The time has arrived to finally recap our full trip to the Caribbean! A few months ago when Shawn and I were deciding where we were wanting to travel to, I do what I always do - hop on Expedia, start plugging in random destinations, sort the results by highest property class first [a girl has gotta be picky when it comes to where she is laying her head at night ;)], then narrow down the choices by price [because a girl also has to be money conscious on where she is laying her head at night ;)], scour Trip Advisor to read every review possible for all of the potential candidates and then days, weeks and almost a month later, make our final decision. Booking a vacation can be a full-time job for this girl as I take the job very seriously and make sure that what we decide on fits within our budget while still offering a 5-star experience. Not an easy task, but one I love tackling.
For this adventure, after much research, we decided on an all-inclusive option, Sonesta Ocean Point Resort in St Maarten. St Martin/St Maarten is owned by the Netherlands (just East of Puerto Rico) and is split up into two sides - Dutch and French. We stayed on the Dutch side, with our resort being only 5 minutes from the main airport on the island. From Indiana, we flew to Newark, New Jersey and from there it was about a 3 1/2 hour flight to the island. Not bad at all when you know you have this to look forward to upon arrival...
If you're okay with it, I'm about to break down the entire trip as many of you have had questions and if you are considering this for your next vacation, I'd love to be as helpful as possible! Let's jump in!
Like I mentioned, we flew into the main airport (SXM), were able to get through customs pretty quickly, and then walked out to the taxi area and were able to flag one down immediately to shuttle us the five minutes [if that] over to the resort. Sonesta Ocean Point shares a property with Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, which is the kid-friendly, older resort. Ocean Point is adults only and is much newer. Upon check-in, they provided us with a glass of champagne and cool towels and whisked us away to our room where cheese and fruit were waiting for us!
When booking our room the only category that was left was the Sunset Butler Suite so we bit the bullet and did it. The size of the room was awesome with a separate sitting area with a couch and chairs, comfortable king size bed, balcony large enough to eat our breakfast at every morning, a huge bathroom with probably our favorite walk-in shower [the water pressure was excellent] and the largest bathtub I've ever been in. The room also had a mini-fridge, a wine fridge, etc. The only thing it was lacking were outlets next to the bed [maybe that's just a pet peeve of mine]. While it made you feel slightly fancy to have a butler, we actually didn't use them really for anything. The resort provides you with a cell phone that you can reach your butler at any time during the hours of 7 am - 10 pm, but other than asking for a bottle of Captain Morgan and booking our massage, we didn't utilize them for anything else. While I wouldn't pay for the butler aspect of it again, I would pay for the location of the room again. We had an amazing view from bed of the ocean and it also overlooked one of the resort pools and the main resort restaurant, Azul. We could sit and watch cruise ships float on by, airplanes fly overhead, and even witness a proposal! The resort also offers several swim-up rooms on the ground floor, however, it didn't appear that many people actually used them. If I were to advise you on a room I would recommend a higher floor so you can have more of a view!
Being that the resort is all-inclusive, we did the majority of our eating at the resort itself. The nice feature of sharing a property with its sister resort meant that you were able to eat at any of the restaurants between the two buildings. For breakfast, you have the option of ordering room service [the pancakes with the whipped cream and coconut syrup were my jam] which we did often, along with a buffet style restaurant and a sit-down restaurant option. For lunch, you also had two different buffet option restaurants, a sit-down option and room service. For dinner they had a buffet option, a fine dining Italian option [we didn't get to eat at this as it was booked every night], a Chinese restaurant [we didn't like this at all, I would avoid!], a "lava rock" restaurant where you cook your meat on a hot plate at your table [this was fun and delicious!] and Azul, which is Ocean Point's finer dining option with a menu that changes daily. We ate there three different nights for dinner and absolutely loved our meals every time. We really did like our food 99.9% of the time and would recommend it! I was surprised that there weren't really any snack options during the day, so other than meals, we didn't eat much [which let's be real, worked to our benefit]. I loved the pizza at the buffet and then hated it when we got it for room service. Alcohol was on point and readily available at several bars on the property and also poolside.
Aside from the restaurants and bars, Sonesta Ocean Point also has two different pool areas, one is sandy to make you feel like you are on the beach, while the other is more in the heart of the action and faces Maho Beach and the airport so you can watch the planes fly in and take off. The pools were a little colder than our preference so we didn't spend much time in them. We did love all of the lounge chairs and cabanas that were around the pools. It was especially nice to not have to pay anything to use the cabanas. You can walk directly to Maho Beach from the resort which was fun to walk the beach. There is also a big restaurant and a couple of bars on the beach that you can eat or drink at!
Additionally, there was Sunset Lounge which was a fun place to watch the sunset from and grab a drink, live music on certain nights, a casino across the street and a spa on property. We opted to have a massage at Serenity Point, which is where you can get a massage over the ocean on the property. It was perfection and reasonably priced [$300 total for a couples one hour massage]. My other favorite part of the resort was the hammock area which was situated next to the main pool area but underneath a bunch of shade trees. Another highlight of our trip was watching the airplanes fly in right overhead. Some have asked if it was a distraction, but it never felt like it as they didn't fly during the night and during the day, it was so fun to watch em' come in and leave.
This one was a little iffy for us. Half of the employees were very friendly and upbeat and the other half were quite the opposite. Nobody was ever rude to us, however, you just didn't get that welcoming vibe from everybody. It was never a bother, just a little confusing sometimes. One nice thing was that there were security officers all over the resort, not because they were ever needed, but because on this island they take security and safety very importantly. Tourism is their only industry so they do everything in their power to keep the island a safe place for people to visit. This was very appreciated!
Things To Do:
The resort has a concierge service with a ton of different options for tours and excursions you can do. We opted to do two hour jet ski tour around the island with Water Boys which would have been so much fun if it wouldn't have rained the entire time. By doing this tour we were able to see many sides of the island while also getting a good glimpse of the island on the drive to get to the tour. We felt totally safe outside of our resort which was wonderful!
The other excursion we decided to do was a ferry day trip over to the island of Anguilla. It was a short twenty-minute boat ride over to Anguilla where we then went to Shoal Bay Beach which was hands down, the most beautiful part of our trip. The water was unlike anything I had ever seen and the sand was the prettiest with tiny shells. We hung out at a reggae grill on beach chairs all day and enjoyed a big ole lobster fest, music, and drinks. I would highly, highly recommend this tour!
Would we return?
Judging by our faces I'll give you one guess....
Yes, we definitely would! I think, however, on our next trip to this area we would choose to stay on Anguilla as we loved the beach and would love to have longer there! We checked out Zemi Beach and The Manoah and both look like great contenders! If you are looking for a vacation that you can do as little or as much as you want with perfect weather, this is the place for you!
And there you have it - our St Maarten trip in a loooong nutshell. If you have any questions at all don't hesitate to reach out!