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Is St. Martin really terrible?

Old Jan 14th, 2003, 11:23 AM
  #1  
Janna L.
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Is St. Martin really terrible?

I've just booked an 11-day stay in February at L'Esplanade in Grand Case. Never been to St. Martin.
I was very excited about the trip, but after reading some awful reviews of the island I wonder if I've made a mistake. Is St. Martin a dirty, crime-ridden island with rude people? Has anyone got any suggestions to make the trip safe and enjoyable? Any info on L'Esplanade? Thanks so much for your input.
 
Old Jan 14th, 2003, 11:58 AM
  #2  
patrick
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I've been to St. Martin and I don't think I'll return. while it wasn't awful, there are much better islands to visit.

 
Old Jan 14th, 2003, 12:33 PM
  #3  
responding
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Yes Janna, I have one suggestion. Next time, read reviews and research your trip carefully BEFORE booking!
 
Old Jan 14th, 2003, 12:51 PM
  #4  
Linda
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My husband and I have just returned a week ago from St.Martin; we love it there and have been going for 20 years. We stay on the French side; never all-inclusive as there are too many good places to eat. Dirty? We both thought the island looked much cleaner than some years in the past; it's difficult when you get a horrendous hurricane, clean up and get hit again. Crime-ridden? There is some crime as on any island but we have never felt threatened or unsafe ever. Rude people? We've encountered very few over all the years we've gone; and most of those were demanding tourists. I know where L'Esplanade is and have commented on its attractiveness but have never personally been there. Grand Case is wonderful for dining: try Le Pressoir and don't pass up the "lolos"or rib shacks right in the middle of the town; try "Talk of the Town" (right beside the road) it's our favourite: ribs, potato salad, cole slaw and a johnny cake washed down with your favourite beverage will cost you about $10 ($US). Our favourite beach is Orient (clothing optional side - no music, cameras, etc) We take a fold down cooler to the beach packed with cold drinks, ham, cheese, fruit and a baguette; we're there from 9:30 - 3:30. There are a couple of supermarches in Grand Case or a bigger one in Marigot called Match. Other good but inexpensive places for dinner are Le Bar de La Mer on the waterfront and Le Plongeoir (new one) also on the waterfront just along from the new West Indies shopping mall. I even like the shops better on the French side unless you really want to check out jewellery. There are chic clothes, shoes, L'Occitane (soaps) and my favourite "Hip Up" where I always get a bathing suit and beach pants. I can't say the previous posters are wrong because I'm not them but we LOVE the island and can't wait until March when we go back again.
 
Old Jan 14th, 2003, 01:04 PM
  #5  
xxx
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We haven't been back to St. Martin for 3 or 4 years now. Last time we went it had taken a very hard blow from several hurricanes in a row and didn't seem to recover.

You will read both good, bad and very ugly on this web site about St. Martin. So you will have to take it all in and make a decision for yourself. Go read some current articles in travel books or magazines or on travel websites. I do think that 11 days is a long time there. It is not a big island. Maybe go there and then take a day or two trip to a neighboring island.

Although we didn't stay at L'Esplanade, we did go take a look. It is a pretty hotel with a nice hilltop location and great views. Beach would be a walk down the hill. Grand Case has lots of restaurants to choose from.

Janna, let us all know what you decide to do.

 
Old Jan 14th, 2003, 01:49 PM
  #6  
Statia
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Hi Janna,

I live near SXM and people seem to either love it or hate it. Yes, there are poverty looking areas and there is crime (which does seem to be getting somewhat worse over the years), but isn't that something we encounter in just about any major city? And, SXM is like the "major city" for all the nearby gateway islands, which are quieter and more crime-free.

SXM is what you make it. There is great shopping, great beaches, great dining and a lot to do. Personally, I prefer the calm and quite that Grand Case has to offer. Grand Case is my favorite beach, as well. The water is so clear and calm and the area is very relaxing. Make a day of it at Orient, as well, if you want to liven things up. The nice thing with SXM is that you can make it as quiet or lively as you want, depending on where you go.

I don't care to spend time in SXM myself, only because it usually means an errand running marathon for me, and no relaxation. But, it's different for vacationers.

Since you are staying on the French side (which most people I know prefer), I think you will have a nice time. You might also want to think about taking a day trip by ferry to Anguilla and maybe St. Barth's, as well. That way you can experience some of the other islands, too.

Hope you have a fabulous trip. Remember that a vacation can be as good or as bad as you make it. I don't think that you will necessarily "regret" your decision, but then again, I don't know what you are expecting.


 
Old Jan 14th, 2003, 01:57 PM
  #7  
alan
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Hi Janna,

I and two friends go to St. Martin every Thanksgiving and have a wonderful time. Of course we stay on the French side which is so much, much better. We stay on Orient Beach, eat in Grand Case and shop in Marigot.

Are there problems? Probably however we never experienced any during our stay. Is the island a "mess"? Frankly, many sections of the island are not "postcards", however I leave my American expectations at home, travel to St. Martin and have a wonderful time.
Alan
 
Old Jan 14th, 2003, 02:04 PM
  #8  
Susan
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Have been to St. Martin several times, and have been to many other islands....St. Martin is myleast favorite. Not a pretty island....only great thing on St. Martin is the town of Grand Case and all the restaurants.
 
Old Jan 14th, 2003, 03:10 PM
  #9  
Indy
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My husband and I went to St Martin and loved it. It's our favorite island. The beaches are fabulous and the restaurants are incredible (especially on the French side). Make sure to go to the Rainbow in Grand Case. Very romantic. It's expensive but worth it. It's an island that is easy to get around on and we felt very safe. We would go back in a heartbeat.
Enjoy!
 
Old Jan 14th, 2003, 03:33 PM
  #10  
Linda
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I was curious to see what advice other posters would give. I hope you decide to go and I hope you have as wonderful a vacation as we have always had. We don't go expecting pristine perfection; we do go for the fabulous beaches, great food, shopping, proximity to other islands, to see the friends we've made and of course for the sunshine and warmth. I can honestly say we have never had a bad time, nor a bad meal. It's easy to travel to St.Barths, Anguilla, Saba or Statia. I disagree with the person who says 11 days is too long; even with 14 we could stay longer. As soon as my husband retires, we plan to rent there for at least a month.
 
Old Jan 14th, 2003, 03:38 PM
  #11  
kim
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Janna - I about to make my 22 trip to St. Maarten in 20 years, so needless to say I love the place, no its not a drop dead gorgeous island, but its really what you make of it. I never thought I would suggest this, but take a look at traveltalkonline.com and do a search for L'Esplanade, there is a couple, Ed and Sandra that had a wonderful review of the island and that resort. If you are adventurous, you will love the island, if your more into resorts that you never leave, you will probably not like it. The island did get nailed with hurricanes in 1995 and I think 1998, there is political issues on the Dutch side that I have been trying to follow and just don't get. But I'm leaving thursday for 4 nights in the sun and then again in april for 2 weeks. Another website is Gobeach.com, I like that one the best and you can do a search on it for any of your questions.
 
Old Jan 14th, 2003, 03:41 PM
  #12  
Linda
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Forgot to add: to the poster who advises SXM is expensive; it can be as reasonable or as expensive as you wish. For our last week there I took 500 Euros in AMEX travellers' cheques plus 100 Euros in cash. This paid for all food, gas, beach chairs, some shopping, incidentals...and I brought 30 Euros home. We pick up fruit, cheese, bread, ham, pastries, etc: eat breakfast and lunch when we feel like it at the beach and then go out for dinner each night. Our dinners ranged from 23 Euros - 84 Euros (New Years) for 2, with the usual being 40-50 Euros/night for the 2 of us. Of course if you add bottles of wine, fancy desserts, etc the price goes up. We do have a drink with dinner and occasionally dessert, but we're usually too full. In case you're American, they were quoting dollars and euros at par.
 
Old Jan 14th, 2003, 04:35 PM
  #13  
Chas
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Janna,

One thing to keep in mind about anyplace. Throw out all extreme posts (you know like they are supposed to do in figure skating). This eliminates the fanatics on both ends.

Then read the reviews in the middle carefully. One thing I have found is that people who pan a place, any place, most of the times don't provide specifics. Can you base a decision on that?

Yes, I've been there and like it. Perfect, probably not. It's not dirty, those are mostly old reviews of when it was 2-3 years ago. Are they rude, not when you talk with them. Most people love to talk. Crime, yes but not a great concern either.

Also try the WWW.GOBEACH.COM board for more information.
 
Old Jan 14th, 2003, 10:31 PM
  #14  
Sally
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Chas, Linda and some of the others really said it all - St. Martin/Maarten is really nice but no, it's not perfect, it's not Disneyland so to speak. We like it a lot, (have come to prefer the French side) have been there at least 6 times and are going back next year. Last year we went to St. Martin first for 1 week and then to Anguilla for 2 weeks. Two very different islands, but we liked both. Anyway, don't be discouraged by all the negative posts about crime etc. We've never had anything bad happen to us yet (knock wood!). I think your chances of something happening are a lot higher in New York City or in other big towns in the US (or in Europe for that matter). Anyway, have fun and good luck!
 
Old Jan 15th, 2003, 04:22 AM
  #15  
Dave
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I went to St. Martin 3 years ago with my wife and 2 kids (ages 6 and 9). While it is true that the island is lacking in some respects (not as lush and tropical as we expected, lots of poverty in some areas), we still had a great time and found the people to be very friendly. The island had been battered by hurricanes not long before our trip - maybe things have improved since then. We thoroughly enjoyed Marigot (sp?) (lots of good restaurants, shopping), a very quaint city with a nice marina. We spent most of our time on the French side, particularly on the northern part of Orient Beach. If has great beach-front restaurants/bars and a nice tropical atmosphere. Grand Case had many restaurants and we spend our evenings there, but the beach was narrow from the storms and looked a little beat up. We don't gamble, but there are many casinos on the Dutch side if thats your thing. Don't worry about the negative posts; you would have to work pretty hard not to have a great time in St. Martin. BTW, we stayed at the Anse Marcell up north. Very tropical, beautiful beach, etc. Can't comment on the hotel you booked.

Feel free to email me if you have more questions.

Dave
 
Old Jan 15th, 2003, 04:46 AM
  #16  
Neighbor
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While you're there get a reservation for lunch or dinner at Tropicana in Marina Royale, Marigot. Very french cafe-style and the food is formidable! Extremely popular and with good reason.
 
Old Jan 15th, 2003, 04:46 AM
  #17  
Melanie
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I have stayed at L'Esplanade twice. It is a simply gorgeous hotel, with a great view of Grand Case bay and Anguilla in the distance. If you've seen the pictures on the web site, it really is a nice as they make it look. The staff is great, and the rooms were great. It is on the side of the hill, so you can walk down to the village to the restaurants and beach pretty easily (it is a well marked, landscaped footpath). Of course, you have to walk back up again. . . The only drawback to the place is that it overlooks the small airport, so you may wake up to the sound of small prop planes and jets taking off. I actually appreciated that, or I would have slept all day.

I don't ever remember meeting any rude people. Sometimes the timeshare people from the Dutch side get a little pushy with their sales pitches, but just tell them that you were there yesterday. I also felt very safe walking from the village back up the hill to the hotel after dinner.

By the way, what Linda said about Talk of the Town's meal for $10 -- if you can eat all of the food they serve for that price, you won't need to eat again that day!!
 
Old Jan 15th, 2003, 09:22 AM
  #18  
GM
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I don't discourage folks from going there; we prefer the French side also, and from there like to take a speed boat over to Anguilla too.

Where you are planning on staying is nice, so please don't feel you will need to change your plans.

I'm in the NYC area, and so we exercise the same caution for certain areas of the Island as we would around where we live. Phillipsburg on the Dutch side is not a great place to visit, but there's a BBQ restaurant near there (forgot the name...sorry) that had the best BBQ. Spartico's is high-end and pricey for their food.

There's some great duty free shopping for designer things (Gucci, etc.) and beauty products (i.e., Clarins); that takes about 1/2 day, tho.

The best thing about going was we were with friends who, unhappily, the wife died 4 years ago from a brain tumor. I remember all the fun things we did down there, and it's kinda bittersweet, cause I would go back except that it would be hard, remembering our trip.

Have a great time, and please post on how your trip was.
 
Old Jan 15th, 2003, 01:15 PM
  #19  
Statia
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GM: Are you thinking of Texas Pit Barbecue? If so, yes, it's great.
 
Old Jan 15th, 2003, 01:35 PM
  #20  
Janna L
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Thank you all for your responses. Feel much encouraged about the trip. My husband and I have decided to go. Haven't been away since September 11th, we live in NYC, and looking forward to this break. Your suggestions and good wishes are greatly appreciated.
I will be happy to let everyone know about our experiences once we get back.
Janna
 

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