Welcome to St Barths!
The adventure that is St. Barths begins as soon as the little propeller plane starts its approach. We fly over a hill and then, in what feels like a nose dive, head for the runway – which is alarmingly short and ends in the bright turquoise ocean. I hold my breath for a moment, then the pilot sets the plane down safely and brings it to a halt with plenty of time to spare before we get our feet wet. Only pilots with a special license are allowed to land here ... Welcome to Saint Barthélemy, or St. Barths for short. The island is many things to many people: 21 square kilometers of natural paradise, a haven for the rich and megarich, a party location for the beau monde. Leonardo DiCaprio is a regular, as are Beyoncé and Sharon
Stone. Bill Gates has a house here and Paul McCartney is on the island with wife number three to recover from wife number two. So why do they all come? The island is beautiful, the atmosphere relaxed. The infrastructure is good, crime non-existent. For the island’s many well-to-do visitors, those are important factors. Hardly anybody so much as turns their head when a celebrity goes by. Hotels are few, but good. Most vacationers rent a house – hardly a cheap option considering prices start at 10,000 euros a week.
The island, which is part of the Lesser Antilles, was discovered by Columbus in 1493 and named after his brother Bartolomeo. Later it belonged to France, until Louis XVI sold it to Sweden’s King Gustav III. The capital – a picturesque harbor town – has been called Gustavia ever since. A nice reason for King Carl Gustav and Queen Silvia to visit the island
from time to time, even though St. Barths was given back to France in 1877. Haute cuisine in the Caribbean – it doesn’t get any better than that! Nowhere else in the Caribbean can you eat as well as on St. Barths. Michelin-starred chefs fly in from France on a regular basis, on a culinary mission to spoil their discerning guests. It’s almost impossible to get a table at one of the island’s 60 restaurants without making a reservation first. So having lunch with David Matthews at his Eden Rock Hotel is a bit like winning the jackpot. And very entertaining, too! Tall, athletic and casually dressed in a polo shirt, Mathews meets me at the Eden Rock’s beach restaurant and starts off by ordering “the best white wine we have.” The way he says it doesn’t sound the least bit big-headed, just genuine. The legendary Eden Rock Hotel, which is perched on a big rocky outcrop in St. Jean Bay, has been given a new lease of life. And it’s all thanks to David Matthews.