Few places in the world have seen any upside to the Covid-19 pandemic, but St Barts might just be one of the rare tourist destinations to benefit with a host of celebrities flocking to the Caribbean island for a New Year getaway.
Sir Paul McCartney, Amy Schumer, Robbie Williams, Vogue and Spencer Matthews, Sofia Richie, Wendi Deng and Chrissy Teigen are among the stars spotted on the French-speaking haven in recent days, eager to enjoy its restaurants, five-star hotels and spas – with minimal Covid-19 restrictions.
Eateries have limited tables to parties of six and are encouraging social distancing and masks when not seated at a table, but partygoers are free to enjoy the island’s bars and restaurants until midnight, shop in designer boutiques and enjoy dozens of beautiful beaches taking a dip in their crystal-clear water.
Those looking to travel to the area don’t need to quarantine as long as they can provide proof of a negative coronavirus test result on arrival and show no symptoms, or take a test as soon as they land, although Tier 4 rules in England ban travelling for leisure reasons.
It’s quite a turnaround in fortune for the island, home to the world’s best hotel Eden Rock where rooms range in price from approximately £1,753 to £4,585 per night. Many of its luxurious hotels and resorts were destroyed and subsequently rebuilt after being battered by Hurricane Irma in 2017.
But with some of the most lenient Covid-19 restrictions in the Caribbean it’s no wonder A-listers are eager to enjoy the revamped resorts.
Previously, the Bahamas would have been a hotspot for famous faces at this time of year, but there are no flights from the UK while a state of emergency remains in force, and tourists from elsewhere must apply for a Travel Health Visa, after receiving a negative test result, no longer than seven days before travel.
Vogue Williams shows off her enviable figure as she’s seen with a friend jogging on the beach in St Barts, where celebrities are flocking to take advantage of relaxed Covid-19 restrictions
Sofia Richie was seen taking to the waters with a thrill-seeking ride on a jet ski in St Barts just before Christmas
It’s apparently the place to be this New Year, with a host of celebrities enjoying a tropical getaway to St. Barts (pictured)
One of the A-listers spotted on St. Barts this week was singer Robbie Williams (pictured), 46, and his wife Ayda Field, 41, who escaped either their home in LA or London following Christmas
Such is the lure of St Barts that some even appear to be happy to flout the rules to get there, such as presenter Vogue Williams, 35, who lives in Battersea, London, with husband Spencer Matthews and their two children.
She was last spotted in the capital hours after it entered into Tier 4 on Sunday, December 20, which bans travel abroad for leisure, with exceptions only in place for work, education and childcare.
However, she appeared to flout Tier 4 rules by flying to St. Barts for a family holiday eight days after London was plunged into the new restrictions, and was spotted jogging along the beach with a male pal.
Is St. Barts COVID free? How the island is tackling coronavirus
With a population of just over nine thousand, St. Barts has been able to keep their COVID cases relatively low.
After banning visitors, the country reopened to tourists on June 22, 2020 after successfully eradicating coronavirus on the island.
From April to June, it had no active cases of COVID-19.
Throughout December, it has had 37 new cases, and has recorded just one death.
The government hopes to keep the island mostly virus free through testing.
Travelers are expected to present a negative test result before heading to the country or go to a test center within 24 hours of their arrival.
They are then asked to self isolate until the test results are received.
Vogue is a frequent visitor to St. Barts as husband Spencer Matthews’ parents own the five-star Eden Rock hotel on the island – voted the best in the world. MailOnline has contacted representatives for Vogue Williams for comment.
The Eden Rock hotel is headed up by Master Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and appears to be fully booked for several weeks.
Elsewhere, Sir Paul McCartney was certainly in holiday mode as he tried out a trendy new man bun while sunning himself on the beach in St. Barts on Tuesday.
The Beatles legend, 78, rocked his funky ‘do as he cosied up to glamorous wife Nancy Shevell, 61, while enjoying his annual Caribbean winter getaway.
Rupert Murdoch’s ex Wendi Deng, 52, frolicked in the sea with a hunky mystery man while also in the area yesterday, and Chrissy Teigen and John Legend were spotted on a yacht in the area.
American actress Amy Schumer, 39, her husband Chris Fischer, 40, and their son Gene, one, were seen taking a dip in the sea on Wednesday, and Lionel Richie and daughter Sofia were also on the island earlier this week.
This is despite America’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warning travelers to ‘avoid all nonessential travel to [the island],’ which has had a smattering of COVID-19 cases in December.
Here FEMAIL looks at the limited rules in place for celebrities enjoying a getaway to St. Barts…
Testing before or on arrival
If based in Tier 4 in England, travel exceptions are only allowed for reasons such as work, education and childcare. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against all but essential travel to St Martin and St Barts.
All travellers over the age of 11 must undertake a test for COVID-19 within 72 hours before departure for St. Barts (St Barthélemy). The traveller must show proof of a negative result before embarking.
Travellers must also provide a self-certified document stating that they have no COVID symptoms and that to their knowledge they have not been in contact with any person confirmed positive within the last 14 days.
Airlines will refuse boarding to anyone who does not produce both proof of a negative result and the self-certified document. Visitors staying more than seven days are requested to take a follow-up test at the health center on St. Barts on their seventh day.
Bun together! Sir Paul McCartney was seen showing off his man bun on a St Barts getaway with his wife Nancy Shevell earlier this week
American actress Amy Schumer (pictured), 39, her husband Chris Fischer, 40, and their son Gene, one, were seen taking a dip in the sea on Wednesday
Chrissy Teigen and John Legend (above with their children) were spotted on a yacht in the area. They’re among a host of A-listers who have flocked to the Caribbean island for a New Year vacation
Businesses open – including luxury spas and hotels
How St. Barts returned better than ever following Hurricane Irma
Hurricane Irma devastated St. Barts in September 2017, causing a wave of destruction and levelling many of the buildings.
But just a year after the category 5 hurricane, the island had already pulled off an incredible recovery – proven even more so by the many A-listers visiting the area this season.
Despite many of St. Barts’ 28 hotels having been hard hit and forced to close, they reopened looking even better.
Businesses are open throughout the tropical island, including hotels – a quarter of which are five star – and luxury spas, but are sticking to strict hygiene rules and often encourage face masks.
With their celebrity clientele – including Beyoncé, Jon Bon Jovi and Gwen Stefani as regulars – and picturesque settings, the hotels, most of which hold less than 60 rooms, are tourist attractions themselves.
The island’s flagship five-star hotel, Eden Rock, reopened after a two-year closure enforced by category 5 Hurricane Irma in 2017.
A night at the lavish venue, owned TV personality Spencer Matthews’ parents, will cost a staggering £1,753 for its cheapest room.
Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France is the largest five-star hotel on the island, with 61 rooms, priced at around £600 per night.
It boasts a lavish spa, extensive gardens and an idyllic atmosphere in front of luxurious sands.
The five-star Christopher St Bath is one of the most modern establishments, offering contemporary designs for its well-cared for guests at around £500 per night.
English-owned Hotel Le Toiny, which spans 38 acres, offers an elegant parade of high-class villa suites, all featuring a private pool and relaxing coastal chic interiors.
Its chic villas and cliffside location caters for privacy-conscious celebrities, while providing the amenities of a five-star boutique hotel, including its Relais & Chateaux fine restaurant. A night’s stay costs between £1,706 and £3,682.
Meanwhile, Le Barthélemy Hotel & Spa, a glamorous resort on St. Barts priced at around £885 a night, explained that guests will be asked to use the hydroalcoholic gel that will be offered to them on arrival.
‘Our employees will wear masks,’ the Spa added on its website. ‘In accordance with the recommendations of medical experts and good practices in the sector, all guests (from 10 years old) will be required to wear a mask or face protection in the hotel’s public indoor areas in the vehicle during transfers or when they receive room services.’
Many of the A-List clientele prefer to rent private villas instead of a suite in a resort and they tend to keep themselves to themselves once there, avoiding the crowds in the waterfront restaurants.
For guests who fancy a spot of shopping, designer stores including Hermes, Prada, Louis Vuitton all have mini outposts here, lining Rue de la Republique in Gustavia like courtiers eager to impress visitors who step off the superyachts glistening in the harbour.
The luxurious hotel Eden Roc on St Barths that is owned by Pippa Middleton’s in-laws has been voted one of the best in the world
English-owned Hotel Le Toiny (pictured) offers an elegant parade of high-class villa suites, all featuring a private pool and relaxing coastal chic interiors
Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France, pictured left, is the largest five-star hotel on the island. It boasts a lavish spa, extensive gardens and an idyllic atmosphere in front of luxurious sands. The five-star Christopher St Bath is one of the most modern establishments, offering contemporary designs for its well-cared for guests
Le Barthélemy Hotel & Spa, a glamorous resort on St. Barts priced at around £885 a night, explained that guests will be asked to use the hydroalcoholic gel that will be offered to them on arrival
Social distancing and rule of six in restaurants
Restaurants across the island are open, but have limited tables to parties of six. Social distancing is encouraged, with tables set three to four metres apart, and masks are to be worn when not seated at a table.
Guests may remove the face coverings while seated but are asked to keep them on when entering or moving around the venue. There also doesn’t appear to be a curfew for restaurants.
St Barts, often dubbed the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean, is unsurprisingly home to a swathe of top quality restaurants, many of which are found within its luxurious hotels.
A popular celebrity haunt is Bonito in the capital Gustavia area, where Chrissy Teigen was spotted on Tuesday, a casual and chic family restaurant headed up by executive chef Laurent Cantineaux and chef de cuisine Aurélien Rouille.
It’s reportedly a favourite of Simon Cowell, Beyoncé, and Pippa Middleton, and features dishes including ceviche, priced from £24, appetisers ranging from gazpacho to duck foie gras terrine and main dishes from the sea and the land, priced between £38 and £99.
The Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France hotel’s restaurant La Case de L’Isle is regarded as one of the most romantic spots on the island and offers a culinary journey designed by Michelin-starred French chef Jean Imbert. It offers a New Year’s Eve set menu priced at £310 a head, with a New Year’s brunch for £117 or a ‘Caribbean’ option for £80.
A popular celebrity haunt is Bonito in the Gustavia area, a casual and chic family restaurant headed up by executive chef Laurent Cantineaux and chef de cuisine Aurélien Rouille
The Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France hotel’s restaurant La Case de L’Isle is regarded as one of the most romantic spots on the island
Lionel Richie and model daughter Sofia (pictured) were also on the island earlier this week
No masks needed on open beaches
St Barths is only 10 square miles, but has 16 beaches, with Colombier, Gouverneur and Salines its star attractions.
All beaches are open with no restrictions in St. Barts, although social distancing between different households is still encouraged.
Masks are not required on the beaches and businesses based on them, such as bars and restaurants are open. However, face coverings are required when leaving the beaches for busy streets and when social distancing is not possible.
TIER 4 RESTRICTIONS – WHAT ARE THE RULES?
In Tier 4, no household mixing is allowed, though one person can meet one other person outside in a public space
You cannot meet other people indoors, including over the Christmas and New Year period, unless you live with them, or they are part of your support bubble.
Nobody can enter or leave Tier 4 areas and residents must not stay overnight away from home
You cannot leave or be outside of the place you are living unless you have a reasonable excuse
Outdoors, you can only meet one person from another household.
All hospitality is closed, except for takeaways and deliveries, and accommodation and entertainment venues must shut
Travel exceptions are only allowed for reasons such as work, education and childcare. Leisure travel abroad is not permitted.