L’Esplanade hotel sits on a hill overlooking the village and bay of Grand Case. It is a property I have always admired from afar and finally, on a sunny February day and on an invitation from the hotel owner, I got to drive through the gates. My husband and I were both excited to see what it would be like up close. We were about to enjoy another staycation on French St Martin, and this time we would be calling L’Esplanade our home for a few days.
“Two things I was immediately aware of as we first stepped into our room at Le Petit Hotel. One: the surprisingly large size of the room. Two: I was going to have a very hard time leaving this place.”
“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.
Hidden in a quiet neighborhood in the Cul de Sac area on French St. Martin, is a treasure buried in an otherwise mundane side street. Sol E Luna has long been a name whispered amongst those who have previously visited this little gem. It’s usually spoken about in a slight whisper, as if it’s a secret and speaking the name out loud would forever damage its sacred quiet atmosphere, sending hordes of people running for a chance to sample it for themselves.
Like I said in my last post, I am not a huge fan of carnival. I guess all that excessive partying is no longer my thing, which is why I usually try to find great travel deals around this time of year to get off the island, and get as far away as possible from all the mayhem. I must admit though that I shockingly found myself enjoying this year’s Dutch St. Maarten Carnival. I was dragged by friends out of my bed at four in the morning to take part in this year’s jouvert, a parade that starts at dawn and ends sometime around midday and leaves a trail of drunks in its wake. I found myself in the village on at least one occasion enjoying the different food and drink booths and I surprised myself by attending the grand parade, an event so colorful I am still smiling days later.
I love food and there is nothing anyone can do about it. So, imagine my delight when I received an email from Flavors of St. Maarten Food Tours inviting me to join them on their next trip. As you can imagine it took me exactly 3 seconds to decide and reply with a “Hell Yeah”.
The day of the food tour could not come fast enough. I was so looking forward to this and was sure I was going to have a blast. The day of the tour however, I started feeling a bit apprehensive. I was going on a bus with a bunch of strangers for half a day touring an island I know like the back of my hand. Would I be able to get along with everyone? Would there be vegetarian options for me? Would I be able to enjoy it seeing that I call this island home and know most of the restaurants on the list? Would I look stupid with my selfie stick? I pushed those insecurities aside and decided to just go with the flow. I made sure my camera and GoPro were charged and ready for action.