I Stayed at Le Carl Gustaf and Never Felt So Refreshed

Maybe it’s just my Taurus moon speaking, but as is customary for this zodiac sign, my preferred travel style is luxe. My motto: If you’re staying in a hotel, that hotel is part of your trip. Enjoy it just as much as you enjoy your excursions.

This was certainly the case at Hôtel Barrière Le Carl Gustaf, which is where I stayed for a couple of days while I was in St. Barts recently. And if you’re heading to the French-speaking island in the Caribbean, it’s well worth the price tag (in fairness, if you’re going to St Barts… there’s an expectation of money spent—might as well make it worth it).

The resort reopened its doors, refreshed and renewed (and with new management) in late 2020—after spending several decades hosting the who’s who of the world. Now, its vibe is even more elevated, with a new design (by French designers Gilles & Bossier), exceptional service, and very much a secluded feel.

Walking into the resort, I felt automatically at peace. If you land at night (like I did), you can overlook the darkened waters and see Gustavia, the capital of St. Bart’s and the town in which Hôtel Barrière Le Carl Gustaf is located. Lush green leaves are set among the place and perhaps, most dramatically, down the stairs that connect all the villas. (And, as you may already know, just seeing green and nature, as well as being by water, can decrease stress. So I was off to a good start.)

With 21 individual villas, it truly feels like a home away from home (if, of course, your home was a 5-star resort adorned with the softest sheets, firmer or softer pillows at your request, and luxurious body oils, lotions, and toiletries, from Paris’ own Officine Universelle Buly, in beautiful bottles that make you feel like royalty at all times, and that you can take home with you). I found it hard to pull myself out of my room, because with its private balcony overlooking the harbor, plunge pool, and a separate living room, why leave?

Chocolate pastries and fresh fruit line the table as I look out on so many boats touching water, like confetti on a perfectly blue sea. I sip my coffee and I think this may be the most relaxed I’ve felt in a long, long time. (And perhaps, ever.)

Just the mention of St. Barts conjures visions to huge villas, sipping champagne on yachts, the rich and famous. But the flip side is an island that feels expansive without being very large at all, with opportunities to relax, recharge, and feel like you’re in the midst of paradise. Set in the West Indies in the Caribbean, I had quite a ways to travel from my new home in Los Angeles. I took a plane across the country, to then take another plane to St Maarten, only to then get on a small seaplane (really, one of the only ways to get to the island). But it was, in two words, worth it. And on this seaside island I found a state of bliss.

When I did leave my room, it was only really to drink a spritz by the beach at Shellona, take an excursion on a boat, eat an amazing meal at Fouquet’s, and get a massage at the spa. Indulgent? You bet. This is one place where that behavior is encouraged. Then, it was always back to my villa that felt worlds away from… everyone. Everything. But with everything at my fingertips. And to me? That’s perfect.

Rates change depending on season, and start around $1,400 a night. Book your stay at Hôtel Barrière Le Carl Gustaf now.

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