St. Maarten Super Picks: Where to Stay, Eat and Play Post-Hurricane
March 18, 2018
The Caribbean’s legendary hedonistic vacation destination St. Maarten/St. Martin temporarily lost some of its glamour when Category 5+ Hurricane Irma slammed into the island on September 6th, 2017. The eye of the storm went right over St. Maarten and brought wind-speeds which have never been measured before!
The fact remains that St. Maarten is one of the Caribbean’s most popular vacation spots. Many of the island’s key attractions have been restored by now. We are ready to receive visitors – by cruise ship or for extended stays. The recovery of the island is in full swing, the spirit of our cosmopolitan community fully alive. You should visit to have a great time!
Where to Stay
Resorts are reopening their doors after major renovations – offering now improved accommodations. Below is a list of our favorite places to stay on the island, personally recommended by our staff and now ready to service you!
On several evenings, the Ocean Lounge features live music of different styles – setting the mood with soothing tunes of Caribbean Salsa, Reggae, Zouk and European Lounge. The bartenders know how to mix the perfect cocktail for a Caribbean night, from classics such as Pina Colada to special house cocktails.
Located on Front Street, the Hollywood Casino is located right in the center of a group of larger resorts and is the gaming spot of choice for anybody staying in Simpson Bay or Pelican Key. This full featured casino offers all the latest slots, but also the classic tables games. Though not large, the Hollywood Casino has a cozy quality about it and might be best described as a ’boutique casino’. Located on the road leading to the Pelican neighborhood, this gem of a casino can be easily missed if you only explore the strip of Airport Road. Just take a turn at the Burger King (there is only one in Simpson Bay), follow the road up a hill and you’ll find the casino right there.
A favorite of Raj and Mickey, the Red Piano Bar is among the most famous bars on St. Maarten, situated in the center of the Pelican Key in between the Simpson Bay Resort and Flamingo Resort and right behind the Hollywood Casino. The Red Piano opens every night at 7PM and has live entertainment 7 nights a week starting at 8PM. Tuesday thru Sunday is hosted by our world renowned piano players who are replaced monthly to keep the lineup fresh. Obviously, the piano players must have at least one night off during the week and this evening has evolved now into the legendary Monday nights.
Topper’s Bar has become famous for its Karaoke nights, while it has always been one of the most popular restaurants. But for a few years now, the bar has developed into the island’s most popular location for amateur singers and is drawing crowds almost every evening. Locals and visitors mix up here to sing the tropical night away.
Our capital town of Philipsburg is back to be a popular stop for cruise ships, famous for the best Caribbean shopping.
As hard to believe as it may be, St. Maarten has thirty-seven beaches on its thirty-seven square miles! Whatever your lifestyle or vacation style, there will certainly be a beach suited to the ambiance you desire. For the action seeker, Kim Sha and Great Bay beach offer water sports of every description.
Beach bars and cafes are there for your enjoyment too, and offer varied cuisines, from pizza and burgers at Buccaneer Beach Bar on Kim Sha, as well as local Caribbean fare at Mullet Bay. Blenders are busy mixing up delicious fresh frozen cocktails, guava berry, mango, and passion fruit coladas at Karakter Beach Bar. Beach chairs and umbrellas are provided for those who just want to soak up the rays and do some people watching at Great Bay Beach. Sint Maarten Yacht Club a great spot to chill out and enjoy a lovely view of the mega yachts.
If quiet and privacy is more to your liking, St. Maarten has numerous beaches that are semi-to-totally secluded and offer little or no facilities. Ask a local for directions.
Where to Eat
If you are a lover of great food, then you have come to the right spot. St. Maarten, for such a small island, has probably the highest concentration of fine restaurants per square mile in the entire Caribbean.
Bistrot Caraibes located in the fishing village of Grand Case offers you an experience in fine French cuisine with a touch of Creole/local, and with an extensive list of fine wines. It has ranked on the list top 5 restaurants in Grand Case for many years, and is a place where you will feel welcome from the start. The two brothers and owners, Thibault and Amaury Meziere are professionals and wonderful hosts who have offered consistently excellent food and service for about two decades! Main courses at Bistrot Caraibes range from fresh local lobster (picked from the lobster tank next to your table) and fresh fish to roasted duck. Leave some room for the end … their desserts are to die for!
The same brothers, Amaury and Thibault, also offer lodging at their beautifully renovated yet very affordable Orient Beach Studios.
La Villa is a highly rated restaurant taken over, renovated and run by Florence and Christophe since late 2009. Warm hosts, excellent service, a wonderful setting and perfectly prepared food whether you prefer fish, meat, appetizers, entrees or dessert … This place receives high accolades from everybody! Look them up on TripAdvisor, they are consistently ranked highly in Grand Case.
The Lolo’s of Grand Case are seaside eateries right in the heart of Grand Case with tables alongside the street OR seating on the partially covered terrace overlooking the beach, next to the main pier. A “must go” during your visit on the island! These Lolo’s are casual open air eateries run by locals. Settings of picnic-style tables are all around the BBQs to grill the catches of the day, fresh fish, lobsters, gambas, and ribs or chicken served with fries or rice and cole slaw. Very moderately priced for very decent food! Prepared fresh every day, in big portions and at low prices! The average price is $10-15 for a meal. Patrons of the Lolo’s come from all over the world, but most times it’s a crowd of locals, French residents and North American tourists.
Whenever you choose to come back to visit St. Maarten, know that the local businesses and friendly people of the island are ready to welcome you with our signature customer service and warmth. Though the rebuilding process continues after the devastation of the hurricanes, many of our best hotels, resorts, restaurants and attractions are back to their pristine conditions and visitors are sure to be awed by the beauty and splendor of the islands. We hope that when you book your next trip, you plan on visiting us at Grand Jewelers to let us know your favorite places in St. Maarten!
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