- Category: Experts
- Author: Damon M. Banks
Doing St Martin / St Maarten in Luxury
The island of St. Martin / St. Maarten has long been one of the premier worldwide destinations for a perfect combination of relaxing beaches, adrenaline-pumping adventure and delicious cuisine. Relatively small in size and rich in history, this hilly island possesses some of the most amazing panoramic views in the Caribbean today. A fantastic combination of the Dutch and French cultures blends with the spice and excitement of the Caribbean to create an unmatched world-class cultural experience. Where else can you enjoy the benefits of two great countries on a single elite island destination?
The island was split in 1648 between the Dutch side of St. Maarten and the French side of St. Martin, and followed by additional government changes as recently as 2010. However, for most travelers, they simply know the French side is known to be a quieter getaway with amazing dining options and the Dutch side is the more commercialized side of the island with the best late-night hotspots.
With the friendly locals from all over the world and the pristine beaches, St Martin / St. Maarten is an ideal location to call home in your very own St Martin luxury villa during your stay; providing all the luxury conveniences of home, while having the tropical paradise of island life just outside your door. High season for the island is January-March, with August being the slowest month.
Princess Juliana International Airport is now the second largest airport in the Caribbean, making it a simple commute for many. L’Espérance Airport on the French side is ideal for private and corporate jets; providing personalized services and a great location to many of the island’s most prestigious villa escapes. Getting around the island is typical of the Caribbean so always be cautious when using taxis and be prepared for the island traffic. The island, especially the Dutch side, has come a long way from the sleepy island destination, and with this commercialization also comes the congestion. However, when you reach your secluded villa complete with the cool ocean breezes, you quickly forget the crazy commute.
There is never a shortage of activities for the thrill-seeker looking to take advantage of every minute on the island, as well as those looking to simply un-wind on the beaches and enjoy the many tasty delights created by the island’s best chefs and bartenders. That being said, a rare and worthy experience for everyone is a visit to watch and “feel” the airplane landings at Maho Beach. As seen on numerous travel shows, this is an experience not to miss!
Simply too many daily activities to feature, amazing snorkeling and scuba diving for all skill levels, horseback riding on the beach, a zip line among 200-year old mango and mahogany trees, fighting marlin and tuna while deep-sea fishing, racing a yacht in a 12-metre challenge, slicing through the waves on jet skis, parasailing high above the beautiful beaches, kite surfing, or simply a day of tennis at one of the very many courts across the island are all available options.
Full disclosure for golfers, St. Martin / St. Maarten has a lot to offer their guests, but golf is not one of these things; Mullet Bay Golf Course is available for a round of golf, but is far from championship quality. However, don’t worry, a short car and ferry ride to Anguilla can provide you with an amazing golf outing to enjoy designs by golf greats such as Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman.
Even on days without golf, these fantastic day trips are easily accessible from St. Martin / St. Maarten. Public ferries operate throughout the day between Marigot Bay, St. Martin and Blowing Point, Anguilla – allowing access to another favorite destination in only 20-25 minutes. Private charters are also available, typically from the marina at the Princess Juliana International Airport. Ferries and charters are also available from both sides of the island to St. Barts, but the travel time is almost 45 minutes, and often a much rougher ride.
When not un-winding by the pool or enjoying gourmet cuisine in the tranquility of your own villa, the island’s hotels and resorts offer an infinite amount of dining and spa options available to outside guests, as well as the many family-operated restaurants scattered throughout the island. C Le Restaurant is inside the Radisson Blu Resort and is always an island favorite, along with Lounge At C with great tables overlooking Anse Marcel. La Vie en Rose offers sensational harbor views and a second story balcony area for dining, not to mention the delicious French recipes. Le Santal is a family-operated masterpiece with amazing crepes and some of the best oceanfront tables available. Chef Dino has two amazing options for the Dutch side: Rare offers USDA certified Angus beef and prepares some of the best steaks and sashimi-grade tuna creations on the island. Temptation provides an Asian-inspired Caribbean fusion experience complete with one of the best wine lists on the island and seating for only 100 very lucky guests. Feeling lucky? Casino Royale, Atlantis World Casino and Princess Casino offer a variety of gambling options on the island. Though Princess is generally the more upscale establishment, beware that none of these have the luxurious atmosphere associated with the high-end casinos of Monte Carlo.
As you prepare for your St. Martin / St. Maarten luxury getaway, remember that Carnival is very widely celebrated, and extends for nearly two months; the French side’s largest celebration being in February, and the Dutch side’s in April. The French side has an impressive collection of beachside restaurants and bars along the clothing-optional Orient Bay Beach to keep you busy during the days, followed by numerous opportunities for fine dining at night. You can shop one of the largest collections of duty-free stores along the boardwalk in Phillipsburg, followed by an evening back on the French side at Grand Case, the must-visit destination while in St. Martin. With so many amazing beaches, activities, spas and restaurants in such close proximity, your luxury St. Martin / St. Maarten getaway will only leave you looking forward to your next visit.