Welcome to St Maarten, or is it Saint Martin?

It has been many years since I stepped foot on the island of St. Martin (the common spelling I will be using to keep things simple). I spent the day here while on a cruise around the Caribbean. I vividly remember it being my favorite island on the trip.

From the colorful cobblestone streets on the Dutch side (St. Maarten) to the unique European-style buildings on the French half (Saint Martin), I had been impressed with the beauty of the towns and the beaches.  I remember strolling the streets and doing some jewelry shopping, as well as relaxing on the soft sand with a cool drink.

A lot can change in twenty plus years and I was prepared for that when I decided to take this trip with the tourism board on the Dutch side.  I actually hadn’t done any Caribbean trips since Punta Cana in 2010 and it seemed like the perfect island with lots of restaurants and home grown spirits.

It had been a long day of three flights and I was ready to get to the hotel, where Trish, our escort from KTC Public Relations, and my fellow journalists had already started dinner.  As my driver took me in the van up the winding road to the Westin Dawn Beach St. Maarten, I noticed the change in the island since my last visit. Despite the downfall in the economy, it had submerged full of cars

It seemed as if everyone on the island and visiting the island now had a vehicle and the roads almost looked city like. On the other hand, there were positive signs from this transformation. New restaurants, shopping areas and hotels were everywhere, giving the island more variety for its visitors. While there was a small part of me that wanted to see the old St. Martin, I knew this one would be a lot more interesting.  

The only hotel I was interested in at the end of this long day was the one I was staying in.  The the Westin is basically on top of a hill, yet it boasts a spectacular beach.  When we arrived I was anxious to go straight to the Ocean restaurant.

Everyone had already finished eating by the time I arrived. It was quite late and I understood that they were anxious to retire. Tricia stayed with me while I ordered a light meal of a goat cheese and tomato salad. I also had my first taste of guavaberry in a Guavaberry Colada.  It was the spirit of the island and I was sure I would be tasting a lot more of it.

I was able to see that the Westin hotel (complete with a casino in the lobby) was very large and I was more than satisfied with my room -- and the view.  It was the bed, however, I was really anxious to hit. I was ready to recover from the day of travel and get ready for my first chance to explore St. Martin in nearly three decades. 


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