Trip report Including St. Bart, Anguilla and culinary Tour of Grand Case First week of April.
2 Families: 4 adults, 2 teen and 2 tween.
Flight: Left LA on Friday night Red Eye and arrived noon on SXM. Our friends connected through CLT and we went through JFK. We arrived within 15 minutes of each other. We had purchased our tickets about 1 year ago and got relatively good deal on AA business class. (only couple of hundred more than our friend paid for regular coach which he bought in October.)
Return through Miami was a breeze. We were on the same flight. AA screwed us from our business seats, by cancelling and then re booking our MIA to LAX under a different flight number causing us to either have to leave MIA 3 hours later ( 5.5 hour layover) or choose a downgrade. We decided on the downgrade to main cabin Extra (no compensation).The AA transcon business class from LAX to JFK and then to SXM had lie flat seats.
Car Rental: Alieze ( french side company). We had rented from them in the past on couple of other occasions. We were met at the airport with our cars (2 Kia SUVs) on the curb. Signed the paperwork and were on our way in less than 2 minutes.Very smooth. On return we left the car on the parking lot with the key on the glove box and locked the doors.
Hotel: Grand Case beach club. Great setting. Highly recommend it. We had two 2BR units right next to each other on the 50 (townhouse) Block . Fabulous setting. They can do a few minor things in order to take them to next level. (such as fresh paint and changing of some of dated furniture). House keeping and especially security were very good. Wifi was soso.
Traffic: horrible to get from GC to Marigot. It appeared taking the little detour through the waterfront was faster. We pretty much stuck to french side except for one early afternoon went to Pburg, but did not stay and head back to Orient.
Grocery store: Since simply has closed in Hope estate and Super U has not opened yet. We stopped at Super U at Howell center , on our way from the airport. We left after getting € from ATM, since it was super crowded on Saturday afternoon. It looked like at least an hour wait to go through the cashier. Next day went to Carrfoure in Cole bay, which was much less crowded.
Dining: We pretty much stuck to GC for all our dinners. For Lunch we hit La Playa, Yellow Sub and Orange Fever, the small Creole place next to orange Fever( and one of GC Lolo ) for goat stew and jerked goat.
At all GC places (except for Sunset Cafe, we were given a type written laminated small note with our bill, that the Tip is not included and can not be placed on CC and needs to be in Cash). As per general consensus on this board we left between 5-10% cash. We ate between 6:30 - 7:00 very night. As usual the food at the land side establishment were much better, but at the same time you can not beat the view from the waterside places at sunset. ( may be we could since we had the same view from our unit at GCBC). I was very disappointed at food at L'Auberge Gourmande this time around. These are places we ate ranked accordingly.
1) Le Pressoir: everyone's Favorite for food. Beautiful dinning room. their 2 course fish/ lobster menu was sublime.
A toss up between 2 and 3
2) Bisrot Caribes. The bouisballise significantly better than O82 and Tastevin. Friendlier and service slightly better than Le Cottage (very close). The Ginger flavored rum pushed it to the front.
3) Le cottage. Beautiful dinning room and good wine paring. As always very good menu and Carmel soufflé .
4) Le Shambala: Went there to avoid the noise of Harmony night during dinner. We joined after dinner. Food was good and well executed, although not particularly memorable. Very beautiful setting. Service efficient but not overly friendly. Only placed that upon bringing the final bill , we were verbally asked us if we want to leave additional tip on the CC, so they could prepare the CC bill accordingly.
5) Tastevin: probably the best looking dinning room. the Menu very similar to O82. The food was good, not great comparing to other places.
6) O82: almost very similar on every aspect to Tastevin. The only difference is the dinning room in Tastevin is nicer and also the after dinner flavored rum at O82 was extremely harsh. ( not mellow and smooth like other places). It felt like they had just made it just an hour before.
7) Sunset Cafe: beautiful setting. Our included Continental breakfast was scant but adequate.
This time around I was not very impressed by the evening meal. The food was at a different tier than the places above. However the prices almost 60% of the other places. Probably good bank for the buck.
8) L'Auberge Gourmande. Significant drop in quality and service comparing to the years past. Service was rushed. They crammed the 8 of us in space that was probably meant for only 5 people . ( I had reservation for all restaurants 1 month in advance and confirm the night before in person as well). All the fish courses were very overcooked and dry. My kids pretty much had fillet all nights. this is the only place my son did not touch his at all and my daughter took only couple of bits hers. Needless to say we won't be back.
Lunch Places : We usually got Lunch to bring back to GCBC on few occasion to enjoy it from our unit on GCBC (from Yellow sub, Orange fever, GC Lolo and small Creole place next to orange Fever). The goat from those 2 places had good flavor, but very greasy ( unusual since goat is very lean meat. Don't know what else they had with it.)
We spent a day at Orient and had lunch at La Playa which was very good. They had a very nice passion Mango Rum, which was Divine. I had to buy a couple of bottles. On the way back we stopped at Ma Doudou rum plantation on the cul de sac. Cute place. No tours of the place. Essentially a gift shop with some tasting. The lady was not that friendly. But the rum and the bottles were very good. I got couple of bottles. ( 2 from here, 2 from Bistrot Caribes and 2 from La Playa).
Tuesday: Took the 8 AM flight from GC to St. Bart. Rented a car from Top Lock and explored the island. 2nd visit. We had the same pilot from 6 years ago. We did a little shopping in Gustavia and headed to Gov beach and then to the Grand cul de sac. It is beautiful setting. Had lunch at the casual La Gloriette. It had very nice swimable area with a sandbar in front with a very nice breeze. Then headed back to the airport for our 4 PM flight back to GC.
Wednesday: Marigot Market. Got some t-shirt from the secret spot and some other cute items for my daughter.
Thursday: took the Ferry from Marigot to Anguilla. 2nd visit. Rented an 8 passenger Van from Andy. AC did not work. explored the Island, spend couple hours by Cap Juluca (The beach front at CJ is very nice and calm) before heading to Shoal Bay east and settling at Elodias. We rented a very large tented area that accommodated all 8 of us for $50. Our luck every time we have been to SBE, the ocean has been fairly rough. Regardless we spent couple of hours playing with the waves and surf before heading back to Marigot at 4.
Also hit Orient beach on couple of days and Anse Marcel 1 day.
Final Verdict. Overall a very nice holiday, especially since we got to travel with our friends again. ( the kids spring break has been different over past few years). Best parts fine food at GC and the view and milieu at GCBC. Nothing like coming back to our unit and lying on the Transat on our patio looking at the stars with the wave crashing under your feet, and enjoying a good conversation with friends, good cigar and after dinner drinks.
We usually cycle through different Caribbean islands. But we will be back at St. Martin sooner than later and probably do a very similar itinerary.