On our delightful family trip to St. Bart’s in the Caribbean to celebrate our Dad’s 70th birthday and Thanksgiving, we passed over the sexy Eden Rock and lovely Isle de France for the more family friendly Hotel Guanahani.
Located about five to ten minutes from the cute “town” of St. Jean where Eden Rock is situated, the Guanahani has what the other two properties lack– space. The largest hotel on the island, the Guanahani has 69 rooms that all feel like individual cottages. They are spread out over several acres and staggered upon hills cascading down to the hotel’s own beach. Most of the rooms have been recently renovated but even the older rooms are lovely– Lucy actually had her pick between two when we arrived and selected an older room with an ocean view over her renovated room on the beach! Mary and Napper had a garden view suite which had a huge private deck with loungers and a dining set up, as well as a proper living room with doors that closed which was necessary with the little baby in tow. He slept perfectly and through the night in his own room as he does at home!
The beach is dramatically set on a peninsula with water on both sides– the water is extremely calm and shallow on one side and the other has a reef so is not swimmable. The beach is well set up with lounge chairs, umbrellas, beach boys to help you get set up and water sports. We loved taking the paddle boards and kayaks out to cavort with all the sea turtles who frolic just off the beach. There’s also great swimming a little ways off the beach– just hop off your board. The hotel also has a swim dock which is fun to jump off of and swim around in more vigorous surf.
Breakfast is included in the room rate– and they do not skimp on breakfast! It is a delectable spread of a buffet or ample room service delivered for no extra charge– such a luxury to have breakfast in your robe on one’s private tropical terrace at no charge!! Yes please. There are two restaurants on the property — almost feels like three with the beach bar and cabanas where we had lunch a few days with our feet in the sand.
Indigo is the more casual restaurant down by the beach and pool where breakfast is served. We had dinner there our first night which was perfectly fine, but felt less special when we discovered the next day at lunch, that it was the same menu… Bartolomeo is the fine dining establishment on property and it is formal, quiet and serene. The food is delicious and it was very pleasant and grown up.
The hotel also has several tennis courts (equipped with lights for play after dark which is key during the short winter days), a fitness center, a spa, a kid’s camp for kids 2 and up, fantastic concierges who booked a week’s worth of reservations for us and an amazing babysitter for Ever for the evenings.
We really loved the Guanahani— it is perfect for a family or several couples traveling together– everyone has their own delightful cottages to retreat to yet there is fantastic and easy communal space with plenty of activities- or not– to suit everyone in the group. I hope we’ll make this an annual trip!