My spouse and I stayed at Le Sereno Hotel, Villas, and Spa for four nights in late April 2016. We booked our reservation online through the hotel’s website; however, we could have also reserved our stay through the Leading Hotels of the World website. The hotel required pre-payment for 75% of our stay (3 of 4 nights); if you need to cancel, you must do so 30 days in advance. (Other St Barths and Anguilla, we have never encountered such a strict
cancellation policy before!)
Located within the protected reserves of Grand Cul-de-Sac, Marigot Bay, and Marechal Beach (three of the five zones that comprise the island’s 2,500-acre Reserve Naturelle Marine Park), Le Sereno enjoys a cove location that is usually breezy. The hotel property is located approximately 15 minutes from the airport, and 20 minutes from Gustavia (Gustavia is about 5 minutes further west than the airport). The hotel features a freshwater swimming pool, a sundeck, a gourmet restaurant (serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner), a bar/lounge area within the restaurant, and two spa rooms (by Sothys). French designer Christian Liaigre, who is famous for his architecture and interior and furniture design, redecorated the entire Le Sereno property during its most recent renovation. (Liaigre has designed residences for Calvin Klein and Karl Lagerfeld as well as hotels and restaurants including the Mercer Hotel and Buddakan restaurant in New York). For Le Sereno, he designed all of the furniture, lighting fixtures, and accessories. (The designer has a shop in Gustavia.)
Le Sereno offers 36 suites and 3 large four-bedroom villas, each of which has a private terrace and/or garden. The suites and villas are positioned along 600 feet of beach at Grand Cul-de-Sac, and most units offer a view of the water. The hotel offers a beach with attendants, water sports equipment (two person kayaks and stand-up paddleboards), fitness center (a small facility located in a former guestroom with about five pieces of equipment, towels, and bottled water), private airport transfers, and VIP reception and assistance with customs at the Sint Maarten Airport. The hotel loans beach chairs, umbrellas, and coolers (which they fill with ice and Evian water) if you want to visit alternate beaches on the island. Attendants at the pool bar will set up your lounge chairs by spreading towels and bringing a clear plastic bag filled with ice and bottled water (which is NOT complimentary, FYI, so be sure to sign your bar bill for the water). Le Sereno offers Porthault sheets, towels, and robes, and Ex Voto Paris toiletries.
Breakfast is included with your room rate, which includes fresh-squeezed orange or grapefruit juice, coffee and tea, fresh fruit salad, pastry basket (with two croissants, two pain au chocolat, two pastries, and two rolls), yogurt (either plain, vanilla, or coconut, which comes in little glass bottles – how very cute and French!), granola cereal, and a choice of two eggs any way you like, including omelets. (We ordered only cheese omeletes, but you can add other ingredients; however, we are not sure if there is a charge for additional ingredients, because there is a charge for some menu items, although for the most part, it is clear which items are not complimentary because you are offered a menu with prices.) You can order breakfast to your room at no charge, which we did on the morning of our departure; the girls who delivered it set it up nicely on our back terrace table, including placemats and all appropriate utensils. The evening turndown service leaves a menu on your bed so that you can order breakfast.
We booked a Villa Vue Mer suite, one of only two such suites at Le Sereno. Note that the two Villa Vue Mer suites are located almost as far as possible from the main public areas of the hotel, and also require you to walk up a small hill, so they are not the best choice for a guest who is mobility impaired.
We could have lived in our 900-square foot Villa Vue Mer cottage forever! You enter into the suite in the living room; next to the front door is a half-bathroom (powder room) and a small closet (with a large umbrella, which we never needed) and another closet that holds the electronic safe (large enough to hold a small laptop) and the bar area, which also features a bookshelf filled with books (in many different languages),the minibar, and some additional shelf/counter/drawer space. The minibar was refilled daily with two bottles of juice (apple and orange), two sparkling waters, two regular Evian waters, two soft drinks (one Coke and one Sprite), and two beers. The champagne in the fridge was not complimentary, and three additional “pay” alcohol options were on the shelf above, along with three (non-complimentary) snack items (such as potato crisps and candy). A menu with prices (including the complimentary items) is provided, so you know what is gratis and what is not. The hotel also provides a flashlight (torch), matches, insect repellant, and a battery-operated insect swatter in this sundry closet. (Note that we had no issue with mosquitos, not in our room nor anywhere else on the island while we were there in late April.) A Nespresso/coffee machine was available upon request. Internet was complimentary, and the connection worked fairly well most (but not all) of the time.
The living room held a very long comfortable stuffed sofa and chair, and a desk and chair was built along one wall. (The desk chair was interesting because it seemed to be made of twigs, but its back was too high to fit under the desk, so it had to remain pulled out and angled into the room.) A large floor-standing mirror, side table, coffee table, and assorted lights completed the look, which was done in whites and grays like everything else in the hotel. (Only the floors of our suite were a darker wood.) The ceilings in the suite were vaulted and painted white, so it was restful and relaxing. Both the living room and the bedroom had their own air-conditioning units and ceiling fans, so the temperature was always deliciously cool.
The separate bedroom features a four-poster mosquito-netted canopy bed. (The evening turndown service released the netting, and the morning maid service secured it again.) The bedroom contained two closets: one closet in which you could hang longer items (like a maxi-dress), and the other closet that held shorter items (like a skirt or shirt). The “shorter” closet was built into the wall recess, and held the second TV (with seven English channels and seven French stations) as well as a DVD player and some drawer space. A nightstand on either side of the king-size bed held a lamp; one bedside table also held a cordless phone (a second corded phone was on the desk in the living room). The bed had individual reading lamps on mounted each side. The hotel website mentions that iPods and docking stations are in the rooms (with iPads and iPad docking stations available upon request), but we did not have an iPod docking station in our suite (fortunately we travel with our own portable speaker). Thick curtains (which housekeeping drew at night) kept light from entering the bedroom (and living room) when we were sleeping.
The master bathroom was located off the bedroom, but it was integrated into it by way of two sets of louvered doors that you could open or close as necessary. The louvered doors led directly to the large soaking bathtub, with the sink and separate glass-walled shower off to one side, and the enclosed water closet/toilet (with a separate door) off to the other side of the bathtub. Oddly, neither the toilet room nor the half-bathroom located off the living room had glass in the windows (just screens), so those two rooms remained quite hot and steamy while the rest of the (air-conditioned and glass-windowed) suite was cool. The bathroom was beautiful and spa-like, with the same dark wood floors as the rest of the suite, but with a granite/slate sink/vanity that held plenty of towels (including beach towels for our outdoor hot tub), as well as a selection of larger-than-average-sized toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion by Ex Voto Paris, body pouf). The hotel provides a hair dryer, as well bathrobes and better-than-average slippers.
Our Villa Vue Mer suite also featured about 300 feet of private outdoor space, including an area beneath a canopy (with a 2-person daybed and a small table with four chairs), an area exposed to the sky (with two reclining lounge chairs), and our own private redwood hot tub (which could have sat at least 6 people with its 6-foot diameter). The outdoor furniture was wooden with dark grey cushions. On occasion, the resort’s cat Cookie came to visit us on our terrace. (We are cat lovers who were missing our own pets, so Cookie was a welcomed visitor!) Cookie (who had sort of calico markings) was friendly and wanted human interaction, but another cat (black and white) who came to visit was very skittish and only observed us from a distance.
One of the only issues we had were the bed pillows – too few, and although they seemed to be good-quality feather pillows, they became too compressed during the night. (In retrospect, we should have just requested a few more pillows from housekeeping.) We also had tremendous difficulty locking our front door. The four sets of French doors (two sets in the living room and two sets in the bedroom) also had an odd way of locking where you had to hold the handle at an angle while twisting the knob, but we eventually figured that out; however, the front door lock continued to trouble us throughout our stay. We joked that when someone from the front desk gave us our initial tour of our suite, what we did not need her to point out was the minibar, but what we did need her to demonstrate was how to lock and unlock the doors and turn off the bedside reading lamps! Otherwise, our suite was just perfect!
Housekeeping service was attentive during the day and at night, and the evening turndown was actually performed while we were at dinner. So many times in the United States, the turndown knock comes at 6:00 pm, when we are showering and dressing, so we generally send them away in order to not be disturbed; the turndown in St Barths was done at exactly the right time – while we were out of the room!
The hotel offers a welcome gift with most rooms of a beach bag and white Havaianas flip flops. (We noticed that other hotels on St Barth also provide their guests with beach bags, so the gift offers free advertising.) We also received a chilled bottle of champagne in our suite to welcome us, along with a hand-written note.
In the surrounding area in Grand Cul-de-Sac near Le Sereno, restaurant O’Corail is located next door on the beach. Watersports operator Ouanalao Dive Center is located behind (and associated with) O’Corail. Walking up the beach, you will next encounter restaurant La Gloriette, then a smaller 6-room hotel (called Ondines Sur La Plage), and the (now shuttered) Le Club Lafayette before observing the construction at the new Le Barthelemy Hotel & Spa, which will be an amazing property when it is complete, although that does not seem to be anytime soon! (We think that this new hotel is on the site of the now defunct St Barth Beach Hotel [and Le Rivage restaurant]). Le Guanahani (with its restaurants/bars Bartolomeo, L’Indigo, and Bar’to) is located on the opposite side of Le Sereno; however, due to the rocky cliff between the two hotels on which rooms are perched, it is not possible to walk to Guanahani because the beach is non-existent. Nor is it suggested to walk to Guanahani on the road, because it is narrow, twisty, and without any sidewalk. The only other hotel/restaurant nearby is Yo Sushi Mani (at the Villa Lodge 4 Epices); we could see the sign pointing the way there from the main road, but we do not know how far up in elevation you would need to travel to reach it. Grand Cul-de-Sac offers just the sort of peace and serenity that we were looking for when we booked our room there.
We loved Le Sereno, and we especially loved our Villa Vue Mer suite. We will always remember the hotel and our room as one of our favorites in all our years of travel!