Island Retreats



It will be more than two months before The Hotel Guanahani & Spa in St. Barths receives guests again. But the best has yet to come, we say. The 68-room hotel, which was featured in an episode of the Bravo reality show, Bethenny Getting Married, and has hosted shoots for the Victoria’s Secret catalogue, shut its doors in August to embark on an aggressive renovation period. Director of Sales and Marketing Sabine Masseglia ([email protected]) tells Luxury Travel Advisor that return guests will be pleased by the improvements once the hotel reopens on December 15 along with the unchanged top-quality service.

Of the current six Butler Suites, we hear that the Marigot Suite and La Villa are the top choices. The former is a two-bedroom with its own private pool. Hint: We say the suite is perfect for spa enthusiasts as not only is it adjacent to Guanahani’s spa, but also has its very own spa treatment space in the garden. Meanwhile, La Villa is for romantics: it has a “Love Tub” in the master bathroom that overlooks the ocean. All of the Butler Suites have a full-time butler on hand and are perfect for families with nannies and caretakers in tow.

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Note: Upon reopening, the hotel will boost its Butler Suites’ count by two with the addition of the Admiral Suite and the Serenity Suite; the latter is a redesign of the hotel’s current premier ocean-view suite. The Admiral Suite will be in a remote setting on the beach and resemble a villa with two spacious bedrooms, exclusive access to a small private beach and lagoon views. Guests of the two-bedroom Serenity Suite will have access to their own pool, private entrances and use of an electric car to drive around the resort.

The hotel also has two pool suites with families in mind. Both the Ocean and Garden two-bedroom suites have private pools, with the Ocean Suite overlooking the lagoon and ocean. The Garden Suite takes its name from its secluded garden setting. Connecting rooms are also available in the Superior, Cove and Bay categories.

The 11-treatment room Spa Clarins is popular with guests and locals alike, we are told. Contact Spa Manager Annabelle Signoret ([email protected]) to find out more about the spa’s most requested service, the Anti-Jetlag Treatment by Clarins. Hint: Opting for a massage? If so, ask for Blandine. Past guests rave about her mains en or (amazing hands).

Meanwhile, should you need to venture off property, Head Concierge Stephane Carou ([email protected]) has a wealth of local knowledge—and flair for the dramatic. He once booked a private plane for a couple that wanted to fly to Caracas, Venezuela, for the evening to meet up with friends over pasta. Closer to the resort, Carou and his team can arrange jet ski tours of the island and sailing trips.

Four Seasons Nevis will have a reconstructed beach area when it, too, reopens on December 15.

Guanahani has two restaurants, the casual L’Indigo and fine-dining Le Bartolomeo, which, we hear, is known for its chef’s tasting menu. Note: For Christmas and New Year’s, reservations at Le Bartolomeo should be made four to five months out (the restaurant is popular with locals).

Luxury travel advisors should fly clients into St. Jean Airport, which is only 10 minutes from Guanahani, but only accommodates propeller planes. The closest commercial airport is St. Maarten’s Princess Juliana. Guanahani can arrange a private plane to fly guests from the airport to St. Barths. The hotel also dispatches its private chauffeur to pick up guests upon arrival.

Elsewhere on St. Barths, the Hotel Carl Gustaf will reopen on November 5. We hear Carl Gustaf has been busy painting and refreshing the property’s 14 suites, and the hotel will have a fresh new exterior. Good to know: While St. Barths is extremely busy over the holidays, the hotel still has availability (with a 10-night minimum). That minimum is actually a good thing, as we hear the hotel is the best location to view the New Year’s Eve fireworks over Gustavia Harbour. (But really, book now if your clients are at all interested. Those rooms will fill up fast!)

All of the rooms in the hotel have a private balcony with private plunge pools overlooking the Gustavia Harbour and the island of St Maarten in the horizon. The most requested rooms at the resort are the six one-bedroom private cottages, each with a separate living area, kitchenette and private terrace. If that isn’t enticing enough, consider the 2,600-square-foot four-bedroom Royal Suite, with an infinity pool and a huge 180-degree terrace that overlooks the harbour. Good to know: Both the seven-bedroom Villa Golden Reef and the Royal Suite come with private butler service at an additional fee.

The resort’s spa, a Boutique Spa by Carita, has just two treatment rooms, so guests are encouraged to book their treatments at least two weeks in advance. (While the spa is open to locals, guests do have priority in reserving treatments.) The spa has a hydrozone room, outdoor relaxation area and a Jacuzzi. We hear the most popular treatment is the Carl Gustaf Signature Massage. When booking, request Spa Leader May Elodie for the Signature Massage, and we are told Emily Morand is an expert at the Carita Facial. Kids’ treatments are available, and wedding parties can take over the spa to relax and unwind before the big day. Elodie can be reached at [email protected] for requests.

When dining at the hotel’s 40-seat restaurant (book early and often!), suggest your clients try the Dos de Mahi Mahi en Brochette: a mahi mahi skewer, compote of fennel, candied tomatoes and green anis emulsion. (Delicious!) Try to get them the Central Harbour View Table overlooking the skyline of Gustavia and the harbour. (Good to know: This table also comes with a view of the chefs at work in the open kitchen.)

Premiere de Reception Emilie Altier ([email protected]) can arrange just about anything your clients need. For something ultra-romantic, ask Altier to arrange a private picnic delivered to the beach of your client’s choice. The intimate lunch includes a half bottle of white wine (always good), but also such thoughtful extras as chairs, an umbrella and snorkeling equipment. (Because what’s an intimate picnic lunch on the beach without some quality time with the fish?)

Getting There: All guests at Hotel Carl Gustaf are picked up by private chauffeur service at St. Barths Airport. They can also land a private helicopter at Gustaf III Airport.

Agents should contact Reservations Coordinator Albane Leroux ([email protected]; 678-425-6052). General Manager Emmanuelle Bourgueil can be reached at [email protected].

Over on Nevis, the Four Seasons Resort Nevis is scheduled to reopen on December 15, and we hear there is still some availability for holiday season. There is a nine-night minimum during the holidays, and 85 percent of the hotel’s “festive” guests return for the next year’s holidays at a special return rate.

So what will change after the renovation? Let’s start with what won’t: The resort’s general map will not change dramatically, and neither will its Robert Trent Jones II golf course or the spa. (We hear the golf course and spa were “unharmed entirely” by Hurricane Omar due to their locations on the mountain as opposed to the beach side of the resort.) The three pools will also remain.

Hotel Carl Gustaf’s Royal Suite
Hotel Carl Gustaf’s Royal Suite has panoramic views of Gustavia Harbour and Shell Beach.

The resort’s beach, on the other hand, will be completely reconstructed with new grooming and lounge furniture. (The beach was the area most damaged by the hurricane.) All the rooms will have new furnishings and design, with a fresh coat of paint. Most exciting are the hotel’s restaurants, which include a new Coral Grill to replace the old fine-dining venue, with a focus on seafood and chops and more casual ambiance. The other restaurants—Neve, Mango and The Cabana—will have new menus and furniture. We hear the hotel’s Ocean View Rooms are the top pick, and the two luxury suites are especially swanky.

Note: While the hotel’s rooms don’t have butler service, guests who book a private Beach Cabana (the resort will have four) can have a Beach Butler at their service all day. The butlers deliver everything from meals and drinks to snorkeling gear (sized to fit!) to DVDs, books, magazines and games.

The spa has 12 treatment rooms: six outdoor free-standing cottages (which include one deluxe couples’ treatment suite) and six indoor treatment rooms, which include two wet treatment rooms equipped with Vichy Showers. We hear the Nevisian Massage (which can go for 50 or 80 minutes) is the best treatment to book. Good for families: The spa offers Tiny Fingers/Tiny Toes for children aged five to 12 (mini-manicures/pedicures-soak, massage and polish). Naturally, a parent or guardian must be present. The spa also has Teen Facials (which includes a choice of a teen facial, acne facial or a 30-minute sun lovers facial) for ages 13 and above, children’s haircuts and hair braiding (half head, full head). Guests aged 12 to 18 can also choose from massages and body treatments under adult supervision.

For bridal groups, the resort can customize any program for spa parties/events, including outdoor afternoon tea parties and mini-spa treatments for the group on the deck of the Sala Pool facing Nevis Peak. They can organize champagne and strawberries, as well as massages in the outdoor gardens or an in-room/suite/villa spa experience.

The spa concierge has not yet been named, but agents will be able to reach him or her at [email protected]. Spa Director Nancy Mitchell can be reached at [email protected].

Concierge Vanessa Paris ([email protected]) can arrange special excursions on the island, like an exclusive Dive & Dine experience. Guests join the resort’s executive chef and a Nevisian dive master on a private boat to go diving in search of the elusive Caribbean spiny lobsters that will serve as their supper. After a two-tank dive brings in the tasty crustaceans, guests return to relax at the resort and reconvene on the beach later that evening. The chef and his culinary team will then prepare a beach barbecue with wine pairings and local ingredients. Guests can step up to the grill for cooking lessons and glaze their own lobster with mango, passion fruit and other native fruits of the island.

If cooking and swimming don’t appeal, guests may want to try a privately guided hike in the rainforest escorted by a Nevisian Bush Medicine Man, who can demonstrate the secrets of the jungle and the use of native plants in cooking and medicinal cures. They also may try horseback riding on a secluded stretch of beach with a gourmet West Indian-style picnic lunch packed by the resort chef.

Getting There: Because of island laws, the resort uses the destination’s taxis for airport transfers on Nevis instead of Four Seasons’ luxury sedans. However, the hotel has a new luxury yacht, a private Four Seasons charter, which will be whisking guests across the narrows for those arriving on the island of St. Kitts, which has more frequent air service. The yacht is full-service, and comes with chilled scented towels, complimentary drinks (spring water, rum or fruit punch), a refreshing Evian spritz and, of course, luggage assistance. (Bradshaw International Airport is about 40 minutes away by boat transfer.) Guests can also land a private helicopter at the property’s golf driving range.

Luxury travel advisors should contact Reservations Manager Suezette Liburd ([email protected]; 869-469-6238). General Manager Andrew Humphries can be reached at [email protected].

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