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Trip Report St Maarten Trip Report - Feb 13th, 2009 - Feb 21st, 2009

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I just returned from a week in St. Maarten. My Mom and 3 sisters rented a villa at Dawn Beach Estates. Here is a recap of our week.

Friday - flew from Detroit - through Miami - to SXM- all flights departed/arrived on time. We discovered a Mojito bar (stand)in Terminal D - American Airlines - they are expensive $12.50- but as we were walking past this bar, I heard a gal say she booked her trip purposely through Miami so she could have a Mojito at this particular bar - so of course we had to try one - well two.....This girl was right - it was the best Mojito I ever had.

Friday - We stayed 1 night at Mary's Boon Hotel - a small and very charming hotel right behind the airport on Simpson Beach. We booked a 2 bedroom room that also had a small but adequate kitchen area. The room was clean and comfortably fit the 5 of us. I'd stay again at this property in a heartbeat. For anyone interested, we booked directly with the hotel through Renzo - he was very accomodating.

You all would love the bar - if it wasn't manned by a bartender - it was a honor bar. Simply write down on the clipboard what you drink and pay later - my kind of bar!

We ate breakfest at the hotel restaurant - which is beachfront. The food was tastey and reasonably priced.

The hotel has a small pool and an observation deck. The airport runway is directly behind the hotel - not sure how far - I'd guess 100 feet maybe.....to watch, listen, and smell planes take off and land was quite the experience. Don't let the proximty to the airport scare you....planes don't land/depart throughout the night - so it didn't keep us up or wake us up.

We also discovered a new beach bar on Simpson beach - called Karakters - the bar is an old school bus - they have a great variety of drinks using fresh fruit - and really nice food - you can get to it from passing Mary Boon's....

Saturday - the villa rep met us at the hotel and escorted us to Villa Suzanne at Dawn Beach (near Oyster Pond). The Villa was gorgeous. It has 4 master bedrooms - all with a totally comfortable king size bed with Polo sheets. The bathrooms had travertine tile - were huge and had views of the ocean or hillside. The front wall of the living room was a window with panoramic views of Dawn Beach and St. Barths. When you opened the sliding window doors - you walked out 3 steps and were in a 29 x 29 pool. There was plenty of deck space - an outdoor eating area with lovely wood furniture and a pergola with a BBQ grill. The kitchen was also gorgeous - granite countertops, full fridge, oven - stove top - all stainless steel and was fully equipped. The villa also had a TV area with cable TV - plenty of board games - tons of books to read. In addition, the villa also had a journal where past guests posted their favorite things to do, places to eat, etc. To check out this villa - go to www.villasinparadise.com.

Once we got to the villa - we checked out what food we needed to buy -and then went to Fresh Market - a very nice grocery store (as nice as those in the US) in the Middle Region - prices were good and had everything we needed. There is also a Grande Marche grocery store in Phillipsburg.

Sunday - we woke up early and went to the catholic church in downtown Phillipsburg - by the Holland House..... No matter what your religion- to experience a fully packed church with people standing outside all singing and participating was a great experience. They also had a band playing all the music. The priest's sermon talked about how we are all different and should accept people and all the diversity the world has to offer.....don't mean to preach - it was just a nice experience for me personally. After church we went to Mr. Busby's Beach Bar - also on Dawn Beach. This bar has 75 cent Caribs every day during happy hour. They also have great food - breakfest, lunch or dinner. Since the villa was so nice - we went back to our "house" for the rest of the day - listening to our iPod -swimming - relaxing - walking to the beach....My Mom headed to the casino at the Westin for a few hours....The Westin is also on Dawn Beach.

Sunday night we drove to Grand Case for Dinner - we went to Spiga's - an upscale italian restaurant. I had the Grouper - it was excellent - here is a link to their website. http://www.spiga-sxm.com/index.html.

Monday - we drove around the entire island with a stop in Marigot to shop. We didn't eat lunch - but we did go to the bakery in Marigot - got some baguettes and cheese and had a feast - yummy! From Marigot - we drove around the Lowlands, through Maho/Mullet Bay - back through Phillipsburg - and then to Dawn Beach.

Tuesday - we went to Pinel Island - you get to the ferry via Cul de Sac - which is between Orient Beach and Grand Case/Anse Marcel.....You take a $7.00 round trip ferry ride to get there. Once on the island you can either rent lounge chairs or just hang out on your beach towel. It has very good snorkeling with great views of Orient Beach. You can easily hike the whole island - and it has 2 really nice restaurants. I'd highly suggest a day trip to Pinel.

Tuesday night we had dinner at Lee's Roadside Grill in Simpson Beach area. The food was FABULOUS. I had the Mahi Mahi - to die for. Afterwards - we went to the Red Piano Bar in Pelican Key - we had a great time!

I've read some other posts about crime in the Caribbean......on the way to Pinel - we did see a BIG security unit combing the area before Orleans....Months before a girl dissappeared.....we saw on the local news the following morning that what we witnessed on our drive was a last official attempt to locate the girl - that was quite distrurbing to see. Speaking of crime.....our villa management team also told us to lock up every night as there had been some robberies at some of the villas (ours included)- so that was odd - having to lock us in everynight - and I mean lock.....from the inside - bolts with master keys - the works.....we did get used to it - but it was unsettleing at first.

Wednesday - we were going to go to Anguilla - but the weather was bad - weird actually for this time of year - it was windy and rainy and totally cloudy- so we shopped in Phillipsburg. There were 4 foo foos in port - but it was strange as the streets were not crowded. Various stores told us that sales are way down....the people that are cruising are not shopping....we did our best to help the local economy.

Went to Anguilla before via the ferry from Marigot - suggest Elodia's Bar/Grill at Shoal Bay East - the beach is BEAUTIFUL and Elodia's will rent you 2 beach chairs and an umbrella for $10.00...they have a good restaurant and facilities.

Wednesday night we ate at Antoines in Phillipsburg - they have free valet parking which was a bonus with my Mom not being able to walk long distances. Anyways - I had the lobster thermidor - it was the best I've ever had. A bit pricey - but worth every penny!

Thursday - another beach and relaxing day - went to the Cupecoy area during the evening to watch the sunset. Cupecoy beach is really cool - it's a bunch of cliffs/coves with great views. For dinner we went to La Gondola - again in the Cupecoy/Mullet Bay area - right near the Atlantis casino. The food was the best we had all week - I highly suggest it.

Friday - we hung out at the villa again and enjoyed our last day before heading home to a snow storm and frigid temps. For dinner we went to Pineapple Pete's - again in Simpson bay and the food was delicious.

I highly suggest all of the restaurants listed here. I was not disappointed at any of them - and I'm a food critic! I love to eat and drink nice wine!!!

Saturday - took American Airlines from SXM to San Juan - to Dallas - to Detroit - I know not a direct way to go - but the air fare dictated what we did....the flight was late leaving St Maarten. We were still waiting for our bags at 1215pm in SJU and our connecting flight left at 1240pm. So since my Mom was in a wheelchair - we had airline assistance - she zipped us through customs - then we dropped our bags off - she then zipped us through security - and we got to our connecting gate at 1231pm......they shut the doors to the jetbridge/plane right in our face. I was furious.....I change between a platinum and gold member on American - meaning I fly all the time....dozens of times I've gotten to the gates with minutes to spare and made it......the kicker was when we were waiting for our bags I had the American Baggage service gal call the gate to let them know we were coming...so they knew exactly our circumstance - and they still shut the door and gave away our seats....URG......well - they did reaccomodate us on a flight through Miami - gave us a meal voucher -but it still ticked me off......

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