I thought it might be fitting to do my first ever TTOL trip report, having read other’s reports here for close to 20 years. This was my 25th trip since 1996, always staying in the Dawn Beach area, the last 20 years at Oyster Bay Beach Resort (OBBR). I say this might be boring to some since I am not a foodie, I seldom go to other beaches, don’t take a lot of pictures, don’t go to casinos and seldom go out for dinner due to my dislike of nighttime driving. But I did spend 6 weeks escaping the cold and snow in Upstate NY and enjoyed every minute of it.
We purchased our original flight tickets on American from Syracuse to SXM with a planned overnight in Charlotte (chance for a dinner with a son and his wife) in July. Just after Thanksgiving, when I could not find a local testing site that had any of the approved COVID tests, we decided to go to Florida a week early, stay with my sister-in-law and get tested there. I cancelled the first set of tickets and booked cheap, direct, mostly empty flights from Syracuse to Fort Myers on Frontier.
We were tested on Monday, January 4th at Any Lab Test Now in Fort Myers for $119 each. We had our results Tuesday night, submitted them Wednesday morning and were approved in no time. We then drove our rental car to Miami on Thursday, checked in to the Airport Courtyard Marriott and returned the car to Budget.
Friday morning check-in at MIA was simple, though they did review the test results and pre-approval authorization in detail. The flight was about 25% full and landed on time. The St. Maarten authorities reviewed the test paperwork again and gave us the ‘green stamp”. We picked up our luggage and went outside to meet the AAA car rental shuttle. Had our car in no time and made the trip to OBBR to check in. We were the only ones checking in, took our luggage to the room and headed down to the resort bar for happy hour.
OBBR has just about fully recovered from the recent hurricanes. The only work remaining is to transform the beachside Beau Beau’s restaurant into a combination grocery store and updated indoor/outdoor restaurant and bar. The first few weeks, the resort seemed to be only at 20-25% capacity but this week it seemed closer to 50%. Since we come at the same time every year, we have many friends that do the same and though many are here, just as many opted out this year. There are no welcome or farewell parties but there are a limited number of other resort activities taking place.
We are early risers, usually up by 5:00. After reading my hometown papers on-line and going to Bread and Butter (next to L’Oasis) for the Daily Herald and a baguette, I usually either walk Dawn Beach or drive to town and walk the boardwalk. There is plenty of room to social distance at each of them. The rest of the day is spent relaxing, doing various errands, roaming the resort, etc. while my wife sits by the pool or on the beach. For the first 4-5 weeks the seaweed on Dawn Beach was minimal but the volume of it increased considerably the last week. We usually hit Happy Hour at the resort bar at 4:00 and back are in the room by 7:00-7:30.
Breakfast for me is usually a just a bagel in the room. We did go to the Yacht Club two Sunday mornings and to Reveil Matin in Simpson Bay once. All were excellent.
Lunch was really our meal of the day, usually between 1:00 and 2:00 (same as our routine at home). Some days we grilled on the resort’s gas grills or cooked something in the room. We had takeouts from Mark’s (ribs, twice), from Fat Boy Jimmy’s BBQ (on the Pondfill) and from the food truck at the corner of Oyster Pond Road and Bishop Hill Road. Other lunches were at Lay Back Beach Bar on the Boardwalk, Chesterfield’s (twice), Gutside (Friars Bay), Pineapple Pete’s, Divi, Sunset Beach Bar and the Infinity bar at our resort.
The only time we went out for dinner was for pizza at L’Oasis once, though we did have dinner twice at the Infinity Restaurant at OBBR. Other nights it might be just leftovers or crackers and cheese. As I said, we are not foodies.
We did make some daytime ‘social’ stops at Lay Back Beach Bar, Greenhouse (Philipsburg), Yacht Club, Dingy Dock, Coco Beach Bar (Simpson Bay Resort) and Juggie’s. While at Juggie’s we picked up some Magic Spice to bring home.
I thought the weather was pretty typical for January/February, usually plenty of sun with a nice breeze off the Atlantic, some clouds with a few embedded showers. There might have been two half days where we had mostly clouds and rain.
It seemed as though mask wearing was a mixed bag. There was probably 98% compliance among the employees at the resort, especially when indoors. The guests were a little less compliant, but overall, not too bad. Stores and restaurants were mostly good, but when you drove through the neighborhoods you saw the least amount of mask wearing.
As many have said, the island is sadly very quiet. It reminded me of January 1996, right after hurricane Luis. The residents we interacted with were all extremely glad to see us.
OBBR does COVID testing on Wednesdays though you can pay an extra $100 and they will come anytime. I chose to get tested at Health Care Laboratory St. Maarten located in the Orange Grove plaza. I had the RT-PCR test Monday morning ($70) and picked up the results early Tuesday morning. I decided to try the Verifly app that American offers and uploaded my test result, completed the attestation and received the green check mark to show the gate agent at the airport.
My return flight was at 1:42 Thursday and I arrived at the airport at 11:00. I was completely through check-in and at the gate in less than 20 minutes. That day, the flight from SXM to CLT originated in MIA. I counted about 25 people getting off and about the same number got on to go to CLT. We left the gate about 15 minutes early and arrived in CLT at 4:30, 20 minutes early. I was through customs and immigration and was at my next departure gate by 5:00. It was probably the easiest re-entry experience I have ever had.
The flight to Syracuse was on time. This flight, when I first booked, was an A319 but about 60 days before the flight, AA switched schedules, apparently due to the low number of sold seats, and they were now using a much smaller CRJ-700. Well, there was not an empty seat to be had. I was worried that there would be a big traffic jam trying to get off the plane, but the stewardess asked everyone to remain seated until the row in front of them had departed and it actually worked out well. We were almost 45 minutes early into 23 degree Syracuse.
New York requires you to complete a 2-page contact tracing form for entry. They did give some out in CLT but you can also do it online up to a day prior, which is what I did. The National Guard met the plane at the gate and gave out forms that had to be completed before leaving.
So now I am back in the cold and snow quarantining for a few days while my wife is still in SXM with her sister for 4 more weeks. Think there is something wrong with this picture?
As I said, I don’t take many pictures but I did attach a few of the resort and one of a beautiful sunrise.
Six weeks?! You are my absolute hero. Sounds like a perfect trip in every way but in all honesty, I think my DH would divorce me if I were ever to book that much island time. For him a week is good and two weeks gets to be a bit much. Sixteen days this coming April - hope he’s still talking to me when the trip is over?
Anyhoo, your trip sounds perfect. We dine out about half plus of our evenings but we’re also content to eat in, often enjoying take out and reheats from some of the islands best. And for the most part, we’re content to enjoy our own beach and pool, often curled up in a chaise lounge with a good book and not even making it into the water.
Would love to read future episodes as you did a great job on your first trip report. Thank you for sharing it.
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