We just came back from a vacation in St. Martin last week. The trip itself was nice, although not what I was expecting from what I had read and seen in pictures. It is a small island that is half French and half Dutch. It sounds like a great way to see 2 different cultures on one island. Its still a Caribbean island in total but most people speak French on the French side and I'm not sure what on the Dutch side but most can speak English. Its not like visiting Europe, its like going to the Caribbean and there are buildings and roads in disrepair and animals running around like dogs and chickens. There are beautiful beaches and interesting towns and great resorts as well as casinos. There are also some not so great places in between and crazy, tight roads with lots of turns and hills. If you are looking for French sophistication and charm with shops and restaurants, go to St Barth's. If you are looking for quiet and undeveloped land with the best beaches, go to Anguilla. (both of those islands are a 30 min boat ride away from St. Martin so plan to make the most of your visit and island hop) If you want a variety of beaches, some shopping, some quiet, and some partying and casinos then go to St. Martin. Its all there but you have to figure out where to go on the island. Generally speaking, the Dutch side is cheaper and more of the partying side with clubs and casinos. The french side has slightly better roads and is more mellow. We stayed on two different areas of the French side.
We made it to our hotel on the East side of the island off Orient beach late at night and the night watchman was kind enough to let us in and show us to our room at La Plantation. The rooms were spread out on the property, more like individual villas. Our's was up on the hill, room 902, it was part of a larger rental with 3 units that I assume could all be rented together. We were on one side, as far as we could tell, the middle was empty so we didn't have neighbors. We had a giant patio with a table and a couple of chairs and a stunning view of the water. (there were a few trees obstructing our view but not too bad) We even had our own driveway up to the room. The upper units have the best views and generally cost more. I booked through Travelocity (I called them) and had them request an upper level room even though as far as I could tell from looking at La Plantation's sight I paid the same amount as a lower unit. The room itself was large with a tile floor and sparse furniture. We had a kitchenette, a large bathroom, a firm bed covered with a mosquito net - really 2 twins pushed together, night stands, a flat screen TV, a dresser, a table and chairs, a desk, and a small couch that could be made into a bed. The lobby, pool, and restaurant were down the hill. The breakfast, which was included, was near the pool in a pleasant covered open air patio. They had scrambled eggs, yogurt, fruit, cereal, ham and cheese, juice, coffee and every day they brought a basket of plain croissants, chocolate croissants, and baguettes to our table. There was even a calico cat that seemed to have made herself at home in the restaurant.
I think the hotel is a great value and a good location and I would definitely go back. The staff were friendly and helpful and the hotel seems to be well run all the way around.
The Hotel was in a gated compound with other hotels and restaurants.(quite a few of the smaller hotels that you will read about on here or Travelocity for Orient Beach are here) Orient Beach was a short walk down the hill with all the other beaches practically on top of one another. The beach area was covered with small shops and restaurants. (that close really early on Sunday) Most of the restaurants off the beach had beach chair and umbrellas in front of them. It is a very popular beach on the East side, which is a more windy side of the island.
A note on rental cars, if you get in too late to get your car from the airport most companies will bring your car to you if you call to ask. We used Empress, which only rents cars on the island. They are nice and family owned, and charged exactly what they said but the car wasn't great. The front tire went low the next day and we realized and the car squealed before it warmed up. We got a white Hyundai l10 which is a tiny car that has a tiny trunk (maybe fit 1 sideways suitcase) so if you have more than 2 people you would have to make the choice of people or luggage. It is good to have a small car there with how tight the roads are so don't get anything too big but maybe something with a little more power and space. Also on driving in St. Martin, most roads don't have signs and most maps don't have details so you sort of feel your way around and try not to get into accidents at the various round abouts (or circles of death, as I like to call them). There were goats, chickens, and pregnant dogs as well as potholes and roads that just ended with a cement barrier keeping you from driving into oncoming traffic.
Also, a note about airlines, be careful who you choose, we chose Spirit and our 8 hours of Travel time turned in to 17 on the way and 22 on the way back.
We stayed at the Raddison for the second half of our stay and it lacked the charm and liveliness of La Plantation. The hotel, located in Anse Marsel on the North side, was beautiful and they handed us our welcome drinks immediately as they gave us our room cards and explained where to find our room. Our room was a bit of a disappointment, though, it was small and there was a view of the back of another resort and some mountains. Also we clearly had a neighbor next door playing music and hanging out on the balcony. But the bed and furniture were very comfortable and there were robes and an espresso machine and more channels on the TV as well as web access in the rooms as opposed to La Plantation which we only had web access in the pool and reception area. The grounds were beautiful and peaceful with a private beach where the waves came in slowly and peacefully. There really wasn't a whole lot to do around the hotel.There are only a handful of shops and restaurants near the hotel, so you would definitely want a rental car if you choose to stay at the Raddison. I think you could manage better without a car at La Plantation because of the surrounding area.
- Also Known As:
- La Plantation Marigot
- La Plantation Hotel
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Situated on the north Atlantic coast of St Martin in the heart of the beautiful Orient Bay Resort, LA PLANTATION voted one of the best small hotels in the Caribbean, features St Martin’s most popular beach with its 3 mile stretch of white sand and turquoise waters. Hotel LA PLANTATION unites French West Indian Charm the comfort of modern amenities and personalised service.17 Stylish colonial villas are set amidst 7.5 acres of tropical gardens. A harmonious blend of luxurious palms, banana trees, bougainvilliers , hibiscus and alamanda encircle the Creole coloured villas capped with shingled roofs. Each ground floor villa comprises one suite and 2 studios which maybe rented separately or combined through interior, connecting doors. The atmosphere is decisively exotic, guest rooms are tastefully decorated in warm colours and original art work. The large terraces are cooled by the trade winds and offer for the upper level categories panoramic views over the bay, surrounding islands and the marine reserve. ... more less
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