La Belle Creole was a long time dream of Claudius Charles Philippe, the once general manager of the famous Waldorf-Astoria and a man obsessed with luxury, who had a vision of building a little French hideaway on a French St. Martin peninsula. A dream that unfortunately was tangled in a nasty financial web right from the start, when shortly after construction started it ran into money trouble, which eventually halted the project for several years until it was picked up again by other investors.
Some say La Belle Creole was built on sacred grounds, others are convinced that the project was cursed from the beginning and never stood a chance. They may have been right considering the fact that the once gorgeous and unique lavish hotel now sits abandoned after being destroyed by hurricane Luis back in 1995.
Walking through the hotel grounds is now like walking through a ghost town. Besides the buildings still standing erect after the massive destruction brought on by Luis, furniture pieces or rather what is left of them can be be seen in some of the rooms, making it easy to imagine the immense beauty this place must have possessed back in the 80’s.
For me it was something like a scene out of the hit movie Titanic. I could almost hear the string quartet playing in the ballroom, the shuffling of feet of guests dancing, the excited chatter of new visitors arriving in the lobby or the breeze and smell of the ocean guests must have felt on their faces while lounging on their patios. They just don’t make hotels like this anymore.
La Belle Creole now stands alone, slowly decaying and waiting to be transformed back into its former glory.
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