Monday, February 18, 2013

St. Maarten trip report part 2 - the Princess Heights hotel

My wife and I stayed at the Princess Heights condo hotel, which is on the east side of the island in a quiet area called Oyster Pond, just barely on the Dutch side of the border. It turned out to be a really nice hotel and it was much cheaper than anything else that looked halfway decent. We stayed in a brand new building (they have another that's a bit older) with huge rooms that each have a kitchenette and a balcony that overlooks Dawn Beach... ok, and the roof of the Westin resort below. Honestly though, overlooking the Westin like that, and with a much better view of the surroundings, I felt kind of superior to those people who spent $450 per night down below us. Especially because Princess Heights guests are allowed to use all of the Westin's facilities... except for their beach chairs.

I had told the hotel that it was our anniversary and they made the room up special for us, with flower petals on the bed and a bottle of wine set out for us. It was a nice surprise. Our room (like all their rooms) also had a balcony, and we spent every night there just sitting outside, enjoying the view and talking. St. Maarten weather is nearly always perfect - the temperature when we were there only varied between 77 and 80 degrees from night to day, so you can sit outside in total comfort at any time.

A couple nights, I just went out there by myself and sat and listened to the waves. When I was a kid, my family used to rent a house every couple years at Holden Beach in North Carolina, and I remember a similar feeling of serenity then. I haven't felt that feeling again until now. Given the frigid weather and constant noise back home, I sure needed it.

Ok, ignore the sound of the car struggling to get up the hill, and imagine that's at night. (I actually did take a night video, but it was almost completely black.)

We did visit Dawn Beach and the Westin itself one day. Dawn Beach is a quiet little beach that's mainly used by Westin guests, and because of that my wife was a little uncomfortable on it - she felt like people knew we weren't staying at the Westin. But it's a public beach that just happens to be surrounded by the Westin on its south side, so who really cares? I didn't.

It's a nice beach and if you stay at the Princess Heights, you really should go. You can park at the Westin for free - they allow the public to park there. (My guess is that they had to make certain concessions to be allowed to serve as the entrance to the beach.) You can also walk, but it's easier to drive.

In the middle of this photo is the Princess Heights as seen from the Westin pool.

The Westin was surprisingly dead inside when we were there - it's a huge hotel with a casino in the middle of the giant lobby, but only one guy was using it that I could see. There were other people in the pool area and on the beach but they all looked like zombies! No talking, very little movement. It was kind of a weird atmosphere.

Incidentally, our hotel was literally the only place on the Dutch side of the island where I saw a mainly Dutch staff. Apparently the hotel is owned by Chinese but we didn't see them - the manager and all the workers are at least European and mostly Dutch. They seem to have a rotating internship program, so the staff is very young but eager to work. The person who checked us in (her name was Nina) actually rode with us in our car up to the second building to show us how to get there and then to show us around the room. She was really helpful! I somehow don't think we'd get such personalized attention at the Westin.

I got a little unlucky with the clouds in the mornings that I was able to get up this early, but apparently you can get some great sunrises from either Dawn Beach or our hotel:

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About This Blog

This is increasingly not a blog about Alphabet City, New York. I used to live in the East Village and work on Avenue B, but I no longer do. Why don't I change the name if I'm writing about Japan and video games and guitars? Because New Yorkers are well-rounded people with varied interests, and mine have gone increasingly off the rails over the years. And I don't feel like changing the name. I do still write about New York City sometimes.


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