LGBTQ Honeymoons: Saint Martin/Sint Maarten
[title maintitle=”” subtitle=”A tropical escape to Saint Martin and Sint Maarten”]
Man snorkeling in the ocean, Photographer: Jean-Philippe Piter
With its sugary white beaches, turquoise waters, interesting history, European mindset and highly esteemed culinary palate, the friendly Caribbean island of Saint Martin and Sint Maarten entices same-sex couples booking their honeymoons.
Saint Martin and Sint Maarten make up the smallest island in the world to ever have been divided between two nations. The entire island is 37 square miles and 138 miles from Puerto Rico. The 21-square-mile northern half is Saint Martin and belongs to the French, while Sint Maarten, the 16-square-mile southern half is claimed by the Dutch. Numerous languages are spoken by the multitude of cultures represented, making for an exemplary experience for foodies, historians and adventure-lovers.
|La Samanna, Photographer: Karl Simone|
On the French side, stay at La Samanna, a celeb-favored luxury resort and upscale paradise at its finest. Situated on 55 acres of pristine beachfront property overlooking Baie Longue, the resort has won accolades for the seclusion it offers—a bonus for honeymooners looking for a quiet, tropical getaway. The Mediterranean architecture takes its inspiration from Greece, and the guestrooms, beachfront suites and villas are varied in décor from traditional Caribbean warm hues and terracotta floor tiles to crisp and modern trappings in the deluxe suites, which feature furniture by acclaimed designer Michael Jouannet. Every room offers an extraordinary ocean view overlooking the Caribbean Sea. The Terrace suites feature a rooftop sanctuary with sensuous soaking pools and plush loungers to celebrate your LGBTQ honeymoon in private.
When you do venture out of your room (and you really never have to with a varied room service menu complete with wine service), the property is well worth discovering. In the main building, the Restaurant invites ocean breezes with its open-air floor plan. Lauded chefs combine fresh, lively island flavors with classical French techniques. Provisions are flown in from France daily. Ask for a tour of the wine cellar—it boasts one of the most extensive collections in the world. Toast to your marriage with a private dinner in the cellar, attended to by your own personal waiter and sommelier. For casual dining, try the Pool Grill or the Beach Restaurant. At the Beach Bar, bartenders mix signature drinks like the Baie Longue Blue and the Palm Tree. If you’re not in the mood to walk to the bar, cabana boys will come take your order as you lounge on the beach.
For most couples, the first day or two of the honeymoon is all about rest. But once you regain your energy, La Samanna offers a myriad of activities. For the adventuresome set, there’s windsurfing, sailing, snorkeling, kayaking and floats, as well as Wave Runners, scuba, deep-sea fishing and sailboat rentals and clinics. For the honeymooners who can’t give up their daily workouts, you’ll find three tennis courts and an impressive fitness pavilion, which boasts yoga and Pilates classes. La Samanna’s Elysees Spa is set around a lush outdoor garden, so all the rooms face out to it. Romantic couple’s massages are offered in Swedish, deep-tissue or Shiatsu. After your treatment, wash off in a secluded outdoor shower.
Outside of the resort, Saint Martin/Sint Maarten is a veritable playground of shopping, dining and adventures. Plus, La Samanna has its own car rental agency on its property—perfect for a drive to Grand Case, the northwestern tip of the island, where cuisine reigns supreme. There are more than 400 restaurants, and an impressive array of regions are represented, from French and Indian to Japanese and Italian.
Day outing fun includes hitting up the lolos (roadside food stands) for cheap and good authentic island cuisine. We like Rosemary’s, located in Marigot, the capital of Saint Martin. The steamed mahi mahi served with Caribbean rice and beans, washed down with a frozen mango margarita, is the epitome of a simple island meal. Amble down the street either way to find local artisans showing off their wares, as well as an indoor mall, which offers welcomed air conditioning on hot summer days. The shopping extravaganza is stocked with stores selling high-end jewelry, perfume and clothes for a slight discount from U.S. prices. The real bonus is it’s duty- and tax-free.
A few feet away from Rosemary’s is the port to Anguilla. The 30-minute ferry ride requires a passport and a cash entrance fee in U.S. dollars. The easy trip delivers you to a less-inhabited island known for its lack of commercialism (you’d be hard pressed to find a T-shirt stand here), as well as tony resorts, including the CuisinArt Resort and Spa, famous for its 5-star services, world-class spa and hydroponic and organic gardens. The Mediterranean theme continues here, with white-washed villas congregating around a multi-level infinity pool descending down to the even-softer sand than Saint Martin. The beach’s entertainment begins with a jovial bartender whipping up island cocktails amidst a beautifully blue-tiled bar and continues with water-sport rentals, such as Hobie kayaks and sailboats. The new bi-level Venus spa features expansive vistas of the ocean, as well as multiple walls that open to the welcome breeze—ideal for a couple’s massage so soothing you’re likely to drift off to dreamland, a welcome respite from all that wedding planning you’ve been doing. Regain your strength at CusinArt’s al fresco Santorini restaurant led by Executive Chef Daniel Le Guénan, who incorporates Mediterranean flavors into fresh fare, including lush veggies from the property’s hydroponic gardens and straight-from-the-ocean seafood. Before you head back to your ferry, don’t miss the bocce ball garden, where you can square off against your new spouse for a little friendly competition.
Craving adventure on the sea? Try your hand at racing with “America’s Cup” 12 Metre Challenge. Book a regatta adventure and become one of the crew. You’ll learn to grind a winch, trim a sail or improve your beer wench skills as you take in the warm blue waters and brisk trade winds of the Caribbean. While you’re down on the Dutch side of things, take in the sounds and sights of the bustling boardwalk in Phillipsburg, Sint Maarten’s capitol. Artisans converge to showcase their wares. The labyrinth of booths stretching several streets down is ample for picking up souvenirs for your pet sitter back home. Cool off with a bucket of ice-cold locally produced Carib beers at the Blue Bitch Bar, an open-front joint, where fresh and tasty Caribbean food is served throughout the day, and island jams float in from the street musicians.
Kirsten Ott Palladino
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