Log In   ·   Become A Member
http://www.hamptons.com/gallery/ads/2082.gif

When In Sint Maarten/Saint Martin, Vive La French Side! Part Two: Anse Marcel and Orient Beach

Douglas MacKaye Harrington

Surrounded by mountains, if you are looking for seclusion in Saint Martin then Anse Marcel is your destination. (Photo: Douglas MacKaye Harrington)

Reporters Note: The summer season is long a memory, the winter holidays are over and the Hamptons are relatively quiet until Memorial Day...time for an escape and I think Spring is a perfect time for the Caribbean! Spring is the start of their off-season and there are great resort and hotel values to be found. I have been visiting the island of Sint Maarten/Saint Martin for years, but I decided to make my last visit a working vacation by writing a three-part destination piece on this half Dutch/half French paradise that I truly love, concentrating solely on the French side of the island, Saint Martin, this time around.

About a four hour flight from NYC, for many years only American Airlines and Jet Blue served the island. Now several more air carriers fly non-stop to Princess Juliana Airport located on the Dutch Side, but I highly recommend Jet Blue. The fares are fabulous and I have always found the airport staff and flight crew attentive and highly professional. You definitely need to rent a car while on the island, however wait until you arrive then stroll the counters of the independent car rental agencies and negotiate for the best price. This past trip we rented a compact hatchback for the entire week for only $170 USD! There is a second airport on the French side, Airport de L'Esperance, appropriate for private jets flying out of East Hampton Airport and NYC.

Part Two: Anse Marcel and Orient Beach
If you are looking for seclusion in Saint Martin then Anse Marcel is your destination. This beautiful cove engulfed by mountains on all sides is accessed by a single two-lane road that is reminiscent of driving the Amalfi Coast in Italy with its winding curves and severe elevated cliff drops. It is easy to understand why in 1989 President Bush and French President Mitterrand chose this part of the island for a summit, as it is the perfect geographic scenario for absolute Secret Service security.

One is immediately struck by the stunning façade of the Radisson Blu's Parthenon like columns with billowing blue and white curtains. (Photo: Douglas MacKaye Harrington)

That very summit took place at the now Radisson Blu, at the time the iconic and historic resort known as L'Habitation de Lonvilliers. One is immediately struck by the stunning façade of the Radisson Blu's Parthenon like columns with billowing blue and white curtains. The lobby is expansive with check-in counter, concierge service desk, lounge seating areas and a lovely bar where General Manger Jean-Marc Jalbert and his extraordinary team host an arrival evening cocktail party each night for guests.

The Grande Terrasse courtyard of the Radisson Blu is stunning and expansive bordered by the two main wings of rooms that along with the five Marina Suites make up the accommodation choices of this first-class resort. Our room in Wing One was light and airy with a lovely pale palette and a view of the harbor and Caribbean from our balcony. The bed was extraordinarily comfortable and the linens were absolutely luscious. The bathroom was large with full tub and shower, lovely appointments and top shelve bath accessories. Those with families looking for kitchen amenities should book one of the Marina Suites. I toured the Presidential Suite and it was impressive.

The Grande Terrasse courtyard of the Radisson Blu is stunning and expansive bordered by the two main wings of rooms that along with the five Marina Suites make up the accommodation choices of this first-class resort. (Photo: Douglas MacKaye Harrington)

Along the paths to the beach one intersects the Restaurant Le Marche where an elaborate and extensive complimentary breakfast buffet is served each morning. This same building houses the fitness center and what may be one of the finest spa/salons on the island, Le Spa. Radisson Blu has undoubtedly the largest pool on the island; it is literally the size of a small lake. The beachfront is beautifully maintained with a terrific tiki bar and every water sport imaginable is available.

A walk along the beach "Promenade" will lead you to "C" Le Restaurant, where Executive Chef Bruno Varenne has created a cuisine de maison that has elevated this resort restaurant to a dining destination on Saint Martin. Every course was a standout, but I recommend the Ahi Tuna Sashimi with seared Foie Gras and the Seared Sea Scallops as starters. The Lobster Bisque is one of the best I have ever tasted. Regarding terre and mer main courses, the Seared Duck Breast and Seared Sea Bass were both superb. Definitely include the Crème Brulee as a dessert, served in the shape of a log and absolutely delicious.

Radisson Blu has undoubtedly the largest pool on the island; it is literally the size of a small lake. (Photo: Douglas MacKaye Harrington)

Anse Marcel is close to the most popular beach on the island, Orient Beach. No matter where we are staying on the island in any given year we almost daily make the trek to this beautiful, long and, frankly, Bacchanal stretch of beachfront. Located on the Northeast corner of the island the on-shore breezes are perfect and refreshing without minimizing the tan bake everyone but this alabaster skinned Scotsman wants to bring back from the Caribbean. (In the words of Woody Allen, "I don't tan, I stroke!")

Orient Beach is lined with beachfront bars that offer chaise lounges, umbrellas (for Celts like me), bar and food service, bathrooms, showers, and some have live music. The bars battle for customers with prices for your day long spot in the sun from $7-$12 dollars per person, which includes chaise lounge and umbrella along with your first drink, I am not kidding and they all do an even exchange of dollar to euro!

Orient Beach is lined with beachfront bars that offer chaise lounges, umbrellas, bar and food service, bathrooms, showers, and some have live music. (Photo: Douglas MacKaye Harrington)

I think the best Orient Beach bar by far is the "String Beach Bar" and where we park ourselves in the glorious Caribbean sun every April. Owned by an American Baltimorean when we first visited Saint Martin all those years ago, the bar is now run by the brother of Chef Pascal Paviani (Piazza Pascal mentioned in Part One) and his lovely wife and charmingly precocious son, who seems destined to be the first French born, Caribbean raised Surfing World Champion. Beyond great drinks and a fabulous staff, the food at String Beach Bar is fantastic!

The real celebrity at String Beach Bar is Johnny, the best "Beach Boy" on Orient Beach! (Photo: Douglas MacKaye Harrington)



That said, the real celebrity at String Beach Bar is Johnny, the best "Beach Boy" on Orient Beach! (Please save the PC outrage, like it or not, that is the term in Saint Martin.) Beach Boys are essentially beach waiters that bring the drinks and food to the beachfront chaise lounges and make a damn good living doing it, but also are the salesman for their bars to the tourists walking the beach looking for a place to park their bodies in the sun...none is better in all aspects, as both a beach "man" and salesman, than Johnny!

We left Radisson Blu for a two-day stay at what is arguably one of the top 10 resorts in the world, La Samanna, which I will devote the third part of this destination article to exclusively. However, after our stay at La Samanna we returned to Anse Marcel for our final night in Saint Martin at La Domaine de Lonvilliers, a very pleasant and unexpected surprise of a resort.

La Domaine de Lonvilliers, and this is meant as an absolute compliment, is Bohemian bliss! Literally sharing a property line with Radisson Blu, my impression of this resort was one of a laid back ambiance with no hype, no attitude, and no corporate signature. A grand dame of a hotel that did not age well, it is now a property of the world renowned Chef Christophe Leroy. This is a historic and venerable resort in transition, thankfully evolving in all the right directions.

The large, step-up soak tub at Le Domaine du Lonvilliers was in the corner of the bedroom set against the window of the balcony with the option of a pull-back curtain to bathe privately or soak publicly and view the beauty of Anse Marcel. (Douglas MacKaye Harrington)

First and foremost, I loved our room! It had the most creative décor and design of any hotel suite I have experienced on the island. Colorful and eclectic, the suite was large and airy, yet not an inch of space did not draw your eye to a piece of sculpture or artwork and all perfectly complimenting each other. The bedroom was as large as the sitting area and the expansive balcony was the width of both. A large, step-up soak tub was in the corner of the bedroom set against the window of the balcony with the option of a pull-back curtain to bathe privately or soak publicly and view the beauty of Anse Marcel.

Le Domaine de Lonvilliers has all the beach and water sport amenities necessary including a colorful and very local feel waterfront tiki bar. There is a lovely bougainvillea bordered pool and another adjacent bar to it that serves light cuisine. "Spa, Comfort Zone" offers all possible salon services, including alfresco massages in curtained huts along the beachfront.

Chef Christophe Leroy's La Table du Marche is open-aired with stunning views of the harbor and the Caribbean, it goes without saying that the cuisine matched the view.(Photo: Douglas MacKaye Harrington)

Of course, as a signature Christophe Leroy property, there is a signature Christophe Leroy restaurant, "La Table du Marche." Open-aired with stunning views of the harbor and the Caribbean, it goes without saying that the cuisine matched the view. We opened with Foie Gras with mango chutney that literally melted in our mouths. Regarding my main course of Lamb Ribs with crisps of garlic, all I wrote on my menu notes was, "Exceptional!!!" Lily had the generously sized cut of Chilean Sea Bass that was cooked to perfection and complimented perfectly by Leroy's Miso sauce. We finished with an absolutely classic Crème Brulee and a Pomme Tarte, both excellent. The Carte de Vin is also excellent and it was nice to see it was almost exclusively French, appropriate for Saint Martin and bravo Chef Leroy for passing on Napa, Italy and Chile. As they say, "When in Rome!" To the credit of Le Domaine de Lonvilliers, in the case of Saint Martin "When in France!"

Although strikingly beautiful, the resort is in need of some restoration and that is exactly what is happening. What it is not in need of is a superb staff that aims to please beyond expectation and frankly one of the best luxury hotel values in the Caribbean, simply because it is going through some restoration that will go completely unnoticed by you the average tourist. Carpe diem my friends! Book your Jet Blue flight and seize this affordable opportunity to visit a wonderful first-class resort that very soon will be one of the pearls of the Caribbean and, appropriately, priced to match in another year or two.

Le Domaine de Lonvilliers has all the beach and water sport amenities necessary including a colorful and very local feel waterfront tiki bar. (Photo: Douglas MacKaye Harrington)


Next Part Three: One of the world's truly great resort hotels, La Samanna!


For more information, click here.




Frequently mistaken for the "Most Interesting Man in the World" from the Dos Equis commercials and the iconic gray-bearded Sean Connery, DMH is the Senior Contributing Editor at Hamptons.com. www.hamptons.com Hamptons HamptonsOnline HamptonsOnline




Related Articles:

Be the first to comment on this article. (Just fill out the form below)
 

Submit Your Comment

Please note, you are not currently logged in. Your comment will be submitted as a guest.
To submit your comment as a member, please click here.
Your Name:
Location:*
Comments:*
* Comments will be reviewed and posted in a timely fashion
* All fields are required
Question:*
What color is the sky?
(For spam prevention, thanks)
 
 
 
http://www.hamptons.com/gallery/ads/1192.gif
http://www.hamptons.com/gallery/ads/2083.gif
http://www.hamptons.com/gallery/ads/2112.gif
http://www.hamptons.com/gallery/ads/1891.gif
Gary R. DePersia, Corcoran Real Estate
With over $2 billion in transactions, Gary DePersia is consistently ranked among the top producers in the Hamptons. A year-on-year member of The Corcoran Group President’s Council, he has qualified as a national list maker since 2007. In the 2016 REAL Trends & The Wall Street Journal list of America’s top real estate professionals, he was designated #22 nationally and #5 in the Hamptons by volume with nearly $200 million of transactions for the past year.

East End Tick Control
The East End's only New York State licensed dedicated tick and mosquito control specialists!

Bridgehampton National Bank
For over 100 years Bridgehampton National Bank has been the East End's hometown bank. Many success stories...one bank, BNB!

Advertise on Hamptons.com - Have your business be seen by over 2 million viewers including NEW searches
Hamptons.com- Our exclusive online magazine has 2.6 million Page Views YTD for 2015. Contact us to join our elite group of clients that benefit from having a presence on the Hamptons award winning publication www.Hamptons.com

Hamptons Carpet One Floor & Home
We pay less,and so do you.With over 1,000 stores in our buying group, we can get the lowest prices from the best flooring manufacturers — and pass the savings on to you.Visit our other locations: Hamptons Carpet One Floor & Home, 675 North Sea Road,Southampton, NY 11968

Southampton Masonry-Visiting the Southampton or the Wainscott locations is an exciting experience.
Southampton Masonry has been serving Long Island's masonry and tile needs since 1975. Delivering quality products from Manhattan to Montauk for over three decades. The company's continued success is due primarily to their number one priority: customer satisfaction, with a promise of prompt and courteous service from the professional, knowledgeable staff. Southampton Masonry has the largest inventory on the east end. As direct importers they can offer a large variety of the finest quality products at the most competitive pricing for both your interior and exterior projects.

Despatch of Southampton
Despatch of Southampton has been moving homes locally on the East End for decades. We operate a well-maintained fleet of vehicles that can accommodate any size move. On a day to day basis we service moves from and to New York City.

RJD Gallery specializes in contemporary art with a focus on Magical, Figurative Realism, Narrative Portraiture and Urban Landscape.
We exhibit representational artists from around the world, who produce fine art of exceptional quality that challenge collectors to contemplate concepts about the artist, themselves, and our human experience. Utilizing timeless techniques in creating their drawings, paintings and sculptures, our artists have developed unique, signature styles that present a current vision of our world.

Hampton Luxury Liner
Hampton Luxury Liner was started in 2000 as a more luxurious way to travel from NYC to the Hamptons and back. The clientele quickly grew and over the years Hampton Luxury liner became the preferred method of transportation to the Hamptons and NYC for many living in NYC and the Hamptons that wanted a comfortable and affordable way to travel back and forth. In 2009, HLL was taken over by Classic Coach and things with the liner didn’t change to much for years and the owner there changed the buses to Prevost as opposed to Mercedes Setra Top Class Coaches that have always been a signature of the liner. Please call (631) 537-5800 to reserve a charter or email us at Hampton Luxury Liner. The Only Way to Ride!