The Ultimate Mini-Guide to Arriving in St Barth in Style

What's in our St Barth Mini Guide

Introduction

Any trip can be thought of as an adventure.  This is especially true of a trip to St Barth.  There is an old cliche about "enjoying the journey of life".  Your trip to St Barth is the best example of this.  The moment the decision is made to spend time at Hotel Le Toiny St Barth, you will view every day leading up to your departure like a child waiting on Christmas ... This guide is designed to achieve three things:
  1. Tell you what to expect of St. Barth;
  2. Let you know how best to prepare for your time in a Hotel Le Toiny Private Luxury Villa Suite;
  3. Explain the options and process of how to get here.

If the guide does its job, you will be well prepared for the luxury Caribbean vacation experience of a lifetime in St. Barth.

Aahh St Barth ... What's in a name?

For an island with the most distinct identity in the Caribbean, you will find St Barth being referred to in so many different ways and spellings it is mind boggling.  I have seen the following variations:
  • St Barthelemy: English full name of the of the island
  • St Barthélemy: French full name of the island
  • St Barth: preferred short form of the island name
  • St Bart: commonly seen short form of the island name
  • St Barths: commonly seen short form of the island name
  • St Barts: commonly seen short form of the island name
  • Guadeloupe: this is a tricky one - St. Barth used to be a part of Guadeloupe which was a French administrative department in the Caribbean.  The thing is, Guadeloupe is also an island country in its own right about a 1 hour flight from St. Barth.  Whilst St. Barth since January 2013 is its own collectivity, the ties with Guadeloupe remain strong particularly for certain municipal administrative services.  The important thing to know is that whilst you may transit through Guadeloupe on your way to St. Barth, Guadeloupe is not St. Barth and therefore not your final destination!
  • French West Indies: St Barth forms part of the French Caribbean, French Antilles, or French West Indies which is comprised of St. Barthelemy, St. Martin, Guadeloupe, and Martinique.
  • France: Yes it is true, St Barth is in every way shape and form a part of France.  The currency is the Euro, the Passport is French, as such the island is a fully participating member of the EU
  • SBH: This is important.  When traveling to St Barth, SBH is the official airport code!  If your final destination via air is anything other than SBH - double check!  If you are making final transit to St Barth via ferry or boat, then it is likely you are traveling via St. Maarten (SXM).  There are also many air transfers to St. Barth via Guadeloupe (PTP), Antigua (ANU), Puerto Rico (SJU), and St. Martin (SFG).
  • STB: When sending shipments via Tropical Shipping, STB is the name of the shipping port.
  • 97133: This is the trendy zip code of Gustavia region of St Barth.  It is our version of Beverly Hills 90210 - except much cooler with think!  There is another zip code in use in St Barh, 97022 for the St. Jean region but somehow it is not as trendy or widely used and displayed as 97133!
  • COM (collectivité d'outre-mer): This is the official classification of St. Barth within the country of France.

"St. Barth" is just fine, thank-you!

Most of what is written above is correct.  As you can see, whilst there are many names, they all refer in varying degrees of accuracy to your tropical paradise, St. Barth.  Ultimately so long as are not terminating in Anguilla, St. Maarten / St. Martin, Guadeloupe, or Antigua; and you are terminating in St. Barth, St. Barthelemy, or SBH - you have been successful and we look forward to welcoming you!

European Chic in the Heart of the Caribbean

One of the most amazing qualities of St. Barth is precisely how European it is considering it is in the heart of the Caribbean.  Of course as we noted above, we are in Europe but many of the usual trappings of the Caribbean don't exist here or if they do, in a very diluted form.  
  • The spoken language is French.  
  • The Currency is the Euro
  • The shopping is on par with some of the finest boutiques of Paris and Milan.
  • The food, caught or flown in fresh daily. 
  • There are no massive import duties so you can buy virtually everything you need for less than on many nearby islands.  
  • There is zero crime and hence no need for gated communities or other such security manifestations.
  • There is no mass tourism hotel or cruise products which means the value in the island is distributed around the whole island with no one area standing out as a "good" are to be or a "not so good area" to be in.

St Barth Airport: Gustaff III Airport (SBH)

For seasoned travelers to the Caribbean region, the biggest shock will be the airport.  

  • No long line-ups.  
  • No ridiculous forms to fill explaining why you are visiting the island.  
  • No obtrusive searches of personal property.  
  • No hidden arrival taxes or departure fees.  
  • No tiny cards that you are required to submit upon your departure. 

From the time you touch down at the Gustaf III Airport (SBH) to the time that you are in your car, with your luggage either driving to, or being driven to Hotel Le Toiny, you will find that perhaps 20 minutes have elapsed.  And that is on a slow day! St Barth has no illusions about being a financial centre, or all-inclusive resort centre.  They have opted for the elite luxury travel niche and they do it like none other.

The Discerning Luxury Traveler

For yachts, villas, hotels, cuisine, VIP, Ultra-High Net Worth Individuals, celebrities, and those seeking a private, intimate, sexy, fun vacation - St Barth is definitely your port of call. To add the proverbial icing on the cake, you will find the kindest and most attentive people in all walks of life here on St Barth.  It is as if the entire population is so aware of how previous their oasis is that they collectively work to protect, promote, and enhance the tourist experience to the benefit of the entire island community.

St Barth: 10 Tips to Arriving in Style

1. Choose Your Dates

There are so many things you have to consider when traveling to St. Barth not the least of which is to think about when.  To be clear it is always a good time to visit St. Barth and the Hotel Le Toiny in particular is pleased to play host to you whenever you choose to visit. But as with much of the Caribbean there are a few key time periods that offer a different experience to the luxury traveler. These are the dates and seasons you should know for St Barth Hotel Le Toiny:

  • St Barth Festive Season:  December 20th to January 4th
  • St Barth  Winter Season:  January 5th 2014 to March 31, 2014
  • St Barth  Spring Season:  April 1, 2014 to May 31, 2014
  • St Barth  Summer Season (Early):  June 1, 2014 to August 31, 2014
  • Hotel  Shut Down: September 1st to October 25
  • St Barth Summer Season (Late): October 25, 2014 to Nov. 16, 2014
  • St Barth Autumn Season:  November 17, 2014 to December 19, 2014  

2. Make Your Reservations

There are many ways to reserve your hotel luxury private villa suite at Hotel le Toiny St. Barth.  This can be done via one of our many Travel Agent and Tour Operator partners and affiliates around the world.
  • You will find that those Travel Agent and Tour Operators that cater to high-end  luxury and boutique agencies that book only the world's most exclusive hotels.
  • Since Hotel Le Toiny St Barth is a Relais & Chateaux property therefore you can view the St Barth Hotel profile and reserve directly online at the Relais & Chateaux websites.
  • You can book directly through our own website at www.LeToiny.com which is Hotel Le Toiny St Barth main website - the actual reservation form is here for St Barth Hotel Le Toiny.
  • You can book directly through Hotel Le Toiny St Barth facebook page which can be found at www.Facebook.com/HotelLeToinyStBarth.
  • You can send an email to Reservations@LeToiny.com to obtain assistance with all aspects of booking your hotel and traveling to St Barth

3. Make Sure Your Travel Documents are in Order

This is the day and age of the passport - for people traveling from:

  • Canada
  • The United States of America (USA)
  • Brazil
  • Russia
  • and all other Non European Union Countries

It is important to realize that St Barth is a collectivity of France - with the operative term being France.  It is therefore important to realize that travelers require valid passports, visas, immigration documents, and identification papers in order to travel to St Barth.

The key is to have a valid passport.  If you are a European citizen or are on the list of countries that do not require a visa to enter a European country, as long as your documents are not expired you will have no problem entering St Barthelemy.

Citizens of USA and Canada will require a valid passport, a return ticket, and will not require a visa if the intended duration of stay is less than 3 months.

If you do happen to require be a citizen of a country that does require a visa for a short-stay visit to any European Union Schengen country, then you need to make sure your immigration papers are in order.

Your visa can be obtained from any Embassy of France and must be Specific to the Collectivity of St. Barthelemy and St. Martin.

For matters as important as international travel, it is always advisable to double check with your nearest French embassy or consulate well in advance of your departure from your home country.  Rules change frequently - international travel has made the world more accessible but a tiny thing like not having the correct stamp in your passport can ruin an otherwise fantastic vacation.

You will find an exhaustive list of the embassies and consulates of France by clicking here.

4. Make or Confirm Travel Arrangements

St Barth Hotel Le Toiny works with many reputable travel agents and tour operators that are incredibly skilled and au courant with booking your trip to St Barth.  That said, your first point of call should be to our Hotel St Barth specialists - the Hotel Le Toiny reception team.  A quick call or email to any member of our team will help to coordinate your arrival with your reservation!

Some things to keep in mind are to make sure you have made your bookings all the way through to St. Barth and not just St. Maarten!

Your team at Hotel Le Toiny St Barth are skilled at arranging VIP transfers from St. Maarten or private plane charters - but these plans must be made well in advance of your arrival in the Caribbean.

In terms of the specifics with regards to what flights to take and your options to for a transfer from St. Maarten to St. Barth, your travel agent or online booking service will be of great help.

But since this is the Ultimate Mini-Guide to Arriving in St Barth in style, it wouldn't be complete if we id not at least provide you with easy access to resources to review and consider when making your booking.  It just so happens we have a few pretty detailed an information links right here at www.LeToiny.com for you to draw from:

5. Prepare Money

The official currency of France is now, and has been ever since 1999, the Euro.  The Euro has a fluctuating exchange rate with the US dollar and generally ranges between 1.2USD to 1 Euro and 1.5USD to 1 Euro.

There are a number of websites you can use to get an accurate foreign exchange rate - a good one I know of is www.Oanda.com.  You also should be aware that there are a variety of different foreign exchange rates - a cash rate, a credit card rate, and sometimes others so that also adds to the differences you may find.

It is a good idea to do the following before arriving:

  • Convert an adequate amount of your home currency to Euros
  • Call your credit card company and inform them that you will be traveling to the French West Indies making sure to highlight France, Guadeloupe, and St. Barthelemy since many of the companies and merchants on island here in St Barth are headquartered in one of the three places mentioned above
  • If you use travellers cheques make sure you have an adequate supply

You should be aware that banks do not do foreign exchange transactions in St Barth - you will need to go to a Foreign Exchang bureau.  Thankfully, as a premiere resort and tourist destination, most hotels, restaurants, and service providers are accustomed to processing transactions in Euro or USD on request.

The most important thing to do however is to inform your credit card company that you are traveling so you do not run into any unpleasant situations.  Bank machines (ATMs) are plentiful on island and dispense funds in Euro.

Hotel Le Toiny St Barth is also able to provide support and assistance for any currency related matters whilst you are here on island.

6. Electricity

Electricity on St Barth is 220-240 volts and operates at 60 hertz.  In North America it is 110-120 volts.  Most electronics have adapters that are capable of supporting 110 to 240 volts; however I think it is highly advisable to bring a power adapter and a transformer with you when you travel.

Whilst the luxury villa suites at Hotel Le Toiny have dual functionality plugs - meaning you will not be requiring an adapter or transformer - should you find yourself in a location where your cell phone just needs to be plugged in, you will be happy to have your own adapter or transformer with you - particularly if you are traveling from the USA or Canada.

Unlike many locations in the Caribbean, the electricity on St Barth, provided and administered by the French national power supplier EDF, is both stable and of excellent quality.  Outside of inclement weather situations, you can be assured of consistent electricity.  Hotel Le Toiny St Barth has a system of back-up standby generators as well to ensure your comfort.

7. Clothing

St Barth has four seasons ...

  • Summer sunny, hot, and humid
  • Fall sunny, hot, wind, with occasional rain
  • Winter sunny, hot, and breezy
  • Spring sunny, hot, and occasional rain

You will always be in fine form with any elegant and light summer wear - linens are always a classic look for men; bathing suits and swim-wear are a must.  Fashions should befit a high-end vacation destination. Hotel Le Toiny La Boutique also carries a range of fashionable French women's wear.

St Barth is a place where you will be comfortable wearing your finest jewelry, evening wear, watches - this is the place where you live your dreams in safety, security, and complete comfort.

You want to look good on vacation - you can definitely pull-out all the stops here.

8. Vehicles

What makes Le Toiny Hotel St Barth special is that fact that it is situated on a remote part of idyllic St. Barthelemy.  The locals refer to that part of the island as "Toiny", "Grand Fond", or "le Cote Sauvage".

St. Barth is an island where a vehicle is a must - there is no public transportation.  At St Barth Hotel Le Toiny, given its intimate seclusion by design, it is advisable to rent a vehicle.

The chic on island choices are Jeep Wranglers and Mini Coopers.  Hey if you are an island for a week or so - why not get something convertible!  There are also a fantastic options like SMART Cars and Jimny's.  Regardless of your choice, your St Barth Hotel Le Toiny reception or concierge team will help you finalize your car rental choice - sooner than you know it you will be rolling around St Barth in style!

9. Activities

St. Barth should be viewed as a resort destination ... a Disney for fine cuisine, fine shopping, and luxury accommodations.  It is a land where culture and good living is a way of life.  St Barth is known for shopping, deep sea fishing, SCUBA, sunset cruises, yachting, catamaran rides, windsurfing, paddle-boarding, Spas ... and did I mention shopping (on this more below - see tip 10)?

The nightlife in St Barth is legendary - the hottest clubs pumping the latest tunes.  A very international scene with an intersection of partiers and revelers from Russia, Asia, Brazil, Miami, London, New York - you name it.

The question is not what to do; the question is will you have enough time to do it all?

Visit our page on activities by clicking here.  To bast plan out your time, contact the Hotel Le Toiny St Barth reception team for assistance in creating an itinerary for the duration of your stay on St. Barthelemy ...

10. Shopping

Hotel Le Toiny St Barth has its own St Barth Boutique simply named "La Boutique".  La Boutique carries women's fashion items, Ligne St Barth skin product, a curated collection of jewelry.

Of course the main shopping district of the island in Gustavia will have many of the names and designers that one would expect to see in Paris or Milan or New York.

St. Jean, opposite the famous St. Jean Beach is another albeit smaller shopping district that features exquisite shops with a "hipper" collection of footwear, clothing, sporting goods, beachwear, and more.

No St Barth shopping experience would be complete without stopping in a coffee shop to sample the made fresh daily pastries and other such gourmet treats.

From a planning perspective, my recommendation would be to leave a little extra room in your suitcase to take things back with you.

Conclusion

Whilst this mini-guide does not cover every aspect of your time in St Barth we hope that it does help in preparing you for your time here at Hotel Le Toiny St Barth.

Like many things, this entire guide is a work in progress of the sort that only improves with the input and involvement of many people.

Is there something we have missed?  Something you would like added?  Don't hesitate to contact us at Reservations@LeToiny.com - we would really appreciate your feedback.

If you are on island, please stop in at Hotel Le Toiny St Barth or Restaurant Le Gaiac to say hello.

Images are courtesy of the St Barths tourism office!