UPDATE HURRICANE GONZALO
Learn more about the Caribbean's most exciting vacation destination! If you appreciate gourmet food, world class duty free shopping, vibrant nightlife, pristine beaches, year-round warm climate and a cosmopolitan atmosphere with a Caribbean twist, Sint Maarten - Saint Martin is for you!
SINT MAARTEN - SAINT MARTIN provides vacationers the opportunity to enjoy three distinct cultures on one 37 square mile island. There is the delightfulness and soberness of the Dutch on one side, the savoir-faire of the French on the other, and the blending of both with exotic native heritage.
Add dozens of beaches and lagoons, luxury hotels, elegant villas, and over 300 restaurants and you may understand why St. Martin is the most visited of all the Leewards. All the great chefs, European, American, or Asian vie to compete in this gourmet capital of the Caribbean, creating cuisines equal to the best of Paris or New York. Shopping on the island is duty free and casinos, discos and night clubs stay open till dawn. Jumbo jets from world centers land here and charters allow visits to the smaller Leewards. There is something to satisfy every taste on St.Martin ...
Villas vs Hotels
Written by Let's Travel St. Maarten
You are ready to book a holiday, and for years it was logical that you would stay in a hotel during your vacation; but not so anymore. With the millions of Villa Vacation rentals out there, you have a choice, and the hotel option is not always the favorable option.
What are Villas?
Villas are luxury, private residences that are made available to vacation travelers. St. Martin Villas by Blue View Escapes, Pierres Caraibes and Sunshine Properties range from 1-11 bedrooms and offer additional space such as living rooms, dining rooms, fully-equipped kitchens, and outdoor areas including verandas and pools. They are generally equipped with amenities and a dedicated staff to cater to your specific needs. Luxury/Private villas are ideal for romantic honeymoons, destination weddings, family reunions, group holidays and annual general meetings for businesses, and most of the time are even more economical than staying in a hotel.
Why rent a villa over a hotel room?
They are more spacious and comfortable. Think about the difference between a tiny hotel room, possibly with limited amenities, and an actual home with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms and kitchens, living and dining areas. No contest, right? Many people who stay in private homes don't feel so compelled to wear themselves out cramming in every touristy activity in town. They don't mind just hanging out in the living room and relaxing more, which after all, is what a vacation is supposed to be! In an independent villa, you will swim in your own swimming pool, enjoy the existing amenities, and wander through the grounds of your villa. The amenity of maid service (usually 6 days a week) is usually included in the price of the rental or available on request.
Other advantages can include: A meet a greet airport arrival service and one complimentary car transfer to the villa, The rental car agency will either meet you at the airport to transfer the rest of your party or the car can be waiting for you when you arrive at the villa. You do not feel or look like a tourist when you stay in someone's home. There are great opportunities to interact with the local population, which makes your holiday experience much more authentic than when staying in a hotel. You will go home with a better feel for the local culture and rhythm.
You can get excellent concierge services from the villa Management Company or sometimes even inside information from the homeowner. One big reason vacation home renters get to "live like locals" is that most homeowners or management companies love to provide their guests with helpful hints. They'll point you to the best restaurants in town, the best hiking trails, and the best bike rental places. They'll tell you who has the cheapest gas, which roads to take to avoid traffic, and which attractions are overpriced tourist traps.
Rental owners often provide special touches that make the experience homier. Beach cottages might come equipped with sand buckets and shovels for the kids; woodsy ski-resort-area cabins might have a Crock-Pot and a special chili recipe. Those little special touches really make a huge difference.
If you are on a budget, you can cook at home. You can prepare your meals through shopping in local stores, and eat what you want at the time you want to do so. You are not locked into hotel menus and restaurant dining hours. Many villas offer cooks for hire, bringing local and regional cuisine to you. You have a choice between eating a meal at home or going to a restaurant. People who love to cook and shop in local markets, and families with children, cite this as a major reason for renting. These factors can be huge benefits because obviously, eating every meal in a restaurant gets pricey and somewhat boring.
If the weather's bad, there is more to do indoors. Most vacation rental homeowners provide DVDs (along with the electronic equipment to view them on), board games, playing cards, and other family-friendly diversions. Also, many rental properties now have Internet access. If it pours down rain during your vacation, you'll appreciate these kinds of thoughtful extras. In fact, even if the weather is beautiful, you'll appreciate them. Anyone who has kids knows they don't have the attention span to do touristy stuff all day. Sometimes they just want to unwind with a movie--which gives you a chance to relax, too.
Vacation homes provide more privacy for Mom & Dad. Let's say you want to have some adult time while you're on vacation. There's nothing better than being able to put the kids in a separate bedroom down the hall. Adjoining hotel rooms just aren't the same. Not only is it going to probably be more expensive, most people feel a little uneasy about having their kids in a separate hotel room. Staying in an actual home provides a greater sense of privacy and safety.
You might even be able to bring along your pet. Some vacation property owners will accept pets, which makes their homes especially attractive to families who can't bear to part with their four-footed friends for a week. Even if you normally drop your pets off at the kennel, you might want to reconsider. By taking them with you, you can save hundreds of dollars on boarding costs. Just make sure the person you're renting from gives you the go-ahead.
When you have family or friends coming to visit you, it would be great to have them in a villa instead of a hotel. It is much easier for you to spend time together, and much cheaper than of they would be staying at as hotel, as some hotels prohibit visitors to spend the day at the hotel and in their pool.
Once you go the vacation home route, you probably won't go back to hotels.
Start planning your next vacation right now. When you're relaxing in a comfortable home in a few months, you'll be glad you made the effort."
What do hotels offer?
Familiarity: Hotels offer a sense of security in a vacation choice because people know what a hotel is. Almost everywhere you travel a number of the hotels have recognized names as they are part of an international chain
Front Desk Service to Help Guests: Hotels usually have an English speaker available on staff and they can direct you to where it is you would like to go or what it is you would like to visit.
Flexibility in Length of Stay: If you want to stay only a few days in one place, you can easily move from one hotel to another in a different location.
Standard Amenities: You can find luxury hotels that offer a swimming pool, fitness room, flat screen TV, air conditioning, high speed internet, and a telephone. Daily maid service is generally provided. These amenities are included in the price of the hotel room (although internet is generally not included), while some of them are extra charges in villa rentals.
Less advance planning is required: The hotel concierge can arrange tours and sightseeing without much advance notice because pre-packaged tours are generally available. Hotel restaurants are easily accessible and the concierge can suggest nearby restaurants.
Locations of Hotels: Hotels are generally found in cities and towns, often in the heart of the city.
Best of Both Worlds
As you consider the choices before you, keep in mind that you can also combine both experiences. You can rent a villa for a week or two, and then stay in hotels in cities for a couple of days on either end of your trip.