This dining capital of the Caribbean offers visitors the unique experience of enjoying 2 distinct cultures on one stunning tropical island. Dutch St. Maarten is known for being lively and cosmopolitan, while French St. Martin is more tranquil and has the flair of San Tropez. This unique island also offers a wide range of accommodations, ranging from intimate boutique hotels that dot French St. Martin to larger, full-service resorts that showcase Dutch St. Maarten. Accommodations range from moderate to luxurious.
St. Maarten – Dutch St. Maarten, on the southern side of the island, offers a lively atmosphere with an American feel, and fun that includes great beaches, fine dining, bars and nightclubs, and Vegas-style casinos. Nights are the time to experience true Caribbean limin’ (steppin’ out) on this little metropolitan island. Simpson Bay and the bustling capital of Philipsburg are where you’ll find St. Maarten’s dining and entertainment hubs. Philipsburg is also known for its long streets of quaint shops with terrific duty-free bargains.
St. Martin – On the north side of the island, French St. Martin exudes a chic European charm enhanced by sidewalk cafes, peaceful beaches, and an array of bistros and restaurants that cook up the most fabulous gourmet cuisine in the Caribbean. Certain nights at Marigot port and Marina Royale feature many local bands and avant-garde street entertainers. The Marina area is also a hotspot for several chic nightclubs. The capital of Marigot is slower paced than Philipsburg, but the duty-free shopping here and elsewhere is excellent, with French-inspired arcades offering a wide selection of European goods.
The Westin Dawn Beach Resort & Spa is a relatively new addition to St. Maarten, with an international clientele and friendly staff. Situated on Oyster Bay, the Westin Dawn Beach is the premier hotel on the Dutch side, and perhaps the best big-brand hotel on the island. The Westin Dawn Beach has a festive ambiance around the pool area, the restaurants and its Dawn Beach Casino. This is a family-friendly hotel, though it’s equally friendly to singles and child-free couples.
The pool is absolutely the place to be in the daytime. A bubbling hot tub that can easily seat 12 overlooks the ocean to one side. Hotel hits a high standard with its restaurants and bars. Fine dining restaurant Aura and casual-elegant Ocean both boast gorgeous ocean views and excellent fresh seafood/prime steak cuisine, although Aura’s dress code is a notch or two above Ocean’s. Sunday buffet brunch at Ocean is the best on the island, with crab legs and sushi, carving stations and made-to-order pasta, omelet station and bottomless champange.