By Gary Walther
Charles Darwin never visited St. Barth, but let’s use his evolutionary scheme for a minute to clarify the island’s luxury resort layout.
All but one occupy the same niche: small, secluded, expensive, exclusive.
The unique one, Le Guanahani, occupies a singular niche: the full-service resort.
It’s St. Barth’s true ace of exclusivity, as no other property comes close to offering a menu like the one at this resort, while still feeling secluded and luxurious. Let’s do some box-checking:
- Tired of resorts with one restaurant? Le Guanahani has three, from the feet-in-the-sand Indigo to the gourmet Bartolomeo.
- Play tennis? Le Guanahani is the only resort on St. Barth where ‘thwack’ is part of the soundtrack, offering two lighted courts—one clay and one grass. (Bonus: Book a Pool Suite near the tennis courts, as they also offer privacy and ocean views.)
- Have kids in tow? There’s a complimentary children’s program.
- Want to work out while overlooking the water? The gym, which recently underwent a full, state-of-the-art renovation, is down at the beach and offers cutting-edge Technogym equipment.
- Love to spa? Le Guanahani has the largest spa on the island.
- Swim laps to work out? Le Guanahani has two swim-laps pools and an 82-foot-long pool purified by ions rather than chlorine. Swim all morning without rubbing your eyes.
- Need a fix for beach hair? There’s a Frédéric Fekkai hair salon in the spa.
- Addicted to suites? Over the past decade Le Guanahani has created ten Signature Suites, unmatched across the island for their spaciousness and privacy, one-off décor, and unique amenities.
Le Guanahani is an 18-acre enclave overlooking the ocean at Grand Cul de Sac. Despite its size—30 rooms, 37 suites, and 10 signature suites—the resort feels like a hillside village because of its architecture: lollipop-colored bungalows spilling down to an arrowhead peninsula. On the left is Marigot Bay, with powerful waves rolling in from the Atlantic; on the right Grand Cul de Sac, where reef-protected waters and a constant wind create one of the best kite-surfing spots in the Caribbean. (The resort has all the equipment you need.)
Le Guanahani has two distinct personalities, the result of its topography. The Grand Cul de Sac side (rooms 1-50), where most of the Pool Suites are, is livelier because it is right above the beach, pool, fitness center, and beach bar and restaurant. The Marigot side (rooms 51-69) is quiet and feels secluded. If that’s your agenda, go for Ocean View rooms 58 through 61, which have a box seat on Marigot Bay. Of this quartet, 61 has the best view and a lot of privacy, courtesy of a wall of plants. Another option: the 62-67 row, which runs right along a cliff (66 and 67 are virtually on the lip).
Your big decision is whether to step up from a Garden One-Bedroom to a Garden One-Bedroom Pool Suite. The latter have real pools, four by six meters. Given the 80-foot resort pool and the ocean, the several hundred Euro bump may seem like a lot. But then, suite plunge pools symbolize the privacy premium, the price for taking a dip without leaving your room.
Ps. Summer and fall rates, starting on May 9th and running through December 22nd, are considerably lower than the rest of the year. It’s tough to get away between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but if you can manage it, you get high-season weather at low-season value.
About the Contributor
Gary Walther has been a travel journalist for 40 years. He has been editor-in-chief of Departures, Expedia Travels, Luxury SpaFinder, and Forbes Life magazines, and for the past five years a freelancer with a column on Forbes.com called The Hotel Detective. He has passport stamps from 61 countries and is a million-miler on American Airlines. He writes for the Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, and Departures Europe among other publications.