Jewelry Designer Ashley McCormick Shares Her St. Barths Engagement Story and Mini-Moon Guide to the Island

By Lauren Armstrong
Taken on St. Jean beach, a lookout spot where you can watch planes fly in and out of the island, “Naveen snapped this on his iPhone,” Ashley McCormick says. “We plan to blow it up and frame it in our new home as a memory of our engagement.”

Early this year Ashley McCormickCEO and founder of jewelry company ASHA by Ashley McCormick, ventured to Saint-Barthélemy, a small island in the French Caribbean with her now-fiancé, Naveen Nirgudkar. “We both love St. Barths and the mélange of French culture and Caribbean beauty,” Ashley explains. “It’s one of our favorite places and one we’ll continue to always visit.” While there, the couple spent three weeks exploring the island for exquisite sights, bites, and places to stay.

Ashley and Naveen celebrate their engagement with champagne on the beach.

When it comes to “How it started,” Ashley and Naveen were introduced by a mutual friend at a dinner party two summers ago and started dating soon after. In January, the pair ventured to the island of St. Barths for a well-deserved break. On the night of the proposal, Naveen requested a display of flowers and candles be created outside of the couple’s villa. After dining under the stars at Bonito, Naveen popped the question. “He got down on one knee and told me that he would love me forever and always be by my side…it was beautiful and magical, and I wasn’t exactly expecting it at that moment,” Ashley remembers. “I was overwhelmed with emotion and excitement for this beautiful chapter ahead with each other.”

Now that the Covid-19 vaccine is more widespread and traveling is something we’re starting to feel comfortable doing again, we decided it’s high time we put together a detailed guide to the island of St. Barths (utilizing Ashley’s recommendations)—after all, it’s the one place we found ourselves day dreaming about again and again during lockdown. Fit for a honeymoon, mini-moon, or a “married-during-a-pandemic” anniversary trip, this tropical place is so special you’ll want to escape to it again and again.

Where to Stay

The pool at the Cheval Blanc resort overlooking the deep blue horizon.

With 21 rooms and suites tucked away in their own secret tropical garden and views overlooking Shell Beach, Le Carl Gustaf is a five-start hotel focused on wellness. Excursions include prepared picnics for beach days, catamaran experiences, complimentary electric bikes, and guided yoga classes—and the accommodations are so luxurious you’ll never want to leave.

An expansive resort along the waters of Flamage beach, Cheval Blanc offers an experiential stay centered on bespoke amenities. Under the ownership of LVMH, the resort supplies everything you could ever want for a romantic getaway. The property’s villas, just steps from the sand, are private feeling little sanctuaries, while the pool scene is non-stop fun.

Where to Eat

“The food and wine on St. Barths are unparalleled…Dinner at Tamarin was my favorite on this trip. The outdoor dining felt safe and the food was incredible.”

Le Tamarin’s lavish jungle-feel and refined surroundings guarantee a first-rate affair. Outdoor dining areas look up to the surrounding mountains and provide with a tucked away space where they can enjoy a night beneath the stars.

Whether you spent all morning exploring the island or hitting the snooze button, settle down for lunch at Shellona. Situated on Shell Beach, this unique restaurant overlooks the Caribbean Sea and an exceptional culinary experience handcrafted by chefs who specialize in authentic Greek and Mediterranean cuisine. Per Ashley’s recommendation, order the grilled octopus and burrata and tomato salad.

Let the “Bonito spirit” wash over you as you take in views of Gustavia Harbor. With an extensive menu and seven specialty cooks, your meal is sure to be remembered long after your return home.

The restaurant at Gypsea Beach has an easy-going, end-of-the-Earth feel that’s all about relaxing after a day at the beach. Try the “delectable fresh carpaccio, falafel and barbecued watermelon arugula salad”—they’re favorites of Ashley’s.

Why not enjoy dinner with a view? The chic and breezy scenery at Le Fouquet’s is situated above the Gustavia Harbor and features an outdoor veranda that is just as beautiful during breakfast hours as it is in the evenings.

What to Do

Along the beach at the Cheval Blanc resort, Ashley and Naveen spent time taking in the warmth and sunshine of the tropics.

Renting a Moke vehicle is a practical (and fun!) way to zip around the island and explore the nearby cities and attractions. These street-legal wagons are available all across town. Opt for the electric version, or if you’re feeling nostalgic, you can try the original manual option instead.

Dedicate a few days to visiting the island’s stunning beaches—some local favorites include Flamands, Colombier Beach, and Marigot Bay. Ashley also recommends diving at Saint-Barths’ Nature Reserve. With five divided zones within the island’s marine reserve, snorkelers are in for an adventure; vibrant varieties of coral, sea turtles, and spotted eagle rays are habitants of this enclave.

Finally, if shopping is your cardio,  you’re in the right place. Take a stroll through the Gustavia area and pop into a few of the boutiques, you won’t be disappointed. Ashley’s favorite shops include Clic, Delfina, Poupette, and 100% Lino. Note to self: leave a little extra room in your suitcase for your “souvenirs.”

What to Pack

Ashley heading to dinner wearing an ASHA pareo. “I collaborated with artist Nealy Hauschildt—she painted our signature floral motifs, and we had them printed on cotton/linen with a beautiful fringed edge.”

Whether you are visiting St. Barths for adventurous excursions or as a restful respite, come prepared with a protective (and Over The Moon-approved) hat, your favorite beach read, and a swimsuit. Above, Ashley is pictured taking a walk along the shore in one of ASHA’s colorful new pareos—an easy coverup that you can tie around your waist for some added coverage when you’re out of the water.

Ashley also recommends “beautiful one-pieces by Becca and statement earrings like ASHA Rattan Flower Earrings.” A night out calls for bold and bright dresses; look to Alexis, Temptation Positano, and Zimmermann for inspiration. Accessorize with the ASHA Mallorca clutch and you are all set!

Needing a little more help planning your honeymoon? Take a look at our tried-and-true travel guides. While you’re at it, you may also want to get a head start on your packing listput together your dream registry with us and get ready for a romantic (and well-styled) getaway.