Trip Report: 2/19 - 2/27, 2005
This was are third trip to St. Martin. The first was in February, 1997 and
the second was in February, 1999. Since we hadn't been
there for six years, much of this report will contrast the changes, good and
bad, we noticed since then. On this two week trip, we also spent 5 nights in
St. Lucia at the Windjammer
St. Martin is much more crowded now than it was six years ago. The roads were
much more busy. Six years ago, during off hours we could drive around the whole
island in about 45 minutes. Now during busy times it could take an hour or more
just to go half way around the island. Orient beach was more crowded. Much more
'boat people' (cruise ship passengers that were dumped onto the beach and were
loud and obnoxious). Orient beach as also more built up. It seemed like most
of the Five Stars of Orient Beach
beach bars had expanded. In 1999, La Playa was set back into the palm trees
and now its built out with multiple levels and a pool.
The weather was much more windy, rainy, and cooler than we can remember from
our two earlier February visits. Maybe there is something to this global climate
Just after getting our rental car and heading for our hotel, we were heading
North on the road from Cole Bay to Marigot and just after going across the border
to the French side, we were pulled over for a random breathalyzer test. This
was at about 10:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 19. Since I hadn't had anything
to drink yet, I passed the test and was on my way. Apparently they're cracking
down on drunk driving.
There were a lot of off leash dogs. I really don't remember there being that
- On Sunday, 2/13/05 we had a 5 1/2 hour direct flight from Minneapolis on
Sun Country and everything went well
on the way down.
- On Monday, 2/14/05 flying from St. Martin to St.
Lucia, we had a 3 hour 2-stop (St. Kits and Antigua) flight on Liat
that was 1 hour late arriving.
- On Saturday, 2/19/05 returning from St.
Lucia to St. Martin, the Liat
flight was again scheduled as a 3 hour 2-stop (Dominica & Antigua) flight.
However, it started out 1/2 hour late departing and then we were told we had
an unscheduled stop in Barbados. In Barbados we switched planes on the tarmac.
By the time we arrived in Antigua, we were nearly 2 hours late. We had to
get off the plane and wait in line for a 'transfer'. Some of the people on
our flight were going else where, such as St. Thomas, were told they would
have to spend the night an their flight would be continuing the next morning.
Our flight was continuing, but instead of going directly to St. Martin, we
first had to go to Tortola. That added an hour and 15 minutes to the flight.
We finally arrived in St. Martin 4 hours late. Apparently some of the locals
have a nick name for Liat - "Leave
Island Any Time".
- On Sunday, 2/27/05 our return flight on Sun
Country to Minneapolis we had one stop in San Juan and was scheduled for
7 1/2 hours. The flight left St. Martin about 30 minutes late. In San Juan
we had to depart and clear Customs and Immigration. That was an ordeal. I
would have rather had a direct flight back and gone through Customs and Immigration
in Minneapolis. The flight arrived about an hour and 15 minutes late.
Because we couldn't get a flight out on Sunday night to St.
Lucia, we had to stay 1 night in St. Martin. We stayed at the Travel
Inn Hotel in Simpson Bay just because it was close to the airport. It was
a real 'no frills' hotel, maybe not worth the price, but it served it's purpose.
When we got back to St. Martin, we stayed at St.
Tropez right in the middle of Orient
Beach for 8 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, 'hot pot', and a room safe.
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
made by Voltage Valet.
St. Tropez shares a pool with
L'Hoste. The one extra that was great
about the hotel was free beach chairs, umbrella, and table at La Playa's beach.
That saved us about $18 a day. Since we booked through Expedia,
we did not get the free continental breakfast at La Madras (also between the
two hotels), which you get if you book directly with the hotel. However, it
didn't seem like that good a deal. It was supposedly $10, but you could get
the equivalent by going to one of the nearby shop and/or restaurants in Orient
Village at half the price.
This was the second time we've stayed at St.
Tropez. In February, 1999 Orient Village was not
there. We thought this was a great addition to the area as the shops and restaurant
were very convenient. We had a room on the third floor which was nice since
no one was above us. However, when it rained on the metal roof, it was loud.
Our biggest complaint was the shower. It wasn't a real shower. It was kind of
like a small 'kid size' tub with a flexible shower handle. The shower handle
never stayed in place, spraying water everywhere, and the mini tub was very
slippery and we almost fell a couple of times each.
We rented a Suzuki Alto from Thrifty
for $195 for 1 week + $32 for the 8th day. Everything worked out fine with the
car and the service.
Bars and Restaurants:
In general we found that food prices seem to be high although drink prices
were reasonable. I tried to keep track of the price of a beer to give an indication
of how much it fluctuated (from $5.50 to $1).
- Bikini Beach -- We had lunch and
dinner there. Good food, but we thought the food was a bit over priced, when
the best lunch value was $12 burger basket. We had a good time at the Traveltalkonline
(TTOL) pahty that the Contessa planned. Elisa was very generous with the
free appetizers and the 2 for 1 drinks. Beer - $3.50.
- La Playa -- Similar in price and quality to Bikini. We had a couple of good
meals here. Beer - $4.
- Baywatch -- Good food at a good price. Wish we would have gone there more
often. Beer - $2.50.
Bar -- One of the many small lunch restaurants between Kon Tiki and Pedros.
Did not eat there. Beer - $2.
- Planet Orient-B -- Beer $5.50. Didn't eat, but food prices looked expensive.
- M & G -- Had good lunch and also coffee in the morning. Beer $3.50.
- Tap 5 Pizza -- We had four meals here. Pizza for lunch and pizza for dinner
once each. Two other dinners. Good food, good value, and casual, fun atmosphere.
- Le Fish Bar -- Only had coffee, juice, and croissant here ($5).
- Tap 5 Deli -- Had good sandwiches on fresh French bread.
- Kon Tiki -- We didn't go here at all after hearing about the upside down
U.S. flag debacle.
- L'Alabama -- Grand
Case. Our favorite fine dining meal. We had an excellent chocolate dessert.
We saved by taking advantage of the 1:1 Euro to Dollar for cash. We also received
free champagne by using the coupon
from their web site. They also gave us complementary after dinner shots
of flavored rum.
- Il Nettuno -- Grand
Case. Excellent Italian dinner. They did not participate in the 1:1 Euro
to Dollar cash program.
- Fish Pot -- Grand Case. Since we
had a great meal there last time, we thought we'd stop by for an after dinner
drink. Had a giant Sapphire& Tonic. They had a giant lobster tank
in the window.
- Le Croissant (next to St. Germain) -- Marigot harbor. Had good crepes here.
- Sunset Beach Bar -- Maho. Took
lots of pictures of the planes. It's a lot bigger than it was six years ago.
- Cliffhanger Bar -- Cupecoy
Beach. On far West side of the Cupecoy Beach Club, follow path down to beach.
Casual place to hang out. Nice view. Beer $3.
- Bamboo Bernies --
Had some good appetizers. They had very good happy hour drink prices.
- Buccaneer Beach Bar
-- Simpson Bay on the beach of the Atrium. Saw a picture of Cheri.
- Captain Olivers -- Oyster Pond. Great view of the marina. Lunch was good.
- Street Venders -- Various locations. Beer $1.
- We went to the Match in Marigot for our major purchases. They took credit
- We went to the Tap 5 Deli in Orient Village for connivance purchases.
- Orient - Since we had the free chairs just a few feet from our hotel room,
we spent almost every day here. With Alamanda and Cap Carribes being new for
us, it was much more crowded and built up than we remember it. I had seen
some pictures after some storms where the beach was out. Looks like it come
back for the most part.
- Plum Bay (Baie aux Prunes) - We visited this beach once. Very quiet and
isolated but a nice beach. Bring everything you need as there's nothing here.
- Cupecoy - We really only saw the part of the beach accessible from the Cliffhanger
Bar. Seemed like a good beach and with the bar there to keep you from
- Maho - As viewed from Sunset Beach
Bar the beach looked good. We did notice that the beach that was immediately
adjacent to the Sonnesta Maho hotel was gone. It was all rocks now. I guess
the guests either use the pool or walk a little farther to get to the beach.
Questions? Contact Paul,
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