Farewell to St Barth’s

I think I have the toughest job in the world . . . and visiting St Barth’s a couple of times a month all winter has been one of the hardest parts of this assignment.

Money . . . big money and lots of it . . . is what St Barth’s is all about. This is a charming little island (about 8 sq miles) has only about 8,500 permanent residents. They boast that they have more millionaires per square meter on St Barth’s than any place else in the Caribbean. Most cruise ships don’t stop here because they really don’t want their island paradise spoiled by cruise ships. The harbor in Gustavia is charming and loaded with high-priced yachts.

St Barth’s was originally French, then for about 90 years Swedish, which accounts for the capital and major village being named Gustavia after Swedish King Gustav III. Today it is an “overseas collectivity” of France and really is one of the real gems of the Caribbean, unspoiled by mega ships and tourists looking for junk.

The airport in St Bart’s has a tiny runway that ends up on the beach, so if you sunbathe on the end of the runway you might end up with skid marks on your chest.

Here I am at Nikki Beach . . . again, it’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it. You can rent a seaside cottage here at the peak of the season for $25,000 a week.

Most of the Hollywood/celebrity crowd were in LA for the Oscars, so things were kind of slow. I love to ask guests things like, “Did you see Barbara Streisand?” I didn’t either, but I was just asking . . . but they take it seriously. After telling folks how expensive St Bart’s is and that the stores are all top end designer shops, one lady asks, “Do they have really good bargains?” I told her that Louis Vutton was having a 2-for-1 sale. After 3 months you start doing weird things to keep it interesting.

Each time we’ve been in St Barth’s the Russian oligarch Andrey Melnichenko has had his mega-yacht “A”, named after his model-wife Aleksandra, anchored next to us. Melnichenko, 31, has been in a contest with arch-rival Abramovich, 41, to see who has the longest . . . Melnichenko’s “A” is 390 feet and ahead, but Abramovich is building a new yacht that will be 613 ft . . . and all of this contest to see who can make theirs the biggest is being done without the aid of vacuum pumps.

Anyway, at a cost of $300 million, “A” is a little cheaper than a cruise ship, carries two 30 ft speed boats along with stories about a helicopter and Rolls on board. I didn’t see the helicopter or the Rolls, but it does have a helicopter pad. Designed by Philippe Starck, the French designer, it looks to me like the conning tower of a giant futuristic sub. The couple’s bed rotates, so they always have the best view. The yacht contains 3 pools, six guest cabins, and is maintained by a crew of 40, plus Melnichenko’s office staff. The storage area for the speed boats converts to a disco when the hull doors are open and the boats removed.

We took advantage of French St. Bart’s to pick up fresh baguettes, pate, salami, cheese and wine for an impromptu “Farewell to St Bart’s” party in my stateroom . . .

Jonathan, drummer; Leo, nurse; Teresa from Rumba Jazz Duo; Natalie, production cast lead singer; Bea, shore ex manager; Norma, shore ex.

Panama and flag

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