Stayed at the Caravanserai Hotel in St. Maarten on the Dutch side right off Airport Road. Stayed for a week in October 2002. The hotel is not large, about 68 units but in a great location to many restaurants and nightlife.
The hotel itself has 3 swimming pools. The grounds are well manicured with a small beach in front of the hotel but I would only recommend it for sunning. I highly suggested you rent a car while on the island so you can check out all the lovely beaches. I don’t think a beach in front of the hotel is such an issue since most people venture off for the day. The Caravanserai is adjacent to the Dolphin Casino. There is a small grocery/Asian store steps away from the hotel. Additionally there is Bliss, Bamboo Bernie’s and the famous Sunset Beach Bar where everyone goes to watch the planes take off and land. All 3 serve food and beverages. Bliss has a pool, martini bar, in addition to the restaurant and lively night club which is outdoors. They get a young crowd. Bamboo Bernie’s serves sushi and other Caribbean food.
Luckily for this small hotel these services are available because there is no bar or restaurant in the hotel. Units are either on the first or second floor with a patio or balcony. The rooms are large with lots of draw space, color TV and mini refrigerator. We had a second floor garden view, 1 bedroom. When you opened the doors to the deck you had a beautiful view of a kidney shaped pool and directly ahead you could see the ocean. Very reasonable priced and worth it as long as you don’t expect any amenities directly at the resort.
We have visited St. Maarten twice this year and really like the island. There are many different priced restaurants, lolos and lots of "happy hours," on the beaches and restaurants. You really don’t have to spend a lot on dinner and drinks. Very friendly people. We like staying on the Dutch side and the location near the airport gives you quick access to the French side.
We enjoy Dawn, Mullet, Baie Rouge, Friar’s Bay, and Orient Beach. I don’t know what the attraction is to Pinel Island, we were not impressed. Very shallow waters and the beach chairs are piled one on top of the other.
One of our favorite eating establishments is Ms. B’s on Dawn Beach, $7.50 for a plate of the best ribs on the island along with a bag of chips. You also get 2 chairs, an umbrella and 2 rum punches for only $10.00. On most of our other Caribbean travels we did not have the luxury of renting comfortable lounges, tables and umbrella’s but it’s standard on St. Martin, lots of beach vendors offer this service and are very polite. If you bring a towel and don’t want their service they are ok with it. We discovered another small hotel next to Dawn Beach called Captain Oliver’s. Had dinner there once and lunch twice. What a lovely romantic spot right on the marina. A great pool with a Plexiglas infinity wall. They call it a "people aquarium." The first trip we took a catamaran over to Anguilla’s Shoal Bay East. Beautiful beaches. Had ribs at Uncle Ernie’s. Very good but not as good as Ms. B’s. On our first stay back in March we were at the Divi and it was to remote for us. Very close to Philipsburg but we found no allure there. Not big shoppers so location did not have any appeal. We like to have a few cocktails and driving up and down the mountain every evening was a little scary. We can also recommend dining at Rainbow in Grand Case, Bar de le mar in Marigot, Hot Tomatoes, Uncle Harry’s, and the Boathouse all on Airport Road on the Dutch side. We also love The Market in Cupecoy. We will definitely return to St. Martin. Have been to Jamaica, Bahamas, Aruba, Puerto Rico, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, St. John’s, St. Thomas, Anguilla, Virgin Gorda, and Antigua. Some more than once and have found we like St. Martin the best "so far" — we are off to Turks & Caicos on our next trip.