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Initial impressions March 6-March 8th #277429
03/08/2022 01:54 PM
03/08/2022 01:54 PM
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Dmitry Offline OP
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First couple of days in St Marteen observations.


Here are initial observations. We arived on Sunday and got a car from Avis. Experience was very positive. We got Chinese made SUV, with few dings all around, but overall car is fine. Getting out of airport overall including immigration, luggage, shuttle to Avis, and getting the car took us about 30 min total. So far very positive experience.

Driving to our hotel - Orient Beach Hotel took about 20 min . Hotel itself is really nice- brand new and all rooms facing the ocean. It's more like 3 star motel, without common area or any other extras, but it's very clean with excellent service. They have small pool, but we do not intend to use it. We came here for the beach.

Location is upscale with other similar hotels around and many condos. 

The biggest disappointment is the ocean and the beach. For three days that we are here it's unusable. High winds, and I mean really high with gust. Ocean is really rough and unswimmable. Due to wind walking on the beach is impossible and almost all chairs are empty. It's a biggest let down so far. Not sure if it will be different in upcoming days, but for us is not something that we enjoy. Really surprised why this is considered the most famous beach in St Maarten, but it is not even close to our favorite Seven Miles Beach in Cayman Islands.

All in all if you stay at Orient beach and want to enjoy the beach, you must rent a car. Otherwise stay somewhere else.

So on our first full day we went to Great Bay beach by the port. We checked that there were no ships in port on the day and in fact, beach was practically empty. Finding parking was another story... Took us extra 20 min, and we weren't even sure if we allowed to park where we did, but thankfully we were fine. Beach was good, much calmer and to rent two chairs and umbrella cost us $15. We had lunch in cafe near the beach and it was really good. Next day we went to Mullet beach. It was difficult to find it but at least they have parking. Chairs and umbrella was $20 and the beach was packed. Ocean was calm but the water wasn't clear, so could not do much snorkeling. 

Restaurants - this where St Marteen excels! If you are a foody person, this is the place to go. Everywhere we went, breakfast, lunch or dinner was excellent! Presentation and taste was really good! Prices are very reasonable, especially compared to restaurants in NY area. 3 course meal plus drinks is approximately $70 - $80 which significantly cheaper compare to $$$$ restaurants in NY.

To be continue...


Last edited by Dmitry; 03/08/2022 01:55 PM.
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Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: Dmitry] #277430
03/08/2022 02:08 PM
03/08/2022 02:08 PM
Joined: Mar 2009
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Auburn, WA
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Good thing about St Maarten if the seas are rough on one side chances are they aren't on the Dutch side. Hope you are enjoying your stay. Give Anse Marcel a try since you have a car.

Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: Dmitry] #277435
03/08/2022 02:43 PM
03/08/2022 02:43 PM
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Dimitry--I take it this is your first trip to SXM. Sorry that you had high winds the first few days. You should probably check out Simpson Bay Beach also. Orient is famous because of the nude beach, but many people prefer other beaches and that's fine. But that's why you need a car on SXM, in order to explore other beaches. Very few people who travel to SXM spend all their time on their 'home' beach. It's just a different way to vacation, than those who choose to hang out by their hotel.

And yes, SXM food will spoil you for anyplace else!!!

Enjoy the rest of your stay.


Carol Hill
Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: Dmitry] #277437
03/08/2022 02:51 PM
03/08/2022 02:51 PM
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Carmel, IN
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Which hotel are you staying in?

Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: Brian&Andi] #277439
03/08/2022 02:54 PM
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Initial post says Orient Beach Hotel.


Carol Hill
Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: Dmitry] #277440
03/08/2022 03:11 PM
03/08/2022 03:11 PM
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Royersford, PA (30m NW of Phil...
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Orient Beach Hotel does look beautiful. When we were on Orient in late Jan. the 1st two days were windier than we'd like, but the rest of the week was near perfect. So, hopefully things will improve for you. Enjoy your stay.


"In a yellow El Camino, listening to Howlin' Wolf" - Lucinda
Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: Dmitry] #277446
03/08/2022 04:15 PM
03/08/2022 04:15 PM
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Ditto what Scubaman said: go to Anse Marcel Beach. Upscale restaurant, water is usually very calm. Also, Friar's Bay usually has calm water and three beach bars. And Little Bay at Divi is generally calm, and Divi has a beach bar.


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Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: jazzgal] #277455
03/08/2022 05:34 PM
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Agreed, Anse Marcel is great! Just make sure that you make reservations ahead of time. Hopefully for a cabana!! It is a wonderful experience.


Carol Hill
Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: Dmitry] #277456
03/08/2022 05:37 PM
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Dmitry Offline OP
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Thanks everyone for suggestions! We are thinking to go to Pinel island tomorrow, and will try Anse beach on Thursday.
The other beaches, not sure if I can endure more traffic here. It just took us more then an hour to get back to our hotel - Orient Beach Hotel from Mullet beach.. I am all for exploring other places, but I don't want to deal with crazy traffic. I have enough of it in NY.
I was reading more about Oriental beach, and it appears that more often than not there is a strong wind and rough ocean. Yes, the idea was to explore different beaches, but I did not envision not to be able to spend any time at the "base" beach and definitely did not expect crazy traffic there.
I will provide more details about my trip as it goes, but at least for now, we have our most enjoyable part of the trip coming up -the dinner! We booked Ocean 82 restaurant based on glowing reviews.

Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: Dmitry] #277457
03/08/2022 05:59 PM
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Dmitry Offline OP
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For the Anse beach, is it easy to get chairs and umbrella there? I know that there is a free parking, but what would be the best part of the bich? By the resort? We might go there tomorrow instead of Pinel island.

Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: Dmitry] #277459
03/08/2022 06:14 PM
03/08/2022 06:14 PM
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Auburn, WA
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Should be easy to get Chairs and unbrella at Anse Marcel. The food and beach area is first class. Not cheap but worth it.

Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: Dmitry] #277460
03/08/2022 06:23 PM
03/08/2022 06:23 PM
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Maryland
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It sounds like your timing is unfortunate. We’ve been to Orient many times and have not experienced what you described. Usually a nice breeze but very rare that it would keep people off the beach. It’s a beautiful beach with plenty of great options for places to eat and drink. We’ve also been to Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman and it’s terrific. Given my choice though, I’ll take Orient.

Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: Dmitry] #277461
03/08/2022 06:49 PM
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Dimitry==If you go to Anse Marcel, you are going for the Anse Marcel Beach Club, which is a TOP NOTCH restaurant, where you can expect to pay a fair amount for a fabulous meal. Do NOT expect to go there unless you are prepared for an expensive meal. You will also have to pay for chairs and umbrella, even if you eat there.


Carol Hill
Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: Carol_Hill] #277462
03/08/2022 07:56 PM
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Dmitry Offline OP
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Thanks, and it is perfectly fine! As long as the experience, quality and taste match the prices, I will not complain. And for the beach, I am looking for clean sandy beach with calm clear waters.. Looking forward to all that tomorrow!

Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: Dmitry] #277463
03/08/2022 07:57 PM
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Dmitry Offline OP
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Btw, dinner in Ocean 82 was fantastic! Highly recommended (as any other restaurant that we visited so far)!

Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: Dmitry] #277464
03/08/2022 07:59 PM
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I doubt you will be disappointed with Anse Marcel Beach Club.

And yes, Ocean 82 is fantastic..


Carol Hill
Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: Dmitry] #277467
03/08/2022 09:28 PM
03/08/2022 09:28 PM
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The beach should meet all your priorities.

Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: Dmitry] #277471
03/08/2022 10:15 PM
03/08/2022 10:15 PM
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We are on the island now and it was super windy this time around! We checked all beaches- Bai rouge, Mullet, Orient, Cupecoy, Simpson bay etc etc etc. One of our party members doesn’t swim and needed a calm waters. The only place we were able to find for him is the Roxy beach bar restaurant on Simpson bay.


"Often Wrong, Never in Doubt"
Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: KGB] #277472
03/08/2022 10:22 PM
03/08/2022 10:22 PM
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And that would be the last place I would go for a swim. No better than the polluted Lagoon.

Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: Dmitry] #277474
03/09/2022 05:36 AM
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During the last 5 weeks, winds have been unusually strong on the island, and the amount of rain has been higher than average. I've never seen a 5-week period with as few calm, pleasant beach days as this period. Just plain windy.

Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: Dmitry] #277522
03/09/2022 04:29 PM
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Dmitry Offline OP
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Just came back from Anse Marcel beach. Overall, we liked it. The biggest problem was seaweed. Thankfully it was mainly on Secrets resort side, which was almost unbearable - smell and to walk. On the Anse Marcel side it wasn't that bad, but it wasn't perfect either. Anyway, we decided to stay and got two chairs and umbrella for $37. Beach wasn't crowded so it was a plus. Water was murky so it was a minus, we couldn't snorkeling. Restaurant was a big hit! Lunch was excellent so as the service!
We made a reservation for tomorrow to go there again - and apparently you need reservation to get front row chairs, today we were on the second row, but it was perfectly fine - chairs were spaced out as it wasn't crowded.

I'm not sure if there are better alternatives close by ( took us 12 minutes drive from our hotel and no traffic). Pinel island? Not sure if we will go. We would still like clearer and calmer ocean, but at this point I don't think it exists on St. Marteen:-)
Overall, beach and especially restaurant fit our needs 80 % so we might go there for our last 3 days on the island.

Attached Files 20220309_125029.jpg
Last edited by Dmitry; 03/09/2022 04:35 PM.
Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: Dmitry] #277523
03/09/2022 04:34 PM
03/09/2022 04:34 PM
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Great timing! We are on island this week and did the same! We didn't order food, but it looked good. Drinks were $9-14 - Beer $4. We arrived about 10:30 and were lucky to get chairs in the second row. Good boat watching - some huge cigarette boat (60'?) came in for lunch.

Dave

Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: dm25vac] #277524
03/09/2022 04:36 PM
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Dmitry Offline OP
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Yes! Just posted a picture of it!

Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: Dmitry] #277532
03/09/2022 05:14 PM
03/09/2022 05:14 PM
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Dimitri--I think you just have bad timing, as everyone says that it is much more windy than normal right now. Friar's Bay Beach Club almost always has very calm water. You might try there. They DO NOT accept credit cards, but their food is great, classic French. Pinel is also very calm, most of the time. That would be my personal recommendation. Le Gallion beach is also very calm, with very shallow water, but absolutely NO services, so if you go, need to take whatever food and/or water that you want. Not even any chairs to rent there. ABBC is very nice, but my personal opinion (which is worth absolutely nothing, I know!! laugh ) is that you should try a couple of other beaches. I would also suggest either Karakter or Mary's Boon, on Simpson Bay Beach.

Enjoy the rest of your trip, regardless of what you decide.


Carol Hill
Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: Dmitry] #277540
03/09/2022 05:35 PM
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I would give Pinel a try. We've always have had very calm and clear seas there. Even where wind was a problem on Orient and elsewhere. Don't get discouraged with the seaweed that is usually around the ferry dock on mainland. There usually won't be any on Pinel.

Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: Carol_Hill] #277541
03/09/2022 05:41 PM
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Dmitry Offline OP
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Thanks Carol! After being stuck in traffic for more then an hour coming back from Mullet beach, I am not sure if I can endure more than 15-20 min rides anymore. It reminds me what I have to deal at home on the daily basis :-) I think with exception of Pinel all other beaches are relatively far and we do prefer having facilities and chairs with umbrella to be available. We are thinking coming back to Anse Marcel tomorrow (we already made reservations for front row chairs and lunch). As for our last full day -Friday we will either try Pinel or by some miracle will be able to stay at Oriental beach. We will see :-)

Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: SXMScubaman] #277543
03/09/2022 05:42 PM
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Dmitry Offline OP
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Thank you Scubaman! Pinel looks like the only option close by we have that we didn't try.

Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: Dmitry] #277547
03/09/2022 05:49 PM
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You'll like Pinel. They take CC but also cash 1 to 1. We usually call on whatsapp to reserve front row seats at Yellow Beach.

Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: Dmitry] #277659
03/11/2022 11:00 AM
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Dmitry Offline OP
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We came to Anse Marcel for the second day in the row, but it was a mistake.first of all it was very windy and they did not allow to use umbrellas. Still a lot is seaweed and the ocean is rough. Lunch was still excellent! Octopus salad was to die for!
Today, our last day in St Marteen, we decided to go to Pinel island and so far it's really good. Nice calm ocean, but I can see it could become very crowded. Right now most of the chairs are empty.
One quick observation, is that people are smoking everywhere. We are not used to it in US, but here it seems like a norm, especially for European tourists.
Hopefully our flight won't get cancelled tomorrow as it seems like a snow storm is approaching North East. United already sent us an email on this...

Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: Dmitry] #277677
03/11/2022 06:06 PM
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Smoking is FAR more prevalent on the French side. It's still a European thing apparently. I think that smokers from the US see it and feel more comfortable lighting up in circumstances they would not back home. I'm on vacation and try not to let it bother me.

Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: Dmitry] #277701
03/12/2022 10:10 AM
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Yes, Europeans tend to smoke much more than North Americans, although the numbers continue to decrease after years of restrictions, particularly on smoking indoors in public places. France in particular is in the top twenty countries in the world, although we notice it less now in major cities, like Paris. In France, over 35% of the population are still smokers, whereas in the USA it's only 25% and in Canada it's now less than 18%.

https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/smoking-rates-by-country

So yes, we notice it sometimes when we are on the island. The thoughtlessness (IMO) of not asking before lighting up does somewhat annoy us, particularly if they are upwind of you. Our reaction is usually to just go somewhere else or move further down the beach.

Last edited by CanuckTravlr; 03/12/2022 10:12 AM.
Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: CanuckTravlr] #277702
03/12/2022 10:37 AM
03/12/2022 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by CanuckTravlr
Yes, Europeans tend to smoke much more than North Americans, although the numbers continue to decrease after years of restrictions, particularly on smoking indoors in public places. France in particular is in the top twenty countries in the world, although we notice it less now in major cities, like Paris. In France, over 35% of the population are still smokers, whereas in the USA it's only 25% and in Canada it's now less than 18%.

https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/smoking-rates-by-country


I believe it. We were in France for 2.5 weeks (for the first time in many many years) last Fall and yes the smoking was one of those "oh I remember this" instances. Our attitude was we are in a foreign country, it's their country, and we will adapt. If it got to be too much, we moved. The smoking on St. Martin while noticeable was nothing like that amount, especially in the outdoor eating/drinking areas and I am pretty sensitive to it now. But it was noticeable on occasion.

I second Friar's Bay for calm waters. It was lagoon like calm when we were there and seems to be a very protected little cove. The road getting there is not far above a cow path but it is worth braving the car swallowing pot holes. Really lovely spot. Next trip we plan to spend more time there.

Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: Brian&Andi] #277727
03/13/2022 08:07 AM
03/13/2022 08:07 AM
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It's the old Cap Caribs!! It's a cute hotel, behind where Waikiki beach! We stayed there a couple of times. Good location.


Sand Gravity, got to love it!
Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: Dmitry] #277749
03/13/2022 09:33 PM
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Dmitry Offline OP
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Just got home from our 6 days trip. Overall - we really liked it. If weather at Oriental beach would cooperate, it would be a really dream vacation. Unfortunately high winds and very rough ocean made it completely unusable place. But we did have a car and went to 4 different beaches - Great Bay, Mullet beach, Anse Marcel Beach and Pinel Island. Not sure which is the best, I think the best beach was at Great Bay, beach food - definitely at Anse Marcel Beach, resort, view - Anse Marcel Beach. If Pinel island would be bigger, than it could of been a contender, but with the amount of people there, plus very chaotic ferry arrangement (especially coming back when everyone wanted to leave at the same time) made it not a place that I wanted to go back. I am sure there are other beaches that should make the list that we didn't vist, but after driving back to our hotel for more than an hour from Mullet beach, we did not want to explore any beaches further than 20 min ride.
I still think Oriental beach could be a winner if weather would be better. We really loved our hotel - Orient Beach resort and really like the area around it - very upscale. Nice square where they have few really good restaurants was few minutes walk away.
Maybe when we come back during different time of the year, the weather will be better.

Last edited by Dmitry; 03/13/2022 09:37 PM.
Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: Dmitry] #277765
03/14/2022 09:11 AM
03/14/2022 09:11 AM
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Dimitry--thanks for your impressions. The weather the past month has been really unusual, but of course that doesn't really help you. Hope you might come back, at some point.


Carol Hill
Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: Dmitry] #277787
03/14/2022 12:32 PM
03/14/2022 12:32 PM
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Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
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Dmitry, you should’ve really explored the “other” part of the island. I understand the driving issue, I hate it too, but the Mullet and Cupecoy were not bad at all! We do always stay on the Dutch side of the island mainly because our favourite beaches are there- mullet, Cupecoy, bai rouge and sometimes even Simpson bay where Karakter is.
Hopefully you will return to the sxm and will do a bit more exploration.


"Often Wrong, Never in Doubt"
Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: KGB] #277788
03/14/2022 12:37 PM
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KGB--Yes, perhaps if he comes back, he should stay somewhere on the Dutch side. Unless there was something unusual, I don't see why it should take an hour to drive to Mullet from Orient, but whatever. There are lots of different places to stay on SXM, on fabulous beaches.


Carol Hill
Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: KGB] #277794
03/14/2022 01:03 PM
03/14/2022 01:03 PM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 16,202
Auburn, WA
SXMScubaman Online content
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SXMScubaman  Online Content
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Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 16,202
Auburn, WA
"Bai Rouge" is on the French side not Dutch.

Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: Dmitry] #277796
03/14/2022 01:35 PM
03/14/2022 01:35 PM
Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 1,190
CT
pony600 Offline
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pony600  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 1,190
CT
I know it's after the fact of your trip, but Grand Case Beach Club is a wonderful hotel, with 2 nice beaches and a great restaurant. The rest of the fabulous Grand Case restaurants are just a short walk to town. It's also close to Orient, Pinel & Anse Marcel.


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If life hands you a lemon, just squeeze it on a lobster!
Re: Initial impressions March 6-March 8th [Re: Dmitry] #277817
03/14/2022 08:46 PM
03/14/2022 08:46 PM
Joined: Jan 2022
Posts: 26
D
Dmitry Offline OP
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Dmitry  Offline OP
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Joined: Jan 2022
Posts: 26
Thanks everyone! Yes, we definitely will be back to St Martin. Hopefully the weather will be better this time. For some reason French side appeal to us better, but definitely we do not want to limit ourselves and will try to explore Dutch side as well.
We did look into Grand Case Beach Club initially, but based on the research we did and feedback we got from people who stayed there, we decided to go with Orient Beach hotel and we did not regret our choice! Hotel was very nice, modern, clean with excellent service and very good location. It wasn't their fault that the weather did not cooperate. As for Grand Case Beach club - we decided against it due to location - very narrow beach and not as nice neighborhood. The the water is calmer, but aside of that I think Orient Beach hotel has all the advantages. Even by looking at the pictures of the room - Orient Beach hotel looks much better. And lets admit, Grand Case is not as nice as Orient Beach - even it has many good restaurants on the street that you can be easily run over by passing cars and bikes (sidewalks? what sidewalks?) and streets leading to it you would probably think twice to park your car. Again, this was our impression, as it most likely very safe, but this is how we felt.
.

I don't know now where we will end up next time when we visit St Martin, but we definitely be back! As of now it is one of our top three Caribbean destinations that we visited so far - (Cayman Islands, Aruba and St Martin), and we visited many Caribbean islands with most notable exceptions of Cuba (closed to Americans), Trinidad (not really a beach destination) and Grenada (which we plan to visit next), not counting Haiti and other few smaller destinations.

Again, thanks everyone for suggestions and feedback!

Dmitry

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