This is our trip report from our 6th weekly trip to St. Martin, from June 12 to 19, 1999, after numerous daily visits on cruises. We celebrated our 20th anniversary on June 16, and we cannot think of a better place to have spent it. Meals this trip were not the "events" that they normally are for us while in SXM. I think the only place we ate at that we had eaten at before (other than Papagayo's and Pedro's, which don't count) was at Sambucca. We ate quite a few meals at the villa, most of our breakfasts and quite a few lunches, as we grilled out quite a bit, which is in reality, our favorite way to cook anyway. We planned very few of our meals this trip, part of a kind of Jimmy Buffett inspired "Let it Be" attitude for the week. Our favorite restaurant, Auberge Gourmande (where we had planned, before leaving home, to eat dinner on our anniversary) was closed for vacation. However, we ended up at an alternative, and altogether more memorable spot for the evening, which you'll have to read on till Wednesday to discover. On our last trip to Green Cay (which was also our first weekly trip to SXM) we hadn't stayed around the villa much and we regretted not having spent more time at the villa on that trip. On this trip, as it worked out, we alternated each day staying at the villa and going down to Club Orient, and we were very happy with our mixture of days. Our one regret for the week? Buying the orange liqueur to bring home instead of the banana and possibly, going to the casino the last night. It don't get much better than that, folks! So, let's get on with it!!
We had originally thought we would not get to be away for our anniversary due to problems at my work, but those resolved themselves around March, so we called up our good buddy Jim Ruos to book a SXM. trip and ended up booking at Esmeralda. The price was virtually the same as Club Orient, since they were running a "buy 5 nights, get 7 nights" promotion. We had never stayed at Esmeralda--and we still haven't (G!!). We have always thought Esmeralda was kind of overpriced for what it is, but I wanted to stay someplace a little nicer than Club Orient this time. Plus we had stayed at Club O the past two times in SXM. What I REALLY wanted was to stay at Green Cay Village, where we had stayed on our very first trip to SXM., but didn't want to pay twice as much as the stay at Esmeralda would cost. We continued to get information on Esmeralda in preparation for our supposed stay there up until about 10 days before we were due to leave. However, about 10 days out, I couldn't take it anymore and called Jim and asked him if he knew if there were any villas available at Green Cay. He found out that in fact there were still a couple of villas available and he was able to get us a small amount off the price since it was literally the last minute, so we were off and I was pumped!
We had ended up catching a great price on a weekend sale on US Air, about $450 a person round trip from DC. Many people we talked to spent $700 to $800 from the East Coast, so we felt lucky there. We went through Charlotte on the way down and had a two hour layover, so we started our vacation with a little liquid libation at 10:30 in the morning. (Must be after noon somewhere, you know!) Non-stop then from Charlotte to SXM., which is when the fun began.
It was getting pretty cloudy and rainy, the closer we got to SXM. and I did not like the approach our pilot was taking, as he appeared to be going in circles, and flying very low, but I still could not see the island. Finally we were over the runway when the pilot gave the throttle a big shove, as we had apparently hit a large air pocket and he was worried about landing short or at least, taking out the fence. Then he had difficulty slowing the plane, and we sped all the way to the end of the runway. As he finally got the plane under control, those of us still in full control of our bladders gave a weak round of applause. We pulled up to the airport and the wind and rain really cut loose. Because the stairways are outdoors, they were afraid to let us off the plane and we sat on the plane for another 45 minutes before they would allow us off. No one complained, however, as we could see the wind and rain blowing sideways and felt the force of the wind blowing our 757 around on the ground like it was a Piper Cub and we knew it would have been very dangerous to get off the plane. Our plane was the last one to land or take off for over an hour, as it was still raining when they finally let us off the plane and we were probably half way through the long immigration line before we heard any planes landing or taking off. It was quite an experience! We found out the next day from Guillome (one of the guys at Club Orient) that they had recorded wind gusts of 65 knots on the ground at the airport. Our first weather-related travel delay once we REACHED our destination!
Since it was still raining when we cleared customs, the Hertz rental guys just put us in a van and took us down to their main rental office, instead of trying to do business at the airport. Even though we landed pretty much on time at 3 PM, it was nearly 4:30 by the time we were finally in our car and headed toward Match for supplies. As usual, we had brought with us a mini-cooler with hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks, and lamb chops, but we picked up our "liquid supplies", plus our old standards, cheeses, grapes, limes, etc., at Match. We arrived at the villa at about 5:30.
I won't go into a full description of the villa here, but you can check out the resort review which we did for our first trip to Green Cay in 1995. (See link below) The villa we stayed in the first time was number 9, this time number 12. Even though the view from number 9 was better, we liked number 12 better, in large part because it was totally private, even more private than number 9. There was virtually nowhere in number 12 where one could be seen by someone from either the road or another villa, even if we were trying to be observed. Our villa this time was laid out slightly differently than the one we had before, but the main principles of all the villas are the same. The villas have 3 individual bedrooms (each with it's own bath and TV), a great room (complete with TV, CD, cassette, VCR, and radio), kitchen (with microwave, dishwasher, blender, refrigerator with water and ice through the door, full kitchen utensils), guest bath and your own private pool. The units are rented out to only one group. Therefore, if you go, as we did, with only one couple, the other two bedrooms are locked off and you have the whole villa all to yourself.
The villas provide a small get started pack of supplies when you arrive, which was slightly different from our first trip, so I will recite the items here--4 cokes, fruit juice, milk, 4 beers, one dozen eggs, small packages of butter, honey and jelly, corn flakes, small bag coffee (enough for,at least two days), teabags, sugar and sweet n low, nestles quick, salt &pepper, paper towels, napkins, bottled water, and enough coffee filters for the week. Instead of wine, this time the resort provided a spiced rum (made by Ma Daudau), which was EXCELLENT.
Supplies in the bathroom were shampoo, body shampoo, body lotion, shower cap, toothpaste and soap. Unlike last time, there was no clock radio in the bedroom. There was a TV in the bedroom, however.
Before we left home, we had made plans to throw a wine and cheese party at the villa with some folks we had met on the internet. This was supposed to be at 7:30, but, as we found out later, as a result of the storm, our friends had gotten stuck on Saba, where they had gone to go diving that day, so they didn't show. We waited for a while, then ate some of the cheese and drank some wine and opened up the complementary bottle of spiced rum. After that first course, we weren't ready for a fancy meal on Saturday, so we headed to Grand Case to Talk of the Town Lolo. Both of us had the BBQ rib plate, with an assortment of sides, including potato salad, plantains, rice and salad. Great food and too much to eat, at $8 per person. While at Talk of the Town we discovered a potentially lethal hot sauce. It's called Matouk's Hot, Hot, Hot Sauce. Believe the label, my friends!!! The stuff smelled slightly sweet, but was the most amazing stuff we have come upon. We had intended to buy a bottle at Match and bring it home but forgot. Next time!! The meal, including a couple of cokes and beers was $25. One of the best meals of the week.
Sunday morning the resort provided a free continental breakfast, which we had requested for 8:30. We awoke to the maid placing our breakfast of croissant, toast, coffee and juice on the patio overlooking the ocean. This was the ultimate in service! The service was available every morning at (an exorbitant) $10 per person per day. Other meals were available delivered to the villa, including pizzas, sandwiches, appetizers, Japanese meals, and a full deluxe French dinner prepared at the villa by your own private chef. (I really wanted to do that this time, but we just never got around to that. Next time!!)
On Sunday, Eric went to the grocery store in Grand Case to pick up a couple of items we had forgotten at Match. While he was gone, our internet friend Warren called to tell us his adventure from the day before and explain why they hadn't shown up for the party. We made arrangements to meet on Monday. We stayed around the villa all day, enjoying the sun, the pool, the refrigerator with ice-maker (G!!) and fixed hotdogs on the grill for lunch. Around 5:30, we headed over to Althea Bogdon's place at Coral Shores to meet up with Althea and Annie and Paul Sullivan. We made it to Coral Shores without incident and enjoyed a little tour of the Coral Shores shoreline with Annie, a great view of the Dutch sunset (inside joke!!), and lots of wine and lovely conversation. By the time we had consumed some appetizers and several bottles of wine, it was 8:30 or after. We headed over to Sambucca for pizza, fried mozzarella and a pitcher of Cokes, for $30. We headed then to Atlantis for a couple hours of gambling and ended up exactly even for the night-- a major win in our book!
On Monday, after breakfast at the villa of croissant and coffee, we headed down to Club Orient for the day. We were pleased that Guillome (who owns Tiko Tiko and sometimes sets up the chairs at Orient) recognized us by sight and welcomed us back. It was nice to be "home" again. As usual this trip, we parked in the area of "The Perch", which is the "new" beach bar at the end of Club Orient property, fairly close to Pedro's. The addition of The Perch is quite an improvement for those staying on the far end of Club Orient property and especially cruise passengers or people not staying at Club O. You can park by the guard shack at Club O, and it is a fairly short walk straight out to the area of The Perch. There they have drinks and hotdogs. They were supposed to be getting a nacho and chip machine six months ago, but they don't have them hooked up yet. In addition to the bar, there are restrooms, an outside fresh water shower and changing rooms. Bravo!
Eric went off down the beach, hoping he might see our friend Albin from Key West, and darned if he wasn't successful!! Eric was gone for a while and came back with Albin in tow. We made the mistake of allowing Albin to buy us a drink at The Perch. Well, the lady there mixed the drinks for us like she did for Albin, I guess, as they knocked us for a loop. We got some chicken and fries at Pedro's in a (futile) attempt to sober up. Eventually we headed back to the villa, cooked some lamb chops on the grill, then headed to Esmeralda for our internet friend Warren and Patsy's 25th anniversary celebration, complete with cheeses, pate, caviar, smoked salmon, wine and rum punch. After that we came back to the villa and sat in the dark on our patio overlooking the lights of Orient, listening to music and drinking snifters of spiced rum. We pronounced the first glass moderately good and each successive glass improving exponentially in taste! G!!
Tuesday we again stayed around the villa for the day. After breakfast, we elected to stay in the shade for most of the morning, as we had gotten pretty red the day before. During the day, the fellows came by to spray again for mosquitoes, which was good. The only problem with Green Cay was the almost constant mosquitoes, mostly in the great room and the kitchen, although they were occasionally a problem in the bedroom also. If you book at Green Cay, make sure you bring plenty of "island perfume" (OFF!! G!!), as one of Althea's friends called it. We had hamburgers at the villa for lunch, then headed to Match for refills on some supplies. We wanted to buy another bottle of brand of the spiced rum we had at the villa to take home with us. I stewed and stewed on whether to get the banana flavored liqueur or the orange flavored liqueur and ended up with the orange liqueur. A major mistake, as we found out on Wednesday, when we ended up with some free banana liqueurs, which were outrageously good! The orange flavored was very missable. We headed to Grand Case for dinner and ended up at Chez Martine. We got suckered in by the price fix menu at $25 a person, then of course ordered off the menu! Eric had a lovely lobster salad with citrus, salmon cooked in foil and bananas flambee'. I had a wonderful beef in pastry and creme brulee. All of that and a bottle of white wine was $91--not a bad deal at all. Thereafter it was to the Pelican and Atlantis, winning some at roulette and getting killed at blackjack before heading home for the night.
Wednesday was our 20th anniversary. We wanted to spend it on Orient, so we went down to Bikini Beach for some breakfast. We arrived a little late, around 10:00 and they appeared to be still opening up, so I don't know if they had had anybody else for breakfast that morning or not. Eric had tomato stuffed with cheese and eggs, and I had a kind of scrambled egg, ham, cheese and onion combination, along with mimosas and coffee for each of us. At Bikini (as well as Kakao, Kontiki, and a couple of other restaurants--but NOT Club Orient) you can charge meals to your room at Green Cay by using a guest card that they give you at the resort. We realized, too late, that it could end up costing us more that way, as Green Cay supposedly charges a fee for accepting credit cards. However, our bill didn't appear to include the 2% charge on it, so possibly they didn't charge the extra fee. Our bill at Bikini was about $35.
Off down the beach to Club Orient for the day. We ended up at Pedro's for lunch. Eric was dressed in his birthday suit and I was wearing a pareo, so the "boat people" got quite a view. I had a chicken salad (VERY missable) and Eric had a burger, which he pronounced "mystery meat". At least the water was beautiful and the music was good. A lady sang for a while, concluding with a bang-up job on "My Way", then the steel band came on and played some songs and did a music trivia game, which was fun. The woman who won the game was invited to play the steel drums and she was great! Turned out she was kind of a "ringer", though, as she revealed that she had been a music major in college.
After some nice music, we headed back to the beach, when our first and only real rain shower during the day time for the whole week came up about 3 o'clock. Since Wednesday is the day of the Club O wine and cheese party, Eric wanted to stay on the beach, so we went to Papagayo's and had an unusual (for us, anyway) froo-froo drink, frozen strawberry margaritas. We hung out at Papagayo's for a while, and the rain cleared up, so we went back out to the beach till time for the party. While in line for some wine and cheese, we met a really nice couple from Raleigh and we invited them over to our table to enjoy our drinks. They, and our friend Albin, who showed up at some point, said that they were having a "nude-in" at Kakao that night and asked if we wanted to go. Normally, all the beach restaurants except Club Orient are closed at night except during real high season. However, someone staying at Club O had apparently approached Kakao and asked them if they guaranteed at least 40 people, would they stay open for dinner on Wednesday and Kakao said yes, of course. They were serving most of their regular menu and there was to be a live band, in addition. Since the folks who were coming were all from Club O, the party was also clothing optional, which certainly had it's allure.
As I said early on, we had intended to be in Grand Case at Auberge Gourmande for our anniversary, but that was not to be. Since it wasn't open, we decided, what the heck, we might as well go for the party! Most of the other folks from Club O walked down the beach, but we drove down, since we had driven to Club O earlier in the day. We arrived a little later than most folks, so ended up at a table a little away from the other folks, along with our new-found friends from the wine and cheese party. We shared two bottles of champagne, Eric had fresh lobster and I had chicken, along with several free drinks of a banana flavored rum, care of our waiter. He was a very agreeable fellow, who invited me up to dance to celebrate our anniversary and announced to the assembled crowd that it was our 20th anniversary. After numerous dances and drinks, we headed the (thankfully short!) distance back to our villa and I passed out. We had a GREAT anniversary party, though! We had a much better time, I think, than if Auberge had been open.
Thursday morning I was feeling a little under the weather from the previous evening's "festivities", so I went a little light on breakfast and lunch, making do with some grapes and cheese until we cooked some steaks on the grill about 5. Around 7, for the first time on Thursday, we put clothes so that we could drive down to Club O. Huh? Anyway, we had arranged with our friend Albin to meet him at Papagayo's and take him with us to the casino. We had some great desserts (key lime pie and cheesecake with strawberry topping) and some excellent coffee, and headed to Atlantis. We won $75 and Albin lost his allotted $30 at the slot machines, and it was time to head back home..
On Friday, we fixed omelettes and mimosa for breakfast at the villa before heading down to Club Orient for the day. As was the case for basically all of the trip, the weather on Friday was perfect, with a nice breeze, but not the gale that is sometimes the case at Orient. We managed to pass the morning doing nothing, as usual, and headed to Papagayo's for lunch. I had a SUPER chef salad --huge, filled with lots of turkey, ham, cheese and veggies. Take a piece of advice and split a chef salad and a bowl of their excellent fish soup with the one you love. Eric had a polish sausage, which was also great, although both of us were about too full to waddle when we got done eating. The salad and sausage and 2 strawberry margaritas were $35. Papagayo's is still not cheap to eat at, by any means, but as compared to prior to the hurricane, their food is consistently good to excellent.
After a few more hours of sun on the beach, we stayed for happy hour at Papagayo's and then headed back to the villa for a little rest before dinner. We opted for LeCalifornia. I had a wonderful scallop dish, Eric the salmon, and we shared a bottle of wine and some crepes with chocolate and Grand Marnier sauce. Yum, yum!! This was the only meal that we had that was actually charged in francs--378ff. Depending on what exchange rate we actually end up getting, about $63. Quite a bargain.
We probably should have called it a night there, but of course I had to go to the casino one last time. We had quite a horrible time at Atlantis, making only our second regret for the week, after buying the orange liqueur, instead of the banana.
Saturday morning dawned beautiful, the same as every day this trip. Normal checkout time at Green Cay is 12 noon, but we had checked earlier in the week and the front desk had told us that we could stay at the villa until 2:00, since our flight didn't leave till 4. We enjoyed our last mimosas and some toast for breakfast and cooked steaks on the grill for lunch prior to heading out to the airport around 2. The check in line for US Airways was uncharacteristically long and it was time to board the plane by the time we checked in and paid the departure tax. An uneventful flight home on US Airways through Philly, then on to DC and home.
We had wondered, before leaving home, whether we would enjoy staying at Green Cay as much as we had the first time, as that was our first trip to SXM and everything just seemed so perfect on that trip. Since that first trip, we have stayed at LaPlantation, L'Hoste, and Club Orient (twice). Well, I can honestly say that we enjoyed the villa as much this time, if not more. Especially since this was our 20th anniversary, we regretted not a penny of the extra money for staying there vs. at Esmeralda. Both times we have stayed at Green Cay, we have had the villa to ourselves and frankly I don't know whether we would enjoy it nearly as much with another couple there. There was something magical about having that whole wonderful place, with that wonderful view, all to ourselves. We loved being able to do what we wanted, when we wanted, and not worry about interfering with someone else's enjoyment. We loved having our own pool and deck to enjoy. We loved coming in from dinner and turning up Jimmy Buffett or whoever, and sitting in the dark looking out over the lights of Orient, sipping spiced rum. A celebration of twenty years of a wonderful marriage should be something special. This was. I wish all of you the same good fortune.
Carol & Eric
Also available on the Island Photo Gallery is the location and room diagrams of Green Cay Village.
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