Cheval Blanc in St. Barths
By Tim Cotroneo
A returning guest is the keystone to a hotel’s long-term success. At the Cheval Blance in St. Barths, one couple enjoyed their stay so much that they bought the hotel.
When the Cheval Blance came up for sale in 2000, Charlie and Mandie Vere Nicoll decided to make their favorite vacation destination more than a place they visited once or twice per year. The British-based Nicolls made the plunge to not only purchase the luxury boutique hotel, but to also relocate permanently to St. Barths.
What most impressed the Nicolls during their annual treks to St. Barths was the way they felt so at home with the Cheval Blanc family of 135 employees. The hefty number of employees is impressive when one considers that this hotel has just 39 rooms, suites, and villas.
Observing the demeanor of a staff member is an excellent gauge for determining how one’s hotel stay might play out. Is the staff eager to please? Are they problem solvers? The Cheval Blanc looks for two special ingredients when hiring an employee.
“We don’t necessarily look for prior hospitality industry experience. What’s important is for our employees to be enthusiastic and open-minded. Cheval Blanc is more than just a beautiful room and a beach view. Real luxury is about providing exceptional service for our guests,” Sales & Marketing Director Elodie Miyet said.
Step Up to Luxury
The idea that you have only one chance to make a good first impression is an Cheval Blanc trademark. First time and returning guests are swept away by the open-air view from the hotel lobby. Six white pillars frame a marble walkway leading to a freeze-frame moment featuring the Caribbean Sea.
The Cheval Blanc scores points even before this first impression by including complimentary airport transfers as part of a hotel stay. For those wondering if they can expect a long commute after a long plane ride, you’ll rest easy knowing that the Cheval Blanc is just a 10-minute drive from the St. Barths airport.
Spacious accommodations are standard fare at the Cheval Blanc. Whether you choose a suite, a bungalow, a cottage, or a villa, this exquisitely decorated hotel strives to deliver more than they promise at every turn.
The room options are as appealing as the menu selections at their seaside La Case de L’Isle restaurant. If you desire a marble bathtub, no problem. A private villa with your own full length pool, no problem. A secluded bungalow tucked away in an enchanted garden, no problem. How about a three-bedroom villa on the beach with vaulted ceilings, a kitchen, fitness room, home cinema, and infinity plunge pool. You guessed it; the Cheval Blanc France aims to please.
Start Your Own Tradition
Becoming an owner hasn’t diminished the Vere Nicholls enthusiasm for their long-time heartthrob of a hotel. Charlie and Mandie can be found having lunch at their La Case de L’Isle restaurant several times per week.
The family feeling the Vere Nichols cherished as an Cheval Blanc guest a decade ago is the St. Barths souvenir they hope you bring home today. If before leaving Cheval Blanc you choose to book a vacation for the same time next year, no problem. Keep in mind you’re only a guest once at the Cheval Blanc. A second visit means you’re a member of the Vere Nicoll extended family.
www.timcotroneo.com is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer with a passion for travel and a future Caribbean zip code.