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mprevo
Traveler


Joined: 01/27/14
Posts: 193
Loc: Michigan
How did you discover St. Martin??
      #1602859 - 08/15/14 11:20 AM (64.119.54.50)

There seems to be a great love for St. Martin here in this community. I was just wondering how everyone around here actually discovered the island and what experiences during that first visit caused you to realize that this is your second home? Feel free to expand your story to include any of your experiences that have lead up to your current island lifestyle.

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***********************************************

We will back when the island is ready for us!!

This is going to be a long wait, but the reward at the end will be worth it.


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mprevo
Traveler


Joined: 01/27/14
Posts: 193
Loc: Michigan
Re: How did you discover St. Martin?? [Re: mprevo]
      #1602860 - 08/15/14 11:21 AM (64.119.54.50)

My wife (Brenda) and I kind of stumbled upon St. Martin by accident. We had just scheduled a vacation at a resort in the Caribbean that we had no special ties too. Our only requirement was that we could book our resort for free on points. My wife travels a lot for work and collects hotel points at Club Carlson. We really didn’t do a lot of homework on the location we just tried to find somewhere in the Caribbean that looked nice. We finally found our location, the Radisson Blu in Anse Marcel. We just thought the resort looked nice (from their web site and there reviews on Trip Advisor). We also knew that we are the type of people that can make the best out of any situation and we can have good time anywhere as long as we are in it together. Resort found we booked our flights on Delta. We flew from Detroit to Atlanta then to St Martin. We actually live in Northern Michigan so we had to drive 5 hours south just to catch our flight in Detroit.

Once we arrived on the SXM we rounded up our luggage and looked for a taxi to take us to our resort. The ride seemed a little long but we were so excited we didn’t care. We just couldn’t stop looking out the windows as we drove through the island. We were on a new adventure together again. At that point we had no idea where we going. I was just enjoying the ride taking in the beautiful sunshine and weather (remember we flew in from Detroit which was at -2 degrees when we left). I can still remember our driver climbing up the road leading to the Radisson. I was amazed at the view once we crested the hill and stopped briefly at the lookout overlooking the resort and marina. That was the very first moment when I realized just how beautiful St Martin really was.

Now our driver started the decent down the hill into our resort. I can still remember thinking how crazy this drive was and how glad that I was not the one behind the wheel. We pulled up the circular driveway in front of the resort and exited our taxi. We thanked and paid our driver (tip too) for the nice ride. As we walked in the lobby of the Radisson we were greeted by another spectacular view. It was just amazing. So far we were very pleased by our resort selection. The bell hop grabbed our luggage and showed us to the check-in. As we were checking in we soon realized that this resort took my wife’s status in Club Carson very seriously. I mentioned earlier that Brenda travels a lot for work but didn’t mention that she has reached “Concierge” status (their highest level) within Club Carlson. We never thought much about it but apparently the Radisson does. As we were checking in they immediately upgraded us to a Marina Suite and brought us some island drinks to enjoy during the process. Once check in was complete they put us on a golf cart and drove us through the resort giving us a tour, finally arriving at our room. By the time we arrived at our room our luggage was already placed into our room with a selection of cholates, fresh fruit, and another round of island drinks. The concierge then gave us a tour of our room and explained in great detail how everything was located and how everything worked in our room. She then gave us her card and phone number and told us if we needed anything to please contact her directly. Then she was gone. Finally the dog and pony show was over and we on vacation.

By the second day of our vacation we realized that we were going to need a car to get around so we rented one right at our resort. Once we got our car that is when our love for St. Martin really started to develop. We ventured around the island driving the ”circle” taking in the sites. We ended up in Grand Case for dinner each night. Each day was a new adventure and each day seemed to get better. It did not take but a trip or two and I even had the drive into the Radisson mastered. I can remember feeling like Jimmy Johnson on a NASCAR track going up and down the hill. Although I can still remember the look on Brenda’s face each time we started up the hill. Apparently she wasn’t getting the NASCAR vibe like I was.

Upon a recommendation by somebody we met while eating dinner at Talk of the Town one night we decided to drive our car to Orient Beach and spend a day there. We rented some chairs by Pedro’s and had another wonderful relaxing day. This was the point at which I realized that St. Martin had so much to offer and it was exactly what Brenda and I looked for in a vacation. We ended up back at Orient the following day again since we had so much fun the day before. We had another wonderful day.

We decided to take the ferry to St Barts the following day to try something different. Not that impressive I thought. We hired a taxi and had the driver do an island tour for us. We also ended up at Shell Beach for a while. All in all now that I have done that visit I don’t see a real need to go back to St Barts. It was nice but we did not enjoy it like St Martin. The next day we chartered with ScoobiToo for day trip of snorkeling at Tintamarre and lunch on Anguilla. We had another very nice day in fact we booked this excursion on future trips to St Martin.

We spend the last few days of our first vacation not really doing much. We just relaxed and enjoyed the island life. During these last few days we discussed that we both felt that we have never had a vacation quite like our visit to St Martin before. We both felt very comfortable, relaxed, and safe our entire visit. It just felt like a place where we belonged. We had connected together in a way we haven’t done in a while. Both of our schedules at home are very hectic with five kids at home, two dogs, Brenda traveling for work, and me running the construction business that I own. It was very nice to spend some undivided quality time with my wife again.

Once we got home back to Northern Michigan Brenda and I reminisced about our time together on St. Martin and started to plan another visit. Although the following year we ended up having to take our two oldest kids and their boyfriend/girlfriend on a vacation to Jamaica because we had had previously promised as a graduation gift. The entire time we were at Jamaica all we could talk about was how much we missed St Martin and how much better this vacation would be there. We did not feel as safe in Jamaica as in St Martin in fact we would not even let the kids venture out on their own outside the resort at all without us. It is funny how certain events can trigger previous memories and this Jamaican vacation made me realize that there was not a better vacation destination for us then the island of St. Martin.

Over time our St Martin vacations have grown from one week to two (which is still not enough, but it is all I can dare to be away from my business). We now rent a condo for our entire visit on Orient Beach and no longer stay at the Radisson. Most of our vacation time is just spend relaxing and reconnecting with the love of my life. We might do one excursion during our visit but we just prefer to spend some quality time together doing nothing. All in all Brenda and I both find that we can truly relax on St. Martin and have decided that is where we will spend our vacation time until we can finally retire from working. It is our hope at that time we will be able to spend 3 to 4 months on St. Martin ever year to get away from the Northern Michigan winters.

--------------------
***********************************************

We will back when the island is ready for us!!

This is going to be a long wait, but the reward at the end will be worth it.


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ruralcarrierModerator
Moderator


Joined: 03/31/01
Posts: 12524
Loc: Ohio
Re: How did you discover St. Martin?? [Re: mprevo]
      #1602862 - 08/15/14 11:23 AM (69.133.43.72)

Cruise in 1991. The island and the cab driver we had left an amazing impression and we knew right then we were going to visit again. Stayed for the first time in 1994 and the rest is history. Still friends with the same cab driver and his entire family and he made a visit to OH in 2000.

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J.D.


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Kathleen
Traveler


Joined: 08/15/00
Posts: 1153
Loc: North NJ, 1720 miles from Para...
Re: How did you discover St. Martin?? [Re: mprevo]
      #1602865 - 08/15/14 11:32 AM (96.56.29.154)

We vacationed with my brother & sister in law in Aruba the previous year. The next year, their timeshare on Aruba was not available so we needed to find someplace different. Our travel agent friend recommended St. Maarten and had a friend with a unit to rent at Guana Bay Beach Villas. We met a local at the pool there who had a map of all of the different beaches. We tried a few of them, but when we got to Orient Beach, we fell in love. My husband & I have come back every year since (our 21st trip will be this November). We've stayed at several of the hotels along Orient Beach, but have been staying at ClubO for the past 10 years or so. It's where our heart lives.

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That's why I wander and follow La Vie Dansante, that's all I want, La Vie Dansante (JB)


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FireProf
Traveler


Joined: 09/01/04
Posts: 416
Loc: Southern California
Re: How did you discover St. Martin?? [Re: mprevo]
      #1602867 - 08/15/14 11:56 AM (74.100.148.62)

My wife and I had been discussing what we wanted for our 30th Anniversary gift to each other. I wanted a week at a nude resort, she wanted to visit Maine. We were vacationing in Palm Springs at the Terra Cotta Inn. One night in the hot tub, an older couple talked about Club Orient and how much they love the resort and the island of St. Martin. We began asking questions and a couple months later we began making our travel plans for a week on St. Martin and a week in Maine ... a compromise that kept us together for over 45 years.

We visited St. Martin in the summer of 2001 and returned each year at the same time through the summer of '09. Each time, after our first visit, we venture out to explore the island and have enjoyed each and every trip. On our last trip, we took our family and they stayed with us at Club O. Both daughters, one SIL and four grandchildren. To this day ... they talk about that vacation, how much they loved it and how much they want to return.

The island provides many things to many people and they are all different except for one thing, in our opinion. We met some really great people our first trip and we continued to visit at the same time every year because of those people. They became friends, close friends and an extension of our family and on our last trip, we were so happy to have had all our friends meet and spend time with our girls and grandkids.

When we arrive on the beach, we are often met by our friends with a glass of wine or a bottle of beer and the greeting ... "Welcome Home." SXM is many things for us but it's our friends that keep us returning.



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Dansc
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Joined: 03/26/13
Posts: 535
Loc: norwalk, ct
Re: How did you discover St. Martin?? [Re: FireProf]
      #1602871 - 08/15/14 12:06 PM (32.211.217.18)

I discovered the island on my honeymoon with my first wife. It was right after the hurricane that decimated the island. Not the best first impression but still fell in love. There were "gangs" that worked the streets in purge that would watch your car for you while you had dinner for a couple of bucks and would wash the car for a few more. I actually loved that. Another thing that should have turned me off but was kind of funny to me, my wife at the time was tanning topless and I went to get us drinks. When I was walking back I saw a guy coming out of the bushes heading right for her. Needless to say I only had half our drinks left when I got to her.

Brought my now wife down and in the 3rd day she loved it so much we bought our timeshare. Now we have great friends we look forward to seeing every year.

Love the island and all it's quirks!


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charlieh
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Joined: 03/16/05
Posts: 3130
Loc: Greensboro, NC
Re: How did you discover St. Martin?? [Re: FireProf]
      #1602872 - 08/15/14 12:06 PM (67.232.31.137)

Very good topic. I had a deal with American Airlines in 1987 for a "cheap" vacation, so we took up the offer to visit SXM. This was our 1st Carib trip. We stayed at a beach front hotel near Pburg and spent virtually all week visiting the French side. We did a day sail to St Barts and fell in love with the French feeling. St Barts was our home away from home for nearly 20 years.

However SBH changed so much (for the worse) that we started going back to SXM in 2005. Now I strongly prefer SXM.


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pat
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Joined: 04/18/01
Posts: 11303
Loc: Brookfield, CT.
Re: How did you discover St. Martin?? [Re: mprevo]
      #1602875 - 08/15/14 12:13 PM (32.216.76.103)

What a great thread.....

John and I were still 'kids' in our mid 20's with two little ones at home, a new home we'd just built with a big mortgage to pay, and a relatively young plumbing contracting business we had recently started, all of which we owed a lot of money on..... We were literally in debt up to our armpits for want of any other anatomical location I might name!

We felt like we really did owe our soul at this point in our lives and the furthest thing from our minds was a dream vacation. Lucky for us, a plumbing supply house sponsored a trip and we were fortunate enough to be one of 25 contractors from the area who, via a years worth of good sales, qualified for it. (Good thing no one in the immediate area experienced any major leaks that week.....)

Anyhow, in 1973 we were the youngest couple on the trip and since it was the first one we'd taken since our honeymoon in 1966, and with all we'd been doing just prior to the trip, it was probably the most well enjoyed vacation of our lives.

We arrived on the island via KLM and once through the old airport, we were shuttled via a big old bus to the then fairly new and very beautiful Mullet Bay Resort and Casino for a dream week. The bus dropped us off at the reception area with promise that our bags would arrive in our room soon, and sure enough, they were. Things were so very different then on the island even to the practice of most everything on both sides of the island shutting down in the heat of the day for about two hours while they experienced what we called their 'siesta time'.

The only expense we had for the entire week was our lunch and drinks on the beach and the $2.00 departure fee upon leaving the island, and that was probably a very good thing since we had only managed to scrape up about $500.00 to last us for the entire trip. The resort was fairly new and beautiful and had five restaurants, two pools, a casino and a shopping arcade along with its own transportation system so leaving the resort was really not necessary since everything you could hope for was there, and then some. We 'dressed' each night for dinner in suits and long dresses and can you imagine - the ladies even wore stockings and heels most nights. What fools we were, but it was the style back in the 'dark ages' of the 70's....

That year and the following one they were actually building the two lane road 'over the hill' from Cole Bay heading to Philipsberg. We did rent a car for one day that first trip to see all the island but we were ever so happy to stay at Mullet and just 'be' there.

Anyhow, we knew we'd found paradise and even then, we knew it was a place we would always enjoy coming back to. And so we have every year and in 1983 we brought our daughters for the first time so they, too, could experience that which we'd come to love so much. And like us, they fell in love with the island, too, so our timeshare purchase in 1986 or 87 was an easy decision, and the rest is history.

We're a lot older now, and hopefully a lot smarter although the vote is still out on that one, and thank heavens, no longer in debt and singing the "I owe, I owe" song every morning, but we still love St. Maarten/St. Martin best over all the other destinations we've been blessed to experience.

Much like the OP, we've found this, of all other places, to be a place where we put our worries on a shelf for a week or two and we reconnect. We've done all the near islands, and a few of the not so near ones, too, and today we're pretty much content to get into serious R & R mode enjoying that aspect of the island over all others.

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Respectfully,

pat



"Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat
them."


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mprevo
Traveler


Joined: 01/27/14
Posts: 193
Loc: Michigan
Re: How did you discover St. Martin?? [Re: pat]
      #1602882 - 08/15/14 12:34 PM (64.119.54.50)

Great stories!! It is interesting to find others that have had similar experiences to us. Every time we go back we find something new or something that has changed. This is going to be our first year that we are taking a couple of friends to the island to introduce them to St Martin. I am anxious to find out what they think and what affect the island will have on them.

--------------------
***********************************************

We will back when the island is ready for us!!

This is going to be a long wait, but the reward at the end will be worth it.


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pat
Traveler


Joined: 04/18/01
Posts: 11303
Loc: Brookfield, CT.
Re: How did you discover St. Martin?? [Re: mprevo]
      #1602886 - 08/15/14 01:03 PM (32.216.76.103)

I'm having some computer issues again this morning - who? Me? - but I just sent you a private message. If you don't have a flashing envelope on your screen, please let me know so I can resend it.

TIA,

--------------------
Respectfully,

pat



"Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat
them."


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