June 2001by Jan Gordon
Although a family vacation includes quite a bit of dining around, part of the fun of villa life for me was cooking in my own kitchen at an island pace…barefoot and in a bathing suit. Arrangements were made with Paradisio to stock our refrigerator for arrival with a savory roasted chicken, a selection of cheeses, pasta salad, and dessert. I love grocery shopping in St. Barts and planning cool, fruity meals with some of the wonderful French ingredients, fresh seafood, and real cheeses found in Match, AMC, or in specialty shops like Rotisserie. We even found our favorite Var region rosé wine we had discovered and missed since a previous visit to St. Tropez, and there it was like an old friend right on the shelf in the grocery store. We usually tried to lunch at the villa if we were dining out for dinner, or often we chose to stay in for a late poolside dinner after having lunched and beached out all afternoon. It is a great way to cut costs and, more importantly, to meet our vacation agenda of achieving relaxation and "time out" just being together.
Nevertheless, when in St. Barts, do as the French do - dine! Our "must" list includes Sunday brunch followed by lounging/dancing/drinking all afternoon at Boubou’s, where the incredibly hip music, Moroccan motif, and with-it crowd make the all day affair a sensory experience; la Marine on Thursday nights when the mussels make their weekly arrival from Brittany and where owners Isabelle and Rose bustle and rush to keep the friendly, crowded, and casual ambience moving and happy. Bring a sweater if you’re sunburned and eating at the edge of the marina. L'Orchidée, at the Christopher Hotel, where a piano bar and piano bar followers blend with poolside dining elegance and a superbly friendly and attentive wait staff; and our favorite for lunch and all-day beaching, l'Indigo at the Guanahani, where soothing is visually defined by the cool color palate of turquoise linens juxtaposed with baby blue pool water and azure ocean beyond. I didn’t even have to eat, as just being there is ample satisfaction which is further enhanced by an après-lunch chaise lounge under a coconut umbrella, book in hand, kids close by, swaying in hammocks. Ahhh... heaven on earth for a Mom.
With our departure schedules far more haphazardly organized than our synchronized arrivals, we found our family dwindling incrementally on our final two days, so instead of feeling "left" in spacious villa OUI, we chose to go to a hotel for our final night. Christopher Hotel had always seemed like a romantic, affordable, and exceedingly friendly hotel in my many business trips there, so I chose this gracious setting at the foot of Pointe Milou’s cliff for our final night. The Christopher is without doubt an "expensive" hotel experience in an affordable reality. The room, newly redecorated from head to toe, looked out over the pool with its island and palm trees over an eternity edge to the ocean and distant islands. Gifts of the hotel’s signature pareo and men’s tee shirt awaited us in a colonial feeling, high ceiling room with private terrace. The bathroom, stocked with imported amenities and modern conveniences, surprised us with an outdoor garden covered with pergola and a high wall from the path just beyond. We said farewells from this nourishing, pampering haven and didn’t even notice the angst of saying goodbye to traveling children…so comfortable and tranquil were we on our last night of a St. Barts vacation.
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