Both sides of the Caribbean Island of St. Martin/Sint Maarten offer travelers numerous opportunities for extraordinary pampering. Whether you are looking for unique spa treatments, fine dining or high-end activities, the Dutch and the French have your back. L’Esplanade in Grand Case boasts well-appointed rooms, private verandas, serene spa experiences, and yoga classes in an intimate setting. Sonesta Ocean Point Resort offers magnificent views, fun activities, decadent spa treatments, butler services and all-inclusive packages with a vibrant resort atmosphere.
St. Martin – the French Side
My daughter Brittney and I began our stay on the island at L’Esplanade in Grand Case. We checked into our spacious one-bedroom suite featuring a full kitchen, an enormous living room and a veranda that spanned the length of the entire suite. Hidden amongst flowering plants and trees on the hillside, L’Esplanade overlooks the walkable town of Grand Case and the shimmering multi-shaded blue waters of the Caribbean Sea.
When traveling for extended lengths of time, it is a joy to have a kitchen for a few days. Brittney and I made a quick trip to the local grocery store, and each morning we relaxed and dined on coffee and breakfast in the privacy of our room.
An array of colors enlivened the grounds at L’Esplanade. The pool, Ti Spa and Ti Temple are located just down the hill from the hotel. Yoga classes are available in the Ti Temple free of charge to guests seven days a week, and the Ti Spa affords a variety of massages, healing therapies and personal care treatments.
I indulged in a hydration facial. My skin was burned and peeling from the outdoor activities in the Caribbean. The facial began with a light scrub followed by the application of several refreshing oils and creams, and then a hydration mask was placed on top. While I lay relaxed absorbing these nourishing creams and oils, the therapist gave me a soothing foot rub. Once finished, my skin looked and felt hydrated and healthier.
Brittney opted for the seaweed detox wrap. The therapist liberally applied a mineral-infused seaweed paste all over Brittney’s body, wrapped her in plastic and then in warm towels. After the wrapping was complete, she gently massaged her feet. She removed the wraps, helped Brittney shower off the paste, and then rubbed her down with oil. The experience left Brittney’s skin silky smooth with an attractive shine.
When we were not relaxing in our suite, sipping chilled drinks by the pool, or reveling in a spa treatment, we treated ourselves to some delicious cuisine in Grand Case.
St. Martin is known for fabulous French dining, Plan to savor a few delectable dinners in town. My top choices are L’Auberge Gourmande and Bistrot Caraibes.
L’Auberge Gourmande was quiet and cozy. We began with two glasses of Gerard Bertrand 2018 Prima Nature Syrah. It was luscious and easy to drink. The duck spring rolls with zucchini, carrot and onion were tasty, and the escargot in garlic and butter could easily compete with any found in Paris. The Peking duck with demi-glace in puff pastry was outstanding and the service was impeccable.
Dinner at Bistrot Caraibes provided a fabulous and yet wholly different vibe. Brothers, Thibault and Amaury, own this local hotspot renowned for its lobster. Thibault escorted me to the front of the restaurant to select my lobster, fished it out of the tank, gave it to me to hold for a photo, and took it to the kitchen to be prepared. While awaiting my lobster, Brittney and I watched as the restaurant quickly filled with hungry guests.
Before my crustacean arrived, Brittney and I shared Bistro Caraibes’ version of escargot. The snails were tasty, and the cream sauce was uber-rich and delicious. The sauce was so good that I had to remind myself to use good manners and not lick the plate. The lobster, cooked to perfection, soon arrived and stole the attention of several nearby guests. It was sweet, tender and unquestionably the most popular dish at the restaurant.
Sint Maarten – the Dutch Side
Justin’s car rental service does a fantastic job transporting guests around the island. They offer a car rental drop-off and pickup service at your hotel. We left our car at L’Esplanade. Justin’s car rental service took us to the Sonesta Ocean Point Resort on the Dutch side of the island. This all-inclusive resort is for adults only. The Sonesta Ocean Point Resort sits poised on the peninsula jutting out into the ocean. The crystal-clear, teal-colored water on this side of the island is exquisite. Guests can choose from seven different room levels beginning with a basic hotel-style room. From there, upgraded rooms offer stunning water views, private pools and butler services. The pièce de ré·sis·tance is the two-bedroom penthouse suite with a butler. If you genuinely want to be pampered, be sure and book a room with butler services.
Brittney and I stayed in the spacious penthouse on the corner of the sixthth floor. My room had a king bed, sitting area, bathroom and a veranda off to the side. Brittney’s room connected to the same veranda and boasted two double beds and a bathroom with a soaking tub. The suite was fantastic, perfect for a family or two couples vacationing together. Dane, our butler, took care of everything. He booked dinner reservations at the Italian restaurant, arranged my spa treatment, organized our transportation across the island, and brought ice cream and bubbly to our room in the evening. Dane was amazing!
Three pools are available to guests at the Sonesta Ocean Point Resort. A large pool adjoining the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, is open to everyone including children staying at the Maho. A second pool is exclusively for Sonesta Ocean Point Resort guests and looks out over the water. The third pool, our favorite, is known as The Edge Pool. It rests adjacent to the Azul Restaurant and includes a human-made beach. It is resplendent with umbrellaed tables and lounge chairs.
As an all-inclusive resort, the property has several restaurants and bars. A variety of dining experiences are available, we especially liked the Azul Restaurant. It rests high above the sea perched at the end of the peninsula. This dazzling open-air restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The views are spectacular, and the setting is glorious.
The newly remodeled full-service spa, located at the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, sits adjacent to the Sonesta Ocean Point Resort. The opulent options are endless. If, however, you want to engage in an exceptionally magnificent experience, book a massage in the cabana.
Dane escorted me to the cabana. We followed a trail heading down the side of the cliff. Upon descent, I spied the soft white linens blowing in the breeze. The platform fitted with twin massage tables seemed to float on the edge of the hillside. Dane left and the masseuse helped me get undressed by shielding me with a sheet. I laid down on the table and the masseuse rubbed oil on my skin and used long deep strokes to ease my tension. It was a warm and humid day, but the cool sea breeze added a refreshing sensation to my massage. The masseuse was a gifted, and the atmosphere elevated the experience to a magical encounter.
Whether you are looking for a high-end vacation in an intimate setting or a marvelous resort atmosphere, the dual island St. Martin/Sint Maarten offers opulent specialties for the most discriminating travelers at L’Esplanade and Sonesta Ocean Point Resort.