Hotel Manapany: a Splurge-Worthy Caribbean Hotel With a Lot of Perks
When it comes to planning a Caribbean vacation, it’s common knowledge that some islands are generally less expensive than others. And it’s no secret that Saint Barthélemy (also called “St. Barts” and “St. Barth”) is one of the most expensive, with mostly just four- and five-star hotels (though there are some affordable options).
Fortunately, the island of St. Barts is just a 30-minute ferry ride from the far more affordable St. Maarten. That means you can fly round-trip to St. Maarten (often under $500 from the East Coast) and spend most of your days there, but splurge on a few nights at a higher-end hotel on St. Barts. And if there’s one hotel to splurge on, it’s probably Hotel Manapany.
Jump to section:
- Hotel Manapany: what to expect
- What the rooms are like
- Perks of a stay at Hotel Manapany
- Nearby things to do
- The food and drink scene
- Costs, and saving money on the trip
Hotel Manapany overview
Hotel Manapany is a beachfront hotel only about 10 minutes from the St. Barts airport and ferry terminal. It’s a five-star hotel, but it doesn’t have the pretension of some of the island’s more well-known hotels and beach clubs. Instead, it has an atmosphere of being inviting, elegant, and laid-back, where no one cares what brand you’re wearing or whether your tech start-up just IPO’d. It’s luxurious without being flashy and feels like the type of hotel some of St. Barts’ more well-known celebrity guests may pick if they prefer to avoid the beach club scene.
The entire property has an organic look and feel, relying heavily on natural materials and airy colors. The architecture is timeless and clearly inspired by the sea, with a glass-walled dining room and wooden decks that would be just as fitting in an elegant cliffside resort in northern California — though when you see the picture-perfect Caribbean Sea in the distance, you’ll know you’re very much in St. Barts.
Hotel Manapany is also an eco-hotel and potentially the most sustainable lodging option on St. Barts. Considering the island has a very limited water supply and has to ship in everything it needs, spending a little extra on your lodging show support for eco-practices (if you’re able) can encourage other hotels to follow suite.
What to expect in the rooms
Hotel Manapany has many different room types, but all have a bright and airy, beach cabin style. Suites and more expensive rooms cascade down a hillside (expect stairs!) and most of the more standard rooms sit directly on the beach. My room (an Ocean Junior Suite) had a living area with a desk and couch, a big outdoor deck with a dining set and lounger, and a separate bedroom. But even the entry-level standard rooms (Tropical Rooms) have private balconies, mini-bars, coffee stations, and big beds with mosquito nets (which, thanks to the sea breeze, you actually don’t need).
The furniture and decor are a mix of seaside chic and high-end Bohemian/artsy elements, with wooden chairs, woven fabrics and finishes, and framed watercolor artwork so darn pretty I’m shocked people don’t try to steal them right off the walls. (The hotel has plenty of complimentary postcards to ensure guests don’t do that, apparently.)
Perks and inclusions
One of the best things about Hotel Manapany is how much is included with every stay. That includes round-trip ferry or airport transfers, daily breakfast in the ocean-view restaurant or by the pool, full use of the beach and pool facilities (including loungers, towels, and bar service), and use of the adults-only spa pool looking out on the ocean. Every day, there’s a yoga or meditation class totally free for guests, and there’s a game room with plenty of options (plus the coolest outdoor chess table I’ve ever seen). There’s also fast Wi-Fi across the property.
The hotel is also a frequent host of yoga and wellness festivals, often with some of the most well-known yogis and instructors in Europe. For example, the classes held during “St. Barts Summer Camp” in July range from sound therapy to pool yoga to guided hikes and morning Hatha classes. And those free postcards? The front desk will also mail them for free.
It’s not the kind of Caribbean hotel where you have to pay extra to use a beach chair or pay $8 for a coffee refill. When you’re a guest, you really feel like a guest — as in, the staff want you to be there and are happy to chat, recommend their favorite beaches and cafes, and do what they can to make sure you have an excellent stay.
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Spoiler: St. Barts is an island, which means resources are limited no matter what eco-actions it takes. Much of the underwater world is a marine preservation, and much of what’s on land is undeveloped and natural. That makes it gorgeous, but it also means there’s not a lot of agriculture or large-scale fishing around the island. So pretty much everything has to be shipped in, and diesel is used to produce much of what can be made on the island. So it’s impressive not to waste anything, from water to plastic, both to reduce waste and protect the island’s natural beauty.
Hotel Manapany is taking the lead on being green on the island, with multiple eco-initiatives. The hotel banned single-use plastics; guests are given metal water bottles upon arrival. Bathroom amenities are in full-sized containers, and towels are made from bamboo, which requires far fewer resources to grow. Hotel Manapany doesn’t use any manmade chemicals in their cleaning or housekeeping processes, and much of the resort is solar powered. The hotel has its own water desalinization plant, and it has its own fruit trees on site (marked on the hotel map, no less). You can even take a tour with the resort’s gardener to learn what they’re growing on site and how they designed the resort to allow for native animals (like box turtles) to move freely without being bothered by humans.
If you’re able, spending a little more during your visit to support green initiatives can be a great way to show that it’s something travelers care about. You can also go above and beyond that, by making travel choices like eating only local seafood, using reef-safe sunscreen, and bringing your own reusable to-go coffee mug when you travel.
Hotel Manapany is an excellent location very close to one of the few towns on St. Barts, which means you can walk to many shops and restaurants. It’s on Anse des Cayes (one of the island’s best beaches for surfing), but is just a quick walk to the Bay of Saint-Jean and town of Saint-Jean. Saint-Jean is a little more laid-back than Gustavia, with affordable boutiques and coffee shops and cafes, as well as some high-end restaurants. This is also where you’ll find popular beach clubs like Nikki Beach and Gyp Sea Beach Club, in case you want to post up somewhere a bit more lively and flashy for the day. But remember: you don’t have to pay extra to use the beach chairs and pools at Hotel Manapany.
There are also a lot of activities available on-site, including spa services, surfing lessons, and private picnics on the shore, among other beachy offerings.
Remember that all beaches in St. Barts are public and free, so you don’t need to pay for beach club access anywhere if you’d rather just bring your own towel and lay out in front of the clubs and resorts.
Food and drink
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Tasty, unpretentious, and locally sourced. I found the cocktails to be creative and tasty, and the on-site restaurant had a variety of dishes ranging from small and healthy to indulgent multi-course meals. It was a nice change of pace from some of the other restaurants on the island. While St. Barts’ reputation for fantastic dining is well-deserved, many meals are three-hour, multi-course affairs, and it was nice to have a more casual (and affordable) coastal option. And the views from the glass-walled restaurant are unbeatable.
Manapany sources as many of their ingredients as possible from the island, including fruit from the resort trees, and breakfast is always organic. Everything I tried, from the burrata with taggiasche olives to the truffle pizza to the local ahi poke bowl, were flavorful and not overdone, with unique flavor pairings that made it feel worth the 22-25(ish) euros price tags.
The hotel has a lot of perks, but like most of St. Barts, being affordable isn’t one of them. Room rates start around 750 euros, or around $800. If you’re planning to visit, bookend a few nights at Hotel Manapany with a few nights on a cheaper island (like St. Maarten). You can find rooms in the summer on St. Maarten at around $100 a night, which can balance out a few more expensive nights in St. Barts (plus $45 for the ferry to the island).
Breakfast and island transfers are included at Manapany, and since you can walk to free beaches from the hotel, you don’t have to spend a lot of money once you arrive. There’s also a Super U grocery in the town of Saint-Jean, so you can stock up on picnic items and snacks, making dinner the only meal you splurge (or not) on. Sitting on your balcony at Hotel Manapany with crackers, cheese, and a cheap(ish) bottle of wine is also a great way to spend an evening on St. Barts.