evokes reminiscences of the Mediterranean, blending majestic French flair with a rugged Caribbean landscape of soaring mountains, sun-soaked beaches, lush gardens and turquoise bays. There are many ways to experience this multifaceted playground, but if you’re looking for unfettered water access, carefree relaxation, total solitude, tony accommodations, five-star service and Michelin-quality dining, then a luxury charter yacht is the only way to go.
Flying will get you to paradise quickly, but there are no direct commercial flights from the United States to St. Barths, so itineraries often begin at Princess Juliana International Airport on Dutch Sint Maarten. A 15-minute puddle-jumper will take you from there to the yacht at St. Barths, but be advised: The runway in St. Barths is one of the shortest in the world, which makes for a white-knuckled landing that’s one hell of a thrill.
A far less twitchy tender ride from the marina at Gustavia Harbor delivered me to the swim platform of the 197-foot (60-meter) Abeking & Rasmussen Dream, where Capt. Ben Craig-Cameron and his crew of 14 greeted my party with cucumber-scented cooling towels and a well-deserved glass of Champagne.
Dream’s striking metallic silver hull color perfectly complements her Zen-like interior, with a cool fusion of precious woods, European custom furniture and Asian artwork. According to the yacht’s owner, the fusion is by design. Having chartered extensively for 15 years prior to purchasing the 2001-built Abeking, he wanted a yacht that he could cruise himself and that would appeal to charterers. He knew that with seven staterooms, an office and a yoga/spa room, the yacht, named Excellence III at the time, could accommodate more amenities than other yachts her size. A year after buying the boat, he commissioned a refit with Bannenberg & Rowell as the interior designers. with its unmistakable red-roof buildings sprinkled amid the lush green landscape, Gustavia Harbor is considered one of the most exclusive superyacht ports in the world; Fresh-made natural juices are a breakfast tradition aboard the faint of heart, the st. Barths landing strip is among the most challenging, and thrilling, on the planet.