A lively and creative enclave at the northern tip of the island of Saint-Barth

When a reporter asked photographer Slim Aarons how he described his practice, he replied, “Photographing attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places.” It was a simple description of a career that has come to encapsulate the definition of luxury living in an age of global tourism, but it did not credit the enduring element that led to the international success of Aarons – nature and landscape. From his iconic photograph of a Los Angeles swimming pool in scorching heat with a tinsel-studded Christmas tree jutting against the California hills in Christmas bathto the coast of Capri in his image of actress Domiziana Giordano and writer Francesca Sanvitale, landscape is the common thread that allowed Aarons to shape the visual culture of 20th century luxury travel.

Her 1973 image of a woman yachting in a red bikini pops up on Instagram and Pinterest feeds every summer. In it, a woman stands on a luxury boat in a red two-piece bikini looking out into the island’s verdant horizon as she considers anchoring the boat. “I love St Barths,” says Lola Rykiel, creative director and founder of the 1990s dance-inspired fashion label Pom pom, who has been traveling to Saint-Barth for more than ten years. Located in the secluded and newly renovated five-star Le Guanahani hotel in the northern part of the island of Mont Jean, the recently launched Pompom de Rykiel boutique is part of the new mission to reintroduce creativity to the north. of St. Barts. For Rykiel, enjoying the island is all about location, so she chose her new outpost, set against a backdrop of untouched landscapes. “The Guanahani has appeal because it could be a lot more obvious, but it’s really laid back and family oriented,” she says, “it resonates with Pompom because it can be glamorous or relaxing or both, there’s has no pressure to look a certain way.”

This elegance is found. “People have the idea that Saint Barth is really outrageous and over the top,” says Rykiel of the island, which is accessible by a ten-minute chartered plane ride from the coast of the island of Saint-Martin – “but I think the Guanahani shows that there are lots of different options on the island and cool, low key, laid back but still classy people.” Today, with the arrival of Le Guanahani championing the subtle glamor of northern St Barths, Pompom, the innovative fashion outpost of Rykiel and a low-key creative crowd, St. Barth is once again becoming a destination for travelers luxury savvy Aarons has captured.Without any of the noisy tourist traps that surround the capital city of Gustavia, like the boisterous Nikki Beach club and Eden Rock, the landscape is free to take center stage, with nothing but pretty houses and endless stretches of beach to break the horizon.

The reopening of Guanahani follows a four-year renovation and has created quite a buzz. Nestled in the low hills surrounding the beaches of Gran Cul de Sac and Marigot St Barthelemy, this home away from home is where those who don’t want the fanfare of a St. Barth tourist resort. The Guanahani was founded in the early 1980s and is fringed by two beaches with sand so good that even perusing the all-day food menu is as special as diving into a much-anticipated beach read. For this reason, Rykiel would not consider any part of the island other than Mont Jean for his outpost. Daughter of fashion icon Sonia Rykiel, who opened her first boutique on the avant-garde Paris Left Bank in 1968, location is key to Rykiel Junior’s brand – “I love that Pompom is here” , she says.

She is not alone. In October, Airbnb researched its top 27 luxury locations and found St. Barths to be the most popular of them globally. Fans of this secluded part of the island come not just for the glamor and relaxation, but for its biodiversity. Following a 2017 report by the Wildlife Conservation Society, researchers found that due to urbanization and overfishing, wildlife and flora and fauna were rapidly deteriorating around the island. In the aftermath of this crisis, the conservation group Make St Barth green again aims to “reforest” the island by planting trees that were decimated during Hurricane Irma in 2017. Their goal is to ultimately improve the local economy through tourism, and in their reforestation mission, they aim to attract a new wave of eco-friendly luxury tourists through a greener St. Barts.

With no more than half a dozen private homes towering above it, this rugged northern tip of St. Barths offers unprecedented privacy on the island. It is also intimacy, while strolling on the beach of Grand Cul de Sac, art students working in bars for the summer mingle with retired couples. In the evenings at Bar Melange, patrons sip dirty martinis by the sea and wave to a mix of travelers for just the perfect amount of small talk suited to a crowd that has deliberately sought a place for privacy.

This northern St. Barths enclave offers a different, more eclectic fashion ensemble, and Rykiel saw his “Miss St. Barth” t-shirt and Princess Diana-inspired “Diana” shorts – pink and black Lycra embellished with rhinestones – sell Well. “It’s the perfect mix of casual and unexpected,” she says of the article, “it’s in a way that makes it appealing and cool.” Rykiel often spends nights at the Rosewood Hotel, which, with its rooms outfitted with a mix of antiques and watercolors by local artists, feels right at home, and away from the corporate identity of many neighboring destinations. And of course, the adjacent beachside Sense Spa is a favorite, offering up to two hours of massages. “the spa was amazing, i had a CBD oil massage which really lifted my spirits and stayed with me all week.”

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