I knew EXACTLY where I wanted to stay on my too-short trip to St. Martin,
French West Indies. I knew exactly what I wanted, and The
Grand Case Beach Club
fit the bill perfectly.
Small (70 rooms), intimate, quiet, peaceful, secluded, and so reasonably
priced, this beachfront resort offers studios, studios with lofts, and
one and two bedroom suites, all with color satellite TV and full kitchens.
The "Urban Beach" side...
Located on a spit of land just beyond the town of Grand Case (the "culinary
capitol of the Caribbean"), GCBC sits nestled between two beaches, one
facing the town of Grand Case, the other facing the island of Anguilla,
a scant 5 miles away.
The resort isn't luxurious. You won't find turndown service or a Godiva
chocolate on your pillow; you won't find Gilchrist and Soames shampoo
or soap in the bathrooms. There are no elegant antiques, Liberty or
Waverly fabrics; just clean, simply furnished airconditioned rooms and
suites with Caribbean rattan furniture and light Caribbean-design textiles.
Flooring is white ceramic tile with the occasional throw rug. The bathrooms
are simple, tiled, with bath and
shower, soap and conditioning shampoo, hairdryers, and -- BLESS this place!
-- incandescent rather than fluorescent lighting.
Upstairs Bedroom in Townhouse
Some of the rooms (loft suites, for example, or the upstairs bedroom in
a two-bedroom townhouse unit) have high vaulted ceilings. All have generous
patios or terraces. Most have sea views, although some face the colorful
We arrived at the airport hot, sweaty, and tired. A
lovely young man from Prestige
Car Rental was waiting for us, holding a sign with my name on it.
(On the Dutch side, where the airport is located, Prestige Car Rental
is named Value Rent a Car; on the French side, it's Prestige).
We were driven to the rental office, quickly had our paperwork taken
care of, reviewed the bumps and scratches already on our vehicle before
we took it, and then were on our way. There are many car rental options
in St. Maarten/St. Martin, but the combination of the excellent price
and customer service from Prestige/Value drove our decision to
rent from them, and I would recommend no other.
The road from the airport is fairly easy to negotiate
over to the French side of the island; clearly marked signs guide the
way to Marigot, the major city, and then beyond to Grand Case.
Once through Grand Case,
the sign to GCBC leads to a dirt road climbing a mountain. While the first
thought might be "ooops, I have gone the wrong way," keep going. This
is the right place. An electronic security gate requires you to ring for
entrance or punch in your room number if you are already a guest.
Inside the compound you are surrounded by lush gardens
and the accommodation buildings, all are 3 stories or less. The staff
at check-in is delightful, welcoming and very informative. "Don't use
the phone very much," we were told. "It's very expensive." A call to
the U.S. or Canada costs $4 USD a minute. To France it's only $3 a minute,
to the rest of Europe, $5 a minute.
Parking is provided near the actual units, so once
we got our keys we drove to the parking area
Petit Plage in the Morning
closest to our room. We had a seaview unit facing Petit Plage and Anguilla,
with the tops of the seagrape from the shade garden just visible from
The Sunset Cafe provides a complimentary continental
breakfast, très francais, with croissants, hunks of baguette,
butter, coffee and orange juice. There is also a menu for hot breakfast
Chaises with pads, palapas, and cloth umbrellas dot
the beach on both sides of the complex. The shade garden includes hammocks
strung up between the seagrapes, a perfect place to laze.
Sea kayaks and sunfish sailing boats are offered complimentary,
as are other non-motorized watersports. Excursions can be purchased
from the tour desk. A gift/sundry shop and tennis court (lit for night
play) round out the resort amenities.
"We are far from perfect," Steve Wright, the congenial
General Manager, said to me, "but we are working towards that goal."
"Perfection has many faces, " I replied, as
I watched my daughter, fresh from a grueling semester in architecture
school, roll over on her beachfront chaise, the turquoise Caribbean
sea lapping at the shore, the sun just going down.
Yes, this was perfect, perfect, perfect.