Where Small Dogs Sun in Style in Saint Barthelemy
By Si Si Penaloza
When your Pomeranian can’t perfect her resting pom face on just any Caribbean island, St. Barts is all about exclusivity and elegance. Pet-friendly Hôtel Le Toiny is perhaps the most reflective of such posh ideals. The belle laureate of svelte Saint Barthelemy, the hotel lies on the more secluded southeastern coast, a haute escape from the gawker-driven capital of Gustavia. With just 15 Villas set amid 38 acres, your privacy is guaranteed.
Small pets are welcome at no additional cost; in fact, the manager’s cheerful Labrador may be the first to greet you on arrival. Hôtel Le Toiny’s charms kick in as soon as you and your pooch land; enjoy complimentary airport transfers with seasoned staff drivers dressed to impress.
Miles away from traffic-clogging celebrity spotting, Hôtel Le Toiny stands poised on a remote cliff, reminiscent of the legendary romance St Barth is famous for. The hotel is best appreciated by those seeking refuge on the island the same way Greta Garbo, Humphrey Bogart and Howard Hughes did, back in the day. Here, you’re more likely to dine next to bespectacled biographer types, as opposed to entourages of barely dressed hangers on.
St. Barth has reigned as a beacon to the world’s social elite for generations. For New York francophiles, the short jaunt down to the wee isle is akin to skipping off to St. Tropez without the jet-lag. With 17 beaches on such a small island, there’s a bounty of natural beauty on offer, with couples preferring to stroll along Saline Beach—a secluded stretch of sand accessed by crossing a dune. Swinging exhibitionists opt for the buzz of Flamands Beach, with sizeable waves for the surf-ready set.
Discretion has remained a defining draw of Hôtel Le Toiny since it opened in 1992 in the Côte Sauvage area of the island. The five-star property brims with charisma; just 15 bungalows set on 38 acres overlooking the Caribbean Sea, each surrounded by mature vegetation, featuring its own gated entrance and private pool. The self-contained units include one Junior Suite; 13 one-bedroom Villa Suites and La Villa, a 1-3 bedroom Master House that includes two bungalows.
Bathing in bisque-warm blue water only to towel off for a dish of succulent langoustines, this is an idle traveler’s wet dream of French West Indies hedonism. At Le Toiny, days stretch lazily into dusk, leaving tourist drama far behind with a placid Gallic shrug. Indulge in a unique massage using polished clams shells filled with natural, self-heating minerals in the hotel’s intimate Serenity Spa Cottage. Talk about hushed elegance.
While the vertical scope of Le Toiny endows the hotel with its iconic stance, the myriad of stairways is not ideal for pups or guests with limited mobility. Villa architecture is heavily influenced by old plantation houses of the French Caribbean, while private pools are lined with lava stone reminiscent of a river bed, accented by brioche-toned Turkish Travertine terraces. Inside, vaulted ceilings add a hint of drama, plank hardwood floors imbue a sense of warmth, while French Colonial teak furnishings give gravitas. Le Toiny’s grand four-poster mahogany beds are a king size study in bedded bliss. Hoist yourself up to its height and there’s no going back – the sheets, buttery and crisp, envelope you in a high thread-count tide.
Culinary enthusiasts can’t get enough of Le Toiny Chef Stéphane Mazières, the only chef in the Caribbean to share Relais & Châteaux Grand Chef status with the likes of Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller. If you are a seafood lover, stay until Tuesday’s Fish Market Night; you select fresh, local catch from a sprawling bed of ice and see it grilled “a la plancha” in front of you. The menu changes frequently, beautiful variations on dishes with French & Creole influences. Save room for Le Gaïac’s signature truffle pasta, prepared table-side within a wheel of parmesan reggiano and tossed with black truffles.
Le Gaïac, the dramatic cliffside terrace showcasing Mazières’ gastronomic art, completes its hotly anticipated renovations this month, a fresh venue for what many consider the top cuisine on this competitive isle. Coerce the concierge to arrange a garden tour with the dashing Chef Stéphane Mazières (who looks like France’s answer to Colin Firth, swoon). We dare you to make eye contact over plum tomatoes in this impressive organic greenhouse, set on a former pineapple field adjacent to Le Toiny. Don’t miss the famous Sunday Brunch du Toiny, a champagne feast and a celebrated institution on the island. Room service is top notch; think in-suite delivery of veal spiked with truffles and salt-roasted with purple artichokes.
For booking and dog-friendly inquiries, visit leToiny.com