5 Things to Try in Stowe this Winter

5 Things to Try in Stowe this Winter

While most visitors are familiar with Stowe for its world-class ski slopes and stunning mountain vistas, there are a number of lesser-known ways to experience the picturesque Vermont town when you fly with Tradewind Aviation from hubs in the Northeast.

Whether you prefer a long-standing, traditional festival or innovative new culinary establishments, plan to enjoy some of our favorite events and pursuits this winter—in between powdery ski runs, of course.

The Stowe Derby

Stowe Derby; Photo: Mike Hitelman

Stowe Derby; Photo: Mike Hitelman

In 1945, two expert skiers raced down Mt. Mansfield and into the village of Stowe in a personal competition. Today, the Stowe Derby is the oldest downhill and cross country ski race in North America, attracting hundreds of enthusiastic competitors to Vermont each winter. This season’s race, set for February 26, begins with 14 kilometers of downhill skiing followed by 6 kilometers on the flat Stowe Recreation Path and in the village. The total drop is 2,600 feet.

Competitors also have the option to undertake the 14-kilometer Fat Bike race or the Fat Meister, which combines the ski derby and the Fat Bike race and is only recommended for serious outdoorsmen. In any case, both competitors and viewers can enjoy a spectacular Stowe tradition.

Vermont Craft Beer

Idletyme Brewing Company; Photo: Oliver Parini

Idletyme Brewing Company; Photo: Oliver Parini

History meets present day at Idletyme Brewing Company, a European-inspired brewery housed in an 1830s building that has previously been home to a cider mill, a camp run by a local legend, and a classic Stowe restaurant. Today, Brewmaster Will Gilson crafts creative flavor profiles that are a combination of classic European brewing and Vermont hop culture. The result: renowned brews like the Idletyme Double IPA.

Along with an incredible selection of ales and lagers (try the English Brown Ale, Danube Blueberry Hefeweizen, and Munich-style Helles Brook Lager), Idletyme also serves some of the best comfort food in Stowe from the casual Pub Burger to Truffle Mac-N-Cheese and Maine Crab Cakes.

A Fresh Take on New England Cuisine

Plate

Plate

In the realm of acclaimed restaurants, Plate stands out in both incredible cuisine and architectural design. The Main Street eatery was featured in Spain’s Voyeur Design magazine and the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards for its contemporary take on a rustic space – the work of designer and interior architect Tania Kratt.

On the menu, guests will find a combination of local flavors and healthy California style in dishes like the Beef Tenderloin with apple bacon maple bourbon chutney and the Roasted Southwestern Cauliflower with jalapeno lime quinoa and roasted red pepper coulis. There are plenty of vegan and gluten-free options, and you can even reserve the Chef’s Counter for up to four people for an up-close-and-personal view of the kitchen during your dining experience.

The Stowe Winter Carnival

For more than 40 years, the Stowe Winter Carnival has highlighted reasons why locals and visitors alike love Stowe. With 20 plus activities and events, the annual, two-week gathering brings the community together for winter sports, ice carving competitions, a children’s carnival, music, the infamous Snowgolf and Snowvolleyball tournaments, rail jams, and more.

During this year’s festival, held January 14 – 28, the theme will be “StowOasis.” The impressive NICA sanctioned Ice Carving Competition will take place on January 21, and for the second year, the Broomball Tournament and Beer Garden will be returning on January 27.

Snowshoeing Stowe Pinnacle

Much of the region’s beauty is visible from the ski slopes, but there are some views that require snowshoes and a short trek. At 2,651 feet, the summit of Stowe Pinnacle affords sweeping panoramas of the country to the west and the surrounding snow-covered forest.

Pack some French onion soup from the village or a mug of hot cider and begin your journey at the Upper Hollow Road parking area. The moderate trail winds through an open meadow and the forest, climbing 1,520 feet to a rocky overlook. Along the way, you may see animal tracks in the snow, perhaps even a wild turkey, and at the peak, unforgettable views over the Stowe countryside.

30 Years of Homegrown Hospitality on St. Barth

30 Years of Homegrown Hospitality on St. Barth

"I remember all of this," says Catherine Charneau, owner of the Le Village Hotel on St. Barth, sweeping her hand across the mountainside above the hotel, now speckled with luxury villas, "when there wasn't anything up there."

On an island that always seems to be about the new and the nouveau, Charneau is history speaking, the island's institutional memory: She remembers learning to drive a Mini Moke on the airport runway and the Eden Rock when it was a simple guesthouse.

"Can we find a more youthful word than 'doyenne?'" she retorts when I ask her if she holds that position among St. Barth hoteliers.

Charneau grew up on a plantation in Guadeloupe—"It was quite idyllic; we grew everything we needed on the plantation"—went to Munich at 17 to study art history "because I was very curious to discover the world," worked as a tour guide in Paris, married a German military officer, and came back to St. Barth with him in 1987 to help out at Le Village, after her father had a stroke. (Her family started the hotel at the end of the '60s.) Her husband thought St. Barth was a great posting; she thought his alternative, Taiwan, was better.

So Charneau is the reluctant hotelier: "I learned by doing and at tradeshows from fellow hoteliers who taught me the basic rules," she says. Which may be why she has made Le Village into something unique on St. Barth: homegrown as opposed to international. (For the record, her favorite hotel brand is Aman.)

Le Village is tucked into 10 acres of lush vegetation in a slightly willy-nilly fashion, á la French hill towns. It is only a 10-minute walk downhill to St. Jean, but sufficiently high up so that many rooms and the pool have terrific ocean views. As such, Le Village is a four-star hotel with three-star rates on a five-star island. In high season, the most expensive room for two—a Superior Junior Suite—costs 710 Euros.


I particularly liked the Junior Terrace Suites (rooms 5, 6, and 9). Room 9 is the newest one. It has a separate living room with a pullout couch, a large deck with views over St. Jean Bay, and two bathrooms—one with a walk-in shower that has a wall partially made of a rock that was just too stubborn to dislodge. Overall it has the feel of a beachy penthouse.

I also liked Superior Suite 8, up a steep flight of stairs from the pool, but a nice perch; number 15, a Tradition Cottage that has more outdoor space (300 sq. ft.) than indoor (237 sq. ft.); and Superior Terrace Suites 10, 12, and 14, all of which are buried in the foliage near reception but have great ocean views, as the hill drops off sharply in front of them.

Room 10 was the favorite of then New York Times food critic Craig Claiborne, who came to the hotel every winter for years. He left his pots and pans with Charneau, and he left a record of the Christmas Day meal he cooked in 1977 on pages 198-203 of the New York Times International Cookbook. The menu Claiborne printed up for his guests is still in the room.

Le Village offers two things that luxury travelers today, according to almost every survey, say they crave: simplicity and authenticity. The hotel is at once a step back in time as well as up-to-date. Charneau has pulled off quite a feat: keeping the luxuries simple (while every hotelier around you is upping the ante) and making the simple luxurious. Le Village is about the being here: In the morning, you walk down to St. Jean (10 minutes), have coffee and a croissant, window-shop for bikinis, and go for a swim in Baie St. Jean. Just as you might have done on the French Riviera 40 years ago.

The rest of the day is just across the doorstep.

…..

Fly to St. Barth with Tradewind Aviation, offering daily scheduled shuttles connecting through San Juan, Puerto Rico, Antigua, and the U.S. Virgin Island of St. Thomas.

A Jetsetter’s Holiday Gift Guide

A Jetsetter’s Holiday Gift Guide

In-flight comfort goes far beyond the perfect travel pillow. And since accessories are now slimmer, lighter, and more powerful than ever, there’s simply no reason to sacrifice convenience just because you’re away from home.  

So whether you’re searching for gifts for fellow travelers or making your own holiday wishlist, we have a few recommendations that are sure to enhance both the journey and the destination. From cutting-edge technology to actual flights, here are our top gifts of the season:

A 360-Degree Photo Experience

Photo credit: 360fly

Photo credit: 360fly

A 16-megapixel image sensor and a host of innovative action features make the 360fly 4K one of our favorite gifts for travelers. Unlike other smart cameras, the 360fly uses one lens to capture seamless, 360-degree photos without stitching. The 4K output adds over 6 million pixels, resulting in incredible, vibrant detail, and the camera is shockproof and water resistant up to one meter for even the most adventurous trips.

$500

Smart Luggage

Photo credit: Bluesmart

Photo credit: Bluesmart

Owning a durable carry-on is just the beginning of luxury travel. Today’s jetsetters are looking for luggage with USB charging outlets, digital locks that you can operate with a cell phone, and GPS tracking to locate your bag anywhere in the world. The Bluesmart Black Edition has all of the above, plus a weather-resistant laptop compartment and a sleek, smart style that will look great in any destination.

$599

Wireless Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Photo credit: Sony

Photo credit: Sony

Unwinding on airplanes is easy with the right pair of noise-cancelling headphones, and these Sony MDR1000X Headphones are at the height of audio innovation. They have Bluetooth connectivity and up to 20 hours of battery life for long-haul flights, as well as touch-control and a quick attention feature to listen to ambient sounds instantaneously.

$400

The Ultimate Travel Videos

Photo credit: Matt Georges for Squadrone System Hexo+

Photo credit: Matt Georges for Squadrone System Hexo+

Over the last few years, drones have changed the way we capture our experiences, making incredible aerial footage available to anyone who can use a smartphone. The GoPro-compatible Hexo+ is at the forefront of traveler-friendly drones with removable props, feet, and gimbal that allow the entire console to fit into a backpack. In flight, it will follow you at speeds up to 45 miles per hour while maintaining perfect stability and delivering amazing footage.

$999

The World’s Thinnest Portable Drive

Photo credit: Seagate

Photo credit: Seagate

Given those incredible travel photos and videos, it’s only right you should have a cutting-edge portable hard drive on your holiday gift list. The Seagate Seven Portable Drive is actually the thinnest available at 7 millimeters, and its stainless-steel enclosure can hold its own in any locale. Best of all, it frees up your other devices with a generous 500GB of storage – that’s approximately 50 hours of HD video.

$100

A Destination Trip with Tradewind

Fly-Tradewind-Aviation-to-St-Barth-for-the-holidays

The gift of travel itself is on every jetsetter’s wishlist, and at Tradewind, it’s simple to book a single seat aboard one of our regularly scheduled flights or reserve a private charter. We fly to the Caribbean and throughout the Northeast United States, with destinations ranging from the mountains of Stowe, Vermont to the beaches of St. Barth. And when booking a private charter, the destination is up to you.

Prices vary

Hyperlocal is the New Local

Hyperlocal is the New Local

A few years back, Guy Michlin was traveling through Greece when a chance meeting with a local family snagged him an invitation to share a meal in their home. Eating authentic Greek food and getting an up-close look into the culture was an unforgettable experience, the highlight of Michlin’s trip.

A light bulb went off. Why not create a brand-new opportunity for travelers—to eat in people’s homes around the world—thought Michlin. He paired up with his friend Shemer Schwarz, and the duo founded EatWith. Suddenly, culinary entrepreneurs—from home cooks to professional chefs—had a platform to share their passion and monetize their craft. And travelers had a chance to experience how people really live and eat, something you don’t usually get while dining in a restaurant. “Food brings people together,” says Michlin.

EatWith is just one example of hyperlocal travel, a new sector of the vacation industry that is transforming the way people see the world. When flying to the Caribbean, for example, Tradewind travelers can use it to get in touch with locals and experience another culture in a truly profound way.

Photo credit: EatWith

Photo credit: EatWith

This fast-growing category of peer-to-peer travel is taking the sharing economy made famous by brands like Airbnb and Uber to a whole new level. It’s also being fueled by the digital revolution, which has created easy tools to connect people across the globe in ways that were unheard of in the pre-Facebook era.

Vayable is another hyperlocal company that has created a marketplace for all kinds of unique experiences worldwide. Want to see street art and eat well in Los Angeles? Melanie P., a plugged-in local, will guide you around Venice, one of the city’s coolest neighborhoods. Heading to Chicago and interested in the nightlife there? You can hook up with Philip H., a special event producer, and check out the hottest clubs and lounges in the city.

The trailblazing Vayable was founded in 2011 by Jamie Wong, who saw a huge gap in the travel market around easy-to-find and easily bookable experiences. It has grown to include more than 13,000 offerings in 1,000 cities. “Travelers have discovered that the more personal, customized, and connected their travel is, the more meaningful it becomes, and therefore more valuable it becomes,” says Wong.

Ferran Adrià is one of the most innovative chefs on the planet—the man who created Spain’s legendary restaurant-turned-food foundation El Bulli and developed a radical new style of molecular gastronomy. So it says a lot that he is one of the investors behind a Barcelona-based startup called Trip4real, which is focused on European locations but expanding globally. Like Vayable, Trip4real allows locals to become micro-entrepreneurs, sharing their passions, interests, and hobbies with travelers.

Photo credit: EatWith

Photo credit: EatWith

For instance, instead of waiting in line for the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and seeing what everyone else sees, Trip4real will connect you with a local family that actually lives in a Modernist house nearby. “I believe you only truly know a place when you connect with someone local and that traveling is about people, not just places,” says founder Gloria Molins.

Another contender in the hyperlocal space is the just-launched Gibby Road, which caters to travelers in Los Angeles, New York City, Las Vegas, Detroit, the Hamptons, and select international cities. The owners came up with the idea at Surf Lodge, a popular nightclub-slash-restaurant-slash-hotel on Gibson Street in Montauk. Because one of their friends worked at Surf Lodge, they were able to walk right in, skipping the line of 40 to 50 people waiting for entry. They realized that by knowing the right people, travelers could go to the best events, get into the bars with the most challenging door policies, and enjoy the most local experiences possible.

"The next generation of travel is about experiences,” says cofounder Rachel Harrison. “Instead of bragging about what five-star hotel you stayed at, people are now talking about the unique experiences and the stories of their trips."

The hyperlocal industry is exploding and the possibilities are endless. Want to hang out with chefs? BookaLokal is the source. In Europe, Mexico, or Brazil and need a free ride somewhere? BlaBlaCar will hook you up with a local (it’s a safer version of hitchhiking). Want to make sure the photographs from your vacation are amazing? Hire a company like Flytographer or Localgrapher to send a local photographer to document your trip. “I think that it´s absolutely amazing when you can combine getting to know someone local together with some useful service that is provided to you by the same person,” says Localgrapher founder Matej Slezak.

Photo credit: Vayable

Photo credit: Vayable

There are even hyperlocal apps that will do the connecting for you, like UrbanBuddy or Spotted Places, a startup that is in beta mode in Seattle. “Spotted Places allows users to follow their friends, family, or other individuals they find interesting such as influencers and celebrities. By seeing the spots these individuals recommend on a map, users can always know the top recommendations near them,” says Bryant Hawthorne, founder of Spotted Places. “Think of it as Pokémon GO for experiences.”

And the company ViaHero takes the whole idea of hyperlocal travel one step beyond: It is a platform where you can find a local who will act like a travel agent and actually plan your entire trip. ViaHero launched in Cuba—a destination where the main draw is the vibrant local culture—and is currently expanding into Iceland. On the horizon: Croatia, Japan, and New Zealand.

“Peer-to-peer platforms are often cheaper, you deal with real people instead of corporations, and you can use the opinion of the crowds to determine the quality of what you're getting,” says ViaHero founder Greg Buzulencia. “Five years ago peer-to-peer platforms seemed riskier, but today they are the standard for trustworthiness.”

 

Featured image courtesy of EatWith

Pick Your Island: Watersports in the Caribbean

Pick Your Island: Watersports in the Caribbean

White sands and glistening seas characterize each of the idyllic islands of the Caribbean. But as frequent travelers know, the similarities between the islands essentially stop there. Every destination harbors a unique culture and appeal that you won’t find on a neighboring shore, and some waters are more suited for watersports than others.

From surfing in San Juan to deep-sea fishing in Nevis, here are our favorite destinations for chasing passions on the water. Tradewind can get you there with hubs in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Antigua, and St. Thomas.

Surfing | Puerto Rico

Photo credit: WOW Surfing School

Photo credit: WOW Surfing School

There’s a reason Puerto Rico is so often listed as a top Caribbean surf destination, and it has everything to do with the consistent, year-round waves. Fall and winter may be the best times to visit the island for swell, but surfers will find quality waves during all seasons, even summer, with the best places to paddle out being the north and northwest coasts. If you prefer to stay close to San Juan, head to Playa Aviones—a crowded but reliable surf spot revered by locals and visitors alike. Or for a more far-flung adventure, cruise along the coast to Rincon or Aguadilla to find some of the island’s best breaks.

Our Recommendation: Rent a board at WOW Surfing School in San Juan on your way the beach, or stay for a lesson for beginner and intermediate surfers.

Sailing | Antigua

Photo credit: Horizon Yacht Charters

Boating has always been at the heart of Antigua’s culture, from weekly races on the water to annual regattas that draw seafarers from all over the world. (Devoted sailors should plan to attend Sailing Week in the spring.) And with an estimated 365 beaches and countless places to drop anchor, it’s easy to see why. You could spend an entire year circling the little island and wake up to a different stretch of shoreline each day. Antigua is also known as one of the top sunset spots in the Caribbean, making it a beautiful place for experienced boaters and those simply wishing for an evening sail on the Caribbean.

Our Recommendation: Horizon Yacht Charters in Jolly Harbour Marina offers sailing charters and week-long classes designed to give you the skills needed to handle a 33 to 40-foot watercraft.

Kitesurfing | St. Barth

Kitesurfing-in-St-Barth-Caribbean

When it comes to kitesurfing in the Caribbean, you’d be hard pressed to find a more beautiful spot than the serene waters of St. Barth. Consistent winds and glassy seas have made it a preferred destination for professional kitesurfers and windsurfers alike, with Grand Cul de Sac considered to be the best location on the island. The tradewinds blowing in from the Atlantic mean the shallow bay is often experiencing 15-20 mile-per-hour conditions—perfect for kitesurfing—while a protective coral reef keeps the waters calm for beginning and experienced athletes to enjoy.

Our Recommendation: Reach new heights with a kitesurfing lesson from Saint Barth Kite. Most sessions take place in Grand Cul de Sac, but experienced kitesurfers can head into the deeper seas of Saline with a southeastern wind.

Diving | Anguilla

Photo credit: Shoal Bay Scuba Shack

Photo credit: Shoal Bay Scuba Shack

The tranquil seas around Anguilla are a snorkeler’s paradise, teeming with vibrant schools of fish and magnificent sea turtles, but some of the most spectacular sights and experiences are found at greater depths accessible only to scuba divers. The island is home to seven marine parks filled with beautiful rock formations, shipwrecks, and an array of sea life that doesn’t venture so close to the surface. First-time divers in the area should make time for Stoney Bay Marine Park, Anguilla’s first underwater heritage sight. Here you can explore an 18th century sunken ship that still has its cannons, anchors, and other fascinating finds.

Our Recommendation: Shoal Bay Scuba Shack, located in The Valley, assists beginning divers with Open Water certification and more experienced divers with obtaining a Master certification.

Kayaking and Paddleboarding | St. Thomas

Photo credit: Jimi Smith

Photo credit: Jimi Smith

You will likely have a wonderful kayaking or paddleboarding experience anywhere in the Caribbean, but there are some places like St. Thomas that are simply unparalleled. Beginners will enjoy exploring the calm Caribbean bays, while more experienced paddlers may wish to travel to protected wildlife preserves like Bird Island and Cas Cay. In any case, you’re sure to see an abundance of vibrant marine life, especially if you opt for a clear bottom kayak. And for those looking for even more, sign up for a night paddling tour in a kayak or on a paddleboard equipped with LED lights. You’ll be able to observe sea creatures that only come out at night—an experience truly unlike any other.

Our Recommendation: Grab your rental or sign up for an island tour with the Adventure Center, located on-site at Marriott Frenchman’s Reef Resort.

Charter Fishing | Nevis

Family-Charter-Fishing-in-Nevis-Caribbean

The little island of Nevis may not seem like the obvious destination for charter fishing, but it’s in these waters that visitors truly experience the abundance of the sea. Cast your line close to shore in hopes of hooking snapper and grouper among the reefs, or opt for a deep sea fishing excursion where you may come across wahoo, mahi-mahi, mackerel, tuna, and marlin. There are many sport fishing boats departing from Nevis—as well as some larger yachts departing from the nearby St. Kitts—that can accommodate you for half or full day charters. Most captains are also willing to customize trips to include snorkeling, visits to nearby islands, and watching the sunset over the Caribbean Sea.

Our Recommendation: Whether you’re an experienced angler or family with young children, Caribbean Catch in Cades Bay will tailor a cruise right for you.

Four Great Rooms on St. Barth

Four Great Rooms on St. Barth

Given that St. Barth, one of Tradewind Aviation's major Caribbean destinations (flights from San Juan or St. Thomas), is an overseas collectivity of France, let's use a French expression for this story about singular hotel rooms: Crème de la Crème.

On an island with a surplus of great hotel rooms, these are the one-percenters (including a one-percenter that, relatively speaking, is inexpensive).

Cheval Blanc St. Barth Isle de France: The Beach Suites

The glamour rooms at this epitome of the sexy French Caribbean hideaway are the four Beach Suites, 1,500-square-foot loft-like spaces that have private pools (twice as big as the usual plunge), dead-on ocean views, and privacy built in (butler service—just dial 444—and a dining room with a table for four). The decor is French-Cal chic: Mostly white (cotton-and-linen slipcovers, white-textured wall treatment), and faux-weathered wood, with dashes and dots of blush pink, the resort's signature color.

The bathroom is large enough to host a cocktail party for 12 (excluding the outdoor shower and terrace), and one gets a good idea of the expected clientele by opening the refrigerator: Three bottles of Dom (1998 Plenitude 2, 2003 Rosé, and 2006) and three bottles of Ruinart (Blanc de Blancs, Rosé, and Brut). Second-floor suites are better because they're at palm-top level. Four more Beach Suites open in 2017. Cheval Blanc is on Flamands Beach, one of the island's best.

Eden Rock: Christopher Columbus Suite

Photo credit: Eden Rock

Photo credit: Eden Rock

The great rooms at this hotel in St. Jean are 'on the Rock,' a round and craggy outcropping just off the beach. This is the hotel Robinson Crusoe might have built had he gotten an architecture and an interior design degree.

Go for the newest suite, Christopher Columbus (2,000 sq. meters/21,528 sq. ft.), which occupies the former reception area. It's a room made for James Bond, or maybe Goldfinger. The Columbus Suite is much longer than it is wide, and it’s traversed by two stone arches and a plexiglass wall that create separate living and sleeping areas. (The sleeping area also has its own living room.) The walk-in shower is of marble, and the second bathroom has a huge round tub.

It's the living room, though, that mesmerizes. The floor-to-ceiling glass walls look east into the Atlantic. There's the cloud-coffered sky, the horizon, the sea, and directly below, the coral reef that surrounds the hotel. All that space is your new-world discovery. Here, you really are Christopher Columbus in a way, because the world has never quite looked like this before.

Le Guanahani: Signature Suites

Photo credit: Le Guanahani

Photo credit: Le Guanahani

Le Guanahani occupies a niche of its own on St. Barth. It’s the island's only bona-fide, full-service resort: A 16-acre enclave with three restaurants (beach to fine dining), two lighted tennis courts, a cool fitness center right on the beach, St. Barth’s largest spa (with two butler-serviced wellness suites for those who want to live the spa life), a Frederic Fekkai hair salon, an 82-foot-long pool with water purified by ions rather than chlorine (swim all morning without rubbing your eyes), a water-sports center, and a complimentary children’s program. No other resort on the island comes even close to offering a menu like this.

In keeping with that ethos, the resort has over the years created eight Signature Suites, butler-serviced compounds actually. (All but two are larger than 900 sq. ft.) The property spills down a hillside between Grand Cul de Sac and Marigot Bay, and most of these rooms take complete advantage of the geography. The two-bedroom Admiral’s Suite, down on the water, has a 90-degree wrap-around view of Grand Cul de Sac (park your kite-surfer at the door) while the two-bedroom Marigot Suite occupies a high point between the two bays (bring a bag of books to read on the huge terrace by the plunge pool). As for serenity, at the very top of the resort, here the overused “breathtaking” is the mot juste—the view justly savored from the 538-square-foot deck around the pool.

Hotel LeVillage Saint Barth: Room Nine

This is the newest room at this vintage hotel (founded 1971), nestled in the hillside above St. Jean, and laid out slightly willy-nilly fashion, à la French hill towns. The room, like the hotel, is an example of luxury as simplicity—and part of that is the view over Baie de St. Jean from the bed and terrace.

The former takes up most of the indoor space. To the left is a living room, to the right a spacious bath with a walk-in rain shower, one corner of which consists of a rock that the hotel had the good sense to incorporate into the design. The terrace, roofed and fitted with an awning, is big enough to hold a cocktail party for eight, and that outdoor kitchenette becomes your bar.

You've stepped back into a simpler St. Barth at LeVillage—more timber and stucco than marble and glass and a hotel that has been here since 1969. (It was Craig Claiborne's favorite place on the island; he always stayed in Room 10.)

"I remember when there were no villas up there," says owner Catherine Charneau, daughter of the founder, gesturing toward the slope above the hotel.

One other simple luxury: Walking down to St. Jean (10 minutes), having coffee and croissant, window-shopping for bikinis, and going for a swim in Baie de St. Jean. Just as you'd do in France.

 

Featured image courtesy of Hotel LeVillage Saint Barth

Sizing Up Manhattan’s Largest Single Malt Scotch List

Sizing Up Manhattan’s Largest Single Malt Scotch List

Online, it's Keens Steakhouse, but on the awning it's Keens Chophouse. (No apostrophe, please.)

This is just one of the quirks that make this venerable meat-eater's sanctuary on West 36th Street so endearing, opened independently in 1885, when the area was part of the theatre district, but before that part of The Lambs Club, an actor hangout.

Open the heavy wooden door and you're entering the palpable past: Dining rooms of wood-paneled, perpetual dusk courtesy of the frosted glass windows, and of ceilings decorated with the largest collection of churchwarden pipes in the world. These hard-clay, thin-stemmed, small-bowled implements—you've seen them in Dutch paintings—were allegedly the remedy for driving away “evil homourse of the brain.”  They're a remnant of the days when men would leave their favorite warden pipe at their favorite inn. Keens once had a Pipe Club of more than 90,000 members, among them Teddy Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, Will Rogers, Billy Rose, Grace Moore, Albert Einstein, George M. Cohan, J.P. Morgan, Stanford White, John Barrymore, David Belasco, Adlai Stevenson, General Douglas MacArthur, and “Buffalo Bill” Cody.

Keens-Steakhouse-Scotch-Bar-in-New-York-City

But today we're not here to speak of smoke, but of smoky. Meaning the Keens single malt Scotch list, which at 308 different labels—"plus 10 downstairs that we're holding back," says the suave Brandon Falzone, one of the list's two keepers—is the largest at any restaurant in Manhattan. 

The list requires a triptych menu, and is divided into the traditional single malt genres (Highland, Highland-Speyside, Lowland, Islay, Island, and Campbeltown, plus "Single Malts From Unexpected Places," such as Texas, India, Japan, and Virginia.) The bottles themselves form a grandstand behind the tin-ceilinged bar, with more decks below the sightline. The collection was started in the 1980s by owner George Schwarz as a way of making Keens stand out at a time when the neighborhood was going south. (It's now going north.)

What you get at Keens is access to a single malt museum, with some bottles that are endangered species. "The industry is changing," says James Conley, a 17-year-veteran and the list's senior curator as it were, referring to the fact that distilleries are now increasingly making Scotch ready to drink now—"non-aged and less use of sherry barrels, all geared toward Millennials," he says. He offers the heavily peated Octomore as an example of a single malt that lives up to novice preconceptions. 

Keens-Steakhouse-Bar-in-New-York-City

What you want to go for at Keens are the single malts from distilleries deceased, signified by an asterisk that means "going, going," but that live on here for now (Brora 35-Year-Old, for example).

The fun part of the menu is to pin the tail on the donkey; point to something and ask Brandon or James to explain your shot in the dark. I went for the Ledaig 10-Year-Old from the Isle of Mull, and it lived up to Brandon's précis ("lightly smoked, fleet on the palate"). As for this duo's personal favorites, Conley characterizes the Macallan 25-Year-Old ($174) as "a little piece of Nirvana," but also cites the Highland Park 18-Year-Old ($22, from the Orkneys) and the Caol Ila 15-Year-Old ($22, from Islay) as value standouts. As for Brandon, he's a Springbank man, and suggests the Cask Strength 16-Year Local Barley ($30), an example of the new single malt locavore trend, making the Scotch from barley locally grown.

But then, don't ask for advice. Act the part. Order the Mortlach Rare Old ($24), the Mortlach 18-Year-Old ($46), or the Clynelish James MacArthur ($20, aged 12 years in Bourbon casks and another “going, going” Scotch). Says Conley, "I'd take you for a connoisseur."

Keens-Steakhouse-Bar-Scotch-in-New-York-City

………. 

Fly into New York with Tradewind Aviation, offering scheduled shuttles and private charters from across the Northeast, including Boston, Stowe, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket.

 

All images courtesy of Keens Steakhouse

Boston is More Than its Institutions—Right?

Boston is More Than its Institutions—Right?

One of the highest market-cap companies in the world is depicted in “The Social Network” as the product of a young man’s intense desire to upgrade his standing in the world of Boston institutions—by gaining entrance not to Harvard, where he was already enrolled, but to an exclusive Harvard “final club.” True, Harvard lies across the Charles River in Cambridge, but we won’t split hairs—the movie makes a telling point about the importance of affiliations, in this corner of the world.

Somehow, the two adjacent cities, with their combined population of 750,000, have ended up with a cohort of consequential institutions you might expect to find in a place three or four times larger. One result is a professional class for which direct affiliation with the various monoliths, or a couple of degrees of separation, is common reality.

Harvard University

Harvard University

And so you must legitimately own a garment imprinted with MIT, Harvard, Boston University, Massachusetts General Hospital, Tufts University, Boston College, the Kennedy Library, Northeastern University, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Christian Science Church, the Boston Pops, and so many more—or else be closely affiliated with someone who does.

What’s sometimes forgotten is that Boston-area achievers who serve those institutions have commercial and professional connection with, um, the rest of the world—and particularly with the Northeast region. Tradewind, as Boston’s go-to private aviation connection with New York City (with both scheduled shuttles and private charter options), pays close attention to the travel trends that Boston’s innovators and thought leaders tend to generate. It may be, of course, that more than residents of other cities, Bostonians value the flight home most highly—it returns them to the narrow streets and ivy walls that represent uniqueness and greatness to them.

“It’s human nature to want to identify yourself with something of consequence—something that’s widely recognizable,” says Robert Savage, professor of Irish history at Boston College and a product of the Boston suburbs. “The Boston area is just so dense with these things; it can be overwhelming if you haven’t learned to navigate it.”

Boston College

Boston College

Arriving as a Harvard freshman from Southern California 30-odd years ago, John Kelley appreciated the relatively ancient history of Boston and Cambridge because it made his new environs understandable. “When you come from far away, you arrive here with some basic knowledge of the place, given how many old, well-known landmarks there are,” says Kelley, CEO of the sports-performance company CoachUp. “That makes it easier to get acclimated, if you’re not intimidated by it.”

This brings up the issue of how welcoming—or not—Boston can be. New arrivals could stare at vehicles with three or four showoff windshield stickers and a parking decal for some chic neighborhood, plus various other insignia bespeaking insider status, and feel alienated. Mark Twain famously said: “In Boston they ask how much does a man know, and in New York, how much is he worth.” That’s very nice, but in the Information Economy, knowledge and wealth are tending to merge, removing some nobility from the pursuit of higher learning and thus some of the solace a Bostonian might take in Twain’s observation.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library

Savage wonders if a movie set in any other city would feature an exchange like the one in “Gone Baby Gone,” in which the Boston street kid played by Casey Affleck questions Ed Harris’s character, a police detective, about his last name, Bressant. “It’s the kind of name they give you in Louisiana,” comes the answer, to which Affleck replies, “Oh yeah? I thought you were from here.” Those two words, “from here,” have clearly been a point of contention for the transplanted detective.  “You might think that you're more ‘from here’ than me,” he growls back, “but I've been living here longer than you've been alive. So who's right?”

As longtime director of events at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, Amy Macdonald served as a guide to the city for a stream of noted writers, musicians, and thinkers. “There’s a certain type of very famous, very accomplished person who stands in that I.M. Pei-designed building with its amazing Atlantic Ocean view, relives the JFK presidency, and appreciates the high ideals Boston can breed,” says Macdonald. “The U.S. poet laureate, Billy Collins, told me the experience gave him tingles.”

The worldly types she met from New York and Los Angeles were too polite, in her estimation, to dismiss Boston as provincial and parochial, though they commented freely about how early the bars closed and the subways stopped running. “Their attitude,” Macdonald says, “seemed to be: ‘Even though you haven’t got much nightlife you’ve got these famous universities and hospitals, and that seems to make you happy—but I’m going back to my real city.’ ”

General Electric Boston Headquarters Rendering Photo credit: General Electric, © Gensler

General Electric Boston Headquarters Rendering

Photo credit: General Electric, © Gensler

Kelley works in corporate offices down the road from where General Electric is creating, in his words, “their own micro-city” in the revitalized Seaport District. He feels GE’s relocation from Connecticut will do much to answer the question of whether Boston’s old-line institutions will continue to define the town.

“GE seems to have this whole question figured out,” Kelley says. “They’re building their headquarters as a village of knowledge and innovation; it’s not walled off, it won’t have ivy growing on it, so it’s got the feel of a global crossroads.” Sounds from that like the country’s 10th-largest employer will soon be its own institution in Boston—just not the sort of Boston institution people “from here” have long been used to.

The Life of a Pilot: One On One with Tradewind’s Adam Schaefer

The Life of a Pilot: One On One with Tradewind’s Adam Schaefer

"There are two kinds of pilots," says Adam Schaefer, Tradewind Aviation’s Director of Operations. "Those that have a mechanic's license and those that wish they had it."

Schaefer, a graduate of Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, is one of the latter. The license was not required, but he was encouraged by a superior while at Embry to get the mechanic certification (a 15-month post-graduation course at East Coast Aero Tech, with two months spent on electrical problems and six on engine problems).  He can disassemble and reassemble a jet engine, knowledge that he says "helps mostly to communicate with the mechanics if there's a problem in flight," although he has on occasion repaired a Tradewind plane himself. 

Schaefer's passion for flying started at age 12. As he had for several summers, that year he was spending his school vacation on Block Island with an uncle. Another uncle came to visit in his friend's Piper Warrior and offered to fly Schaefer back with him to Hamden, Connecticut.

"The pilot made the mistake of saying, 'Do you have any questions?' he says, and from then on the flight was nothing but question-and-answer. "I was hooked at that point." He got his private pilot's license at 18 upon graduating from high school.

Schaefer primarily flies the Pilatus PC-12, which Tradewind operates on scheduled shuttle and private charter flights throughout the Northeast US and Caribbean, as well as the Citation CJ3 jet, typically used on flights of 500 miles or more. "The beauty of the CJ3 is going from New York to Florida non-stop at 45,000 feet," Schaefer says. That trip (roughly 1,000 miles) takes 2.5 hours, about the same as in a B757.

One of his favorite Tradewind destinations is Fishers Island, off the coast of Rhode Island—"I like it because there's almost never any other traffic there.” It's mostly a golfing destination, which gives Schaefer four or five hours free to spend at the beach located right at the end of the runway. He also likes St. Barths, which sometimes allows a quick swim. (His favorite beach is Colombier, one of the island's most isolated strands.) As for the landing, he says it's challenging, "but once you've trained for it, it's not hard. It's a matter of knowing and sticking to the landing profile." 

tradewind-jet-landing-in-st-barths.jpg

Schaefer has the hours to move up to a larger plane and a larger airline, but two things keep him at Tradewind. One is that the smaller airports Tradewind uses are less of a hassle. "The hardest thing about big airports is taxiing," he says. "At Westchester Airport (White Plains, NY) it takes two minutes to reach our terminal. At JFK it can take 15."

The other—and clearly bigger draw for him—is the personal relationship he develops with customers. "We have regular customers every week," he says. The relationship cuts both ways, however, meaning that Tradewind returns the commitment, something that Schaefer says is perhaps the company's key characteristic.  

"Tradewind stands for safety and service," he says. "We'll move mountains to get a customer another aircraft or get a mechanic there to fix it."

 

 

St. Barth: A 60-Second Backgrounder

St. Barth: A 60-Second Backgrounder

Official name: Saint Barthélemy, but abbreviated St. Barth (silent 'h').

Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493 and named for his brother, Bartolomeo. (Barthélemy is the name Gallicized.)

Colony of Sweden from 1784-1878, hence the Swedish street signs in Gustavia, the island’s capital.

Getting There

Tradewind Aviation flies scheduled shuttle and private charter flights from San Juan International (Terminal A) to St. Barth, eliminating the immigration ritual (often lengthy) in St. Maarten, required if you fly one of the U.S. carriers. Tradewind also operates scheduled shuttle flights to St Barth from Antigua, the primary Caribbean gateway from London.

The pressurized and air-conditioned Pilatus PC-12 cabin is equivalent to that of a business jet.

Smart Season and Mad Months

Go May through early December for hotel discounts of up to 50%. Restaurants are easy to book and traffic is non-existent. On Dec. 15th, most hotel prices go to high season rates, and from Dec. 20th through mid-January to peak rates. Mid-January through Easter, back to high season.  

The Luxury Hotel Quintet

Cheval Blanc Saint-Barth Isle de France: Now owned by LVMH, this 39-room hotel still turns its key ingredients—privacy, poolside mingling, cuisine, and beach—into a soufflé. It's the epitome of the sexy French Caribbean hideaway. Main House rooms, Beach Suites, and Villas are on the ocean. Two-bedroom Garden Rooms, some with pool, are perfect for families. Crisp, clean décor (whites, neutrals, blues) throughout.

Eden Rock: The reference to the Riviera classic tells you everything, but it's also a pun on the setting—a craggy rugby-ball of rock just off St. Jean Beach. The best rooms—and they are all one-offs—are here. Newest room: The Christopher Columbus Suite, a lair fit for Bond or Goldfinger, with stunning ocean views. Other greats: The Reef, The Howard Hughes Suite, atop the main building (he was a guest in the early days), and the Garbo Suite (she also stayed), a fun exercise in old Hollywood glamour and with a great view. If Kardashian glam is your suit, though, book the Rock Star Villa, a six-bedroom compound at the end of the property. Comes with two MINI Cooper convertibles.

Photo credit: Le Guanahani

Photo credit: Le Guanahani

Le Guanahani: The island's only full-service resort: Three restaurants, two lighted tennis courts, the largest spa (with two butler-serviced wellness suites if you want to live in the spa), a beachside fitness center, and an 82-foot-long pool cleaned electronically rather than with chlorine. Despite its size (67 rooms; 44 with private pool), Guanahani feels cozy—a bungalow colony spilling down a hillside to the ocean. It offers 11 specialty suites, one-off rooms such as Serenity with a pool and fabulous water views, and Admiral, right down on the edge of Grand Cul de Sac. Both have décor that nicely mates St. Tropez and Malibu. (Insider tip: The pool suites behind the tennis court for privacy and views.)

Le Sereno: St. Barth’s 'downtown' resort, designed by Christian Liagre in his slightly pensive sleek and streamlined style. If you're at home at the Mercer and its brethren, you'll be at home here. The hotel is on a shallow breezy bay made for wind- and kite-surfing. The beach is narrow and short, but the 20-meter-long lap pool surrounded by an expansive lounging deck and ranks of palms—in effect a piazza—compensates. Rooms to get: One of the 15 Grand Suite Plages (numbers 20-35). They're open-plan, with a bedroom (four-poster), a living room down two steps, and a hedged-in outdoor area private enough for anxiety-free topless lounging. There are also three deluxe villas (butler service, private pool, three bedrooms, lots of communal space), in effect your own compound.  

Le Toiny: A love nest perched on a hillside on the island's southwest corner. Fifteen do-not-disturb, 700-plus sq.-ft. rooms with superb ocean vistas, terrace, and a plunge pool—and just redone in white linen with blue accents. Up-for-air option: Free shuttle to beach club 10 minutes away (but this is a beach for strong swimmers). For the fit: Jog to Grand Fond, walk to the end of the beach, climb the rocks, and follow the trail out around the point. In 2017, the hotel opens eight duplex rooms with views that equal or better the current ones. 

The Villa Option

The larger agencies are WIMCO, St Barth Properties, and SiBarth. Websites are teeming with pictures and all are geared up to act as concierges during your stay.

The Luxury Hotel Restaurants

Bartolomeo (Le Guanahani): A very suavely executed French-inflected menu that also brings in influences from around the Mediterranean. Even a straightforward entrée like ravioli is painstakingly done—with roasted tomato water, asparagus, and black truffle. When Chef Nicola di Marchi does a classic like Loup de Mer, he hits it out of the park. Good selection of vegan and gluten-free dishes.

La Case de L'Isle (Cheval Blanc St. Barth Isle de France): At dinner, this open-to-the-breeze space is one of the most romantic spots on the island. At lunch, it feels like St. Tropez. (There's also a feet-in-the-sand sister, La Cabane de L'Isle, down on the beach.) Chef Yann Vinsot can play it straight (grilled wild Turbot filet, filet mignon, and sautéed foie gras); playful (Truff Monsieur, a truffle-layered take on the Croque Monsieur); creative gourmand (Terrine de Foie Gras, but with roasted watermelon and caramelized almonds); or California healthy (tabouleh salad, selection of crudo).

Photo Credit: Eden Rock — St. Barths

On the Rocks (Eden Rock): If you don’t feel the romance here, you are on the rocks. Five or six stories above the water (dramatically lit), the dining room feels like a cruise ship by candlelight, especially the tables for two along the outside. The cuisine is by Jean-George and shows off his talent for orchestration while letting single ingredients have their solo moments. The mahi-mahi in the ceviche? "Caught this morning just around that rock," said my server. Big Champagne list including six large-format labels.

Restaurant Le Sereno (Le Sereno Beach): A slimmed-down, Mediterranean-influenced menu that would be at home in Paris or New York: Salad, carpaccio and tartare, pasta, seafood, and steak. It sounds generic, but the ingredients and execution—the pasta is homemade—are so good that it rises far above that. The kitchen is overseen by Michelin-star chef Alex Simone, who comes in once a month from London to make sure everything is ship-shape (and will move to St. Barth full-time next season).

The New Kid

Le Guérite: St. Barth outpost of the venerable (founded 1935) restaurant on Ile St. Marguerite near Cannes. Open-air dining room on the harbor point. Menu cuts back and forth across the Mediterranean, but with a Greek foundation courtesy of chef Yannis Kioroglou. A simple-grilled octopus, cut into thin slices and floated in lemon-inflected olive oil, was sublime.

Non-Hotel Dining: The Top Trio

Photo credit: Romeo Balancourt

Photo credit: Romeo Balancourt

Bonito: A modest cottage exterior conceals a svelte lounge of white couches and a curved, open-air dining room looking down on Gustavia. Ceviche and tiradito are the forte of Chef Laurent Cantineaux. The scallop dishes have been superb—the scallops meaty and done to a turn—and a wahoo with bok choy and shitake main course is simply sublime.

L’Isola: Sophisticated Italian flawlessly served in a gorgeous high-ceilinged room illuminated by pools of golden candlelight at dinner. Feels like Capri or Amalfi. At a recent dinner, the risotto with asparagus and shrimp tasted like yours and mine never will, and the pasta with sea urchin was an unctuous indulgence.

Maya’s: A super charming open-air pavilion to the west of Gustavia.  An insider and celebrity favorite for the superb fish. The tuna sashimi was tissue-paper-thin and the grilled salmon done perfectly rare.

St. Barth Canapés

Sunblock and Skin Care Product Bonanza: Apothecaire de Aeroport, in a charming clapboard building across from the terminal. Your first stop after deplaning.

Bet the French Horse Races: At Bar Le Glacier in St. Jean.

Dare-Devil Bikinis: Pain de Sucre in St. Jean.

Present for Your Teenager: Recording session in the studio of Eden Rock’s Rock Star Villa. John Lennon used the mixing console to record Imagine. Half-day session included in the rate.

Seller's Remorse: In 1950 Rémy de Haenen, the first pilot to land on St. Barth, bought the rock on which the Eden Rock now stands for $200. The next day the seller called, said she overcharged him, and refunded $100.

Flight-Home Provisions: Maya's to Go, across from the airport.

At the Heart of the Sea: Exploring Nantucket by Yacht

At the Heart of the Sea: Exploring Nantucket by Yacht

Boating is at the heart of Nantucket, an island with a past and a present that is intrinsically tied to the sea. From the late 18th to early 19th centuries, this crescent-shaped piece of land, located some 30 miles off the coast of Massachusetts, was the whaling capital of the world.

Today, those whaling ships are long gone, and in their place you’ll find megayachts and sailboats floating offshore. And just like the sea captains of yesteryear, modern-day sailors know that some of Nantucket’s most amazing treasures are discovered via the water.

For visitors who fly into ACK with Tradewind Aviation, a number of companies make it possible to get out on the ocean—including ACK Sunset Sail, which runs sunset sailing trips, or Captain James Genthner, who offers daily cruises and private charters on the Endeavor, a reproduction of an early 1900’s single-masted sloop. Island Boat Rental has powerboats ranging from 15 to 20 feet that you can take out for the day and captain yourself. There’s even a vintage 1953 Hinckley that you can rent by the night through AirBnb. And if you really want to get serious about yachting, you can apply to be a member of the prestigious Nantucket Yacht Club or Barton & Gray, which gives members access to gorgeous wooden Hinckleys.

When you’re ready to set sail, chart your course to the best boating destinations around the island. Here are our 10 favorites.

Jetties Beach

Photo credit: Jetties Beach Restaurant

Jetties is one of the more popular beaches on Nantucket — and it’s no wonder, with its placid waters that are ideal for kids. If you want to grab a bite, head to the small beach restaurant on the boardwalk, which serves up killer lobster rolls. Every summer, the Boston Pops performs here and boaters get a front-row view.

Coatue

Photo credit: Flickr via Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

Photo credit: Flickr via Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

Set right beyond the main harbor, this barrier beach on a narrow strip of land feels worlds away. Anchor here overnight and watch the twinkling lights of Nantucket Town in the distance. The shell hunting can’t be beat.

Great Point

This remote spit of sand at the extreme northeastern coast of the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge has miles of sand for exploring and an iconic lighthouse. This is where serious anglers come to fish for striped bass and bluefish.

Dionis Beach

Photo credit: Yelp

Photo credit: Yelp

Lined with high dunes and wildflower-dotted sea grass, Dionis is the kind of picture-perfect white-sand beach that makes its way onto postcards. Anchor offshore and dive into the warm waters of Nantucket Sound.

CRU Oyster Bar

Photo credit CRU Oyster Bar

Photo credit CRU Oyster Bar

This dockside restaurant in Nantucket’s main harbor is a hit with landlubbers and boaters alike. Tie up your yacht on a slip right out front and stop in for a glass of Rosé and a plate of fresh-shucked oysters that are infused with New England’s briny terroir.

Polpis Harbor

This tranquil harbor is a protected spot where you can anchor for the day and spy on the multimillion-dollar mansions that overlook the water. This is the place for some of the best sunsets on the island.

Madaket

Photo credit: Flickr via James Behnke

Photo credit: Flickr via James Behnke

On the westernmost tip of Nantucket, Madaket is where Fred Rogers (a.k.a. Mr. Rogers) used to spend the summer. There’s a tiny village and great crabbing in the surrounding creeks. Boaters also come here to spend time on the breathtaking beach, wade in the tidal flats, and kayak along the shore.

Tuckernuck Island

Just off the west coast of Nantucket, Tuckernuck is a place that people rarely see. Most of the island is privately owned by a handful of summer residents, and it doesn’t even have paved roads. But for experienced boaters who are able to navigate its ever-changing shoals, Tuckernuck is nirvana, with its empty beaches and rare birds and animals that call the island home.

Muskeget Island

Beyond Tuckernuck is Muskeget Island, an uninhabited dot of land with marshes and windswept dunes. It’s inaccessible to most boaters because of its dangerous shoals and sandbars, but it’s a great place to bob offshore and watch the gray seals that breed here or fish for yellowfin tuna.

Cuttyhunk Island

This island is a quite a bit further afield, but worth the journey from Nantucket. Back in the day, Teddy Roosevelt used to fish here for striped bass, and it hasn’t changed much. With its old fishing village, two-room schoolhouse, and general store, Cuttyhunk feels like a place from another era.

*Featured image courtesy of Flickr via Bob P. B.

St. Barth Gourmet Festival: An Appetizer

St. Barth Gourmet Festival: An Appetizer

Culinary festivals are a dime-a-dozen today, but there are three key reasons why the third edition of the St. Barth Gourmet Festival (Nov. 3-6) should be on your list.

First of all, it’s still under-the-radar—despite the top culinary talent participating—according to the hotel general managers I recently interviewed. It hasn’t been heavily promoted, so you’re getting in on the ground floor of an event that looks like a thoroughbred.   

Second, it's not exactly a taste of St. Barth. It's a taste of France and St. Barth (a French overseas collectivity), as most of the participating restaurants invite a French chef to come as a headliner. In some restaurants, the chef takes over the kitchen; in others there's a collaboration. But the bottom line is this: during the festival, you have a chance to taste very sophisticated cooking from France without having to cross the pond.

The Cheval Blanc St. Barth Isle de France, for instance, will have Arnaud Donckele—the youngest chef ever to get three Michelin stars—in the kitchen. He comes from the restaurant La Vague d'Or at Isle de France's sister property in St. Tropez, La Résidence de la Pinède. At Le Sereno, Alex Simone—who oversees two Michelin-star restaurants in London and created the Sereno menu—will be cooking alongside Jérôme Banctel, chef at the two-Michelin-star La Réserve.  At the Hotel Christopher, in a dining room with a fabulous sunset view, Sylvestre Wahid—the toque at the two-star Sylvestre at the Hotel Thoumieux in Paris—will be setting the menu. The various restaurants also offer ancillary events such as wine tastings and cooking classes.

Finally—and this is not a small consideration—the Festival takes place during the shoulder season, so hotel rates are much lower (sometimes by 50%) than they are after December 15.

Here is a list of the participating restaurants and the guest chef at each one:

On the Rocks, Eden Rock Hotel: Chef Virginie Basselot
La Plage, Tom Beach Hotel: Chef Gilles Marchal
Case de l'Isle, Cheval Blanc St Barth Isle de France: Chef Arnaud Donckele
Aux Amis, Le Barthélemy: Chef Guy Martin
Taïno, the Hotel Christopher: Chef Sylvestre Wahid
Bartolomeo, Le Guanahani: Chef Fabien Lefebvre
Restaurant Le Sereno, Le Sereno: Chef Jérôme Banctel
Taïwana: Chef Christophe Saintagne

To reserve your seat at the table, we recommend booking through one of the participating hotels or restaurants. All additional events are open to the public (though reservations are still recommended), except for the invite-only opening night.