Dipping so low it appears to ruffle the hair of bystanders below, the Tradewinds Air 12-seater slips onto St. Barth’s tiny airstrip, confirming descriptions of this landing as one of the “most exhilarating” and “scariest” in the world. But from that point forward all worry vanishes, as this tiny Caribbean island proves its status as one of the chillest island hideaways around.
Named by “discoverer” Columbus for his brother Bartolomeo, St. Barth (officially St. Barthélemy) was passed back and forth between French, British and Swedish colonists for 300 years, all the while providing a hospitable hangout for pirates plundering Spanish galleons. Today, with the official status of a French state, it retains a decidedly Old World vibe despite making headlines for celebrity high jinks during the holiday high season.
St. Barth doesn’t overwhelm with places to go or things to do. In fact, your biggest decision will be choosing among the island’s more than 10 powdery sand beaches. Rebuilt from the ground up to embody its historical role in St. Barth’s early bohemianism, Hotel Manapany opened in March 2018 celebrating a return “back to the roots of St. Barth.” From its open-air spa and bleached-wood yoga pavilion to the 43 color-splashed suites that stairstep up the hill, every aspect of Manapany’s decor and service reflects je-ne-sais-quoi simple and understated sophistication.
Manapany’s Ocean Deluxe Suites start at $600 weekday and $710 weekend with seasonal discounts and packages available, while the five- person Villa Creole will set you back $2,300 a night. Breakfast included.