by Anne-Marie and Matt
St. Martin, the gateway to St. Barts, is a wonderful destination itself. Two cultures (French and Dutch), terrific nightlife (casinos), tax-free shopping (jewelry) and fabulous cuisine (French, Creole, and anything else you want) means this Caribbean island has something for everyone.
There are many advantages to visiting St. Martin. There are ample flights, many non-stop, from all over the United States, so you don’t have to spend an entire day of your vacation getting there. The island is ideal because if you like to have lots to do St. Martin is the place. There is a variety of water sports from snorkeling to scuba diving, to windsurfing. There are plenty of day boats available for charter fishing or the obligatory rum-laced sunset cruise. The duty free shopping is as good as anywhere in the Caribbean. If you do not happen to have a relative, who is a close friend of a guy who knows this other guy who is related to another guy in the jewelry district, St. Martin is a great place to get your deal on gems and watches. If you yearn for exciting nightlife, there are plenty of discos and casinos. Some refer to St. Martin as the gourmet island. With daily Air France and American carrier arrivals delivering gourmet specialties, the grocery markets are excellent for villa provisioning, and you can rest assured that the restaurants take advantage of readily accessible specialty foods from mainland France. In Grand Case on the French side, you will find some of the best dining in the Caribbean.
The Perfect Villa for Me
I had scheduled an afternoon appointment to see vacation villas with Francis, our local contact. After checking in and getting settled in to my room at La Samanna (I honestly felt that La Samanna required more of my devoted attention), I was looking forward to viewing what are considered some of the finest vacation villas on St. Martin. I called for a driver to bring me to Marigot, where Francis’ office is located. It was a typical summer day in the Caribbean, warm and pleasant with a steady cooling breeze.
Francis escorted me on a tour of a dozen private vacation villas in his collection. These were definitely some of the finest homes I had ever seen in the Caribbean! Each villa was uniquely special and most were very luxurious. La Perla is a classically elegant, one bedroom villa with a spacious terrace and pool. I imagined rolling out of bed into the ocean and then rinsing off in the pool before enjoying my morning coffee under the shade of an umbrella. This was the perfect villa for me. For tennis aficionados there is Little Jazz Bird, a three-bedroom villa with a private tennis court, again located directly on Baie Rouge Beach. I imagined playing a set or two of tennis in an effort to work off the foie gras and snapper with beurre blanc from the night before. (This was definitely the perfect villa for me.) If you have a large family, or if you love to travel with all your friends, then L’Oasis deserves your consideration. L’Oasis is a five bedroom, Moroccan inspired contemporary estate that is located at the end of Baie Rouge. The villa has two swimming pools, a fully equipped media center, and a gourmet kitchen complete with a full-time chef. L’Oasis also has a well-equipped fitness room. The most interesting facet of L’Oasis is the master bath. The shower stall, rather the shower ROOM, has a floor to ceiling glass wall (this is a gated villa) with an incredible view of the ocean below. (L’Oasis was the perfect villa for me and my friends.)