Saint Barthélemy rises from the blue Caribbean waters, an island of wild and rugged landscapes but also an air of sophistication attributable to its longtime status as a retreat for the elite. Before my Tradewind aircraft even touched down—on the jarringly short landing strip, which elicits fear in nervous fliers but makes for an incredibly dramatic welcome—I had adopted the island lifestyle and was looking forward to a few days of sunshine, fine dining and relaxation at Saint Barth’s new five-star hotel, Villa Marie.
Just ten minutes from the airport by car, the effortlessly chic and bohemian property is nestled among the Colombier hills. Opened in late 2016, it is the first hotel outside France in the renowned Maisons et Hôtels Sibuet collection. It has been designed and decorated by the brand’s matriarch, Jocelyne Sibuet, in a combination of Indonesian-inspired textiles and colonial woodwork that fosters a low-key Caribbean vibe.
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Villa Marie comprises 17 individual bungalows plus a two-bedroom villa complete with private pool (a second is set to open before the end of the year). Each of the accommodations has a different décor, featuring bright colors and patterns that echo the vibrant energy of the island. Canopy beds come with patterned headboards and plush pillows, while wicker furnishings and bamboo lamps hit an eco-chic note. Beaded mirrors and dream catchers adorn the walls, adding a playfulness that is rare on an island where most of the five-star hotels are polished to a T. The property also has a full spa, pool, boutique and fitness center.
Villa Marie’s restaurant, Francois Plantation, draws outsiders as well as guests with its Caribbean-inflected French-inspired fare, served all day in an open-air space. Dinner might begin at the rum bar and be capped off with espresso and dessert in one of the cozy lounges.
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The property’s location—on the far western side of the island overlooking Flamands beach—gives guests the best of both worlds: the opportunity to relax in quiet away from the bustle of Gustavia plus easy access to the town, just ten minutes away by car, should they wish to shop or eat out. The hotel is also perfectly situated for a hike to Colombier beach (reachable as well by boat), an adventure that is a must-do on any St. Barth’s itinerary. The meandering trail starts a short distance from the hotel and wraps through trees and along the coast. About twenty minutes in, trekkers are rewarded with sweeping sea views, a landscape dotted with wild cacti and, occasionally, the companionship of turtles or mountain goats.
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