I write this review rather reluctantly and only in fairness to this wonderful hotel and its marvelous hosts, Jean-Philippe and Laurance. Once you experience Salines Garden, it is a secret that should not even be shared with your blood relatives.
In planning our first ever trip to the Caribbean my wife and I got a lot of advice from friends and relatives. When St. Barths came up the advice was "most dangerous airport in the world" and "its so expensive." Well the prospect of having so many people turned away from an island made us say "this is the place we want to be." We always consult tripadvisor when planning trips and this little gem -- Salines Garden Cottages was ranked very high. But we're never lucky enough to get these gems as they're usually always booked. Throwing caution to the wind, I emailed Jean-Philippe to ask about availability. Unfortunately our first choice week was fully booked but he was able to offer us a housekeeping cottage the next week. Our plans were flexible and we really wanted to try this hotel based on prior reviews. We booked the hotel and took Jean-Philippe's offer to meet us at the airport.
We arrived at St. Barth's airport (the flight and landing was wonderful even for tentative flyers like my wife) and at first didn't see Jean-Philippe. A representative of a larger hotel on the island saw we were looking and asked who was supposed to meet us. We said Jean-Philippe from Salines Garden and he immediately walked us to the car rental area where we saw our host. Jean-Philippe WAS NOT late in meeting us, but saw that our plane had landed and went to the rental agency to let then know we arrived and to begin the paperwork for us. When I arrived at the counter they addressed me by name, asked for my license and credit card, and in about 10 minutes we were following our host to the Cottages. This was the type of service we came to expect over the course of our 8 nights there.
The Cottage complex is marvelously tropical. While not large in terms of space, it's arranged so that there is an unbelievable amount of privacy. Our cottage, Padang Padang, was remarkably private and the outdoor "kitchen" area was a great place to sit and read after a long day of lounging on the beach. The pool is small but who needs a large pool with the most beautiful white sand beach about a kilometer (1/2 a mile) down the road? We used the pool just once to cool off. The pool, however, serves as a meeting place for those guests who'd like to socialize. Jean-Philippe also holds court in this area every evening around 6-8 pm to help guests with dinner plans, etc. While I do not think it's possible to have a bad meal on St. Barth's, Jean-Philippe's recommendations were very helpful.
We particularly enjoyed St. Barth's. The island itself is a contrast of beachy casual and tres chic. Where else could you enjoy a meal in a Jean-George restaurant without feeling out of place in shorts and flip flops? There's all the natural beauty on the one hand and the free port atmosphere of Gustavia with chic bars and Champs Elysees-style shopping.
While we were there, the guests were a melange of English and French speakers. While my French is only a bit better than most Americans with 4 years of high school French, I found communication quite easy. We found the breakfast area to be a very pleasant place to swap stories, etc.
There were some negative comments here about the breakfast but we are very well travelled and found the croissants and pain (bread) to be about the same as we've had in hotels in France, Netherlands, and Italy.
We will be returning to the Caribbean and the only place we will consider is St. Barth's. Naturally, on St. Barth's, we will only consider staying at Salines Garden Cottages. When challenged by our friends' comments that there are other nice places in the Caribbean too, I can only say that I take my vacations to relax. And the time I spent at Salines Garden and this wonderful island was about the most relaxing vacation I have ever experienced.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Close to St-Barths' finest beach, nested in a blooming tropical garden, five cottages surround a tranquil pool. A thoughtfully refined atmosphere for a relaxed and restorative vacation .A unique place, simply to discover.A delightful exception in St-Barths . ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Salines Garden Cottages Hotel
- Salines Garden Hotel
- Salines Garden Resort