Elena Bowes

New York-London design & culture writer of a certain vintage looking for meaning and wholeness in life

New Year, New Attitude

January 8th, 2017
St Barth's

Mommy, why is my panini taking so long?

My youngest is 18, but when Julia gets hungry, an uncomfortable, alien feeling for her, she reverts to her grumpy four- year-old self.

Julia, it always takes this long, comforts her older, wiser sister Kate.

The three of us (son Thomas is stuck in NYC working) are at a shoebox size Italian deli called Kiki é Mo’s on the Caribbean island of St Barth’s, a deli that we have been to countless times over the years. The service has always been wishful thinking, the paninis forever over-priced, and yet, we always come back. Why?

Nostalgia is a dangerous thing. I could easily get buried alive in memories. It’s a slippery slope.


This Christmas I had to stop myself from telling my boyfriend Stretch all about how great St Barth’s used to be.

See over there? I point out the car window to a distant corner of the airport runway, “that used to be where the landing strip was with one bench under a tree for people to sit on.

I quickly point again.

See that chic looking restaurant? That was where this hip beach shack called Chez Francine was. Chalkboard menus, fantastic lobster, everyone just wore bathing suits to lunch. The island was soooo different.”

We drive a bit further past the village of St Jean of Nikki Beach fame, way too nouveau for me. I’m in full-throttle flashback to the disco eighties.

See that house on the point, up there, that was Autour du Rocher, the only nightclub, if you could call it that, really just a deck with music. So fun!

I glance at Stretch. Stretch is quiet. I am quiet.

That’s when I made my NY’s Resolution. This year, 2017, is all about looking forward, embracing change, going for it.


So on that note – here are some new spots I like in St Barth’s now. Reader beware, like Chez Francine (I’m not reminiscing here, just giving you a reference point), the places I like are chilled, low-key, discreet.

Top on my list is new hotel Villa Marie in Colombier, the fifth pearl in Jocelyne and Jean-Louis Sibuet’s string of charming French hotels. The décor is warm and inviting, blending French Colonial with ethnic Caribbean with a dash of Parisian joie de vivre. The 18-bungalow hotel is decorated with mahogany fans, bamboo egg chairs, vintage rattan furniture, antiques, sea shells


and jazzy pineapple-themed cushions,


plus lush trees and plants galore and some resident parrots by the pool. This is a hideaway hotel, ideal for couples – Julia and me, trés romantique!


For families with young children I like Le Bartholémey over in Grand Cul de Sac with its enticing pool by the sea, terrace restaurant for lunch and holistic spa boasting an eco-friendly nail bar. How forward-looking is that?! We saw lots of families with young children running around so this spot is best-suited for those in that toddler-loving/surviving mind-set.


Just down the beach is toe-in-the-sand, yummy lunch spot La Gloriette (a bit like Chez Francine in a facing-forward 2017 kind of way).


For those who don’t want to rent a villa or stay in one of the swankier, pricier hotels on the island, the minimal, stylish Emeraud Plage on St Jean beach offers a peaceful, pretty, convenient option.


Stroll down the beach and enjoy lunch at La Plage with its new chef, David Sendron. Or check out Le Papillon Ivre, a wine bar in St Jean where the locals like to hang. Pizza lovers should head to Gustavia for a slice at  L’Isoletta.


Bon Appetit and Bonne Année!

January, 2017