Firstly I would wish to cover Hotel Village St. Jean (VSJ) , followed by some general observations about travel to St Barths (SBH) from the UK, via St Marteen (SXM). It can be done in a day.
We stayed in mid February 2006 at VSJ for 9 nights in a deluxe cottage and found it very good indeed. The staff were friendly and helpful, the cottage itself well equipped and comfortable. The island, as I am sure most are aware, is expensive, and assuming you are looking at VSJ to keep the costs within bounds then the cottage does give you the ability to self cater on some nights and do breakfasts. The kitchen is sufficient for simple meals and food is readily available at local supermarkets or other nearby food shops. We ate out at Nikki beach, le Sereno, Maya’s , the Terrace at VSJ (good and easy option) and Eden Rock and had many picnics from Maya’s to Go. All were very good, enjoyable and not cheap. Whilst the island is very small you do really need a car to take full advantage. VSJ booked one for us in advance upon our request. VSJ also provides good and reasonably priced internet access for those who just can't quite give it all up for 10 days.
A couple of downsides that just hold me back from a 5 star rating for VSJ are noise level. Traffic and daytime aircraft (not night time ... no flights) noise is higher in the St Jean area than the rest of the island, but this is not just at VSJ. It was NOT too intrusive, but one could not describe it as peaceful either. St. Jean is also North facing so no glorious Caribbean sunrises or sunsets. We also suffered a significant number of mosquito bites, again may not be unique to VSJ, but it did detract from the overall experience. Bring plenty of repellents and bite treatments.
Now for the travel experience. We flew Air France from UK (Birmingham) to Paris CDG and allowed 2 hours to change to the AF 11:00 am flight to SXM, all through Terminal 2 at CDG. We had booked on Air Caraibes 16:25 flight to SBH (allowing 90 mins) to transfer – we had checked luggage. Having read about the potential for chaos at SXM we had booked St. Barths Service to help us through SXM and on to the SBH flight. When the Air France flight was 30 mins late we thought it a good move. In fact what happened was:
We were met by St Barths Service, and we gave him our tickets and pictures (to help him .. the wonders of digital photography!) of our luggage along with the luggage tags. We then went through the transfer gate and waited .. and waited. It was quite clear St Barths Services were too busy, and we did not get priority treatment. Having got another couple to the ferry, they checked us in too late to make the 4:25 flight. Others from the AF flight successfully made the 4:25 flight. Eventually they managed to get us on the 5:00pm flight and we were told our luggage had been found and taken separately. When we arrived in SBH only one of two bags had made it. St Barths Services had clearly not taken a great deal of care in identifying or transferring our luggage. The SXM baggage handlers seem to do it anyway since though AF do not issue boarding cards for Air Caraibes (or WinAir) or officially check your luggage through (you still have to collect it) they do mark it as destined to SBH.
At this point St Barths Service did begin to try to give a service, though they needed daily chasing and 4 days later the bag was traced .. it was still in Paris, something that would have been clear at 15:30 Thursday, not 9:00 Monday had they done a proper job. The luggage eventually got to us 5 days into a 10 day holiday.
My advice is
1 always take enough to survive on in hand luggage OR better still do it all on hand luggage.
2 allow plenty of time to transfer in SXM
3 do SXM yourself.. it is chaotic but not unmanageable
Overall we would strongly recommend St Barths and also suggest you look very seriously at Hotel Village St. Jean .. it has a lot to recommend it.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Formerly known as “LeVillage St Jean”, “LeVillage St Barth”, a true hallmark of the island, is a charming and authentic hotel. Nestled in the heart of a lavish tropical garden with fantastic views of the Bay of Saint-Jean, a short walk to many shops, 9 restaurants and the #1 beach, “LeVillage” combines tranquility and comfortable living in a true “St. Barth” kind of way. The Hotel offers Classic Rooms - spacious Standard Cottages - Superior Cottages - exquisitely renovated Luxury Suites and Villas - many have well appointed kitchens and large outside dining and seating patios with sensational views. Having recently reached the four star classification level, LeVillage continues to be known as the best value on the island.The many amenities - the beautiful infinity swimming pool, the Jacuzzi, the Wellness Cottage, the Fitness Room – will all seduce you and, like many of our guests, you will want to return year after year. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Le Village St Jean Hotel