Hi! It's Karen from Karen Vincent Solutions.
Despite much of the island still rebuilding after being devastated by Hurricane Irma in 2017, we found St. Martin to be beautiful and thoroughly enjoyed our time there. The people are warm and friendly and despite having recently been hit by the worst hurricane in a century, they are incredibly resilient.
St. Martin is made of two separate countries. The French side, known as the quieter side, is called Saint-Martin and the Dutch side, with more activity and nightlife, is called Sint Maarten.
We arrived at the island by boat from Anguilla and made our way through customs before getting into a prearranged van to The Belmond La Sammana, where we were staying on the French side of the island.
As it turns out, there was some confusion and the van took us to the airport and then was not immediately able to reroute to take us to our hotel. After waiting about fifteen minutes, our driver and another van driver were able to sort it out and reroute us to The Belmond La Sammana.
As we pulled up, the manager came out and apologized for the confusion and offered us a drink to enjoy as we checked in. The mishap with the van was immediately forgotten as we took in the beautiful view of the ocean from the resort’s main lobby.
After checking in, the manager took us to our room, which he had upgraded due to our minor delay in getting to the resort. Our one-bedroom suite with chilled champagne and fresh fruit on the table had two…yes… two separate balconies with ocean views and one of them with lounge chairs and a jacuzzi.
There was also a large living room, kitchenette, a large bedroom and a huge bathroom. It was absolutely beautiful, and the upgrade was above and beyond anything I would have expected. This is the kind of service that will bring me back to The Belmond La Samanna as well as to any other of the many Belmond hotels throughout the world. You can read about our amazing experience at The Belmond Cap Juluca in Anguilla in my blog post Anguilla – The Belmond Cap Juluca.
After settling in, we walked around the resort which is stunning. From the gorgeous beach, to the two pools, to the restaurants and lounge areas, everything is perfect.
Since it was a bit later in the day, we decided to relax and enjoy our beautiful balcony before getting ready for a barbecue buffet at the beachfront restaurant. The buffet had a ton of food including Mahi Mahi, chicken and beef skirt steak kebobs, pork ribs, prawn, many different salads, a raw bar, crudités, creole rice, grilled vegetables and grilled sweet potato. There was also an assortment of desserts to enjoy after dinner. We took in the fresh ocean air, listened to the live steel drum band and enjoyed the abundant buffet.
There is something so special about being with the person you love, listening to the ocean and steel drums and connecting over a unique dinner experience. What a great first day in St. Martin.
We are early risers so were up the next morning and one of the first few people at the Corail restaurant for an alfresco breakfast. And when I say “breakfast” I mean “feast”! In true French style, the food was beautifully presented surrounded by bright flowers and plants and there were so many options.
In addition to traditional eggs, bacon, sausage and potatoes, there were also tons of fruit options, sandwiches, salads, bread, croissants and muffins. On top of all of that, there was the option to order from a menu that included eggs Benedict, omelets, French toast and much more. We really had to be mindful of not overdoing it so that we were not ready for a nap after breakfast!
After spending some time reading and relaxing at the pool, we decided to head into town to do some exploring and have lunch. We first went to Marigot, the French side capitol where we walked around an open-air market, the marina and the shopping mall. While much of the area had been rebuilt, there was still a lot of recovery from the 2017 Hurricane Irma being done.
After spending time in Marigot, we headed to Phillipsburg, the Dutch side capitol. This is the area where cruise ships dock, so it was very busy with lots of shopping, restaurants and bars. We walked along the boardwalk which goes right along the beach, stopped to get some lunch and did some shopping.
There were many souvenir shops and we were able to find a Christmas tree ornament and magnet which are our go to souvenirs on any trip we take. Sint Maarten is famous for its National Liqueur Guavaberry (rum) and there were lots of shops selling this in Phillipsburg. We decided against buying any…although my husband did decide to get a bottle at the airport as we were leaving, and we have enjoyed sharing this sweet, unique rum with family and friends.
Upon returning to the resort, we headed down to the pool located right on the beach. We met some fun and interesting people and loved the vibe that everyone was just there to relax and enjoy being unplugged from the demands of day to day life. We decided against a fancy dinner and instead sat in the lounge area and had a light dinner while watching the sun set, which was perfect. If you like chicken Caesar salad wraps, The Belmond La Sammana will not steer you wrong…delicious!
The following day, we headed out for a full day boat excursion on Billy Bones Boat Charters. What an experience it was! To read about this top-notch day, check out my blog post St. Martin – Billy Bones Boat Charters full day excursion.
We spent the rest of our time enjoying the resort at the beach, at the pools and snorkeling around the beautiful cliffs. The Belmond La Sammana is outstanding, and we are so glad we stayed there. St. Martin is a beautiful island and even the massive destruction of Hurricane Irma cannot take away the beauty or the spirit of the people.
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