My wife and I just got back (21st May) from two weeks at the GCBC. A very nice holiday. We had a two storey single bedroom condo’ overlooking the best of the two small beaches. We thought our room (709) was probably the best in the complex for a one bedroom unit. We also thought it was good value. The bathrooms (there were two) could do with a refurb but everything else, including the brand new kitchen, was just fine. The rooms were perfectly clean when we arrived and kept that way with a daily maid service. The facilities and gardens were all very well maintained and any small difficulties were sorted out quickly and with good grace by the polite and efficient staff.
The beaches were both nice but narrow. The better one of the two, on the north side of the complex, got a little crowded from time to time. There are fabulous beaches around the island and many, including Orient, are just a few minutes away by car. We tended to use the beach at GCBC when we’d been elsewhere for most of the day and just had an hour or two left over. The swimming was good and snorkelling off the rocks to the north end was pretty interesting when the water was clear. The beach equipment, including the most comfortable sunbeds we came across, and the attendants were excellent. There is a pool but we didn’t see anyone use it. There is construction work in progress behind the north beach which began at seven each morning. Not very noisy but a minor inconvenience when you’d rather just listen to the sea.
Grand Case. Firstly, France this is not! This talked-up place has been created to convince people that it is a gourmet town. It is the sellers who have created this reputation, not the buyers. The whole thing is a bit of a sham. Yes there is some good French food if you really seek it out but most of it is second or third rate fare at top rate prices. I would give most of them a miss, especially the Tastevin with its strange smell of sewage, and California which left us reaching for the Imodiums the next morning. Alabama was consistently very good indeed but also very pricey. The most honest food was served up in Sky’s the Limit. Tasty food at very low prices but a limited menu and very basic surroundings so not for every night - it was also great fun. Talk of the Town was similar but we thought inferior to Sky’s the Limit (and we didn’t share our table with cockroaches at the latter).
The Sunset Cafe at GCBC also served food which was really nothing special, particularly by French standards, but at prices that were pretty special.
The Match supermarket in Marigot has lots of good quality french wines on offer at very good prices. We couldn’t understand why the wine selections in the restaurants was so limited and of inferior quality - especially the reds.
For better food and better value go to the old marina area in Marigot. For real french food - go to Paris.
Most Grand Case restaurants offer US$1 to 1 euro. Now, at the time of writing, the euro is worth 30% more than the dollar on the currency markets. That means that, at a stroke, they are willing to knock 23% off their prices. What does that tell you about the margins they’re working on? If you are travelling from Europe bring dollars for the restaurants to take advantage of this (crazy) discount. Cash or travellers cheques are both accepted. In normal shops and supermarkets the real market currency values are adhered to.
We had a hire car for the two weeks and wouldn’t have been without it. Cars are cheap here and we felt we got a good deal from Alamo at the airport and didn't shop around. You can get around the island in half a day if you want to. I suppose we spent about three or four half days of fairly lazy exploration. We were very pleased that we’d chosen to stay on the French side. Our favourite town was Marigot, a ten minute drive from GCBC - traffic permitting.
We took two trips, one to Anguila and one to St Barts. In both cases we used the ferry from Marigot and hired a car when we got to the destination.
Anguila has little to see really. A few five star resorts with infinity pools and lots of 'inmates' looking very miserable. You can probably guess that we don't like these all inclusive places. The island has a few tiny towns with not much going on, its a sleepy little island. BUT - then there’s Shoal Bay. One of the finest beaches we’ve ever seen and worth the trip just to experience it. The people were friendly and helpful. We had a good day, and a day was all we needed.
St Barts we enjoyed less. The weather wasn’t so good which always colours the experience but it still wasn’t really a visitor friendly place to be. The roads are terrible with nowhere to pull over and take a breather or a look at the surroundings, lots and lots of traffic all going a breakneck speed, so you feel like you’ve suddenly entered a road race that you had no intention of joining but you can’t get off. The beaches were nice enough but usually with few or no facilities. The towns were also OK, pretty and prosperous places with nice architecture. But take lots of money. The ferry ride itself is quite expensive and once you’re there most things cost double what they cost in St Martin. One example being to rent two sunbeds and an umbrella was 30 euros, or US$39. Apart from being able to say we’ve been, we wish we hadn’t bothered with St Barts.
The airport at St Maarten gets very crowded and very hot, especially in departures on a Saturday. No aircon makes for a missable experience. They’re building a new terminal building which is sure to address this problem.
We liked St Martin and the GCBC. We may go again, but then there’s lots of other places we’d like to go to. If we did go back it would be to the Grand Case Beach Club, and I wish Sky’s the Limit was in our local town instead of 4,000 miles away!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Intimate and relaxing, small but large enough to have just the right amount of service that brings back our guests year after year. We are constantly improving and have updated and upgraded nearly every aspect of our resort, and will continue to do so. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Grand Case Beach Club Hotel Grand Case
- Grand Case Beach Hotel