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    Posted: 04 March 2014 at 6:54pm

Making music in the caribbean’s ritzy jewel, St. Barts

By Max Gross

March 3, 2014 | 5:45pm

It’s the night before the Saint-Barth Summer Sessions — the music festival in the French Caribbean that’s going into its sixth year — but my wife and I aren’t listening to music. Rather, we’re watching a scantily clad dancer stride onto the beach just outside La Plage, the outdoor restaurant and bar at the Tom Beach Hotel, grab a pole and shimmy with the kinds of acrobatic skills one would expect to find in Vegas. Yet we are spared (or is it denied?) anything too revealing beyond a bikini.

This dancer is followed by a fire juggler, blowing fireballs into the night air.

In between these entertainment options there’s food: grilled mahi-mahi with candied lemon and mesclun; steamed mahi-mahi with bok choi and mung bean sprouts; oven-baked mahi-mahi with sweet pepper piperade — and even a couple non-mahi-mahi dishes like tagliatelle with lobster.

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Aberta Pra Balanco performs.Photo: Michaël Gramm

Such is life in St. Barts — the playground of the rich and the super rich.

Yachts sail back and forth from the island in the French Caribbean; their only cargo is a Russian billionaire and his entourage. The airport (notoriously small, pointed out to sea) isn’t designed for a jumbo aircraft; rather, a Gulfstream private jet is more its speed.

I was there during the summer off season, which is less crowded with the super moneyed set — but this has its advantages. Sure, you might not run into Mick Jagger at your hotel, but you’ll actually be able to get into the clubs. And you can appreciate the lush mountainous greenery, the sandy beaches, the blue waters — the tropical paradise that made it coveted long before the first celeb set foot on this island.

The Summer Sessions, for example, is the 13-day music festival that was the brainchild of Thierry de Badereau, who also owns the Tom Beach Hotel, and you can go up to the various singers and guitar players after their set to chat. The festival is a roving concert — about 30 different musicians from various spots around the world perform in small settings around the island. The performers and bands include a mélange of mellow and funky offerings like Project K-Paz, Stefan Biniak, Eitch and Ryan Faraday.

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The Tom Beach Hotel.

But even in this lower key way, one never loses the consoling proximity of millionaires. Gustavia, the capital and main commercial hub of St. Barts, has a distinctly Madison Avenue feel; Cartier, Rolex, Hermes and de Grisogono are all represented. Even the non-branded shops take full advantage of the island’s pricing, which is frankly insane. (This reporter had never shelled out 25.50 euro — just over $35 — for sunscreen before. But he did in St. Barts.) A small number of names that dot the New York culinary landscape also make their appearance in St. Barts. A walk through Gustavia reveals “Bagatelle” hugging up against the water — yes, the same as the Bagatelle in the Meatpacking District. But then it’s not just Gustavia; Eden Rock , one of St. Bart’s many luxe hotels, has the requisite celebrity chef writing the menu: Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

This past fall Alfred Portale of Gotham Bar & Grill did a limited collaboration with Philippe Masseglia on a menu at Hotel Guanahani’s Bartolomeo. (Bartolomeo’s normal menu ranges from items like a pork chop with roasted pineapple, mushrooms and mustard sprouts to black truffle risotto.) But even in restaurants where there are no New York names attached, the food is universally good. Côté Port (05 90 87 79 54), a little waterfront eatery in Gustavia, has a much less punishing (price-wise) menu of tapas like grilled calamari (8 euro) or black sausages (8 euro), all of which are extremely well done. Wall House offers steaks and rich gnocchi Parisienne with pesto.

Of course, one should never forget that St. Barts is a tropical island with the accompanying advantage of glorious beaches and a crystal blue Caribbean waiting to be taken advantage of.

Carib Waterplay offers windsurfing lessons for one or couples, and a windsurfing board is available for rent at 30 euro an hour rental.

There are all sorts of boat rentals, like Fun Sea’Stem or Jicky Marine Service, which offers all sorts of rentals and excursions.

It’s almost enough to forget that you might run into Demi Moore and her family at the Tom Beach Hotel.

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Bom1 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bom1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 March 2014 at 10:39am
Is there a law stating that journalist must always (erroneously too) state that only private jets can fit into the small airport here?  
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Premium James View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Premium James Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 March 2014 at 2:00pm
It's an oddly written article.
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DebLollar View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DebLollar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 March 2014 at 8:02am
Agreed!!
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Premium James View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Premium James Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 March 2014 at 9:55am
<,But even in restaurants where there are no New York names attached, the food is universally good>>

Really not sure what to think about that statement. Is he trying to be funny?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bom1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 March 2014 at 1:11pm
The writer's name is Max Gross?  Seriously?  The whole article reads like a joke.  They should have saved it for April 1st.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Premium James Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 March 2014 at 1:49am
I was wondering if he's a native English speaker....
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elmaasheley147 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote elmaasheley147 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 September 2018 at 10:25pm
Agree with you
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