by Sandra Foyt
Sitting on a small hill overlooking St. Jean Bay, Hotel Le Village is removed from the hustle and bustle of popular St. Jean Beach, and yet it’s close enough that a 3- to 10-minute walk takes guests anywhere along the strip of restaurants, boutiques, and watersports outfitters.
Family-owned and operated for over 40 years, the resort was one of the first to open on St. Barths. When patriarch AndrÃ© Charneau began construction in 1968, he used native rock and hurricane-felled mahogany, shipped in from his Guadeloupe plantation, to build the cluster of cottages and suites. A recent and extensive renovation continues to make good use of indigenous materials, while honoring the colorful landscape.
Twenty-eight units — five hotel rooms and 23 cottages, ranging from one-bedrooms to two-story homes with full kitchens — dot the 10-acre hillside. At the center of the property, a cobalt-blue-tiled infinity pool washes onto a stonewall exterior, creating a natural waterfall. In the early days, Greta Garbo recommended glass windows, “should one wish to see something outside the air-conditioned rooms.” Now, guests can observe the ocean, with its dramatic Caribbean sunsets, through glass patio doors that lead to private decks.
The outdoor living space, which surrounds several cottages, is what makes the resort one of the island’s best for those traveling with kids. Fenced-in family cottages provide room for children to run around, while a full kitchen and dining area offer cost savings and a central gathering place. Because families have always been welcomed at Hotel Le Village, they return year after year. Catherine, one of the second-generation Charneau siblings who now run the resort, will tell you that it is gratifying to see the tradition endure as children of early guests return with their own families.
Our Editor Loves
- Spacious cottages
- Infinity swimming pool
- Central location close to St. Jean Beach
- Water Sports
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
Each of the spacious cottages and suites -- 28 in total -- seem to be set in a private tropical oasis, an illusion fostered by abundant foliage, wooden fences and canvas screens.
The simple dÃ©cor features a bright color palette with stylish European accents. One of the newest units, opened in December 2012, Villa Polaroid leads the eye from a white exterior to rich oranges, yellows, turquoises and pinks. Even the less artsy rooms show welcome splashes of tropical hues on throw pillows, floral arrangements, beach towels, or in little details like carrots embroidered on white cotton pillowcases.
Amenities in most or all rooms include free Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, ceiling fans, personal safes, flat-screen TVs and DVD players. Some rooms feature walk-in showers with indoor tropical gardens, but no bathtubs.
Most rooms have been designed for indoor/outdoor living, and include sun decks and sheltered seating, but the Family Cottages are particularly ideal for those traveling with kids. Families of six are easily accommodated in the two-floor cottage, which is a three-bedroom, three-bathroom unit with a full-sized, fully equipped kitchen. The cottage can be divided into separate units for smaller families. Opening up deck screens separating some cottages can unite even larger groups.
We chose Le Village for its location, which seemed to be close to the airport and the beach.
We were advised to rent a car instead of taking a taxi from the airport. We took a taxi anyway, planning to walk everywhere, but after we checked in, we rented a car. Turns out that the hotel is up a pretty steep hill from the beach and nearby restaurants. We're older and not in marathon-runner shape, so the car was a better way of getting around.
The views from the pool and the breakfast are are wonderful...a great way to start the day. The included breakfast is typical continental rolls, breads, etc., but you can order eggs any way you like, pancakes, etc., at a very reasonable price.
We were there off-season so the spa and on-property restaurant were not open. The front desk is very helpful in recommending restaurants and arranging reservations to the point of knowing which restaurants are open on which nights. The staff spoke excellent English and were very friendly to we Americans. For that matter, pretty much everyone we met on St Barths was friendly and helpful to us.
The room was clean and comfortable, a bit small, but more than adequate.
The location was not the best but not the worst too. We had booked for 2 adults and 1 3 year old but not sure what went wrong with their website and it only booked us for 2 adults to which the manager / owner pointed us out and kept reiterating the same thing to us numerous times and top he charged us €30 for a 3 year old who shared a bed with us. Also the continental breakfast didn’t include everything and you had to pay for your breakfast even though it says breakfast included. They present themselves as a boutique hotel but their room had cloged shower area and water didn’t flow through gutter but came outside in the room. Very unhygienic. The reception open until 7:30pm. View from the Swimming pool is the best and swimming pool was the best in the hotel. The rooms weren’t that great standard for the price we paid in off peak season. Lots of mosquitos and ants crawling on your toilet seat. The owner seemed to be little rude and a bit racist so beware!
The view from the cobalt-blue infinity pool seems to stretch out over the azure Caribbean Sea, offering a tranquil setting for reading, reflection or a quiet board game. Guests are advised that swimming is at your own risk, as there are no lifeguards on duty; an adult must accompany children. Because the pool ranges from a depth of 4 to 5.3 feet, it is not advisable for very young children.
On Saturdays, Hotel Le Village hosts a chess club run by skilled player, Jeff Follner, who also organizes an annual youth tournament on St. Barths. Children and adults are invited to participate.
The very popular and very family-friendly St. Jean Beach is located within a three-minute downhill walk (or slightly longer uphill return). Because it is so close to the hotel, family members can go back and forth at their leisure. This is particularly convenient for parents traveling with older teens, or those who wish to return for meals and naps.
On the beach, watersports outfitters provide lessons and equipment for windsurfers and catamarans. Other available rentals include kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, surf boards, skim boards, snorkeling and beach chairs.
Several small boutiques line the streets near the hotel; of particular note are the toy store, Un Dimanche a la Mer, and the French home and body shop, L' Occitane. Also, the Blue Gecko Studio, a paint-your-own ceramics shop, is located just outside the resort.
A complimentary continental breakfast is provided in the hotel restaurant. Guests enjoy French press coffee, croissants, baguettes and fruit salad, while looking out on the bay. The menu will also include high energy and/or gluten free options in the near future, as well.
Many families take advantage of full kitchens to prepare meals and dine alfresco on the covered decks of the cottages. Additionally, shops and several restaurants are found within a short 5 to 10-minute walk.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Babysitting, cribs, rollaway beds, highchairs and boosters are all available, some with a fee. A refrigerator -- available 24/7 just outside the Reception cottage -- is stocked with champagne, wine, milk and light refreshments, all for sale on an honor system.
All rooms have free Wi-Fi, and a computer with Internet access is available at the reception desk. Electrical current runs on 220 volts/60 Hz, which means U.S. appliances require a transformer and adapter, available at Reception.
Coolers and beach toys are provided at no charge. A free lending library contains a variety of French and English titles. And the concierge team will gladly help you plan your vacation, whether that includes arranging car rentals, onsite yoga instruction or island excursions.
The Art of Smart Timing
Weather is ideal, averaging in the low 80's year-round. Technically, hurricanes can pass through the region July through November, although September through October is considered the rainy/hurricane season. Thanks to modern weather tracking, it is possible to get plenty of advance notice, so as to avoid storms.
The hotel's peak season runs from mid-December to mid-April, but the period between mid-December to mid-January is waiting list only, as this is often booked a year in advance. Availability is also tight at the end of March, due to a big regatta.
Many families prefer to vacation in the summer months, when rates are more reasonable and kids are off from school.
Hotel Le Village is located within a five-minute car ride from Gustaf III Airport or the ferry terminal in Gustavia, St. Barth's capital.
Most visitors fly into Princess Juliana International Airport on St. Maarten, continuing to St. Barths via a 10-minute connecting flight on smaller carriers, such as Winnair or Air Caraibes, or the 45-minute to 1.5-hour ferry ride aboard the Voyager or Great Bay Express. Schedules vary, but all ferries arrive in Gustavia, although they may be boarded from one of three locations in St. Martin: Oyster Bay, Marigot or Pelican Bay. Taxis are available at stations in Gustavia and at the airport.
St. Barths is an overseas collectivity of France. Passports are required for entry to the island, and the Euro is the official currency. French is the official language, but English is commonly spoken as well.
Be aware that St. Barth's airport was ranked as the 3rd most dangerous airport in the world. Knowing that, the island hopping ferry ride is both scenic and much more relaxing.
Although only eight square miles, getting around St. Barths is tricky. There is no public transportation and roads are steep and winding; bikes or mopeds are not advisable. Best bet is to rent a small Jeep (approximately $40/day) or Smart Car. The concierge team can arrange car rentals so that you are met at the airport or ferry terminal in Gustavia.
For Mom and Dad
If mom and dad can steal away from the kids for a night out, St. Barths has some of the most romantic French restaurants, most within a short drive. But you don't have to go far for a date.
A three-minute walk down the hill brings you to La Plage Restaurant and the Pink Parrot Beach Bar, where there's a party every night -- albeit with a different theme each time. One night might be an elegant and sophisticated wine tasting, another dancing on the sand to a live band.
Onsite, the Well Being Cottage offers a calm haven. The glass-walled fitness center looks out on a turquoise ocean, fringed by a tropical garden, while massages or beauty treatments can be enjoyed in a private relaxation room.