St. Maarten resorts have rebuilt to become bigger and betterJul 23, 2019
By: Melanie Reffes
Source: USA Today
Photo: Credit: Sonesta Resorts Sint Maarten
The comeback kids in St. Maarten, Sonesta Ocean Point Resort and Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, are open for business after monster Hurricane Irma pummeled the dual-nation island nearly two years ago.
The island known as St. Martin in English is divided between the French Saint-Martin and Dutch Sint (St.) Maarten on the southern side of the island, which is where the Sonesta Resorts are.
After extensive and expensive rebuilding, the beachfront resorts are bigger, better and armed with an array of vacation must-dos.
With legions of loyal fans, the adjacent all-inclusive resorts on the southwestern shore of the island are conveniently located within minutes of Princess Juliana International Airport, the main airport on the island.
Photo: Credit: Sonesta Resorts Sint Maarten
A tour de force with a combined 550 rooms and suites, the sister resorts are the largest on the island, with 420 rooms on 10 floors at the family-friendly Sonesta Maho Beach Resort and 130 suites on six floors at the adults-only Sonesta Ocean Point Resort.
At Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, rooms are outfitted with balconies, rain showers and comfy beds. Rooms run the gamut from the "superior" that easily sleeps two adults and two kids to the larger "deluxe one-bedroom suite" with ocean views and a pull-out sofa.
At Sonesta Ocean Point, suites range from a "junior suite king" to the "luxury butler penthouse" with a palatial 2,600 square feet of living space and gorgeous views from the wraparound terrace. Butler service is offered in the top-tier categories.
Sips and snacks
Photo: Sonesta Resorts Sint Maarten
At Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, there are five bars and five restaurants, including Maho Cafe and Napoli Pizzeria, where 200 pies are baked each day. Ocean Terrace is buffet central for breakfast, lunch and dinner; Palms Grill is family fun for dinner cooked tableside on a hot volcanic stone plate, and for fine dining, The Point impresses with ocean views and an Italian menu.
Standouts include weekly barbecues on the beach, and for those who want to shake it up, pub grub at the Ascot Pub & Sports Bar and Asian fare at Jing’s Kitchen are outside the resort in Maho Village yet included in the all-inclusive plan.
For cocktails in a myriad of fruity flavors, Oasis Swim-Up Bar is holiday heaven, and for those who like to test Lady Luck, Latitude Bar is outfitted with slot machines.
In addition to the restaurants and bars at the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, there are additional options for those bunking at Sonesta Ocean Point.
Maho Vice is a fruity refresher with mangos, strawberries and rum. (Photo: Melanie Reffes)
Kickstart the morning with breakfast and a rum-fueled Caribbean coffee at Azul perched at the edge of a cliff. For lunch and dinner, the menu changes daily. On top of Azul, Casa Blue Tapas is casual chic with 360-degree views, minty mojitos and small plates. Aptly named, Sunset Lounge is all about the sweeping views of Maho Bay and a Maho vice cocktail gussied up with rum, mangoes and strawberries. For a nightcap, Martin’s bar fits the bill and for an anytime nibble and nosh, room service is available 24/7.
Plane spotting on the beach
Plane spotting at Maho Beach is as popular tourist activity. (Photo: Princess Juliana International Airport)
For adults-only, the cliffside, man-made beach at Sonesta Ocean Point invites an afternoon siesta. A 10-minute walk from the resorts, Mullet Bay is a local favorite and where you’ll find beach volleyball games and vendors hawking icy beer from makeshift coolers.
On Maho Beach; one of the three dozen beaches that rim the 37 square mile island, take your pick from a sun lounger on the sand or a towel by the water’s edge.
One of just a few places in the world where fans get up close and personal with big jets and smaller planes, Maho Beach is a must for plane-spotting enthusiasts. Diehards claim the pilots fly so close to the beach they wave from the cockpit as they take off and land from the adjacent Princess Juliana International Airport.
For extreme spotters and those who travel with them, Sunset Bar and Grill at the end of the runway is where flight schedules are posted and enthusiasts can enjoy a cocktail.
Peak viewing times are between 1:30 and 5 p.m. when the 747 jumbo jets make a graceful grand entrance over the beach.
Pool time and family fun
Water slides at Sonesta Maho Beach Resort are fun for kids of all ages. (Photo: Sonesta Resorts Sint Maarten)
At Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, pool perches include the sprawling Oasis pool, adjacent kids' pool and petite aqua park.
For the adults at Sonesta Ocean Point, a trio of pools were conceived by master aquatic designer Joan Roca (yes, that’s a real job). The Edge hosts poolside parties with floating cocktails and canapes; Point Pool is outfitted with chaises and cabanas; and the Meandering Pool is for those staying in swim-out suites.
At the Beach House Kids Club, there’s plenty of fun stuff for kids up to 12 years old, including splashing around on animal-themed water slides, sweating it out in junior fitness classes and meet and greets with Iggy Iguana and Penelope Pelican.
For the older set, Teen Zone is a crash pad with social media suites, air hockey and foosball.
Activities and relaxation
Guests groove during free dance classes. (Photo: Sonesta Resorts Sint Maarten)
Appealing to vacationers of every stripe, an all-inclusive stay goes beyond unlimited food and drinks with a daily roster of activities from martial arts classes and beach bocce ball to cardio kickboxing, poolside games and early-morning runs.
Dance wannabees take Zumba and salsa lessons while the more pensive opt for aerobics in the pool and yoga in the gazebo. For underwater explorers, snorkeling gear is available to rent.
At the Serenity Spa, island chill-outsplurges include the guavaberry and sugar scrubs fragrant with the small red berries that grow in the hills and a calming lavender and vanilla massage.
For those staying at Sonesta Ocean Point, Serenity Point offers open-air massages, and to burn off those pesky breakfast buffet calories, the fitness center offers workout instruction on modern equipment.
Get the party started
Sonesta Resorts Sint Maarten
Just outside the resorts, Maho Village is chockablock with duty-free stores, bars, cafes, restaurants and the Casino Royale, which is the largest on the island with 400 slots, a sportsbook and 22 gaming tables.
There’s a VIP lounge for high rollers and a rooftop cocktail bar opening this summer.
In the Casino Royale Theater, free shows take center stage, ranging from Latin dancing to lavish musicals to acrobatic shows with jaw-dropping stunts.
And every Friday night, Maho Village Carnival on the main drag features a marching band, stilt walkers, puppets and parades. Back at the resorts, groovy bands, singers and DJs serenade or keep the party lively, depending on the venue.
A couple ties the knot at the Sonesta Ocean Point Resort. (Photo: Sonesta Resorts Sint Maarten)
Couples are welcome to tie the knot anywhere on the island as long as the paperwork is filed two weeks in advance, both partners are over 18 and a licensed official is on hand to make it legal.
The resorts wedding team arranges ceremonies in the oceanfront gazebo, frangipani-scented garden and on the beach at sunset.
Honeymoon stays come with romantic dinners and couples massages.