La Vie Parisienne, Caribbean Style
The storybook-quaint harbor of Gustavia is so tiny that cruise ships have to anchor offshore, but that doesn’t stop the private yachts of St. Barts’s veteran habitués from flocking here. Chic, rich, and very Parisian (and only about half the size of Manhattan), St. Barts continues to be the celebrity favorite of the Caribbean, and from the terrace of the Hotel Carl Gustaf, the charming harbour and surrounding green hills seem like a dollhouse set for an operetta. Gustavia is St. Barts’s only town and seaport, and the Carl Gustaf sits above it like a regal eagle’s nest, its charming bar and open-air restaurant enjoying the uppermost level and premier vantage point.
Linger here for a magnificent coucher de soleil, escape the cruise ship passengers bent on duty-free perfume bargains, and enjoy the piano bar’s changing cocktail du jour. Those with deep pockets can check in and enjoy the unencumbered panorama round-the-clock from any of the fourteen red-roofed cottages that climb the bougainvillea-covered hillside, each with its own plunge pool. The hotel’s raffiné hilltop dining room serves the most haute of haute cuisine, and happy diners can watch the glittering night lights that twinkle across the lilliputian harbor.
For at least one sunset during your stay, consider venturing down from your hillside hideaway and visiting Maya’s, the island’s most de rigueur dining venue. It’s a laid-back place serving excellent Creole specialties prepared by the Martinique-born chef/owner, who eschews extraneous flourishes, preparing her dishes with artful simplicity. The restaurant’s waterfront terrace is the perfect spot for sundowner cocktails, as well as for watching the island’s cast of glamorous celebs and beau monde.