Wedding: Travel: Honeymoon: St. Barths

If you and your to-be love the idea of France as a honeymoon destination, but then balk, not quite willing to sacrifice the idea of a tropical getaway, then St. Barths is the X on your map. It’s not your typical cliché of a Caribbean island. It’s got the weather, the fresh, warm-water seafood and the vibe, but it’s totally French: There are no steel drums; there’s exquisite French food and boutiques; and everything echoes with the rich culture of the country


If you and your to-be love the idea of France as a honeymoon destination, but then balk, not quite willing to sacrifice the idea of a tropical getaway, then St. Barths is the X on your map. It’s not your typical cliché of a Caribbean island. It’s got the weather, the fresh, warm-water seafood and the vibe, but it’s totally French: There are no steel drums; there’s exquisite French food and boutiques; and everything echoes with the rich culture of the country for which
St. Barths was claimed.

The Hôtel Guanahani & Spa is a divine little cluster of 68 charming bungalows connected by quiet paths dotted with bright pink flowers and green lizards, all situated on a 16-acre peninsula at the northeastern end of St. Barths. You’ll have two beaches, two restaurants (plus a bar or two), water sports, a beachside, freshwater swimming pool and a full-service Clarins spa to keep you busy — or not.

BY DAY: Wake up and pad over to the Guanahani Spa by Clarins. There,
be calmed by the signature Jet Lag Recovery Treatment. (On your last night, try the “Get Glowing” Self-Tanning Treatment, so friends are extra-jealous of your honeymoon — and love-induced glow.)

If all you want to do is lounge, lounge. Beach attendants will set you up with a towel- and cushion-covered beach chair, and they’ll come back often to refill your Mudslide.

If you feel like exploring, explore. Ask the concierge to make arrangements for you to fish, snorkel, canoe, wind- or kitesurf, or to set you up with a taxi tour around the cliffs of St. Barths, through little towns and past white houses with red roofs, stopping only for photo ops and shopping at the upscale boutiques in Gustavia, the island’s capital. Other, more rigorous activities include deep-sea fishing, scuba diving and horseback riding — but we suggest chartering a yacht or sailboat and cruising around (with a packed lunch from the resort’s head chef, Philippe Masseglia).

BY NIGHT: Stay on your lounge chair on the beach, drink in hand, until the sun sets over the water. Then head out on the town (ask the concierge for quaint bars near the hotel — or get a driver to take you to Gustavia and visit the clubs down there). Or you could always head back to your room (and private terrace), order champagne via room service, hang the breakfast service card on your door, and simply stay in.

WHAT TO EAT: Have lunch at Indigo, the poolside restaurant with fresh-grilled St. Barths lobster. Eat dinner at Bartolomeo — start with the heavenly purple and Jerusalem artichokes with mushrooms à la Barigoule. If you’re looking for an off-site outing, head to La Mandala, a French-Thai restaurant with a fabulous view, and even more fabulous fresh sushi.

WHERE TO STAY: At Hôtel Guanahani & Spa (800-216-3774, leguanahani.com), check availability for the La Villa suite, which comes with a freestanding, in-the-bedroom whirlpool and an open shower; or the Oceanfront Wellness Suite, located above the spa and spa pool—which you have complete access to afterhours. Le Christopher (866-287-8017, hotelchristopherstbarth.com) is a romantic, 41-room hotel on the northeast side of the island, with tons of ocean views. Your tour driver will tell you how the superluxe hotel Le Toiny (011-590-278-8888, letoiny.com) recently purchased the mountainous land surrounding their property, so that celebrities might sunbathe in peace and privacy — away from the prying lenses of the paparazzi.

BEST TIMES TO GO: It rarely rains in St. Barths, and it stays between 76° and 82° Fahrenheit year-round. Winter is their busy season.

NEWLYWED NEWS: The Guanahani offers various Romance Packages; contact the hotel to see which are being offered around your wedding date.

GETTING THERE: Major airlines including US Airways and United Airlines have direct flights from Philly to St. Maarten; from there, it’s a 10-minute hop (in an eight-passenger plane) to the single, tiny runway in St. Barths.

ROMANCE RATING:
3 1/2