Just Back From St. Barts

Boats, cocktails and diving

EDENIC LODGING The Guanahani has two beaches on Grand Cul de Sac, one facing straight into the Atlantic surf, the other a sandy cove on a vast salt lagoon where you can paddle a sea kayak and watch pelicans dive for dinner. The hotel's 75 Creole-style cottages are scattered through the prettiest gardens on St. Barts, a vibrant hillside of bougainvillea, hibiscus, coconut, and frangipani. The Guanahani's attention to detail includes Porto linens, Hermès toiletries, a Clarins mini-spa, and yoga sessions with Diana Bourel. Stay in Pool Suite 9 and sit on the patio listening to resident pianist Charles Darden play at Restaurant Bartolomeo. Skip the buffet breakfast at L'Indigo and opt instead for flaky croissants and café au lait delivered to your door. $600-$1,530. Grand Cul de Sac, St. Barthélemy 97133; 800-223-6800; www.leguanahani.com.

Surfers and paparazzi-frazzled celebs favor the petite 13-suite Le Toiny, overlooking the remote Côte Sauvage. You can hide in a plantation-style bungalow and never see another guest. Linger by the plunge pool facing the ocean, or nap under netting that drapes the fourposter mahogany bed. Provided with teak chaises, high-tech entertainment gizmos, and a kitchenette, few guests emerge until checkout. $1,370-$2,320. Anse de Toiny, St. Barthélemy 97133; 590-27-88-88, 800-932-3222; www.letoiny.com.

RESTAURANTS DU JOUR Forget overpriced, overbooked Maya. The chic and restless now favor Le Ti St. Barth (590-27-97-71), a rollicking bar and restaurant in the hills near Marigot Bay. The Creole menu is frequently overshadowed by wild tabletop dancing, so come early if you're serious about codfish fritters or grilled duck fillet. Escape the lunch-hour crush in Gustavia by slipping off to Shell Beach at the far end of town, and snag a deck table at Dõ Brazil (590-29-06-66), tennis star Yannick Noah's French-African fusion restaurant. Pair the maafé chicken and cod carpaccio with chilled Red Stripe brews. Le Gaïac (590-29-77-50) is the current flagbearer for gastronomic excess. Despite the tropical setting, chef Maxime Deschamps has a Frenchman's love of foie gras—when not served as a terrine, it shows up in the stuffed-quail-and-lentil salad. Dinner at all three restaurants: about $65.

THE BOAT TO CHARTER Conspicuous consumption hasn't fallen out of favor. Proof positive is the number of steel-hulled superyachts lining Gustavia's harborfront promenade. Invite eight friends onboard the graceful 120-foot J-Class sloop Shamrock V, built in 1930 for Sir Thomas Lipton's unsuccessful bid to win the America's Cup. $12,000 per day or $65,000 per week. $ Yachting Partners Int'l., 28/29 Richmond Place, Brighton BW2 2NA, England; 44-1273-571-722; www.ypi.co.uk.

LE COCKTAIL HOUR At the quirky Eden Rock Hotel, perch high above the surf in Baie St. Jean and order potent sundowners. Stick around for the terrific tapas, which include tuna ceviche and grilled octopus. 590-29-79-99.

PRIVATE DIVING On the eastern end of Anse de Grande Saline is a rocky cove reachable only by charter boat or a brisk swim. Don fins and mask, then drift along looking at tonight's main course.

BEAUTY BUYS At Ligne St. Barth, Brigitte Brin dispenses advice on sun protection along with her fragrant collection of Caribbean-inspired body and bath products. Try the aloe-mint after-sun gel. Lorient, St. Barthélemy 97133; 590-27-82-63; www.lignestbarth.com.

Member of Fine Hotels, Resorts & Spas.

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