“The best way to help the Caribbean is to visit the Caribbean this winter”
This seems to be a rather controversial saying that has sparked many debates. Some say exposing visitors to the current status of the damaged islands will only hurt tourism, while others, like myself can only see the benefits of opening the islands up to visitors as soon as possible. My personal opinion is that we cannot afford not to. Tourism is what we are and what we do here in the Caribbean and further delaying our tourist season is only going to hurt our already fragile economies.

It has now been over two months since Irma and Maria and things are finally starting to normalize a little on the affected islands. Now, if we can only get the news networks around the world to stop showing videos taken right after the hurricanes just to sensationalize the news and increase viewers, you will also be able to see what enormous strives we have made so far. I will not lie, the islands do not look anything like their pre-hurricane selves. We are all bruised. But like patients who just underwent pricey facelifts, we will soon be back and better than before.

Yes, our beaches are still blue, our sunsets still Golden and the rum is definitely still flowing. Viva the Caribbean!

help the Caribbean by visiting the Caribeban

While most major resorts on the affected islands are out of commission and will be for a while, the small hotels and boutique hotels were quick to pick up the pieces and start rebuilding. I am proud to announce that quite some of these hotels are now either already open or will be, come December 2017.

What follows is a small list of just a few of the small hotels I have personally been in contact with over the past few weeks. I can guarantee that they are not only eager but also ready to welcome you back.

St. Maarten

Commodore Suites
Commodore Suites is a brand new boutique hotel in the heart of Simpson Bay above whole foods Market Garden Supermarket. Located a minute walk from the popular Kim Sha Beach, the hotel is  also walking distance from shops, restaurants, spas and nightclubs. Commodore Suites is a perfect balance of convenience and style. Commodore Suites opened its doors in February 2016.  The All Suite hotel offers junior, one bedroom, and three bedroom lock- off penthouse suites. Discover this new St. Maarten Hotel that defines a new dimension of lifestyle and comfort. Rethink your daily course; stay on point with Commodore Suites – “Drifting off in Comfort”
www.commodoresuites.com

COMMODORE St MaartenCOMMODORE St Maarten

Number of rooms available: 17 Junior Suites
Hotel will be able to receive guests again from: Currently open. Commodore was one of the only hotels on St. Maarten with very minor damages that was able to open right after Irma.
Room rates starting from: $151 per night + 20% and on weekends $89 + 20% (Fri through Sunday with late check outs till 3pm)
Special deals: Not at the moment
Hotel amenities: Free Wi-Fi, free parking, complimentary welcome bottles of water, room service breakfast, soundproof suites.
Hotel Highlight: Smoke free green hotel that is all about saving energy and water and preventing noise pollution.

Holland House Beach Hotel
A beautiful and well appointed beach hotel in the middle of the island’s shopping area, Philipsburg, Holland House makes for a perfect start to your vacation on St. Maarten. Start exploring the island from the hotel’s unique location on the boardwalk  or stay in and enjoy a lazy day with beach service on the Great Bay beach. At the end of the day take advantage of the lively deck where one can watch the sun set, while sipping on delicious cocktails and savoring fabulous meals at the Ocean Lounge restaurant.
www.HHBH.com

Holland House St MaartenHolland House St Maarten

Number of rooms available: 28
Hotel will be able to receive guests again from: December 1, 2017
Room rates starting from: $199 per night + 15% service charge and 5% government tax
Special deals: Stay 7 nights but pay for only 6 (valid from December until April 2018)
Hotel amenities: Location on the beach and right in the middle of the shopping district,  Ocean Lounge restaurant on property as well as a vibrant bar on site, beach service, lounge chairs and umbrellas for all guests.
Hotel Highlight: Perfect location in the middle of town.

Statia (St. Eustatius)

Old Gin House
The Old Gin house is beautifully located on Orange Bay, Lower Town Oranjestad and a hike away from the Quill Volcano, the highest point on Statia with panoramic views over the entire island and neighboring islands, the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean.
The intimate hotel convinces with its charming, elegant and cozy ambiance, where guests can find peace and pure relaxation while staying in the colonial style luxurious rooms, enjoying a dip in the pool or just having a drink on the terrace. The  oceanfront restaurant offers a diversified gastronomic experience accompanied by stunning ocean views.
www.theoldginhouse.com

Old Gin House StatiaOld Gin House Statia

Number of rooms available: All rooms are available as the island and the hotel had very minimum damage.
Hotel will be able to receive guests again from: Currently open
Room rates starting from: $195 per night includes breakfast for two
Special deals: Not at the moment
Hotel amenities: Swimming pool, beach with free beach chairs, restaurant on site, dive shop on site, free wifi in rooms & public spaces.
Hotel Highlight: The Old Gin House is a stunning historic landmark. It is housed in an 18th century building that was a public guesthouse in 1760. Later the building was used as a cotton gin, back in the day when gin was a major operation in Statia. The name ‘Old Gin House’ derives from its old identity. Today, vestiges of the old business remain; especially the bar’s ambiance reflects an old-time atmosphere. Our guests can enjoy luxury in a historical environment.

Saba

Scout’s Place Hotel, Bar & Restaurant
One of Saba’s most unique and authentic hotel properties, Scout’s Place is one of the most traditional places on Saba and is designed for divers, hikers and other nature lovers alike. The hotel is in the heart of the little gingerbread village of Windwardside just a few walking minutes from the tourist office, shops, restaurants and some trail heads.
www.scoutsplace.com

Scout's Place SabaScout's Place Saba

Number of rooms available: All 13 rooms and apartments are available as the island and the hotel had virtually no damage.
Hotel will be able to receive guests again from: Currently open
Room rates starting from: $95 per night
Special deals: Special packages can be created in combination with diving or special rates for groups or local and government rate but also for individuals or tour operators that contact the hotel directly.
Hotel amenities: Swimming pool, restaurant and bar, terraces with ocean and mountain view, close to the village attractions and hiking trails, free WIFI, dive center pick up at the reception, customized service for each customer.
Hotel Highlight: The amazing view.

St. Barth

Le Tom Beach Hotel
Le Tom Beach Hotel is perfectly located on the beautiful St. Jean beach, best known for its white sands and crystalline blue waters making it the ideal place to rest, swim or enjoy any splashy activity. Le Tom Beach Hotel is also in close proximity to the hottest spots on St. Barth. This little piece of paradise is the perfect place for an idyllic vacation, whether you are looking for romance or relaxation.
www.tombeach.com

Tom Beach SBHTom Beach SBH

Number of rooms available: 12
Hotel will be able to receive guests again from: Mid December 
Room rates starting from: 320 euros per night
Special deals: Last-minute deals and promotional non-refundable rates
Hotel amenities: Round trip airport/marina transfers, flexible check in and check out times, exclusive and fine-tailored concierge service, freshwater swimming pool, free parking, complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the property, daily in-room or or on the beach continental breakfast
Hotel highlight: Best location

St. John

Coconut Coast Villas

Coconut Coast Villas is a budget-friendly boutique hotel/condos located right on the Caribbean Sea. The hotel features 9 units, ranging from studios to 3-bedroom condos. All units are equipped with a kitchenette and oceanfront balconies to enjoy beautiful sunsets. Coconut Coast’s managers live on site and are available to assist with anything from booking excursions to making dinner reservations.
www.coconutcoast.com

Coconut Coast St JohnCoconut Coast St John

Number of rooms available: 9
Hotel will be able to receive guests again from: December 1, 2017
Room rates starting from: $197 per night
Special deals: None at this time
Hotel amenities: Small swimming pool, washer and dryer on site, concierge service, parking, beach chairs and beach towels for all guests.
Hotel Highlight: Just a 10-15 minute walk from Cruz Bay town

Anguilla

Frangipani Beach Resort
Frangipani Beach Resort has set itself apart as the premier luxury boutique resort in Anguilla. It is family owned and operated, and prides itself on blending personalized, luxury services in an exclusive setting. Set in the middle of Meads Bay, one of Anguilla’s most picturesque beaches, the resort features 19 rooms and suites providing an unrivaled, intimate experience with the luxury and amenities visitors have come to equate with the island. The newly added four-bedroom beachfront villa is the jewel in its crown, for guests who demand the pinnacle of spacious luxury.
www.frangipaniresort.com

Frangipani Anguilla
© Thierry Dehove Photography All rights reserved This image, or derivative works, can not be used, published, distributed or sold without written permission of the owner. http://www.thierrydehove.com
Frangipani Anguilla
© Thierry Dehove Photography All rights reserved This image, or derivative works, can not be used, published, distributed or sold without written permission of the owner. http://www.thierrydehove.com

Number of rooms available: 19
Hotel will be able to receive guests again from: Soft opening period available only to currently booked, repeat guests: December 18th to early January 2018. Openign for new guests: January 2018
Room rates starting from: $375 per night + taxes
Special deals: Packages are available for length of stay, with discounts up to 20% for weeklong stays in the suites! Also available are honeymoon packages for newlyweds looking for an island escape.
Hotel amenitiesComplimentary water sports (water skiing, wake boarding, tubing, Hobie Cats, stand up paddle boards, kayaks), access to a world-class fitness center (with the best gym view on the island!), a daily breakfast credit to award-winning Straw Hat Restaurant, plus use of the on-site tennis court, massage therapist that can book visits on site either in room or on the beach. A 36′ power catamaran, FrangiCat is available for beach hopping boat trips to see Anguilla by water (guests can also charter the boat privately at a discounted rate). The concierge team works with each guest to help craft itineraries, and can assist with dinner reservations, coordinating activities off site such as horseback riding, sailing trips, and island hopping logistics.
Hotel Highlight: The beach hopping boat trip experience! Frangipani is the only resort on the island that owns and operates its own boats.

Fountain Resort Residences
Fountain Resort Residences is an intimate island oasis, steps away from the white sands of Shoal Bay East and accentuated by lush gardens and a tropical swimming pool. This premiere east location, unrivaled Shoal Bay beach and luxury accommodations with modern island décor offers Studios, one and two bedroom beautifully appointed units. Make it an intimate getaway or bring the family. Just a short walk to numerous dining and entertainment options; vacationing at The Fountain will become a treasured memory!
www.fountainanguilla.com

main bedroom at Fountain

2016-05-30 12.08.47

Number of rooms available: 14
Hotel will be able to receive guests again from: November 4, 2017
Room rates starting from: $195 per night + 20% tax and fees
Special deals: US$150 ++ TTIG special, if you mention this blog and follow the Fountain Resort on Facebook and Instagram.
Hotel amenities: Oversized Condos, Full kitchen or kitchenette, Swimming Pool, FREE Wifi and local phone calls, steps from the beach.
Hotel Highlight: Perfect spot to unwind and only steps from the gorgeous Shoal Bay Beach

Serenity Cottages, Restaurant & Bar
Serenity Cottages are a refreshing alternative to the standard hotel. Every detail of your suite is carefully appointed. With the coupling of rattan and mahogany furnishings, Serenity offers that unhurried, un-spoilt, warm welcoming atmosphere that can only be experienced at your home away from home. The friendly and most gracious staff provides more than what you may expect…great conversation and good laughs, all while catering to your every need! With just one stay at Serenity Cottages, you will quickly wonder why would you want to check-out or stay anywhere else?
www.serenity.ai

Serenity AnguillaSerenity Anguilla

Number of rooms available: 16
Hotel will be able to receive guests again from: November 5, 2017
Room rates starting from: $225 – $650 nightly / weekly
Special deals: Please inquire by email
Hotel amenities: Beachfront, on-site restaurant, daily maid service, pre-arrival groceries, laundry services, snorkeling equipment, vehicle Rental.
Hotel Highlight: Serenity offers the true meaning of its name; The state and quality of calmness, tranquility and being serene.

The above is but a short list of small/boutique hotels that are or will be open this winter. For an updated list and an updated status of the islands visit Travel Weekly or the Caribbean Travel websites.

While the storms have hit some of us quite hard, it has been remarkably forgiving on others no matter how close their proximity to those who got hit the hardest. Islands such as Saba, Statia, Nevis and St. Kitts were spared most of the brunt suffered on their neighbors St.Maarten, St. Barth and Anguilla. They were therefore able to get back on their feet rather quickly. However, because they depend mostly on the Princess Juliana International Airport on St. Maarten and the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in Puerto Rico to connect flights or ferries to them, they too see dramatically dwindling numbers of visitors this winter.

Another issue is that although these airports are now open they are by no means operating at 100% just yet. The St. Maarten terminal for instance has sustained substantial damage and the airport is currently running how it used to back in the 70’s. But it is operational nonetheless, even though it will not be seeing the frequency of flights it has enjoyed a mere four months ago for a little while.

I can tell you though that most of us are ready. Our airports are open, so are some of our hotels and restaurants. Our streets are mostly debris (and looters)-free and our drinks are ice cold. Yes, we are ready to welcome you back this winter. Well, sort of. This is where my “honesty is my policy”- mantra comes into play. If you are coming to relax, make sure you are staying at a hotel that does not have any ongoing construction. There is nothing more annoying than jackhammering while you are trying to lay by the pool. Know that everything may not be working as usual. Internet might be faulty in some places, certain areas may still be “ugly” to look at, certain restaurants you may have read about may not even be there anymore. On St. Maarten for example, the French part got hit much worse than the Dutch part and debris still litters the road sides on French St. Martin. Not exactly the first impression we would like to make. If you are a first time visitor to the islands that got hit the hardest, perhaps you should wait till next year. If you are a repeat visitor, just prepare yourself that things are not the same.  If you are willing to volunteer while here, THANK YOU. “Voluntourism” is the best way to help right now.

But remember that places like Nevis, St. Kitts, Saba, and Statia barely got hit at all. These islands are up and running at 100%. Then you have those islands lucky to be outside of the hurricane belt. Think Curaçao, Bonaire, Aruba, Grenada, St. Lucia and more.

So, you see, there is no reason not to visit the Caribbean this winter. Time to pack your sunscreen and bikinis and book that ticket to fun in the sun. The Caribbean beaches await.

 

 

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