French St. Martin Open to U.S. Travelers
La Samanna, A Belmond Hotel, St. Martin is perched between the crescent bay of St. Martin’s most pristine, mile-long beach, Baie Longue, and 55 acres of tropical gardens. The property, located on the sophisticated French side of this dual-nation West Indies island, will open to U.S. travelers on February 15, 2021. (Island rules and regulations are detailed below.)
One of the longest and most secluded beaches on the island, Baie Longue stretches from La Samanna to Pointe du Cannonier, the westernmost point of St. Martin and the site of a pre-Columbian village dating back to 600 BCE. La Samanna’s 83 accommodations – all of which offer sea views – range from deluxe oceanfront rooms with private balconies to cottages just steps from the sand to private villas with infinity pools perched above the bay. Recently reimagined by interior design firm Muza Lab in London, the resort evokes a light and colorful ambiance with pastel blues, greens, pinks, and peaches, inspired by the natural tones of the Caribbean Sea. Design touches like tabletop pieces made from shells and coral complement the botanical prints that are depicted on fabrics, artworks, and mirrors throughout the property. Rates at La Samanna start from $575 per night excluding tax.
Private Pool Villas
La Samanna’s three- and four-bedroom villas offer a private hideaway for families and groups. The two-level accommodations feature wrap-around terraces, full kitchens, indoor and outdoor dining spaces, and infinity pools – all with sweeping sea views. Guests of these cliffside villas can sprawl out with over 4,600 square feet of space – from intimate gatherings on the expansive private yard to starry nights on the rooftop deck. Rates for a three-bedroom villa start from $2,750 per night excluding tax.
Conservation-minded travelers can witness baby turtles hatch and make their way out to sea. Launching on April 1, 2021, La Samanna’s new turtle watching experience (the only one of its kind on the island) will take place on the property’s beach, which (along with just three others on the island) represents 95 percent of all turtle nesting and hatching on St. Martin. Children eight-years-old and older can join parents in this private excursion, where 60 percent of the proceeds support Sea Shepherds local bureau and their work in protecting marine life in St. Martin. More intrepid guests have the exclusive opportunity to explore the historic, uninhabited island of Tintamarre with a marine conservationist; the pre-dawn experience allows travelers to spot Hawksbill sea turtles, schools of dolphins, and fire corals. Private beach cabanas along Baie Longue offer sunseekers a place to retire. The stilted cabanas are shaded and stocked with fresh fruit and libations for the day. Complete with internet service, loungers, and personal showers, guests have everything they need for some R&R. The water sports cabana is a hub for guests to try water-skiing, kayaking, sailing, paddle boarding, snorkeling, and scuba diving off nearby reefs. Tennis lessons with the resort pro are the best way to kick off cooler mornings before the sun heats up.
The La Samanna Spa is quiet hilltop oasis nestled within a Mediterranean-inspired garden. Five of the spa’s seven treatment rooms are open-air with a private Zen garden and outdoor shower. Signature treatments include a Sun Preparation body scrub using roucou oil (a natural UV protectant native to the Caribbean) to prep the skin for some time in the sun and a prolonged tan. Iconic French brands Sisley and Pure Altitude, known for their premium natural ingredients, are used to execute the pampering. Private in-villa experiences are available for guests to unwind in the comfort of their own room, including sunrise yoga flows, reiki, and evening meditation.
La Samanna guests can have private dining experiences nightly; options include beach picnics in the sand; in-room al fresco set-up on the balcony; and candlelit, wine-paired dinners in La Cave Wine Cellar, a treasured piece of the property that was built in 1972 and is located two stories below sea level. As the largest private wine cellar in the Caribbean, it holds 12,000 bottles of wine and Champagne, including 150 varieties of Bordeaux. The property’s open-air dining venues allow guests to have a physically distant evening out. The most romantic spot for dinner is the seaside restaurant, L’Oursin, where fresh, local seafood meets French cuisine. Beachside lunches with market-fresh, local ingredients are best enjoyed at LaPlaj beach bar, just steps from the sand. Pre-dinner aperitifs are shaken up at Baie Longue Bar – perched above the bay – with signature cocktails like the Samanna Kiss (topped with local guavaberry liqueur) and Belmond 75 (with vodka, Chambord, Champagne and a touch of pineapple juice). And for breakfast, Corail is stretched out over a poolside terrace offering everything from freshly squeezed juices to buttery French croissants.
How to Get There
With the borders now open between the Dutch and French sides of the island, travelers can fly into Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) on the Dutch side, before crossing into the French side to vacation at La Samanna. Travelers from various states across the U.S. can fly direct into SXM with airlines like JetBlue, Delta, and United. New flights from Newark to SXM have recently launched on JetBlue. While on property, guests can feel at ease with new comprehensive hygiene protocols such as digital check-in prior to arrival; restaurant menus displayed on chalkboards or printed on single-use and recyclable materials; physically distanced wellness classes; and regular contactless temperature checks for all guests periodically throughout their stay.
*In an announcement issued this week on February 2, the French Government has announced that all travel to its overseas destinations is restricted to essential reasons. While this restriction applies to the neighboring island of St Barth, it does not apply to St Martin. Princess Juliana International Airport will remain open as will the border between Dutch Sint Maarten and French Saint Martin.