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All-inclusive or DIY? #294022
01/15/2023 09:20 PM
01/15/2023 09:20 PM
Joined: Jan 2023
Posts: 6
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CowboyInCO Offline OP
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My wife and I have taken quite a few vacations that were either cruises or all-inclusive. Last year, we had a cruise stop in St Martin and we loved it. I'm thinking of going back to St Martin. But I suspect that St Martin is best discovered through renting a villa , a car, and then DIY rather than doing an all-inclusive like Secrets. I would love to hear peoples thoughts on this, including safety, dining, and exploring. We are in our 50's.

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Re: All-inclusive or DIY? [Re: CowboyInCO] #294024
01/15/2023 09:40 PM
01/15/2023 09:40 PM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 161
Arlen, TX
BillDauterive Offline
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Arlen, TX

In my opinion, all-inclusives are usually found in places where it's dangerous to leave the resort. That's not the case for St Martin. Stay on the main roads, and be home by midnight and you'll be OK.

Also, there are too many dining and beach options for me to want to stay at an AI. I wouldn't stay at an AI on St Martin. Not for me.

Having said that, some people are content to stay close to their resort, and have no desire to venture far. Not for me.

Re: All-inclusive or DIY? [Re: CowboyInCO] #294026
01/15/2023 09:51 PM
01/15/2023 09:51 PM
Joined: Jul 2012
Posts: 288
Edam, Saskatchewan - Canada
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PrairieGirl Offline
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Edam, Saskatchewan - Canada
I doubt that you will find anyone on this board that will recommend staying at an AI on SXM. It is best enjoyed by renting a car and exploring the many varied beaches and dining options!

One of the things that makes SXM so unique is that each of the beaches is different, both in physical appearance and in it’s vibe. Same with the wide variety of restaurants. There is truly something for everyone.

Enjoy!


LeAnn

url=https://www.tickerfactory.com][Linked Image][/url]
Re: All-inclusive or DIY? [Re: CowboyInCO] #294027
01/15/2023 10:03 PM
01/15/2023 10:03 PM
Joined: Mar 2004
Posts: 4,300
Vancouver, WA
Todd Offline
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Vancouver, WA
So many great dining options across the island, so many beaches all over the island, so easy to drive around and try some of these. SXM is not an AI type of island although there are options and if that floats your boat you can do it but I wouldn't on SXM. I personally think the best thing on SXM is getting to know the different restaurant and shop owners, it is the people that makes the island great. Food and beaches are a huge plus.

Have a great trip,
T


I prefer the Isle seat
Re: All-inclusive or DIY? [Re: CowboyInCO] #294029
01/15/2023 10:11 PM
01/15/2023 10:11 PM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 18,694
Auburn, WA
SXMScubaman Online content
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SXMScubaman  Online Content
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Auburn, WA
If you do elect to do an AI I wouldn't do Secrets as every time you'd want to explore or visit a beach or restaurant via a rental car you'll have a not so enjoyable drive leaving and returning to Secrets. Rent a place, rent a car and explore the island.

Re: All-inclusive or DIY? [Re: CowboyInCO] #294030
01/15/2023 10:55 PM
01/15/2023 10:55 PM
Joined: Mar 2020
Posts: 806
Ontario Canada
Whale Tail Offline
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Ontario Canada
The answer is DIY. We arrived the first time on our first cruise and haven't done a second cruise. The first time visiting the island we stayed at the all inclusive Sonesta which was fine for us to have a base and venture out to explore. There are resorts that have studio, 1 and 2 bedroom and separate villas with onsite restaurants, pools, beach chairs and all the amenities which we like to have but the option of dining out is a must for us. The saying of "too many restaurants and not enough time" is so true. It takes time to know all the possibilities available, that's why we keep coming back every year. This forum will give you all you need to know about accommodations and dining and things to do.

Re: All-inclusive or DIY? [Re: CowboyInCO] #294032
01/15/2023 11:48 PM
01/15/2023 11:48 PM
Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 3,267
Boynton Beach, FL
EdB Online happy
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EdB  Online Happy
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Boynton Beach, FL
agree with most of the posters. All inclusive on SXM makes no sense. Way to many restaurants and things to do NOT to miss. I don't necessarily agree with renting a villa though. It is ''safer'' in one of the resorts...and you don't have to put the shutters down at night, lock up your windows, or feel that you may be a ''target''. For your first ''official'' vacation to the island, i would suggest one of the timeshare places, or somehting like Mary's Boon, or the Horny Toad, or Grand Case Beach Club, or a resort in Orient Village. Plenty of places to chose from...and will probably be more cost effective than a villa also. My two cents. smile

Re: All-inclusive or DIY? [Re: CowboyInCO] #294036
01/16/2023 07:33 AM
01/16/2023 07:33 AM
Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 2,001
Westchester /NYC
Colour1 Offline
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Westchester /NYC
Factoid: After 20 plus years coming to "our island" there are still beaches we have yet to get to (over 30 beaches). Fact: there is a restaurant for every flavor you might have and then some! Fact: There is always a "happy hour" somewhere almost any time of day/evening! Fact: there is entertainment almost everyday/evening! DO!! Rent a car!!! DON'T ever ever ever leave anything in the car when not attending to it!! Cash is good, cards are welcome, don't have to carry a lot! Fact: wear high high number sunscreen, the sun is a lot stronger than you think! That cool breeze will fool you! Take lots of pictures and lots of fun!!!

Attached Files David and Louise Orient beach.jpg

Sand Gravity, got to love it!
Re: All-inclusive or DIY? [Re: CowboyInCO] #294103
01/16/2023 06:58 PM
01/16/2023 06:58 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 1,372
Hershey, Pennsylvania
Tom Offline
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Hershey, Pennsylvania
You have received expert advice on this thread. We have 35+ years experience, and never missed a year until Covid. Yes, even the earlier hurricanes that brought inconvenience (no power, no hot water, no air conditioning) could not keep us away. We returned last year and saw a different but still nice SXM.

Re: All-inclusive or DIY? [Re: CowboyInCO] #294119
01/16/2023 09:52 PM
01/16/2023 09:52 PM
Joined: Jan 2023
Posts: 6
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CowboyInCO Offline OP
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Thanks for all the responses. We would likely by coming in June. Looks like DIY is the way to go! I'm excited for the dining options. I'll review the forum for suggestions. We won't want to waste a night without some good planning to hit some good places.

Re: All-inclusive or DIY? [Re: CowboyInCO] #294120
01/16/2023 09:59 PM
01/16/2023 09:59 PM
Joined: Mar 2020
Posts: 806
Ontario Canada
Whale Tail Offline
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Ontario Canada
Make your list and I'll bet you won't hit all the spots you want to. It's a never ending quest. smile

Re: All-inclusive or DIY? [Re: Whale Tail] #294146
01/17/2023 09:36 AM
01/17/2023 09:36 AM
Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 2,001
Westchester /NYC
Colour1 Offline
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Westchester /NYC
I have to show you our detailed itinerary with columns for "Beach" "Breakfast" "Lunch" "Dinner" and "HH"!! for the whole time on the island!! Most times we hit all the "to do list on the itinerary"!! It's the only way to keep track of the places and activities we we want to hit!! And then there are days where we say.........IT!!! beach at BSV for the day!! See what's in the fridge! LOL!!!


Sand Gravity, got to love it!
Re: All-inclusive or DIY? [Re: BillDauterive] #294171
01/17/2023 01:03 PM
01/17/2023 01:03 PM
Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 867
Mississauga, ON, Canada
Southshore Offline
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Mississauga, ON, Canada
I guess we were the exceptions. All but one trip over nearly 30 years were All Inclusive for us. The one time we went DIY my husband freaked at having to find breakfast every morning. We stayed at AI on both the French and Dutch sides. In the later years we always stayed at Maho. Rented a car from Kenny's at the airport. Parked it in the nice covered lot at Maho. Had breakfast at the buffet each day and then took off to the beaches, for shopping, to explore. Usually had lunch out somewhere - the lolo's in Grand Case, the beach spots on Orient, places in P'burg and elsewhere. Back to the hotel at day's end. Sometimes went out for dinner but if we were zonked from the daytime activity, it was nice to just grab dinner at the hotel and relax, go to the Casino, sit in the bar.

For me, I don't want to go on vacation and have to think about what's in the fridge for breakfast, where to shop for this and that. I can do that at home. On vacation, every meal tastes better when someone else prepares it. At least, for me.

Re: All-inclusive or DIY? [Re: CowboyInCO] #294179
01/17/2023 02:01 PM
01/17/2023 02:01 PM
Joined: May 2021
Posts: 138
LI, NY
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RM5 LI Offline
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LI, NY
Save the AI for Punta Cana! St Maarten is a wonderful DIY island. There are beautiful beaches and a plethora of restaurants to choose from for any type of cuisine you desire. You won't regret it! We'll be there the end of June.

Re: All-inclusive or DIY? [Re: CowboyInCO] #294181
01/17/2023 02:35 PM
01/17/2023 02:35 PM
Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 1,298
CT
pony600 Offline
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CT
Grand Case is the gourmet capital of the Caribbean and there are excellent restaurants over the whole island, so I would never recommend AI there!


[Linked Image]



If life hands you a lemon, just squeeze it on a lobster!
Re: All-inclusive or DIY? [Re: CowboyInCO] #294184
01/17/2023 03:14 PM
01/17/2023 03:14 PM
Joined: Dec 2018
Posts: 90
Port Huron, Michigan
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KitKat Offline
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Posts: 90
Port Huron, Michigan
Definitely DIY in St. Maarten. Choose a resort that has both a restaurant and whose units have at least a kitchenette (frig, microwave, etc.) Then you have a choice as to eat in or out. We usually eat breakfast in, lunch at one of the dozens of great beach bars, and dinner at one of the many wonderful restaurants. We already have our list made for our end of February visit. A mixture of old favorites, and new, or previously untried, restaurants for dinner. And definitely rent a car. The island is great for exploring.

Re: All-inclusive or DIY? [Re: CowboyInCO] #294211
01/18/2023 08:29 AM
01/18/2023 08:29 AM
Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 60
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CharlieAndElaine Offline
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It has been said that you could eat breakfast, lunch and dinner in a different spot every day for a year and still not have eaten at all of the restaurants on the island. Not sure if that is exactly true but it’s pretty darn close.

Re: All-inclusive or DIY? [Re: CowboyInCO] #294232
01/18/2023 01:28 PM
01/18/2023 01:28 PM
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 14,645
Brookfield, CT.
pat Offline
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pat  Offline
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So I guess I’m walking the yellow line on this one.

Our first trip to SXM in 1973 was an AI trip to Mullet Bay Resort and Casino and it was wonderful. And quite truthfully, we had no desire to go searching for food and might even have been disappointed if we did. But things were very different then and the best restaurants really were only found in Grand Case with a few others widely scattered across the island.

But that was then and this is now. I fully get that Southshore’s spouse didn’t want to go hunting for meals since we’ve experienced this on other first time island trips. It’s a first timer’s nightmare sometimes to have to search out meals in a strange place so AI can and does sometimes make sense.

Our rule of thumb, based on the additional cost of the AI option when available, we would probably go for it and use it for the breakfast buffets which I love, the beachside lunches if offered and drinks, of course. We might even try a dinner or two at the resort but that wouldn’t stop me from checking out some island options not included in our AI.

But would I personally recommend AI as a first choice on SXM? Definitely not! But at the same time, I would also not recommend SECRETS as my first choice of places to stay as it’s too far off the beaten track for my tastes and road access is not one I’d personally want to deal with at night. But that’s me…..😊😊

Last edited by pat; 01/18/2023 01:31 PM.

Respectfully,

pat



"Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat
them."
Re: All-inclusive or DIY? [Re: pat] #294233
01/18/2023 01:55 PM
01/18/2023 01:55 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 82,673
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
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Pat--we all know you are a BIG drinker, so having those drinks included is a big deal! grin laugh

I definitely agree that Secrets is a difficult place for a first timer to SXM, if they want to get out and explore the island. IF one were going to do a/i on SXM, it would be much better to do Maho, so that one can see what there is available on the island, without that trip up and over the mountain.

Looks like the original poster has decided to do it on the own. Please feel free to post any other questions.


Carol Hill
Re: All-inclusive or DIY? [Re: CowboyInCO] #304534
07/26/2023 09:11 AM
07/26/2023 09:11 AM
Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 827
ME
singbeach Offline
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Absolutely no AI on SXM! "Gourmet Capital of Caribbean!" We tried AI this April in DR...:(

Re: All-inclusive or DIY? [Re: CowboyInCO] #304536
07/26/2023 10:42 AM
07/26/2023 10:42 AM
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 14,645
Brookfield, CT.
pat Offline
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pat  Offline
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But remember, Dominican Republic is light years different than SXM and there’s really no comparison to the food in SXM, even at an AI establishment like Maho Sonesta.


Respectfully,

pat



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

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