations: Tropik FM at 97.5 and Sun FM Music at 106.9. Romy Magras of Tropik FM was a radio announcer for Radio Saint-Barth for 10 years, and his brother, Rodolphe Magras of Sun FM Music, was a former president of Radio Saint-Barth. Tropik FM will be playing strictly tropical music: zouk, reggae, Latin music, African music, soca and compas, which is music from Haiti. Visit www.tropicfm.com and you can listen to the music over the Internet. Sun FM Music's program will present a variety of international music

February 4, 2009

Bits and Pieces

Hot Spot Cafe in Lurin is hosting Salsa Nights on Thursday nights beginning at 9:00 pm with DJ Nando. Beginner-level salsa lessons are given, and there is no cover charge.

The Rotary Club is having a "garage" sale on February 28, 2009 in the parking lot behind Match in St Jean from 8:30 am until 2:00 pm. These are always fun to go to and you can often find some good deals. Be sure to check it out and support the Rotary Club.

KJ Denhert and the NY Unit will be at Le Bete a Z'ailes (BAZ) on the harbor in Gustavia until February 9.

Caribbean Travel & Life magazine is sponsoring a contest to win a free trip to St Maarten, just a hop, skip and a jump from St. Barth! Go to their website to enter and try your luck.

January 16, 2009

It's Vignette Time Again

Last year, after gaining some autonomy from France and becoming a COM, St. Barth faced the task of generating money to compensate for the decrease in the amount that was previously budgeted by France for the island. One such endeavor was the requirement that every registered vehicle sport a "vignette" on the windshield. Despite the charming name, this is just a sticker. Last year the Collectivity made $1.3 million on the sale of about 8000 vignettes, which are good for one year. This year, they expect to sell about 10,000 due to the increase in the number of registered vehicles on the island during 2008. Vignettes went on sale on January 9 at the Treasury office in Gustavia and at an office set up in the parking lot by the stadium in St Jean. Owners have until March 31 to purchase a vignette for 2009. The price for a normal passenger car is 100 euros and increases for taxi vans and trucks.

American Company Helps the Saint Barth Yacht Club

For some time now, the Saint Barth Yacht Club (SBYC) has wanted to replace its fleet, but has not been able to afford such an undertaking. However, the organizers of the last St. Barth Bucket put the SBYC in contact with Camper & Nicholsons, an American company who has been designing and building yachts for over 230 years. Camper & Nicholsons, who wishes to establish their company on the island, financed the purchase of 12 new Vanguard boats for the SBYC. Classes are now underway, with 25 registered children participating. In addition, two new instructors from Breton were present for the opening of this year's season. SBYC is hoping to undertake a project in which young, underprivileged American students can take sailing classes and sail in the island's waters - a project that may be partly financed by Camper & Nicholson.

December 10, 2008

Bits and Pieces

St. Barth Rose is now available. The grapes are from a private vineyard on the slopes of Grand Fond. For more information, call 590 690 54 18 55.

Good news for all of you who remember La Gloriette and Albert's delicious vanilla rum (rhum vanille). You can now buy La Gloriette's rhum vanille at the AMC grocery store in Gustavia. It's in the aisle with the fruit drinks next to the aisle with the wine and liquor.

Funny Face, the bookshop in Gustavia, is closing and has already begun selling all of its furnishings.

Central Park opened on November 21 in the previous location of La Gamelle in Gustavia. It is owned by one of the two owners of L'Entracte (the restaurant with the blue, neon coconut tree on the harbor in Gustavia). The restaurant is open Monday-Saturday from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm and from 6:00 pm until they close. The Plat du Jour at lunch is 10 euros or 15 euros with a drink and coffee.

Le Diamant, in St Jean by the lagoon, has reopened with its usual menu of French and Creole cuisine and the addition of pizzas to eat there or to go.

Cuisine, an Italian restaurant, will open sometime between December 5 and December 10 in the former location of La Saladerie on the harbor on La Pointe in Gustavia.

A few new boutiques have recently opened in Gustavia. Vilebrequin, a popular brand of men's bathing suits, has opened a flagship store next to Bulgari. Reef has opened a boutique across from Bijoux de la Mer and Christiane Celle, who has a clothing boutique in St Jean, has opened an art gallery.

November 24, 2008

Changes at the Gustav III Airport

st-barth-airport-xray.jpgAs approved by the Airport Security Committee on February 25, 2008, an x-ray machine has been in operation at the airport since November 1. Because the airport is small and the departure lounge with the x-ray machine is close to the ticketing counters, forbidden articles can usually be easily put in the passenger's suitcase and re-checked. If that is not possible, they will be put into an inviolable garbage can and destroyed in the presence of a gendarme.

Forbidden:
Firearms, knives, dangerous substances, imitations of weapons, liquids, aerosols, and gels. This includes water, perfume, drinks, lotions, creams, shower gel, shampoos, mascara, syrups, toothpaste, liquid soaps and deodorants. One can assume that everything that is not allowed in the passenger cabin on U.S. flights will not be allowed in the passenger cabins of planes departing St. Barth. But, mascara? If in doubt, put it in your suitcase or be prepared to have it tossed!

Exceptions:

Liquids: You are allowed bottles containing three ounces or less of liquids. These must be in a one-quart plastic bag. A roll of these bags can be purchased at the airport bar in case you don't have one.

Liquid drugs: You can bring liquid drugs, such as insulin or syrups, as long as you have a prescription for the medication.

Food for babies: There is no restriction on these products as long as the quantity is appropriate for the duration of the trip. Everything should be in closed containers, and you may be asked to taste the food.

November 20, 2008

Cruise sale

Okay not directly St. Barts related but there is a big sale going on at Vacations To Go:

Huge selection of discounted cruises at VacationsToGo.com - Save Up To 75%!

Thanks for checking it out -

November 3, 2008

Bits and Pieces

Le Sapotiller, in Gustavia, is scheduled to reopen on October 31 under new management.

Maya's, on the waterfront in Public, reopened on October 30.

Le Gaïac, at the hotel Le Toiny in Grand Fond, will be reopening for lunch and dinner on November 1.

The Rapid Explorer, the high-speed catamaran that travels between St. Barth and St Maarten, is out of service until November 15. They are awaiting a part from Sweden.

Beginning on October 25, TopLoc is offering a day sail every Saturday to Pinel Island and Tintamarre, off of St Maarten. The catamaran Wayayai departs Gustavia at 9:00 am and returns at 6:00 pm. The cost is 85 euros per person, drinks included. To make reservations, call 05 90 29 02 02 or visit their web site at www.top-loc.com.

Condé Nast Readers Choose St. Barth Again!

Every year Condé Nast holds a survey in which their readers choose their favorite islands and resorts. This year St. Barth came in third place as favorite Caribbean island. The island cleaned up on top Caribbean hotels: The Hôtel St. Barth Ile de France, Eden Roc and Le Toiny won first, second and third places, with the Carl Gustaf coming in at sixth place. The Hôtel Guanahani & Spa took fourth place in favorite Caribbean resorts. And, for the third consecutive year, Peg Walsh, President of St. Barth Properties, was recognized as one of the world's top villa agents. Kudos to all!

October 8, 2008

Lions Club to Aid Haiti

The Lions Club of St. Barth is launching a large operation of collections to help the people in Haiti who have suffered greatly due to four hurricanes in three weeks. The collection of foodstuffs has already started in the grocery stores on the island. They have placed containers at the entry to the stores where you can deposit nonperishable foods, such as rice, pasta, lentils, dried beans and canned vegetables. In addition, the Lions Club organized a drop-off point on Saturday, September 27 in the parking lot of Alma in Public to collect children's clothing, small tools, such as hammers, screwdrivers and nails, tarpaulins, kitchen utensils and household linens. The collected goods will be put on a boat on Wednesday, October 1 and delivered to Port-au-Prince. Upon arrival, Sister Jeanne Maurice, whom the Lions Club has worked with for many years, will receive the goods and supervise their distribution. The Lions Club is also accepting monetary donations. Checks can be made out to the Lions Club of St. Barthelémy, BP 186, 97133 St. Barthelémy CEDEX.

October 6, 2008

Fiber-Optic Cable and New Internet Service to Be in Place by End of Year

Initiated last Wednesday in Saint Martin, the Box Mediaserv should be available in St. Barth by the end of the year, according to its operator, which has been a subsidiary of the Loret group since 1999. A competitor of Livebox, the Box Mediaserv proposed in Saint Martin offers a package including the removal of the standard telephone service contract, a high-speed connection to the Internet, remote downloads and unlimited telephony, depending on which plan is chosen. On November 29, 2004, the Regional Council of Guadeloupe awarded to Global Caribbean Network (GCN) a contract to build and operate a fiber-optic submarine cable system, linking Guadeloupe, St Martin and St. Barth to the Internet backbone in Puerto Rico. Seventy-five percent of the funding comes from the European Regional Development Fund and the Guadeloupe Regional Council, with the remaining 25% coming from GCN main shareholder, the Loret Group.

August 20, 2008

We're back!

Sorry for the light posting the last month - we were on holidays and visiting family. Our travels took us to the US, the UK, France, and Italy but we are back in the office now and will be updating regularly again. We just posted lots of new stuff and more is coming very soon. If you like the blog (or don't!) please tell a friend or leave us some comments - it is always great to get some feedback.

Bits and Pieces

Tidbits from around the island:

  • The program 21 Most Sexy Beaches, shown recently on the Travel channel, reported St Jean Beach as #8 in the world! It's always been one of my favorites!

  • O'Corner, the restaurant in Gustavia, recently announced that it would soon be closing. Now, rumors have it that it will open soon with an Italian menu and a new owner who also has restaurants in the Los Angeles area.

  • Another rumor has it that the Tropical Hotel has been purchased by the new owners of the Hotel Niilaaia, which is being built on the former site of the St. Barth Beach Hotel in Grand Cul de Sac.

  • A new currency exchange business, Change Point, has opened in Gustavia below the Sunset Hotel. They are open Monday through Saturday from 7:45 am to 12:30 pm and 3:30 pm to 6:30 pm. Can St. Barth really support two currency exchange businesses just down the street from one another?

  • Visit www.saintbarthkite.com for information on kite-surfing lessons in Grand Cul de Sac.

July 17, 2008

Wind Power

The first wind turbine on St. Barth is high in the hills of Lurin. It is hoped that these silent and pollution-free devices will replace noisy generators. This wind turbine can capture the wind from all directions without having to turn on its axis, which is often a source of breakdowns requiring repairs. It starts producing energy with only 5-6 km/hour of wind. For more information, visit www.energies-sb.com.

Preliminary Results from the 2007 Census

Complete results from the 2007 census will be published at the beginning of 2009, but some preliminary data has become available. The population of St. Barth has increased from 6854 residents in January 1999 to 8450 in January 2007. As in 1999, there are still more men than women on the island, 53.2% and 46.8%, respectively. Most people are in the 40-59 year-old age bracket; a change from the 20-39 year-old age bracket in 1999. Like the U.S., the baby boomers are aging, but less than 10% of the population is older than 60 and nearly 50% of the residents are single. As might be expected with all the construction underway, the unemployment rate is a relatively low 3.2%.

June 30, 2008

Has the Francois Plantation Closed Its Doors for Good?

francois-plantation.jpgWord has it that the 4-star Hotel Francois Plantation, located on the northwestern tip of the island, high in the hills of Colombier, has decided to close its doors. Whether this is truly a permanent closing or not remains to be seen. They were closed for renovations when this news arrived. Several sources say they will not re-open. However, their website says "closed until further notice." We'll juSt. have to wait and see what happens. Not only would this be a loss of a lovely hotel, but also of an excellent restaurant.

June 7, 2008

Winair Cuts Schedules Due to Pilot Shortage

As reported in the St Maarten newspaper the Daily Herald on June 4, Winair is facing a shortage of pilots and has been forced to reduce the number of its flights to all destinations. The airline needs five more pilots to supplement its pool of 25 pilots in order to maintain its previous schedules. Because of a shortage of pilots from the Antilles, Winair has been trying to attract foreign pilots. However, the process to acquire the mandatory employment documents is lengthy. Documents from the pilot must be submitted to the Island Labour Office. Once they are verified, Winair must pay the processing fee to the Island Receiver. This initial process takes about three days if all goes well. Normally, once Winair has provided proof of payment to the Labour Department, it takes a week to process the paperwork and send it to the Executive Council for approval. At the same time, all documents are sent to Police Affairs for a residence permit. After these steps are completed, an appointment must be made to process "the declaration act of guarantee" and the paperwork is sent to the Lt. Governor and the Immigration Department for approval. Winair reports an incident when paperwork for a pilot was begun in January and by the end of April was still not completed. The airline is appealing to the Central and Island Governments to streamline the process so that it takes only two weeks from when the documents are submitted to obtaining the permit. Winair's management requested a meeting in April to discuss these issues. As of today, no meeting has been set.

Continue reading "Winair Cuts Schedules Due to Pilot Shortage" »

May 26, 2008

Pellecuer and Mouren win Transat AG2R

From Yachting World, the Transat AG2R is over (since last week), and the team we mentioned earlier had a particularly tough finish :

"Even farther back (last place if one ignores four boats which were not polled at press time) are Phil Sharp and David Krizek on Atlantik FT, whose fall from third place has been brutal:

"Well the last couple of days have been mentally very tough for David and I as we have been stranded in ghostly light winds watching literally the whole of the rest of the fleet sail past us to the south. We have been trying to push south, along with Goupe Celeos, who went on a more extreme southerly diversion, which paid off to their advantage."

May 14, 2008

Lesser Antilles Iguana in Danger

iguana.jpgThe Lesser Antilles Iguana has disappeared on many other islands and is an endangered species in St. Barth. Part of the problem on St. Barth is that they are breeding with the more dominant green iguana, and several hybrid iguanas have been spotted. The green iguana is not native to St. Barth and was brought there via St Maarten. They are larger and more territorial than the Lesser Antilles iguana. The problem with the hybrids is that they are thought to be sterile. In addition, the iguana faces many other menaces. The island has many cats and dogs who love to chase and kill the iguanas, although they don't eat them. Rats eat the iguana eggs, and the goats eat everything in sight, leaving nothing for the iguanas to feed on. Mankind is also contributing to their declining numbers. The increase in construction results in fewer and fewer isolated places for the females to lay their eggs. They have also been killed by cars when crossing the road or resting in the road to enjoy the sun. So, be on the outlook for an iguana in the road and give it time enough to move.

April 28, 2008

Figaro Transat AG2R

race_tracker.jpgThe Figaro Transat AG2R is a trans-Atlantic boat race from France to St. Barts. Phil Sharp of England is competing this year and there is an excellent website with a "Race Tracker" that shows the positions of the boats and lots of other information in real time.

April 27, 2008

Important Meeting for the Local Fishermen

The president of the regional committee of fishermen of Guadeloupe, Jean-Claude Yoyotte, was recently on the island to meet with Gilles Brin, the president of St Barth's association of professional fishermen, and representatives of the Collectivity. Several months ago, the St Barth's fishermen blocked access to the harbor in Gustavia to protest the high price of gas. The agenda of this meeting was to discuss the price of gasoline and the question of fishing in the natural reserves. The latter subject was not touched upon due to lack of time.

According to Yoyotte, the professional fishermen in Martinique and Guadeloupe do not pay the tax on gasoline, making their prices 0.78 euros and 0.82 euros per liter, respectively. Why is it then that the fishermen on St Barth are paying 1.28 euros per liter? Yoyotte agrees that the price of gasoline for the fishermen of St Barth should be lowered. However, even if the tax were removed, the fishermen would still be paying 1.20 euros per liter. The representatives of the Collectivity were earnest in their discussions and agreed to research the details of the gasoline and its price when leaving the refineries of Martinique and arriving at the pumps in St Barth. They will also investigate other distributors in the hope of finding one who can deliver gasoline that meets the European standards at a better price. Their hope is to revisit this issue in two to three weeks.

But with the continuing increase in the price of oil, they fear that removing the tax may not be enough to allow the fishermen to make a decent profit. Yoyotte mentioned that a large conference on this subject will take place in September with the national committee for fishing to request government assistance.
In mid-January, Michel Barnier, French Minister for Agriculture and Fishing, announced that the government will earmark 310 million euros to be distributed over a three-year period to assist the fishermen. Of this amount, 10 million euros were allotted to the French overseas territories, including 4 million to Guadeloupe, which will include St Barth. With perhaps up to 50% of this money, they hope to purchase more efficient engines that will burn less gasoline. Yoyotte also hoped that the St Barth fishermen can come up with a more efficient was to fish, suggesting that two or three fishermen go out in the same boat to conserve gasoline. These men work hard and face danger everyday to bring us fresh mahi-mahi, tuna and langoustes. Let's hope that some relief is in sight for them.

April 25, 2008

Casino Rumors

There has been some local rumor of the possibility of a casino opening on St Barth. Here's the latest, but remember, this is just hearsay at the moment. It was proposed that St Barth open a "Cercle de Jeux." This would allow people to play poker in a controlled environment. The "house" would take a percentage of each pot and split the profits with the Collectivity. Apparently, these are not uncommon in France and are strictly controlled by the Federation Français de Jeux. It's rumored that the organizers want to buy an old building between the restaurant Le Repaire and the shop Bulgari in Gustavia for 6 million euros! This would house the facility plus a restaurant. Stay tuned for updates.

April 24, 2008

The Littoral Conservancy Acquires Fort Karl

The Littoral Conservancy is a French public institution that was created in 1975 with a mission is to protect natural areas and landscapes along the coasts of French oceans and lakes. The Littoral Conservancy actually acquired Fort Karl in Gustavia five months ago.

This past week, Bernard Gérard, the associate director, and Magali Cerles, the associate overseas director, visited St Barth to determine the future of Fort Karl. They plan to renovate the fort, which was built during the Swedish era, so that it can be appreciated as an historic monument. To start with, the access to the fort will be improved and the underbrush will be removed. This work will be done in collaboration with a botanist to ensure that no important plants are removed. Clearing the underbrush will reveal the small walls and granite that add to the fort's allure. Once the fort is renovated, the Littoral Conservancy will work with the Academy of Sweden and the Historic Service of the Defense of Vincennes to trace the history of Fort Karl. The history will be made available at the site although they have not yet decided how that will be done. When all of the work is finished, the management of the fort will be under the jurisdiction of the Collectivity of St Barth.

As far as future plans on St Barth, the Littoral Conservancy can only acquire areas that the Collectivity asks them to acquire. Under consideration are the salt flats in Saline. It is possible that one day these salt flats may be rehabilitated.

April 21, 2008

The Bucket Donates $175,000 to FEMUR

The organizers of this year's annual Bucket Regatta raised $175,000, which they donated to FEMUR, St Barth's Foundation for Emergency Medical Equipment. The money will be used to help pay for recently purchased equipment for the new Radiation Center. Jimmy Buffet surprised everyone Saturday night, March 29, with an unannounced appearance with some members of his Coral Reefer band on the quay in Gustavia. He donated his T-shirt to the more generous donator.

April 15, 2008

Pre-Stamped Envelopes with the Winning Painting

St-Barts-envelope.jpgIf you weren't able to buy the winning painting at the auction held at the end of the painting competition sponsored by Saint B'Art, you can now buy a pre-stamped envelope with an image of the painting. The painter, Marie-Laure Pichon, is known for her maritime scenes and painted a picture composed like a postcard of a typical beach scene with palm trees, seagulls and traditional fishing boats. A total of 10,000 of the envelopes are for sale at the three post offices on the island: Gustavia, St Jean and Lorient.

April 10, 2008

13th Annual St Barths Bucket Regatta Results

Newport, RI (April 4, 2008) The 13th Annual St Barths Bucket was once again blessed with perfect sailing weather which provided some of the most spectacular sailing on the most spectacular yachts in the most spectacular sailing neighborhood. With a consistent 15-22 knot trade wind, the fleet was fully powered up and the racing was startlingly close. Some of the finishes were described by participants as "closer than Farr 40 finishes"! This was previously unheard of in the superyacht world and this year's St Barths Bucket was declared the "best ever".

Continue reading "13th Annual St Barths Bucket Regatta Results" »

April 7, 2008

Decorative Signs to Mark Access to Beaches

The Collectivity recently commissioned Véronique VanderNoot, the owner of the pottery Studio Blue Gecko in St Jean, to design and make signs to mark the access to six beaches in St Barth. Each 24" x 36" sign will consist of 15 ceramic tiles painted to represent the various beaches and will be mounted in a wooden frame. The name of the beach will always be in navy blue. The signs are expected to be in place by the beginning of summer at St Jean (by the airport), Lorient, Saline, Gouverneur, Shell Beach and Flamands.

March 31, 2008

Jack Nicholson on St. Barts

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We try not to do the celebrity spotting stuff here - there are plenty of website that do that - but this picture of Jack Nicholson was just too good to pass up. Courtesy of the Telegraph.

March 21, 2008

High Seas on St Barth

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Flamands%26Vhouse.jpgFor the last couple of days, St Barth has been under a "RED" warning because of strong and dangerous seas. Waves were reported to be as high as 18 feet in Flamands. An Easter tradition in St Barth is to camp on the beach - the only time of year when this is allowed. Most people set up their campsites during the week before Easter, and it can be quite an elaborate affair. The high seas have definitely altered the Easter plans of many.

March 20, 2008

La Chorale de Bon Choeurs Heads to New York

About a month ago, La Chorale de Bon Choeurs performed two evenings at the Anglican Church in Gustavia to help raise money for a trip to New York City to sing with a choir at one of the local churches. Now, that trip has become a reality. On May 4 at 2:00 pm, they will join the Choir of Saint Marks-in-the-Bowery for an afternoon concert of classics, pop and gospel. This program will premiere The Hymne of St. Barthélemy (music by Michael Valenti; poem by Isabelle Deravin). If you're in the NYC area, don't miss this event, which will take place in the Parish Hall of St. Marks Church, 2nd Avenue at 10th Street. Congratulations to La Chorale!

March 13, 2008

Weekend in St. Barts

Here is a slide show of a "Weekend in St. Barts" from the NT Times - some nice pictures in this.

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February 28, 2008

First Electric Cars, Now Solar Garages

As reported in the previous issue of News Bytes, electric cars are for sale at Garage Nid'AS et Auto Store in St Jean Carénage. The latest news is the availability of solar garages from Energies Saint-Barth to produce electricity to recharge that car or to use in the house or garden. The company offers one-car, two-car and three-car garages ranging in price from 22,000 € to 36,900 €. Energies Saint-Barth specializes in energy assessments, energy-saving recommendations, feasibility studies, specialized applications for tropical climates, and the sale of solar energy products and wind turbines. St Barth certainly seems an ideal location for the construction of solar-energy homes! You can visit their web site at www.energies-sb.com.

The Rapid Explorer Is Back in Operation!

re-boat.jpgThe Rapid Explorer, a high-speed catamaran with airline-type seats and air-conditioning, resumed service between St Maarten and St Barth on February 11 after a hiatus of 18 months. It will depart from and arrive at Captain Oliver's Marina at Oyster Pond, which is about 25 minutes from the airport. The marina is home to Captain Oliver's restaurant as well as a bar and grill, which makes waiting for departure a relaxing experience and a chance to grab a bite. Tickets are for sale at the travel agency Saint Barth Tours and Travel in Gustavia. You can also contact them by phone at 590 590 52 45 06, by fax at 590 590 52 41 38 or by email at sbh.ferry@orange.fr.

February 25, 2008

The St. Bart's Cocktail Fundraiser for Barack Obama

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Looks like they are raising money for Senator Obama on St. Barts:

The St. Bart's Cocktail Fundraiser (Fundraising) Pleas join Richard Branson and Lucy Salenger and the Members of St. Barts for Barack Obama for The St. Bart's Cocktail Fundraiser,Wednesday, February 27 from 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM at Eddy's Restaurant, Rue du Centaire, Gustavia, St. Barthelemy, French West Indies.

Marvin Zonis, Professor, International Political Economy and Leadership, University of Chicago, Graduate School of Business, will speak on "Leadership and Barack Obama"
American Citizens and Green Card Holders may contribute by check or internet. Suggested Donation Payable to Obama for America: $100, $250, $500
All are Welcome

And no, it is not that Richard Branson.

February 21, 2008

Dealing with the weak US dollar on St. Barts

The dollar's demise is affecting travel all over the globe in different ways according to this article, which includes a mention of how the Hotel Carl Gustaf is dealing with it:

"The high-end Hotel Carl Gustaf on St. Barts, for example, is guaranteeing winter rates for travel through April 19 in dollars. While the listed rates begin at 1,100 euros, or $1,672 at $1.52 to the euro, the hotel is offering rates beginning at $1,300 a room a night with a three-night minimum to travelers who ask for the U.S. dollar rate."

February 19, 2008

Premium IV Recommended By Conde Nast Traveler As The Concierge Company Of St Barts

John Day, President of Premium IV is proud to announce that Concierge.com the online home of Conde Nast Traveler, featuring hundreds of destinations around the world has recognized and recommends Premium IV as the concierge company for St Barts.

Continue reading "Premium IV Recommended By Conde Nast Traveler As The Concierge Company Of St Barts" »

February 15, 2008

36 Hours in St. Barts

Didn't the NY Times do one of these last winter too? I guess you can always find a writer willing to spend some time on St. Barts:

"GETTING to St. Barts isn't easy, not even with your own Gulfstream. On the final leg, trade your million-dollar jet for a tiny puddle jumper, before threading between two jagged peaks and touching down on a teensy runway that, islanders like to joke, is as short as an aircraft carrier's. That might explain the island's exclusivity. Although Jay-Z, Beyoncé and a rotating cast of celebrities have kept St. Barts in the tabloids, this tiny French island still exudes a chic, laid-back vibe unspoiled by gawkers and day-trippers. And despite a new wave of wine bars, chichi boutiques and designer restaurants, the island's main attraction remains its luscious white sand beaches, fringed by the pool-blue waters of the Caribbean."

Lots of good stuff mentioned in the article along with many phone numbers, websites, etc.

February 12, 2008

"Jess Sea" in St. Barts for the Bucket Regatta and to charter

Jess-Sea.jpg"Accommodations include 3 staterooms for up to 7 guests, with grand outdoor dining space covered by hard top bimini, and enclosed eisenglass. In pristine condition and with remarkable international crew, Jess Sea is sure to please charter clients looking for hospitality hand in hand with pleasurable sailing. This impressive yacht will be attending the St. Barth's Bucket Regatta in March 2008."
30k a week, plus expenses.

February 11, 2008

Electric Cars Now Available

Garage Nid'AS et Auto Store in St Jean Carénage is now selling electric cars. The cars come with aluminum rims, a security alarm, and the capability to program your speed between 40 km and 70 km (a little fast for the roads here!). Options include air-conditioning and an audio system with AM/FM radio and a CD player. The cars contribute nothing to pollution and you can save thousands of euros over the years with the gas going for about 5 €/gallon.

February 7, 2008

Preliminary Census Results Are In

According to the INSEE (the French Institute for Economic Statistics), the population of St Barth as of January 1, 2007 was 8450 residents. This figure represents a 23.28% increase, or 1596 new residents, since the last census of 1999. This is an average increase of 2.7% per year. The official results of the census, which was taken in January and February, will be released by the end of the year. With the new Collectivity status of the island in effect, the census will now be taken every five years; thus, the next census will take place in 2012.

February 5, 2008

On the Horizon Now...

February 9, 2008-June 8, 2008
Archery Competitions: February 9, March 15, April 26, May 24, June 7-8

February 5, 2008
Carnival

February 8-10, 2008
St Barth Official Fashion Weekend at Nikki Beach Hotel

April 16-20, 2008
International Book Day

April 20, 2008
9th Edition of the Transat Ag2r. Arrival in St Barth will be approximately three weeks later.

April 25-30, 2008
13th Annual St Barth Film Festival, A.J.O.E., Lorient

Sticker for New Tax on Vehicles

taxsticker.jpgAs part of the new tax structure put in place by the new Collectivity, everyone must pay an annual tax on their vehicles. Proof of payment is the "vignette", or sticker shown in the photo, which must be purchased by March 31 and must be displayed on the windshield. As of January 17, 1077 vignettes had been sold, only 10% of the 10,000 vehicles estimated to be on the island. The vignettes are for sale at the Hôtel de la Collectivité, the territorial treasury or the municipal police station in Gustavia. Have not yet heard what the fine will be for violators.

Classic Transat to Arrive in Gustavia December 2008

The Transat Classique Lagassé sets sail from Brittany on August 17, 2007 and is expected to arrive in Gustavia between December 14 and 18, after a stop in Agadir, Morocco. An around-the-island parade is planned for December 22, the day before the awards ceremony. Twenty-nine classic or traditional sailboats are already enrolled and up to 35 may participate in this transatlantic race. The oldest boat is the 46' gaff-rigged Mismosa III, which was christened in 1903. The newest boat is Faiaoahe, a 65' neo-classic sloop that was launched in 2006. The Transat boats will arrive at one of the busiest times of year for the Port of Gustavia, which is always full of mega-yachts that come for Christmas and New Year's. Bruno Gréaux says that a few berths at the dock will be reserved for the Classic Transat, but most of them will have to anchor out in the harbor.

January 31, 2008

Bits and Pieces ... Upcoming in February

The art gallery Bagdad Porta 34 in Gustavia is holding an exhibition of the work of Neil d'Ourson from February 1 to February 7. D'Ourson is a sculptor and "plastics technician" and is known for his work with metal on all natural materials. He was the winner of the 12th contest of Contemporary Art. This year he is featuring the most symbolic tree of the Caribbean: the flamboyant.

You can charter a catamaran starting at 61 € per person for a sunset cruise or a day at Tintamarre or Pinel Island off of St Maarten with TopLoc Rentals. Ask at the Activities Desk of your hotel or call 05 90 29 02 02.

Kazz n' Blues, which now occupies the space of the previous Cocoloba, has just announced the grand opening on February 2 of their Private Club K n' B, an after-dinner spot with live music from 9:00 pm until 1:00 am serving wine, champagne and cocktails with live music by the sea.

A "garage" sale or flea market will be held in the parking lot of A.D.E. (across from the gas station) in Lorient on Saturday, February 2, and Sunday, February 3. The sale is featuring women's clothing, accessories, shoes, purses and jewelry priced between 5 € and 40 €.

Caribbean property hotspot: St Bart's

Can't tell if this is really an article or some sophisticated advertorial:

WHICH is the Caribbean's most bijou island? The créme de la créme destination for a piece of paradise is St Bart's, officially Saint Barthélémy. It's a favourite with the jet set and as popular for its lively "scene" as for its idyllic scenery. Jagged hills create an impressive backdrop to sweeping coves and dramatic headlands. The sheltered port, Gustavia, is dotted with Sunseekers and giant motor yachts in the evening.

The St Bart's season is wintertime, starting with a bang at Christmas and New Year as half of Hollywood celebrates in style. The whole island is drenched in glamour, but the action revolves around a few key spots. There are five hotels with serious kudos - Eden Rock, Guanahani, Le Sereno, Taiwana, and the most charming of them all, Isle de France, with its residence club. It is hidden away at one end of a long curve of white sand, Baie des Flamands. The focal point of this ten-acre private resort is the terrace restaurant overlooking the beach and pool, behind which the villas fan inland. The resort is a mere five minutes' drive from the airport, and ten minutes' drive from the harbour.

More here, including some tips on what to do and where go out.

January 28, 2008

Another Documentary in the Making by Pierre Brouwers

Pierre Brouwers and his son Nicolas recently completed filming a 52-minute documentary on the history of aviation on St Barth and its impact on the island. He and his son are again on the island, filming a new documentary on the aspects of everyday life on St Barth. They joined the crew of the yacht Altair to film the annual December 31 regatta around the island. Others subjects in their latest documentary will include fishing, jet skis, night clubs and cultural activities. The film is scheduled for release in April.

January 23, 2008

New Smoking Laws in Effect

On January 1, 2008, the new French smoking laws went into effect on St Barth. It is now forbidden to smoke in any public enclosed place such as restaurants, cafés, hotels, the airport, and nightclubs. If the restaurant has an open-air area (not covered by some type of roof), smoking is allowed. Although I have not seen official documentation to this effect, I have heard that restaurants in violation of the smoking laws will be fined 10,000 €.

January 16, 2008

Bits and Pieces

WinAir Now Offers Direct Flights to Antigua
Since December 3, WinAir has offered direct flights to Antigua twice a day. These flights are scheduled according to the arrivals and departures of British Airways and Virgin Atlantic on Antigua.

New Shoe Repair Shop
La Godasse has recently opened in Gustavia next to M'bolo (around the corner - to the left - of Le Select). The shop is open Monday-Saturday from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm and from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

Form Fitness
This gym in Lurin, just before the Santa Fe restaurant, has now opened a boutique that sells fitness wear, sports wear and accessories.

Mini-Series Shot at the Weather Station

"Passport to the Internet", produced by Rony Lainé and Production des Iles, will be a televised mini-series designed for those who would like to learn how to use the Internet. The mini-series will be a combination of fact and fiction. It starts with a story about a grandfather and his granddaughter in the French Antilles who want to get news about family members who live far away. An expert on the Internet will then explain and demonstrate how to use the Internet to do this. The filming for the fictional portion of the mini-series took place December 21-28 at the Météo France weather station in Gustavia. The factual portion was filmed there January 4-8, 2008. St Barth does not play a major role in the mini-series but was chosen for its location and availability of amateur actors who represent the French West Indies. The ten 13-minute episodes are scheduled to air in early 2008 on public and private TV stations in the four overseas departments of Guadeloupe, Guyana, Martinique and Réunion.

January 10, 2008

Travel + Leisure Magazine Votes St Barth in Top 10

TandLcover.jpgIn their December issue, Travel + Leisure magazine voted St Barth among the top ten Caribbean islands on which to unwind. Don't we know it! St Barth was voted as "Best for the Scene."

Other top-ten islands included:
Saba, "Best for Adventure"
Nevis, "Best for Authentic Caribbean Adventure"
Anguilla, "Best for Beaches"
Grenadines, "Best for Sailing"
St John, "Best for Unspoiled Nature"
Bermuda, "Best for Golf."

Fishermen Block Port of Gustavia to Protest High Gas Prices

Starting at 5:00 am on Monday, December 17, about thirty fishermen blocked entry to the port of Gustavia with their boats to protest the high price of gas. The blockade prevented cargo ships, cruise ships and the ferry between St Barth and St Martin from entering or leaving the port. The airport was also shut down for a few hours in the afternoon. President Bruno Magras visited the port at 8:00 am and told the fishermen that he would discuss the issue after they opened the port. After an unsuccessful attempt at negotiation at the port, some of the fisherman went to the airport around 10:30 am and blocked the entrance to the departure lounge and the check-in counters. At 1:30 pm, President Magras agreed to organize a meeting with the Executive Council, which took place at 3:00 pm. The port was reopened a little after 5:00 pm, at the conclusion of the meeting, results of which are not yet known.

Continue reading "Fishermen Block Port of Gustavia to Protest High Gas Prices" »

December 18, 2007

97133 Postal Code to Change

On January 1, 2008, the postal code of Saint Barth will change. The new postal code will start with "977", but the remaining two numbers are still unknown. This change is a result of the recent vote for Saint Barth to become an Overseas Collectivity, autonomous from the administration of Guadeloupe. Now's the time to buy those T-shirts and other momentos with the original 97133 postal code.

December 3, 2007

Major Earthquake in Martinique Felt on St Barth

The earth did indeed move on St Barth yesterday afternoon - for about two minutes. On Thursday afternoon, November 29, the strongest earthquake in the Caribbean in over 200 years struck Martinique (photo at left). The earthquake measured 7.4 on the Richter Scale and was centered at a depth of 90 miles in the Caribbean Sea between Martinique and Dominica. The strongest quake in the Caribbean measured 7.9 in 1766. The tectonic plate responsible for this activity is the Caribbean Plate, which underlies Central America and the Caribbean Sea off the north coast of South America. Fortunately, because of the depth of the quake, no tsunami was predicted. Unofficial measurement of the activity in St Barth was 4.0.

5% Accommodation Tax Begins January 1, 2008

accommodation-tax.jpgBeginning on January 1, 2008, all visitors to the island will be charged an accommodation tax of 5% of the net price of the hotel room, villa or other rental property. Beginning on December 3, a form will be available that must be completed by all hotel managers and landlords. This form will be available at the Office of Tourism in Gustavia and at the Hôtel de la Collectivité or may be downloaded from www.comstbarth.fr. Hotel managers and landlords are required to levy the tax on their guests and to pay the Collectivity monthly. Failure to do so will result in a penalty of 0.4% of the amount due.

December 2, 2007

The Concierge Now Provides Delivery of Over 500 Newspapers

Eric, of The Concierge, is offering a new service. You can now order from over 500 newspapers in 36 languages. The Concierge will deliver the newspaper(s) to your villa, with or without a croissant. To find out more information and to see a list of the available newspapers, please visit www.theconcierge.fr or contact Eric at eric@theconcierge.fr.

November 27, 2007

Monitored Parking in Gustavia Soon to be a Reality

For better or for worse, the long-rumored restricted parking in Gustavia is scheduled to become a reality at the beginning of 2008. The objective is to prevent people from leaving their cars in the same spot all day. In certain restricted zones, the maximum amount of time that you will be able to park is 1 ½ hours. This time limit will apply to parking along the harbor from the pharmacy to the restaurant La Route des Boucaniers. While parking will initially be free, parking meters may be installed in the future; the necessary equipment was ordered on October 29. The Collectivity will conduct an information campaign before initiating the restricted parking to educate the local residents of the change. One hope is that people will start car-pooling and that some system of public transportation will emerge. The 1 ½-hour limit will be in effect during peak hours during weekdays. The restriction will not be enforced from noon to 2:00 pm, after 5:00 pm or on weekends. Exceeding the 1 ½-hour limit will cost you 11 euros. Initially, a parking disk will be given to all residents and will be present in all rental cars. This disk will note the arrival and departure time of all cars that are parked in the restricted areas during the restricted time periods. We'll have to wait a bit to see how this is actually implemented.

November 22, 2007

Premium IV Passport

Premium IV, a complete destination service provider, has just completed a 36-page booklet the size of a regular passport that is divided into three sections: Villa Experiences, Island Experiences, and Vacation Experiences. Each section describes some of the packaged services provided by Premium IV along with pricing. If you would like to receive a free copy, please send your mailing address to johnday@premiumiv.com. Tour operators and travel agents may request multiple copies.

November 8, 2007

Lawsuit against Calypso St. Barth

Wow - I didn't know you could sue someone else after you set yourself on fire:

"Bartnicki's lawsuit against Calypso St. Barth Inc. and Calypso St. Barth NY Inc. was filed Wednesday in Brooklyn Supreme Court.

She was given the $250 skirt, with fringed, horizontal panels of fabric and a slight flare at the bottom, as a birthday present the day before her party.

It was purchased at Calypso, a trendy store on Broome Street that is part of a chain founded 15 years ago in St. Bart's in the West Indies."

November 6, 2007

New Internet Country Code for St Barth

As a result of the autonomy recently awarded to St Martin and St Barth, the ISO has added two new country codes for Internet extensions: .bl for St Barth and .mf for St Martin. Up until the addition of these two country codes, all web sites originating from St Barth used the .fr extension. It is not mandatory that the new country codes be used, but are available if one so desires.

November 2, 2007

Saint Bart's Evolving Political and Economic Landscape

New press release from Wimco:

Just 8-square miles small, the Caribbean island of Saint Barthelemy (aka St. Barts or St. Barths) is a bright spot on the map of celebrity fun-seekers as uncrowded white-sand playground alternative to the Cote d'Azur in the winter months. Revered by French and American investors as a chic second-home Mecca and by descendents of Norman, Briton and Swedish settlers, St. Barts residents are seeing tectonic-sized shifts in the political and economic landscape of this beautiful island.

In January 2007, St. Barts officially achieved a milestone nearly four decades in the making by becoming an Overseas Territorial Collectivity of France (OC) and separated from dependence upon French sister islands Guadeloupe and St. Martin. Previously governed as a Commune of Guadeloupe - St. Barts always was a step-child for the attention of motherland France. Not any more. As an OC, St. Barts can determine its own destiny in political, social, and cultural arenas by having a freer hand in managing its own affairs. St. Barts has achieved near-autonomy and its leaders are now creating laws related to taxes, tourism, public transportation, schools, housing, construction zoning, environmental and energy affairs, as well as that all-important residency status.

Read the rest here.

October 29, 2007

Affordable St. Barts?

"Affordable" and "St. Barts" are not two words that you say in one sentence too often - but the NY Times has some ideas:

St. Barts on the cheap? Easy. Just attach yourself to Jay-Z's entourage, score an invitation aboard a megayacht, and sip Champagne all night in the V.V.I.P. section at Nikki Beach. If that fails, a seven-room villa at the celebrity-filled Carl Gustaf Hotel goes for 48,000 euros a night during the peak season. Luckily, for those who would rather splurge on a lobster dinner, this chic Caribbean Riviera still has a smattering of affordable options - relatively speaking, of course.

The article is full of good tips, and lots of links to check out.

St. Martin on dengue alert

The DailyHerald.com is reporting:

MARIGOT--A leading epidemiologist on Friday described the rate of suspected or confirmed dengue infections on the French side as "just below the threshold for an epidemic," as a gradual increase of suspected cases has been recorded during the past three weeks.

A total of 42 suspected cases were registered for the third week of October and 20 of these were confirmed as dengue. The epidemic threshold is around 25 confirmed cases per week, it was noted. Figures for St. Barths were significantly higher in October.

October 19, 2007

St. Barths to eventually have it's own domain extension

St. Barths (and St. Martin) will eventually have it's own country domain extension - .bl

For technical reasons it will take awhile for them to become available - you can read more about it here.

October 13, 2007

Major Renovation Underway for Hôpital de Bruyn

The Hôpital de Bruyn in Gustavia was built in 1933 and has been long overdue for renovations to bring it up to the standards of a modern hospital befitting the island. Work began on Monday, September 24, with the total cost estimated at 3.5 million euros, and is expected to take 18 months. A new section measuring 500 m2 and consisting of two stories will house an area for local procedures and a pharmacy on the first floor. The second floor will have ten beds for medical patients and seven beds for caring for people on a longer term basis. The original part of the hospital will have space for various activities, such as preparation for childbirth, along with rooms for the personal items of the staff, the administrative offices and a room for get-togethers. The section currently used for emergencies and consultations will remain unchanged.

October 7, 2007

New Web Site for the New Collectivity of St Barth

At the beginning of August, the new Collectivity of St Barth made available its web site, www.comstbarth.fr. The site contains a wealth of administrative information and has already had 5000 visitors. Future plans include adding pages dedicated to the associations on the island so that their activities can be better known and understood.

October 2, 2007

On the Horizon

October 4-14, 2007
Tennis tournament at the Hotel Guanahani & Spa, Grand Cul de Sac; registration through October 3. For more information, call 05 90 27 66 60 or 06 90 49 86 94.

April 20, 2008
9th Edition of the Transat Ag2r transatlantic sailing race departs from Concarneau, France. After traveling for 3710 miles, it will arrive in St Barth approximately three weeks later.

Bits and Pieces

As always, when the last of the beach festivals has occurred, when the start of school is just around the corner and when the month of September arrives, St Barth tends to close down for a month. It's the time to work on the roads, restaurants, hotels, and shops to prepare for the high season when the tourists return. It's a sleepy time on the island. This year even some of the local restaurants are closing until mid-October, such as The Wishing Well (Chez Rolande) in Flamands. Ti Zouk K'fé on La Pointe in Gustavia is not only remaining open, but is introducing a new menu: For lunch, the plat du jour or fish of the day with one drink is 10 euros. They're also hosting Happy Hour from 6:00 - 7:00 with a new tapas menu. They'll be open every day, and their evening menu offers creole specialties in addition to their regular menu and pizzas. Or, if you just feel like staying in one evening, Sushi Mania will deliver sushi every day. You can call them at 06 90 65 12 55 or email them .

La Poste Commemorates the New Collectivity

To commemorate the new Collectivity of St Barth, La Poste designed a pre-stamped envelope with a photo of the Hôtel de la Collectivité and the date of July 15, 2007, which was when St Barth's new political status became a reality. These commemorative envelopes were presented on August 24, the day of the festival of the patron saint of St Barth. Ten thousand of the pre-stamped envelopes are available for sale at La Poste for 0.90 each. As the first philatelic product of the Collectivity of St Barth, the pre-stamped envelopes could become a collector's item.

September 19, 2007

MM Video St. Barths

St%20Barth%20Tour%20de%20l%27ile%2003.jpgHere is a great amateur website with a section devoted to St. Barths from MM Video. Lots of good stuff about their trip - beaches, dining, and hotel information - in English and French. Make sure to check out their video page with a video of the flight from St. Martin to St. Barts.

August 28, 2007

Single Travelers to St. Barts

The MSNBC website had an article out title "Top trips for singles" which mentions the following:

"One such outing is a six-night yoga retreat at the Hotel Isle de France in St. Barth. Solo travelers can take daily group yoga classes on the beach or at the spa's indoor studio. For the solitary, there are meditation classes, and a spa menu that includes outdoor Thai massage and spine treatments. Afternoons are generally free, so singles will have plenty of time to explore the island and its many beaches on their own or with others on the retreat. They can also unwind in one of the hotel's 34 guest rooms - each one has a spacious marble bath and overlooks lush gardens."

August 17, 2007

Hurricane Dean

Hurricane Dean looks to be not a huge event for St. Barts - the storm passed well south of the island. The only working webcam we can find is the always reliable airport cam, and it doesn't even look like it is raining on St. Barts at the moment.

If any locals would like to leave a comment or email us some first hand observations, we would appreciate it.

Destination Weddings & Honeymoons on St Barts

Destination Weddings are weddings that take place away from where the bride and groom live. They happen in some of the most exotic and wonderful places in the world. These types of non-traditional weddings provide the bride and groom with dreamy settings, while doubling as an opportunity for guests to experience a place they have never been before.

"Today's couples are more educated, sophisticated, and better traveled than couples of past generations. More affluent than past marrying couples, 27% of these Generation Y couples ( children of the baby boomers and twice the numbers ) will pay for their entire wedding, and they want something different for themselves and their guests; they want to be pampered and taken seriously.

Continue reading "Destination Weddings & Honeymoons on St Barts" »

August 13, 2007

Changes to Come as Result of New Overseas Collectivity Status

The elections of July 1 and July 15, 2007, confirmed Bruno Magras, as President, and his Territorial Council as the administration of the new Overseas Collectivity of St Barth. Some decisions have already been made regarding certain aspects of taxation for residents and non-residents. As an Overseas Collectivity, Saint Barth remains French, subject to the French Constitution. The new political status simply gives St Barth more autonomy relative to local issues.

Question number one: Who is considered a resident for tax purposes? A person's tax domicile will be considered to be in Saint Barth after they have resided on the island for at least a five-year period. For a non-French resident, the tax domicile only pertains to assets owned in St. Barth. These assets will be taxed as if they were domiciled in France, or perhaps Guadeloupe, depending on the modifications made to the Draft Tax Treaty. Income and other revenue earned on the island by non-residents will be taxed pursuant to the Draft Tax Convention, under the tax laws and directives of Metropolitan France.

The following information pertains only to non-residents and not to taxes to be paid by French or St Barth residents.

1. Income Tax is due to the extent income is earned and a profit is generated in St Barth. The tax is due payable in France, with credits applied for the purposes of U.S. taxes.
2. Transfer Taxes - A one-time transfer tax when purchasing real property on Saint Barth is already required. Now, the larger portion of the transfer tax will remain on Saint Barth rather than being paid to the Department of Guadeloupe.
3. Capital Gains Taxes - Anyone who sells real property on the island has been subject to capital gains taxes. For non-French, non-European sellers, the capital gains tax is 33.33%. There is currently no indication of any changes in the capital gains tax rates.
4. Tourist Tax - A tax on tourists will be instituted in the amount of 5% of the gross hotel room, vacation villa, or other vacation accommodation.
5. Port Duty - A port duty of 4% is currently due on the invoice or market value of all goods and merchandise brought into Saint Barth. The plan is to increase the port duty to 5%.

July 15, 2007

A Film in the Making

Pierre Brouwers, author of the 53-minute documentary "Saint-Barthélémy, cap paradis," will begin filming his new documentary on St Barth this summer. His latest undertaking will be a history of aviation on the island and the role of the planes in the everyday life of the community. He and his crew will begin filming on St Barth between July 25 and August 25. A second round of shooting is planned for October and November, with a third round to occur between Christmas and January 10. For more information on Pierre Brouwers or to purchase "Saint-Barthélémy, cap paradis," go to www.decouvrir-le-monde.com. This film may just appear on the playlist of the St Barth Film Festival someday soon!

Feasibility Study of Wind Turbines Underway

windpower.jpgWhat does St Barth have plenty of? Wind, especially on the windward coast where Toiny and Grand Fond are located. As the result of an idea championed by Michel Magras to use wind turbines to generate electricity, a feasibility study will be undertaken. Phase one of the project will involve installing four to six turbines that measure up to 120 feet. These will be used to verify the strength and performance of the wind needed to operate the turbines. The turbines will be installed along the water in Toiny rather than at sea so that the blades can more easily be folded up in case of a hurricane. It is projected that four to six wind turbines would continually produce 4.5 to 6 megawatts of power that could be sold to EDF, the electric company on the island.

Landslide Victory for St Barth's First President!

pres.jpgCongratulations to Mayor Bruno Magras! On July 1, 2007, St Barth elected the first president and Territorial Council of the Overseas Collectivity of Saint Barthélémy. Technically, it is today, July 15, when the newly elected Territorial Council will officially vote in the new president - but, that's just a formality. Former Mayor Magras had 72.24% of the votes in the first round on July 1, over 2000 of the 2399 votes that were cast. Sixteen of those in his proposed Territorial Council were also elected. The remaining three seats went to the other three presidential candidates. Today is also the day when the Overseas Collectivity of Saint Barthélémy officially replaces the municipality of Saint Barthélémy. How fitting that this occurs the day after Bastille Day!

Photo: President Magras performing the traditional blowing of the lambi (conch shell)

July 6, 2007

St. Martin Runway Lights go out

From the Daily Herald:

The operations of Princess Juliana International Airport were affected on the evening of July 3 due to the outage of the runway lighting. One flight was cancelled, two flights were delayed and one flight diverted to Anguilla, Princess Juliana International Airport Operating Company informed on Wednesday.

The outage was due to damage done to the electrical cables for the runway lighting. The cause of the damage is being investigated and measures will be taken to prevent a similar situation from happening again.

At approximately 7:30pm, the outage of the runway lighting was noticed and reported. "Our technical department investigated the matter and repairs started soon thereafter. At approximately 8:50pm, one phase of the runway lighting was repaired and operations of the airport resumed as normal," the press release stated.

July 5, 2007

Le Shuttle Temporarily Suspends Service

Le Shuttle has temporarily suspended its services since June 21 due to concerns about the regulation of the service and issues of free competition. The service will resume after a professional group meets to discuss these issues and a supervisory administration is formed as guarantors. Those who have already purchased tickets can be reimbursed at Le Shuttle's office in St Jean every Friday between 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.

Early (Unofficial) Results of the Census

At the municipal meeting on May 30, Mayor Magras announced that the full-time population of St Barth is approximately 8200, rather than the projected estimate of 10,000. This is an increase of 1350 residents from 1999 to 2007. The official results will not be known until the end of 2008. Another statistic that was announced is that there are 350 residents per square kilometer. By comparison, Martinique has 338 residents per square kilometer and Guadeloupe, only 248.

June 26, 2007

Demand for Rental Villas on St. Barts Grows - Wimco Increases Its Inventory of Exclusive Homes

NEWPORT, RI, June 2007 - To meet a growing demand for villas on St. Barts, Wimco, the leading marketer of exclusive and sophisticated villa rentals in sun-splashed places, has added five villas to its available-only-through Wimco inventory.

"These new additions to our exclusive portfolio allow us to meet the growing demand for villa vacations on St Barts. The sophistication and amenities in these villas makes them very attractive to today's discerning traveler," says Stiles Bennet, Wimco's Director of Marketing.

For the upcoming season, Wimco represents 265 St. Barts villas, most of them on an exclusive basis Wimco's villas range from 1 bedroom retreats starting at $3,000/week in peak season to six bedroom compounds costing up to $40,000 a week in peak season.

Demand for St. Barts villa rentals is up 30% percent over this time last year. Wimco attributes this to the fact that this eight-square-mile island is increasingly popular because of its quaint French culture, family-friendly environment, uncrowded beaches, fine cuisine and world class shopping.

"This increased demand is especially true for the sought-after Holiday and Spring Break seasons," says Bennet, who notes that there are still choice villas available for those two windows. "But they're going fast."

Continue reading "Demand for Rental Villas on St. Barts Grows - Wimco Increases Its Inventory of Exclusive Homes" »

June 18, 2007

Passport Waiver for the Summer!

Due to the record-high demand for passports and the State Department's backlog in passport issuance, US officials have announced a temporary passport reprieve for the summer months for travel to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Bermuda, and South and Central America. The reprieve will end on September 30, 2007. Until September 30, you can take advantage of this reprieve only if you have a receipt from the State Department showing that your passport application is being processed, along with a government-issued ID, such as a driver's license. You just might be able to make some of those great summer St Barth beach festivals!

Update: The reprieve for Americans waiting for their passports only applies for exit and reentry into the US or nations/islands that do not require passports. It has no effect whatsoever for the entry requirements into St Barts (for which a valid passport is required to enter). US citizens arriving on St Barts without a passport will be sent back to St. Maarten!!!

St Barth to Elect First President

On July 1, 2007, St Barth will elect the first president and Territorial Council of the Overseas Collectivity of Saint Barthélémy, which is part of the French Republic. Bruno Magras, mayor of St Barth for the past 12 years, recently announced his candidacy for this position on Radio Saint Barth. The new president and the Territorial Council will govern St Barth for the next five years. The Mayor wrote a formal letter to the population, stating the following main points of his platform.

First, he summarized the current state of affairs:

• A population of 8,200, with more than 12,000 in high season

• A building boom with more than 250 permits requested and approximately 120 allowed (I assume this is per year...)

• Unrestrained speculation due to large influx of foreign investment

• Property priced beyond the means of young people

• A saturated industrial zone faced with growing needs

• Traffic congestion because of an increasing number of cars being brought onto the island

• Overloaded public equipment and services

The Mayor went on to present five fundamental actions necessary to maintain the reputation and quality of life of St Barth.

• Protect the environment

• Control development

• Guarantee safety for persons and property

• Provide professional training for young people

• Create stable employment with adequate salaries

On the subject of taxes, Mr. Magras somewhat joked that the primary role of the new government was not to invent all kinds of new taxes. While not specifically addressing the future of taxation, he did say, "The truth is that the fiscal pressure will also be in response to the quality of public services required by the population and the ability of the government to control unnecessary expenditures."

May 31, 2007

Man Jumps From Voyager

man-jumps-from-voyager.jpgIt's a mystery. Last Sunday evening, a man jumped from the Voyager when it was about 15 feet from the dock and swam the rest of the way. No one knows why he did it, but is it that hard to understand?! I'd guess that after a long, arduous day of traveling, he saw St Barth within his reach and just couldn't wait any longer!

The First Guanahani Resort & Spa Literary Prize

guanahani-pool-2.jpgFrom May 30 to June 3, the Guanahani Resort & Spa will host an event to award the first literary prize given in the name of this luxury hotel located on Grand Cul de Sac. Although Marc Thezé, the director of the hotel, created the prize, the name "Guanahani Literary Prize" comes from the book Je vous aime by French author Catherine Siguret, which was published in November 2006. The plot involves a Parisian woman and a successful writer and contains a scene set during the awarding of the Guanahani Literary Prize. When Thezé read the book, he decided to make the fictional prize a reality. The winner of the award will be chosen by a jury of celebrities from the world of French literature and media. The jury will meet at the Guanahani to select the best romance novel out of five pre-selected French novels published this year. The winner, whose identity will be revealed on June 3, will receive an all-inclusive week at the hotel for two, complete with airline tickets.

Digital Video-On-Demand Installed at the Emeraude Plage Hotel

InfoValue Computing, Inc. (InfoValue), along with its partner Concierge Express and its regional subsidiary Sun Media Network of Simpson Bay Yacht Club in St Maarten, has just completed the first installation of a digital video-on-demand (VOD) system on St Barth. The system, InfoValue SuiteTV, was installed at the luxurious, beachfront Emeraude Plage Hotel in St Jean and offers VOD, an information portal and Internet access over the television in all of the hotel's suites, tropical bungalows and villas. Hotel guests can access VOD content interactively on their 32" HDTVs, view local attractions and hotel amenities via the information portal and take advantage of high-speed Internet access provided by the save HDTV screen with a wireless keyboard input. But, let's hope the guests don't forget that the best video-on-demand is just steps from their room - in full, living color!

May 24, 2007

Property Developer Launches Ritzy Waterfront Fund

More high-end development on St. Barts:

"The fund will seek to achieve absolute returns by creating a stream of development projects to be sold on completion. "Some of the investments will be in the development of rural land while others will be renovations or rebuilding existing properties," said Tim de Rosen, the fund's director. Targeted locations include St. Barts, Harbour Island in the Bahamas, St. Tropez, Cap d'Antibes, Cap Ferrat and similar resorts."

You can read the whole thing here. Sounds a bit speculative in nature - "projects to be sold on completion" - to me for the Caribbean market.

May 21, 2007

St. Barts Flight Simulator

A company called Fly Tampa makes "airports" for flight simulation. Their newest package is for St. Maarten, and includes the infamous St. Barts airstrip - check out the computer image (click it for a bigger version) - pretty cool.

http://www.caribbean-on-line.com/st-barts/images/tncm5-thumb.jpg

May 3, 2007

A French Naval Ship Lands on Flamands Beach

http://www.caribbean-on-line.com/st-barts/images/shipsb-thumb.jpgThe sound of the blowing of lambis (conch shells) announced the arrival of Le Francis Garnier in Flamands last week. Everyone wondered, "Why is this military ship right on the beach?!" It turned out that the naval ship, based in Martinique, was on a mission to find accessible beaches in St Barth in case the island suffers a natural catastrophe, such as an earthquake or a hurricane, that destroys the docks in Gustavia and Public and forces the airport to close. The goal was to find beaches that the flat-bottomed boat could access in order to unload men, equipment and supplies necessary for a rescue operation. The two beaches deemed the most accessible are Flamands and Shell Beach in Gustavia. With a maximum speed of 13 knots per hour, it would take the better part of a morning for the ship to reach St Barth The lambis sounded again as they departed, and the ship's crew responded with the ship's horn and a message with it's signal light.

May 2, 2007

First Digital VOD System on St. Barths

I guess if you like cutting edge TV and need the Internet while on St. Barts, Emeraude Plage is the new place to be:

DMN Newswire--2007-4-30--InfoValue Computing, Inc. (InfoValue), an expert in providing innovative, high-performance video-streaming platforms and solutions, today announced its first installation on the Caribbean island of St. Barths at the luxury beachside Emeraude Plage Hotel. InfoValue's class-leading InfoValue SuiteTV&tm; solution offers video-on-demand (VOD), an information portal, and Internet over the television in all of the hotel's suites, villas, and tropical bungalows...

"The InfoValue SuiteTV system installed here means we can provide the highest standards in digital entertainment, hotel information, and Internet access over the television - to match the exceptional quality of our accommodation," said Genevieve Nouy, proprietor of the Emeraude Plage. "We have created a unique luxury resort here, and it's a pleasure to offer our guests the most advanced digital facilities in the region."

Guests at the Emeraude Plage will use InfoValue SuiteTV's features to access IP-based VOD content interactively on their 32-inch HDTVs and benefit from functionality such as pausing, rewinding, fast-forwarding, and bookmarking both Hollywood and foreign content. Hotel amenities and local attractions are available through the information portal, and high-speed Internet access is also provided via the same screen with a wireless keyboard input.

More here.

April 12, 2007

Act rich, live well

You don't have to be wealthy or famous to enjoy St. Barts, but it helps
by donna m. airoldi / metro new york

APR 11, 2007

ST. BARTHELEMY. The food! The shopping! The beautiful beaches! Friends of mine have raved about Saint Barthélemy, better known as St. Barts (or St. Barths, depending on how much of a Francophile you are), for years. Friends, that is, who have money. As a writer who lives in New York, particularly without a trust fund, I tend to be more judicial in choosing vacation destinations. Plus, I had no interest in dabbling in the playground of the rich and famous.

More here.

April 2, 2007

Some nice pictures of St. Barts

http://www.caribbean-on-line.com/st-barts/images/photo-10284-01-04-07-10-20-34-thumb.jpgFrom "The World In Photos" website:

March 28, 2007

New St. Barts Travel Guide

Frommer's has a new (or maybe updated is the better word) guide out, "Guide to St. Martin, Anguilla, St. Barts" by Jordan Simon. You can find it on Amazon for less than $10.

Frommer's list of best beaches mentions Orient Bay, Baie Longue, Baie de l'Embouchure, Happy Bay, Cupecoy Beach and Dawn Beach for St. Maarten/St. Martin. For Anguilla, Shoal Bay is described as a "near-perfect blend of activity and seclusion," while Captain's Bay is "dramatically situated, truly remote." The best beaches on St. Barts include Anse du Gouverneur, a perfect cove, along with Grande Saline and Flamands.

The best places to get away from it all, according to the book, include Mary's Boon Beach Plantation on Simpson Bay, St. Maarten, and Le Petit Hotel, Grand Case, St. Martin. On St. Barts, Hostellerie des Trois Forces is a New Age kind of place, with everything from regression therapy and astrological signs as decor, to gourmet food.

Best luxury hotels include La Samanna, Baie Longue, St. Martin; Cap Juluca, Maundays Bay, Anguilla, and Eden Rock, Baie de St-Jean, St. Barts.

Best restaurants, according to the book, include Temptation and Rare, in Cupecoy, St. Maarten; Le Gaiac, L'Hibiscus and Spiga in Grand Case, St. Martin; Malliouhana, Anguilla, and Le Sapotillier and Wall House in Gustavia, St. Barts.

March 25, 2007

Kate caught out on the beach

Kate Moss is "hanging out" on St. Barts:

"For the past few days, Moss has managed to avoid Britain's cold snap in favour of the sunnier climes of St Barts, the exclusive Caribbean island where she is taking part in a photo shoot for New York based jewellery company, David Yurman"

March 16, 2007

Bonobo Sculpture Sells for 30,000 Euros at Auction

http://www.caribbean-on-line.com/st-barts/images/bonobo-thumb.jpgMarch 8 was the final day of the silent auction hosted by the Hotel François Plantation of the bronze sculpture of a Bonobo monkey. Bids began at 20,000 €, or $25,000, and the sculpture was sold to a German industrialist for 30,000 euros. 16,000 euros will go to the Jane Goodall Institute to aid in its mission of saving large primates from extinction. The remaining amount will be given to the sculptor, Florence Jacqueson.

March 12, 2007

Nic and Keith's getaway

That would be Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban:

"The Australian lovebirds revived their union on the beaches of St Barts this week, swimming, snorkelling and snatching kisses...

...Wearing bikini briefs, rash vest, cap and goggles, Kidman channelled Ian Thorpe as she leapt from True North, the $64,000-a-day rental yacht"

$64,000-a-day... nice.

February 26, 2007

NO SMOKING Laws to be Enforced

On February 1st, France began implementing the first stages of its ban on smoking in public places. This stage bans smoking in public places such as businesses, schools, health facilities, airports, sports stadiums, concert halls, and museums. Beginning January 2008, smoking will also be banned in cafés, restaurants, casinos and discotheques. Smokers who ignore the law will be fined €68, while establishments that don't enforce the law will be fined €135. Since St Barth is subject to French law, we can expect to see the same enforcement here.

February 18, 2007

On Some Islands Swimsuits Star; On St. Barts Pleasing Palates Reigns

Island chefs create February/April dining extravaganzas to prove once again (should anyone doubt) St. Barts is Caribbean's culinary capital.

Newport, RI (PRWEB) February 18, 2007 -- St. Barts is the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean, as anyone who has been there knows.

Now an association of this French West Indies island's restaurateurs wants to put its own seal of approval on this nomenclature by hosting Gastronomy Week Caribéenne Feb. 19-26 followed by an April 13 and 14 highly exclusive, back-to-back dining extravaganza.

Wimco, the leading luxury villa rental company for St Barts villas, is enthusiastically supporting these events that will showcase the island's best chefs and their signature dishes.

Continue reading "On Some Islands Swimsuits Star; On St. Barts Pleasing Palates Reigns" »

February 15, 2007

Auction at François Plantation to Aid Jane Goodall Institute

Created in 1977, the mission of the Jane Goodall Institute is to save large
primates from extinction. The Bonobo monkey is the species closest to
humans: 98.4% of the genetic codes in their DNA are also present in the DNA
of humans. In 1980, their population was estimated to be 100,000; today, it
is a mere 5000. To aid the Jane Goodall Institute, Robert Eden, owner of the
Hotel François Plantation in Colombier, is holding a silent auction of a
limited-edition bronze statue of a Bonobo monkey that was sculpted by
Florence Jacquesson. Painter, sculptor and photographer, Jacquesson has
received numerous awards for her work. All proceeds will be donated to the
Jane Goodall Institute. Bids begin at €20,000,or $25,000. A participation
form is available at the hotel. The auction ends on March 8.

February 11, 2007

If you were really cool...

The Miami Herald makes some suggestions for St. Barths in an article titled "Global glamour: If you were really cool, where would you be tonight?":

"Those who can't do New Year's like Diddy, DiCaprio and Microsoft mogul Paul Allen do -- on megayachts, of course -- not to worry: this tiny, tony Caribbean island is always crawling with celebrities. Hangouts include Maya's (Public, Gustavia; (011-590-590) 277-573), the casual seaside boite favored by Jimmy Buffet and Martha Stewart; Casa Nikki (Plage de St. Jean; (011-590-590) 276-464), the Barth's branch of Miami's very own Nikki Beach Club where Enrique Iglesias and Anna Kournikova partied last year; and Le Yacht Club (Rue Jeanne d'Arc; (011-590-690) 492-333), where Usher, Mariah Carey, Jay Z and Beyonce have been known to pop bottles of bubbly. If you don't have a private villa, make like Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner and hang your weary heads at the haute Hotel Guanahani & Spa (Grand Cul de Sac; (011-590-590) 529-036)."

Endeavour in St. Barts

A famous yacht with it's new owner was spotted in St. Barts recently:

"Antunes, 44, paid US$13.1 million for the yacht in September and has had her refitted in Newport, Rhode Island. He has reportedly followed Endeavour's every move since childhood and has longed to own her. Endeavour has always been regarded as the J Class yacht to beat but after an initial locking of horns with Velsheda in Antigua several years ago she was forced into retirement when he new owner Dennis Koslowski was jailed for his part in the Tyco fraud scandal. Since then the yacht has been administered by the New York District Attorney's staff who have done what they can to keep her in shape. The picture shows Endeavour with her familiar spinnaker during a rare foray onto the race course in this year St Barths Bucket."

More here.

February 5, 2007

New Politicial Status for St Barth!

It's final! Last week the French House of Deputies voted in favor of St Barth becoming an Overseas Collectivity, which means that the island will now be administratively independent of Guadeloupe and will have senatorial representation in the French Parliament. The first change announced is that French citizens who have resided on St Barth for fewer than five years will be subject to French taxation. No doubt it will take some time to implement the new political structure and plans for the future.

January 19, 2007

Fireworks and Stars Galore!

http://www.caribbean-on-line.com/st-barts/images/image004%205-thumb.jpgAt midnight on New Year's Eve, a spectacular display of fireworks lit up the skies over Gustavia, providing a stunning backdrop for the numerous mega-yachts docked in the harbor, all of whom sounded their horns to welcome in 2007.


http://www.caribbean-on-line.com/st-barts/images/image005%205-thumb.jpgSt Barth seemed to be the destination of choice for the rich and famous to celebrate New Year's Eve this year. Among others seen around the island were Kurt Russell, Goldie Hawn, Uma Thurmann, Sharon Stone, Dr. Phil, Steve Martin, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael Douglas, Jon Bon Jovi, Enrique Iglesias, Denzel Washington and Mickey Rourke. And, of course, a St Barth favorite: Jimmy Buffet. As usual, he graciously performed one evening at Bêtes de L'Azailes and twice at the restaurant La Plage on the beach of St. Jean. And, as always, with a big smile on his face!

December 17, 2006

New Official Map of St. Barts Available

The municipality of St. Barts has published 60,000 copies of the new official map of the island. The map, printed on thick, glossy paper, is in English and French and includes information often requested by tourists (such as the location of panoramic views and historic monuments) as well as information regarding zones protected by the Marine Reserve and the location of drug stores, gas stations and banks. On the reverse side, a large map of Gustavia shows the direction of traffic through town, the location of the post office, hospital and ferry terminal and other similar useful information. Half of the maps were distributed throughout the island, while the remaining 30,000 are available at the Municipal Tourist Office and the Port of Gustavia.

St Barth to Become an Overseas Collectivity?

Since 1948, St Barth has legally been a town in Guadeloupe. That may soon change as St Barth strives to achieve the more autonomous status of an Overseas Collectivity. The Senate, one house of the French Parliament, voted to accept this change on October 31. Next, the National Assembly, the second house of the French Parliament, must also vote to agree. Because of the presidential elections in France in the Spring, the parliamentary session will close at the end of February this year rather than its normal date of the end of June. Time is of the essence, and Mayor Bruno Magras is working hard to make sure this item is on the agenda. What changes could this bring to St Barth? More autonomy in taxation, urbanization and certain decisions that are currently made by the French Parliament. St Barth was declared a duty-free port in the Franco-Swedish treating dating from 1877. As such, the island and its residents have not been subject to French taxation. The new status will give St Barth the authority to create its own system of taxation.

Nose Cone of an American Missile Found on the Beach

On Monday, November 13, the nose cone of an American-made missile was found at the far end of the beach Anse Maréchal, which is near the Guanahani Hotel & Spa at Grand Cul de Sac. The missile part is the property of the United States Navy and was manufactured by Lockheed Martin Missile & Space Company. Tests conducted by two bomb disposal experts from Martinique and an armed forces specialist for the Antilles revealed that there was nothing dangerous, explosive or radioactive. The missile was probably part of an underwater ballistic exercise, not an unusual event according to the authorities. France has asked the United States to recover the nose cone, which was first sighted by local fisherman on Sunday, November 12, floating in the water, nose down.

Condé Nast Votes St Barth Properties #1 on St Barth and in the Top 35 Worldwide!

st-barth-properties-1.jpgAs announced in its World Wide Villa Rental Guide, Condé Nast Traveler selected St Barth Properties as the #1 villa rental agency on St Barth and as one of the top 35 villa rental agencies worldwide. Consumer News Editor Wendy Perin and her team rigorously evaluated villa rental agents, many of whom were recommended by readers and staff. Criteria included the offering of friendly, high-touch service, representation of unique properties that are personally and regularly inspected by the villa rental agency's staff, and an in-depth knowledge of their destination with lots of insider tips to share. As Condé Nast stated, company president Peg Walsh "knows St Barth backward and forward and thinks of absolutely everything." This award justly honors Peg and her highly knowledgeable and competent staff!

December 6, 2006

Wimco Announces Sponsorship of 2006 Fashion Extravaganza on St. Barts

Newport, RI (PRWEB) December 1, 2006 -- Wimco, the Newport, RI, villa rental and hotel reservations company, announced today that it will sponsor the "Mode in St. Barth," fashion extravaganza on its signature island, St. Barts. The event runs from Dec. 1 to Dec. 3, 2006.

"This stylish event orchestrated by Nikki Beach of Miami Beach, Fl., is in the spirit of Dubai's extravagant shopping festivals and the fashion stock sales you find in Saint-Tropez," says Stiles Bennet, Wimco's Director of Marketing.

Informal fashion shows will be held afternoons, followed by high-fashion evening events at various hotels and at the marina. Top luxury brands and designers such as Dior and Roberto Cavalli will be featured. An evening fashion show will run daily around 6:30 p.m. along with cocktails in La Baie de St. Jean near Gustavia Harbor in St Barts.

Continue reading "Wimco Announces Sponsorship of 2006 Fashion Extravaganza on St. Barts" »

November 15, 2006

Live from St Barts!

The next time the weather is stormy and the cold winds are blowing, take a look at a live shot from St Barts from one of the following Web cam sites. At the same time, you can listen to music on one of the local radio stations. Add a pia colada or a ti punch, and you're almost here. Guaranteed to lift your spirits!

Web Cam & Radio Station Websites:

We also have a couple of cams listed on our Caribbean Web Cam page.

November 1, 2006

The Voyager Temporarily Suspends Service to St. Martin

The Voyager has stopped service to St. Martin due to technical problems. They expect to resume service within the first week of November, predicting November 4 or 5. You can contact The Voyager's office at 05 90 87 10 68 for more information. With the Rapid Explorer still out of service, there remains one (non-chartered or private) boat that travels between Simpson Bay, St Maarten and St Barth - The Edge. For details, visit www.stmaarten-activities.com.

New St. Maarten Airport Up and Flying

Princess Juliana International Airport opened on Wednesday, October 25 with Winair's flight to Saba. The new US $87 million terminal has state-of-the-art facilities for checking-in, handling baggage, screening systems, departure gates with jet bridges and buses to the airplanes, a food court with 12 restaurants, international shopping among 27 boutiques, escalators - a first in St. Maarten - and, last but not least, air-conditioning.

However, as reported in St. Maarten's Daily Herald, the Managing Director of Winair stated that the new airport has more than doubled Winair's cost of operating out of St. Maarten. The check-in counters at the new airport are not designated to a specific airline. Instead, the counters rotate among different airlines depending on the current need. Winair does not agree with how the airlines are being charged for use of this system and the communication lines among the airlines. In addition, some delays may be expected since Winair's personnel are working with a completely new reservation and boarding control system. The airline suggests that passengers arrive 1.5 hours before departure time until their staff is more familiar with the new system.

The old airport is scheduled to be demolished before the end of the year, and already there is talk of selling momentos on e-Bay!

October 16, 2006

2007 Calendar of Events

Here is a preliminary calendar of events for 2007:

January
1 New Year's Day
8 Three Kings Day - "Galettes des Rois" Epiphany cake served at all fêtes
26 St Barth Music Festival - Jazz, Chamber, Classical Music and dance. Gustavia and Lorient churches. Continues through February 7th.

Continue reading "2007 Calendar of Events" »

October 11, 2006

The Vendôme Guide to St. Barthelemy

Wimco has a new edition of their villa guide out. It is a fancy, full color, 144 page "guide of the most desirable villas, villa rentals and hotels on the Caribbean island of St. Barts." You can order one here.

October 2, 2006

EDF Employees on Strike

On April 10, 2006, an agreement was signed by the electricity providers of St. Maarten, St. Martin, St. Barth and Anguilla to connect the four different electricity systems that exist on the three islands. After a feasibility study, they signed a Joint Development Agreement with plans to begin the work in 2007 and to put the program in service in June 2008.

Continue reading "EDF Employees on Strike" »

September 15, 2006

Voyager Remains Operational throughout September

voyager-st-barts.jpgBecause the Rapid Explorer is temporarily out of commission due to mechanical problems, the Voyager has decided not to suspend its service as it normally does during September. Instead, they have actually added trips between St. Barth and St. Martin. The schedule from September 4 through October 1 is as follows:

  • St. Barth ->Marigot, St. Martin
    Monday, Friday, Saturday
    7:15 am and 4:30 pm

  • St. Barth -> Oyster Pond, St. Martin
    Wednesday
    7:15 am and 4:30 pm

  • St. Barth -> Oyster Pond, St. Martin
    Sunday 5:30 pm

  • Marigot, St. Martin -> St. Barth
    Monday, Friday, Saturday
    9:00 am and 6:15 pm

  • Oyster Pond, St. Martin -> St. Barth
    Wednesday 9:00 am and 6:15 pm

  • Oyster Pond, St. Martin -> St. Barth
    Sunday 6:45 pm


Beginning October 2, the Voyager will resume its normal schedule of two daily trips between St. Barth and St. Martin.

September 14, 2006

Hotel Chatter?

A site called HotelChatter has a headline up this morning:

Is Europe *gasp* Over?

A recent survey by Wimco, the purveyors of posh, private villas in highly desirable destinations, says that jet setters, nearly 75 percent of 'em, prefer the Caribbean over Europe. Well, duh! Europe is cold 3/4 of the year and those old buildings are such a drag.

In fact, those surveyed specifically cited the islands of St. Barts, Barbados and St. Martin as their top three favorites.

However if you actually read the survey results, the question was where do you plan to travel in December - having 72% of the people say the Caribbean should not be that big a of surprise, nor do I think it means that European travel is "over".

August 24, 2006

New Publication Focuses on Nautical News

Flash Nautique, Les Nouvelles de la Mer dans les Iles du Nord, (news of the sea for the northern Antilles) published its second issue on July 6. This two-sided, one-page publication is devoted to nautical news in the region and includes such information as the hours for the raising and lowering of the bridges from the sea to the lagoons in St. Maarten and St. Martin, emergency numbers in St. Maarten and St. Martin and useful information regarding the port of Gustavia. It also publishes ads for boats that are for sale, cruising information, and other ads of interest to boaters (such as insurance, boat rental agencies and boat yards in the region). You can visit their web site at www.saintbarth.blogspot.com.

Rapid Explorer Temporarily Suspended

On Sunday evening, August 6, the Rapid Explorer left Gustavia at 7:30 p.m. headed for Oyster Pond. Not far into the crossing, the crew discovered a leak and issued a "May Day" call for help. The Voyager altered its course to come to the rescue and tried to transfer the 24 passengers from the Rapid Explorer to the Voyager; however, the seas were too rough. A short time later, the rescue boat SNS280 arrived, and the decision was made to tow the Rapid Explorer back to Gustavia, where it arrived around 9:45 p.m. Meanwhile, the Voyager altered its schedule to go to Oyster Pond to pick up the passengers who were waiting to return to St Barth. As a result of the problem, the Rapid Explorer's crossings have been temporarily suspended while they are awaiting mechanical pieces.

Fête de Gustavia

And, finally, finishing out the week will be the festival of Gustavia, August 18 through August 20. Again, there will be tournaments of basketball, belote, pétanque, dominoes, and fishing, along with a regatta of the traditional wooden sailboats and a regatta of Laser and Optimist sailboats. Music and dancing on the quai will occur nightly. And, don't worry - there's more to come! August 24 is Saint Barthélémy Day with more festivities throughout the day and night in Gustvia, followed by Saint Louis Feast Day on August 25 in the lovely, quaint, seaside village of Corossol.

Pitea Day

http://www.caribbean-on-line.com/st-barts/images/image005%2014-thumb.jpgRight on the heels of the festival at Lorient was the festival that was held in Public on August 14 and 15 to celebrate Pitea Day. Pitea Day is a public holiday commemorating the special relationship between St. Barth and Pitea, Sweden, which was established in 1977 as the sister city of St. Barth. Most of the activities occurred on August 15, starting with a fishing tournament at 5:00 a.m. The fishing boats returned to the dock at Public between 1:00 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. loaded with wahoo, dorade (mahi-mahi) and the winning 48-kg tuna shown in the photo. The other tournaments included pétanque and dominoes. A BBQ on the beach offered many local specialties including stuffed crab, ragout of cabri (goat), chicken Colombo and accras (codfish fritters) as well as grilled chicken and ribs.

July 31, 2006

Retail Openings and Closings

The dog days of summer always bring their own activity to the island. Road repairs are in full swing everywhere and many boutiques and other businesses are closing or opening in preparation for November when the majority of tourists will once again begin to descend. Afrik'Art and What's Up in Gustavia and Indigo in St. Jean are holding total liquidation sales before closing their doors. The hotel Le Manoir de Marie in Lorient is also selling everything before closing: furniture, paintings, rugs, dishes, glassware and more. These are excellent opportunities to pick up merchandise at dirt-cheap prices. A new fitness center called atmosphere has opened in the former diggings of FormaForm in Gustavia across from the restaurant La Saladerie. The building houses a Fitness Studio on the first floor with memberships available for 1 month, 3 months, 6 months or 12 months, while the second floor is home to a Pilates Studio. Le Piment in St. Jean has been slightly remodeled and is now open from 8:00 AM until midnight, offering breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as snacks and tapas.

St. Barts Summer Restaurant Closings 2006

St. Barts is home to so many good restaurants that even with the annual closings listed below, you will never need to look far for a good meal:

Restaurant Location Dates closed
Bar BQ Gustavia Reopens in November
Bartolomeo Guanahani, Grand Cul de Sac Reopens 9/30
Bête &aagrave; Z'Ailes Gustavia Reopens in October
Carl Gustaf Gustavia 8/28 - 10/7
La Case de l'Isle Isle de St Barth, Flamands 8/31 - 10/15
Do Brazil Shell Beach, Gustavia 6/11 - 7/13 and 8/31 - November
L'Esprit de Saline Saline 5/28 - 7/6 and 8/31 - November
François Plantation Colombier 5/21 - 11/1
Gaïac Le Toiny Hotel, Toiny 8/31 - 10/23
La Gloriette Grand Cul de Sac 8/30 - 10/25
Lafayette Club Grand Cul de Sac Reopens in November
La Langouste Baie des Anges, Flamands 8/27 - October
La Mandala Gustavia 8/31 - November
Le Mango Hotel Christopher, Pointe Milou 8/1 - 10/30
La Marine Gustavia 8/31 - 9/30
Maya's Public 8/27 - 10/25
New Born Anse des Cayes Reopens in mid-October
Nikki Beach St. Jean 8/31 - 10/26
Pa Crí Saline 9/2 until ???
Le Pêcheur Le Sereno, Grand Cul de Sac 9/6 - 11/1
Pipiri Palace Gustavia 6/11 - 8/3
Au Port Gustavia 6/15 - 8/3
Le Sapotillier Gustavia 8/28 - 11/6
Taïno Hotel Christopher, Pointe Milou 8/1 - 10/30
Taïwana Flamands Reopens 11/15
Le Tamarin Saline 5/2 - 7/13 and 9/1 - 11/15
La Terrazza St. Jean 5/31 - October
Le Ti St Barth Pointe Milou 9/2 - mid-October
La Vela Gustavia 8/29 - mid-October
Wall House Gustavia 6/3 - 10/2
Zanzibarth St. Jean 9/2 - mid-October

June 26, 2006

St. Barts in Top 10 in Modern Bride honeymoon survey

Modern Bride Magazine surveyed 6,000 travel agents last year and has released the results of their poll. St. Barts made the list for the first time (which seems strange). From the Washington Post/San Francisco Chronicle:

"8. St. Barts, a tony French island in the Caribbean, made it into the Top 10 for the first time, garnering mentions for romance, food, seclusion and sexy ambience. Hotel Guanahani & Spa ($406-plus per night) was ranked high for its plunge pools."

More here.

SeaDream Cruise to visit St. Barts in 2007

Travel Weekly is reporting the following (subscription required):

"SeaDream Yacht Club will host its first theme cruise, bringing Grammy award-winning acoustic guitarist Earl Klugh on a four-day Midnight in San Juan cruise aboard the SeaDream I, the cruise line said at a New York event June 12. Klugh will perform several times during the cruise, which departs April 12, 2007. The voyage sails roundtrip from San Juan calling in Gustavia, St. Barts and Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands."

Christiane Celle

Interesting tidbit on the New York magazine website about a former St. Barts resident:

"A French former stylist, Celle opened her first boutique on St. Barts in 1992, stocked with Eres swimsuits and cotton tunics and pareos imported from Rajasthan."

June 1, 2006

No Money, No Work

Workers of the licensed Shell dealer at Juliana Airport in St Maarten staged a "go-slow" this past Saturday for about one and a half hours during the height of the busiest weekend hours. The workers were upset about not being paid on time and stopped fueling aircraft. Apparently, First Caribbean Bank didn't process the workers' salaries until late Saturday morning rather than on Friday, as usual. Workers finally received their checks early Saturday evening. As a result of the "go-slow", Air France, arriving from Paris, diverted to Gaudeloupe to wait and refuel, if necessary. The plane finally landed in St Maarten three hours late. Three American Airlines flights (to Miami, JFK, and San Juan) were also delayed.

An Overseas Collectivity in the Near Future?

Since 1948, Saint Barth has been considered one of 32 towns in Guadeloupe. If the proposed law is approved by the French Parliament, Saint Barth will become an Overseas Collectivity, which will give the island much more autonomy over local taxes, urban planning and overall decision-making power that until now has been governed by the French Parliament. It is hoped that this law will be reviewed and passed in early 2007.

Living on the Edge

Many honeymooners will probably tell you they felt the earth move while spending their very special days on Saint Barth during mid-May. However, on May 14, the earth did indeed move on this island. The minor tremble, which measured a magnitude of 4.2 on the Richter scale as recorded by the Volcanologique Observatory and Sismologique of Guadeloupe, occurred 35 km east of Saint Barth with a 25-km depth. On May 20, shortly after the minor earthquake on Saint Barth, the volcano on Montserrat erupted again - the second time since the summer of 2005. The first (recent) eruption occurred in July of 2003, with the ashes blanketing Saint Barth and causing the closing of Juliana Airport in St Maarten for a day. This time the winds were kinder to the island and carried the ashes to the East. The volcanic observatory in Guadeloupe also reported a minor tsunami related to this volcanic activity along the coast of Guadeloupe. Yes, we are living on the edge - the edge of three tectonic plates: the North American Plate, the Caribbean Plate and the South American Plate.

May 31, 2006

Boubou's Music Festival, Christopher Hotel

After three years, Boubou's Music Festival returns! It all began in 2001 when Boubou and his friend and performing artist Yannick Noah first thought of hosting a music festival in Saint Barth. Boubou, who lives in Saint Barth, is the owner of the restaurants Do Brazil on Shell Beach and La Mandala in Gustavia. His friend Yannick often visits the island. Years ago, Yannick and his band, the Zam Zam, performed frequently in various locales on the island, often inviting local musicians to play along with them. Boubou thought about inviting other musicians to do the same. And, thus, the festival was born! They successfully staged a festival in 2001, 2002 and 2003. So, we've waited three years for the next one. This year's festival takes places from August 9 through August 20 at the Hotel Christopher in Point Milou. Access will be by shuttle bus or by foot for those who live or are staying nearby. The hotel is selling packages for three phases of the festival: Backstage Time (8/1 - 8/8), which includes the time of festival setup and preparations from 7 am to 6 pm; Live Time (8/9 - 8/15 or 8/15-8/21), during which music rehearsals and live concerts will take place between 3 pm and 4 am; and After Show Time (8/21-8/29), during which the festival sets will be torn down from 7 am to 6 pm. Some packages include a car and a pass for two people to the festival.

boubous-music-festival.jpg

Continue reading "Boubou's Music Festival, Christopher Hotel" »

Amigo Cell Phone Service

Amigo, the GSM network from Dauphin Telecom, is now the third cell phone company providing coverage for St Barth, with prices claiming to be as much as 60% less than some of the competition. Amigo also provides coverage in Saint Martin, Saba and Saint Eustatius.

May 25, 2006

St. Barth Crew to Participate in Newport-Bermuda Race

This year's Newport-Bermuda Race will include the sailboat Van Ki Pass, whose crew will predominantly consist of St. Barth sailors. The biennial Newport-Bermuda Race sets sail from Newport, Rhode Island, on June 17, marking its 100th anniversary. Van Ki Pass, Creole for Passing Wind, is a 65' wood/epoxy custom-built race boat that has been chartered by Liza Baldwin, a native of Newport who spent the winter in St. Barth sailing almost daily and becoming a member of the Saint Barth Yacht Club. The sailboat will be captained by Randy West and the 14-person crew will include at least eight St Barth natives and long-time residents. Baldwin will also be a member of the crew. The entire crew will be in Newport two weeks before the start of the race to participate in a weekend sailing regatta and to prepare for the race to Bermuda. West has participated in the Newport-Bermuda Race four times, winning once and coming in second another time. You can be sure that many people from St. Barth will be eagerly awaiting the outcome of this year's race!

Fifth Annual Theater Festival

The fifth annual St Barth Theater Festival opened on May 5, right on the heels of the St Barth Film Festival. The festival is organized by the local nonprofit organization SB Artists, who performed two adaptations by the organization's artistic director. The remaining three productions presented this year were performed by invited guests - four women, each of whom performed in a work she has written. The festival opened with comedienne Marianne Sergent in Bon Caps, a play dedicated to sailors and the sea - very appropriate timing given the arrival of the Transact Ag2r. Another production, La Vieille Au Bois Dormant presented by Clemence Massart, premiered at the Avignon Off-Festival and is based on old French songs. The final show, Cabaret Metisse, was performed by two actresses from the company Aloe Theatre, which was created in Guadeloupe in 2004. In this show, Magali Solignat and Benedicte Budan gave a humorous portrayal of how the news affects our daily lives. The entire text of this production is taken from real newspaper articles, and a section of the show is created anew each evening.

May 18, 2006

St. Barths sailors in the news

From the St. Kitts/Nevis Sun:

"The island of St. Barths is producing more and more top sailors. In 2005 Markku Harmala led the St. Barths contingent into third place and no doubt believes that gold could be theirs this time. This is a feeling shared by the regatta organizers who suggest that St. Barths are a team to watch."

May 17, 2006

Coming to St. Barts in 2007

Time.com has a story up about The Complete Retreat - a sort of militant sounding yoga, health and detox "resort". Looks like they are planning a road show in 2007:

"That could easily serve as the retreat's motto. The matutinal cycle of torment repeats in the afternoon, and every day, a treadmill of yoga and yomps. Jeans herself describes the retreat as "a health boot camp." "The most effective kick start comes from a combination of diet and exercise," she explains. She runs her camp for 12 weeks a year in the Spanish hilltop village of Gaucín in Andalucia. But it's a movable raw-food feast, with two additional weeks planned in Cornwall, England, this year, and in 2007, for the first time, a long-haul retreat on St. Barts in the French West Indies. Accommodation in all locations is plush, and no more than 10 participants are accepted at one time."

May 10, 2006

Digicel buys St. Barts cell phone operator

digicel-logo-150.jpgDigicel is an emerging company that has been spreading across the Caribbean region like volcano dust from Montserrat for the last five years (we have written a lot about them in our Caribbean Telecom News pages). There almost isn't an island that they don't provide cell phone service on. Usually they get a license and start their own network, but they just bought Bouygues Telecom Caraïbe, who provide service on St. Barths as well as Martinique, Guadeloupe and French Guiana.

Continue reading "Digicel buys St. Barts cell phone operator" »

May 9, 2006

The Beginner's Guide to St. Barts

The New York Times devoted a few pages to St. Barts back in January. I think the article has some good info, but it is a little too cute for my taste in spots, like these:

"you can drive right to the water and don't have to pause to consider your sexual orientation before diving in."

It is nice that though that it is still available on-line - I don't quite understand what the Times policy is about what gets archived and you then have to pay for, and what is not...

April 27, 2006

Stylish St. Barts boasts beautiful people and beaches

The Atlanta Journal Constituion published this article in March - it mentions Candee of St. Barth News Bytes and this blog:

"I ask Duensing to describe her typical day. "I get up when I wake up, walk with a friend of mine for three or four miles. Then we go to the bakery," she admits with a laugh. "I get a pain au chocolat (a chocolate-filled roll) and something cold to drink. We go fishing a lot, or we go to the beach."

Sounds good to me! There is a lot more here - it is a pretty good article with lots of tips for St. Barts travel.

April 21, 2006

EROS - Eden Roc Owners Society

Many have been wondering what's behind the screening at the old Le Filao hotel next to Eden Roc. The Eden Roc has bought into the timeshare concept - Eden Roc Owners Society. They are offering the opportunity to purchase a villa for four to five weeks per year for the next 75 years. Weeks can be sold at any time or bequeathed to another person. One week, which will never change, will be during high season. You can change the other weeks each year, if desired. The five villas range in size from 736 square feet to 2117 square feet and from one bedroom to three bedrooms. The villas have been built of stone and hardwood and each is fully equipped and has a pool or a plunge pool. Services offered include housekeeping twice a day, 24-hour room service, concierge service, dry cleaning and laundry service, dedicated air-conditioned storage for personal possessions you wish to leave behind and organization of special events. Prices start at 286,000 euros. Eros is the Greek god of love and sexual desire and was also worshipped as a fertility god. Caveat emptor!

Marine Birds Around the Island

St Barts is home to the widest variety of marine birds in the West Indies. All of the 13 species that nest in the Antilles can be found on this small island. The three nesting areas are the small islets surrounding the island, the salt pond at Saline and the cliffs. The islets are home to the majority of the marine birds. The salt pond at Saline is home to the Least Tern. With only 1500 couples left in the Caribbean, this marine bird is threatened with extinction and is found only in the Gulf of Mexico and the Antilles. The White-tailed Tropicbird, the Brown Noddy, the Bridled Tern and the Petrel nest along the cliffs, especially those along Grand Fond. The biggest threats to these birds are land development and the increase of rats on the island.

WiFi Proves Popular on St. Barts

Today, many people are enjoying their morning cup of coffee or a glass of wine later in the day at a number of restaurants while working on their laptops thanks to the arrival of WiFi (wireless Internet access). WiFi users have been seen at Do Brasil, Le Select, Le Square, Kiki e Mo, L'Oasis shopping center, Villa Creole, Maya's To Go, Le Flamboyant Tennis Club and Le Repaire. Rumor is that there is a proposal to install WiFi throughout Gustavia.

The World's Largest Frisbee

capitainerie.jpg
At long last, the new building housing the offices for the harbor masters has opened on the quai in Gustavia. "The Capitainerie", as it is called, is constructed of fieldstone and wood with stainless steel staircases and railings that enclose the teak decks and terraces. The "world's largest Frisbee" - the round, white roof that caps the building - is visible from all the heights of Gustavia. The new office is equipped with the latest computer technology, TV monitors to display important information, an electronic weather station to track the direction and speed of the wind, and a large magnetic map of the Port with individual magnetized boats that can be placed according to their position in the harbor. Still under development are new services for boats including electricity, telephone and Internet access. In addition to all of this, the office also houses a small library - bring a book, take a book - with the starter set having been donated by Ellen Lampert-Greaux, the sister-in-law of harbor master Bruno Greaux.

April 20, 2006

Car Inspections to Start in March

It's been too good to be true! But, beginning in March, all vehicles older than four years will have to pass a mandatory car inspection at a cost of 60 to 70 euros. The inspection must be done every two years for personal vehicles and every year for commercial vehicles. Failure to pass will invoke a 135 euro fine and possible retention of the owner's carte grise (equivalent to the car's title in the U.S.) If the car fails inspection, the owner has two months to make repairs and try again. Any car that has not passed inspection cannot be sold because a new title will not be issued to the prospective buyer. The first inspection station is scheduled to open in early March in Lorient. With an estimated 8000 cars on this small island, it may take a while to get things under control. Let's just hope they aren't checking for rust!

Le Shuttle

The minibus has arrived in St Barth. For 10 euros you can take Le Shuttle to any destination on the island and call them when you're ready to return. They also offer 100 passes to residents of the island for 75 euros per month - probably a cheaper alternative than owning a car! This makes it more affordable to get around if you don't want to rent a car and prefer not to take a taxi. Le Shuttle is a bit larger than a minivan -- more like the vehicles used by many retirement/assisted-living residences in the United States. Tickets are available at hotels and the villa rental agencies.

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