Where to stay in Sint Maarten/St. Martin?
July 13, 2014 12:30 PM   Subscribe

I am planning to spend 9 days in Sint Maarten/St. Martin in October. I've read the guidebooks and consulted Google, but I still don't know where to stay. Criteria inside.

I'm 26, female, and will most likely be traveling alone. I have a very high stress job and I just want to chill out and not think about work while I'm away. Priorities include proximity to good, local restaurants and bars and nice, uncrowded beaches. I speak/read passable French but no Dutch.

I do not anticipate renting a car. I am REALLY not keen on the touristy mega-resort or twentysomething party scenes, but am open to staying at a resort if it's the best option. My budget is not unlimited and I would like to keep hotel costs under $250 or so per night.

Also, information about anything I must do, see, or eat while there is welcome.
posted by easy, lucky, free to Travel & Transportation around (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I do marketing for a small privately-owned resort in Grand Case. Grand Case seems to be the nicest part of the island in terms of a more intimate, laid back atmosphere. There are a couple of hotels/resorts nearby, and it's safe and walkable. There are a ton of cafes, with a mixture of French and Caribbean food. Lolo's (roadside cafes) offer Caribbean food. Besides the beach, Loteria Farm seems to be the place to visit.

MeFite Mark Yokoyama lives on the island (he's a naturalist with a special interest in insects and birds), and has an excellent blog at Les Fruits De Mer: The Extreme Shallow Water Snorkeling Club.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:38 PM on July 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Well, you do not need to speak french or dutch, or even to bother changing money, in my experience. Grand Case is lovely and somewhat isolated. Loteria Farm is lovely, and I spied my first Antillean Crested Hummingbird there. We have time shares at the Royal Palm and at the Flamingo, both on the Dutch side, pretty near the airport. I've always liked both places, the Flamingo quite a bit better though. You'll want to rent a car. Beaches: I like Dawn beach, and especially Mr Busby's. You rent a chair ($20?) and spend the day, with lovely waves.

For the record, I do not recommend buying time shares.
posted by Stewriffic at 2:26 PM on July 13, 2014

We liked the Grand Case Beach Club, though we did have a rental car. The beach is close by and usually not too crowded, and we once walked into town for dinner.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:07 PM on July 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

We stayed at Hotel la Plantation resort on Orient Bay on the French side for my for my first vacation after a year of being a law firm associate. It was great and we would go back there. There are five restaurants on the beach right by the hotel where you can just charge your meals and your chair rental to your room and they were decent and not too overpriced. There was also several more restaurants a little south of the resort (looking at the map now, I think they were on Avenue des Plages in the block or two nearest the beach). The resort and the others on Orient Bay were clearly neither mega-resort type places or party scenes (although I remember one stage being set up for music/dance party)--it didn't consume the atmosphere. We were in our late 20s and are not club people.

Since we're usually self-directed travelers who like to explore, we didn't anticipate that we would be "never leave the resort" people, but in our situation (and I would guess yours) the best thing seemed to be to totally give into the options available a short walk from your room and the hotel was totally set up for that.

We didn't have a car and asked our hotel or (when we were in other parts of the island) restaurants to call taxis for us, which honestly people thought was kind of weird given that it's relatively affordable to rent a car. Maybe next time we would rent but I really appreciated not having to worry about driving and I think our real plan would be just to spend more time right at Orient Bay.

The one other thing I would note its that Orient Bay is sunny in the morning and less so in the afternoon, since it faces east. We spent one afternoon at the Grand Case Beach Club (you can go there even if you're not staying there) and it was nice to get sun later in the day there, but as others have said above it's a little more isolated there.

Other than the restaurants by the hotel we enjoyed Bacchus for an over-the-top fancy meal and, at the other end of the spectrum, Talk of the Town for BBQ ribs (one of the local "lolos").
posted by rustcellar at 3:47 PM on July 13, 2014

Ti Bouchon for your special meal. The butterfly farm was pretty awesome.
posted by Cocodrillo at 5:51 PM on July 13, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks all!

Point of clarification: I don't have a driver's license, so renting a car is not an option.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 8:45 PM on July 13, 2014

Adding to the consensus: the Grand Case Beach Club has its own restaurant and beach, and is a very short walk into town where there are many good restaurants, so it's pretty convenient for the carless.

From Grand Case you could take a taxi to Cul de Sac and the motorboat to Islet Pinel which is just beaches and a lunch restaurant.
posted by nicwolff at 9:39 PM on July 13, 2014

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