I Did St. Barths Like Hollywood Royalty & Loved Every Indulgent Second Of It

Give me all the luxury.

Originally Published: 
st barths vacation

The Kardashians. Dua Lipa. Beyoncé. Miranda Kerr. Leonardo DiCaprio. What do all these people have in common? Well, they’re all exceedingly famous with some fairly deep pockets and they all love a luxe vacation in St. Barthélemy (commonly known as St-Barths). Yes, like me, you’ve probably heard of the exclusive little French Caribbean island, which is a top destination for one-percenters looking to unwind — and let loose — in relative privacy. Think Ibiza vibes ... but make it French. Because of the seemingly exclusive (and expensive) nature of the destination, it admittedly has never made it to my bucket list. It just always felt a bit too out of reach for my humble civilian budget ... until, that is, the vacation gods smiled upon me and offered me the trip of a lifetime.

For the record, the vacation gods I’m referring to are actually the team at Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France, the iconic and glamorous hotel that’s been a hotspot for celebrities and the like seeking rest and relaxation (sans paparazzi cameras) since the early ‘90s. (The establishment is known for its discretion and doesn’t reveal its A-list clientele. However, it’s been reported that the likes of Pippa Middleton, Cindy Crawford, and Leonardo DiCaprio have been lodgers.) The 61-room property was purchased by LVMH’s Cheval Blanc hotel group in 2013 and underwent the chicest of redesigns in recent years (naturally) by renowned designer Jacques Grange, whose understated elegant handwork can also be seen at New York’s The Mark Hotel and Francis Ford Coppola’s Palazzo Margherita in southern Italy.

Courtesy of Cheval Blanc

This summer, I was offered the opportunity to indulge in the spoils of the exclusive hotel — rooms start at about €750 per night and suites at €1,325 a night — and the island itself for three glorious nights in the midst of its low season, which runs from about spring to late summer. While visiting a party epicenter like St. Barths in the heat of its high season (December through April) rings desirable for some, I was personally thrilled at the idea of enjoying the idyllic scene in peace and quiet since sleep and utter tranquility are my top vacation motivations these days. "Summer is underrated,” says Eva Sitarz, director of marketing for Cheval Blanc. “From May through August, it's quieter on the island, yet we still benefit from excellent weather, so it's the optimum time to enjoy a wellness-focused vacation and discover the authenticity of St. Barth and all it has to offer." Sold.

Travel + Accommodations

Part of the allure and exclusivity of St. Barths is likely that it’s fairly remote, with just a single-runway airport on the island that receives a small charter or commercial flights. My journey from Los Angeles required me to fly into Puerto Rico and then, from there, I boarded an eight-seater shuttle flight by Tradewind airline (which operates both on-demand private charter and scheduled service flights). I’d never flown in such a small plane before, and the idea terrified me a bit, even though it was all of 60 minutes from wheels up to touch down. The luxe airline accommodations (there’s a private lounge with Champagne, snacks, and perfect WiFi while you wait for your flight!) and smooth ride quickly put me at ease ... as did the stunning views of my final destination. Lush green mountains overlooking cerulean waters dotted by sleek white fleets grazing the sandy shores of St. Barths laid a breathtaking scene for my jaded city eyes.

My island trance only intensified when we arrived at the Cheval Blanc, which literally hugs Flamands Bay (one of the largest beaches on the island), allowing for picturesque landscape views of the coastline and all its botanical glory. I experienced this firsthand in my Beach Suite, which included a bedroom with a separate dressing room, ensuite bathroom with a bathtub and rain shower, living room with office space (since I would be working during my stay), a large terrace, and a private infinity plunge pool overlooking the ocean. From this view I also spotted the lavish mansions and villas that house or have housed some of the world’s most powerful and famous (including the Kardashians, Dua Lipa, and Jeff Bezos).

Cheval Blanc

Now, as a longtime lifestyle and travel writer, I have certainly stayed in my fair share of beautiful hotels. But there was something truly magical and serene about the Cheval Blanc. Perhaps it was the attention to detail: the customized throw blankets gifted upon my arrival; the delicate chocolates, wine, and treats served in my room throughout the day after every activity (my stay came with butler service, with the staff memorizing my trip itinerary for each day of my trip), the nightly turndown which included an indulgent bubble bath infused with essential oils. I was literally dropped into the lap of luxury and Kardashian-level accommodations, a foreign concept for a woman accustomed to a tiny one-bedroom Los Angeles apartment and fast-food budget.


As you can imagine the dining options in St. Barths are well above par. In my hotel alone, there were two restaurants that boasted experimental Caribbean dishes: La Case and La Cabane. The former is spearheaded by the world renowned chef Jean Imbert, who was voted Chef of the Year 2019 by GQ. The colorful menu “showcases the highlights of Caribbean cuisine, treating the taste buds to an abundance of flavours.” Think locally sourced fish, meats and vegetables treated with authentic island spices and herbs. (If you find yourself at this treasured fine-dining spot, I recommend the poularde or rum-lacquered pork belly — they can’t be missed).

Cheval Blanc
Cheval Blanc

For daytime nourishment, La Cabane is the perfect beachside respite for breakfast, lunch, or a sunset dinner if you’re seeking comfort foods like fish and chips, mahi-mahi hot dogs, or ricotta and zucchini ravioli. The eatery is quite literally planted in the sand, just steps from the water.

For off-property nightlife and dining, I let loose at Sella, an establishment in town that features a fresh offering of Israeli-inspired fare that also turns into a DJ-led dance party fit for a Tel Aviv nightclub. I feasted on hallah and tahini, fresh seasoned veggies and fish, and Jerusalem cheesecake, then danced off my indulgences atop my chair to the throwback tunes of ABBA and early aughts J.Lo. Yes, even in throes of the low season, you can still find a party in St. Barths.


In the quieter months, St. Barth’s visitors can find a range of wellness offerings at their fingertips: long hikes along the seaside, private yoga sessions in the midst of a tropical garden, and relaxing spa treatments. "The island is a natural haven for wellness with its pristine beaches, rugged coastline, hiking and water activity opportunities and more,” says Christelle Hilpron, General Manager of Cheval Blanc. “[...] At Cheval Blanc, we continue enhancing our offerings, such as inviting world-renowned fitness instructors to curate special programs for our guests, collaborating with our spa partner, Guerlain, to curate new treatments at Cheval Blanc Spa, and working with local naturopaths to elevate and innovate healthy food menus."

I experienced these enhanced offerings myself, starting with a personal hiking tour with Diana Bourel, founder of yoga and wellness program Art of Self Care. In addition to her vast knowledge of St. Barth's rugged surroundings and remote beaches, Bourel is also known for her spiritual counseling and mind-body therapy, which I got a taste of on our 90-minute excursion. I found myself instantly at ease with the wellness pro, discussing everything from St. Barths’ history and landmarks to our personal career journeys and even relationship and family experiences. (At the end of our tour I jokingly encouraged Bourel to invoice me for our impromptu therapy session.)

Further fueling my self-care were my fitness experiences at Cheval Blanc. The property was in the midst of a wellness series (offered annually in July) that included a personal barre class with former dancer and fitness instructor Julie Granger and private yoga in the botanical gardens with world-renowned instructor Nicolas Legrez.

For me, no vacation is complete without a bit of pampering by way of massage, and Cheval Blanc’s spa did not disappoint. As Hilpron explained, the property’s facility offers curated Guerlain treatments using the legacy brand’s luxury formulas. I could not tell you the details of my 60-minute signature massage because I dozed in and out of consciousness throughout — that’s how relaxed I was. As I floated out of my treatment room, I was greeted with light sweets, fresh fruit, and Champagne to top off an already decadent hour.

The pièce de résistance of my four-day trip was truly the stuff of Hollywood dreams: a sunset cruise along the St. Barths coast. With cocktail in hand and a deluxe charcuterie offering, I felt every bit the cinema starlet as I took in breathtaking views of the magical island.

This trip was an eye-opener for me on multiple levels. It allowed me to truly indulge in deep, guilt-free relaxation and self-care, something I don’t often (or ever) do. There was a reflective, calmer and more open side of me that came to the surface that I hope to channel again, even if it’s not on the serene beaches of St. Barths. Bourel says it best: “You fall in love with who you are in this place. Or you can see yourself becoming a better version of yourself. People really do take their armor off here and there’s something really nice about being with other people who have taken off their armor, too.”

Until next time, St. Barths.

This article was originally published on