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“Slice of Heaven in St. Martin”
Review of Hotel L'Esplanade

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Hotel L'Esplanade
Ranked #2 of 8 Hotels in Grand Case
Certificate of Excellence
Alexandria, Virginia
Level Contributor
29 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“Slice of Heaven in St. Martin”
Reviewed March 4, 2010

My husband and I just got back from our trip to St. Martin and would go back to L'Esplanade in a heartbeat. We got wonderful service from each service person at this laid back boutique hotel. And, just to clarify, I mean the atmosphere for the guests is laid back, but each hotel staff person we encountered was professional, yet made you feel like you were part of the family. When we checked in, my husband mentioned to Kristen, the hotel manager, that we wanted to go deep sea fishing and Kristen gave us the name/phone number of a family friend who also captained a private charter fishing boat. (Had a great time on that excursion!)

We had a deluxe studio room and I agree with everything I'd read previously. Very nice room, comfortable bed, always kept exceptionally clean, incredible view (I believe all rooms have fantastic views). My husband would have liked a more comfortable chair to sit in, but that would be our only complaint about the room.

We loved the location of L'Esplanade; very doable walk into town for dinners or over to the Grand Case Beach Club/Sunset Cafe for breakfast or lunch. The hotel has a small pool (appropriate to the number of rooms at the hotel) with it's swim up bar was a real hit with my husband. And Allan, the pool bartender/chef/car rental agent/jack of all trades, was a real treat, as well as his extended family that assisted him at the bar at various times. They made us feel at home from the very first day. If you do have any issues with walking, be aware that there are a lot of steps to get to/from your room and the pool and you have to walk down a hill to get down into town. I injured my knee midway through the trip, so that made it a little difficult to get around. In terms of restaurants, we didn't have a bad meal. With the exception of some breakfasts and lunches at the Sunset Cafe at the Grand Case Beach Club, we didn't eat anywhere more than once, just because we wanted to try a variety. I believe we went to Spiga, Le Pressoir, Bistro Caraibes, Spicy, The Sky is the Limit (one of the Lolo's) and Il Nettuno. While you don't need a car a lot, you do need one periodically if you want to do anything outside of Grand Case (and you should!).

Unless you are looking for a large hotel with lots and lots of amenities, you will not be disappointed by L'Esplanade. Thanks for making our trip to St. Martin so special!

  • Stayed February 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank megmeyer411
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
  • Location
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (148)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Indianapolis, IN
Level Contributor
40 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed March 4, 2010

This hotel was just beautiful - we came to the Grand Case area under the suggestion of a family member. This hotel was in the perfect location, small walking distance to the fantastic restaurants within Grand Case - but in a more secluded location which made it perfect for our honeymoon. The hotel was up to date (we stayed in a one bedroom with kitchen, living room) - very trendy, and very well kept. Amenities were great, and the pool had a swim up bar where the drinks were amazing! Short walk from the beach - a very nice, perfect beach. Not recommended for families with children I think, but a perfect place for a romantic getaway! Will definitely go back! (We went in early June 2008, and the weather was perfect - and prices were cheaper!) The staff was very friendly, always willing to help out - make sure to have them make reservations for you at the local restaurants!

  • Stayed June 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank indy2010
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
california
Level Contributor
6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed March 2, 2010

a very special and romantic small hotel were they treat you like royalty. Spacious , immaculate rooms with fabulous views of the harbor. Walking distance to tons of good restaurants. A hidden treasure. We were at the Westin before and what a positive difference L'Esplanade made in our opinion of St. Martens.

  • Stayed February 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank caryl g
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Northern VA
Level Contributor
151 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 257 helpful votes
Reviewed February 26, 2010

We stayed in a loft suite in mid February 2010. Paying the extra for a loft suite is well worth it. It is a noticeable difference over the regular suites. Recommend requesting a suite away from the lobby when making reservations.

Room
King size bed was very comfortable (firm), pillows were very soft (not firm)
Full kitchen is provided. There are 1 ½ bathrooms.
Television is a tube about 35 inches big in an entertainment center
Master bathroom has shower and toilet area with lots of counter space and cabinets. There is no bathtub.
There are no exhaust fans in the bathrooms.
A safe in provided in each room.
There are a lot of drawers and closet space for hanging clothing and folding items.
A hair dryer, ironing board and iron are provided in each suite.
The drapery on the patio doors is doubled sided and does a good job of blocking out light in the evenings.
The walls between suites are not soundproof. We heard various conversations in other suites, especially in the shower area.
The maid services did an excellent job every day and were cleaning rooms before 9AM. They were very cognizant of the “Privacy” and “Service” door hangers.

Reception
The front desk is very helpful. Miriam is outgoing and easy to deal with. They were happy to talk about and book excursions and make dinner reservations. The majority of upper end restaurants do not open until 5PM, so reservation requests aren’t usually done until then.
110V converters are available at the reception office
You can get beach towels from reception
The computer in the lobby doesn’t operate rapidly, but it is not bad.
Water with orange slices is provided in the lobby area.
There is a large desk area with various fliers of activities in lobby area.

Pool
There is a small pool next to the large pool. The pool water is chilly but not very cold. There are roughly 20 chairs/loungers to relax in and a sun balcony with tables and chairs for meals.

Pool Bar
The bartender, Allen is great. He can come up with some interesting drinks. There are two pool stools in the pool. They have a grill and cooking surface in the pool bar area for food orders.

Car Rental
Justice Car Rental is available through the resort. If you rent a car the entire time you are there they will pick you up and return you to the airport. Vehicles are not brand new and have some scratches, but if you are parking in St. Martin the scratches on the car will fit in with the other vehicles.

Driving in Grand Case can be interesting. There are many one way streets and a few dead end streets that are not marked in Grand Case. We couldn’t find a detailed street map with side streets anywhere. There are many instances where you will need to pull to the side of the road and let cars pass before continuing on.

Walk to Restaurant Row in Grand Case
The walk to Grand Case is no problem. The hill is about 100 yards long with a slow grade decline/incline. There are stone benches along the way if you need to rest. We had no problems making it up the hill even after eating large meals in Grand Case. Security wasn’t an issue, we never encountered any non L’Esplanade visitors on the hill to/from L’Esplanade and Grand Case.

Beaches
Grand Case Beach is small with calm water and is great for families and kids. Orient Beach is a nude beach. People and books may say that only the far end of the beach is nude, but there are nude and partially nude people of all shapes and sizes on the entire beach throughout the day. We encountered the most fully nude people in the mornings.

Most beaches have no dogs signs posted, but every beach we went to people brought dogs with them. On more remote beaches, like Friar’s Bay you will encounter other animals (pigs, donkeys). If you want to get away from the masses on a beach when cruise ships are docked, go to Friar’s Bay and ask for directions to Happy Beach. It is about a ten minute walk, but worth it, with clear blue water and very few people.

Maho Bay
If you are going to Maho Bay to watch the planes arrive/depart. I would recommend the Sunshine Bar & Grill as it is on the water and access road. They play the air traffic controllers conversations with approaching and departing planes and have a surfboard with the arriving flights of the day with times and origins listed. The larger planes seemed to arrive in the afternoon. If you have a chance to be there in the evening right after dark, it is worth the crowds.

Marigot
There was a lot of traffic on the road (for St. Martin) to and from Marigot the closer you were to Marigot. The water front area was always busy and parking was scarce. There is parking further up the coastline. There is a farmers market on Saturday and Wednesday in Marigot. The crafts market has vendors everyday in Marigot. The usual trinkets and tourist items are dominant, but there are some local artists and jewelers that offer some unique items.

Airport
Large airlines include the exit fee in the airfares, but if you are flying on a small airline, you should ask them if the exit fee is included as you won’t make it through customs without paying the exit fee.
There is an eating area downstairs, before going through security and customs and a duty free area of shops and food upstairs after clearing customs.

Notes
Most of the ATMs are on the Dutch side of the island, so bring cash if you are planning on staying on the French side of the island.

The French side operates on 220 volts AC (60-cycle), with round-prong plugs.

The Perfect Ti Pot (at the bottom of the hill of L’Esplanade) is a small pottery store with handmade items for sale. There were some unique items including sea glass in pottery.

During high season on Tuesday nights, there is a street fair on the Blvd de Grand-Case. A lot more people are in Grand Case and the lolos get very busy.

Recommend reservations at restaurants in Grand Case on Friday and Saturday nights, as the best places get booked up quickly

The Crusty Bread Bakery in Grand Case, (across from the police station) is the local bakery and has great baguettes, croissants, and breads. To get there, make a left at Bistrot Caraibes from the main street in Grand Case.

Bring bug spray as mosquitoes and other biting insects are present.

To phone from the Dutch side to the French, you first must dial 00-590-590 for local numbers, or 00-590-690 for cell phones, then the six-digit local number. To call from the French side to the Dutch, dial 00-599, then the seven-digit local number. To call a local number on the French side, dial 0590 plus the six-digit number. On the Dutch side, just dial the seven-digit number with no prefix.

  • Stayed February 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
8 Thank buffgray
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Durham, NH
Level Contributor
98 reviews
57 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 91 helpful votes
Reviewed February 24, 2010

This place was so perfect we did not move the car for 4 days. Every room has an ocean view and look s very much like the website indicates. YOu have more privacy on the upper floor rooms with better water views, but the lower floors have the well manicured gardens + a view. You can't go wrong. This is also a very well managed property- everything in the rooms are perfect and very clean- even the well equipped kitchens. It feels like someones home . Has more of a villa/ Inn feel than a hotel. Loved the touch of french music playing on the CD when we arrived along with bouganvilla petals around the room. French bread and bottled water are also offered.

Just a short walk into town if you want some action at night. We did not have a bad meal anywhere- the desk can provide you with details. There is a 1 euro to 1 dollar exchange in some restaurants- but this changes weekly so ask before you eat. There is no tax on food. Also the lolos ( beach barbaque shacks) are good if you order chicken/ ribs stay away from the fish. Tuesday nights in Grand Case there is a fun street fair/ carnavale with great bands, food and people selling their wares. If you will eat many meals in - get your food at the Match on the dutch side before you enter the French side ( much better prices). If you are only getting a few items there is a new US supermarket 2 min drive from the hotel or if you dont' have a car a small local market across from the police station and next to french bakery- boulanger_ with great breads ( you will smell them).

We used the beach at the Grand Case Beach club and rented chairs for 9 $ a day. Also great views/food at Sunset Cafe there and 2 for 1 happy hours which are nice before your dinner.

Only negatives were the cost- a bit steep in season ( 400 up) and no discounts on any of the websites ( you pay rack). But they don't nickel and dime you when you are here. People with bad knees beware of the steep walks to town and to the pool.

Overall a great stay and we would return without hesitation( even more so if the rates were lower)

  • Stayed February 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Adams
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York, NY
Level Contributor
23 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
Reviewed February 23, 2010

Went there end of Jan /early Feb 2010. Loved the scenic views and love the French side in general. The Dutch side is so commercial and gets the "cruise" set with fannypacks and all. The Grand Case area is full of life, good food and wonderful, carefree people. Yes- the hotel is on a hill- but we managed fine- even with a 4 year old that has a disability. We did rent a car- so we always had that option if it was rainy at dinnertime and we weren't up to dragging a tired/cranky child up the hill.
We rented a suite which I do recommend- it was very beautiful and quiet on the end- perfer for one or two children in a pull out sofa. My only concern was the bed- I have a bad back and it was very uncomfortable- it seems well worn in. But this is a boutique hotel and I still prefer the charm even with a few drawbacks: the hill, no restaurant, a bit of a walk to the beach. Also- pool was absolutely frigid- my daughter cried when we tried to go in. It could have been the abnormal amount of rain we had over our stay. To sum, I will take this charming hotel any day over some corporate, commerical cookie cutter hotel that I can stay at any business event.

  • Stayed January 2010, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank sunbelly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
10 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed February 17, 2010

As a faithful TripAdvisor user, I was struck by the spectacular ratings and reviews Hotel L'Esplanade had on this site. While the hotel was tucked into a charming and quiet hillside of Grand Case and the rooms were spacious and roomy (bigger than our apartment back home!), that's about all this highly-rated hotel has going for it. It definitely has a classic Spanish-style atmosphere, but felt like more than an apartment complex than a hotel. Everything was clean and well-maintained, but there wasn't much standout about it beyond that.

SETBACKS:
Location: The drive from the Dutch side's SXM airport to the hotel in Grand Case on the French side takes you on the main road of the island. There are a few dicey parts, and the roads leading up to the hotel can be confusing. Drive slowly on the sharp right turn at the end of Grand Case — the hotel comes up quickly on the left. Since it's set back from the road, it's about a 10 to 15-minute walk to the heart of Grand Case, billed as the "Restaurant Row" of the Caribbean. We strolled the area at the peak area of a Saturday and most restaurants were closed and the town was run-down and dead. The only place that was happening is the local lolos (Caribbean BBQ stands). It's the most authentic and reasonably priced cuisine you'll find. We were a bit hasty and chose a combo platter right away, but might have been better off ordering a la carte. (Keep in mind, some spots have $1 to 1 Euro rates, but others don't ... but sure to ask!)

Food: There's no restaurant at the hotel, but there is an option to order a breakfast. Of all the hotels we stayed on during the Caribbean vacation (even lower end ones!), this was the only one without breakfast included. There was a (slightly stale) loaf of bread and two bags of Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies when we arrived in the room. There aren't any eating options nearby — to the point that we skipped dinner one night because it felt like everything was so far away!

Service: We didn't find anything spectacular about the service. We were pretty much left alone after check-in (nice hostess, but nothing spectacular — she did let us know honestly about Dengue Fever... there haven't been any outbreaks in the area lately, so it's not a concern as of now). We needed to get to Anguilla the following day and went to the front desk for help to see how we could catch the ferry. Not only were we told "I don't know" as she motioned to a boat service obviously sponsored by the hotel, but she pointed to the slow computer in the corner and told to look it up ourselves.

Overall, for the price we paid, we definitely got peace & quiet and plenty of room in a clean and homey setting. But in this same price bracket at other hotels, we were getting full-service, breakfast-included, completely helpful service, so we're stumped as to what everyone else found so special about this particular hotel.

  • Stayed January 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank Rachel C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hotel L'Esplanade

Property: Hotel L'Esplanade
Address: On the Hill of Grand Case | St. Martin, Grand Case 97150, St. Maarten-St. Martin
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > St. Maarten-St. Martin > Saint-Martin > Grand Case
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 8 Hotels in Grand Case
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Hotel L'Esplanade 4*
Number of rooms: 24
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Amid lush tropical gardens, affording its visitors privacy without sacrificing its panoramic ocean views. Spacious interiors blend harmoniously with the Mediterranean architecture. Magical sunsets come to you on your private terrace to touch your soul. A delightful footpath leads you on a journey of discovery. We invite you to find your own rhythm, knowing that our staff is there to ensure that your every day is a perfect day, knowing that your comfort is our excellence and with us, you are home. For those who appreciate privacy, enjoy an uncrowded atmosphere, gracious hospitality and seek relaxation in exclusive, blissful surroundings...Welcome to Hotel L'Esplanade. Introducing our new Ti Spa for all of your beauty and relaxation needs! ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Hotel l Esplanade

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