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Culture / Travel

A DJ’s Secret Guide to St. Barth

The Luxury Hotels, Crazy Dance Spots and Hidden Beaches of the Party Island

BY Steffi Burns // 04.20.16

St. Barth, short for Saint Barthélemy, is a tiny French island in the Caribbean, famous for its stunning beaches, beautiful lighting, luxury hotels and that oh-so-memorable commuter flight from St. Maarten. It’s also accessible from Puerto Rico via boat, plane and helicopter, though I prefer to take the commuter flight from St. Maarten, as it takes only 10 minutes (assuming one does not have to circle before landing).

I mark my years by moments, and my love affair with St. Barth has been long and steady. In St. Barth, to dance is to unleash the French soul you never knew you had and now have the opportunity to discover. I have celebrated my birthday, friends’ birthdays, Easter, Thanksgiving, New Year’s and Christmas in St. Barth (there is a precious local church in Gustavia, the island’s capital and port).

St. Barth is also wildly popular during the annual Bucket Regatta (March) and the Summer Sessions Music Festival (August). One of my fondest memories was New Year’s Eve many moons ago, dancing on the tables at Nikki Beach with my sister, barefoot and not a care in the world. Oh, and then there were the nights we boogied at Le Yacht Club and twirled at the famous La Plage restaurant until sunrise …

The island is also dotted with great hotels and villas. Tom Beach Hotel, home of La Plage, is always fun. Book the recently renovated Hotel Le Toiny for a glamorous retreat, while the Eden Rock Hotel is always a popular place to call home. Then there is Cheval Blanc St Barth Isle de France, which will forever have a soft spot in my heart, because it brings back so many wonderful memories — it’s impossible to walk down the hallway towards the beach without taking a photo to capture the beauty. Cheval Blanc is situated on my favorite beach, Flamands, and has the most divine restaurants: La Cabane and La Case de L’Isle. Everything in the hotel is rosé pink, luxurious yet relaxed, and it all evokes a certain laissez faire.

Cheval Blanc hallway
Cheval Blanc hallway

The beaches of St. Barth are otherworldly. Colombier, Saline, Gouverneur, Shell, Flamands and St Jean Beach are all worth exploring. My daily agenda remains the same year after year: soak up the warm morning sun, take a swim in the ocean, and escape the sun for a leisurely lunch at either La Case de L’Isle, Do Brazil, Le Tamarin, the Taiwana or La Plage.

Nikki Beach is an absolute must. Afternoons spent here translates to rosé, rosé and more rosé while catching up with old and sometimes new friends. My favorite table is the long rectangular one next to the stairs, with bench seating on one side and individual chairs on the other. As the sun sets, the DJ cranks up the music and many of the patrons exercise some new dance moves.

For dinner, head to local gem La Guerite and linger a few hours while enjoying the salt-crusted whole Greek sea bass — with a bottle of rosé, of course. Other local favorites are Maya’s, Black Ginger and L’Isola. For those who want to keep the party going, pop over to Bagatelle and Le Ti.

Steffi (far right) and friends at Nikki Beach
Steffi (far right) with friends at Nikki Beach

The shopping in Gustavia is always fun and the town is small, so you end up bumping into familiar faces and friends you might not have realized were also in town. You’ll find luxury stores mixed with local boutiques that carry island specialties, everything from vanilla rum to fine linen shirts.

Steffi Burns is a DJ and Impatience Rosé wine ambassador. She is inspired by the secret gems, local flavors and unique beats that make travel and adventure worthy of a postcard. Find her on Instagram @steffiiburns.

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