Cap Caraibes, Grand Case Beach Club, Hotel Mt. Vernon resort reviews – St. Martin Debbie's Caribbean Travel & Resort Reviews



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Reviews posted on this page
Beach Coralia Reviews Posted – 1
Cap Caraibes Hotel – Orient Beach Reviews Posted – 2
Grand Case Beach Club – Grand Case Reviews Posted – 2
Hotel Mt. Vernon Reviews Posted – 4

Beach Coralia Don ~ Canada

July 2005

Hi everyone!

I went to SaintSint MartinMaarten two years ago but as I am new to this website I will post my review now and I hope that the information is still up to date. Here goes:

1. Flight
I left Toronto (Pearson airport) on Air Transat – this is the Montreal-based discount carrier – yes you are crammed like sardines but this airline is hard to beat on price and since the flight is only 3h30 minutes, this is a minor inconvenience. Conclusion: I had plenty of time to think about which wine would go best at a good french restaurant on the island with the money I would be saving with this carrier.

2. Check-in
Everything went very smoothly – check the local art on the walls as you walk towards customs – the paintings are mostly landpeople everyday portraits done on a mesh canvas – they are truly awesome in color and texture – I bought a few at a local market before leaving and they now adorn my home and add some nice color tones in the entrance foyer.

3. Transport to hotel
: There was a mix-up and I was sent to the wrong hotel but as far as I could see the mini-buses were pretty efficient and you could actually get to see most of this small island as they dropped people at the different resorts.

3. Hotel:
As I am french-canadian I stayed on the french side (Saint-Martin) but each half of the island is owned by their respective governments (French and Dutch) and there is a seamless transition between the two. I stayed at Beach Coralia II – this is a condo-type resort where you stay in one of five four-storey blocks and your room is fairly spacious with a nice balcony overlooking a lagoon. You can see airplanes arriving at night from a distance and although this may not qualify as the most romantic scenery, I am an aiplane nut and you could see the blue colour of the engines firing up as they would take off and the sparks from landing – pretty cool (ladies I will forgive you if you completely discount this last sentence). This "aggresive" airplane behaviour was necessary as the runway is unusually short on this island and there is a huge mountain right in front so the plane must pick up enough speed to make a hard right turn just after takeoff – pretty risky but really exciting to watch.

The resort as such was a gem right out of a postcard – clean as a whistle, manicured to a tee and with really nice panoramic views; however since it faced an interior lagoon you would get no ocean views. Note: this is a small resort so do not expect to walk great distances on the property as such; it is an intimate yet well-proportioned area.

The food was above par as this is a french-owned resort; even "barbecue night" turned out to be the best "cookout" (if you can call it that) I have tried. Note: this was not at the time an "all-inclusive" resort so you had to buy your meals and they could be expensive, as the french take their food seriously. The advantage for you is that you could pick a variety of restaurants on the island (at all price ranges) or just buy your food at the market and use the kitchenette which came with most rooms. I actually enjoyed waking up most mornings and walking to market (approx. 1 kilometer) and getting a baguette, eggs and cheese and eating those at one of the tables adjoining the grocery store – great for people watching and getting a feel for the place. I found this place to be infectiously relaxing and having an unmistakable european feel with a tropical twist – of course it did not hurt that almost all the people there were on vacation, in a good mood, and my first language is french (I actually became the long lost "canadian cousin" and made a lot of friends – many marveled at my "quaint village accent" – a polite but condescending way of saying I did not speak the true Parisian french).

One negative: the manager at the resort was a nice guy but should not have quit his day job doing whatever he did before as requests went unanswered and I found him to be disorganized and aloof. I hope he has been replaced since I do not want to taint a complete resort on the failings of one individual – for example: the cleaning ladies would barge into my room at 7h30 AM regardless and even after complaining and writing a short letter nothing happened. I ended up putting a page on my door explaining not to enter before 10h30, spoke to the cleaning ladies, and then got some peace.

4. The island
The island itself comes right out of a postcard from some Walt Disney film – cute as a button and panoramic scenes at every turn. By far the best way to see the place is by using my favorite mode of transport on the islands – a scooter. This is like a bike with speed and you can feel, smell, and wind your way up hidden coves and trails. I did the island cover to cover and the best areas (for scenery) are around Plage de l’Orient where there is less population, small mountains and camera shots that will leave you breathless. Make your way up to the electrical tower (the highest spot on the island) and you can spot many adjacent islands (Saba, Anguilla, St Kitt’s). By all means speak to the people as they are easy going and friendly – as a note of respect I suggest you by a Berlitz phrase book and maybe open with a sentence or two in french and then continue in english – the small effort will gain you a friend. On the Dutch side everyone speaks english and the place has an almost american feel (Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonalds etc.). This island is a pretty much a "do yourselfer" as you can best see the place by going to the different areas.

5. Highlights:
(a) Go to the end of the airport runway and there is a bar there where you see 747’s arriving almost on your lap – the noise and size are scary – really, really cool.

(b) Plage de l’ Orient is THE beach of the island – an absolute gem but remember the european style is topless and there is actually a full-fledged nude beach to the right – guys if you go there prepare to come back with a sore neck and a speech from your wife – sorry ladies but sometimes nature just can’t be helped.

(c) Marigot: the capital is a charming tropical small town and the bistros lining the main market (actually making two lines on each side with the ocean at the end and the main street at the other) serve some of the best food I have had on the island – try the curry chicken with rice: a fantastic, light, tasty meal for less than eight bucks. There is actually quite a variety of foods to be had at these modestly-priced terraces – from hamburgers to home-cooked authentic. I tried one fancy french restaurant which will remain nameless and had the conch – generally tasteless – the best part was actually the people-watching. Unless you are a real foodie, restrict yourself to more modestly-priced restaurants for a better qualityprice ratio.

(d) Plane flight around the island: my resort had two ultra-light airplanes that would circle the island for 50 bucks (canadian) and you could see the whole carribean (incredible colours) as well as cruise ships, yatchs, other islands – great for your slide show.

5. Other
There are lots of casinos on the Dutch side (I am not a gambler) as well as hoardes of duty-free shops as this island has been known historically as a pirates’ refuge and an area of duty-free, tax-free, no-questions-asked exchanges and purchases – and so it comes as no surprise that bargain shops are everywhere and offer everything under the sun. Buyer beware, however: as I am a cigar aficionado I went to a store offering Macanudos (Jamaican and top-rated) – a box for 150 Cdn (no tax) which made it six bucks a stick – as this was too good I asked to buy one which I would smoke at the resort and come back to buy the box if I was interested. Back at the resort: sure enough – bad fake. Think twice before upgrading your wedding diamond.

6. Conclusion:
Saint-Martin Sint Maarten is a honeymoon-type island as the beauty, relative safety and amenities such as good food and wine make for a perfect relaxing holiday. The French side is more european and the Dutch side american in character. If you take the time to explore and speak to the people this will make an ideal island getaway holiday.

Feel free to contact me at donleger@vianet.on.ca

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Hotel Mt Vernon Scott ~ Ontario, Canada

April 2005

My girlfriend and I just returned from a vacation at the Mont Vernon Hotel in St. Martin. It was Sherri’s first trip anywhere and I wanted it o be a good one so I chose St. Martin because the Caribbean is supposed to be so beautiful. We left Toronto on Saturday April 23rd 2005 and landed in St. Martin at four hours later. The flight was uneventful which is good at 40,000 feet! and the attendants were very pleasant. Upon arrival at the St. Martin Airport there was a bit of a problem handling so many people all at once and a bit of kaos reigned. It was quite comical if you sat back and watched. Nathalie, our Air Transat rep met us at the airport and tried her best to answer all questions and get all the sheep er people on the correct buses to their respective hotels. Kudos Nathalie! Tres Bien!

Unfortunately we arrived at the hotel after two other buses and were shepherded into the main lobby of the Hotel. This proved to be another situation where I could practice my virtue of patience. The Hotel staff (Brovo Wilf!) were very accommodating and helpful to all the people who spoke atrocious French (that’s me!). Fortunately we met a fantastic couple from Parry Sound Ontario who made the time pass quickly.

If the Hotel reads this review please, as a suggestion, the next time a large number of guests visit your Hotel greet them at the front door with Mont Vernon Hotel Representative and a number dispenser then move them to the bar area and wait for them to be called up to check in. The greeter could dispense Hotel wrist bracelets and numbers at that time telling the bar tender to start making the Guests feel like they are on vacation. This would help eliminate the noise in the lobby and not make the Reception people feel so pressured.

After we found our way to our room in the St. John building we were pleased at the size of the room and the cleanliness. We had a ‘garden view’ room that overlooked the lagoon and mountains behind. I was quite impressed with the view especially when I heard that upgrading to an ocean view room would be $50 American per day per person!. We did not spend much time in the room anyway because of the beach and other activities but at night the hills lit up with the lights of houses and other Hotels and was quite nice. That night we took a walking tour around the complex and found that it was good exercise for the legs to manoeuvre around. The Hotel is built on a partial mountain on the beach so there is a lot of slopes and/or stairs to climb and ascend. The pictures in the Air Transat vacation book are a perfect representation of the resort.

The next morning, and all week long, we woke to sunshine and birds singing outside our room. The sun was bright and hot. The beaches were so white and clean. They were so clean we couldn’t find any shells washed up on the shore for the kids! In addition to the birds we found a lot of little lizards that roam freely. Now don’t go thinking of Komodo Dragons people! These were very small reptiles that kids love to play with. They were anywhere from two inches to six inches long including their tails. They always scurried away if you got too close and were never a bother.

With this package there was the 4 day car rental included except for the insurance which was $25 US a day. Hmmm now I can rent a car for $29 Canadian including insurance so don’t let them fool you folks your paying the full shot of the car rental. What they are doing is making a car available for rent while you are there. When we booked the Air Transat we read that insurance was $12 a day (that is more believable) but unfortunately after we booked it we were told the insurance was now $25 a day. We tried to rent a car on Saturday and were told it would be $35 US because we didn’t have a voucher (they give you this upon arrival at the Hotel). Regardless take advantage of this rental because 3 of the 4 restaurants they offer a la carte meals at you cannot get to by walking. You must rent a taxi which can run you from $3 to $15 one way depending on if it’s raining!. Sherri and I ended up hooking up with the couple from Parry sound and rented the car for a couple days and they rented one for a couple as well. This worked out well as it was half the cost. The Car I rented was brand new! It was a little green Hyundai with 235 km on it, air conditioning and seated four. It was a nice little car and Thanks to William of the GUST Car Rental agency at the Hotel. The one thing about the car was the horse power. These cars are little and can get around the island well. Unfortunately I push 200 lbs, Geoff went about 240 lbs and the girls were another 230 lbs together. At one point we were going up a steep hill and the car was having trouble so Geoff turned off the air and we got what felt like a turbo boost! LOL. What a hoot!

We ended up visiting Phillipsburg and the Shops on Front Street where some good deals were found. The liquor is very cheap compared to Canada. I picked up a litre of Crown Royal for $10 US! Do NOT under any circumstances just automatically give the vendors their asking price. Everything is up for negotiation especially if you buy more than one! We were shopping and it was hot hot hot so we stopped by a street vendor selling beer and Mikes Hard lemonade. We negotiated two beers at $1 apiece and two Mikes Hard for $3!. It was a hoot! I bought a ring at one of the Jewellers and they gave beers to everybody that was with me LOL!

We also ended up going to Marigot market for half a day. We did not enjoy this as much because the vendors were not willing to deal as much as the ones in Phillipsburg. One vendor even told Sherri to keep her money! lol.

The four of us couldn’t decide what to do for an outside excursion so we decided on the Golden Eagle tour around the Island on Friday for what they call a farewell tour. The cost of the tour was $99 each and included all you can drink for the day. It also included a light snack in the morning of ham and cheese sandwiches, a tour to two other islands for swimming, snorkelling for about half an hour at Creole Rock, lunch at a restaurant on the beach in Grand Case and a shuttle from and to your Hotel! This was an amazing deal which I would recommend to all.

All the food at the Hotel was quite good. There was a little of everything for everyone. The best part we found was going out to the different restaurants for supper. The liquor at the resort flowed freely when the bars were open. Most of the bar tenders were fun to be around and Phillip is a hoot. Enjoy your necklace mon ami!

Also the entertainment staff provide some good entertainment if your around to enjoy it, especially the Cabaret they put on. The Modonna impersonator (aka the water aerobics instructor) was quite sexy especially when you get picked as the helper as I did! Woo-Hoo!!!

Now just some stuff that I didn’t really care for. There were no garbage cans scattered around the resort for miscellaneous garbage. I had to either give it to the bar tender, keep it and dump it at the room or (which I did not do) just leave it lying around for others to pick up. There was quite a bit of litter from people that were not as cognisant of the site of trash lying around. Garbage bags sat for days on the path outside our room for pick up. Eventually like all trash it was broken into and strewn which kind of kills the paradise effect lol. Snorkelling equipment was not available as people took out the equipment one day and kept it all week therefore the four of us ended up renting equipment for $10 US a day each. If your going and want to snorkel invest in some here and make room in your luggage for it. I will for the future. Also there was no availability at all to get kayaks or windsurf boards because of past accidents and liability issues so the advertisements are wrong…

As with other reviews yes the pool bar was only open from 10:30am until 5:00pm. The bar in the Lobby area was open until 5:00pm until 12:00 midnight. They were not open at the same time. It would prove to be more accommodating to the vacationers to have both open at the same time with variances to the times.

As for the sun worshippers who chose to tan all parts of their body…..yes there was a bit at the resort. It can be expected because it is the French side of the island and the Europeans are not as up tight about nudity as we Canadians seem to be.

All-in-all it was a good trip and the Mont Vernon tries hard to please it’s guests. The bottom line is – would I return to Mont Vernon? Yes I would.

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Hotel Mt Vernon Barry ~ Canada

April 2005

The Hotel is in what is probably the best location on the island. Private, secure and quiet. The room was cool, clean and large with a nice view of the beach, but compared to other three star facilities in the Caribbean, the hotel failed completely. The food was poor. Well below the standard of the plain food served in Cuba and not in the same league as Cancun. There was an unpleasant smell of old cooked fish, goat and hamburger from the lunch kitchen all day as you went between the pool and the beach. There are supposed to be three bars but we only ever found two open and never at the same time. The bars were a good seven or eight minute climb apart, depending on your energy level, so getting thirsty in the wrong location was irritating. The pool bar closed at 5pm. so relaxing with a cold drink in the early evening by the pool or beach was difficult if not impossible. Unless you are extremely fit, this hotel is not for you and could benefit from golf cart or a miniature train service, escalators and an elevator.

The free car rental was great and the well dented and scratched car got us around the beautiful island several times without our having to worry about its condition deteriorating. We met with what could only be described as "attitude" from most of the staff, although one or two did go out of their way to help. Service was noticeably better for French speaking people. The four dinners outside the hotel were all good and made a nice change from basic.

The duty free shopping in Philipsburg was great. If we ever return to the island it will definitely be to the Dutch side where we were treated with friendship and respect.

My wife, who is usually the personification of joy, patience and forgiveness, wishes that we had skipped this vacation or gone elsewhere.

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Hotel Mt Vernon A & J ~ Vancouver, Canada

March 2005

Just visited St. Martin and stayed at Hotel Mont Vernon in March 2005. Here’s our evaluation of the resort:

Location: North end of Orient Bay. Hotel is built on a hill, a lot of uphill and downhill walkings to access the beach, pool and restaurants. Not recommended for seniors or persons with walking difficulties.

Beach: Beautiful and clean. White soft sand and some waves. About 1/2 hr. stroll from this end to the other end of Orient Bay where all the nude sunbathers are. The south end of Orient Bay is much more calmer than the north end. Across from Orient Bay, there is an island called Pinel Island that is worth a visit if you like white sand and very calm water. Not much for snorkelling though. You can take a taxi boat (jet ski) across for $10 pp round trip.

Hotel: Clean. 3 stars rating. Staff in general are friendly and accommodating. No elevator. 3-storey row houses.

Restaurants: La Creole at the lobby area serves buffet breakfasts and buffet dinners. Not a lot of choices but food was good if you like French cuisine (very rich taste). Buffet lunch is served only at the pool restaurant near the beach. Lunch is extremely simple and I’ll only rate it 2 stars. However, our travel package includes 4 nights dinning at 4 different restaurant outside the resort. We didn’t use it as we enjoyed all the dinners at the resort. Service was excellent during dinner times. Some of these restaurants outside the resort are not within walking distance and you must have a car to get there.

Hotel Activities: Very little. Only aqua aerobics. Some night shows. Free shuttle to a casino every night.

Drinks: 2 bars. Lobby bar only opens from 5:00 pm to midnight. Pool bar opens from 10:30 am to 6:30 pm. The all-inclusive package only includes soft drinks, beers, local liqueur but no cocktail or mocktail. The only snacks available are peanuts.

Car rental: our package includes a 4-day car rental which is a bonus. If you prefer, you can rent the car for less than 4 days.

Currency: Euro but US dollars are widely accepted. Some places will take US dollars at par. Things in general are expensive. Others: No separate dinning section for non-smokers. Roads are narrow and parking at major beaches or shopping areas can be challenging.

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Hotel Mt Vernon T and C from Toronto

March 2003

just came back from spending a week in St Martin we were a group of five.. not to take anything away from the island itself.. it one of the most beautiful I have seen.

we stayed at Hotel Mt vernon. well for the 1800 we paid per person .it was a joke.. from the food to the arrogant and rude staff. I could not believe it.. that if we were in the lobby in the middle of the day.. we would have to walk all the day the moutain to the pool bar to get a drink.. two bars on the resort but never open at the same time. as for the food well I remember reading a reviwe where someone said cafeteria food was better .well they were right. so looked forward to friday night . it was supposed to be sea food night. tries to keep from laughing.. sea food night was Shark and marlin. well needless to say wont be going back or recomending this resort to anyone.. a shame realy because it`s such a beautiful island.. this resort is definately not a 3and half star.. Maybe a 2 if that.

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Cap Caraibes Hotel – Orient Beach Louise

October 2003

What a wonderful little gem of a resort. We were on the first floor, room 103. I have never slept so well on vacation. The room’s air conditioning was a perfect temp and so quiet. The king side bed was very comfy and the rattan furniture was very attractive. Bathroom had a two-person shower with a nice vanity. Kitchenette was well stocked along with complimentary tea, coffee, dried cereal and bags of chips upon arrival. The tea and coffee was replenished during our stay. Our sliding glass door led onto a small but pretty terrace along with a lounge chair and 2 chairs with a table. We literally walked 10 feet to the pool. Nice, clean kidney shaped pool with ample sitting along with a covered area of table and chairs if you wanted to eat breakfast by the pool. A local man provides a service for breakfast. You can either have it served on your terrace or by the pool. We did not take advantage of this, although we did meet the young man and he was very pleasant. We just ran out of time!

There is a pathway to the beach that takes all of 2 minutes and you are on Waikiki beach. Complimentary chairs and umbrella, which will save you $19 a day. Chairs on Waikiki are $7 and the umbrella is $5. We took care of our beach boy and each day we had the front row, two tables, bottled water and as many drinks as we wanted. We just signed for them.

The only downside of the hotel and it’s so minor that we would still return in a heartbeat was the TV. As someone mentioned it’s 3 French channels and CNN. No clock radio and there were a few nights when we had too much partying on the beach and went back to the room a little earlier than most and would like to have had some TV to watch.

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Cap Caraibes Hotel – Orient Beach Anjan Boston
January 2002

I went for a week in St. Martin to get away from the cold of Boston during Christmas week. St. Martin is an awesome island. It has the best food and shopping in the Carribean. The weather is great being in the 80’s with very low humidity.

You can also go for easy day trips to St. Barts or Anguilla by ferry (Anguilla is $10, St. Barts costs $50). While I was there Bill Gates and family were on St. Martin. And the movie stars Kevin Bacon, Robert Deniro, and Richard Dreyfus were on Anguilla.

Orient beach, which is where Cap Caraibes is located, is the best beach in St. Martin. But it is a lying in the sun beach while someone gets you everything that you want to drink and eat (for a price, of course). It has too many waves for swimming.

But be aware of one caveat; Cap Caraibes is not a luxury hotel. Instead what you get is a studio apartment on a nice beach. As long as you keep that in mind, you should do fine. Be sure to order the breakfast room service because it’s better than any breakfast on the beach!

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Grand Case Beach Club – Grand Case Jamie Susal US
January 2002

ST. MARTIN: LOOKING BETTER THAN EVER & READY FOR YOUR VISIT By Jamie Susal

We found the island at the end of November to be beautiful, green and floribundant, thanks to a hurricane-free summer and fall. While the green of vegetation was in abundance, however, the green of American dollars is missing in SXM this year.

Just as harmful to the island’s economy as the worst hurricane, were the events of September 11. Most people we talked to on the island gauged business to be down about 40 percent from the same time last year. Considering last year’s economy was still down from Hurricane Lenny in 1999, it’s easy to understand that SXM is really hurting.

Yet, in typical St. Martin style, just about everyone seemed optimistic about business picking up as soon as the high season starts. Even during our 11 days on the island, we noticed a slight increase in tourists. Still, the island needs us now, more than ever.

If you’re at all on the fence about whether or not to make the trip, by all means, go. Although overall security improvements in most of the airports we traveled through were subtle and random, there were some noticeable changes. At O’Hare, before anyone boarded the plane, the pilot came out and walked among the passengers. He made a point to talk to some people, such as a man carrying a cane. On another flight, the crew made an announcement asking everyone to use only the restrooms at the rear of the plane if possible to avoid having people moving toward the front of the plane. In both Miami and San Juan, the only notable security procedures were having about a dozen people on each flight randomly called for a more thorough search of their carry-ons.

The most noticeable change in security, however, was right in SXM, where all luggage, both checked and carry-on, is given a hand search. I’m sure a determined hijacker or “shoe-icide” bomber could still get something past these guys, but nonetheless, it was higher security than I saw at any U.S. airport.

After landing at Juliana, we got to experience the new “transit” system at the airport. Frankly, I don’t get the point. You still have to come down the stairs (which I enjoy – getting that first feeling of island breezes and Caribbean sun when coming out of the plane), then you walk more than the length of the plane to the bus, ride the bus for about 100 yards and still make a good hike over to immigration. I suppose there must be some sort of safety regulations at play here, because the bus seems highly unnecessary otherwise.

We proceeded from the airport to get our car from Unity. In the past, we’ve been loyal users of Hertz, having had one “just okay” experience with Unity a few years ago. However, since there were four of us traveling this time, we wanted a particular type of 4-door vehicle that we knew Unity had and Hertz didn’t. We are now among the legions of Unity devotees, and will definitely use them on future trips. One example of how Unity won us over: we decided rather spontaneously to extend our trip by two extra days. At the point in time we were originally due to return the car, we drove up, told them what we wanted to do and with a handshake we were on our way. I have no doubt that with Hertz, there would have been paperwork to reconcile and a lot more time involved.

Our home for the next eight nights was Grand Case Beach Club. This is one of my favorite hotels on the island. It’s centrally located, has two beaches – including Petit Plage, one of my favorites, and has good security and a super staff. They are gradually renovating the resort. Landscaping projects were underway, and rooms were being redone as well. Our room, an oceanfront loft, had obviously recently been redone, although my brother-in-law’s room right next door had not.

The loft set-up of the room worked out very nicely. The king size bed and dresser are upstairs, leaving the downstairs free to function as kitchen and living room. The satellite TV gets several American stations and – a nice surprise – rooms now have CD players. The only thing that could have improved this set-up would be a second bathroom upstairs.

One evening, we ventured out on the catamaran Scoobidoo for a sunset sail. We cruised around the waters between Grand Case and Anguilla, enjoying an open bar and appetizers. If you happened to see a show on the Travel Channel hosted by Hunter Reno, the Scoobidoo was one of the attractions featured in the program. We had an opportunity to chat with the owner and captain of the boat and he said that Hunter herself actually came to the island in advance of the filming of the show to scout out locations and attractions to feature. I was impressed, having always assumed a production crew did all the legwork and the star got all the credit.

We spent time, on several days, actually, at Sunset Beach Bar. I’m happy to report that even with new ownership, everything we’ve always liked about the place is still the same. In fact, they are enlarging, with the deck now extending to adjacent to the restrooms, and adding a boutique to sell SSBB logo merchandise. And yes, women can still choose to get their drinks for free.

Aside from the excellent cheeseburgers at SSBB, we did our share of dining around the island. Overall, we much prefer the food on the French side; we don’t come to St. Martin to eat American-style food, but I guess it all depends on what you like.

VERY GOOD:
L’Amandier – Grand Case. Limited menu, but good food in a beautiful location.
Restaurant du Soleil – Grand Case. Nice blend of French and Caribbean cuisine.
Sol E Luna – Mt. Vernon. Italian with French attention to preparation.
Turtle Pier (for lunch) – Simpson Bay. Really good conch chowder and conch fritters (surprisingly, these are hard to find elsewhere on the island).

GOOD
Lee’s – Simpson Bay. Overrated in my book, but seafood was indeed very fresh.
Peg Leg Pub – Simpson Bay. Excellent selection of beers; American-style food, good burger.
Le Pinel – Cul de Sac. Food was excellent, but service very, very slow.
Bikini Beach Bar – Orient Beach. Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings. Was good, but Bikini’s regular menu is better.
Talk of the Town – Grand Case. Home style food right off the grill. A little too salty this night. Coconut ice cream was perhaps the best ice cream I’ve ever had, anywhere.

FAIR TO GOOD
Princess Casino free buffet – Port de Plaisance Hotel. It was free. Great coleslaw.
Turtle Pier (for dinner) – BBQ chicken, rice and beans, etc., was pretty good, not great.

Happily, I can say I’ve never had a truly, flat-out lousy meal on SXM. That proved to be true again this trip.

When it got to be November 29, we had a decision to make. We were due to return home the next day, and we just weren’t ready. Off to the airport we went, swallowing the $100 per person change fee on the tickets and extending our visit by two more days. As I mentioned earlier, we extended our rental with Unity, no problem, mon. We did move to a different hotel, however, getting a great deal at Le Chatelaine near the airport that made up for the cost to change our air tickets. This is an interesting hotel. Rooms are spacious and right on a nice quiet beach. A much-needed renovation of the rooms could make this place a gem, but there’s a fair amount of work needed. The hotel’s proximity to the airport – it is directly adjacent to the runway – is no problem, although we were not there during the peak flying hours of 2-5 p.m. We were in the room for the take-off of one large plane – a BWIA jet, which, by the way, took off the “other” way, toward the ocean – and it rocked the room enough that I don’t think I would want to be there when Air France departs. Otherwise, it’s a quiet location and there are NO planes coming in or departing at night. We nearl

y got a third extra day on the island besides the two we had already taken. Upon checking in at the airport, we learned the plane we’d be leaving on would be late coming in to Juliana, and we would miss our connection in San Juan. We were given the choice between another extra day in SXM (paid for by American Airlines) or an overnight in San Juan. We ended up opting for San Juan because they couldn’t guarantee us a seat from SXM the following day, and I really did have to get back to work by Tuesday. Have to start salting away money for the next trip, after all, and it can’t come too soon!

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Grand Case Beach Club – Grand Case Patty New Jersey
What a wonderful idea to branch out and offer this great service to other Caribbean destinations.

Last July, my family and I traveled to the Caribbean for the first time. Our group consisted of my husband, my mom (who is handicapped) and 2 daughters aged 6 and 10. I chose St. Martin because it seemed to offer everything we were looking for and I was right.

We flew down On American from JFK. It was a great flight and everyone was very attentive to my mom. The airport is a bit of a problem since you land on the runway and walk across to an unairconditioned terminal. But they had a wheelchair waiting so off we went. The terminal seemed crowded and unorganized and finding the right bus to the hotel was a bit confusing but we sorted it out.

The ride to the resort was about an hour long. Along the way we got a chance to see much of St. martin. Unfortunately, it was not a pretty sight due to recent hurricane devastation and a drought. But I saw signs of improvement every where.

We got to the Beach Club and it was really nice. It is situated on 2 beaches. One really small and calm, the other larger and more active. I t was absolutely perfect for us. There was a small pool, but if you are used to the pools in the all inclusives in the DR. You will be disappointed.

The Grand Case Beach club has a choice of accommodation from studios to 2 bedroom units, which we had. The unit was 2 levels. It has a nice size kitchen and living area, 3 bathrooms, 2 bedrooms and balconies up and down. While not luxurious, it was bright and clean. We also had air conditioning and ceiling fans. A breakfast was included in the price. There was a small bar and cafe on premises.

The beach club has a watersports desk and you could arrange for water-skiing, snorkeling etc. Some of it was free and some had a fee.

Overall we had a great time, even my mom enjoyed herself. She was able to swim in the pool and navigate the grounds (which are lovely). But the very best part was the close proximity to the village of Grand Case. It must be the gourmet capital of the Caribbean. We walked to a different restaurant every night. Each meal was better than the rest. We would return and I think that is the best recommendation.

Patty – February 2001

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Last updated: April 25, 2005

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