St. Barths is an island in the West Indies. It is where the Caribbean Sea and the mountains join in a tropical paradise. It just isn’t any Caribbean island, it is the best Caribbean island. It is the most elite, most expensive place where the rich and famous come to party and air kiss over a glass of Christal champagne or rosé. Beautiful beaches, designer shops, elegant restaurants and a yacht-filled harbour. It also has French attitude. And Cheval Blanc Hotel, previously Isle de France and now owned and run by the LVMH group, is the epitome of French attitude. From the cool reception as you arrive by car, to the hostess who seats you, to your surly waiter who is doing you a favour by serving you. And you pay dearly in Euros for this miserable cold shoulder. Because after all Jay Z and Beyoncé frequent here, as do the billionaires of the world. You also get killer beachfront views with pristine white sand and turquoise waters, ocean breezes and lush tropical gardens. The luxury oozes out of its pores in this whitewashed oasis.
The islands were all devastated by the last horrific hurricane. St. Barths is one of the few that could afford to rebuild. Although some places are slowly returning to normal, the LVMH group has deep pockets and is not only restoring things to their former glory, they are making them better. They even purchased the property next door to expand the experience. As of now just the pool restaurant and 30 guest rooms were opened. But at lunch, the pool is where you want to be, a sophisticated, elegant, social scene. This open-air, all-white, restaurant, with French country furnishings and touches of pale pink is as glamorous as ever. They served items like salads, sole meunière, gazpacho, crudités, steak and frite. Tiny portions of nouvelle cuisine on a veranda for exorbitant prices. And the thing is, you feel privileged to be doing this. It is relaxed and stunning and they serve French butter and pastries after all.
We had to ask our waiter for our wine several times, and I just adored his eye rolling. His service was abysmal, and I had to ask management for a few things. Most everyone was rude. But despite all this, I still appreciated the good fortune for being able to be here. If they only could take a few cues from the hospitality of Maya’s restaurant, which was the antithesis of this place, it could be an oasis. As Coco Chanel said “luxury has to be comfortable, otherwise it is not a luxury.”