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The island of St. Maarten is a Dutch gemstone wrapped in chic amenities and lavish finds. With lush landscape and mountainous backdrops, this Eastern Caribbean jewel is oozing with beauty at every turn. There are more than 120 nationalities, including those that reside on the northern French side- in Saint Martin. Dating back to 1648, the island was divided into two sections as part of a treaty; the southern portion was given to the Netherlands and the upper portion was granted to France. In fact, it’s the variance in backgrounds that lends to uniqueness of this 37 square mile stretch of land, making it such a special place to encounter. Additionally, the island is positioned between both the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, providing visitors a number of options upon both the land and sea. Tourists can participate in everything from sailing over to one of the neighboring islands, like St. Barts, Anguilla, Saba, St. Kits or St. Eustatius, to indulging in culinary bliss at chic hotels with upscale amenities. However you elect to spend your holiday, the majestic splendor of Dutch St. Maarten is ready to embrace you.
St. Maarten has no shortage of jewelry stores. The Philipsburg area alone boasts of more posh pieces within one block than your average shopping mall. Vacationers on the hunt for something rare won’t leave the island dispirited. There are GIA certified loose diamond specialists who sell canary yellow and natural pink stones in a variety of sizes, as well as those who feature yellow, rose and white gold items, alongside platinum and steel. Shoppers will also find leading watch retailers who showcase some of the most exquisite of timepieces such as Rue Du Rhone, Hublot, Ebel and Alpina- inside their bountifully filled jewelry cases. Stop by acclaimed Diamonds International, Ocean Jewelers, Ray’s Jewelry International, Oro Diamante- Fine Jewelers or Caribbean Gems for all of your archaic bijoux.
Be sure to bring a hardy appetite and well seasoned palate since St. Maarten is considered, “The Culinary Capital of the Caribbean.” The 120 plus nationalities that convivially mesh on the island are clearly evident in the food. The fusion of flavors is comparable to taking a trip around the globe in just one sitting alone, making it quite obvious how this splendid locale received its culinary designation. The melange of sapid dishes found throughout the island is endless, but we’ll focus our attention today on the Dutch side. Some upscale diner favorites include Antoine by The Sea, Ocean Lounge and Charter House 1863. Other moderately priced eateries with rave reviews are Skip Jack’s Bar, Lal’s Indian Cruisine and Boca Marina Restaurant & Bar. Front Street less expensive favorites include Kool Vibes, Taloula Mango’s, Barefoot Terrace Bar & Restaurant and the Pink Pearl (Chinese.) There are also popular resort restaurants like Azul, which offers Mediterranean cuisine, located inside Sonesta Ocean Point resort, and the new Pure Ocean, located at Divi Little Bay Beach Resort, who offers fusion cuisine. The list of superb food finds goes on, so I encourage all gastronomes to make the pilgrimage to this delectable, culinary dynamo ready to feast.
If the idea of ocean breezes, turquoise waters and spectacular scenery heighten’s your senses, then consider yacht charter service over to one of the neighboring islands. There is an influx in deluxe offerings when it comes to your nautical pleasure. Yachters can choose between Private Yacht Charter SXM, The Moorings, or one of the other local companies for premier charter service. Guests can also make the voyage over to St. Barts, Saba, Anguilla or Prickly Pear via Aqua Mania Adventures. For a more physical expedition, visit downtown Philipsburg for an adventure packed land or sea expedition- with Big Foot Water Sports. They are located right along the boardwalk on Front Street, behind Holland House. They offer jetski rentals and Lagoon Island tours for those in search of a more active escapade.
Whether you elect to uncover the magnificence of the island alone, as a pair or with your entire family, both elegant and comfortable accommodations await you. Although there are a number of resorts on the island, here are my recommendations based upon my experience below.
This full-service, 4 star picture perfect resort is an ideal location for everyone. They have a Treasure of the Caribbean Kid’s Club for young travelers, aged 4-12, inclusive of weekly activities that are just for kids; like sandcastle contests, treasure hunts and movie nights, while adult guests can take part in everything from water aerobics to karaoke at evening socials. The property is also situated on a private peninsula between two bays, affording those who are lounged across the powdery white sand beach, the opportunity to catch some stunning sights- of passing boats and cruise ships. Additionally, there are 3 fresh water pools throughout, concierge services, free wifi, a fitness center, a water sports center for rentals, an award winning full-service day spa with ocean front views, gift shops, a grocery mart, two open-air restaurants, one deluxe fine dining restaurant (pureocean) and a café on the premises, too. Divi is also home to Fort Amsterdam, which sits atop a hill at the latter end of the resort- with breathtaking views of the island. The resort features upscale suites, of which many are equipped with postcard worthy balcony views, Jacuzzi tubs, stainless steel appliances, granite counter tops and tile floors – as well as houses some standard hotel, non-suite rooms. All-inclusive packages are also available. www.diviresorts.com
This swank 5-star adults-only resort caters to the luxuriant taste of the super sophisticated. Guests of Ocean Point will enjoy a limitless all-inclusive holiday, 24 hr room service and private concierge service, coupled with incredible views of incoming airplanes at renowned, Maho Beach. All suites are beautifully decorated in contemporary designs with in-room mini bars, balconies and posh dwellings. There are 3 restaurants on site; one of which is the Mediterranean inspired Azul- sitting atop a magnificently chiseled cliff with spectacular ocean sounds and views, 3 bars, and a wellness treatment center where guests can relish in spa services overlooking the sea, amidst the soothing sounds of the waves. There is also a fitness center, daytime and evening activities and entertainment and free wifi. All Ocean Point residents have full access to the other Sonesta family resorts on the island during their stay. www.sonesta.com
Tourists will get the best of both worlds with a visit to the island. This Dutch and French gem has mastered the blending of cultures impeccably, leaving its visitors wanting more. With such warm and inviting natives, swaying coconut palm backdrops and an average temperature of 80 degrees F, it’s easy to understand why this tropical paradise, draws scores of visitors from around the globe annually.