Island Hopping in the Caribbean
While I’ve learned a lot about the Caribbean through my years in the travel industry, I have only traveled to the region once. So when I heard that the destinations for the Brownell Travel 1887 reward trip, which is reserved for top-producing advisors, were St. Martin and Anguilla, I immediately jumped on board! Brownell decided to take the group there to showcase how the islands have bounced back from the devastating hurricane, now several years ago.
Since it’s a long journey from San Francisco, I wanted to add on to the four-night trip, so I chose to go to Saint Barthélemy (aka St. Barths) as well. Mais bien sûr, this island has a reputation for being glitzy and glamorous, and while it certainly lives up to its reputation, I also found it to be quite private and peaceful for those who would rather take a more relaxing vacation. Plus, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this is a very family-friendly island!
Les Hôtels à Saint Barthélemy
There is a plethora of luxury boutique properties on St. Barths, such as Cheval Blanc, Hotel Christopher (though there’s no beach here), Le Barthélemy, Manapany and Villa Marie.
I was lucky enough to stay at Le Toiny, which is farther from the towns, so it feels more secluded and exclusive. I stayed in one of the villas closer to the lobby area (villas 1 – 6), which are much more private than the other villas at Le Toiny. The villas farther up the hill boast better views of the ocean; however, they are more exposed to other guests.
I thoroughly enjoyed my peaceful time lounging in the living room, swimming in the plunge pool, and having breakfast outdoors. Not to mention, I also enjoyed watching the local goats stop by for a drink of water.
If you would like an even more private experience, there are more than 400 villas for rent on the island. If you prefer, you can choose to have daily housekeeping, a private chef and butler service, so you’re well taken care of during your stay.
Les Villes de St. Barths
We did venture into Gustavia for dinner one night, which is a charming town full of lively restaurants and bars and good shopping opportunities. Because it is a French island, you can be sure the dining options are exquisite. Choices include Thai cuisine at Black Ginger, American burgers at JoJos, the chic Bar L’Oubli and festive Le Ti, where they have a costume closet in the back so you can liven up your outfit on the spot. As you can see, there is something for every occasion.
The town of Saint Jean is also a quaint one. This is where the highly anticipated Eden Rock, which is currently under construction, is scheduled to reopen in November 2019. It’s right next to Nikki Beach, a lively Sunday brunch option, where dancing on the tables is de rigeur.
What I loved about St. Barths is that there is so much to see and do! Activities include hiking, swimming in the natural pools, boating, snorkeling in the lagoon in the Grand Cul de Sac or off Lorient Beach, jet skiing and paddle boarding. For those who would rather lounge on the sand, Gouverneur and Saline are two of the more unspoiled beaches in the Caribbean, but that also means you’ll need to bring your own lunch and rosé.
A Quick Stay on St. Martin
Next up, we took a short 30-minute flight back to St. Martin, which is home to the main airport for the area. This island was hit very hard during the hurricane and is still recovering.
There, I met the rest of the Brownell 1887 crew at La Samanna, which is the Belmond property on the French side. They are still working on the renovations and are planning to upgrade the rooms and property grounds.
I found there wasn’t as much to do on this island, besides of course enjoy the beach and take a boat out for the day, so see this as a nice stopover option when visiting the surrounding islands.
Accommodations on Anguilla
For our final two nights, we took a 20-minute boat ride to Anguilla and then transferred to the Four Seasons — wow! My breath was taken away as I walked through the modern lobby into the Sunset Lounge and enjoyed a welcome drink while overlooking the Caribbean.
We were whisked away to our five-bedroom villa, where each bedroom boasted stunning ocean views, outdoor showers and famously comfortable Four Seasons beds (my favorite in the world). These villas come with a full kitchen, huge living area and beautiful outdoor living space, complete with a pool and hot tub. If you want to mix it up, you can walk down to the beach in about 2 minutes.
While it was hard to leave our villa, we did venture out to see some of the other rooms on property — OK, we didn’t make it far! The Four Seasons entry level category is spacious, but I highly encourage booking an ocean view because it’s absolutely stunning and worth every extra penny. The property offers a large variety of room options, from adjoining guest rooms and suites to penthouses and residences, so there really is a good fit for everyone.
Eventually, we shuttled over to Cap Juluca, the Belmond property on Anguilla, which is only about 15 minutes away from the Four Seasons. Condé Nast Traveler recently rated the beach here as the no. 1 beach in the world. The style at Cap Juluca is Moorish, so it’s a good option if you don’t care for the modern look of the Four Seasons. The Brownell team that stayed here was very happy with the service, food and overall experience.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to make it out to the other resorts on the island, such as Cuisinart, the Reefs, Manoah and Malliouhana. If the larger resorts aren’t for you, then there are definitely more boutique options.
As for the local cuisine, we did have the chance to walk down Meads Beach to check out some of their lunch spots, such as Straw Hat. We heard great things about Artisan as well, especially about their pizza.
Planning Your Trip to Paradise
I learned that hurricane season is technically June through December, with October through April being the best time of year to visit. I’m so grateful I had the chance to experience these beautiful islands and can’t wait to support them in their recovery. Please let us know how we can help you return to paradise!