January 8, 2007 - #68
It has become an end-of-the-year ritual for celebrities to celebrate the arrival of the New Year in Saint Barth. From December 25 to January 3, our quiet little paradise puts its best foot forward to welcome those who sail in on yachts, or stay in hotels and villas, and make sure they have a fabulous time!
The "beautiful people"
The daily schedule for the "beautiful people" is not all that different from that of mere mortals on vacation in Saint Barth: tanning and nautical activities under the tropical sun, lunch in a restaurant along the beach, shopping in the late afternoon, dinner and parties with friends until late at night. Officially on vacation, Thierry Breton, French finance minister, was the only French politician to conclude 2006 in Saint Barth. Stephanie Seymour was here with her family, as were Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas, Ron Perelman, head of the Revlon group, Penelope Cruz—with her mother and sister— and Enrique Iglesias who showed the charms of the island to Russian tennis star Anna Kournikova. While some slip onto the island without being noticed, we can confirm the presence of Jon Bon Jovi, Nikki Hilton—sister of Paris Hilton— and actors Eddy Murphy and Denzel Washington. Anthony Kiedis, singer with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and a regular visitor for the past few years, was aboard a yacht anchored not too far from that which hosted actress actress Tara Reid, known for her role in "American Pie." Tara met up with friends on the island such as artist Jeffrey Dread, Selma Fonseca, and Clive Davis, founder of Arista Records. A Haitian pop artist, Jeffery Dread is a regular in Saint Barth, and he had an exhibit of his celebrity portraits at Nikki Beach last year. Friends with numerous stars and a champion of humanitarian causes, Jeffery also painted "One Voice," a portrait of Oprah Winfrey, and one of Bono —the celebrated singer of U2— called "Helping Hand," in tribute to their support of the less fortunate. Numerous stars, such as Alicia Keys, Jamie Fox, Tom Cruise, Quincy Jones, and Sean Penn signed the canvases. Jeffery Dread and singer Wycleaf Jean, interested in helping their own country, supported René Préval, who was elected the president of Haiti in 2006. In order to help his government make the world aware of the political, economic, and social situation in Haiti, they organized visits by groups of investors as well as trips by media stars Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Kerry Kennedy commissioned Dread to paint a portrait of her father, Robert F. Kennedy, and the painting was offered to Sonia Pierre when she received the 2006 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award for Protecting the Rights of Haitian Immigrants and Their Descendants in the Dominican Republic— Ethel Kennedy presented the award.
The highpoint of the holiday season: the parties! Bulgari threw a big one on December 28 to celebrate the new Parentesi collection that mixes diamonds and white gold. Jimmy Buffet sang unannounced at Bete A Z'Ailes, and at La Plage where he was joined over the course of two evenings by David Bryan, keyboard player for Bon Jovi, then Jon Bon Jovi himself, with Catherine Zeta Jones sitting in for a few songs. On December 31 many of the yachts along the docks had sumptuous fetes. The most prestigious event, and the absolute "must" invitation, was the party thrown by prince Karim Aga Khan IV in a villa high in the hills overlooking Gustavia.
The estimate is 350 boats in the harbor on December 31, of which 50 were over 30 meters long. This number is about the same as the past few years, yet this time many of the boats arrived steadily as of December 26, rather than a large number arriving on the last two days of the year. Yet on December 30 alone, the Port staff had to find places for 80 boats! Among the most impressive were Grand Blue, a 354-foot motor yacht, and Rising Sun, which at almost 453 feet, is currently the largest private yacht in the world, and belongs to Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle. Another giant, the 289-foot "clipper yacht," Maltese Falcon, is considered the largest private sailboat in the world, stripping the title from the 236-foot Mirabelle, which raced in the 2005 St. Barth Bucket. Maltese Falcon is an elegant boat with a navy blue hull, and is equipped with the latest technology, including three free-standing, rotating masts and fifteen square sails (five per mast) which only take six minutes to open.
On the morning of December 31, thirty sailboats, including the 130-foot J-Class Endeavour and J-Class replica, Ranger, took part in the traditional New Year's Eve Regatta— a fun race around the island. At midnight, a fireworks display presented by the municipality lit up the skies while the numerous boats blew their horns to welcome 2007. The next day the port started to empty out, and by January 3, almost 200 boats had already set sail for other ports, such St. Martin— where they drop off passengers on their way to the airport— then the mega-yachts and sailboats continue to cruise toward Anguilla, St. Kitts, and Nevis