Here it is a few weeks since our stay at The Esmeralda Resort on the French-side of St. Martin, and I’m still feeling it’s relaxed vibe. This hotel is a fantastic choice for folks who want to slip away for a peaceful vacation that’s only steps away from the excitement of Orient Beach. We selected this property for a post-cruise stay, and it proved to be the perfect place to unwind from the busy cruise ship atmosphere. After a week of sharing space with a ship full of passengers, it was bliss to relax in our charming villa and soak in the natural charm of the hillside setting.
About The Hotel
The resort is located a 20 minute drive from the cruise port in Philipsburg or 30 minutes from Juliana airport, and the transition from the bustling Dutch side of St. Maarten, to the relaxed French side was most welcomed. We arrived to find 18 pastel colored villas spread out in a garden setting, giving the feel of a private club rather than sprawling hotel. Each villa has it’s own private pool and sundeck that’s shared between 3 rooms – very civilized!
Rooms are spacious with romantic colonial style beds, chic casual couches and chairs (we were staying in a suite) and nice deck furniture. All units have an efficiency kitchen (looked like it was rarely used), cable TV and WiFi. The bathrooms have luscious aquamarine tiles, rainforest shower heads and large spa-quality amenities. This hotel is not new, but it has recently undergone a substantial rejuvenation. You may find traces of the older property, but for the most part, the rooms have been nicely updated and refreshed.
Enjoying Orient Beach
Wander down the paved walkway to beautiful Orient Beach. One of the advantages of staying at Esmeralda is your privileges at the Coco Beach Club directly ‘down the garden path’ from the hotel. Here you’ll find an inviting beachfront restaurant and complimentary use of 2 lounge chairs, umbrella and beach towels. (Yes, you’ll need to tip the beach boy if you want a prime spot.) My choice would be to pony up $25 for the use of the beach-bed cabana for the entire day. On the day we spent at the beach, it was still available when we arrived at 10am. You can use your room card to charge food and beverages at a number of lively beach clubs along Orient Beach, but we preferred the quieter location of the Coco Beach Club.
Dining in St. Martin
We had a nice dinner at L’Astrolabe, the hotel’s restaurant. A word to the wise… before choosing a romantic poolside table under the stars, be aware that rain showers have a tendency to sweep through during evening hours. And in case you haven’t heard, the price of meals in St. Martin reflect the excellent French cuisine coupled with the expense of importing ingredients. My way of saying… the food is excellent and pricey. You won’t find bargain buffets here!
If you’re staying more than a few nights, you will definitely want to rent a car. The legendary great restaurants of Grand Case are just 15 minutes away, and exciting Marigot is a 30 minute drive. Make plans to visit Grand Case on Tuesday nights when it becomes a Pedestrian Only Zone from January through March. “Harmony Nights” turn into a fun and festive street party from 6-10pm.
Who Would Enjoy A Stay At The Esmeralda Resort?
Folks who are looking for a mellow, relaxing beach vacation will appreciate the atmosphere at Esmeralda. There is NO nightlife, no gambling, no shopping, no activities director to plan your every move…. but there IS a lovely setting, ample privacy, and nice accommodations all perched just behind lively Orient Beach. If you’re looking for a high-touch, stylized, busy vacation experience, this is probably not the property for you. If you are a seasoned traveler who enjoys a low-key congenial atmosphere for a relaxing vacation, The Esmeralda Resort is a great choice.
For more information on vacationing in St. Martin, visit IledeSaintMartin.org