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Trip Report April 12-19 #95066
04/20/2016 05:42 PM
04/20/2016 05:42 PM
Joined: Mar 2001
Posts: 353
North Carolina
jfaircloth Offline OP
Traveler
jfaircloth  Offline OP
Traveler
Joined: Mar 2001
Posts: 353
North Carolina
Trip number 8 for us and it was fantastic as always.

Flights / travel
After our pre-arranged taxi did not show up we ended up driving ourselves to RDU; had to use the daily lot because we simply didn’t have time to use the long-term lot and take the shuttle over. I would like to personally thank RDU Taxi for that unnecessarily stressful start to our vacation. Never. Again.

Fortunately, we managed to get checked in and to the gate on time (thank you, TSA Pre), and our AA flight to CLT was on time. Our connecting flight to SXM was delayed slightly due to equipment and gate changes, but all was well and we landed about 30 minutes late. We flew through immigration (no line whatsoever) and our bag came out very quickly. We emerged from the terminal and spotted Lesley (Kenny’s Car Rental) in about 2 minutes. He brought us our car, put us through the paperwork, and we were on our way quickly. Lesley is the best…we would never rent from anyone else.

We traveled on Tuesdays, and I can’t say enough about how pleasant PJIA is on a weekday. No lines anywhere. And the immigration line in Charlotte when we returned was miniscule. Definitely travel midweek if you can; it eliminates a bunch of headaches.

AA was stunningly good on this trip. The only delay (CLT to SXM) was insignificant, and they did a great job communicating about it.

Hotel
While this was our 8th trip to the island, and we have always stayed in Grand Case, this was our first stay at Le Petit Hotel. I’ve read many fantastic reviews and they live up to the hype. It’s an immaculate property in a quiet location. The rooms are cozy and modern, the included breakfast is fantastic, and the hosts (Remy, Yamina and Myriam) are the sweetest people you would ever want to meet. They take great care of you and make you feel right at home. We took advantage of our access to the pool and swim-up bar at their sister property (L’Esplanade), and decided that even though L’Esplanade is gorgeous, we prefer our little place on the beach. We will be back.

Beaches
As usual, we stuck with Grand Case beach and Orient (Club O end). It’s been three years since our last visit, and we were shocked at the erosion at Club O. Chairs are crowded together especially around the Perch, and no more space for chairs in front of Papagayo. Other than that, the beach itself was pleasant, the weather was cooperative (no sand-blast days), and the water was calm. The stretch of Grand Case beach in front of Le Petit is very nice, and it’s easy to get out and swim / snorkel.

Restaurants
We love to eat out in the Grand Case restaurants, which is why we like to stay in town. Nothing better than being able to walk to dinner (but the hotel provides a shuttle if you don’t feel up to it) and not have to worry about driving or parking.

We ate at La Villa, Tastevin, L’Auberge Gourmande, and Talk of the Town. We had great food at all four places.

But from a service standpoint, L’Auberge was a huge disappointment. We’ve eaten there on every visit and never had an experience as unpleasant. Their wine list was out of date (which the manager blamed on his suppliers); so much so that three of the wines we asked for were not available. They even tried to upsell us to something that cost two times as much as the wines we were asking for (and we were not asking for cheap bottles). We were rushed through our appetizers and entrees, but then when we asked for a dessert menu, it took about 15 minutes to get one. And a similar amount of time for the bill to come. The food was wonderful, so the chef is doing something right, but I’m sorry to say that we can’t recommend this place anymore due to the incredibly poor service. The manager seems focused on churning business through without paying attention to his customers’ experience. <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/duh.gif" alt="" />

On the opposite end of the spectrum, La Villa was hands down our best dining experience. Delicious, creative food in a relaxed, unhurried atmosphere. Great wine list, and fantastic service. The people there want to make you feel at home (and they’re quite generous with the after dinner drinks). We loved it so much we ate there twice. Highly recommend the cucumber soup (it’s almost like cucumber foam…just incredible) and the red snapper. <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/Clapping.gif" alt="" />

Tastevin was also excellent. We hadn’t eaten there in several years and the freshened décor is lovely, plus you can’t beat the view. They also have great service (though a tad hurried). The sea scallops carpaccio was a highlight…thin slices of scallop that almost melt in your mouth.

Shopping
As others have observed, Simply Market in Hope Estate has gone way downhill with loads of bare shelves, though it seems to be the only grocery on the French side (that we could find) with a real charcuterie counter where you can have items sliced to order. Super U (the old Match in Marigot) was really nice and well stocked. Bacchus is definitely more of a food place than a wine store these days, though we did find some nice selections there. We never got around to visiting the new wine store in Hope Estate…we plan to check it out next year.

We spent one morning in Phillipsburg looking at watches. I tried on so many in so many different stores that my head was spinning, but we finally settled on a Longines for me and a Raymond Weil (for my husband) at Goldfinger. They took great care of us and negotiated a good price. They have an outstanding selection there and are happy to give you a deal.

Misc. Observations
We were good citizens and declared our watch purchases on our customs form, but the CBP folks in Charlotte paid the total amount absolutely no mind and, despite the fact that we were well over our household limit, they never directed us to pay duty…just waved us on through. It was a little weird. There were several international planeloads coming through the customs line at the same time; maybe they were looking more for contraband than jewelry.

The weather was great our entire visit except for Monday the 18th, when it was gloomy and rainy all day. We used the time to hang out on our balcony and do some reading, and to take a long walk. No complaints.

Can't wait to head back next year!!


Jennifer in NC
SXM Sponsors
Re: Trip Report April 12-19 [Re: jfaircloth] #95067
04/20/2016 06:51 PM
04/20/2016 06:51 PM
Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 994
Middle Tennessee
T
TravelHat Offline
Traveler
TravelHat  Offline
Traveler
T
Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 994
Middle Tennessee
Sounds like a great time. We stayed at l'Esplande and wished we were at the beach. The pool was nice but we only used once. Grand Case beach is great for those late afternoon swims and Sunsets. We have since moved the whole show to Orient Village. Beach, restaurants, no driving, and we feel safer at night are the reasons.

Re: Trip Report April 12-19 [Re: jfaircloth] #95068
04/20/2016 08:52 PM
04/20/2016 08:52 PM
Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 7,060
St Louis, MO
SXMNorm Online content
Traveler
SXMNorm  Online Content
Traveler
Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 7,060
St Louis, MO
Thanks for the report. Will have to checkout Le Petit.


Next SXM visit - January/February 2021
Re: Trip Report April 12-19 [Re: jfaircloth] #95069
04/20/2016 09:12 PM
04/20/2016 09:12 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 72,601
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
Traveler
Carol_Hill  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 72,601
Central Florida!
Thanks for the report! If I were to stay in Grand Case these days, I would definitely consider LePetit at the top of the list! The only issue I worry about is parking. Did you have any trouble with parking?


Carol Hill
Re: Trip Report April 12-19 [Re: Carol_Hill] #95070
04/21/2016 07:55 AM
04/21/2016 07:55 AM
Joined: Mar 2001
Posts: 353
North Carolina
jfaircloth Offline OP
Traveler
jfaircloth  Offline OP
Traveler
Joined: Mar 2001
Posts: 353
North Carolina
Le Petit has its own little parking lot with space for 8 cars, plus they have a driveway to the side, and the managers' cottage has extra parking. We never had any issues.


Jennifer in NC
Re: Trip Report April 12-19 [Re: jfaircloth] #95071
04/21/2016 08:01 AM
04/21/2016 08:01 AM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 72,601
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
Traveler
Carol_Hill  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 72,601
Central Florida!
I know they have their own parking lot, but it never seemed like it would be big enough to me. Glad to hear you didn't have a problem with parking.


Carol Hill
Re: Trip Report April 12-19 [Re: jfaircloth] #95072
04/21/2016 08:27 AM
04/21/2016 08:27 AM
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 12,856
Brookfield, CT.
pat Offline
Traveler
pat  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 12,856
Brookfield, CT.
Sounds like a very good trip to me. And aside from the schedule and route changes, our AA experiences have been much like yours.

While not Le Petite, we stayed at GCBC for our first French side stay in all our many trips and it is very nice to walk out your door and have all of the GC dining ops but footsteps away.

Thank you for sharing a very nicely done trip write up. <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 April 12-19 [Re: jfaircloth] #95073
04/21/2016 12:11 PM
04/21/2016 12:11 PM
Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,844
Portland, OR
jazzgal Offline
Traveler
jazzgal  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,844
Portland, OR
Thanks for the nice report.


[Linked Image]
Re: Trip Report April 12-19 [Re: jazzgal] #95074
05/09/2016 04:24 PM
05/09/2016 04:24 PM
Joined: Aug 2003
Posts: 172
Arizona
nibs Offline
Traveler
nibs  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Aug 2003
Posts: 172
Arizona
We're going back for the first time in 8 years, so good to read this. It will also be our first time not staying at Le Petit. This time we will be at Grand Case Beach Club. I'm wondering if Super U accepts credit cards? I think I had read that Simply didn't have a good selection? Can you please remind me where each is? Thanks
Sally


nibs
Re: Trip Report April 12-19 [Re: nibs] #95075
05/09/2016 05:14 PM
05/09/2016 05:14 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 72,601
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
Traveler
Carol_Hill  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 72,601
Central Florida!
Super U definitely accepts credit cards. They are unfortunately no longer accepting 1 to 1 on the dollar, but their prices are definitely the best. I haven't seen any reports on Simply in the past couple of weeks, but prior to that, all reports were very bad.

Super U is in Marigot, where Match used to be, if you're a long timer. Simply is in Hope Estate, close to the roundabout that goes to French Cul de Sac.


Carol Hill
Re: Trip Report April 12-19 [Re: Carol_Hill] #95076
05/10/2016 08:12 PM
05/10/2016 08:12 PM
Joined: May 2016
Posts: 23
S
Stevemech Offline
Traveler
Stevemech  Offline
Traveler
S
Joined: May 2016
Posts: 23
When we shopped at Simply on May 4th they were having a 50% off liquidation sale. Shelves were just about cleared out. Appeared they were going out of business.

Re: Trip Report April 12-19 [Re: Stevemech] #95077
05/11/2016 11:56 AM
05/11/2016 11:56 AM
Joined: Mar 2001
Posts: 353
North Carolina
jfaircloth Offline OP
Traveler
jfaircloth  Offline OP
Traveler
Joined: Mar 2001
Posts: 353
North Carolina
I found out that Simply is closing and will re-open as Super U in the fall. I'm glad there will still be a good market that's convenient to Grand Case.


Jennifer in NC
Re: Trip Report April 12-19 [Re: Stevemech] #95078
05/11/2016 12:11 PM
05/11/2016 12:11 PM
Joined: Jul 2013
Posts: 837
Florida
W
wilsonck Offline
Traveler
wilsonck  Offline
Traveler
W
Joined: Jul 2013
Posts: 837
Florida
Quote
Stevemech said:
When we shopped at Simply on May 4th they were having a 50% off liquidation sale. Shelves were just about cleared out. Appeared they were going out of business.


They were only taking 50% off of magazines. We at first thought the sign read 50% off everything, but after purchasing a few things and paying full price, we reread the sign closer and it was just 50% off of media items.

Re: Trip Report April 12-19 [Re: jfaircloth] #95079
05/11/2016 12:51 PM
05/11/2016 12:51 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 72,601
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
Traveler
Carol_Hill  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 72,601
Central Florida!
That had been rumored for a while. If it's true, not sure why it's taking so long to accomplish, but as you say, it will be good to have a large market close to Grand Case again.


Carol Hill
Re: Trip Report April 12-19 [Re: Carol_Hill] #95080
05/11/2016 03:59 PM
05/11/2016 03:59 PM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 12,913
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
islandgem Offline
Traveler
islandgem  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 12,913
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
I heard it was going to be a New Carrefour and not a Super U. Guess we will have to wait and see.





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