Following is our report on our stay at Green Cay Village, located on the hills above Orient Beach, from February 25 through March 4. This report will focus ONLY on the villa itself, and not be a trip report, which we will post under a different subject heading. This trip was one of the best vacations we have ever had, which we attribute about equally to St. Marten and to Green Cay. Previously, we have vacationed at Hedonism II in Jamaica, Negril Gardens in Negril, Jamaica, Cancun, Aruba, Bahamas and cruised 15 times. We had previously visited St. Marten about 5 or 6 times on ships, but had never stayed in St. Marten before.
Green Cay Village is an absolutely top-notch accomodation which we would not hesitate to recommend to anyone who is in search of excellent accommodations with excellent privacy and beautiful views. Green Cay Village consists of 16 separate villas which each have their own swimming pools. Each villa is basically identical, although the position of the bedrooms may be slightly different. Each villa consists of three lockable bedrooms (each with a separate bath), a great room, a kitchen, additional bath, separate shower, large deck area overlooking the pool, and a separate eating area outside.
The great room is the central feature of each villa. The great room was approximately 24 X 24, and included a sofa, loveseat and chair, each rattan with cushions. Floors here, as throughout the whole villa, were tile with some various small scatter rugs. There was a TV with cable (HBO, TNT, CNN, ESPN and at least 2 French channels), VCR (which according to Jim Ruos plays European style tapes only--we didn't check it out), and an excellent stereo system with radio, cassette and CD player. There were sliding patio doors on both sides of the villa, so that you could get a fresh breeze straight through the villa. A/C was therefore not necessary, which was good, since only the bedrooms, and not the rest of the villa, were air conditioned. We did not miss the A/C at all. There was supposed to be a ceiling fan in the great room, I think. We did not have a ceiling fan, only a small fan which we only used on two occasions when we returned home from being out for the day with the house closed up. Otherwise, it was not necessary.
The kitchen was a surprise and a joy. There was a toaster, (small!!) microwave, blender, dishwasher, coffee maker, and a double door refrigerator with ice, water, and crushed ice through the door. There was a full complement of dishes and glasses, including wines, champagnes, highballs, water glasses, brandy glasses, dessert glasses, pitcher, coffee cups, demitasse cups, silverware, frying pan, sauce pans, ice bucket, platters, salad bowls, can opener, corkscrew, etc. Absolutely the ONLY things that we felt that we were in need of that were not provided was paper towels and/or plastic wrap and a larger pitcher.
Just in front of the great room and between it and the great view, was a large covered patio, about 10 feet by 24 feet, with 2 square plastic tables, seating 4 people each. The deck here was an imitation type slate--better for traction with wet feet than the tile floors inside. Just down from this deck and with a pass-through window into the kitchen, was a bar with three barstools, with padded seats.
In front of the patio was the pool, which was around 24 X 20, semicircular. It was 4 feet at the shallow part, around 5 1/2 feet in the deep part. Surrounding the pool was a wooden sun deck, which was around 42 by 10, not including the wings in the front of the two bedrooms. On the patio were six reclining chaise lounges (no cushions) and 3 small square tables. Surrounding the whole deck was a (see-through) glass wall which was around 4 feet high.
On either side of the pool, with one sliding glass door facing out to the pool and one door facing out toward the ocean, were two bedrooms. Our bedroom was one of these and was approximately 24 X 20, with a king sized bed, one small wicker table with two wicker chairs, a wicker desk with a chair, with 3 drawers. There was a closet with 4 large shelves, a (6 number programmable) combination safe, a hanging section containing approximately 10 hangers, with a shelf above this. We had a clock radio, which did not work because it wouldn't stay plugged in, although this was no problem since we had the whole villa and could listen to the radio in the main house. The bedrooms (although not the rest of the villa) were air-conditioned, which was nicer for sleeping. One night we started out with the patio doors open since there was a breeze blowing, but ended up turning the a/c back on and left it on for the rest of the week.
We could walk straight out to the deck to the pool, but there were around 5 steps up to the bathroom, which contained a 2 sink lavatory, with approximately 5 center drawers, toilet and tub with European style hand held shower, which made it difficult, although not impossible, to take a shower standing up. We normally took most of our showers in the separate shower room which was down the hall from the great room. Provided in the bathroom was a hairdryer, a 110 shaver plug (otherwise all electric plugs were 220), shampoo, conditioner, and toothpaste. There was a swimming suit rack in the bathroom and in the separate shower room down the hall. The bedrooms and the bathrooms all had slat-type windows, which you could slide shut, but they were by no means airtight. Therefore, at night we usually kept the door to the bathroom shut to keep it cooler in the bedroom.
Because of the time of year we went, even though we had rented the villa for only two people, we had to pay for a 2 bedroom villa for part of our stay. However, normally, the villas are set up to be rented as either a 1, 2 or 3 bedroom villa and each bedroom is totally independent of the others. Each bedroom has it's own clock radio and telephone and there is apparently a different phone number for each bedroom, as whenever the front desk called us, the phone rang ONLY in our bedroom. Our villa was number 9, and the bedroom numbers were 109, 209 and 309, with great room being number 409. Each bedroom has a separate key to the individual bedroom. Our bedroom was number 309, and our bill was for room number 309. Therefore, we assume the management could charge each party separately for separate charges, such as at the restaurants on the beach and at the reception desk.
When you rent a villa as a one bedroom, the other two bedrooms are locked off and we got only a brief view into those bedrooms. One day when the maid came, we asked for the key to the other bedrooms, which she graciously gave us and we peeked inside. The second bedroom on the other side of the pool also had a king sized bed and faced toward the ocean and opened directly out onto the main deck, by means of two different sliding glass doors--one facing toward the ocean, one toward the pool. It was slightly smaller than our bedroom, but had full bath with shower and tub. The third bedroom had two twin sized beds, but no tub in the bathroom and had it's own private patio which faced toward the ocean and was not visible from the rest of the villa, unless you leaned around a corner.
One of the main reasons that we had decided to vacation in SXM and at Green Cay, in particular, was because of the clothing optional feature, and we were not disappointed. As most everyone knows, Orient Beach is probably about the best known nudist beach in the world and we enjoyed our time there immensely. However, we also fully enjoyed the c/o possibilities that Green Cay itself provided. Although it does vary between the individual villas, one could be nude for as much of the time as one wished, and there would be very little problems with it. The best villas for privacy, we thought, were numbers 7 and 9 and 18 and 20. The few right by the reception desk and by the public road had less privacy than these four. Speaking now particularly of our villa, within the villa itself and on the deck above and overlooking the pool, you could be nude all the time and there was almost no possibility of anyone seeing you. On the deck where the pool was located, there was a 4 foot high smoked glass wall. If someone was walking along the little road between the villas, and you were standing up, they could see that you weren't wearing anything, but otherwise, if you were lying down I cannot conceive how they would see you. There were a couple of bougainvillaeas and a palm on the deck around the pool and flowers and trees everywhere outside the villa. Looking out the back doors of our great room, you kind of looked like you were in a rain forest, as all you could see were green plants.
The maid generally came in our villa around 10 AM to 11 AM. Usually if we were there, we just stayed down on the deck by the pool and most of the time I put on a pareo when she was there. I really don't think that I needed to bother as the maids are locals, and Americans are the only people who are so uptight about clothes, one way or another. One day Eric was nude the whole time the maid was there and I don't think she paid any attention at all. We generally slept nude and we surprised ourselves and the pool guys one morning when we stepped out of the bedroom nude and they were there cleaning and checking on the pool. We were just surprised, as we didn't expect them to be there. They came every day, but early, around 8 A.M.
The maid came every day and changed towels, made the bed, cleaned up and ran the dishwasher. We always put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher and just left it till she got there to run it. She also put away the dishes--heaven!! We tipped her $20 at the end of the week, which I guess is kind of standard, according to Jim Ruos.
The great room faced the ocean and had an absolutely gorgeous view of Orient Beach, Green Cay, Pinel, Tintamarie and St. Barts, plus the assorted sailboarders, parasailers, bungee-jumpers, sailboats, jet-ski's and others who inhabited Orient Beach. The view of Orient from Green Cay was, in my opinion, better than, say Esmerelda, which is much closer to the water. However, the land in that area is so flat that you don't get a really good view. Green Cay is situated up the hill from Orient and we did walk down to Orient and back once, but generally, most people would want to drive. I would estimate that the walk down to Orient Beach was about 1/4 mile. You came out in the area of Cacao, Waikiki, and the Kontiki, which was down a little bit from Pedro's. The walk down was not bad at all, but was a little steep coming back. The only time we did walk down to Orient was about 4 P.M. on a day when it had been raining earlier, so the temperature was quite reasonable. I would not wish to walk back up on a sunny day.
FOOD--We ate in a the villa, probably more than many people would. We ended up saving some money that way, but that was not really the primary reason that we did it. We eat out a lot at home, so it does not hold that much magic for us while on vacation to search for a different place to eat every night. While at home, our favorite meals are consumed (during the summer, at any rate) on our deck overlooking our pool, and it's most likely something that we have cooked on the grill. This carried through to this vacation wonderfully. We took several items of food from home and likely will do so again when we return to Green Cay. Things which we took with us which we would take again were mostly frozen stuff--a couple of steaks apiece, some hamburgers and hotdogs and frozen corn on the cob. These stayed wonderfully frozen for our (direct) flight from BWI to SXM. Other items which we took which we would take again were some extra tea bags and sugar (we love iced tea), some mixed nuts, a package of crackers, small squeeze bottles of ketchup, mustard and salad dressing, and the two drink size of margarita mix. Two things which we took which we didn't need to were salt & pepper and coffee. All of these items were probably available at either Match or Food Center (which reminded me of a Giant Food around here, by the way!), but we were able to get exactly what we wanted at home and able to get smaller sizes or break up the package ourselves and leave part home, so we didn't feel bad about leaving the remainder there. Prices for regular grocery items did not seem to be much more than home, except for the meats, but it was more a convenience factor than anything. Provided with each new rental is a "get started" pack, which included about 4 beers and 6 cokes, a loaf of bread, 6 eggs, a cake, strawberry preserves, (individual sized) butter and jellies, orange juice, milk, mineral water, sugar & sweet & low packets, teabags, fresh ground coffee (enough basically to last the week), cocoa, salt & pepper and vinegar & oil. Also, when you arrive, there is a bottle of white wine chilling to welcome you. Nice touch!
Green Cay did have food service, although we did not use it except for the complementary first morning continental breakfast. Charge for continental breakfast after that was $8 PP, full American breakfast $10 PP. There was also lunch and dinner service available, including salads and pizza for lunch and dinner entrees plus full gourmet dinners cooked in your villa. In addition, you could get either a gourmet chef or a traditional cook for the entire week, to prepare meals in your villa. If anyone wants a copy of the full listings available, one just happened to liberate itself from the tyranny of French rule and ended up in my suitcase.
As far as eating out, there are not really any restaurants within walking distance of Green Cay. You really need to rent a car to see the island anyway. On Orient, your guest card from Green Cay allowed you to charge food and drinks at Kontiki, Cacao, Waikiki, Coco and Bikini. With the exception of Papagayo's and Kontiki (Friday and Saturday night ONLY), I don't think that any of them were open at night. We did not eat at any of those places, although we did have a bottle of wine at Kontiki and they did not blink an eye about accepting the Green Cay guest card to charge there. We ate lunch at Pedro's a couple of times. It's a little shack at the (prude) end of Club Orient which sells great BBQ, ribs, burgers and fries, plus drinks.
Other than the restaurants on Orient, there are many, many other restaurants which are close driving distance from Green Cay and we would certainly defer to the SXM experts with regard to recommendations there. One place where you must eat at least one meal is in Grand Case, which is a gastronomical wonder of a city. You can get some expensive meals there, but for the most part, everywhere you turn there is a wonderful restaurant with great food and usually a great view of the water for a very reasonable price.
In the villa when we arrived was a book with listings for watersports, helicopter tours, and cruises to St. Barts, Tintamarie, Anguilla, etc. Additional services provided were free airport transfers, beach shuttle, concierge, and tennis. Babysitting and laundry services were available for an additional fee.
SO--how much did all this luxury cost?? Prices for winter 1994/1995 were $2100 per week for 1 bedroom, $2900 per week for 2 bedrooms and $3800 for 3 bedrooms. For the winter 1994/95, there was a 3 bedroom minimum for December 18 to January 9 and a 2 bedroom minimum for February 12 to February 27. Since we arrived on February 25, we were stuck with the 2 bedroom rate for 3 days and 1 bedroom rate for 4 days. Starting April 3, the prices go down to $1800 for 1 bedroom, $2300 for 2 bedrooms, and $2900 for 3 bedrooms.
We booked through Jim Ruos, here on $P$. Prices from the other sources we checked for Green Cay seemed to be about the same, with the only difference being in payment terms. We were able to pay 25% down to Jim Ruos and paid the remainder at the time we checked out. Also, Jim seemed to have some first-hand information that some of the other sources did not have. Credit cards were accepted, but subject to a service charge which was 2%, I believe.
Let us know if you have any particular questions we can answer.
Carol & Eric
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