This post goes out to my chaotic group of bridesmaids, who took off of work, traveled by taxi, plane, boat, etc., and then spent money on a very frivolous (but totally worth it 😉) trip to celebrate my engagement and soon-to-be marriage to Johnny. I told them to come into the trip with low expectations and high energy and they operated at 200% every day. I don’t think anyone took a nap or slept past 8:30 am the entire time. We soaked it all up as much as we could and by our fourth day we were being recognized by people on the island who had seen us at Bagatelle… what a legacy. 😂
So I was originally going to go to St Barts with my maid of honor, my sister Jacqueline, on Wednesday to set up everything at the villa… but then my bridesmaids caught wind of that and 10/12 of them decided to join a day early on Wednesday too 😂 . I truly couldn’t name a more hysterical, selfless, helpful, enthusiastic, and FUN group of women. I am the luckiest and this was the trip-of-a-lifetime for me just because of them.
Head to my St. Barts bachelorette packing list blog post to read the story behind the #GlitterForMcNitter hashtag and the background on the theme of the trip… which was glitter iridescent mermaid (duh?!).
Planning the Trip
I’m not exaggerating when I say that this trip has been in the works for years. I knew I wanted to have my Bachelorette in St. Barts even before Johnny and I got engaged (you can never start manifesting too early, ok!!) so I can’t even describe how exciting it was to see it all come together, exceed my expectations, and then get to share it all with you!
We officially kicked off the planning process when we decided on the dates and then booked our flights in January. From there I found my dream villa for our stay (more on that below), and then we worked with my MOH, Jacqueline, and a luxury travel planner, Patty Ehinger, to sort out the logistics and plan the reservations and activities.
I will share a blog post with all of our tips for planning a Bachelorette soon, but I can tell you know that working with Patty to plan this trip was the best decision we made to prepare for it. We booked our flights and the villa ourselves (though Patty could have done that for us if we wanted!) but then she took care of recommending and orchestrating all of the restaurants, bars, activities, beaches, you name it.
St. Barts is a French island in the French West Indies (they use the Euro but take US dollars too) and it can be difficult to get to because it requires at least two flights or a flight and then a ferry or boat. Then once you’re there there are a lot of nuances with the restaurants and bars– all of the most popular ones have specific days that host parties and when they are the most fun, you want to make sure you can get to/from them ok while drinking, and some are better at accommodating groups over others, etc. It’s a lot to know if you haven’t been to the island before– my sister and I had been once before but years ago when we were in high school.
A few months out from the trip Jacquline and I had a Zoom with Patty (she lives in NYC and seriously couldn’t be nicer!) to give her our list of places we had heard of or potentially wanted to go to in St. Barts– and then she gave us her opinions on those and also offered up her thoughts on what else we should do. After that we went back and forth on email for a few weeks answering and asking questions to each other about our trip preferences, and then about a month before the trip she sent us the most detailed trip itinerary I’ve ever seen, which included everyone’s flight information, the exact pickup/drop-off times for our transportation, confirmations to all of our reservations, and descriptions of each activity and restaurant we would be visiting.
Then during the trip we had the best tables at every spot and each reservation, activity, and plan she had set (the Mokes! the shopping! the day party at Nikki Beach!) were our absolute highlights. Patty was also always available for us to call or text, which was especially helpful when our plane got delayed and for all of the Covid logistics that come with traveling to a foreign country. She definitely knows where to send a group for a Bachelorette or girls trip, and I honestly wouldn’t recommend going to St. Barts without working with her on your itinerary (for a couple’s trip, family trip, honeymoon, or otherwise!).
Regarding the Covid procedures for the island, we didn’t have to get tested before arriving or departing anywhere (since our entire group was vaccinated and boosted!), but we did have to fill out an EHAS form a day before flying into St. Martin and a day before departing St. Barts to enter St. Martin again to fly out from there. But please don’t take this blog post as fact regarding the Covid regulations, since they’re constantly updating and changing. I would check with this site if you’re flying into St. Martin first, or this site if you’re flying into St. Barts. Though the easiest thing to do is to hire Patty and ask her.
Both my sister (my MOH), and I had been to St. Barts before, but none of my other bridesmaids had, so it was a new place for them to visit (which I thought made it even more exciting!). There are a few ways you can get to the island (which is located in the French West Indies in the Caribbean), and all of them involve either two flights or a flight to St. Martin and then a ferry from there.
Patty had warned us about taking the ferry or a boat from St. Martin, as it’s a 45 minute (to an hour+) boat ride that’s known to be rough at times. But we could save a few hundred dollars (each) by doing so, so we decided it was worth the risk. Well, with the way flights are absolute chaos right now, we ended up getting delayed about four hours at JFK so we missed the ferry from St. Martin to St. Barts– which happened to be the last ferry of the day (lol lol).
Thankfully, we actually knew of a boat charter company based in St. Martin, Captain Jo Boat Charters, who we used when we visited St. Martin in April of 2021. So we immediately emailed them when we realized we were going to miss the last ferry of the day (FYI– the ferries to St. Barts run at very few times during the month of July!) and they *thankfully* had an opening to transport us from St. Martin to St. Barts the evening we got in.
It turned out to be the roughest boat ride I’ve ever been on (and I’m very used to boats and being on the water), but we were fully safe (thanks to Captain Andrew of Captain Jo’s Boat Charters!) and we made it to St. Barts the same day that we had planned on, which was a miracle in itself considering the crazy travel cancellations and delays that are going on right now.
In the future I may recommend taking a flight from St. Martin to St. Barts, as it’s only about 15 minutes and they run pretty frequently every day, so it may be worth the few extra hundred dollars for you. We didn’t get the chance to take the ferry (we went on a boat via Captain Jo’s Boat Charters again on our way back, because it didn’t work out for us to take the ferry with its schedule), but I’ve heard the ferry is less rough than taking a private boat, and is only around $85 a person each way.
Where We Stayed
WIMCO’s Villa la Belle Créole— I’ve been dying to talk about our villa since we booked it last winter. I spent days looking through the various villa agencies that have properties on the island, as well as Airbnb and VRBO. However, I kept coming back to WIMCO (which stands for West Indies Management Company), as they seemed to represent all of the villas I was interested in. It turns out that they are the premier Caribbean luxury villa vacation company, and they specialize in and have represented private villas on St. Barts for over thirty years. Even more, they operate a dedicated concierge serve on St Barths (which is unique for rental companies!), that can handle everything from stocking your villa with groceries before you arrive, to having your villa cleaned each day you are there. They seemed to provide an elevated level of service that stood out from every other villa agency I looked into, and now being on the other side of the trip I am SO thankful we went with booking through them!!
Our villa was called Villa la Belle Créole and is a 7 bedroom, 7.5 bathroom STUNNING villa located on top of a hill overlooking Saint Jean, my favorite town in St. Barts (which includes Eden Rock, Nikki Beach, and a bunch of adorable boutiques!). If you are going to St. Barts with a group of ten or more, seriously start and end your villa search with this one. 😂 Here are a few highlights that really made it the perfect villa for our stay:
- It was immaculate and seemed new, modern, and fresh (and it was cleaned every day by the sweetest women named Anna and Elsa… #doyouwantobuildasnowman?!)
- It had a very warm saltwater pool that fit at least five glitter pool floats 😂 , along with a pool deck where we all could lounge
- It was a little under a ten minute walk toso many of our favorite places from the trip– The Tropical Hotel Bar, Eden Rock, Nikki Beach, Le Piment, and everything else in the town of Saint Jean
- It had room to park up to five Mokes, which really came in handy when we had four at the villa!
- The kitchen was super well-equipped with anything you could need to cook or whip up a cocktail
- There were PLENTY of bathrooms/mirrors which is key for a girls trip when everyone wants to get ready at the same time 😉
- It had a very large dining table on the upper deck (right off the kitchen), which was very convenient for everyone to gather around for meals
- There were plenty of seating areas throughout the villa’s property that allowed us to sit together as full a group or lounge in alone whenever we wanted
I literally could go on and on… it’s definitely one of the nicest places I’ve ever stayed in, and I was so happy it was for the sake of my bridesmaids, who had traveled so far and spent a lot to be there. I know that I’m personally a lot more inclined/happier to spend money on a trip when I know that the accommodations will fit what I’m paying (and be ‘worth it’), and this villa was that and more.
I’d like to end with our favorite aspect of WIMCO and our experience at Villa la Belle Créole— we had the most amazing and attentive villa specialist, Lucas, who met us at the dock in Gustavia (the harbor on St. Barts) when we arrived, toured us around the villa and described everything we’d need to know, and then was on call 24/7 for anything. The service was truly unparalleled. For example, on our first full day in the villa we realized that the Wifi could be stronger (one of my girlfriends had to answer a few emails for work), so we WhatsApp messaged Lucas and he had a technician come over with an additional wifi router for us. We were floored, as this type of speedy service generally doesn’t happen in vacation rentals, let alone on an island as remote as St. Barts.
In all, I would say that we had an exceptional experience with the WIMCO team and the villa’s accommodations. It really was worth every penny and provided the most comfortable, fun location for our stay and so many of the Bachelorette festivities– which was my goal going into it. In full transparency, WIMCO kindly gave me around a 30% discount on the rental in exchange for sharing my experience however I wanted, in an open and honest way. All of the above are my true opinions and I already know I will turn to WIMCO in the future for the must luxury villas and vacation experience.
Photos by my photographer, @kate.mcreynolds.photography. I was SO fortunate to have her with us for half of the trip, so she could capture photos for me to share later on, and I could be in the moment and not worry about blogging!
What We Did
Shopping in Gustavia and Saint-Jean— It is absolutely not a trip to St. Barts without some shopping!! The island has some of the best designer and boutique shopping I’ve ever seen. The town of Gustavia, that’s located right along the island’s main harbor, has a street lined with designers– everything from Prada to Rolex, as well as a number of beautifully curated boutiques, especially down the side streets! I bought an adorable market tote from Clic (which is Jacqueline’s favorite store in NYC too!), and I had four girlfriends buy bags at Prada and Louis Vuitton 😂. The exchange rate with the Euro was SO good that it was all too tempting… There was also a few adorable boutiques in Saint Jean, which was at the bottom of the hill from our villa. Our favorite was Lili Belle— which carried a lot of beautiful block print and embroidery!
Laid on the beach— We spent as much time as we could just lounging on a few of the stunning beaches on the island and spending time in the water (which had to be 80 degrees+, it felt like bath water!!). We went to Colombier Beach (more on that below, I thought this was the most beautiful beach we visited), Shell Beach (which of course has a ton of shells and incredible seaglass hunting), Saline Beach (which is the island’s only fully nude-optional beach and has great waves for bodysurfing, nude or not 😉), and Saint Jean beach (which was located at the bottom of the hill from our villa and right in front of Nikki Beach and Eden Rock!). The villa came with beach towels so we would just pack those and a cooler of rosé and waters, and then lounged in the sand and got in the ocean. Each beach was so different and I’d make sure to see as many as you can.
One quick note on the weather– it was in the mid to high 80s every day, with little to no humidity. We had a few rain showers on the first morning that we were there, but they cleared into a big sunshine in the afternoon. After that we had all sun and gorgeous big fluffy clouds that sat on the horizon. It was at the end of the island’s season so it wasn’t crowded (each beach we went to only had maybe 5 other people on it) but I probably wouldn’t go any later than the end of July. August-October is their hurricane season from what I understand, which is why I opted to do it in July. December would have been too busy with the holidays and January would be cutting it too close to our wedding to leave the country. 😉
Pajama party in the villa— After our first full day on the island we picked up pizza from Gustavia (more on that in the below section) and changed into the embroidered mermaid pajamas I gave everyone. We spent the night in playing games, swimming in the pool, and cackling at the video my best friend Kaeli put together– in which Johnny’s older brother interviewed him about our relationship. This was honestly my favorite night of the trip, as we all could be our chaotic, fun selves without having to worry about getting dressed up or going anywhere. We had ourselves a TIME.
Colombier Beach hike— I’m going to kick this off by saying BRING WATER BOTTLES on this hike, especiallyyyy if you’re hungover and potentially dehydrated. 😂 Besides our mistake in not doing that, it was a truly spectacularly stunning hike down to Colombier Beach, which I thought was the most pristine and beautiful beach we saw. I’d say it’s about a half an hour to 45 minutes down, and full of lots of steps and some rocky paths so wear athletic sneakers and workout clothes. We passed a bunch of goats which were too cute, and then walked the beach once we got to the bottom. If you’re really trying make a morning or afternoon of it (which I think you should!) pack a picnic lunch, a towel to sit on, and your swimsuit because you’re definitely going to want to get into the water– it was divine. There are also plenty of big boulders along the beach that you could change behind, though I think we only saw about five other people on the beach when we were there. Last note on this– we drove our Mokes out to this hike and then parked them at the top of the hill alongside the road there and that worked out really well!
Rented Mokes to drive around— Most people will say that you have to rent cars on St. Barts to get around the island, since there aren’t any real Ubers or taxis. But since we knew we would be drinking and didn’t know the island well, our travel planner, Patty, gave us the WhatsApp numbers of a few drivers on the island, who we hired to take us to and from dinners instead of driving ourselves (this was the best decision for our group!). However, we wanted to have at lease one vehicle on hand for us to use throughout the trip in case we needed to pick anyone up from somewhere or run errands, so we rented a Moke to have at the villa the entire time. Mokes are electric, street-legal cars that go up to 25mph, and were first created to be a British beach buggy (how cool). They fit four people, can be open air, and are SO MUCH FUN to whip around in!! We rented ours from Cool Rental and had one the entire time but then added three more on one of the days so we all could go in them and explore the island (the drivers weren’t drinking and we only had them for the day!). We did have one of the Mokes completely break down in the traffic circle on the top of the hill above the airport (if you know what I’m talking about you’re gasping right now), but they pushed it to the side of the road and called Cool Rental, who replaced it within a half hour. Nevertheless, this is such an exciting and easy way to get around and see the island!
Where We Ate
Shellona— We had lunch here on our first full day on the island, after spending a few hours on Shell Beach, which is conveniently situated right in front of this restaurant. It’s relaxed but chic and open-air, and serves Greek food and really delicious cocktails/rosé while you can look out at the Caribbean! We loved our waitress here (she took a shot with us 😂) and the fresh food was just what we needed. We then walked from the restaurant and beach into Gustavia to do some shopping, which was super convenient.
L’Isoletta— While we were finishing up shopping in Gustavia, a few girls picked up a large pizza and some salads from this spot to bring back to our villa for a casual dinner. Their large pizza was huge and so perfect for dinner after spending the day at Shell Beach and then shopping. It’s ‘Roman style’ Italian pizza that was delicious!
Le Piment— For lunch on our second full day on the island we had planned to go to Kiki-é Mo, which was located at the bottom of the hill from our villa, in the heart of Saint Jean, and is a juice bar with healthier take out options as well. However we found out that the owners were on vacation so it was closed (only something you’d run into in the islands 😂) so we walked down the street a few minutes to Le Piment, which was an open-air restaurant (though in the shade with lots of fans!). They offered an extensive cocktail and tapas menu (with everything from sushi to mozzarella sticks), so there was something for everyone and it was perfect for a casual lunch.
Remy Bar & Salon at Eden Rock— On our third night on the island we got dressed up (the outfit theme was ‘iridescent glitter mermaid’– what else) and went to the swanky bar at the famous Eden Rock, which is known as the resort that hosts the most celebrities on the island. The bar was cozy and had such creative cocktails made by their mixologists, so it was a fabulous spot to have a drink on our way to dinner that evening.
Bagatelle— Ok. If you’re going with a big group to St. Barths this is an absolute must. It’s a world-famous restaurant and for good reason. The food is French Mediterranean but you’re not going for the food. I’d recommend having a 9:30 pm reservation (which was when all of our dinner reservations were!) and immediately ordering an espresso martini once sitting down 😂. We got a bunch of pizzas and salads for the table and then the music in the restaurant escalated until people started to stand up on their chairs to dance… and then got up on the tables (the tables have white tablecloths with glassware on them, mind you). The waitstaff there was incredible and they cleared our table once we were done and very much encouraged the chaos. My best friend Liza Bart snuck away from the table and spoke to someone (the hostess? the manager? I’m not sure) to purchase a bottle of champagne for us that was delivered by a man wearing a Superman costume and ‘flying through the air’ while being carried by other men who worked at the restaurant. He delivered said bottle of champagne to me and then proceeded to dance with us on our table– I think it goes without saying but we were a SIGHT of a group at Bagatelle (we were all in our iridescent glitter sequins too) and were then recognized a number of times throughout the trip after that as being ‘the group in glitter at Bagatelle.’ I’ve never been prouder.
Nikki Beach— This is another iconic spot that we saved until our last full day on the island. It’s right on the beach of Saint Jean, which as I’ve mentioned was conveniently located at the bottom of the hill from our villa, so we just walked down and had a reservation for a late lunch. I’ve heard that the best time to go are Sunday afternoons, but we sadly had to return back to reality on Sunday so we opted for Saturday afternoon instead (which ended up being amazing, trust me). We ordered a bunch of quesadillas and pizzas to split and looked out on the gorgeous beach from our table, which was literally steps from the sand. They had a DJ that was unbelievable, and like most spots on St. Barts the energy escalated until we were dancing on our table. We made friends with other people in the restaurant (again, we were a SCENE and everyone wanted to be part of our group 😂) and had the BEST time. Definitely bring a bubble gun when you go, and you’ll be the most popular person in the place. I think this was my favorite party of the entire trip– we even got to take a dip in the ocean mid-way through and a waiter brought me a cocktail to the ocean. Only in St. Barts.
Tropical Hotel Bar— On our last evening in St. Barts we got dressed up and walked halfway down the hill that our villa was on to quite possibly the most impeccably decorated hotel I’ve ever seen. Think: The Colony meets St. Barts but brand new and glammm. The bar looks like it’s in the middle of a chic woman’s living room in the French Riviera– full of pink and green prints, eye-catching decorative pieces and coffee table books, and all of the rattan I could ever dream up. They served creative cocktails (we got espresso martinis because we were trying to rally from an afternoon at Nikki Beach) and they were so welcoming to our deliriously tired and unhinged group 😂.
La Petite Plage— We had our final dinner of the trip here, which Patty had recommended as a must for a group dinner. Once again she didn’t steer us wrong, and it was just the energy we needed to finish out the trip. It’s located on the water in the harbor in Gustavia and the entire floor of the restaurant is literal sand. It’s full of wicker lanterns and lots of boho throw pillows, with of course a DJ that was serving up bangers (lol). I have to say I think this was the best food we had the entire trip too– I got the black truffle pasta shells which were out of this world. I ended up holding my skillet of pasta and dancing on the table with it in hand. Truly no better way to round out our once-in-a-lifetime trip!!