It gives us anxiety every year. Just when we’re getting into holiday chill out mode, someone asks, “What are you doing for New Year’s Eve?” – and we start stressing about it.
This year, as our gift to you, we ran reconnaissance to get the lowdown on one of our fave island destinations, the ever glamorous St. Barth. After all, considering what a divisive year it’s been, the only way to say goodbye to 2019 is in the most glam way possible.
And sure, it has long been a magnet for movie stars, models, A-listers and the general cognoscenti – with the sexiness of the French Riviera, but Caribbean in style. But it’s also charmingly relaxed, which was just what we needed.
We checked into the perpetually chic Nikki Beach, and spent a few days in, on, and around the secluded white sand beaches and warm aquamarine sea – and we can definitively say this will very much be our place to be as we take leave of 2019.
First, those beaches: Of the 22 on the island, each has a totally unique personality, though by land some of the best are only accessible by a rugged cliffside hike or drive along a narrow, twisty road. But should your 2019 IPO have been a success, you can just charter a yacht from MasterSki Pilou.
Many consider Anse du Gouverneur to be the best – it’s directly in front of Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich’s sprawling estate – with its expansive stretch of white sand beach, and a sea of green from the lush vegetation in the surrounding hills.
The Grande Saline has the most secluded feel, and offers au natural sunbathing, for those with a thing for exhibitionism. As the bay is protected by a natural cove, the water is calmer – and it’s surrounded by natural beauty.
Colombier Beach is perhaps the most remote, and is set against the most dramatic and undeveloped backdrop. It’s not easy to reach, requiring a steep 20 minute hike along a narrow, craggy cliff – definitely not for the faint of heart. So just bring the yacht, and arrive by sea.
In the days leading up to the 1st, Nikki Beach (a luxury hospitality concern with fourteen beach clubs, four hotels and resorts, a lifestyle division – including fashion boutiques and a magazine – special events, and Nikki Cares, a non profit charity) is actually celebrating its 20th anniversary, with a full blown Forever Young blowout bash on the 29th. Neon Jungle will then bring the grooves all day (12pm – 7pm) on the 30th, before two editions (9pm – 12am, 12am – 4am) of “Rocking the Palace” will take over on New Year’s Eve. Kygo will be manning the decks, and the theme will be lavishly “Marie Antoinette” – though we strenuously recommend not losing your head. Rather, just plan to do your best to live up to the “Versailles 2020” motif.
We sampled some of Exec Chef Antoine Durand’s creations, and for the 31st he is designing a vibrant international menu, including some of the best dishes from different Nikki locales – with sushi specialties, seafood salads, rotisserie meats, decadent desserts…all expected to be paired with copious amounts of champers. And they’ll be carrying over some of the celebratory vibe from their Friday Rosé parties.
But for romantics, we also checked out Tamarin St. Barth on Route des Salines, surely the most beautiful dining destination on the island. The vibe is that of a surreal tropical paradise, set in a lush, exotic garden, landscaped with swaying palm trees and gently lit ponds. Candlelit dining in the enchanting setting is almost indescribable, with French inspired and beautifully plated dishes – all sourced from local purveyors – including lobster risotto, slow roasted pork belly “Ibaïama” and mahi mahi “à la plancha.”
But appealing to the gastronome in us, and lording gracefully over Gustavia Harbor was Bonito, the island’s most revered French culinary experience. The understated elegance includes panoramic vistas of the megayachts docked in the Caribbean, and the twinkling lights of the hillside villas. The kitchen is helmed by Executive Chef Laurent Cantineaux and Chef de Cuisine Aurélien Rouille, who conjure elevated French fare with a Peruvian twist, focused on fresh seafood. We decisively concluded that the tiraditos, ceviches and anticuchos were the stars of the menu.
Though if we’re bring honest, just kicking back at the bar, watching the sunset with an artful cocktail by drinks alchemists Jimmy Cassar and Johann Grillitsch, was as perfect as it gets. We’ll see you there on the 31st.