The tiny volcanic island of St Barths in the French West Indies has long been a favourite hotspot for Hollywood A-listers, hedgies, music empresarios, sporting legends, tech bros, and media moguls. During the festive season, the yachts of the uber-rich vie for best position in the harbour below the charming capital, Gustavia, and the beaches and bars are packed with celebs sporting oversized sunglasses.
However, the rest of the year is much more low-key, with a focus on environmental initiatives to preserve their precious eco-system, including a coral restoration project in front of the elegant Le Sereno where guests are encouraged to get involved…
See The Other Side Of St Barths At Le Sereno – Review
Le Sereno is a chic, family-owned and operated beachfront hotel rebuilt (after Hurricane Irma 2017) and designed with the late Christian Liaigre. Located in the north-east of the island, just a 15-minute drive from the airport, it stretches along 600 feet of pristine sandy beach on the coast of the island’s only highly-protected Grand Cul de Sac marine sanctuary. The constant breeze on this side of the island keeps guests cool when the sun is high.
Contemporary-style accommodation includes 39 spacious suites plus three enormous four-bedroom villas with private pools. Minimalist in design yet luxurious in feel, think lots of wood and stone, handcrafted furniture, crisp white linens, and the comfiest of beds.
Most rooms have sea views and also outside space should you prefer breakfast on your terrace or maybe a sundowner before heading out to eat. Swimming pool, sundeck, restaurants and the spa pavilion set within lush tropical gardens are all within easy reach. Non-hotel guests are welcome to drink, dine, and book a treatment in the spa, but the pool and loungers are strictly reserved for hotel guests only.
The spectacular shallow lagoon, just in front of Le Sereno, leads out to the coral restoration project that launched in 2015. Just walk out then swim, snorkel, or take a paddleboard to get there (you might pass a couple of giant turtles on your way) – to learn about this successful initiative is a must. The members monitor reefs, grow coral in a nursery then attach these to a sea table, educate school children on the importance of a thriving biodiverse environment, and encourage them to get involved with beach cleanups and coastal restoration for plants, turtles, iguanas, dunes. Guests have the opportunity to do their part too – just ask at the desk.
Take an island tour and hike – the rugged landscape is dramatic, the scenery spectacular. On your return, head straight to the serene spa for a muscle-melting massage or one of the facials from the extensive menu featuring Valmont Switzerland products.
Plan a half or full day cruise on board the stylish new ‘Favorite Child’ Lagoon 46 catamaran with Sunkissed Charters – it’s a great way to see the island from the water, where you stop at various swim spots and dive off a cliff if you dare.
There’s so much going on on the island – carnival, regattas, music, theatre, art, and film festivals – but if food is your thing, plan your visit for November-time to enjoy the St Barths Gourmet Festival which welcomes Michelin-starred guest chefs who work with local restaurants to create extraordinarily delicious menus.
Le Sereno Al Mare is your spot for breakfast, lunch and dinner – start the morning with homemade pastries, fresh tropical fruits and healthy juices, then move on the Mediterranean-style menu later in the day with fresh grilled fish, a variety of pastas and a divine lobster linguini. The vibe here is chilled, loungey, relaxed.
Bar Sereno is fun for pre and post dinner drinks. Pull up a stool at the bar, enjoy a cocktail and the sounds of the DJ or the weekly guest, Soleil.
Plage offers light snacks beachside or by the pool, healthy salads, sandwiches and burgers, and perhaps a glass of very chilled rosé!
If you venture out, make sure to book a night at Sella St Barths for a cool open-air setting, glam crowd, and mouthwatering Middle Eastern dishes.
THE FINAL WORD
Le Sereno is the spot for sophisticated travellers looking for luxury, comfort and privacy coupled with the opportunity to learn more about sea life and contribute to its restoration and preservation. On offer too is a newly-launched Wellness Programme which combines nature explorations, mindfulness activities and healthy dining.
BOOK IT: Suites at Le Sereno from €860 per night and villas from €5,100 per night, including breakfast, transfers, and service charge. March to May is recommended as the best time to visit. serenohotels.com
Private charter transfers to St Barths are available via Tradewind Aviation.