Christopher Columbus was the first European to discover the island in 1493. He named it after his brother Bartolomeo. Often abbreviated to Saint-Barth in French, or St. Barts or St. Barths in English. His discovery was eventually forfeited to the French and is still under the rule of France as a separate overseas collectivity (COM) of France.
Much to the benefit of visitors, the chic island exudes French style; for a dedicated Francophile, it is a pleasurable paradise. Many are loathe to admit the French excel at elegance and luxury, the five star hotels on St. Barths are slightly or appreciably influenced by an extraordinary sense of French panache. Is that redundant?
Like fingerprints, we each have precise travel desires and hotels to suit our particular personalities. Le Sereno Hotel is not for the star-crossed celebrity-seeking traveler. Stay here to unwind and unplug. Teens will swoon, vanish and relish the lagoon, which offers numerous water activities: windsurfing, SUP, kite boarding, kayaking and snorkeling. Off property trail hiking nearby. Guaranteed to fatigue the kids so you can dance till dawn at the neighboring clubs! The shallow lagoon can be traversed by hotel kayaks or by gingerly walking through the waist deep warm water.
My recent, all too brief jaunt, to St. Barths left me craving a canceled flight home. Le Sereno, as the name might suggest, is a serene sanctuary of understated Christian Liaigre design. Whitewashed walls and pale linens on four poster platform beds, rich dark wood floors, windows that stretch from ceiling to floor, and oversize bathrooms with fathomless soaking tubs capable of submerging anyone under 5’8 (a good thing!), and spacious rain showers easily accommodate a friend or three.Le Sereno is an intimate beach resort consisting of 36 suites and for families with kiddos and nannies, three oversize private four-bedroom villas with pools. The sophisticated resort is perfectly plopped on a sandy palm shaded private beach, nestled on the shores of the Grand Cul de Sac, a protected lagoon teeming with turtles. Balmy breezes populate the sky with brightly colored kite surfer canopies bobbing and diving just below the clouds. Spend languid lazy days on your private deck chaise or lounging about the infinity pool, cabana boys at your beck and call for icy libations.
The interiors purposely don’t compete with the spectacular scenery: turquoise lagoon and sapphire skies, skies usually brimming with billowing marshmallow clouds. Liaigre merges outside and inside, my favorite suites Grand Plage Sud are perched on the edge of the beachfront; however all the rooms on the water are striking, private and soothing.
For Le Sereno, Mr. Liaigre served as artistic director across all aspects of the planning and design, including specifically developing and fabricating all of the furniture, lighting fixtures and most of the accessories for the hotel.
Nary a superfluous detail at Le Sereno.
Tempting not to escape your private deck and double chaise! However, you would miss the oft photographed infinity piscine. Palm lined, low double chaise, queued up like petite cake toppers across the rambling pale deck.
Heated piscine is divine for leisurely laps, greatly gratifying when droll French gentlemen in deep discussion inhabit the shallow end; glide by and turn ever so slowly, eavesdrop on a phrase or two of the intimate tête-à-tête, observe the typical Gallic shrug, standard to all French conversations. Bof … Je ne sais pas. (Hmpf…I’m not sure.)
I made a friend at the pool and insisted we discretely practice The Murmur and The Shrug after each lap! Why go to Hawaii, when people watching here is tres international, really?Spa – the ultimate setting. Secreted amid the luxuriant garden, may I suggest a salubrious sunset massage? Massage table centered in a room of exposed louvered panels allowing gentle breezes to caress the body; a serenade of chirping cicadas trumpet the setting sun. Your view: the brilliant sunset – pale pinks, ruby red streaks punctuated with those aforementioned puffy pastel hued clouds. Surf lapping against the rocks and in the distance, waves smacking a reef. Did I mention the open-air shower?
Al Fresco Dining Le Sereno Restaurant, from Miami’s James Beard award-winning restaurant, Juvia, as well as St. Barth’s Bonito. Le Sereno Restaurant provides the sophisticated essence of St. Barth with a menu that seamlessly blends French fare with Asian influence and utilizes the local vibrant flavors and ingredients of the Caribbean. The open air dining room never seems to close and the piscine offers endless snacks from the restaurant. Le Sereno also serves an assortment of charcoal skewers “a la robata,” with options like baby lobster, Spanish octopus, and beef tenderloin. Entrées include composed dishes like the Maple Miso Seabass with eggplant chips; or Grilled Swordfish with red pepper mango chutney and baby bok choi. An abundant selection of sushi and sashimi are also available, as well as a number of signature rolls like the Sereno Roll or the Aji Amarillo Roll with tuna.
Details: The island is petite; a car is helpful, but not necessary. Taxi drivers can be reserved as drivers, a bit spendy, but effortlessly accomplished. The hotel can organize private picnics at any of the several acclaimed beaches. Hiking is nearby, small mountain goats may skitter across your path. Fishing, tennis, (no golf, sorry!), world class retail therapy, gourmet dining at a plethora of restaurants. People watching, yacht ogling, or simply do nothing at all.
Le Sereno is a classically designed elegant property, the ambiance focused on the pleasure of its guests. Oh, and lovely luxury amenities, friendly attentive staff; the affable General Manager, Samy Ghachem, will personally assist with any and all requests, he aims to satisfy all, especially our guests.
Voila, we go, oui?
Unplug and discover St. Barth bliss at Le Sereno. Ring me.