August 2008by Mary Walshmwalsh@wimco.com
Traveling to St Martin, I did not have a preconceived notion about the island and I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I knew it was larger than nearby islands like St Barts, Anguilla and Nevis, and that it had bustling cities, beautiful beaches, gorgeous villas and a lot to offer. On this first trip I could only stay for three days, and with its new airport and wide selection of direct flights to US cities, St Martin is the perfect island for quick getaway. However, after finally experiencing St Martin itself, I have to say that it is truly outstanding and with so much to see and do, it's definitely in your best interest to rent a villa for a week so you can see and experience everything the island has to offer!
Upon arrival in St Martin, Doug, Lidy and I were whisked from the ferry to our amazing villa, C WAR, and all of my cares melted away. Sylvester and Cicely are in charge of the house and they greeted us with huge smiles. Besides the beachfront location and stylish furnishings, they were my favorite part of the villa. One morning, Sylvester picked us all coconuts, opened them and we sat out by the pool and sipped coconut milk. It was awesome. I also really enjoyed the fact that our rental car was delivered to our villa before we got there. Not having to deal with getting the car after the ferry ride was greatly appreciated!
I knew I would like St Martin (it's a beautiful, tropical location – how can you not?), but I definitely ended up liking it even more than I thought I would. It was busier and more populated than St Barts and Anguilla and there was plenty to do all around the island. However, I loved the fact that although it had that busier side to it in Marigot, you could retire to your serene villa and not have a clue that more active lifestyle was anywhere near you. Our villa was right on Baie Rouge beach, which one would think would have the potential to be a bit noisy, but the only thing we heard was the crashing of the waves. The only thing on Baie Rouge is villas (no hotels) on big lots, so the beach in front of your villa is virtually private. It's a pretty amazing feeling to relax at your villa on the beach with no hint of civilization in sight, and then hop in the car for 10 minutes and be in the bustling city of Marigot. St Martin has the ability to offer whatever kind of "scene" you desire, which is a really great quality in a destination.
My favorite meals in St Martin were complete opposites of each other. One night when we were too tired to go to dinner, we called Drive-In Pizza and had a huge pizza delivered right to our villa. It was really reasonably priced and the pizza was so big that they had to fold part of it over to fit into the box. My other favorite meal was at Chanteclair in the Marina Royale in Marigot. It had an authentic European feel about it and the ambiance was just really nice. My dinner was absolutely delicious – roasted large prawns served with "egg roll" stuffed with lobster and vegetables, bisque sauce flavored with Vandoovan oil. They are also home to "l'innommable au chocolat" – the unnamable chocolate desert. Our dinner guest assured us that it was simply divine, and she was right! The dish was vanilla ice cream with these little round, doughy pastries filled with tons of warm, melted milk chocolate. I am drooling just thinking about it again.
I was so impressed with the villas I saw in St Martin. They are very consistent in a good way. Some of the highlights for me included Villa C DCH, a five bedroom with lovely décor. The views are really outstanding, especially from the kitchen. Villa C AZO is in the hillside, but what it lacks in sea views it more than makes up for in pure quality. This villa is so well decorated and has fun amenities like a juke box, a roof-top sun deck and fitness equipment. Villa C BEN has real attention to detail and I loved the palm tree in the pool. It also has a fantastic tennis court and bocce court. Villa C FOP has one of my favorite pools with a little island in it and a cute bridge. It's great for entertaining with lots of room inside and out and there is a small lake/lagoon off to the side with a hammock for relaxing.
Our flight out of St Martin was a bit delayed, so by the time we got to Charlotte for our connection, we only had an hour. For normal flights this would be fine, but we had to go through immigration and customs, get our baggage again, re-check the bags, go through security and get to our gate. I ran faster than I've ever run in my whole life, but the door was closed by the time we got to our plane. I almost cried, but the airline employee was a saint and let us in. Moral of the story? Make sure you leave plenty of time between your flights so that you don't have to do any running or stressing.
Aside from that little freak-out, my trip was absolutely amazing. I met wonderful people, saw gorgeous villas and views, relaxed on pristine beaches and really got a feel for what the whole Wimco villa vacation experience is all about. I'm definitely spoiled for life now. Roadtrips to colonial Williamsburg don't really hold the same appeal when you know there is a cold glass of rum punch and an infinity pool waiting for you in the Caribbean.
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