Desirable Destination: St. Barts
The Cannes of the Caribbean | December
See if any of the following sounds familiar: You tune in to “Access Hollywood” ostensibly to keep track of who your kids think are cool, but in reality, you do it to see if Diddy will show pictures from his latest charter vacation. You circle names in the Forbes 400 list based on who owns a yacht (or two or three). And you keep just as many copies of People and Us Weekly on your boat as you do PMY‘s The World’s 100 Largest Yachts and America’s 100 Largest Yachts issues.
While your dock mates may poke fun at you, I understand. You secretly wish that you were one of the yachterazzi, the beautiful people with the bold-face names who get to yacht-hop in some of the most beautiful harbors in the world that are too small to be overrun with cruise ships and tacky tourists.
Well, you can be. During the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s Eve, there’s an island in the French Antilles that has such a strong pull for megayachts and megamoguls, you’d swear a giant magnet was hidden in the hills. The island is Saint Barthlemy, better known as St. Barts, and while its eight square miles boast some of the loveliest white-sand beaches anywhere (draped with perfect bodies working on perfect, no-line tans), trust me, its capital of Gustavia is a yacht-spotter’s and yacht-hopper’s fantasy.
Try these stats on for size: Sixty Med-moor berths are available for yachts up to 200 feet LOA, while 14 yachts up to 80 feet can anchor in the inner harbor and upwards of 100 yachts can anchor in the outer harbor. And every inch of space is taken up during the holidays. According to local reports, last year on Christmas Day there were 200 yachts at the docks and at anchor. Between December 28 and 31, the harbormaster’s office handled an average of 55 boats per day, and by the time the fireworks were launched on New Year’s Eve, an astounding 350 yachts were present. Ultima III, Jamaica Bay, and Mystique were just some of the repeat visitors, enjoying the same chic surroundings that the likes of Four Wishes, Gallant Lady, Rising Sun, Octopus, and Limitless have all taken in.
How do you get aboard them? I’d help you, darlings, but I’m presently making my own plans to get into the exclusive parties that the likes of domestic diva Martha Stewart, director George Lucas, and fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg attend (they were at the New Year’s bash aboard Octopus last year). Chances are charter yachts are already booked for this month’s celebrations, so call now to reserve your spot next year. Yes, it’s that popular, and it’s worth it.
Regardless of which path you choose, arrive at your local airport without socks on, particularly if it’s bitterly cold, just to rub it in to everyone else that you’re heading somewhere they’re not. After all, you’re embarking upon a never-to-be-forgotten experience. From the lilting French accents heard everywhere to the insanely expensive yet enthralling cuisine, you’ll pay through the nose and enjoy every minute of it.
Think of it this way. The cost of a simple mahi-mahi and vegetable salad for lunch at a beachside restaurant in St. Barts? Easily the same as you’d spend on dinner, given the chic atmosphere and the Euro-to-dollar exchange rate. Cost of gazing from the aft deck, champagne in hand, reviewing stories you’ll tell of yacht-hopping in Gustavia? Priceless.
January: British Virgin Islands
February: Great Abaco Island / Bahamas
March: Little Harbor Cay / Bahamas
April: Los Sueños / Costa Rica
July: Washington, D.C.
August: British Columbia
September: Montauk, Long Island
October: Hudson River, New York
November: Half Moon Cay / Belize
December: St. Barts
This article originally appeared in the December 2006 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.