Whenever you hear about St. Barts, it is usually in connection with which celebrities are partying there. It is definitely known as the island of the stars. Why is that? Well, it may be because of the island's pristine beauty. And while it is small - only eight square miles - there are a lot of hills, inlets, coves, beaches, and tropical landscapes packed into that space. Driving around the island, wherever you go, the villages are neat, the houses are well tended, roads are good (although narrow and winding), and even the cemeteries are beautiful.
Then there are the hotels and villas. The hotels have been carefully planned to be small and precious, with emphases on exquisite service and guaranteed privacy. Luxurious private villas outnumber the available hotel rooms and overlook the sparkling turquoise sea. The villas are self-contained residences with waitstaff, pools, Jacuzzis, and home theaters, ideal for hiding from crowds of admirers and paparazzi.
But wait, there are also the restaurants. The French heritage shines through loud and clear, and the island's fusion of French and Creole cuisines is offered in gorgeous settings. Even the plentiful beach restaurants turn typical barbecue and burger fare into gourmet experiences. But the choices also include American favorites. After all, this is St. Barts, and the watchword is: "You want it? You got it."
With its long history as a duty-free port, you know there are bargains to be had. Shops in Gustavia and St. Jean offer couture clothing, accessories, jewelry, and more. This is Parisian shopping in paradise.
There's no doubt that a big part of the allure of the island comes from what the island does not have: flashy casinos, high-rise hotels, and crowded beaches. The real draw of St. Barts, whether you are rich or poor, is the chance to enjoy the ambiance and character of France in a tropical setting.