“We never go to St. Barths at Christmas, because Christmas is for amateurs,” says Imber, who with his wife, Cathryn Collins, now visits the island after the holidays. “In January or February, you go to Saline Beach, and on one end is Stefano Pilati by himself, not talking to anyone. And 10 feet down the beach is Francesco Clemente with his daughter, just quietly swimming,” Collins says.
Mustique, once so private that you practically had to be pre- approved to fly into its airport, which is controlled by the island’s management company, has become a more democratic amusement park, at least for those who can afford it. “Now it’s like a kind of golf course for billionaires,” Jagger says.
Helping boost the ranks of this new moneyed class is a large contingent of Russians, some of whom have caused riffs in the most pristine waters around the world with their large, noisy entourages and—in some people’s eyes—tacky displays of wealth. “For me, when you go to Saint-Tropez, it’s more loud, more rich, more Arab, and more Russian. So I don’t want to go to Saint-Tropez,” says one male gadfly.
If the über nouveau riche—and, arguably, rappers (yes, we mean you, Chris Brown)—have ruined paradise, then where does the new jetset go? Most people would say there is no longer a jetset. Diane von Furstenberg prefers the term “moveable feast,” and these days she favors vigorous hikes on Stromboli over “scene-y” places that feel like an Oscars ceremony. Others have turned to mellower locales like the Mediterranean islands Panarea, Favignana, and Formentera for a little peace and quiet. Joy Hendricks, who was once Pierre Bergé’s right-hand woman at Yves Saint Laurent, is happy to give the keys to the kingdom to a new, perhaps less sophisticated group. “I think the world has changed, and now it’s their territory. And fine. People move on,” she says. (Her thoughts on Saint-Tropez these days? “Basically, I think it should be seen by boat.”)
However, there is a young international crew that is maintaining some semblance of the jetset’s originally glamorous lifestyle. Cartagena, Colombia, whose beauty and romance have been etched in literary history in Gabriel García Márquez’s novels, was a dozy town just a decade ago, when travelers were still wary of visiting the country. Now, if you head there in December, you will find Eugenie Niarchos, Tatiana Santo Domingo, the Princess Francesca von Habsburg-Lothringen, Angela Missoni, and the Courtin-Clarins sisters wandering the cobblestone streets or, in some cases, attending a party at the palatial home of local maven Chiqui de Echavarría. “I suppose Cartagena attracts those who aren’t necessarily looking for the typical posh-resort experience,” muses Lauren Santo Domingo, whose husband, Andrés, is Colombian. “There are very few champagne coupes on New Year’s Eve in Cartagena. Instead, we drink aguardiente.”