Travel by Design > Luis Pons Designs Le Guanahani, Saint Barthélemy
I challenge you to a weekend more indulgent than what I am about to share. You wake up (at your usual time) in London, head to Gatwick and board the most civilised morning BA flight to Antigua. Lunch, a couple of movies, an afternoon cocktail and boom you’re in Antigua. You’re collected by the sweetest Tradewinds Aviation team who whisk you to your very own Pilatus PC-12 Jet, and within half an hour you’ve landed on St Barts for (another) afternoon cocktail at the beautifully designed Le Guanahani.
At this point let me share that my wonderful weekend was at the generosity of Riva PR and Le Guanahani, who both wanted me to experience the newly refurbished hotel designed by Miami based designer Luis Pons. What a place, what an island…
We visited the island at the beginning of the season, and following an unexpected storm weeks earlier we weren’t remotely fazed by the mini downpour we experienced on our arrival. We were in St Barts! For the weekend! Amazing. A few clouds didn’t even make a dent in our excitement.
Tradewinds Aviation offer the most time effiicent way to reach the island from Antigua, you can cross by boat, but hey, you’ve come all this way, and to join a flight with others making the same trip I think you can fly for around $350 return dependant on the availability and time in the season.
Also on our way back we had the plane to ourselves, so it’s just pot luck if your flight is full or not. Now a tip from a pro which was passed on to me, sit at the back of the plane (it’s where they keep the mini bar!!).
We were greeted by the Le Guanahani transfer service and were whisked to the hotel in no time where we were met with a glass of champagne and a warm welcome from the hotel manager Martein van Wagenberg and his team before being taken to our beautiful room.
The hotel is at it’s final stages of the renovation by Luis Pons, the magnificent reception which you arrive into, gives you the most perfect insight into the hotels updated style and design ethos.
The hotel is situated between Marigot Bay and Grand Cul de Sac. Le Guanahani is a haven of luxury, comfort, and elegance. The multi-coloured cottages blend seamlessly with the acres of bougainvillea, hibiscus and coconut trees between the ocean and lagoon. Even if the hotel was full, you’d barely notice.
Following the architectural and decorative traditions that have developed throughout centuries in the West Indies, Le Guanahani is surrounded by tropical gardens, each cottage is configured in a creole style and decorated with rare woods, pastel colors and Luis Pons’ collection of furniture created specifically for the hotel. Each suite has a vast terrace and an exceptional view of the ocean. All the rooms have A/C, ceiling fan, hair dryer, mini bar, Safe, iPod dock, LCD flat screen TV with multimedia services including web radio & music and wifi.
St Barts is one of the oldest Caribbean Islands, and was named by Christopher Colombus after his brother Bartholomeo in 1493. Colonized by the British in the XVIIth Century, the island is now under French administration.
The 9 square mile island is surrounded by pure, white sand beaches and crystal-clear water reflecting the deep blue sky, this is St Tropez in the Caribbean, and the only place to ‘summer’ in winter.
The terrace at the reception, which leads to the Clarins Spa.
To our beautiful Signature Suite, our home for the weekend. Notice the La Lampes Gras wall lights…
I wanted to share on a personal note, another special reason for visiting Le Guanahani. Two years ago, I travelled to Miami for my first Design Miami experience. Although I knew very few people there, I was taken under the wing of designer Charlier Ferrer who invited me along to a brunch held at the home of a designer he was collaborating with. It was Luis Pons.
I spent the day with Luis at his home in Miami where he showed me some exciting prototypes he was working on for a new hotel project. It was Le Guanahani. For me this full circle of seeing how excited he was so share these new designs that week, and me thinking one day how wonderful it would be to visit somewhere as special as St Barts, how incredibly lucky am I?
Pons’ Design lab is a design firm specialising in residential and hospitality design. His core values lie in finding unique and thoughtful solutions to his clients’ needs and desires through design. Taking aspects of their stories and reintroducing them in delightful ways, Pons has created some wonderfully whimsical designs such as the hotel bar disguised as a series of stacked trunks, see below.
As a result, his spaces and furnishings have a dynamic element that is memorable and so suited to each space. Inanimate objects come to life with his design touch. He’s really quite a brilliant man.
Back to the hotel though, and our beautiful view…
Wherever we go, we must never be too far from a bottle of bubbles, how did they know…?!
Dinner on our first evening was at the hotel restaurant, Bartolomeo with the hotel manager Martein. An interesting piece of info I found out that evening, that much of the special produce served at the hotel is flown in on Air France flights from Paris on a daily basis. Speciality foods are purchased at the markets in the morning, and served to you in the evenings at the island restaurants. Now that’s quite something.
My choices that evening….
Alaskan King Crab, Jerusalem Artichoke Cream, Baby Broad Beans, Osetra Caviar €48
Steamed Cod Fillet, Artichoe Cappucino, Roasted Pumpkin, Oregano €38
Chocolate Souffle €15
A beautiful restaurant, and a perfect end to an exciting day. Back to our suite, and to bed. Who knows what tomorrow will bring…
This is why you come to St Barts, to wake up on a Saturday morning, and be able to head straight to the beach, utter heaven…
Breakfast at the poolside Indigo restaurant, a perfect way to start the day…
Whilst my more energetic other half hit the gym, I went for a stroll on the beach before we both hired a driver to take us on a tour of the island and down to Port de Gustavia…
Exploring the island looking for our own treasure to take home…
Back to the hotel after lunch out, and to the Beach Bar!
Just to put us in TOTAL relaxation mode we checked into the Spa by Clarins for a heavily indulgent massage and chill out session. The hotel has a fabulous pool hidden away here, so make sure you don’t miss it, perfect for some morning laps…
The weather decided to take a bit of a turn on us that afternoon, so whilst we were safely tucked away in our cabins the heavens opened and washed the decks down. Not one for risking swimming in a storm, we hop footed it back to our suite for some R&R before our evening out at the famous Le Ti restaurant and nightclub…
Sunset after the storm on the terrace of our suite…
Now, I was given many places to check out whilst we were in St Barts, but Le Ti was absolutely the most talked about restaurant we HAD to visit. A night of cocktails, dinner and dancing (on the tables mind you, and in fancy dress that you’ve collected from the restaurant kitchen, it’s quite something).
We woke up on Sunday to these glorious blue skies. Heaven. Hello Sunday. Show me your beach Guanahani. I wanted to race there, but no, we’re in holiday mode, so slowly does it.
We scooped up our magazines, headed for breakfast and went for a stroll on the beach before I promptly set up camp on my lounger for the morning. “Shall we go in the ocean?” I said, and off he swam so far I gave up and paddled back in. I just wanted a bloody mary, was 10am too soon?
Hello Beach Bar, we meet again…
As the afternoon arrived, it was time to say goodbye and thank you to Le Guanahani. As we were whisked back to the island runway, our departure was really far too soon. You could stay at Le Guanahani for a fortnight and still not want to leave. This place sparkled, it positively glowed in the daylight, those Caribbean colours do everything to lift your mood and force you into some kind of blissful state of happiness.
Bye bye St Barts, maybe see you again soon…?
My stay and all flights were courtesy of Riva PR & Le Guanahani, St Barts. Thank you to Louise Swanne, Martein van Wagenberg, Olivia Garnham and Jacinta Stevens. I have spread the word every day since I have been back how Le Guanahani is the most magical place, and the most perfect hotel for anyone wanting to visit St Barts.
Le Guanahani, Grand Cul de Sac, 97133 Saint Barthélemy, French West Indies
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