Trip Report: 2/20 - 3/6, 1999
* Updated: From my parents (
) trip: 3/4 - 3/11, 2000 - Their updates marked with "* 3/2000 Update"
Every thing was great! The weather was perfect. We had only very, very brief
showers on a couple of occasions. The mixture of wind and clouds kept it from
getting too warm. There were only a couple of nights that were only slightly
cool. We thought that it was much more crowed than two years ago, however, we
talked with someone that said it was much less crowded than last year. We had
a direct Northwest flight from Minneapolis booked through MLT Vacations (www.mltvacations.com).
Both ways were 'worry free'. We will definitely go to St. Martin again!
Two years ago we stayed at Maho for 4 nights, this time we stayed at St. Tropez
on Orient Beach (www.orientbeach.com)
for 14 nights. The room was kind of 'utilitarian', meaning that there were no
frills, but it served us well. We didn't spend much time in the room. It was
about 50 yards from our door, past the pool, to where we could put our feet
in the sand. The hotel is located in the middle of the two-mile beach, so getting
to any one of the establishments was easy. The extras that the room had were
as follows: small refrigerator, hair dryer, and a 'hot pot' like appliance that
we supposed could be used to heat up water for coffee or tea. The refrigerator
was essential! We used it extensively. There was a $1 soda machine on the premises
that included Heineken cans. This was a great deal compared with anywhere near
by. There was also an ice machine that cost a quarter, but we didn't use it
much since we had a refrigerator at our disposal. The electricity is 220v and
has the two round holes so you'll need both a converter and adapter. We bought
a kit that had 50-watt/1600-watt converter with all kinds of adapters from the
Urban Traveler. Voltage Valet (www.voltagevalet.com) made it. The rooms
also had a safe that could be rented for $2 per night. The room was very quiet
compared to the one we had at Maho that overlooked Cheri's. Our only complaint
was there were a lot of ants in the room.
We rented a car for 10 of the 14 days; a Hyundai Atos. We had originally called
St. Louis Car Rental (firstname.lastname@example.org) after getting
an e-mail quote of $210 per week ($35 per day with the 7th day free).
However, we didn't decide to get the car until three days into our stay. In
searching for a car, Island Trans Rent-a-Car found a one-month-old car with
A/T & A/C for $42 per day with the 10th day free. Everything
worked fine, they dropped the car off and picked it up at the hotel, no problems.
We had tried AAA (800-592-6110) after getting such high recommendations online,
but they didn't have any available. We also talked with Best Deal Car Rental
(800-621-2865 or email@example.com),
which was also recommended. We think next time, we will make arrangements a
head of time to get a lower rate guaranteed. There was a web site that we found
that had about 50 car rentals, but all the numbers were local. It would be nice
to see that with toll free numbers or better yet e-mail addresses.
First some overall comments. Many of the restaurants did not take credit cards.
This was troubling since we were expecting to pay by credit card for most of
the meals. I'll try and explain the credit card policy if we know it when reviewing
them. Also, some that did take them, did not allow you to add the tip onto the
credit card, so you had to tip in cash. Others made you determine the tip prior
to the charge slip being brought to you for signing. Despite all the warnings
we had heard, we think there was only one that had a 15% service charge. You
still should be watchful. * 3/2000 Update: On menus where the prices quoted
are quoted in $USD and FF, it might be a better deal to pay in FF.
Orient Beach Restaurants:
Since we didn't have a car for the first few days, we explored the various
Orient Bay beach restaurants. This was nice as we could simply walk out from
our hotel onto the beach and then walk, without shoes, to the restaurants. However,
we thought that for the most part, these beach restaurants were very overpriced.
The food was good, but not a good value. Many had bands playing on different
- Bikini Beach (www.bikinibeach.net)
-- Served Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner just about every day. We had one
of each, plus an appetizer once. Credit cards accepted only if total is over
$25. The bartender said they made the best Pina Colada's on the island, and
although we didn't go on a lengthy search, they were the best ones we had.
- Kakao (www.kakaobeachsxm.com)
-- Served lunch & Dinner. Good food. Saturday night is a Vietnamese night
with an excellent crab soup. On other nights of the week, the menu consisted
of Fish, Pizza's, and salads. Good, not great. Credit cards accepted.
- Kon Tiki (www.kontikibeachsxm.com)
-- Good food. Slightly expensive. Wild night on Sunday nights. Credit cards
- La Playa -- Favorite lunch spot. The beer was
relatively cheap and the food was good and a much better value than some of
the others on the beach. Overall good service. Kitchen closed around 4:30.
They've done a great job landscaping with palm trees. It makes the view idyllic.
It was a nice afternoon hang out when you wanted to get out of the sun. Credit
cards are NOT accepted. * 3/2000 Update: Credit cards ARE accepted.
- Waikiki (www.waikikibeachsxm.com)
-- Never ate there. Think it was lunch only. The drink prices were much higher
than elsewhere on the beach, so we assumed the food would be as well. The
menu confirmed that fact. This was the place where we rented chairs from the
most because they had thick cushions and it was close to La Playa and our
- Coco Beach (www.cocobeachsxm.com)
-- Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner. One of the better values on the beach.
Credit cards accepted.
- Breakfast Restaurant at pool between St.
Tropez & L'Hoste -- Food
was OK, but the service was lacking. It was run by the same people as La Playa,
but not the normal level of service as La Playa. Orders were never written
down, so often the final check was wrong. The main things this place has going
for it location to the two hotels and the fact that it opened at 7:00 and
some of the other beach restaurants did not open that early.
- Peanuts -- One of the many small lunch restaurants between Kon Tiki and
Pedros. Good food and good value. Many of these smaller places had good drink
- Le Taitu - French Cul de Sac -- On Mont Vernon Road: Specializes in French
and Creole. Our second favorite French restaurant behind Fish Pot, but at
about one third the price. Excellent fettuccine with scallops. Very friendly
service. Credit cards accepted.
- Le Piccolo Café - French Cul de Sac: We tried twice to make reservations,
but both times they were full. We're more spontaneous than most, so we didn't
try until 5:30. Must be good if they're consistently that full.
- Surf Club South - French Cul de Sac intersection: A New Jersey steakhouse.
Reasonable U.S. food, but nothing to get excited about. Credit cards NOT accepted.
Update: This has now moved to Orient Beach and is is called Baywatch
- Talk of the Town - Grand Case (www.grandcase.com):
A beach side BBQ. Very reasonable. Good food. You could get BBQ chicken, a
plate of rice, and a beer for $5.
- Fish Pot - Grand Case: This was
our one night out at an expensive French restaurant. This was the only place
where we could have worn long pants, but we weren't the only ones in shorts.
Service and food were excellent! Watch out for the champagne special. We had
one that had a fruit juice in it that tasted great, but was $10 per glass.
Credit cards accepted. * 3/2000 Update: Great bouillabaisse.
- Michael's - Grand Case: Very good
food at a reasonable price. Limited menu for dinner and lunch. There weren't
that many people there the night we went, so we were able to talk with the
couple from Boston that owned it. Very friendly. Credit cards NOT accepted.
- Brasserie de la Gare - Marigot: Good food
and good view of marina. Had a very good pizza there. Credit cards accepted.
- Zee Best - Marigot: Had a great breakfast
here. They had omelets and crepes. They specialized in pastries, but we didn't
have any at $2-3 per.
- Le Croissent (sp? next to St. Germain) - Marigot. Credit cards NOT accepted.
- Chez Raymonds - Baie Rouge: One of two beach
side BBQ's. Good BBQ at reasonable prices and friendly service.
- Rics Place - Phillipsburg: American sports
bar. Good American food at reasonable prices. Nice view of harbor. Credit
cards NOT accepted.
- Cheri's - Maho: Extensive menu. OK food at reasonable prices. Fun atmosphere.
Credit cards accepted.
- Sunset Beach Bar (www.sunsetbeachbar.com)
- Maho -- Take the road at the beginning of the runway to the other side of
the beach from the Maho complex: We only had drinks here. They do have a grill
where you can get a limited menu. Great fun. The crowd gets bigger as the
day goes on. And yes they still have their special "Topless women drink
- Cliffside Bar - Cupecoy Beach -- On far West side
of the Cupecoy Beach Club, follow path down to beach: Great place to watch
sunset. Laid back atmosphere. No real food here.
This maybe now be called the Cliffhanger Beach Bar (www.cliffhangerbar.com).
- Le Bistrot Gourmand - Cupecoy Bay: We got a take out sandwich and salad
that was very reasonable, good, and filling.
- * 3/2000 Update:
- Le Testevin - Grand Case: Great
French food, good fish platter, prices in $20's, on ocean,
- Captain Olivers - Oyster Pond: Great marina with parrots and monkeys,
- Chilis - Marigot: Right on the sand. Pasta, shrimp, great grilled lobster
(but too done). Under $20.
- Il Nettuno (www.ilnettuno.com)
- Grand Case: Great Italian food.
Credit cards ARE accepted. House wine $4.20.
- Food World & Food Center - Phillipsburg:
Large American style super markets. We did not try the Match in Marigot.
- Convenience Store at Orient Beach top of hill between Boo Jam entrance and
the Esmerelda entrance. It had a sign on it like "Rancho de Sol",
but we think that was left over from another venture: We went here a lot for
supplies. You could get great sandwiches made to order; add in chips and a
beer and for $5 you've got yourself a good picnic meal.
Note: to get drug store type items, you must go to a pharmacy. They don't have
much besides food in the grocery stores. The most difficult item to find was
cough drops that we finally found at the Simpson Bay Pharmacy.
The dress was casual in all restaurants that we went to. We were able to wear
shorts, casual shirts, and sandals everywhere.
- Orient - This was by far our favorite spot. We spent most of our 'beach
time' here. It might not be for everyone, but we enjoyed it for its beauty,
length, chairs to rent, and plenty of restaurants and restrooms. (Plus the
'people watching" is great!) Very busy on most days. Here's some pics:
Sunrise, Looking North, & Looking South.
- Baie Rouge - This was our second favorite. Very
nice. Chair for rent, plus two beach BBQ restaurants. The only draw back is
there are no restrooms. Very steep drop off's, so might not be ideal for those
that are not strong swimmers. A lot less crowded than Orient Beach.
- Anse Marcel - Very picturesque. The road to get there climbs up a winding
hill and provides a great view of this tiny bay. Had a very gentle incline
into water with very small waves, so it was ideal for the not so strong swimmer.
- Cupecoy - The cliffs make this a pretty spot,
however, when we visited there wasn't much beach that wasn't under water.
We saw one couple that had rented chairs nearly get swept away to sea as a
large wave came up and floated their belongs out.
- Dawn Beach - Rather ordinary, but the roads to get there are fun and provide
good views. Nearby Oyster Pond was pretty.
- Long Bay - Disappointed in this beach as there were rocks at the water level
almost the entire distance of this long beach.
We never found any on the French side that worked and would dispense US Dollars.
We found plenty on the Dutch side. Specifically we found one at Maho (next to
the casino of course), in Phillipsburg on the
tender peer, and in Simpson Bay. Generally on the Dutch side it was easier to
find American conveniences.
AMA in Phillipsburg and in the airport. This
was highly recommended to us by someone we met that was on their 8th
trip to St. Martin. Seemed to us like the best deals. Bought a lovely gold San
Marco bracelet at a reasonable price.
Our favorite local beer was Carib (www.caribbeer.com) with a lime in it. Very
refreshing on a hot day.
Questions? Contact Paul,
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