Does St. Barths really have an "Attitude"?

Jan 20th, 2003, 11:53 AM
  #1  
Jamie
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Does St. Barths really have an "Attitude"?

I am planning my next vacation and I need some insite. I have been to St. Barths twice, but my new husbnd has not. When I was there, I stayed in a villa with 2 other couples. We had a great time together and did not mingle with anyone else. Since we did not stay in a hotel and hung out with each other, we did not notice an attitude. I have heard otherwise from couples travelling alone to the Luxury Hotels ie: Le Toiney, Eden Rock etc.
I have just booked Cap Juluca, and am thinking about changing. What keeps me from making the change though is St. Barths. We loved Anguilla, and the safety and the locals are great. My husband espically cannot stand snobby attitudes. I keep thinking that we (he) is missing the beauty of St. Barths and I would love to stay at Le Toiny but do not know if he would like it. Is there any other small resort like Cap in the Caribbean or is the choices limited? We have already been to BVI (Biras) and we really love the smaller luxury resorts like that.
Is LeToiny comparable to Cap, maybe we aren't missing anything, please help?
 
Jan 20th, 2003, 02:23 PM
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Nancy
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Jamie,
That is a good question!
I have been to Anguilla and stayed at CJ. I too loved the gorgeous beaches and the warm and friendly local people.
I have been to most of the islands in the Caribbean, and I can tell you that I have not considered St. Bart's because I really enjoy the more traditional island food and culture, and have no interest in the "see and be seen" attitude I have heard and read is prevalent in St. Bart's.
I'm sure it is a wonderful place to visit, and I know there are top-notch resorts there, I just like a low-key and unpretentious vacation, and I don't want to deal with people trying to "out-do" each other when I'm on vacation.
We encountered that at Four Seasons Nevis, and now rent a villa or stay at the plantation inns when we go to Nevis.
(These impressions are only my opinion, and I am sure some will disagree.)
 
Jan 21st, 2003, 04:05 AM
  #3  
xxx
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didn't find the outdoing scene at all but lots of people who are comfortable with who they are and enjoy it. The only one who might pick up on such an attitude is the wannabe who is worrying about the outdoing. It is a bit more upscale and you'll see some of the Beautiful People but if you realize that your money is just as green, it's not a problem.
 
Jan 21st, 2003, 05:53 AM
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Jamie
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I know 4S Nevis is beautiful and highly rated. There are a few reasons why I chose not to visit it. One is that we love the "small luxury resort" types of vacations. I also know that is a big golfing resort, which we do not play. It is hard to find a samll luxury resort on an upscale island. Besides Anguilla, there is St. Barths and I would say perhaps Mustique (but you are isolated there) My husband needs to have some kind of vehicle to explore - a car or a boat. He cannot just sit in one place. Since Anguilla/Cap fits the bill perfectly for us it is very easy to go back every year - like many do. It's also very easy to get into a rut. Unfortunately, my husbands career does not allow taking off more than a week at a time, otherwise we would be exploring other parts of the globe. The caribbean is very convenient for us, we usually reach our destination by 3-4 pm. Maybe we will take a day trip to St. Barths and rent a car & drive around. Would you recommend ferry or plane from Anguilla?
 
Apr 2nd, 2003, 02:29 PM
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My wife and I never noticed an attitude with any of the locals on St. Barths. The only attitudes we wittnessed were attached to some of the sailing crowd, and a few "ugly Americans". My wife and I have been traveling for 30 years now, and we've found that what you give is what you get.
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Apr 2nd, 2003, 04:33 PM
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CF
 
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That doesn't work all the time Mike. We are about as easygoing and friendly to residents as anyone, and we have found it isn't always reciprocated. Mustique being a case in point.

When we were in St. Barths we met two wonderful shopkeepers and were treated poorly by many others. They literally looked down their noses at us. I don't think we ever had the same problem on other islands.(except Mustique)
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Apr 3rd, 2003, 04:44 AM
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I agree with you CF. It's not always a matter of how you behave when it comes to being treated "coolly."
I've heard so many people say (and read on several message boards and even in guide books) that St. Barths is full of pretentious wannabes, that I've never even remotely considered it as a destination.
(Why else would the original poster have asked the question if they had not also heard/read that?)
Obviously, the many people who go there year after year love it.
I may be missing out, but I also know that I don't want to waste precious vacation time on a place that doesn't offer what I am looking for.
Different strokes for different folks...
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Apr 3rd, 2003, 11:54 PM
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We went to St. Barth's once, on a day trip, and didn't like the atmosphere. Very stuffy and self-satisfied (though I agree that it's hard to tell from only a one-day trip). Since then we have been once to Anguilla, which we liked very much - relaxed atmosphere, friendly people, and Nevis, which we also liked: the friendliest people we have ever encountered anywhere in the Caribbean. We are going back to Anguilla this summer, and may well go back to Nevis someday. But we do not plan to go back to St. Barth's.
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May 13th, 2003, 07:04 PM
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I'm surprised at some of the other impressions of St. Barts. Yes, it's chic and sexy ---but not pretentious.
I agree, however, overweight Americans do stand out here. It's not really like anywhere else in the Caribbean since there was never slavery (no plantations)or "Island" culture. Sans timeshares, all inclusives or high rises. Pristine beaches. Gorgeous vistas unlike a flat Island like Anquilla...We've been all over the Caribbean and it's paradise compared to anywhere else. Don't listen to those who were there for a just a few hours... The view off Le Toiny is one of the Caribbean's best and the Sunday brunch is to die for. The only problem is that it's a long way from the beach. Consider Isle de France on Flamands.
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May 14th, 2003, 05:09 AM
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Caribcouple,
I think you just proved the point perfectly.
Anyone who would be so pompous as to make the comment "overweight Americans do stand out here," and tout the lack of island culture (due to no slavery) as a virtue, slams home the reason many people find the "attitude" on St. Barts to be supercilious at best.
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May 14th, 2003, 07:37 AM
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Excellent assessment, Diana.
Two points for incisive thinking and reading between the lines.
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May 14th, 2003, 08:09 AM
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JMM
 
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Interesting comments: I spent a day on St Bart's and found no evidence of "attitude". (BTW I am a somewhat overweight Canadian). Our taxi driver was friendly and gave us a great tour (including some "extra" time). The beach restaurant we ate at was expensive but friendly (no problem at all when my husband and I split a hamburger plate). The saleswoman at the art shop we went to was very helpful and pleasant even though we were obviously not going to buy one of her expensive items (we had to add up our combined francs to see what we could afford). We bought a small limited edition print and she told us a bit about the artist and gave us a discount so we would still have a little money left (pour les cartes postals). Quite frankly I think attitude is in the eye of the beholder. St. Bart's service people do not fall all over you (something I find phony anyway) but they are there when you need them. A pleasant "Bonjour Madam/Monsieur" on entering an establishment goes a long way.
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May 14th, 2003, 08:43 AM
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Hi,

What time of year are you planning to go? I think it makes a big difference there. A few years ago, we decided to jump from Antigua to St Bart's on the spur of the moment---without any reservations. It was summertime. We rented a car, and just drove around looking for a place to stay. We spotted Francoise's Plantation, and got a room for a third of the high season rate. We absolutely loved it, high up on the mountain with glorious views and breezes, an infinity pool that looked like it spilled into the Caribbean, and a restaurant with food to die for. The furnishings were British Colonial, with high four-poster bed, the rooms are individual cottages climbing up the hillside, each with a porch, and the bathrooms were all terrazzo and spacious. We didn't even think about snobbish people, since we were busy visiting a different beach each day, stopping for the best ice cream for lunch, and doing our own thing. The best dinner we had (next to one at Francois' Plantation) was pate, baguette, brie, and wine that we bought at a French deli and ate at sunset on a totally deserted beach! So romantic. St Bart's is such a beautiful island---we loved it! If you go in the summer, everything is cheaper, and the "in" crowd probably wouldn't be caught dead there in the off-season!
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May 14th, 2003, 12:24 PM
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I have been to St. Barth's, Anguilla and Nevis and St Barth's is the only one we've gone back to several times. I even brought my children there mnay times. It is our favorite place to go. The three islands are different but never felt that St Barth's was snobby. I
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Oct 21st, 2003, 05:01 PM
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We just returned from St Barth's and it is a *beautiful* island with small, gorgeous beaches and pretty scenery. The downside, however, is the strong French influence. The caricature of the snooty, borderline-rude shop clerk and food server is alive and well on St Barth's. It is also *very* expensive, even the post cards! I'm glad we went but I'm sure we won't be going back.
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Oct 22nd, 2003, 08:35 AM
  #16  
JMM
 
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Boyo - the following statement you made says considerably more about you than about St. Bart's:
"The downside, however, is the strong French influence. The caricature of the snooty, borderline-rude shop clerk and food server is alive and well on St Barth's."
Our experience was the exact opposite but then we did go to the island with an anti-french attitude (and you accuse them of being rude !).
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Oct 22nd, 2003, 11:17 AM
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LJB
 
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As a laid back American, most comfortable in sneakers and shorts I felt a bit out of place surrounded by lithe french women in their little black dresses and tiny sandals. I found some of the shop keepers and the restaurant help to be not very nice. One trip there was enough.
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Oct 22nd, 2003, 11:27 AM
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I suspect there's a kernel of truth in both perspectives mentioned above.
Anti-American sentiment is at an all time high right about now in many parts of the world, and certainly there's been tremendous tension between France and the USA during the past year. So I don't find it hard to believe that one might encounter some rudeness among French nationals abroad or among those living on French islands.
In tourist spots, however, most of the time a tourist will "get what you give", and a friendly and respectful attitude will usually get the same in return. Not 100% reliable, of course.

Stereotyping will overgeneralize in most cases, but the overall attitude on St. Barth's is quite different from that on Aruba or New Zealand, or Hawaii, for instance. The latter examples being characterized by friendly, casual, unassuming types. IMO St. Barth's rates higher on the 'attitude scale' than most islands, but not so much that it adversely affects the quality of my time there. Again, proper expectations and the right visitors' attitude go a long way toward ensuring a pleasant reception.
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Oct 22nd, 2003, 01:23 PM
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St. Barth IS FRANCE.
Right after 9/11 at Carnival Parade in SB there was a large American/French Solidary float. All were dressed in Red/White/Blue and waived US Flags--and it brought tears to my eves. Many locals put US flag bumper stickers on their cars too. That goodwill ended quickly all over the world (even in Canada)when Bush thumbed his nose at the UN.
In SB they still prefer, however, Guests from the US than their own. Definately more sophisticated, but I won't agree expensive. A GOOD bottle of Bordeaux is less there than back home and the food all over this beautiful Island to die for. Yes the French women are beautiful and wear those little dresses instead of shorts-- but this place less uptight (all the beaches are classic French topfree or CO) than any of the US or former Brit Colonies, true paradise.
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Oct 22nd, 2003, 05:22 PM
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JMM, what a talent you have! You can psychoanalyze me and know all my thoughts and opinions based on one short review. You must be very wealthy, famous and popular.

For the record, I'm not anti-French and in fact I *lived* in France. I have never found in France -- even Paris -- the same snotty attitude that I found in St Barth's. I doubt it came from the locals but rather, as our taxi driver told us, from French nationals who come to SB to work a few weeks or months. You may not have had the same experience, but that doesn't mean that my wife and I didn't have it.
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