Hello, fellow travelers and luxury enthusiasts! It’s Christina Willett, West Coast Director of Sales at Lush Experiences, and today, I’m thrilled to share my recent adventure to the stunning island of St. Barths. This Caribbean gem has been on my bucket list for a long time, and, in short, let me tell you that my experience was nothing shy of extraordinary. From the adventure laden arrival at the tight landing strip to the sheer fabulousness of Hotel Le Carl Gustaf, every moment was a testament to the magic of this lush island.
Let’s start with the arrival, which is an adventure in itself. The island is renowned for having one of the shortest commercial runways in the world, measuring just over 2,000 feet. As our plane descended onto the island, the views were breathtaking, but the anticipation of landing on this tiny strip had my heart racing. However, I must admit, the skilled pilots of the plane executed a flawless landing, and I could breathe a sigh of relief. Many thanks given to my pre-flight glass of rose as well as the ease of the entire Tradewinds flight experience which was seamless from lounge to landing strip.
**Hôtel Barrière Le Carl Gustaf:
Where Luxury Meets Paradise**
My home for the next several days was at the chic and luxurious Hôtel Barrière Le Carl Gustaf Nestled on a hilltop in the heart of Gustavia, this boutique hotel is the epitome of cool. As I walked into the lobby, I was greeted by the warm and friendly staff, who ensured that my stay would be nothing short of perfection as they handed me a chilled glass of bubbly. The check-in process was seamless, and I was quickly escorted to my room.
Each room at Le Carl is soothing and sophisticated featuring tropical inspired design punctuated with pops of color, luxurious linens and layered with natural materials like wood and stone. I stayed in a prestige bungalow suite with pool and sea view. The hillside location surrounded by greenery felt private, and the birds-eye view from my terrace out over Gustavia and the glistening sea was memorable. High ceilings and floor to ceiling windows allowed natural light to flood the space, making it feel even more inviting.
**Food and Drink**
One of the most notable aspects of the F&B offering is the hotel’s edible fragrance program which is featured on the cocktail menu – you can pick a favorite fragrance and the scent is incorporated into your drink. It’s a memorable experience, and one that I’ve only ever seen at Barriere branded hotels. As for dining, the hotel features two restaurants, one being the hotel’s private restaurant and beach club, Shellona, which is a short walk away. Shellona is an island favorite and a great place to while away an afternoon with great music, tasty shared plates and people watching galore. I also enjoyed my time at the hotels in-house restaurant, Le Fouquet’s, however, I’ve recently learned that for next season, the hotel will welcome the iconic Beefbar in its place – so consider this recap to be continued as a return trip is in order to make it complete!
Thankfully, time was built into my schedule for a visit to Spa Diane. Like the hotel, the spa is intimate and personalized, without excess fuss and featuring the best of the best by way of products – Biologique Recherche. I had a personalized and targeted facial that both relaxed me and set me up for my return home with a refreshed feel. My facial was the perfect end cap to the trip – just what the Dr ordered!
**Stellar Services and Staff**
The friendly and genuine nature of the staff made me feel like I was visiting close friends rather than staying at a hotel. Their dedication to providing top-notch service was evident in every interaction, making this stay an unforgettable experience.
**Out and About**
Gustavia is the heart of St Barth’s and is the central location of the island’s boutiques, restaurants, nightlife – even the harbor. The hotel’s beach partner, Shell Beach, is located here as well. Easily accessible from the hotel it was fun to explore this area multiple times, even departing on a sunset sailing right from the harbor. Another evening, my group and I spent a fun night at Bagatelle, and with feet sore from dancing, were thrilled that our beds were just a short five minute walk back! While there’s plenty to do in the immediate walking vicinity of the hotel, to complete your itinerary, I couldn’t recommend renting a convertible Mini Cooper for an afternoon spent cruising around the island and popping to the various beaches and roadside stops – there’s a great vista point where you can even watch the precarious plane landings – a must!
My stay at Le Carl was nothing short of fantastic. The island’s unique landing strip only added to the excitement of my arrival, and from the moment I stepped foot in the hotel, I was enveloped in the lap of luxury and unparalleled hospitality. St. Barths, with its natural beauty and vibrant European culture, paired with the exceptional experience at the hotel, makes it a destination I will cherish forever. If you’re looking for the ultimate luxury escape, I wholeheartedly recommend experiencing this slice of paradise for yourself. – Christina Willett