“If you're coming to St. Martin for the first time for an extended stay, this is the place to come to.”
My partner and I first stayed at Esmeralda Resort in January 2012 and our return visit was this past February. Both visits were for 7 days.
What my partner and I enjoyed on both of our visits to the resort was the appearance and style of the villas, the well kept grounds, the friendly and courteous office staff, the tucked away location of the resort and most of all, the incredible stretch of white sand beach.
Our reservations were made directly with the resort via email with a marketing representative named Robbin Casey. All of our questions about room options, pricing and rental cars were answered very quickly and were accurate. We were advised that if we wished to have a rental car during our stay, to reserve it through the resort as guests at Esmeralda received 20% off the rate vs. non resort guests. Sunday is a day that the rental desk, which is located inside the reception building, is normally closed, but as an indication of the willingness of the staff, the desk attendant called a representative of the rental company and arranged for us to have a car for our use by noon on Sunday. We chose a 4 passenger Hyundai I-10. It's a basic 4 cylinder, 5 door subcompact model. The car suited our needs just fine, with the only stipulation that if you are going to use the A/C, you will experience a lack of horsepower available for passing or climbing some of the steeper mountain grades. We flew in from Minnesota to get away from our harsh winter, so having the windows rolled down and enjoying the warm breeze was the only way to go for us. Driving on the island is not as fear inducing as I had read about from other sites and in travel books. If you simply pay attention to what you are doing and watch out for other traffic, everything goes smoothly. Occasionally, you will have scooters and dirt bikes that will zip past and weave in and out of traffic and that is real the biggest problem lies. In some places, road widths are narrow and shoulders are almost non-existent, so you may find yourself having to move over and let a larger vehicle have right of way.
Our room was located in villa #48. That villa contained 1 Superior suite with 2 Deluxe rooms, one on each side. Our villa was set back just a bit from the beachfront, which was just fine with us as we enjoyed much more sitting out on our verandah looking at the lush grounds with all of the large palms and flowering bushes. There was one villa in front of us, closer to the beach, and behind us was the Astrolabe restaurant, so we felt we were situated nicely where we were. Our room in the villa contained a king size bed that was quite comfortable. The ceiling mounted air conditioning unit was nice to have on hand, but was not used much at all. We had windows on three sides, so cross ventilation with the ever constant breeze was no problem at all. The kitchenette was small, but functional as we had no plans to eat in our room, we were determined to enjoy as many of the different restaurants in the area as possible. There was a sink, mini refrigerator and a microwave. Our bathroom had a very nice and large shower, but no tub, which was just fine. The shower head was enormous and the water pressure was plenty adequate. Under the wash basin is where you will find the room safe, which came in very handy for storing passports, valuables, cameras, etc... Room houseeeping service was excellent and thorough. At the end of our stay, we tipped the housekeeper a total of $40USD. Each villa has a large size swimming pool that is to be shared by all rooms in the villa, but on both of our stays, no one ever used the pool, except for the two of us and that was primarily in the late afternoons after spending hours at the beach and in the ocean, to relax with a snack, cigar and some rum. Very quiet and a good way to unwind before deciding on dinner options.
Astrolabe serves breakfast and dinner, no lunches and is closed on Wednesdays. We took advantage of the continental breakfast there every morning as it was included in the price of our room. Assorted hard rolls and croissants with various spreads, along with assorted juices were covered. Additional items like creeps, pancakes, meats, cereals yogurts were available for an additional fee. Dinners there have different themes depending on the night of the week. Lobster fest, seafood fest, surf and turf, etc... There is a very mellow 3 piece jazz band that plays from about 7 to 10 PM nightly and was quite pleasant as background. We chose to only eat there 2 nights during our stay as we wanted to check out additional eateries in the area. For lunches, there was the Coco Beach bar and restaurant. Wide variety of choices, alcohol and other drinks and they are also open with a dinner menu until about 8PM. No matter where you ate at the resort, you did not need to carry cash. All items purchased were put on a room credit and all that was required was to show them your room card then sign the tab and after about the second day, we simplified that further by just saying what room we were in and then signed our tab. We had no problems with unaccounted for charges.
NOTE: There are some astoundingly good restaurants located about a 10 minute walk away from the resort in a small commercial area called Orient Bay Village. French, Italian, Asian and American cuisine can be found there and we very highly recommend that you spend a few nights talking a walk via the neighborhood streets or along the beaches to get to here. You will not be disappointed with the food, ambience and the owners and staff of the various restaurants as they truly are involved in all aspects of making your evening meal enjoyable. My top three favorites are Little Italy, Tai Chi and Le Piment.
Coco beach is just incredible. Two chairs and an umbrella are included in the price of accommodations and this particular stretch of Orient Bay is magnificent in both look, sand and waves. Two resorts share Coco beach, Esmeralda and La Plantation and that's it. No cruise ship passengers or non resort guests are allowed into Coco beach and when you stroll along the 5 different beach sections along Orient Bay, you can clearly tell that Coco beach is far less crowded than the others as you pass by and look around. Drink and food service is well done with a number of "beach boys" handling the duties. You can eat at the restaurant or beachside if you prefer. At the end of our stay, we tipped each of the two servers $20USD for their efforts for the week. Both of the guys were quite surprised when we slipped them our gifts and we got hugs and handshakes from them. These guys don't loaf around, they are hustling orders during the hottest part of the daytime hours.
The reception building is located directly across from Astrolabe and is staffed 24 hours. Inside you can make car rental reservations, call for a taxi, plan excursions, etc... There is a small sundries shop as well where you can get the basic items such as bottled water, alcohol, sweets, suntan lotions, snacks, etc... You'll also find the ice machine in there as well and it's FREE. Inside the building and outside on the large verandah area are the only places at the resort where you will be able to receive free WiFi service.
Twice during our most recent stay, we received a printed notice that there would be no water service during a good portion of the daytime hours for each day. This lasted from about 9AM until 4PM. I don't know if this is a regular occurrence, but it was not even a concern as during those hours we were either at the beach, in the water or out and about to some other part of the island.
Almost like clockwork, two or three times almost each day, you can expect what the locals call "liquid sunshine". These showers tend to come just before dawn, again between 12 - 2PM and finally between 7 - 9PM. The showers are very light and last for 10 - 15 minutes, but if you're heading out for dinner, it's a good idea to carry a small umbrella with you for the walk.
Next to the beach restaurant, there are a few shops where you can purchase island shirts and beachwear items. There's an area where you can get massages, do group yoga and a kids playground with equipment. Outdoor changing rooms, toilets and showers are also there.
The atmosphere of the resort, beach and the shops at Orient Bay Village is heavily European with the obvious accent on French language and customs. It is quite common to hear Dutch, German, British english, Italian, Russian and Spanish spoken around you. We enjoy our annual winter escape and look forward to getting away from all of the usual places where Americans go to vacation. We've been to other islands in the Caribbean and also on cruises where inevitably there will be some loud incident involving a boorish American tourist or group. If you're like us and find behavior like that to be embarrassing, you'll find a temporary home from all of that in and around Orient Bay. Also, the resort and for that matter, the island itself is very welcoming to gay and lesbian tourists. We've met some fellow gay couples during both of our stays at the resort and at some of the attractions on the island. As long as common sense and respect for the foreign country you are visiting is shown, there are no hassles or indications of not being welcome by the locals.
My partner and I will very soon be planning our 3rd stay at Esmeralda Resort for early next year to escape our tough Minnesota winter weather and we look forward very much to another great stay!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.