Author Topic: Saint Martin / Marteen master thread.  (Read 14454 times)

Online jj1000

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Saint Martin / Marteen master thread.
« on: October 18, 2012, 10:46:48 AM »
So what's good to do here? I am going for 5 days the beginning of November. I hear there is good snorkeling, scuba diving,  jet ski tours, and zip lining.  What else is there? Which beaches are the best? Are there hostels there that I can just show up and get a bed for say $20 a night? TIA!!!
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Re: Saint Martin / Marteen master thread.
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2012, 11:37:03 AM »
So what's good to do here? I am going for 5 days the beginning of November. I hear there is good snorkeling, scuba diving,  jet ski tours, and zip lining.  What else is there? Which beaches are the best? Are there hostels there that I can just show up and get a bed for say $20 a night? TIA!!!

My 2 cents are from a one day stop during a Caribbean cruise.

I did rhino rider over there. It is like a tour of the island on a kind of jet ski and you do some snorkeling as well. It is a group of about 6 riders with a guide in front. It was great, it is going fast and I recommend it. I also strolled around the dutch side which is much better than the french one based on what I have heard. The sights are simply amazing. The greens and the blues in my pictures were just beautiful.

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Re: Saint Martin / Marteen master thread.
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2012, 03:34:48 PM »
Maho Beach....Get some nice Aircraft pics

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Re: Saint Martin / Marteen master thread.
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2012, 12:18:24 AM »
Captain Alan's three island snorkeling adventure is amazing! There is also a small place where you can create your own cologne/perfume if you are up for it.

Have a safe trip and let us know how it was.

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Re: Saint Martin / Marteen master thread.
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2012, 04:07:45 PM »
The go-kart track is a lot of fun. Just driving around is nice. Beach by the Radisson Blu is nice and not very crowded.

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Re: Saint Martin / Marteen master thread.
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2014, 05:10:43 PM »
Need help with Westin Dawn Beach shows sold out December 25-January 4
I checked today for Christmas 2014 and hotel is booked for paid stays or points. I called them today Feb 2014 and inquired if hotel is not taking reservations, agent said fully booked???
I am gold spg status, not platinum

also, Radisson blue shows paid or paid + points, no points only option for these dates

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Re: Saint Martin / Marteen master thread.
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2014, 01:29:27 PM »
Hey,

just got back on wednesday from St Maarten :) While we didnt do too much besides enjoy the weather, I will try expound a little.

Flight- we went AA from JFK-SXM at 8am for 10k Avios and $5 in taxes. the flight back has about $70 in taxes and surcharges tacked on, so you're looking at another $138 for 2 ppl on the return. AA flights to/from the Carribean get a free checked bag, so that was a bonus. another fluke of Avios tickets is that you get Priority Access, so that definitely helped with the checkin lines and security in JFK! the flight was on an old 757 which should be phased out of AA's fleet. no personal tv's and lots of empty seats all around. flight attendants let people switch to exit rows or anywhere without a problem. we got to SXM at about 12:30pm and funnily enough, they made us board a bus to go the 50 feet to the terminal :o we waited about 25-30 minutes to go through passport control, which was a joke. they don't even give you a second glance. the customs there barely exists-i didn't even see anyone looking to pull people over.

Car Rental- we went outside where each rental agency has a line up for the shuttle. we used Dollar/Thrifty. they tried to stick me with an old beat up Hyundai accent, so i told the manager i wanted the hyudai i10. its probably worth taking the liability insurance there, as its only an extra $10 per day. the car drove horribly considering the island is alot of uphill driving and the car had a 4- cylinder engine(maybe less ::)) either way, you might want to get the nav option, because while people may say its all one road and you cant get lost, it took us almost an hour to get to the westin instead of 25 minutes. very few street names to go by, and lots of turn-offs from the roundabouts. you prob wont need to fill up more than once when you're there, but know that NO gas stations take credit card there, only cash or local debit cards, so make sure you still have cash left right before you return your car!

Hotel- we stayed at the Westin Dawn Beach for 16k Starpoints a night out of a platinum account. at booking, they told me all that was available was a resort view. i had emailed the hotel prior to our arrival inquiring about the possibility of storing food and having them warm it, and they flat out said no outside food on the resort. they did email me a menu they have of frozen kosher meals from some caterer in miami named Cohen's, but they could not provide any other info, so i could not verify kashrus. i also inquired about a fridge in my room, and they said they didnt have any. when we got to the hotel and checked in, the agent said"oh, we upgraded you to a deluxe resort view with a fridge and kitchenette." i was upset because i would have brought food with a fridge. i told him this, and that i wanted an ocean view room. he told me they were sold out, so i asked to speak to a manager. the manager never showed up, so he felt badly and upgraded us 8) the room was spacious and had a really nice view of the ocean and was literally set back about 50 feet from the beach. the hotel itself was pretty nice, the pool area was stunning with a huge pool that didnt seem to be heated too well, and plenty of chairs at the pool and beach too. the hotel also has a small casino off the main lobby that seemed pretty dead. i feel that the hotel has it just to be able to say they do. parking at the hotel is free and not an issue. Dawn Beach definitely is windier and the water choppier than the other beaches in st. maarten, as the beach meets the ocean directly, but it didn't bother us too much.

Activities- while we honestly could have sat at the pool/ beach the entire time and been just fine, we decided to go out a couple of times. we went scuba diving with Ocean Explorers Dive Center (http://www.stmaartendiving.com) in Simpson Bay right near the airport, although you can probably find a closer place to go than there if you're staying at the Westin. they were extremely nice, and took us even though we came like 45 min late from getting lost... water visibility wasnt amazing, but for my first time, it was pretty cool. we also walked along Front Street, the main tourist drag(which is located in Philipsburg-the capitol). it is full of jewelry stores and souvenir stands. you can park in a lot by Bobby's Marina if you are nervous about leaving your car on a side street- costs a dollar an hour, and is basically right next to the cruise port. all the stores are duty free, and you can find some good bargains on booze and cigarettes. on the other side of front street is Back Street, which goes along the water and has lots of bars. the beach at the end of Back Street is really nice, with beautiful views of the bay and the cruise ships docked there. the water is very warm and crystal clear. Right off the beach at the end of Back Street is #1 SXM Parasailing, which has great reviews. the prices aren't cheap, but its supposed to be amazing. we tried twice, but the boat was evidently not working, so if you decide to go, check with them in advance. it seems that most people recommend the 800-foot sail; they charge $90 pp.

Random Info- Most stores accept credit card, just make sure you use a card that doesnt charge forex fee. everyone takes dollars too, and they usually have change. we didn't rent a phone while we were there, i used Skype and Google Voice without a problem. if you're out of the hotel and need to make a call, you can ask for the wifi password at most places and they''ll usually give it no problem or for a small purchase. the island is also on Atlantic time, which is 1 hour ahead of EST, so when you make reservations anywhere, remember its for "island time"! American food products on the island are definitely more expensive, so its prob worth it to shlep your own. the only thing we bought there was water and some packaged Haagen Daz ice cream. give yourself about an hour and a half from when you return the car to make it for your flight. airport is pretty small and not too busy, so you shouldn't see any major lines.

I hope the TR was informative- let me know if you have any questions!

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Re: Saint Martin / Marteen master thread.
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2014, 01:35:09 PM »
did you go to the beach which the planes fly right over??

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Re: Saint Martin / Marteen master thread.
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2014, 01:37:35 PM »
Thanks for the TR. I am going in April so it is appreciated.

Offline arig

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Re: Saint Martin / Marteen master thread.
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2014, 01:37:45 PM »
that's Maho beach, and i didnt make it there. honestly ive seen planes close up before, so that doesnt excite me too much...

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Re: Saint Martin / Marteen master thread.
« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2014, 01:54:12 PM »
Hey,

just got back on wednesday from St Maarten :) While we didnt do too much besides enjoy the weather, I will try expound a little.
etc........
...........
I hope the TR was informative- let me know if you have any questions!

thanks for the trip review.
A Westin that's 50ft from the beach is ideal.
The food would work out with the fridge and the microwave with your platinum upgrade, it seems.
Do you happen to know if the Chabad couple that's there (Chanowitz) has a food service or Shabbos service there?
Seems that they may be 10 miles away:
http://www.jewishsxm.com/templates/articlecco_cdo/aid/1017925/jewish/Visiting-S-Maarten.htm
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Re: Saint Martin / Marteen master thread.
« Reply #11 on: February 09, 2014, 02:36:46 PM »
Westin made it sound at first that there was no fridges or microwaves in the hotel at all, so unless you know forsure before you go that you will get these, bringing food is a mighty big risk. the mini bar in the room can be re-arranged for a couple of small items such as deli or salami. as for chabad, they were totally useless- took them 3 days to answer my email about minyan or possibility of storing food, which were both no's.

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Re: Saint Martin / Marteen master thread.
« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2014, 06:18:33 PM »
Westin made it sound at first that there was no fridges or microwaves in the hotel at all, so unless you know forsure before you go that you will get these, bringing food is a mighty big risk. the mini bar in the room can be re-arranged for a couple of small items such as deli or salami. as for chabad, they were totally useless- took them 3 days to answer my email about minyan or possibility of storing food, which were both no's.
true, it's a risk to bring food, but for small items short term, we've done okay with ice cooling and a large travel cooler..

shame about chabad taking 3 days; I suppose it's peak season over there and crzy busy -- Looks like there are 4 specific
hotels on their website that are close to their location that they deal with for food, kosher, etc..
Hope to go there in the next year or two -- Been there on cruise visits, but not overnight...
wish that they had something nearby in the Starwood family: http://www.jewishsxm.com/templates/articlecco_cdo/aid/2424944/jewish/Kosher-Suites.htm
Maybe this is what was meant by the cohen's - I saw this food link on the chabad website: http://www.mykoshermarket.com/
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Re: Saint Martin / Marteen master thread.
« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2014, 03:02:13 PM »
the food link to Chabad's site is not Cohen's catering, and im not sure really what chabad could be so busy with there- there is no minyan and they dont offer food, so i guess theyre doing A LOT of outreach! there IS a store there called Le Grand Marche that supposedly stocks some kosher items, but when i stopped there, it was closed. the security guard told me its only open from 9am-2pm!! they must be reallly busy during those short hours to make enough money to stay open! :P I also passed another grocery store on Suckergarden Road (i think) that advertised kosher on the banner out front. Important little tidbit- make sure to wear sun block, as the sun there is MUCH stronger than anything you're used too! not fun getting burnt...

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Re: Saint Martin / Marteen master thread.
« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2014, 03:17:27 PM »
the food link to Chabad's site is not Cohen's catering, and im not sure really what chabad could be so busy with there- there is no minyan and they dont offer food, so i guess theyre doing A LOT of outreach! there IS a store there called Le Grand Marche that supposedly stocks some kosher items, but when i stopped there, it was closed. the security guard told me its only open from 9am-2pm!! they must be reallly busy during those short hours to make enough money to stay open! :P I also passed another grocery store on Suckergarden Road (i think) that advertised kosher on the banner out front. Important little tidbit- make sure to wear sun block, as the sun there is MUCH stronger than anything you're used too! not fun getting burnt...
It seems like a busy location from what I've read in some online articles.
One of them said that there are 300 Jewish residents year-round and 1,000 Jewish residents during the winter months
when those in colder climates come to where it's sunny and warm. In addition, due to the fact that there are no Kosher bakeries,
restaurants, Jewish businesses, it seems that they need to make and do everything from scratch --
That can be quite time consuming, as it the outreach that you mentioned.
Here is one article that I found. If someone finds that new gourmet chef link, that would be great, too!
http://www.go-destinationmarketing.com/caribbean/march/stmaarten.html

(this may be the chef link: http://www.collive.com/show_news.rtx?id=23664)
This looks cool for Pesach in the Caribbean: http://www.jpost.com/Travel/Travel-News/Jetsetting-to-the-Caribbean-kosher-style
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Re: Saint Martin / Marteen master thread.
« Reply #15 on: February 16, 2014, 11:24:59 PM »
the food link to Chabad's site is not Cohen's catering, and im not sure really what chabad could be so busy with there- there is no minyan and they dont offer food, so i guess theyre doing A LOT of outreach! there IS a store there called Le Grand Marche that supposedly stocks some kosher items, but when i stopped there, it was closed. the security guard told me its only open from 9am-2pm!! they must be reallly busy during those short hours to make enough money to stay open! :P I also passed another grocery store on Suckergarden Road (i think) that advertised kosher on the banner out front. Important little tidbit- make sure to wear sun block, as the sun there is MUCH stronger than anything you're used too! not fun getting burnt...

May I ask what you did for food then..if no fridge..then you didnt bring, Chabad didnt help you....we're going next week and would like figure this out.

Thanks!

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Re: Saint Martin / Marteen master thread.
« Reply #16 on: February 17, 2014, 12:09:59 AM »
May I ask what you did for food then..if no fridge..then you didnt bring, Chabad didnt help you....we're going next week and would like figure this out.

Thanks!
Where are you staying?

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Re: Saint Martin / Marteen master thread.
« Reply #17 on: February 17, 2014, 10:29:55 AM »
We have stayed at the Westin St Martin 3 times and never had a problem getting a refrigerator in our room. We did have problem with our skillet, the housekeepers shut if off on Shabbat. So hide it.

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Re: Saint Martin / Marteen master thread.
« Reply #18 on: February 17, 2014, 02:47:05 PM »
We have stayed at the Westin St Martin 3 times and never had a problem getting a refrigerator in our room. We did have problem with our skillet, the housekeepers shut if off on Shabbat. So hide it.
Or don't let them house clean till after you eat.

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Re: Saint Martin / Marteen master thread.
« Reply #19 on: February 17, 2014, 02:55:33 PM »
I never get housekeeping on shabbos.
Save your time, I don't answer PM. Post it in the forum and a dedicated DDF'er will get back to you as soon as possible.