There is nothing quite like February in the Caribbean and I am just back from a week-long stay with 13 friends aboard the 112- guest SeaDream with SeaDream Yacht Club whose motto is “It’s Yachting, Not Cruising”.
Because the ships are so small, they truly can go at their own pace and meander into ports just not accessible to the larger ships. Within hours of boarding, literally, every staff member that I came in contact with knew my name, and scarily enough, my favorite drink too!
The 56 staterooms and suites are very comfortable and the assigned room attendants could not be more accommodating. The weekly fare for SeaDream includes everything including unlimited champagne (oops, my favorite drink), wonderful meals, and all gratuities.
The chef would go out of his way to please each palate, one night indulging my husband and I with some of our favorite Indian dishes from the chef’s hometown of New Delhi.
SeaDream has a sports deck on the back of the ship so that on days relaxing at sea, guests can head out on a sea kayak, banana boat, water, or jet ski.
A bit of dancing, piano-side sing-a-longs, and a small casino add to the after-dinner fun and the staff is happy to leave the bar open until all have retired.
Ports of call on this trip include the islands of Puerto Rico, St. John, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, and two whole days and an overnight in the inimitably sophisticated and chic St. Barths.
Our group all received a $250 spa credit to be able to really enjoy the spa staffed entirely by Thai ladies, who are experts in Thai stretching and loosening any knots we boarded the cruise with.
The crew is happy to set up a top deck Balinese bed with linens, pillows, and comforters at night to enjoy a snooze under the stars with your sweetheart.
Every guest receives monogrammed PJs so no need to wonder what to wear!
SeaDream is perfect for those that like sailing short distances with many interesting stops, personal and friendly service, and no stress – everything is included and anything you might ask for is an emphatic “yes!”
While on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands, I surprised our small group of friends with a day frolicking at the sexy and well-located private Villa Aquamare. This 5 bedroom villa features 5 full master bedrooms, an open-air living and kitchen area, and a full sand entertainment area bordering the ocean where guests can choose from frolicking in the hanging day bed or lounging on the various uber comfy seating areas. There are two additional 5-bedroom villas on the property that would allow a large family or gathering of friends to take over all three villas. The villa comes with housekeeping and a full-time concierge available to hire chefs, stock the refrigerator, organize outings, yacht charters, masseurs, and all of your week’s arrangements.
Caneel Bay, A Rosewood Resort, St. John – USVI
On St. John, I decided to get away from it all and totally unwind on one of the 7 beautiful and quiet beaches at Caneel Bay, a Rosewood property. I loved this resort because it is part of a National Park and thus benefits from wild, natural beauty but also some tremendous architectural features from the preserved and protected stone sugar mills that remain for the days when the area was a sugar plantation. Often one hears that the US Virgin Islands are so developed, but in St. John the polished yet, laid back charm and elegance that has been lost in some of the larger islands remains. Delightfully, it is still a sinch to get to St. John by flying non-stop into St. Thomas and taking the Caneel Bay ferry not only to the resort but straight to your room. Great for couples who want to unwind or for families that don’t need a million organized activities to keep them going. There is a small kids club that is complimentary for 2.5 to 12 years of age and the older kids will entertain themselves with tennis, basketball, and beach volleyball plus an array of non-motorized water sports. For adults that are traveling without children, there are several beaches on the resort, which are adults only and are where one can truly chill out!
SeaDream scheduled an overnight at St. Barths and my husband I decided to take a night to sleep at a hotel rather than on the ship that night. St. Barths for me is the most splendid of all Caribbean islands – food and wine like only the French do, sophisticated shopping, and a spirited happy vibe that just makes you want to dance. We started our adventure by renting a jeep and hitting the steep, windy, and tiny roads of the stunning island of St. Barths. Clearly, we should have stuck with a mini-cooper as many of the turns required 3 point turns to make our way around them. The very friendly French locals just shook their heads with a smile and pointed the way as we made our way around. The first stop was to the ever-so-lovely Isle de France. As I entered what felt like the foyer of an impeccably designed French provincial house by the sea, the weight of my shoulders simply faded away. The calm and sense of well-being that the Isle de France setting had on me were profound. Soft whites accented by bright blues were the design theme throughout but with many special touches of antiques perfect for an island setting. The small but inviting pool and the most perfect white sand beach was home base for quite a few well-tanned bodies. The open-air restaurant by the sea invited guests to pop the cork as early as they chose and to linger for a lunch that could easily last the entire afternoon. The rooms are all unique with very private 2 bedroom suites in the garden with completely private and serene pools. Or a one-bedroom oceanfront in the manner house with a terrace overlooking the slow-paced “action”. The benefit of staying at Isle de France besides that one simply feels wonderful being there, but the many restaurants and shops of St. Jean and Gustavia just a 10-minute drive away. Take a taxi!
Guanahani Resort and Spa, St. Barths
Late afternoon we drove to the Guanahani Resort and Spa located in the Northeast corner of the Island. This side of the island is more remote and has rougher winds and waves. Each cottage is brightly-colored in pink or blue or yellow and has a wonderfully Caribbean feel to it. The ocean view with private pools is a refuge and a wonderful place to retreat after a day at the more active and lively beach scene. Water sporting including paddle boarding and kayaking is perfectly enjoyable from this wild, peninsula setting. Guests wanting a serious spa experience at the Clarins spa will not be disappointed. Frédéric Fekkai does hair here, and the resort boasts one of the first underwater cycling programs in the Americas. Guanahani has a kids club, an active beach scene, a pool, and two restaurants. The fine-dining Barto was one of the best meals we have had during our trip – truly special!
Eden Rock, St. Barths
If you want to be in the center of it all, stay in a famously spectacular hotel, and feel quite simply, like a rock star, then Eden Rock may be the best choice. Once a private home built on a “rock” at the bay of St. Jean and walking distance to all of the shops and restaurants, Eden Rock has evolved into a full-fledged hotel property with many very unique accommodations. The classic rock rooms located in or under the main house, literally built on or within the rock, are my favorite. Each is special for a different reason be it the view, the private pool, the extensive outdoor terraces to chase the direction of the sun, or simply the lovely and quirky nautical theme throughout. The restaurants both run by Jean-George exude fun and good taste – they are the place to be day and night. For those with an exceptionally large budget, wanting to have an experience of a lifetime – perhaps a 50th birthday – ought to consider taking over VILLA ROCKSTAR!. Words can not describe this Villa, which accommodates 10 guests and literally was build to appeal to a rock star. The indoor and outdoor entertainment spaces which are many scream “FUN” and the entire vibe is sexy, slightly outlandish, but for a special occasion, just right! A butler is assigned throughout the stay and serves drinks, arranges nights out on the town or in the villa, and is basically command central for arranging communication between the lucky villa guests and the rest of the resort team. Four of the bedrooms are full-fledged master suites with enormous bathrooms but there is one that is slightly more rockstar-ish for the host. Two additional single bedrooms are great for teenagers, security, or staff. Oh, did I mention a private underground screening room and licensed recording studio – the same equipment John Lennon used to record IMAGINE? How about recording your own song to commemorate the occasion?