St. Barts has some 30 hotels, most of which trend toward boutique -- the largest property on the island has only 65 rooms. Hotels and resorts throughout the island, with some exceptions, tend to be expensive, and a service charge of between 10% and 15% is usually added to your bill. Tack on a weak dollar, and St. Barts becomes quite the pricey proposition for North Americans. If you're looking for ways to cut costs, consider visiting in the shoulder or low seasons. Off-season rates plummet and often include a rental car for stays of a week or more. In March, it's difficult to find a place to stay on St. Barts unless you've made reservations far in advance, but check in during May and you'll have the run of the place. Be sure to get on a resort's e-mail list: Many offer terrific money-saving packages (especially during the off season) advertised via e-mail or Twitter. Note that a number of properties close between August and October.
Renting a Villa in St. Barts
If you choose to rent a villa in St. Barts instead of going the hotel route, you won't be alone. St. Barts has some 450 villas, beach houses, and apartments for rent by the week or month. Villas are dotted in and around the island's hills -- very few are on the beach. Instead of an oceanfront bedroom, you get a panoramic view. Rentals, priced in U.S. dollars, can range from a one-room "studio" villa away from the beach for $980 per week in off season, up to $40,000 per week for a minipalace at Christmas. Most rentals average between $2,500 and $4,000 a week in the high season between mid-December and mid-April, with discounts of 30% to 50% the rest of the year. One of the best agencies to contact for villa, apartment, or condo rentals is St. Barth Properties, 12 Washington St., Ste. 201, Franklin, MA 02038 (tel. 800/421-3396 or 508/528-7727 in the U.S. and Canada; www.stbarth.com). Peg Walsh, a longtime aficionado of St. Barts, and her capable son, Tom Smyth, will let you know what's available. She can also make arrangements for car rentals and air travel to St. Barts and can book babysitters and restaurant reservations. Another excellent option with similar rates and services is Wimco (P.O. Box 1481, Newport, RI 02840; tel. 800/449-1553 or 401/847-6290; www.wimco.com), which has some 250 villa properties to rent.