Eden Rock, a St. Barts Favorite, Reopens Its Doors

Eden Rock, a popular luxury resort in St. Barts, will reopen its doors on Nov. 20, for the first time since Hurricane Irma barreled through the Caribbean two years ago and left hundreds of hotels on St. Barts and nearby islands destroyed and inoperable.

For the past year, these accommodations have slowly been reopening, but the return of the Eden Rock, one of the most luxurious properties on the island, signals that St. Barts, a semiautonomous territory of France, is now fully open to tourists. The hotel sits on a rocky promontory above St. Jean Bay.

Jane and David Matthews, the owners of the Eden Rock since 1995, said they knew immediately after the hurricane hit that they would rebuild.

“Irma gave cause to our long-held ambition to build something better whilst at the same time hanging on to these buildings’ adventurous heritage and to the affection this place enjoys from islanders, guests clients and friends,” Mr. Matthews said in an email.

The rebuilt hotel, with 37 rooms, spotlights a restaurant by the chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, a bar designed by the Swedish interior designer Martin Brudnizki, a new spa that includes beachside treatments (as well as child-friendly ones), a frosé trolley, professional sunscreen attendants and access to a new nature lagoon.

But perhaps the biggest bragging point is the hotel’s 220-person staff. Most had previously worked at the hotel and have returned.

“The idea is not to be a supplier, but to be beside you, taking care of you, anticipating what you expect,” said Fabrice Moizan, the general manager of Eden Rock. “The idea is for us to go to the guests, and not for the guests to come to us with questions.”

When Irma struck St. Barts in September 2017, Eden Rock was one of the island’s 28 hotels and 800 villas that had no choice but to shutter completely.

Going into the rebuilding and renovating in the months after, the goal was to outdo the hotel’s existing motto at the time — “more than a hotel” — by finding a way to maintain the best parts of the old and bring in the best of what’s new and modern.

“It was important for us to keep the unique spirit and vibe that has always been part of Eden Rock and St. Barts,” Mr. Moizan said.

Before the renovation, guests could receive in-room spa treatments, but there was no dedicated spa on the property. The renovated hotel includes a new spa stocked with health and beauty products made from flowers and plants by Ligne St Barth, a local company.

The three restaurants and bars previously at the hotel have been transformed into one restaurant and one bar. Mr. Vongerichten said he was involved in redesigning the new kitchen, making choices about the ovens, and which chairs, tables and plates to use.

“We’ve got a glamorous look from the 50s. It’s got a Hemingway, colonial feel,” he said. “It’s also got that local feel, as well as an international feel that will make you feel like you’re back at Eden Rock during its heyday.”

In creating the menu, which features produce like tomatoes and avocados that will be delivered to the hotel daily by boat from Guadalupe, along with fish that will be caught daily, Mr. Vongerichten said he was thinking about food and how to responsibly deal with food waste.

“We are working with a local vegetable and herb garden,” he said. “We are composting all our garbage to give back to local farmers. When you live on an island, you have to be cautious about everything you bring in, use and take.”

The team behind the hotel thought of ways it could update the hotel with an eye on sustainability. The new Eden Rock will replace plastic straws with biodegradable ones; it is also banning the use of disposable drinking cups.

The Matthews’ joined the island’s government and another investor in cleaning up and recovering 12 acres of land and water and creating a wilderness lagoon filled with wildlife and healthy plants. A half-mile boardwalk winds around the lagoon and is open to people who aren’t staying at the hotel.

“We felt that it was a duty for us to think about how to be better and to protect our island,” Mr. Moizan said, adding that the new Eden Rock was built to be better able to withstand future natural disasters.

Improvements include designing the new beach deck to serve as a bulwark against any rise in sea level, and constructing the Sand Bar — the beachfront restaurant — higher than the previous structure.

It was “hugely important to rebuild what looks to be much the same, but is stronger,” Mrs. Matthews said in an email.

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