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Trip Report, Week 1, Feb. 23-28 #42566
02/28/2015 12:19 PM
02/28/2015 12:19 PM
Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 223
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StMartinFan Offline OP
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StMartinFan  Offline OP
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I've really enjoyed others' trip reports but it's taken me until our 16th trip to finally get around to writing one myself!  The 3 of us...me, husband and 20-something daughter...are spending the first week of this trip doing something new--staying in an apartment in Grand Case.  We own a tmeshare at Divi, so our prior trips have always been based there.

We're renting a 2 bedroom apartment on the second floor of a building located near the center of town.  It's very comfortable and well equipped, and has an amazing view of the beach from the back deck.  The balcony in the front gave us a prime spot for people watching and the Tuesday parade.  Despite the location, it's quiet for sleeping.  We are on the flight track for landings at the Grand Case airport.  There are only a dozen or so flights during the course of the day, but when a few of the larger planes go over just above our heads, it does feel a bit like being at Maho!

We've been in Grand Case a few times for dinner and the Tuesday night celebration before, but staying here for 5 nights has given us a real appreciation of how nice the beach is.  The contrast between the sometimes busy street in the front and the serene and beautiful beach in the back is unique.  Our days have been very low key, with a walk down the beach for lunch or trip to Orient for the day.

There's a nice bakery about 2 blocks away, so breakfast most days has been fresh pastries or baguettes with our meat and cheese.  We stocked up on a few items at Simply on arrival, but have replenished milk and some items at the convenience store just down the block.

The best feature of staying here has been the chance to walk to an amazing choice of restaurants right outside our door, and then stroll home with no worry about driving.

Breakfast:  El Cafecito.  Across from Love Hotel and open only til noon with a breakfast buffet and fresh cooked eggs and crepes.  A heavy downpour forced us off our nice outdoor table into a crowded counter but the food was good.

Lunches:  Calmos Cafe, Enolds, Kakao and Rib Shack lolo

Nice lunches in relaxing settings.  Enjoyed trying the cristophine and crab back at Enolds for the first time.

Dinners:  Talk of the Town Lolo, Bistroit Caraibes, Ocean 82, La Villa and Le Cottage.

Got in late the first day, so went to the lolo, thinking it would be a way to have a quick dinner.  Very slow service and mediocre food, so that ended up being a poor choice.

All the others were wonderful dinners with good service, but ranking #1 for our meals was Bistroit Caraibes.  Le Cottage got our #1 for service, with all the staff being friendly, gracious and attentive.  My scallops and my husband's sea bass were both top notch at Bistroit Carraibes, although the shrimp and scallop dinner at Le Cottage was excellent too.  Of course, I know that the rankings reflect our personal entree choices and preferences, but these restaurants seemed to really deliver on taste and quality of preparation.

My daughter is a fanatic for molten chocolate desserts, so she tried that at all 4 restaurants!  Ranking 1st in her opinion was Le Cottage, which was intensely dark chocolate with a thin slightly crunchy outside and very molten center.  Or course the Nutella ice cream accompaniment helped her ranking.

We had excellent service at LeCottage, but the really nice touch was the personal thank you we got as we were leaving from our waiter, the service assistant and both owners.  It was a gracious touch that we didn't experience anywhere else.  For atmosphere, I'd have to give Ocean 82 the nod; we ate at Bistroit Caraibes on Tuesday night so enjoyed the people watching of the crowd and no car traffic.  (We had to chuckle at the fact that it was kids and old men who felt compelled to play with the lobsters in their open tank by the street.)  At LaVilla we were seated right by the door, despite having a reservation, and didn't enjoy the car exhaust smell so close to the street.  

We were disappointed we didn't have another night to visit Piazza Pascal.  It's been a favorite prior years, but we wanted to try some new places and were looking for more French style meals.

Misc.
We enjoyed time on our back deck reading and just watching the activity in the beach and harbor.  It included the comings and going of guests and supplies for a huge yacht, Chopi Chopi, school classes playing in the water, a swimming iguana, the pretty lights of Anguilla, a changing variety of small sailboats and catamarans,  a gorgeous rainbow, passing tours of jet skis and small rhino rider type vehicles, and lots of beach strollers, some with their dogs.  

Security was very evident, with groups of gendarmes, local police and the private security officers hired by the restaurant group visible often.  We never felt unsafe, but were careful to use the shutters for the doors and windows on our balconies at nights or when we were gone, as instructed by the owner.  We were glad we didn't have to drive much because our garage was blocked several times by parkers who seemed oblivious to the no parking signs!

Tuesday night drew a big crowd, and it's fun too see the variety of people who turn out.

We lost power for several hours during the afternoon on Tuesday and for a shorter period of time during the dinner hour on Thursday.  (It was sort of romantic with the candles and lanterns at LaVilla, but the diners did applaud when the regular lights came back!). I'm not sure how wide spread the outage was, although I thought I heard a comment that it affected the Dutch side too.

At two dinners we had the unfortunate experience of sitting next to groups of American diners that each included a guy who felt compelled to talk and laugh extremely loud and make sometimes make inappropriate or obnoxious comments at top volume.  Even some of their own parties left their dinners early or suggested the guy be quieter.  It's fun being next to groups that are laughing and having a good time but this was the type that earns the "ugly American" tag. We've not experienced this much before in SXM, so were surprised to have it happen two different nights.

Week 2
We're headed to Divi for 7 nights and already have started the list of favorite Dutch side restaurants we want to visit.  Hopefully, I won't need to upgrade to first class to be able to fit into the plane seat for the trip home.

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Re: Trip Report, Week 1, Feb. 23-28 [Re: StMartinFan] #42567
02/28/2015 12:37 PM
02/28/2015 12:37 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 76,302
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
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Carol_Hill  Offline
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Posts: 76,302
Central Florida!
Thanks so much for the report! Have had the scallops many times at Bistrot Cariabes and they were always wonderful!! <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/Clapping.gif" alt="" /> What did you have to eat at Ocean 82 and LaVilla?

I think I know the place where you stayed--immediately across from LeCottage? What was the name of it?


Carol Hill
Re: Trip Report, Week 1, Feb. 23-28 [Re: StMartinFan] #42568
02/28/2015 12:58 PM
02/28/2015 12:58 PM
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 1,952
Royersford, PA (30m NW of Phil...
Biturbo Offline
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Biturbo  Offline
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Royersford, PA (30m NW of Phil...
I've enjoyed your 1st TR. Fortunately, we had the same nice experience at La Villa; unfortunately, we've sat near the same type of loud, obnoxious diners several times. Staying in GC, we'd also run out of time to visit all of the places we'd like to. Looking forward to another update - thanks.


"In a yellow El Camino, listening to Howlin' Wolf" - Lucinda
Re: Trip Report, Week 1, Feb. 23-28 [Re: StMartinFan] #42569
02/28/2015 01:30 PM
02/28/2015 01:30 PM
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 13,507
Brookfield, CT.
pat Offline
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pat  Offline
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Brookfield, CT.
In all our years and many trips we had never stayed on the French side of the island until last April when we spent a few nights in Grand Case. The only thing I regret is that we didn't stay longer. Grand Case Beach Club was great and gave us all the benefits of an AI resort vacation without any of the negatives.

We loved our time there and I'm sure we'll do it again some day so I can appreciate many of your perspectives as being those of a long-timer first-timer just as we were. Thank you for sharing and allowing us to enjoy your time there.<img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/handshake.gif" alt="" /> <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/handshake.gif" alt="" />


Respectfully,

pat



"Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat
them."
Re: Trip Report, Week 1, Feb. 23-28 [Re: StMartinFan] #42570
02/28/2015 01:40 PM
02/28/2015 01:40 PM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 12,946
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
islandgem Offline
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islandgem  Offline
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Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
The first week sounds great! Looking forward to the second week. Enjoy every moment!




Re: Trip Report, Week 1, Feb. 23-28 [Re: islandgem] #42571
02/28/2015 02:31 PM
02/28/2015 02:31 PM
Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 2,659
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LBI2SXM Offline
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Thanks for taking the time to write a trip report while still on vacation! I agree that there is nothing worse to ruin a nice quiet dinner than a loud obnoxious diner. They ruin my appetite but we somehow always run into them, yes the ugly American who cannot keep his mouth shut! <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/thumbsdown.gif" alt="" />

Re: Trip Report, Week 1, Feb. 23-28 [Re: islandgem] #42572
02/28/2015 02:37 PM
02/28/2015 02:37 PM
Joined: Feb 2006
Posts: 1,054
PA
biglar Offline
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biglar  Offline
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Posts: 1,054
PA
What was the name of the apartment and from whom did you rent it? Sounds like something my wife and I would enjoy. We always stay above Orient, but this year are trying the Caribbean Princess on the beach. She told me she would like to stay in Grand Case sometime and this sounds like the perfect place. Enjoyed hearing of your first week and I'll look for a report on the next one.

Re: Trip Report, Week 1, Feb. 23-28 [Re: biglar] #42573
02/28/2015 03:02 PM
02/28/2015 03:02 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 76,302
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
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Carol_Hill  Offline
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Posts: 76,302
Central Florida!
Possibly it is here. We have toured Residence Catalina and had seriously considered staying there and ended up somewhere else, just because it is a 2 BR and the people we thought were coming to share the cost decided not to come.


Carol Hill
Re: Trip Report, Week 1, Feb. 23-28 [Re: StMartinFan] #42574
02/28/2015 04:03 PM
02/28/2015 04:03 PM
Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 4,080
Portland, OR
jazzgal Offline
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jazzgal  Offline
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Posts: 4,080
Portland, OR
Thanks for the trip report! Interesting that you stayed away from Divi for a few days; I'd like to do that sometime as well. Looking forward to your report about Divi as it's 97 days before I am back on island.


[Linked Image]
Re: Trip Report, Week 1, Feb. 23-28 [Re: jazzgal] #42575
02/28/2015 04:58 PM
02/28/2015 04:58 PM
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 3,777
Rhode Island
RonDon Offline
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RonDon  Offline
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Posts: 3,777
Rhode Island
Great report. You've given us some thought to renting as you did in Grand Case.

We too own at Divi and in the past (before JetBlue direct flights) we would leave mid-week stay 3 days at Grand Case Beach Club before heading to Divi where we are in a duplex facing Great bay. Hubby used to say he wished we could put that unit on Grand Case and not have to rent a car since we seem to eat there most of the time.
These days we alternate years between a week at GCBC & two at Divi.

Where did you stay?

Re: Trip Report, Week 1, Feb. 23-28 [Re: StMartinFan] #42576
02/28/2015 05:36 PM
02/28/2015 05:36 PM
Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 7,072
Yonkers, NY
fabila Online content
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fabila  Online Content
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Posts: 7,072
Yonkers, NY
Great report, am glad you decided to post it.

On our only February trip to SXM we too stayed in Grand Case at Dove's Nest and ate most of our dinners there. It was great to be in the immediate area and not have to drive far at night.

Re: Trip Report, Week 1, Feb. 23-28 [Re: jazzgal] #42577
02/28/2015 09:19 PM
02/28/2015 09:19 PM
Joined: May 2002
Posts: 2,547
Spain and SXM
Sungoddess Offline
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Sungoddess  Offline
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Posts: 2,547
Spain and SXM
Divi is my favorite spot on the island. My friend was just there for 5 weeks and I'd go over every chance I could. I wish I could visit YOU at Divi, but I'll be back in Spain by then!

Re: Trip Report, Week 1, Feb. 23-28 [Re: StMartinFan] #42578
02/28/2015 09:25 PM
02/28/2015 09:25 PM
Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 7,125
St Louis, MO
SXMNorm Offline
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SXMNorm  Offline
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Posts: 7,125
St Louis, MO
Thanks for an interesting report. Is there a name for your residents?


Next SXM visit - January/February 2022
Re: Trip Report, Week 1, Feb. 23-28 [Re: Carol_Hill] #42579
02/28/2015 10:05 PM
02/28/2015 10:05 PM
Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 223
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StMartinFan Offline OP
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StMartinFan  Offline OP
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Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 223
Carol's link is to the correct apartment, Catalina, located directly across the street from LaVilla.  We rented that unit from Jean Pierre, who lives in France.  I believe we paid him via PayPal.  He has a local manager, Phillipe, who met us with the keys and provided a helpful explanation of how everything in the apartment works. I believe the other unit on the second floor is also a rental from a different owner.

I hadn't listed the details of all our meals, because my report was already so long!  But since I got asked <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/jester.gif" alt="" />

Ocean 82--Rack of lamb with a nice herb crust.  MahiMahi with mango chutney (not as appealing as I'd hoped) and buerre blanc sauce.  Grilled red snapper fillets served in a broth with vegetables.  That one seemed a bit odd to me, but my daughter who loves red snapper liked it a lot.  Profiteroles for dessert.

LaVilla--Excellent scallop and avocado appetizer.  Sea Bass fillet with basil cream sauce served with zucchini risotto (wish the zucchini had been left out).  John Dorry (a North Atlantic fish we hadn't tasted before) as the nightly special.  The homemade ice cream and sorbet sampler for dessert...yum

We like eating seafood in SXM because we often don't get the same quality and choices at home.  All our dinners were good..some just seemed to have flavors that worked best for us and were cooked to exactly the right texture for the fish.

Re: Trip Report, Week 1, Feb. 23-28 [Re: StMartinFan] #42580
02/28/2015 10:12 PM
02/28/2015 10:12 PM
Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 1,549
originally Long Island, NY/now...
irish1223 Offline
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irish1223  Offline
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originally Long Island, NY/now...
Nice report, TFS! The apartment looks very nice, great view! And no trip report is ever too long. <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/Wink.gif" alt="" />


Robin & Ed

Looking forward to getting back next year!

Re: Trip Report, Week 1, Feb. 23-28 [Re: StMartinFan] #42581
03/01/2015 10:17 AM
03/01/2015 10:17 AM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 76,302
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
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Carol_Hill  Offline
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Posts: 76,302
Central Florida!
Actually, I'm not sure now which apartment we viewed there, but it was definitely in that building. I thought at the time it would be a fantastic location.

Thanks for the additional info on your meals. No trip report is too long, especially including details about meals! <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/Smile.gif" alt="" />

Enjoy the rest of your trip!


Carol Hill

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