Wow!!!!! <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/Banana.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/Banana.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/Banana.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/Banana.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/Banana.gif" alt="" />
Places and people that we really enjoyed - turned out to be a long report for a laid back vaca...

Departure delayed 2 days, we were very much ready for a break, as our vacation had been pushed back from January to March to April and finally to May. We took advantage of great weather and a nice beach to just relax - sand-gravity was our friend this week.

Breezed through customs and we're off to Orient. Good drive, although a truck overloaded with cases of bottled water lost most of the bottles going uphill, creating a traffic jam for 15 min. Funny to watch, felt sorry for the guys!

Arrived at the Alamanda resort, beautiful spot!!! A stones throw from Orient Beach and the many beach bars, yet so secluded and private - excellent design. Drove past the Plantation and many other hotels on the way down the hill to the Alamanda, these hotels/resorts looked very nice, good security in place at night for all, but the Alamanda location is ideal for us. No hill to walk, no traffic around the hotel, very quiet yet very close to the action - absolutely perfect locale this time of year. May be a different story in high season...?

We stayed in room # 221, 2nd floor ocean view, wonderfully oversized balcony. Great view of the ocean and the pool. 3rd floor loft is available w/ this room if requested. Very comfortable bed, very large room, nice bathroom, well appointed, always had hot water and excellent water pressure, ample storage space for two. Room is very large compared to typical hotel rooms. Climate control worked great, refrigerator came in handy, safe worked well, never used the hot plate or microwave. TV has one movie channel, CNN, and ESPN - Don't use the TV much while there, of course. Cindy sprayed the bathroom the first time using the shower hose as it got away from her, just getting acclimated...

Very inexpensive phone calls to the US with the card from Tap Five deli behind the Alamanda. I had purchased a card online from AT&T before leaving the US as someone had recommended here, and it sounded like the way to go. The problem there is each minute calling from SXM to the US uses 4 times the card minutes, which I didn't realize. The card from Tap Five lasted us all week for $10 - very cheap. Had an hour left when departing and gave it to another couple checking in.

Continental breakfast included with your room at the Alamanda features croissants (chocolate too - yummy!) and french bread toast, along with fresh fruit cocktails, jellies, juices, and great coffee. This breakfast was so good that we never wandered to Baywatch or anywhere else for breakfast. They also offer full menu breakfasts, but we really enjoyed the continental - Very good!
Very nice and clean pool, larger than I had expected from the photos. The facade of each hotel unit is a different color and this creates a neat look. Being low season the bar/restaurant is open only for breakfast and dinner, closing at 10:30 PM, I believe. We never had dinner at the Alamanda, nor drinks, but the prices were in line w/ Bikini. We did use the roof patio several times to enjoy the view.
Allen and everyone at Alamanda are very nice and really went out of their way to help with anything we needed. Excellent staff at the Alamanda. I need to mail the key back - carried it home. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/duh.gif" alt="" /> Must be I want to go back...

Many here have described Orient Beach as the most beautiful beach in the Caribbean, and our expectations were very high after reading these reviews. But OB is a very nice beach. We enjoyed staring at the different shades of blue in the water, and the sand was nice. We did have some seaweed on the shore and in the water everyday, but the beach is on the Atlantic. The beach was dragged every morning, but it was inevitable. Seemed worse on the Mont Vernon end of the bay. It may be cleaner other times of year. But the beach is very nice, waves are just right, water is clear. For us, sand gravity was the theme most days, and Orient was a great place to be for this. Many watersport activities available for anyone wanting more activity.

Bikini Beach Bar was our choice at night when we were on OB - they stayed open later and had good bartenders (Laura & others). Kakao & Coco's were good as well, but Bikini served one of the best margaritas we've had. Great burger and ribs as well, and a short walk home!

Baywatch - Headed there at 4:30 on our first day, they were closing, bad timing on our part. Paid $10 for 2 rum punches and checked out the beach bars that were open - not many other than Bikini. We did stop back at Baywatch the next day and had lunch and drinks and talked with Cheryl and Russ. Probably an interesting place during high season.

Orient Village area looks to be getting the finishing touches behind the Alamanda. 3 restautants right there, along with the Tap Five and many stores open late. These are very convenient when staying at the Alamanda. The square is being finished, and a "pavilion" is being completed on the back section of the Alamanda. Didn't inquire as to the purpose of this addition, but looks like a bandstand for outdoor entertainment, perhaps.

Music in Marigot -
Heard a great band at Bikini on Wednesday, same day 5 cruise ships were in Philipsburg. Many cruisers came to OB, but it was not as crowded as we expected, and we stayed right there. One of the highlights of our trip was to bid farewell to the cruisers, since we had at one time visited islands on a cruise ship and had to depart after only 8-10 hours on an island. Invited to Marigot by the band for a night gig with the full band, 2 older gents playing sax and trumpet, Allen's father on keyboard, had a wonderful time. Mainly locals there, really a great night, great music.

Lunch in Marigot - Spent 1/2 day strolling & shopping Marigot, and remembering Bobcat had recommended a restaurant to a honeymooning couple for dinner, we decided to go there for lunch. We passed many marina-side restaurants on the way to La Petite Auberge, but it was worth it. We had a simple lunch - Cindy opting for the quiche, and I the ham and cheese on baguette. This was the best "sub" I have ever had! Thank you Bobcat!

We did drive to the Dutch side a few days to see some of the places we had missed last year, including Simpson Bay area and SSBB. SSBB very, very crowded on a very hot day, packed and boring, so we hit Bamboo Bernie's and a couple of other places. Many great beaches and restaurants on the Dutch side, as you all know, but I must mention one restaurant in particular that we did go to for a TTOL party on Thursday night that really impressed us - Los Gauhcos. We arrived at Los Gauchos at 6 PM thinking we were right on time for once, but we were an hour early because I misread the posting, so we drove to the nearby Jump Up casino to waste some money and time. But we couldn't even do this very well - Cindy played $.50 in a quarter slot and hit $25. She gave me a $1 betting allowance, and I donated 3 quarters but the 4th returned $125 - couldn't even waste our time right! We returned $20 to the casino and headed back to the restaurant to meet the other TTOLers.

This Argentinian restaurant has a beautiful decor and atmosphere. Beautifully decorated walls, nice lounge area, beautiful back bar, very extensive selection of liquors and wines, and the woodwork is georgous. Liesa was a very gracious host, providing an array of very tasty appetizers for free, as well as 1/2 price drinks. These appetizers were excellent - the crab rangoons were so good I cannot remember any of the other items - but they were all great - our compliments to the chef! A discount for dinner was also offered by Liesa, and the menu was excellent. We could not stay as we had the drive back to Orient, and unfortunately we did not make it back there this trip. But definitely the next! Met many nice TTOLers including Tommy and Lena, Gary & Berne (thanks Berne for the name tags - excellent!), Dawn and David (Thanks Dawn for organizing), Barbara & Greg, Don & RoseMarie, and I apologize for not remembering everyone's names!
Henry is the bartender who received an award for a drink that he created - this was a hit among many of the TTOLers. All of the staff were excellent - Valda, Rudy, Claudett, & Henry - Liesa has what we consider to be one of the best restaurants and staff we have enjoyed in many years. Highly recommend this restaurant for drinks and dinner!
The entertainment of the evening was Frank (Fred?) and his friend - The "Ski instructors" - They were very funny. I cannot remember Frank's friends names, but we very much enjoyed talking with them as well - interesting couple. Frank ia s TTOLer, I believe, and I will need to get in touch with him before we go to SXM again to see if we can meet up with them again - great night, had us in stitches!!!
Liesa is looking at moving to another location, as this area is not the greatest - indeed, I probably would not have stopped there had it not been for this party. But I'm not as accustomed to this area of SXM as many of the experienced travelers here are, and I do know that there are many places that are popular here. We just enjoyed the French side more because it is somewhat less developed and not as busy.

Golden Eagle Friday day sail -
We had sailed the Golden Eagle last year and thoroughly enjoyed it, so we knew we had to do it this year. Many couples here at TTOL were planning to visit SXM this same week and were looking for an excursion and I recommended this. Many did book it - Berne & Gary, Tom & Lena, Dawn & David, and others, and I think everyone enjoyed it. Hard not to have fun - the crew does an excellent job of taking care of you. Roxanne the bartender was here again this year, and she gets the crowd going! Crew mates Joel & Jonathan kept everyone's glasses full. Drinks, champagne, lunch in Grand Case, floating and exfoliating at Tintamarre (what a sight!!!) - excellent day. Some folks backed out in the morning because it was raining steadily as we sailed. But it turned out to be a beautiful day, and we had a fun crowd on the cat. I would recommend this day sail to anyone - veteran or newbie. Got a chance to steer the cat, didn't hit a thing, didn't lose anyone that I know of...

This trip we divided our 2 weeks betwen SXM and the BVI, staying on Tortola week two and visiting VG and JVD. The BVI time was to be our limin' time, but we relaxed on OB much of the time we were in SXM as well. It turned out to be a nice relaxing vacation and a nice mix of islands and people between SXM and BVI. I can see spending a few nights in both St. Maarten and St. Martin - two distinctly different experiences, both great! We had an excellent time in SXM, and look forward to yet another visit. There are many places we didn't get a chance to see or dine at - next time(s)...

Wonderful people here, and your knowledge definitely enhanced our experiences and pleasures while in SXM. We don't all agree on everything about SXM, to be sure, and that's due to the variety of tastes and the variety of places to enjoy. But we want to thank all of you for the very helpful information on SXM over the last several months. And thanks to all the TTOLers we met at the party and on GE IIl !!!

Ron & Cindy

"Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you.”
-Anthony Bourdain