Old Jan 22nd, 2001, 02:14 PM
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Old Jan 23rd, 2001, 03:27 AM
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St. Martin is very diverse - the Dutch side is much more built up, with a night life (Casinos and nightclubs). The French side is a lot more lay back and cosmopolitan. Both sides have many excellent restaurants to choose from.

I guess I'd have to ask, what appeals to you more in order to suggest places to stay.
Old Jan 23rd, 2001, 08:33 AM
Janice & Tom
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We just returned from 2 weeks in the Caribbean and must suggest that you travel somewhere other then St.Martin/Maarten. The island is a frightening mess -- filthy dirty with HIGH unemployment which means very high crime (both thievery and violent crime). While there for 3 nights we heard several "horror" stories, including the gang rape of an American tourist last summer (her car was stopped on a main road late at night as she returned to her hotel from sampling the island's nightlife). Speaking of which, the nightlife was mediocre, as were the restaurants (unless you like HEAVY French food).

With so many fantastic destinations in the Caribbean, you'd be better off elsewhere.

P.S. Where did infamous pornographer Al Goldstein choose to open his first "legal" whorehouse? You guessed it, St. Maarten.
Old Jan 23rd, 2001, 09:23 AM
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I was on St. Martin last week and had a wonderful time. Without exception, everyone we met on both sides of the island were pleasant and friendly. Is there crime on the island? Of course. Anywhere there are humans there will be crime. Is it worse there than on other islands? I can't answer that. All I know is that we had no problems and would return in a heartbeat.

Regardless of where you go, please be alert and careful.

I take exception to the comment about mediocre food. St. Martin IS French and, surprise!, most of the restaurants are French. If you don't like French food you may be disappointed. But it is very, very good French food. I'm not particularly fond of French food myself, but I thought the food there was wonderful. We ate at a different restaurant every evening and every meal was excellent. (It helps if you like fish and shellfish.)
Old Jan 23rd, 2001, 12:38 PM
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St. Martin is AWESOME. My favorite place in the world. Stay on the French side.
Old Jan 24th, 2001, 03:07 AM
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Yes, SXM can be awesome depending on what you are looking for. If it's daytime activities, you would probably want to stay on Orient Beach. The beach offers all the water sport activities you could want as well as many resturaunts/bars along the stretch.

If you are looking more for the casino/club nightlife, you probably want to stay in the Maho area. Either way, it's at most a 30 minute ride to the other side.

As for nightlife in general, I agree that the casinos are modest. The clubs/bars are pretty good though. It's not the big show type of clubs, but more the local club that you would go to at the shore during the summer.

As for food, do you take the word of Jan and Tom who spent 3 nights there? I wonder how many of the 170 or so resturaunts they sampled. Very few places serve HEAVY French food. Most people don't eat HEAVY French food in the Carribean; not even the French who live there.

Crime is not an issue either. Everybody has "heard" stories. I've even heard about this dot com company that is ready for IPO.....

P.S. So there is a brothel there. Hmmm let's see, since it is leagl in Holland and it is the Dutch side (say duh-huh Bubba)
Old Jan 24th, 2001, 03:21 AM
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You should visit these web sites as well for information. Lots of people post trip reports and get sage advise to questions about the island. I think you will find alot of information to base your decisions.

We were there in November (our 12th visit) - it was absolutely beautiful. They had gotten needed rain - and it was so very green. Dedicated people on the island have been waging a war against litter and such. Their efforts were very apparent. You had to go out of the way to see any litter.

I agree with the person who said stay on the French side, as I prefer the beaches and restaurants on the French side. That is not to say we don't go to the Dutch side, as we have a time share there in spring.

It is so diverse, it offers something to everyone.
Old Jan 24th, 2001, 08:09 AM
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I agree with Jan & Tom.
Abandoned cars...stray dogs...unsavory characters loitering on every corner...scary warnings from resort concierges and rental car companies.

I've spend countless weeks on many Caribbean islands and never experienced the above except on St Martin. (NOTE: I've never been to Jamaica.)
Old Jan 24th, 2001, 09:06 AM
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Oh no; not stray dogs!!!! And the old "unsavory characters". What, they didn't look like you?
Old Jan 24th, 2001, 12:16 PM
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No need to be rude. And you know what "Doc" was talking about, as does everyone else.
Old Jan 29th, 2001, 04:33 PM
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this discussion reminds me of the recent presidential election. Depends on your personal experience, and your predilections. I happen to love St. Martin, both sides. I hate that Mullet Bay is still not restored. It looks ratty and we pass it every day we're there cuz our time share is at The Towers at Mullet Bay, where we have always felt very safe. We wander around all over both sides of the island and have never felt any threat of any kind. I actually like the island not to be too perfect, kind of like life. there are places I would be careful of now , since there is high unemployment, and those poor people don't all have jobs. But that would be true wherever you go, I was certainly much more frightened in Jamaica, way up in the mountains, where four of us, were stopped by a large group of teens, who wouldn't let our car pass. I don't think that would keep me from going back, tho. If I were staying in Grand Case, in the french side of St. martin, I would feel totally safe. We see the same local folks each year when we go there, we have made friends with the gendarmes, we eat in a lot of the wonderful restaurants in Grand Case, and we look forward to the laid back life, and the stray dogs, and the local crazy guy, and the morning coffee and croissants at the Portuguese bakery. Betsy
Old Jan 31st, 2001, 11:52 AM
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Betsy, great comments. I am going for the first time with a couple that has a t/s in the Towers. They haven't been for a while, so it good to read something recent. We'll be there for the Regatta 3 March - any other tips to pass along? particularly regarding the Towers and surrounds?
Old Feb 18th, 2001, 04:10 PM
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You will love St. M. We go once a year. We spend the days at Kakao on Orient Beach and the evenings in Grand Case-the best food. There is crime everywhere-home or on vacation. Just be careful.
Old Feb 23rd, 2001, 10:01 AM
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Hi, Mike!

St. Martin IS awesome! I've been to a few other islands, which I loved, but I seem to keep going back to St.M. If you're going with friends, I would suggest looking into villas. My husband and 2 other couples do this every year, and the rates are excellent. I can give you some information via e-mail later if you're interested in this route. The French side IS better. I'm not much for the casinos, and, to me, the Dutch side is just too busy. It's very easy to get around the island. Just rent a car. The driving's easy compared to other islands, and you drive on the right side of the road. I can also give you car rental information if you wish. Crime is everywhere - no matter where you go. Just use good judgement, and you'll be OK. We both cooked at the villa and went out to restaurants. I found the food fantastic! Yes, some places are more French, with sauces and creams. But, I got a great grilled lobster with lemon butter. Can't be beat! So, it's all depending where you go. Pick up the Fodors Guid to the Caribbean and have a lot of fun!
Old Feb 24th, 2001, 02:42 PM
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My husband and I have been there at least 10 times. We started out staying on the Dutch side. The Dutch side seems to be where first timer's and people who do not rent a car stay. We have since tried and now always stay on the French side at Orient Beach (Esmeralda, Green Cay Village). The last 5 or 6 visits have been to Green Cay where we have baguetts delivered fresh each morning to our villa for $1.00. We have dinner in Grand Case and HIGHLY recommend it. The only time we now go to the Dutch side is for a driving tour to see what has changed or to a Casino after dinner. We shop in Marigot and enjoy the Match grocery where most products have french labels. We have totally removed Phillipsburg from our list as they always have 2 or 3 cruise ships and the place is a mad house. To us, the dutch side is more littered (they pass out alot of time share pamphlets, and you see them tossed along the road further down). The people are friendly. The island is a real place where real people live. If you are looking for a "perfect" Sandal's type resort that is fenced away from the rest of the island and has all the comforts of the states, why even go to the Carribbean?
Old Sep 2nd, 2001, 12:26 AM
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Agree with Karen and others about the difference between St. Maarten and St. Martin (even though I AM Dutch!). St. Maarten is MUCH messier, sloppier etc. We used to stay on that side but now only stay on the French side. Much nicer hotels, much better food, much cleaner and tidier. Of course St. Martin isn't "perfect" either, wouldn't it be boring if it was?
Old Sep 2nd, 2001, 09:39 AM
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If you want a "Nice" Island then go to grand cayman. Grand cayman was real nice. There was something about it I didint like. It was way too nice. It was like going to an american beach. All the nice stores. All the wealthy bankers walking around. If you go to st. martn you get dutch and french, if you go to cayman you get american.
Old Sep 3rd, 2001, 01:21 AM
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Can anyone recommend an hotel for a week near the beach at Saint-Martin? Many thanks. Alex
Old Sep 3rd, 2001, 03:03 AM
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If you're looking for a place on Orient Beach, try this link. It can point you to a great selection of places to stay there.


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