Peg Walsh, Founder of St. Barth Properties tells her story of how she went from an office manager in a busy dental practice to managing a collection of premium villa properties on the island of Saint-Barthélemy
“I have always believed in the importance of ‘recharging and reconnecting’ on vacation, and this was one of the reasons for creating St. Barth Properties. I used to be a busy mum raising three children alongside working in my husband Steve’s busy dental practice. A typical day would include packing lunches, driving to early morning hockey practice, and perhaps squeezing in a visit to the vet before work.
“Steve and I always needed an annual getaway, and I loved planning winter vacations that would take us from a grey and cold Franklin, Massachusetts, to a warm and sunny Caribbean island. We visited a different island each year, but when we arrived on St. Barth in March 1986 it was love at first sight. We loved its picture-postcard harbour surrounded by sweeping hills with red-roofed villas, its white-sand beaches, and most of all its sophisticated European ambience. Before we left, I decided to buy a small condo in St. Jean Village. It was a decision which changed my life and led me to founding the company.
“At first we tried renting out our condo using a villa rental agency. We were disappointed with the results though so I decided to try and do it myself. My success doing this encouraged me to contact other property owners and I quickly gained a portfolio of 30 private villas. I invested in a $1,000 phone line, a fax machine, business cards, and bought a few small advertisements in travel magazines, and in 1989 St. Barth properties was born!
“At first I managed the business from my desk in the dental office, and then in a room in our house. I loved it and it soon felt like I was living my dream. ‘Live your dream’ has become my trademarked motto and mantra and it’s what I hope for all my clients. As my villa portfolio grew, I also began representing many of the island’s top hotels and working with car rental companies. I began spending more time on the island and loved introducing St. Barth to my new clients and travel agents.
“In 1992, the company took a big leap forward as my son Tom joined. Fresh out of college with a business degree, Tom had a wealth of then ‘modern’ ideas which we implemented, including a new website with the domain stbarth.com and email accounts for our staff. We are so grateful to Tom who is now the company’s Vice President. In 1999, we opened our own office in St. Barth, allowing us to give our clients an end-to-end service from planning to vacation. We’ve been steadily growing since then and also now offer clients the opportunity to own their own home via our company St. Barth Properties Sotheby’s International Realty.
“At the end of 2014 we launched a new website and are getting great reviews from all who use it. We now have a growing number of international clients, and a range of premium villas and hotels, including the Grand Cru villa collection and the Hotel Villas collection. Some properties offer all the services of a hotel, from champagne delivered to your terrace to a 24/7 butler. Our team is also happy to assist clients in organising celebrations or events, from engagement proposals on a sunset cruise to massive 40th birthday parties. We’re proud to be partners with the prestigious Virtuoso network (an international consortium of high-end travel agencies) and a member of the St. Barth Hotel Association, the Caribbean Hotel Association, the Caribbean Tourism Organization and the International Airlines Travel Agent Network (IATAN). The company is also an allied member of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), as well as a member of the Better Business Bureau, and of course UltraVilla.
“I live on the island from December to May each year, but also visit at other times. I’m passionate about the island and love seeing our clients enjoying all it has to offer. I couldn’t have done it without our great staff and clients, so ‘merci beaucoup’ to them all!”
To find out more about St. Barth Properties click here