Equal parts Caribbean and French Riviera, St. Barth’s is a luxury jetsetter’s dream. It has plenty of natural beauty (including some of the best beaches you’ll find anywhere), restaurants run by internationally renowned chefs, shopping from the top global brands as well as small boutiques with local creators, and fun day clubs, not to mention several luxury resorts that make a perfect homebase.

Luxury Travel Advisor enjoyed a brief jaunt to the island this winter, where we split our time between two recently renovated properties (following the damage caused by Hurricane Irma in 2017), each offering a different take on the island. Rosewood Le Guanahani St. Barth, located in the island’s northwest sits on a small peninsula with beaches on both sides, while Hôtel Barrière Le Carl Gustaf St. Barth, on the western coast, is set on the hillside overlooking the capital town of Gustavia.

Beyond the difference in locations, the hotels offer varying vibes, as well. The Rosewood, the largest hotel on the island with 66 rooms spread across 17 acres, is also one of the most family-friendly resorts in St. Barth’s. During our stay we only saw a couple of families, but the dates didn’t align with any major school breaks; expect a potentially different crowd depending on what time of year you visit. Le Carl Gustaf, however, is much smaller with just 21 keys and caters nearly exclusively to adults—mostly couples or couples traveling together. Now, a little more about each property…

Rosewood Le Guanahani

Le Guanahani reopened in November 2021 as a member of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts following a four-year closure and renovation due to the damage caused by Hurricanes Maria and Irma in 2017. Upon its reopening, the resort debuted new looks to all 66 guestrooms, suites and villas (many sporting new private pools) as well as a beachfront dining concept and new pool, a Rosewood Explorers children’s club, fitness center, tennis court and Sense, A Rosewood Spa.

We found our room (No. 2), an Ocean View Pool Suite, to be a perfect base for two people. The stand-alone accommodation (as most on property are) comprised a king bedroom with en-suite bathroom, a living room and pool deck with lounge chairs and a dining table with seating for four. It’s one of seven in its category but it’s the only handicap-accessible room of its kind. While some rooms require a couple steps to enter, ours had a gentle ramp (which you could also drive directly to thanks to a private parking spot—although many rooms on property also offer one), as well as a walk-in shower and a smooth doorframe offering easy access to the deck. Doorways between rooms were also plenty wide.

We particularly liked that in the bedroom, the bed faced the sliding glass doors, meaning we had views of Grand Cul-de-Sac, while a wall-mounted TV in the corner of the room was on a swivel, so you could also comfortably watch from the bed. Another perk was the seclusion we felt in the room. Located up on the hillside, only Room 1—the Signature Serenity Suite—was located further from the action.

Rosewood Le Guanahani St. Barth Bougainvillea Living Room
The Bougainvillea Suite, offering 1,967 square feet of space, is the largest room at Rosewood Le Guanahani St. Barth. It comes with three bedrooms and offers ocean views. (Matt Turner)

Including Serenity, the Rosewood offers 10 Signature Suites, all with their own name (which is how you can tell them apart from the other categories). Three that we were fans of were Bougainvillea (the largest room on property with excellent ocean views; three bedrooms), Admiral (located directly on the water, offering arguably the best views on property; two bedrooms) and Lagoon (the only room with direct beach access; two bedrooms). In all, the Signature Suites range from 915 square feet (Pelican) to 1,967 square feet (Bougainvillea) and have either two or three bedrooms. Six of them have their own private plunge pool (which certainly offer a bit more space than to simply “plunge”), while others have a kitchenette.

Good to know: Bougainvillea is currently the only room with Dyson hair products but General Manager Martein van Wagenberg tells us that more are on order for every room on property, which was certainly welcome news. He also says you should book the top suites at least nine months in advance, especially for peak travel seasons, such as the winter holidays. Another tip: The Rosewood uses European electrical outlets but provides two converters in each room. A bedside device also provides USB plugs, as well as an American outlet.

The standout feature at Rosewood Le Guanahani St. Barth may simply be its location on a plot of land between two bays, offering two beaches for guests — meaning there was more than plenty of space for everyone who wanted to enjoy the sun and water. On the side facing Grand Cul-de-Sac (great for water sports such as wind and kitesurfing) is the new pool deck and bar, which often had a DJ playing background music. There’s also one restaurant, Beach House, but it offers indoor and beach dining, as well as multiple menus throughout the day. During dinner one night, we ordered the carré d’agneau (rack of lamb), which was cooked perfectly. For dessert, we simply enjoyed from a selection of cheeses brought throughout the restaurant on a trolley (van Wagenberg’s idea).

Tip: If you are there for a Sunday, be sure to stop by the barbecue beach brunch, which, in addition to having meats and fish cooked to order on the grill in front of you, offers a buffet of entrees and sides, a salad station, breads, desserts and — a big hit for us and many others — a create-your-own ceviche station. And, yes, we helped ourselves to a second serving of ceviche (we had to try both the tuna and the mahi mahi, for “science”).

Le Guanahani is also home to a destination spa, comprising eight treatment rooms (including four doubles and two with an outdoor shower), a solid quartz table for specific treatments, a sauna and outdoor pool. Within the spa is the fitness center, which is a bit tiny but has brand-new Monolith equipment. For tennis enthusiasts, the Rosewood is the only hotel on St. Barth’s with its own courts, finished with artificial grass. The Ponton dock, located near the Ocean Bay Rooms (facing Marigot Bay), can be used for private yoga classes (or even private romantic dinners, should that be of interest).

Semi-aerial view of Rosewood Le Guanahani
Guests who hike the small hill at the tip of Rosewood's property will be treated to impressive views of the resort and island. (Photo by Matt Turner)

If you’re in the mood for another workout, there’s a small hill at the end of the peninsula where the hotel is located. Put on a decent pair of walking shoes and follow the trail to the top. Without stops, it’s about a 10-minute hike, but signage points out various local flora and fauna. Once you’re at the top, you’re rewarded with amazing views of the island and the resort below, taking in both sides of the peninsula. There are plenty of other good hikes available on the island, for which Le Guanahani can arrange a private guide (as some are a bit tricky). More on one of those later.

Rosewood Le Guanahani St. Barth is closed from mid-August through the beginning of November, where it undergoes routine maintenance and enhancements. Travel advisors may reach out to van Wagenberg ([email protected]) directly, or to Thibaut Asso ([email protected]), director of sales and marketing.

Hôtel Barrière Le Carl Gustaf

Opened in October 2020, Hôtel Barrière Le Carl Gustaf touts itself as the only luxury hotel located in Gustavia, the island’s capital. Enjoying a prime location up on the hillside overlooking the town, dotted with red roofs juxtaposed to the crystal blue harbor, the views alone make the trip to the hotel worth it.

Luckily, there’s plenty more that make it a worthwhile stay; for one, the hotel is home to the renowned Fouquet’s restaurant, which has made the journey from Paris, offering a menu of French, Italian, Caribbean and other cuisine created by Pierre Gagnaire, whose restaurants Pierre Gagnaire (Paris) and Sketch (London) each hold three Michelin stars. We dined here our first night at the hotel and it nearly derailed all the reservations for other restaurants we had made in advance of our arrival to the island. Being our first time on St. Barth’s, we wanted to check out as much as we could, but the food at Fouquet’s was some of the best we had anywhere and it more than tempted us to eat there every night thereafter. In the end, we settled for breakfasts at the hotel each morning.

Fouquet’s restaurant at Hôtel Barrière Le Carl Gustaf offers a menu of French, Italian, Caribbean and other cuisine created by Pierre Gagnaire. (Hôtel-Barrière-Le-Carl-Gustaf)

Some of our favorite dishes at the restaurant, however, included the tuna tartare with kombu algae broth and papaya, melanosporum black truffle rigatoni with parmesan and braised lamb shoulder with cumin. Tip: Book a table outdoors during sunset; during clear weather, the views are amazing, just to the left of town, over the hillside.

Fouquet’s is also open for lunch but the hotel and we suggest strolling down to the beach restaurant, Shellona. Located directly on Shell Beach, the restaurant offers a Mediterranean-style menu in a fun and energetic setting. Either before or after lunch, be sure to reserve loungers directly on the beach. From here, you can order drinks or bites from the menu. You can also forgo the loungers and just enjoy the beach — as many visitors and locals were — but we think the loungers are the right call.

For lunch, we enjoyed the octopus croquette with black aoli and the feta cheese wrapped in filo pastry and honey. The menu also offers several salads and seafood plates and a large selection of mezze, as well as several meat options.

Back at Le Carl Gustaf, we enjoyed Room 200, a Double Prestige Bungalow Suite Terrace Sea View—which was more than enough space. The room offers two king bedrooms, each with an en-suite bathroom with two vanities, a rain shower and Japanese Toto toilet. Connecting the two rooms is the living room, which does not have a TV (although each bedroom does). All three rooms offer direct access to the balcony, complete with a couple loungers, a dining table with a cushioned bench and small plunge pool. Guests will also find an Aquabike, which they can have lowered into the plunge pool for an “in-room” workout. Rooms also have their own yoga mats, which we liked.

Note: As there is no “resort pool,” all rooms have their own plunge pool (Aquabike included).

Nearly identical to our room is the Prestige Bungalow Suite Terrace Sea View, which only has one bedroom (and a differently arranged living room); but it’s a great size for two people traveling together. If you have more than four people traveling together, there are three signature suites located further up on the hillside, just beyond reception; combined, they make up the Loft Royal Terrace With Sea View. The three connected suites total 2,530 square feet of indoor space, to go along with 1,560 square feet of connected terraces. Guests have access to a triangular-shaped plunge pool facing west for the best sunset views, while up one floor, the third bedroom has direct access to an outdoor Jacuzzi.

Good to know: The rooms are connected via locking doors in the living rooms, as well as an entryway from the street; travelers can book these rooms individually if available (No. 202, Prestige Junior Suite Bartolemeo; No. 203, Duplex Suite Lucien; No. 204, Prestige Suite Pain de Sucre).

Hôtel Barrière Le Carl Gustaf - Lucien Suite
The Lucien Suite Terrace Sea View room at Hôtel Barrière Le Carl Gustaf has two large private terraces and outdoor shower. (Matt Turner)

The largest accommodation on property—which is actually located across the street, higher up still on the hillside—is the five-bedroom Villa Diane. Should you want to visit with your family, this would be the best choice, as it offers nearly 6,700 square feet of indoor and outdoor space, complete with a large swimming pool and five bathrooms. Guests additionally receive a VIP welcome and a personal butler for the duration of their stay.

Note: Le Carl Gustaf is located on a hillside with rooms spread across several levels, requiring stairs to get to and from. Room No. 204, one of the three components of the Loft Royal suites, offers direct access to the street; accessible travelers should book this option.

Also good to know is that rooms here offer 120V outlets, commonly used in the U.S.

In the spa, which has an exclusive partnership with the personalized skincare line Biologique Recherche, there are three treatment rooms: One double and two singles. The small gym has Technogym equipment and in-room yoga or Pilates classes can be arranged.

Hôtel Barrière Le Carl Gustaf closes annually for September and October. Luxury travel advisors should reach out to Nelly Mehdizadeh ([email protected]), reservations supervisor, or General Manager William Numa ([email protected]). During busy season, book at least three to six months in advance.


According to Rosewood Le Guanahani GM Martein van Wagenberg, St. Barth’s pastime consists of drinking rose and dancing on tables — which makes its many beach clubs a popular choice among visitors. That said, we didn’t have the chance to make an appearance, instead opting to explore the island and check out its many, many top-tier restaurants.

We’re sure you couldn’t go wrong no matter where you ate, but a few of our favorites were Le Tamarin, a French restaurant in a garden setting; Eddy’s Ghetto, a Caribbean-inspired outdoor restaurant in a Gustavia; and Bagatelle, a French Mediterranean restaurant right on Gustavia’s harbor front (which also has numerous locations worldwide). Tip: Should you be looking to enjoy a drink after dinner, two spots stood out to us. First was Quarter Kitchen & Cocktail Lab (which no longer operates its kitchen), where the mixologists will create any cocktail you fancy (just tell them what you like and let them take it from there). Second was Le Select, a casual indoor-outdoor bar that mainly serves beer and frozen drinks — but many locals told us this is where they go if they want the best piña colada. We’d agree.

Colombier Beach, St. Barth's
You need to hike to Colombier Beach, but it's worth it as it's typically uncrowded.  (Photo by Matt Turner)

No matter where you dine, it’s best to make reservations in advance; most of ours were set before our arrival by the hotel concierges.

Also be sure to schedule some time to wander the tiny streets of Gustavia and enjoy the plentiful (duty free) shopping. Many of the top fashion labels can be found here, but so can lots of small boutiques with local designers. Good to know: Many of the shops, big and small, are closed on Sunday.

One beach worth a visit is Colombier, part of a nature preserve on the island’s northwest. As the only way to get there is via two different 20-minute hikes (one a bit more strenuous as its downhill to the beach, and uphill back to the road) or by boat, it’s typically less crowded than other options. Be sure to pack towels, snacks (we brought a picnic basket) and anything else you might need, since there are no facilities at the beach.

To get to Colombier — or anywhere else on the island — most visitors will rent a car. We say the trendy option is a Mini Cooper convertible, which makes for a pleasurable drive during the sunny, warm weather, but also comes in handy as many of the roads are narrow and curvy. Taxi service is improving on the island, and it shouldn’t be an issue to get one to take you from most major locations, restaurants or hotels. If you arrange one to take you to dinner, say, just have the restaurant call one for you as you’re getting ready to leave.

Access: St. Barth’s

There are two main ways to reach St. Barth’s from the U.S. One, a preferred option among many of the resorts’ guests, is to fly into San Juan, Puerto Rico, where you can then fly with Tradewind Aviation to St. Barth’s. Tradewind offers both scheduled departures to the island on its eight-seat Pilatus PC-12 as well as chartered flights.

Conversely, you can fly into St. Maarten’s Princess Juliana International Airport and take one of several flights: Winair operates 19-seat DHC-6 Twin Otters, while St. Barth Commuter operates an eight-seat Cessna C208B. The flight from Puerto Rico is about an hour, while those from St. Maarten are 10 to 15 minutes.

Plane landing in St. Barth's
The arrival into St. Barth's is nearly a rite of passage for visitors to the island. (Photo by Danandnatty/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Tip: Tradewind offers a VIP Experience in San Juan for your transfer between flights. A rep will meet you at the arriving airline’s gate and escort you to the Tradewind private lounge, all the while your luggage is retrieved by the rep and checked in. While the service isn’t available on return flights, Tradewind guests are met by at immigrations and customs and are directed to their connecting airline check-in areas.

Good to know: The airport in St. Barth’s is very tiny and many departing guests opt to arrive right at their scheduled boarding time. It’s also not uncommon for Winair to put guests on earlier flights (in either direction) if there is availability, getting you to your destination sooner.

A ferry from St. Maarten is also available but it takes over an hour, split between getting from the airport to the ferry terminal, then crossing the water, which can also be choppy. Plus, landing in St. Barth’s is half the fun: Planes narrowly pass over a ridge on their approach to the airport before diving down the other side, leveling off and hitting the runway. It was a thrill for seemingly everyone on our flight.

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