The allure to luxury and hospitality along with the laid-back quality of St. Barths was how Luis Contreras envisioned the formation of Le Sereno. The amalgamation of the dichotomy is realized through the updated design and visual aesthetic
Le Sereno St. Barths
Having accrued a synonymity within the realm of luxury and of the echelon status in travel is the renowned hotel Le Sereno St. Barths. Situated on the eastern beaches on the island of St. Barths, the prolific French West Indies Island, known for its preserved coral reefs, white-sand beaches, and its sought-after holiday destination, Le Sereno St. Barths has, over time, collected accolades and a cult-following amongst its returning guests. Existing under the Leading Hotels of the World group, Le Sereno coalesces under the Sereno Hotel chain that is managed by the Contreras family. Having existed adjacent to their sister hotels, Le Sereno Villas in St. Barths, Sereno Lago di Como and Villa Pliniana in the Lake Como area, the Contreras family has over time, curated the desired holiday destination across the two locations. The Sereno Hotels are known amongst hoteliers and guests for its limited rooms that feature space, guest amenities that inculcate the environs surrounding them and boasting Michelin-starred restaurants within the property of the hotels. Having existed in the tropics of St. Barths for thirteen years, the Le Sereno was ravaged by Hurricane Irma in 2017. The family-owned hotel, under the helm of Luis Contreras, has been reconstructed over the years to regain a sense of wholeness that is reflective of the hotel’s existence from when it was first established. The property consisting of thirty-nine suites and three four-bedroom villas stretches across the one-hundred-and-eighty-meter white sand beach. Having rebuilt the foundations and the structure of the property over the course of four years from 2017 into 2021, the Le Sereno St. Barths has since completed its course of reconstruction. Opening its arms to its guests, offering the addition of ‘Suites Piscine’ and a set of sustainability practices to conserve the environs surrounding the property, Le Sereno is on its pivot in realizing and offering luxury to its guests while remaining lax in character.
The Identity of Le Sereno St. Barths
Sitting in as a mouthpiece to the Le Sereno St. Barths and the Sereno hotel chain is owner and president of the Sereno group, Luis Contreras. When asked in regard to the background and insight that led to the formation of the Le Sereno, Contreras explicates that the ethos of the hotel was reflective of his heritage and background. As he shares, «Being a Venezuelan national and coming from the tropics, the beaches are second-nature to our daily lives. Our interaction with it is varied as compared to individuals from Northern America or Europe». With this difference being a lead in the hotels physical and visual design language, Le Sereno has since been constructed to ensure the experience garnered within the property is one that is dissimilar to other hotels. «When we renovated the hotel, what came to mind was how the beaches were littered by parasols. At Le Sereno, I ensured that guests could bask in the sun whilst staying protected with the help of palm trees». While Contreras states that there is the option for guests to request for parasols while at the beach, the shades will then be removed by hotel staff once guests are done using them. «There is the intent of being a part of the beach – which is a practice that I have upheld as a Venezuelan, that I intend on disseminating amongst the guests at Le Sereno». As Contreras states, the afflatus behind realizing Le Sereno was the island it resides on – St. Barths. The allure to luxury and hospitality along with the laid-back quality of St. Barths was how Contreras envisioned the formation of Le Sereno. The amalgamation of the dichotomy is realized through the updated design and visual aesthetic that is implemented across the hotel.
Simplicity at Le Sereno St. Barths
As one enters the property, Contreras describes that guest would be welcomed by the bungalows that share a vein in delineation to fisherman huts that are native to the environs. Having had the hotel designed in its infancy by the reputed Christian Liaigre, Contreras shares that the designer suggested the name of the hotel to be L’hôtel des Pêcheurs, translating to The Fisherman’s Hotel. The owner elucidates that had the name of the hotel be named after the suggestion, the word Pêcheurs would have portrayed a double entendre – one being explicated as fishermen, whereas the other arouses the feeling of boisterousness. «While we did not proceed to name the hotel after the suggested name, we kept in mind the suggestion and named the villa with most space as the Villa des Pêcheurs». Contreras adds that existing on the French West Indies Island has narrated the voice of the hotel in the vein of French culture, stating that over time, the hotel has built a sense of community within the locale and its inhabitants. As such, the design of the hotel exists in a contradiction – offering terraces of the greenery and rooms facing the Grand Cul de Sac while the rooms offer space and tapered designs for its guests. «We did not intend on having a maximalist design approach to curating the interior and exterior of the hotel. We insisted on showcasing the ability for the hotel to co-exist with the culture of the island and its environment». The collaboration between Contreras and his employment of the late French designer Liaigre to construct the hotel was prompted through peers. Having met Liaigre and being familiar with his work, Contreras felt it best to employ the designer as his design language mimicked the intent the owner was working to realize. «The craftsmanship and the quality of his work was a trait that I was seeking out amongst a pool of designers. Liaigre, he was able to evoke the exposition of simplicity and luxury across the hotel, one that I was seeking for».
The Architect and the architecture of Le Sereno
In the hotel’s infancy, the Le Sereno showcased a pallet of colors that evoked an impact within guests. This design scheme, under the helm of Contreras, was amended upon the wake of the hurricane. Utilizing the plans of the late designer, Le Sereno was reinstated into its former shell through accented changes across the property – one in particular being the choice in the color of paint. «The island is known for its colors – from the lagoons to the skies that shade over the island. The nature that surrounds us is a primary motivator to supplying color to the island and the posterior of the hotel. When we were in progress to reconstruct the property, the intention was to offer refuge to the verbose-characteristics of nature that surrounded the property and the island». Applying neutral colors across the property and utilizing pigmented palates of the similar color scheme, the design of the rooms and the property is complemented through the appraisal of glass windows that face the shrubbery and the sea. As Contreras states, the Le Sereno and its rooms act as a refuge for their guests after a day of being around the island. Liaigre, who was reputed in the field of design and architecture was known for the creation of a wooden stool inspired by Brancusi’s ‘Endless Column’ sculpture. Having designed for hotels of sorts and being employed by the likes of Calvin Klein, Liaigre garnered a following within the design community for his sleek-designs and use of natural materials in furniture making. Having his design influences be derived from French Modernism, African art, and riding hardware; his dampened and noise-less designs worked in Contreras’ favor. Liaigre’s furniture pieces persist in the confines of the Le Sereno – through his signature wooden lounge chairs that assist in curating an outdoor-living room that overlooks St. Barths’ Grand Cul de Sac. Oak ceilings that are in vein to Liaigre’s breath of design language adorn the hotel and are met with Crema Luna white stone that has been imported from Carrara.
Rooms, wellness, Ristorante al Mare and sustainability
Separated between the suites and the Le Sereno bungalows, the accommodations offer guests a seclusion whilst on the hotel and on the island. The rooms are affixed with four poster beds that center the space in each room. Contreras states that within the Suites Piscine, the rooms come with the addition of a sofa set that reflects the dichotomy of the hotel – portrayed through the use of a wooden exterior and a comfortable seating arrangement. The Suites Piscine come with the option of an adjoined Bungalow Piscine that creates an expansive accommodation that includes a ten-meter private pool. The accommodation varies in the number of bedrooms offered, beginning at one and offering three bedrooms within a designated house. Some of these villas include the Grand Suite Plage, the Villa Du Pecheur and the Family Bungalow Piscine. «The Villas span across six hundred and fifty square meters with the included outdoor wooden deck area». The wellness offerings by Le Sereno are reflective of a life led with nature in mind – where snorkeling, kite surfing and yoga lessons are the primary tool to encourage wellness. Alongside this is the hotel’s spa which offers Valmont treatments that have been curated for the Le Sereno. The Ristorante Al Mare has been updated and equipped with furniture from Liaigre and Urquiola. Here, Contreras with the assistance of his team members has since updated the menu items whilst offering an open-air dining experience. An effort to remain sustainable in its day-to-today functions, the Le Sereno has since worked to inculcate sustainably sourced materials, solar panels, an update in the fixtures of windows, lighting and insulation that consume limited energy and conserving it. An added feature is the desalination efforts prompted by the hotel, using ocean water as a means to water the gardens on the property and across the hotel. As of October 29th, 2021, the Le Sereno has opened its doors to guests, offering rooms that begin at €850 per night.
Le Sereno St. Barths
97133, St. Barthélemy
A beachfront hotel featuring thirty-nine suites and three, four-bedroom villas, the Le Sereno hotel in St. Barths is reflective of its sister hotels under their Sereno hotel chain – offering simplicity and tapered designs in its rooms and across the property whilst utilizing the environs it resides in.