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Trip Report St. Martin trip report, mid-June 2011!!!

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We'd stayed in St. Martin before (2002 or 2003) and fell in love with it. We were supposed to go back in 2009, but life got in the way and we had to cancel our plans. While we'd stayed at L'Atlantide right on Grand Case beach the first time around, the reviews of it now sounded pretty sad.

So I started googling and found Bleu Emeraude, which was just down the beach from L'Atlantide and looked really inviting! The reviews we found online were really good, and we wanted something that was apartment-like (so we felt like we had a home away from home) and right on the beach, with a balcony. That's exactly what we found in Bleu Emeraude. We contacted the hotel and Camille was knowledgeable and right on it with emails, information, etc.

We were very excited as our travel date of June 14th approached, and couldn't wait. We arrived on Jet Blue and picked up our car from Kenny's Car Rental. Lesley Bruce of Kenny's - what a gentleman, and one of the few who will actually pick you up by the airport instead of having to take a shuttle bus to your car rental place. He also said he'd be there with the car to meet us when our flight arrived (and he was right there) and he was there at the appointed time when we returned the car. Great businessman. Our second time renting from him, we wouldn't go with anyone else. Highly recommended!!

Then, we were on our way to Grand Case. When we checked in, we had a lovely studio on the 2nd floor (they call it the 1st floor, French-style) and we were overlooking the water and could even fall asleep to the sound of the waves. Alors!!!

We had an amazing 8 days at Bleu Emeraude, and Camille could not have been more helpful or sweet. We had everything we needed in the room - including a safe that fit my 15" laptop, free wireless, Nespresso machine, full-sized fridge, iPod doc, flat-screen TV - was right there. It was a quick walk into town, where all the best restaurants are.

I like the fact that they had the metal safety blinds so when we went out, we could put them down and feel safe leaving our things there.

It is basically safe in Grand Case in high or low season, but we went in low season and with fewer tourists around, Grand Case Boulevard does get a bit desolate later at night, so you either want to take your car into town or walk back to your hotel on the beach. Because Bleu Emeraude is in the southern part of the Grand Case crescent beach, walking there on the street at night will take you out to the main highway, with two-way traffic and intermittent sidewalks. It's not far off the main drag, but can be dark and, if very late, a bit scary if some local teenagers are hanging out, as they were on our trip. Nothing to be afraid of, but use common sense. We found that walking the beach back from town at pretty much any hour was very safe. We were there off-season, so it might be different at high season, but we always looked forward to our late night walk home.

We were very lucky to be there for the very first Bliss event at Le Shore (in Grand Case) - one of the best parties we've ever been to, and we're jaded New Yorkers ;-) We actually stayed out till almost 3 am, which is so unlike us.

We took a snorkeling trip on the Lambada to Prickly Pear, Anguilla, which was fun and relaxing, all at the same time. We'd brought our own masks, but they provided masks, fins and life vests for all who needed them. There was food and rum punch and everyone had a really good time. We snorkeled on the reef off of Prickly Pear and then swam to shore for lunch. With fins, it was an easy swim!! Just know that snorkeling in St. Martin and Anguilla is not as great as in other parts of the Caribbean, but it was good enough and certainly worth the day trip.

We'd meant to go horseback riding on the beach, as we had the last time we were here, but it was so hot that not only would we have melted in the sun, but I think the horses would have died underneath us! However, don't let that stop you from going off-season: as long as you're near water, you're good. It's just the extra clothes you have to wear when you're riding that but the kibbosh on that activity.

Our favorite beaches: Baie Rouge, Friar's Bay, Mullet Bay, the beach in Grand Case right in front of our hotel.

Restaurants: Our first trip to St. Martin years ago included lots and lots of restaurants, but we kept it pretty low-key this time and wound up going to Calmos Cafe (okay), Fish Pot (nice presentation), and our favorite, of all things, was pizza at California! Some restaurants we might have checked out were closed because it was off-season. Maybe because it was already pretty hot in June, we just didn't feel like eating big meals. But whatever we had, we enjoyed.

Off-season, many places gives you the $1 = 1 Euro exchange, which really really helps: some restaurants in Grand Case, even the little grocery store just off the bottom of Grand Case Blvd. (where it becomes the two-lane highway). Sometimes there are signs up, sometimes, you just have to ask. Off season may not be as popular a time to go, but we loved it. Lots of perks, like the 1 for 1.

Supermarket: US (Market???) . Better choices than Match, much larger.

ATM's: went to the one by Match for Euros, one near Mullet Bay on the Dutch side for American $$

All in all, a fantastic trip, and we can't wait to go back again!!

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