Bargains Replace Billionaires on St. Barts


The high season on St. Barts is tapering off. Mega-yachts are heading home and prices are coming down.

The Caribbean island is enjoying a momentary hiatus from the endless crowds and notoriously sky-high prices that have made it a winter beacon for vacationing glitterati. The day of the St. Barts bargain has finally arrived and even the island hotspots aren't impervious to off-season deals.

How to get there: You don't need access to a private jet to get to St. Barts. JetBlue Airways offers daily non-stop service from JFK to St. Maarten for fares as low as $97 each way for mid-week travel during March. There's no shrimp cocktail or caviar service, but there are mini-bottles of Champagne and individual satellite televisions. From St. Maarten, you'll take a 15-minute flight through Winair to St. Barts.

Where to stay: Hotel Guanahani & Spa is one of the island's true hotel darlings. The 16-acre resort sits on the tip of the Grand Cul de Sac peninsula, where it's flanked by fine white-sand beaches and offers views of the Atlantic Ocean and Marigot Bay. Starting April 15, the hotel will accept U.S. dollars for summer packages typically priced in euros, cutting the cost of the stay by 25% based on current exchange rates, as part of a promotion.

Hotel Guanahani is composed of interconnected cottages, splashed in bright green and indigo blue. The bungalow-style buildings house 68 guest rooms and suites that offer unfettered views of the sea. The rooms' glass doors open to teak terraces with tables and chairs. The bathrooms feature deep tubs, double-basin vanities and toiletries by luxury cosmetic brands Clarins and Frederic Fekkai. The resort provides guests with free rental cars if they visit for six nights during the winter.

St. Barts by day: The open-air lounge Nikki Beach attracts pop stars and actors like Mariah Carey and Daniel Craig, who sip Dom Perignon while relaxing on its beach chairs. Some consider the hotspot on St. Jean Beach over-the-top tacky with its topless sunbathing, bronzed models and yacht-hopping billionaires.

Nikki Beach offers an indoor dining room, but the main draw is outside: beachfront lounge chairs and teak cabanas draped in long swags of white fabric. The party starts at 11 a.m. and ends at dusk, when everyone packs into the complimentary Nikki shuttle and heads back to town.

Where to eat: The Eden Rock Hotel sits on a peninsula of white sand that extends from St. Jean Beach. The resort overlooks a secluded bay and is home to two of the island's most famous restaurants, On the Rocks and The Sand Bar, which offer legendary people watching.

Sand Bar is a casual all-day eatery with a lively bar that attracts the après-beach crowd starting at 4 p.m. and, later, the late-night singles, who stay until 1 a.m. On the Rocks, perched above the ocean's crashing waves, is more formal with an exquisite menu of seafood appetizers, grilled meats and homemade desserts.

Where to mingle: St. Barts comes to life at night, though the club scene becomes subdued toward the end of the season. Start your evening at Le Ti, a one-room bar decorated bordello-style with red walls and photographs from past nights of debauchery. The after-dinner scene kicks off around 8 p.m. as a local island crowd arrives for a night of classic rock and pop tunes.

Around 11 p.m., head to Le Yacht Club, a haven of glass walls that's filled with white slip-covered chairs and oversize sofas. By midnight, it turns into an all-out nightclub with disco lighting and table dancing from models and movie stars who are trying to party like it's 2006.

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