The View
from Here:

    Ellen Lampert-Greaux lives in Petite Saline and is the new editor-in-chief of Harbour Magazine, and when she's not organizing the St. Barth Film Festival, or writing for various magazines, she turns her all-seeing eye upon local happenings.

    May '07

    The Times They Are A Changin'

Nicholas Sarkozy may not be a household name in your household but he may be sometime soon. This 52 year-old right-wing politico is the president-elect in France, and will take over the running of the country from Jacques Chirac as of this month. He won in the national elections by 53%, while in Saint Barth, the victory was even greater with a staggering 77% of the votes. The theory being that right-wing policy was better for the political and economic future of the island, while the leftist candidate was more likely to start a Sixth Republic and revise the French constitution, possibly putting Saint Barth’s new COM—Overseas Collectivity—in question. In any case, “Sarko” as he is called —affectionately or not depending on who’s doing the calling— will be the new French prez, but is likely to have what the French call a “co-habitation” situation once the legislative elections take place in June and the voters are likely to swing back to the left a little, just to show Sarko who’s really the boss. After all, they do like their five-week vacations, 20 national/religious holidays (four of which come in May alone), and working just 35-hours a week. Interestingly, just weeks after France gets its new president, Saint Barth will be voting for the first island council for the COM—and its president— in the month of July. The boat has sailed folks. Saint Barth is well on its way to a new political and economic status, for better or worse. With this—related or not, it’s hard to tell— has come a flurry of other changes on the island. The Saint Barth’s Beach Hotel has closed its doors. The Christopher Hotel has closed its doors. The Lafayette Club has closed its doors and the land is reportedly for sale. Rumor has it that La Vela is closing its doors and will be replaced by The Strand (owned by Nikki Beach which will increase the size of their Casa Nikki nightclub, according to the word on the street). The closing of the Saint Barth Beach Hotel and The Christopher seriously deplete the island’s stock of reasonably priced hotel rooms, as whatever takes their place is liable to be four star luxury and up. Let’s face it, the Saint Barth Beach Hotel was in a great beachfront location, where its reasonably priced restaurant, Le Rivage, was popular with natives, residents, and tourists alike, thanks to great views, and a great place to watch the nautical sports happening out on the lagoon while drinking rum punch or eating a lobster salad with your toes in the sand. Things are ramping up in Saint Barth where the laid back Caribbean ambiance of yore is much more sophisticated these days. The times they are a changin’ — the island will never be the same. But that’s okay. It will just be different!

    More to come,
    Ellen Lampert-Greaux
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