Our April - May Trip
Date: May 26, 2014 11:57AM
My only disclaimer is I thought I had posted this here yesterday. Woops!!
...finally, the end of our Spring trip.
We had a wonderful trip 4/19 through 5/6, staying at the Towers and at the Grand Case Beach club. Iâ€™m going to try to wrap up our trip in short fashion. (She says with a knowing smile....)
We flew AA 1596 from JFK on 4/19 â€“ good seats up front and a great flight with early arrivals in SXM and on top of that, we cleared the PJIA terminal quickly. Lesley Bruce was in the exit area waiting for us with our trusty little â€œR-16â€, our chariot for the trip. He started us off with close to a full tank of gas and we refilled it once toward the end of the trip somewhere on the French side (only because that's where we were when we thought about it...) for about $55. It served us well.
On to the Towers â€“ great two bedroom suite for the two weeks there â€“ high up with the view we prefer. Jeannie had already been there with our grocery delivery so cold drinks were on hand and in order while we unpacked. And you know I think Jeannieâ€™s a gem. The best treat that afternoon was Sharon stopping by to see if I had figured out my cell phone.....sorry Sharon, I never did get it all, but at least I could call out in an emergency and the best part - I never needed to.
Over the time we were on island, we chose to have most of our breakfasts on our balcony, usually consisting of coffee, love that Douwe Eberts (sp?) and pastries from either Serafinas or LaSucriere. You just canâ€™t beat the view or the pleasure of breakfast in your pjs (or whatever?). We were content with stocking up on pastries a couple of times and freezing them for the days we ate in, but the pastry truck does deliver to the Towers again. Other breakfasts were enjoyed at the Green Monkey at Ocean Club, SMYC to watch the bridge opening, the Barefoot Terrace on the Boardwalk in Pâ€™berg to enjoy a little people watching and the Tortuga Club at Royal Islander LePlage â€“ what a pretty setting so I'm wondering, how did we miss this one over all these years?! If I had to pick a favorite breakfast and discounting our beloved balcony at the Towers, Iâ€™d choose the SMYC for the entertainment factor and the variety of the menu, and for overall food and price, I think Iâ€™d have to say the Barefoot Terrace, but all were very enjoyable.
Our lunches were all over the place â€“ a few days we made sandwiches on those wonderful baguettes and enjoyed them at the beach or pool but among the restaurants we enjoyed were Marys Boon on Simpson Bay Beach for delightful salads, Rosieâ€™s for what we think are the best ribs on the island, Friars Bay Beach CafÃ© where everything is to die for, Dreams Beach where again, everything is out of this world, Paradise View which Iâ€™d been trying to get to for years but my timing never quite worked, Sunset CafÃ© at Grand Case Beach Club, and even burgers and fries on the pool deck at the Towers Pool Bar. They were all great and all different but I think my favorites would probably be Rosieâ€™s and Friars Bay Beach CafÃ©. Although the grouper burger at Sunset Cafe was excellent, too......
St. Maarten, as everyone knows is all about beaches and food and we enjoyed many wonderful dinners in many enjoyable locations, even including our balcony at the Towers where we enjoyed the reheats from some of the places we frequented. Dinners we enjoyed over our stay were at Antoines in Pâ€™berg, Bavaria â€“ Simpson Bay, Fig - Cupecoy, Aux Quatre Vents â€“ Porto Cupecoy, Skipjacks - Simpson Bay, Bajatzsu â€“ Maho, Moulin Fou â€“ Maho, Sunset CafÃ© â€“ Grand Case Beach Club, Dreams Beach in Nettle Bay and Il Nettuno on restaurant row in Grand Case. They were all great for different reasons, and as most know, my personal favorite for reasons I couldnâ€™t begin to explain, is still Antoines but every meal we had on the island was wonderful. If I had to select one, â€˜the best dinnerâ€™ would actually be a three way tie for first place in my book: Dreams for location and over-all quality of meals, service and setting; Antoines because itâ€™s Antoines; and Bavaria for being so â€˜differentâ€™ from most of the other St. Maarten/St. Martin restaurants. Oh, and Bavaria still has that wonderful home-made warm apple strudel which is out of this world. Perhaps make that a four-way tie because FIG is a great little find, too, for quality of food, service and price.
We did considerably less beaching this trip than we normally do, but we still managed to enjoy Friars Bay (thankfully with no problems such as have recently been discussed here), Simpson Bay at Marys Boon and the beaches at Grand Case Beach Club along with some time at Mullet, and Iâ€™m sure it goes without saying which was our personal favorite, so I won't!
For those who might want a change of lodging scenery, Grand Case Beach Club offers some very good off season rates and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay there and if time and circumstances allowed, weâ€™d go back in a heartbeat. The suites have everything you could possibly need and if there should be something you need, just ask and they magically find it for you.
Things we noticed this trip that might be of interest (or not?):
First and foremost, we found a few restaurants were actually stocking a non-alcoholic beer this trip - Bavaria had Becks and Dreams Beach had Tortels, a French NA.
We had no issues with mosquitoes during our entire trip, 4/18 through 5/6, and we were literally all over the island. And even at the managers party at the Towers, we remained 'unbitten' which is a shocker since the late afternoon/early evening moskies out there can be brutal.
Staying on St. Maarten as many times as we have, I still managed to get a major sunburn this trip, something I'd never done before, ever! If it ever happens to you, a great product to help alleviate the discomfort of a major sunburn is Biafene (sp?) which is available in most pharmacies OTC. It works amazingly well and equally fast.
We experienced no traffic problems and no police controls on either side of the island, not that the latter would have bothered us if we did.
We loved the new causeway for its convenience factor, even understanding the potentially negative environmental impact it may have, but weâ€™ll never â€˜getâ€™ why St. Martin, who benefits hugely from its existence, wasnâ€™t consulted and asked to pay part of the associated costs.
We asked at many of the places we frequented and we found that many places do still accept TCs but being the 'what if' gal that I am, weâ€™d rather be safe than sorry, so we brought only cash and used credit cards more this trip than ever before with no problems so far.
Lesley, Sharon and Jeannie â€“ you are the very best and your services are still among the best of the best in my SXM book.
Bajatzsu is still a great restaurant venue but even as we enjoyed it, and we did, we felt the portions had gotten considerably smaller and the prices considerably higher which might cause me to reconsider this venue for future trips. But that would be my problem because I don't much favor indoor dining locations on the island in the first place. And it definitely is still one of the classiest places on the island, IMHO.
And lastly, the Mullet Golf Course was being played constantly while we were there and we saw bits and pieces of the St. Maarten Open being played as well. The course was being pretty well maintained by their standards of late prior to the Open and it helped there had been lots of rain. Once the open was done, the watering seemed to cease and the lack of rain did a number, too, but there were still plenty of players out there daily. And I guess there was another rainy spell after we left so hopefully, it's looking okay and being well used.
And in conclusion, we left SXM on 5/6 using the Executive Lounge at the airport again, and liking it just as much as the last time, and flying JB into JFK. We experienced a very good flight and enjoyed the sandwiches we picked up at Zee Best on our way to the airport. We had no issues with C & I at JFK. We donâ€™t have Global Entry or TSA-precheck and we still breezed through the airport. Something was going on that they had no gate for us and they off locaded us onto buses by row and took us right to the Immigration Hall, so that was a big help. JFK luggage carousels are another issue and I'm not going there.
Regrets - I have a few. Didn't get to Mullet as much as we might have liked to. Never got to a few of our favorite places, like LaRosa, Too at Maho, Chesterfields and Pasanggrahan on Front St, and we missed seeing a few of our favorite island people, particularly most members of the Budrhani (sp?) family (owners of Caribbean Gems) who were either off island or not 'in' the shops the days we visited. But the good things about these regrets, they give us something to shoot for 'next time' and trust me, we will and there will be a next time, since Iâ€™m already engrossed in planning future trips with one already in my pocket.
And lastly, I truly hope all who visit in the future can have as nice a time as we did.