Let’s be blunt: St. Barth is for snobs. So when I went to visit Le Sereno – an exclusive beachfront property, on the quiet and secluded Grand Cul de Sac Beach -- I was prepared for an ultra upscale experience surrounded by cringe-worthy rich French elitists (or wannabes). I was wrong. Not about the extreme pampering – Le Sereno has dozens of young, doting staffers waiting to bring you a glass of rosé, rent you a motorbike, play your favorite Kings of Leon song, or take you professionally kite-surfing. No, what I was wrong about was the attitude.
At this hotel, you are free to be you, as grubby or grandiose as that may be. Sure, there is insane wealth all around you – Parisian socialites, spoiled Swiss teens – but you have to work hard to notice them (or to be noticed). It is as if the bungalow-style, all white, hut-like resort — designed by Christian Liaigre— is all yours. So relax, you’re safe from the see-and-be-scene St. Barth crowd (they’re all at Nikki Beach). Le Sereno is your own private paradise to enjoy in your own individual way.
Guest Rooms at Le Sereno
There are 36 suites and 3 four-bedroom villas. Almost every suite has an water view, and all have private terraces and gardens. The two-tone rooms – deep browns and stark whites -- are all very spacious, with high ceilings and great division of space. Our standard suite had three expansive tiers; one for lounging, adjacent to the palm-tree-lined, private terrace overlooking the water; then another tier for the super-comfy king-size bed, complete with a mosquito net; and a third tier for dressing and bathing.
Other amenities include flat screens, iPod docks, a mini-bar full of free sparkling water and soft drinks, and a “magic” maid service. (We had a running joke that the maids were like ninjas – we’d never see them, yet the room was perfectly tidied twice a day, even if we only left for twenty minutes).
Dining at Le Sereno
Before coming to St. Barth, I was advised: “Bring a bag of cash.” This is an expensive island. And Le Sereno is an expensive restaurant. That said, the food is excellent. The beachfront breakfast, which is complimentary (hurrah!), offers eggs, fruit and yogurt.
The lunch menu – club sandwiches and small sushi plates, is a fortune. I advise skipping it and grabbing sandwiches at a local grocery. For dinner, if you’re ready to splurge, order the fried aubergines (I will dream of them – so crispy!), seared tuna salad, some wagyu dumplings and any of the fresh-caught fish of the day. My black miso cod was sensational and tasted like the same dish served at Nobu.
Destination Weddings at Le Sereno
The property is happy to host a wedding and can accommodate any size guest list or wedding style. From a private elopement for two to an all-inclusive buy-out for 300, they are open to anything, and have the resources to arrange all the details or remain relatively hands off.
Honeymoons/Romance at Le Sereno
This is an wonderfully romantic hotel. Dark chocolate is left on the fluffy pillows, Champagne is fluid, and there is infinite privacy on the beach for kissing and snuggling by day and star-gazing at night. Le Sereno turned us (a jaded New Yorker and aloof Italian) into lovestruck puppydogs. Also, it seems like everyone is topless on the beach. So you’re halfway there already. The resort offers various packages. Its Wings & Wheels offer includes a private flight and a car rental.
The hotel stands along a 600-foot-long beach, so kite surfing, wind-surfing, and snorkeling are at your fingertips, with instructors if needed. There’s also a crystal-blue pool a few steps from the sand. If you want to curl up in bed with a good movie and each other, the hotel has a solid collection of DVDS (we had a Quentin Tarantino marathon one night). Private yoga and fitness training is available for a fee. And the tiny-but-comprehensive gym is always open. Also, 24-hour room service!
There’s a great pizza joint next door (even the aloof Italian liked it), but in general you will need transportation to go anywhere else. We rented a motorbike for $50/day and it was the best decision of the trip. If you’re not biker-savvy, rent a car. Cabs are a fortune and a pain to deal with. Five minutes away, by car, you can reach beautiful beaches (go to Saline) and all the good restaurants Jean Georges at the Eden Rock resort is particularly fine.
This is an island-wide problem: the mosquitoes will get you at night. Also, Le Sereno is breezy, especially in the evenings. Pack your coziest cashmere wrap.
The Sereno Vibe
Le Sereno is owned by a prominent South American family, but the feeling is very sophisticated-French. With that comes an aura of “Do not bother me…s'il vous plaît.” Personally I don’t want mindless chit-chat with strangers when I’m on vacation, so this ethos worked for me. However if you’re looking for new friends or to exchange emails with the genetically blessed couple sunbathing at the pool, don't count on it.
97133 Saint Barthélemy, France
Phone: +33 5 90 29 83 00
Official Hotel Website
Transportation: Most people connect to St. Barth airport through St. Maarten’s Princess Juliana Airport (SXM), which services an array of daily direct flights from many international airports.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodation and meals for the purpose of reviewing those services. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.