Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor


Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 79
November 1997

Last Update Oct 29/1600ET

| CTR Homepage | Island Index | Search |


ST. MARTIN BY CAROL AND ERIC HILL

(Ed. Note: Regular CTR contributors Carol and Eric Hill relate their trip to St. Martin with an extensive review of Club Orient.)

A/ ACTIVITIES

If  a  person  is  lucky,  they  find that one place in the world that 
makes  their  souls  sing.  Orient Beach is that place for us. We have 
just  returned from a trip from 9/13/97 to 9/20/97 to St. Martin. This 
was  our fourth weekly trip to SXM, with numerous other trips there on 
cruise ships. 

This  trip  was driven, to some extent, by the fact that we had "bump" 
tickets  from  our  last  trip  to SXM in February 97, which had to be 
used  within  one year of the date of our original bump, so we elected 
for  September,  since  we  had already had another cruise planned for 
November.  Going  to SXM in September turned out to be a serendipitous 
(SP!!)  choice, and we are already making plans to return in September 
next  year.  Many  of  the  resorts and some restaurants are closed in 
September.  Among  the resorts closed in September (in 97, anyway) are 
L'Hoste  and  LaPlantation, either one of which we would have probably 
booked,  if they had been open. Among the hotels on Orient Beach, Club 
Orient,  Green  Cay  Village,  and  Esmeralda  are about the only ones 
open,  although  I presume that Grand Case Beach Club and Mount Vernon 
were  open, without knowing. The price for Esmeralda was going to be a 
couple  of  hundred  dollars  more  than Club Orient, so we elected to 
stay  at  Club  O.  This  was the first time we had actually stayed at 
Club  Orient,  although  we  always  go  to the beach there. We highly 
recommend   it,   IF   you   are   interested   in  clothing  optional 
accommodations.  If not, some place like L'Hoste or LaPlantation would 
be  our  recommendation, unless you can afford the luxury of Green Cay 
Village at $1800 for the week. 

I  was not particularly looking forward to staying at Club O, as I had 
always  thought  that  it was too rustic for me. It turned out that we 
both  loved  Club Orient and will stay there again next September. The 
only  bad  thing  about Club Orient in September is that the Tiko Tiko 
(the  catamaran  that  does  cruises  from  Club  Orient) is often not 
there,  as  it was not this time. I'm sure that Guillome had left with 
the  Tiko  when  Erika came by about 7 days before we left for SXM. He 
lost  his  previous  boat  during  Luis, so I'm sure that he takes few 
chances  these  days,  although  he  was supposedly having maintenance 
done also. 

The  price  for  the  hotel  was  $700  for  the  week  for  the  type 
accommodations  we  booked. This was the price in September, when Club 
Orient  was  running  a  special.  The  price in February for the same 
accommodations  is  $1400  for  the week. What we both enjoyed so much 
was  being able to be nude all day until dinner (or through dinner, if 
one  wanted  to  eat at Club Orient for dinner). If you have to have a 
pool,  hot  tub, room service, TV, phone, CD player, etc., Club Orient 
isn't for you, but it fit the bill nicely for us. 

We  spent the night in a hotel near BWI airport, since our flight from 
BWI  left  at  6:50 A.M. for Philly. The flight is supposed to be only 
20  minutes,  but  we  ended  up  getting  delayed in the air by other 
traffic,  then  delayed  on  the ground waiting for a gate to open up, 
and  therefore  had  only  20 minutes from when our plane landed until 
the  plane  to  SXM was supposed to take off (instead of 1 hour and 20 
minutes)  but  we  (and  our  luggage!) made the transfer fine and the 
trip  to  SXM  on  US  Air was uneventful, on a half-full plane, so we 
enjoyed  3  seats  for  the  two  of  us.  Another  reason  to  go  in 
September!! 

We  arrived  about  on  time  around noon SXM time, and were the first 
plane  on  the ground and were through immigration in a world record 5 
minutes.  Of course, the baggage guys are also on SXM time, so it took 
some  time  to get bags, but then we were off to Hertz for our car. We 
had  a  more "used " car than in recent past this time, with 31000 km, 
but  had  no problems for the week other than it made some sounds like 
it needed oil.

We  went  by  Match  on  the  way  to  the  hotel to pick up essential 
supplies--cheese,  grapes,  alcohol,  mixers, wine, OJ. Interestingly, 
even  though the OFFICIAL exchange rate is right around exactly 6FF to 
$1,  Match  was giving 6.2. It made supplies cheaper than we expected. 
Then  it  was on to Club Orient, arriving by 1:45 P.M. After check-in, 
we  checked  out the Club Orient store, (L'Orientique) which is a kind 
of  overgrown  7-11,  with prices to match. Unfortunately, since Match 
had  not  had  charcoal  other  than  a  25  pound  bag, we had to buy 
charcoal  at  Club  O,  which was outrageous, at $5 per bag. A roll of 
paper  towels  at  L'Orientique  was $2.50, a medium sized box of Ritz 
crackers  was  $4.00, and a variety of steaks was an expensive $10.00-
$25.00.  A  good  reason  to  bring  meats  from  home, if you plan on 
cooking  here,  and  to  buy everything else you need at Match or Food 
Center.  Overall,  we didn't buy much at L'Orientique, except they had 
fresh  croissants  for  purchase  every morning, ($1.00 to $1.50 each) 
which  was  a  great  convenience  for  us,  as we had usually gone to 
Marigot  most  days  to  purchase  croissant  when  we stayed at other 
places before. 

Before  we had been at Club Orient for barely a half hour, Victor, one 
of  the security guards, came by to introduce himself. Victor had been 
told  to  look  out  for  us  by  our  friend  David Mitchem, from the 
internet.  Since  we  had no lunch, Victor caught us as we were having 
some  cheese  and  fruit and sharing the pretty decent bottle of white 
wine  in  our  refrigerator  which Club Orient provides to all guests. 
After  a couple of hours of sun, we checked out the Club O happy hour, 
which  is  half price drinks from 5:30 to 6:30, and met two people who 
would  be  good friends over the week, Herbie and Marian, who are from 
Brazil.  She did not speak much English, but she laughed a lot and was 
a  lovely person. Herbie was an outgoing, fun-loving guy who often had 
to  explain  our  English to Marian. We had a wonderful time with them 
all  week.  Tired  from  our  travels  of  the  day,  we ate dinner at 
Papagayos, which is the restaurant at Club Orient. 

Papagayo's   serves   breakfast,   lunch   and  dinner,  all  somewhat 
overpriced,  based  on  the  competition.  This  evening, Eric had the 
prime  rib  ($23.50)  and  I had the NY strip ($21.00), both including 
baked  potato and vegetable. The beef (ordered medium rare) was cooked 
correctly  and  was  very good. The meal, including 3 glasses of wine, 
was  $71.00, including tip. By the way, at Papagayo, the exchange rate 
was  5  to  1. As we were just finishing our dinner, Jim and Mary Ruos 
(our  travel  agents,  came up to introduce themselves. We found out a 
couple  of  months  ago that Jim and Mary were going to be in SXM when 
we  were,  but  Jim  asked  us  to  keep  his cover, which we did, not 
posting  that he was going to be in SXM when we were. They try to stay 
at all the hotels they sell, and stayed at Club O this time. 

Sunday  morning we had our usual breakfast for the week-- Danish which 
Eric  purchased at L'Orientique, coffee and orange juice, on our patio 
at  Club  O.  Sunday  was  kind  of  cloudy  all  day,  which  was not 
necessarily  bad,  since we were not yet used to the Caribbean sun. We 
had  intended  to  go to Pedro's for lunch, but there was a huge crowd 
of  cruise  ship people there, so we walked on down to Paradisio Beach 
(between  Pedro's  and  Kontiki) for lunch. It wasn't bad (chicken and 
fries,  cheeseburger  and fries, 2 beers, 1 mixed drink and 1 coke for 
$25),  but  it  wasn't  Pedro's.  We noted on most days that there are 
ships  in,  that  there  is  live  music  at Pedro's, which isn't bad, 
However,  there is almost always a large crowd there these days, which 
makes it hard to get a table, and somewhat uncomfortable to be nude. 

After  another  happy  hour  at  Papagayo, we headed to Grand Case for 
dinner.  Some of the restaurants are closed in September, which is one 
negative  to  dining in September. However, the major positive is that 
those  that  are  open  are  very  unlikely  to  be busy on any night. 
Several  nights  this trip, we just walked into restaurants which were 
totally  empty  at  8  P.M.  Since  we are constitutionally opposed to 
reservations  whilst  on  vacation,  this was nirvana. Also, something 
one  could  appreciate  only  by  having been there before, it took us 
less  than  five  minutes to drive through Grand Case on Sunday night. 
(!!!!!)  It  appeared  that some restaurants were open some nights and 
not  others,  as  L'Auberge  Gourmande  was  open one night and closed 
another.  It  appeared  that  the Fishpot was closed, Le Tastevin open 
and  Bistrot  Caraibes open every night. The Cloud Room was apparently 
open  for  lunch  only,  Surf  Club  South  apparently open Friday and 
Saturday only. 

Sunday  night  we  opted for Bistrot Caraibes, and it was lovely. Eric 
had  an  incredible  tuna  steak  with rice pilaf on a bed of corn and 
peppers  and  I  had  chicken  with  mushrooms and a potato side dish, 
served  on  fantastically beautiful plates. We had one creme brulee, 2 
coffees,  and a bottle of gewurstemeiner. While dining, we watched the 
guy  deliver  the  fresh  lobsters  and wished that we had ordered the 
lobster  at  $23.50  instead,  although  what we had was marvelous. At 
$66.00  including  tip, this meal won our nomination for best value in 
the French restaurant category. 

After  dinner, we headed to the casinos to begin our week of misery in 
the  casino.  As  one  astute  Prodigy  member  reported  to  us  upon 
returning  "If  you  go  to St. Martin during hurricane season, if you 
have  wonderful  weather (as we did), the gods of fortune make you pay 
for  it  in the casino!!" Over the course of the week, we donated much 
more  to  the  island economy than ever before. We never saw any match 
play  coupons  available  without  doing timeshare deals except at the 
new  Diamond  Casino,  which  is right by Bobby's Marina. Diamond is a 
nice  looking  casino,  with all new tables, etc., but very small. The 
Atlantis  had  some  match play coupons in the St. Maarten Nights, but 
they  were  refusing  to accept them, claiming they were expired, even 
though  they  were  in the St. Maarten Nights that we picked up at the 
airport.  We spent the week at either the Pelican or the Atlantis, but 
had  the  same bad luck for most of the week. Atlantis has much better 
drink  service  than  the  Pelican, as at Atlantis, they provided free 
drinks  to me even if I was only watching Eric play, provided in glass 
glasses.  At  the  Pelican,  If  one was extraordinarily lucky, if you 
were  playing you got one or two drinks for the whole night, served in 
a  plastic  cup.  The dealers at the Pelican were much nicer, however, 
and the Pelican did have $.50 roulette, a definite plus in my book. 

For  those  who  are  interested  in football, we didn't go there, but 
apparently  the  Coliseum  Casino  has  NFL  Sunday  Ticket,  as their 
marquee  proclaimed  that  they  had  10 NFL games on Sunday. Probably 
Rick's  Place  (bar  in downtown P'burg) also has some football games, 
and  Atlantis  should  have  at least two games at a time, as they had 
the Monday Night Football game on. 

Sunday  night, Eric did manage to buy an inside straight, a flush, and 
the  2nd  pair  for  wins  at  Second  Chance  Caribbean  Stud  at the 
Atlantis,  so  we  thought  that  the  week  would be OK for gambling. 
Overall,  we were losers for the night and headed back to Club Orient, 
waking  up  the  security  guard to let us in. He must have had a busy 
Saturday night!! G!! 

Monday  we  had  breakfast  at the room, as almost all days this time, 
with  croissant  Eric  picked  up  at  L'Orientique. While there, Eric 
observed  the  "blessing  out"  that  the store proprietor gave to the 
bread  delivery  man,  who  arrived at 8:30. The store proprietor told 
him  that  he  had  to get there earlier, as there were people waiting 
for their bread when the store opened at 8!!! 

Monday  was a perfect day at the beach, with lovely weather and a nice 
(although  not gale-like) wind, as is sometimes the case at Orient. At 
lunch  time,  we had hamburgers on the grill at the room. Eating lunch 
at  the room, as well as the convenience of drinks from the room, were 
two  of  the  real joys for the week. We had wonderful weather, but if 
the  weather had been bad, it also would have been much easier to walk 
back  to  the  room  if  we  were staying there. We had brought a very 
small  cooler  with  hamburgers  and  steaks  from  home, which proved 
convenient and economical. 

Monday  night  we  went  to Sambuca for dinner--mozzarella sticks, one 
pepperoni  pizza, and a pitcher of Coke for $23. Cheap and filling and 
what  we  were  looking  for this night. Off to Atlantis to watch some 
Monday  Night  Football  and  lose  some more money, then home to Club 
Orient. 

Tuesday  morning we had breakfast at Papagayo at Club Orient, which is 
served  from  8:30 to 11 A.M. We each had omeletsham and cheese for me 
and  western  for  Eric--with some potato garnish (supposed to be home 
fries,  but  there  were  so  few pieces, it looked like garnish to me 
G!!),  toast  and  jelly,  for $6.50 each, plus coffee. Also available 
were  French  toast and pancakes for $4, side meats for $2, juices and 
coffee  for $2 each. An OK breakfast for those who don't wish to leave 
Club  Orient,  but  otherwise  unremarkable, and nothing like the many 
great breakfasts we have had in Marigot. 

Tuesday  was  an  absolutely  fabulous weather day, with beautiful sun 
and  a  wonderful  breeze  all  day.  I  sent Eric down to Pedro's for 
chicken  and  fries--more  chicken  and fries than one wants for lunch 
for  $7  each,  which  we ate at the picnic table at our room, looking 
out at Orient Beach. Wonderful! 

Tuesday  morning  we had made arrangements to have dinner with Jim and 
Mary  Ruos,  so  we met them at their unit for drinks, then headed out 
to  Grand  Case for dinner. We ate at LeCottage, which was good, but I 
thought  the  portions somewhat small, compared to the other places we 
ate.  I  had  beef tenderloin, Eric the lobster, we shared a bottle of 
wine  with  Jim and Mary and had an additional glass each with dinner, 
1  creme brulee, 1 white chocolate mousse and 2 coffees. $80 total for 
our  part  of the meal, which was OK, but the service was very slow. I 
doubt we would go back there. 

Tuesday  night  was  a  full  moon,  which  we  couldn't  resist  upon 
returning  to  the room. We carried our bottle of champagne out to the 
beach  and  sat  drinking  in the moonlight and enjoying the champagne 
and  the  warm  breezes,  then  waddled  off the bed, thankful that we 
didn't have to drive anywhere this night. 

Wednesday  morning  we had intended to go to Marigot for breakfast but 
weren't  hungry,  so  we headed directly to P'burg to do some shopping 
for  gifts  for secretaries, family members, and some junk jewelry for 
me,  etc.,  etc.,  which  was hot, tiring, crowded, etc., etc. Back to 
Marigot  to  pick  up  a couple of items which we had missed at Match, 
then  back  to  the room for a lunch of hamburgers on the grill. After 
three  good  hours of afternoon sun, we headed back to the room before 
5 P.M. when a hard shower came down. 

It  cleared  off  before  the Wednesday night wine and cheese party at 
Papagayo,  which  we  know  from personal experience is not limited to 
Club  Orient  guests  only. They serve (free) red and white wine, plus 
OJ  and  non-alcoholic punch, plus cheese and pate, from 5:30 to 6:30. 
It's  a  very nice little party. Take a tip, though, BRING BUG SPRAY!! 
We  never  noticed  any  bugs any other time other than at happy hour, 
but  there  are LOTS of little biting bugs around happy hour that will 
make your time there miserable if you don't have bug spray. 

Wednesday  night  we  cooked  steaks brought from home on our grill at 
the  room, along with a nice bottle of French wine purchased at Match, 
along  with  some frozen corn and macaroni and cheese from home. Not a 
gourmet  meal,  but  cheap  and satisfying, before heading out to more 
losing at Atlantis. 

Thursday  we again had breakfast on our patio, and recognized that our 
time  in  paradise  was  growing  short. Being a collector of souvenir 
bears  and  coffee  cups,  I bought a Club Orient bear and coffee cup. 
Thursday  was  one  of  the  very  few days of the week when it didn't 
appear  that  there  were any cruise ships in, as the beach was fairly 
empty,  as was Pedro's. We headed down to Pedro's au naturel and had a 
lovely  lunch  with  only about 3 other couples. Kind of like the good 
old  days at Pedro's. Eric had a swordfish sandwich (which was kind of 
like  a  Philly  cheese  steak made with swordfish), with fries, and I 
had  a  hotdog  with  fries, along with two drinks each. $25 total and 
some  of  the best money we spent all week. Interestingly, Pedro's now 
has  a  t-bone  and a sirloin steak, which I don't remember before. On 
Thursday,  the  special  was the sirloin, for $12. Sounded like a good 
deal,  but  we didn't take advantage of it. That evening we had a mini 
"happy  hour"  of  our own at the room enjoying a bottle of wine, some 
cheese  and  fruit  on  the  picnic table outside our room. Herbie and 
Marion  came  by on their way to the Papagayo happy hour and we passed 
an enjoyable few moments with them. 

For  dinner Thursday night, we opted for the Greenhouse, in P'burg. On 
previous  trips,  we had had lunch there before, and happy hour (GREAT 
half  price  appetizers),  but this was our first time for dinner, but 
we  doubt it will be our last. It is not Grand Case, with French onion 
soup,  fantastic plates, and creme brulee, but they serve great food--
mostly  American and some Caribbean specialties, with an accompaniment 
of  classic  American  music on the side (live music on Friday night). 
We  had  an  appetizer  of  the  Island Sampler (conch fritters, spicy 
shrimp,  pork satay--yummy!!), Eric had REAL Jamaican jerk chicken and 
ribs  (HOT  and  wonderful)  and  I  had  pork satay (good--although a 
trifle  overcooked),  2  mixed  drinks  and 2 glasses of wine. A great 
bargain  and one of the best meals of the week at $50 total, including 
tip. 

Friday  morning  it  was again breakfast at the room, and lunch at the 
room  also,  with steak and frozen corn on the cob, brought from home, 
along  with  wine  from  Match.  There  are some various assorted dogs 
which  inhabit  Club  Orient  from time to time, at least one of which 
belongs  to  the  Brinks,  which  dog  decided to glom onto me for the 
week.  I  rewarded  his  patience  on  Friday with some leftovers, for 
which  he was suitably appreciative. He was probably more appreciative 
of  the  half  hour  of air conditioning on the tile floor of our room 
which  I  afforded  him. He, and the couple of other assorted dogs who 
hung  around,  were  not  obnoxious  and  would not hang around unless 
encouraged.  After  lunch,  I  headed down to Jim and Mary's chalet to 
take some pictures for our home page. 

I  had decided that we must return to Grand Case for our last meal and 
we  chose  Auberge  Gourmand, at which we had enjoyed a wonderful meal 
last  time in SXM. This time was much the same, other than the crowds. 
Last  time in February, we arrived just at 6 P.M. and were asked if we 
had  a  reservation  and  ended up getting seated at the last table in 
the  back  room.  This  time,  we  arrived  at  8  P.M.,  to  an empty 
restaurant.  The  waiter  asked if we had a reservation, then said "no 
need".  It  was  a  kind of a joke which he repeated to the others who 
appeared  after us. Eric had the French onion soup (the waiter somehow 
knew  to  bring  two  spoons--G!!)  and  the salmon ravioli, I had the 
chicken  in  pastry.  Eric  had an assortment of chocolate for dessert 
that  I  called  "Death  by  Chocolate"  and  I  had  creme puffs with 
chocolate.  We had two coffees, and a bottle of white Bordeauxthe meal 
fantastic at a total of $84, including tip. 

As  we  were walking down the street in Grand Case heading to our car, 
we  saw  Herbie and Marion having dinner at Bistrot Caraibe. We walked 
up  and  asked  them  who  they  were, as they looked quite a bit like 
people  we  had seen on Orient Beach all week, although this time with 
clothes  on.  We  shared an after dinner drink with them and laughed a 
lot. 

Saturday  was,  unfortunately,  time to go home, so I woke up somewhat 
early  for us, around 7:50, and headed out with my camera to take some 
pictures  of  Orient  before it filled up with people. Even though our 
plane  was  not  to  leave  until  3:30,  we  had  to check out at 11, 
unfortunately,  as  someone  was  supposed to come into our room right 
after  us.  If  someone  had not been coming into our room right after 
us,  we  could  have  checked out much later. In any event, we had all 
our  stuff ready to go early in the morning on Saturday, headed out to 
the  beach  for  a  couple  of  hours of sun, then back to the room to 
clear  out  the  remaining  drinks  out  of the refrigerator. Back for 
another  hour  or  so  of  sun,  then we headed to Papagayo's to share 
lunch  (the  last  meal-- G!!) and some drinks with Herbie and Marion. 
Eric  had  the  Jamaican  jerk  chicken  (not nearly as good as at the 
Greenhouse,  but  OK)  and  I  had  a  chicken salad, which was lovely 
except  for  the  maraschino  cherry and the CANNED (!!!) pineapple on 
the  side.  We  had  a  lovely  time  and  promised  to  meet again in 
September next year. 

Papagayo's  has  a shower in the back, so we showered off the salt and 
dressed  for  the  trip  home on US Air. The flight home left around a 
half  hour  late,  so  Eric was forced to have a couple more drinks at 
the  airport before heading home. The flight again was thankfully half 
empty,  so we again had three seats for two people. Again, a reason to 
return in September. 

Overall,  other  than  the  horrible  week  in  the  casino,  we had a 
marvelous  week.  This time as we prepared to leave on Saturday, I was 
not  nearly  as  sad  as  I normally am when it is time to go home. In 
fact,  as  I was sitting on the beach Saturday morning, my eyes filled 
with  tears of joy thinking about this place, this Orient Beach. It is 
a  place  of  rest, of relaxation, of rejuvenation of a soul worn down 
by the worries of life. We shall return. 

B/CLUB ORIENT 

This  is our resort review of our trip from 9/13/97 to 9/20/97 to Club 
Orient,  which  is a naturist resort on St. Martin. Our trip report is 
under  a  separate  subject  as  a  trip  report.  Please  forgive any 
duplication  of  information here from the trip report, as this report 
would  not  be complete without a repeat of some items there. Our last 
clothing  optional trip was to Grand Lido, which is a full service all 
inclusive  resort in Jamaica, which just happens to have a nude beach, 
hot  tub  and  pool. I suppose it is possible that some people come to 
Club  O  and  don't  go  nude, but it would be very unusual, one would 
think,  and  I  don't really see a reason to go Club O if you (or your 
partner)  is  not  going  to be nude. I did see a few couples that one 
was  generally  nude  and the other not, and no one has a problem with 
that. 

THE  RESORT--Club  Orient is a full nudist resort where it is expected 
that  one  can be nude absolutely anywhere in the resort. However, the 
accommodations  and the services are nothing like what is available at 
a  place  like  Grand  Lido. I was not particularly looking forward to 
staying  at Club O, as I had always thought that it was too rustic for 
me.  It  turned out that we both loved Club Orient and will stay there 
again  next  September. What we both enjoyed so much was being able to 
be  nude,  if  we  wanted, all day until dinner (or through dinner, if 
one  wanted  to  eat  at Club Orient for dinner). What we also enjoyed 
was  the ambiance of the clientele, who generally would all nod to you 
as  you  sat  on your patio, and exchange "good mornings", or exchange 
conversation  on  the  beach  or  at  the happy hour at Papagayo. Club 
Orient  does  NOT have TV's, tape players or phones in the rooms, like 
GL.  It  does  NOT  have  a pool at all, or any hot tubs. What it does 
have,  however,  is  that it is on Orient Beach, which we consider the 
best  beach in the world, and it is located on St. Martin, which means 
that  world  class  shopping, world class cuisine, and casinos are all 
within about a 25 minute drive. 

For  those of you that don't know, Club Orient was totally destroyed--
down  to  the ground--by Hurricane Luis in September 1995, and did not 
reopen  for  business  until  November  96.  Therefore  all  units are 
basically  brand new. There is some new construction of some new units 
still  going on at the resort, but it is basically all the way down at 
the  end of the resort close to the guard shack and didn't involve any 
of  the  main  part of the resort. The only exception is that they are 
adding  an extra patio onto Papagayo's (the restaurant), which will be 
partially  under  cover  and partially in the sun when completed. It's 
on  the  side  of  the restaurant closest to where they keep the water 
sports  stuff  for rent and will have a lovely view when completed. We 
saw  a pile of tile laying by the patio but no work was done on it the 
week  we  were  there. They are supposedly also building a new spa and 
massage area, although I wasn't sure just which building it was. 

We  had  made  our  reservations, as we always do for SXM, through Jim 
Ruos,  that we met through Prodigy. He sells only the hotels on Orient 
Beach  and  knows  those  hotels  intimately.  Unlike most every other 
place  where  we  have  ever stayed, deposits are NOT 100% refundable, 
regardless  of  how far ahead you cancel, so try to make sure you will 
be  going  there  for  sure  before you book. There is, I think, a 10% 
penalty for cancellation. 

ACCOMMODATIONS--There  are four different classes of accommodations at 
Club O--garden studio, mini-suite, garden chalet and beach chalet. 

All   accommodations  feature  kitchenette  with  refrigerator,  oven, 
coffee  maker,  toaster,  dishes and cooking utensils, queen size or 2 
single  beds,  patio with beach loungers, bathroom, BBQ grills, safes, 
an  additional  outside  showers  (plus a plastic dishpan to wash your 
feet  in),  beach  towels  and  daily  maid service. Also provided are 
beach  chairs  and  beach umbrellas, free of charge. NOT provided free 
are  airport  transfers  and  water  sports  stuff  like beach floats, 
sunfish  sailboats, canoes, snorkeling gear, etc., which are available 
for rent. 

We  chose a studio, which is the cheapest priced accommodation at Club 
O  and  would do so again. We decided to go in September, as we had to 
use  "bump"  tickets  we had for US Air within one year of the date of 
the  original  bump,  and  because Club O runs a special in September, 
which  is  basically  pay  for  5  nights  and get 2 nights free, with 
additional  nights  over  7  being half price. In September, the price 
for  the  room  we  had  for  the week, including all taxes, etc., was 
$700.  The  same room in February is $1400 for the week. In September, 
the  mini-suite  would  have  been  about $100 more, the garden chalet 
about  $150  more and the beach chalet about $350 more than the studio 
for  the  week.  We are making plans to return in September again next 
year.  One  of  the  only reasons not to book in September, other than 
the  possibility  that some of your favorite restaurants may be closed 
(or  an occasional hurricane!!!), is that the Tiko Tiko, the catamaran 
that  does  wonderful  nude  cruises  out  of  Club Orient, may not be 
there.  It  was  out  of the water for drydock and maintenance when we 
were there this year and apparently is often gone during September. 

The  studio  is  listed as 288 square feet, which I think includes the 
patio.  The  patio  is about 6 feet by 13 feet and has a 5 foot picnic 
table  with  two benches and 2 plastic strap chair chaise lounges. The 
patio  is  tight  and  we  were  constantly  moving  either the chaise 
lounges  or  the  picnic table benches around, depending on whether we 
were  sitting on the chaise lounges or the picnic table. The patio was 
on  the  side  of  the  room  which faced the ocean. The room could be 
entered from that side via a sliding glass door. 

The  room  itself  consisted of a couch, large coffee table and chair, 
plus  queen  sized  bed and a dresser with 6 small drawers in the main 
part  of  the  room.  Bifold  doors  covered a large (keyed) safe, and 
hanging  space  for  about 10 shirts, blouses, etc., with a long shelf 
above  that.  The  galley kitchenette was a little tight on space, but 
workable,  with  small  gas stove, coffee maker, toaster and apartment 
sized  refrigerator,  which  was  lockable.  I  guess  the lock on the 
refrigerator  makes  sense,  as  we  left our doors unlocked the whole 
time  we  were there, except when we actually left to go out to dinner 
or  the  casino.  When  we  had checked in, they were going to give us 
only  one  key  for  the front door, till I asked them for another. It 
turned  out that we never used the key, except when we left the resort 
altogether.  Thus,  we hadn't needed the second key at all. Guess they 
knew  that better than we did!! G!! The keys were NOT on strings, like 
at  Hedo,  for  instance,  as  nobody  took their key with them to the 
beach,  OTHER  than  the  safe  key, which WAS on a string. Other than 
what  was  in  the  safe, hopefully, there was nothing to steal in the 
room  except  food,  so  the  lock  on  the refrigerator made sense. I 
suppose  that  might  also  have been useful if two single people were 
sharing the room. 

The  kitchen  provided  a very nice selection of dishes, pots and pans 
and  implements.  Dishes  were  service  for  four (Corelle) of dinner 
plate,  cup and saucer, bread plate and soup bowl. There were 4 on the 
rocks glasses, 4 wine glasses and 4 tall water glasses.

Utensils  included a one cup measuring cup, a colander, glass pitcher, 
glass  salad  bowl  with  4 bowls, wooden salad bowl, OJ squeezer, and 
large  casserole  dish with cover. Pots and pans were a spaghetti pot, 
2  fry  pans,  and  2  sauce pans with lids. Other items provided were 
assorted  pancake  flippers, ladle, large and small knives, corkscrew, 
can   opener,  cheese  cutting  board,  bread  basket,  serving  tray, 
placemats,  ice  bucket  and  ice  cube  trays,  dishwasher  soap  and 
dishtowels. 

The  information  we  were  provided stated that there were clocks and 
hair  dryers  provided,  but  we did not see any. We did not go to the 
office,  however,  to  check  to  see if you checked them out from the 
office.  A BBQ grill was provided and we used it a lot. You might want 
to  bring  a small radio for noise, which we did, since there is no TV 
or  radio  in  the  room.  The bathroom was about 6 by 10, with a four 
foot  vanity  and  stall  shower (no tub in our unit, although I think 
there  was a tub in the chalets ). Towels were provided, although wash 
cloths  were  only  provided  on one day. A pet peeve of mine was that 
there  was  only ONE bar of soap provided, therefore you either had to 
retrieve  it  from  the  shower  every  day  to  wash your hands or do 
without  soap.  Methinks  the  next  time we go to Club O, I will take 
along  a  bar of soap, in case I need one. There were both 110 and 220 
outlets  in  the  studio,  but none in the bathroom at all, so plug-in 
razors and hair dryers might have presented a problem. 

In  the studios, the coffee table was the only place in the room where 
one  could  eat  inside.  We didn't mind eating outside at all, but if 
you  have  bad  weather  for  several  days,  I  suppose it could be a 
problem.  Having  a  regular  place  to  eat  inside is about the only 
difference   between  the  studio  and  the  mini-suites,  other  than 
location.  There's  not a huge difference in price between the studios 
and  the  mini-suites,  though,  so if you think that eating inside is 
going  to  make  a big difference, you can go for the mini-suites. The 
studios  and  the  mini-suites are air- conditioned throughout, so you 
may  want  to  elect  for  a  mini-suite  to  eat  inside  in  the air 
conditioning.  However,  even  in  the  studios,  you  can  eat on the 
cocktail table, which we did for breakfast one morning. 

All  the  studios are technically listed as "garden studios", but some 
of  them  do have at least a partial view of the ocean. It is possible 
to  request  a  particular  numbered  room. HOWEVER, please be advised 
that  most  of  the  units  are  in fact owned by private individuals, 
which  means that IF the owner wants to be at the resort the week that 
you  want to go, you will not get the unit you requested. However, for 
weeks  in  September,  it is apparently fairly easy to get a preferred 
unit,  as  we  did. So-- what are the best units as far as the studios 
go?  Units  15-20 are close to Papagayo's restaurant, but have no view 
whatsoever.  Units  21-26  are  the  best,  being  somewhat  close  to 
Papagayo's,  and  have  a  decent partial view. We had number 25 and I 
would  request  it  again.  (So,  OK,  Jim,  here's your warning to be 
expecting  a  run  on  unit number 25!! G!) None of the studios are ON 
the  beach,  but  numbers  21-26 are only about 75 feet off the beach. 
Numbers  1-14  are behind numbers 15-26 and thus a little further from 
the  beach.  The  week we were there, the resort was about half empty, 
even  despite  the  special  prices, and numbers 1 through 14 were all 
empty.  Of  numbers  1-14,  most  have  no  view  of the water at all, 
although  number  8  has  an  OK view, and numbers 9, 10 and 11 have a 
semi-view.  Numbers  27 and 28 face forward toward the ocean, but have 
no  view and numbers 29 through 34 don't face toward the ocean at all, 
therefore have no view.

The  mini-suites  are  arranged  in  a  circle  toward the back of the 
resort,  which means that none of them have any view, and they are all 
much  further  from  the  water  and  from  Papagayo's than any of the 
studios.  Location  there  seemed  to  make  little difference. Of the 
beach  chalets,  numbers  47  to 54 are the ones closest to Papagayo's 
and  are  much  preferred in location to the other beach chalets. They 
are  closer  to  the  water and have totally unobstructed views of the 
water.  The rest of the beach chalets are starting to get a little far 
from  Papagayo's  and  are  a  little  further  off  the actual beach. 
Several  of them that are closest to Pedro's, you have to kind of walk 
across  some scrub grass to get to the beach and there is a very small 
rise  (a  couple  of  feet) which partially obstructs your view of the 
ocean.  The chalets have a large tiled front patio, which I considered 
their  best  feature,  a  large  living  room and full eat-in kitchen, 
separate  bedroom  and  full  bathroom.  The  major  problem  with the 
chalets  for  me  is  that  they were not air-conditioned, except that 
most  of  them have air conditioning in the bedroom (only). The garden 
chalets  basically  had very little view of any nature and were pretty 
far  from  the  water.  I considered them not worth the money. Jim and 
Mary  Ruos  had  number  61  and  it had a partial view out toward the 
water,  but  I would say it was roughly 3 times as far to the water as 
our studio was. 

CHECK  OUT  ARRANGEMENTS--One  of  my  pet  peeves  coming  home  from 
vacation  is having to leave the beach way early so I can check out of 
the  hotel  so  I  don't have to fly home all salty and sticky. Club O 
has  some  good  arrangements  for checkout. If the resort is not busy 
and  your  particular  room  will not be used real soon, they will let 
you  stay in the room past 11 A.M., which is the normal checkout time. 
As  luck  would  have  it, we had to actually leave the room at 11, as 
there  was a party coming into our room. No problem, though, we packed 
and  put  our  bags in the trunk of the car and parked it at Papagayos 
and  had  a  shower in the shower at Papagayos. Alternatively, you can 
leave  your bags at the security guard station and go to the beach and 
then take a shower at the security guard station also. Good work! 

FOOD--OK,  so  what  about  food  at  Club  Orient? We cooked there on 
several  occasions, although there is certainly no reason that one has 
to  cook at Orient at all, as there is Papagayo's right on the resort, 
Pedro's  and  several  other restaurants within easy walking distance, 
as  well  as  a good percentage of some of the best restaurants in all 
the   Caribbean   within   easy  driving  distance.  The  kitchen  has 
sufficient  items  to  prepare  a  simple meal, including our one pre-
requisite,  a  grill,  which  in  this case was a small hibachi grill. 
There  was no food of any nature provided in the room, (other than the 
bottle  of  wine  in the refrigerator--food for the SOUL, I suppose!!) 
including  some  items  that  are not strictly food, but that we found 
should  probably  be brought from home, if you are planning on cooking 
in  the  room.  Please  remember that almost everything mentioned here 
can  be  purchased  in  St.  Martin with no problem, as Match and Food 
Center  are  comparable  to many grocery stores in the U.S, plus there 
is  L'Orientique, the store at Club Orient, which has food and wine as 
well  as  miscellaneous sundries and souvenirs. However, most of these 
items  would  probably  be  available in larger amounts than you would 
want  to  deal with on vacation and most should take up little room in 
your  suitcase.  Items  which  we  will  probably bring from home next 
time:  Paper plates, napkins, sugar, tea bags, coffee, coffee filters, 
SMALL  packages  of  ketchup  and  mustard,  travel  salt  and  pepper 
shakers, Parmalat milk, boxed macaroni and cheese, plus meats. 

Of  course, meats are much more trouble than the other items, and many 
people  would  not  want to fool with bringing meat. However, we found 
that   the  quality  of  meat  in  the  grocery  store  did  not  look 
particularly  good,  and  meats were much more expensive than here. We 
have  a  very  small  cooler  which  we  packed  with  4  steaks and 4 
hamburgers,  as  well  as  4  ears of frozen corn, and this worked out 
wonderfully  for  us.  Except for the one morning we ate at Papagayo's 
for  breakfast, we had croissant on our patio every day for breakfast. 
We  cooked  burgers  for lunch a couple of times, steak for lunch once 
and  steak  for  dinner  one  other time. This ended up saving us some 
money,  but  it  wasn't  really the major reason we did it. We enjoyed 
doing  it,  especially as none of it I really considered "cooking", as 
it  was  basically  grilling out and it also allowed us to be nude all 
the time. 

As  I  said,  there  is  a  store at Club Orient store, (L'Orientique) 
which   is   a   kind   of  overgrown  7-11,  with  prices  to  match. 
Unfortunately,  since Match had not had charcoal other than a 25 pound 
bag,  we  had  to  buy charcoal at Club O, which was outrageous, at $5 
per  bag.  A  roll of paper towels at L'Orientique was $2.50, a medium 
sized  box  of  Ritz  crackers  was $4, and a variety of steaks was an 
expensive  $10-$25  per  steak.  Overall,  we  didn't  buy much there, 
except  they  had  fresh  croissants  (about  $1.00 to $1.50 each) and 
bread  for  purchase  every morning, which was a great convenience for 
us,  as we had usually gone to Marigot most days to purchase croissant 
when  we stayed at other places before. It was wonderful to be able to 
send  Eric down to the store (au naturel, of course!!) to purchase our 
morning croissant each day. 

Papagayo's  is  the  restaurant  at  Club Orient and serves breakfast, 
lunch  and  dinner, all somewhat overpriced, based on the competition. 
Breakfast  is  served from 8:30 to 11 A.M., and we had breakfast there 
once,  We each had omeletsham and cheese for me and western for Eric--
toast  and jelly, for $6.50 each. Also available were French toast and 
pancakes  for  $4  each,  side  meats for $2, juices and coffee for $2 
each.  An  OK breakfast for those who don't wish to leave Club Orient, 
but  otherwise  unremarkable.  We  had one lunch at Papagayo. Eric had 
the  Jamaican  jerk  chicken  ($8)  (OK, but not nearly as hot as real 
Jamaican  jerk)  and  I  had  a  chicken  salad ($7), which was lovely 
except  for  the  maraschino  cherry and the CANNED (!!!) pineapple on 
the  side.  Entrees  at  dinner  varied  from  fish to steak, but were 
generally  overpriced.  We  ate  dinner there once. Eric had the prime 
rib  ($23.50)  and  I  had the NY strip ($21.00), both including baked 
potato  and  vegetable.  The  beef  (ordered  medium  rare) was cooked 
correctly  and  was  very good. The meal, including 3 glasses of wine, 
was  $71,  including tip. Fairly expensive, considering we didn't have 
any  appetizers  or  desserts.  By  the way, at Papagayo, the exchange 
rate was 5 to 1. 

Our  favorite restaurant within walking distance of Club O is Pedro's, 
which  is  a  kind  of beach shack restaurant which serves great ribs, 
BBQ  chicken,  hamburgers,  and  now  is  serving steak. Unfortunately 
Pedro's  has  been  discovered  by  the cruise ship passengers and the 
place  is  generally jammed on most days. The up side is that when the 
cruise  ship  people  are  in,  there  is  usually  a live band there. 
Thursday  was  one  of  the  very  few days of the week when it didn't 
appear  that  there  were any cruise ships in, as the beach was fairly 
empty,  as was Pedro's. We headed down to Pedro's au naturel and had a 
lovely  lunch  with  only about 3 other couples. Kind of like the good 
old days at Pedro's. 

ENTERTAINMENT--During  the  day, entertainment for us was watching the 
sand  grow,  or  reading a book, or watching the passing multitudes of 
people.  There  are paddle boats, kayaks, sailboards, sailboats, etc., 
available  for rent at the resort. Just down from Club O there are jet 
skis and parasailing available. 

Entertainment  in  the  evening  at  Club Orient usually consists of a 
bottle  of  champagne in the moonlight on the beach-- which ain't half 
bad  entertainment, by the way. Otherwise, there is a band at Papagayo 
on  Tuesday  during the off season, and on Tuesday and Saturday during 
high  season.  There  is  a  bar at Papagayo of course, and there is a 
half  price happy hour every day from 5:30 to 6:30. Drinks were what's 
known  in  the  business  as "heavy hand"--not light on alcohol by any 
means.  On  Wednesday  night  there is a free wine and cheese party at 
Papagayo,  which  we  know  from personal experience is not limited to 
Club  Orient  guests  only. They serve red and white wine, plus OJ and 
non-  alcoholic punch, plus cheese and pate, from 5:30 to 6:30. It's a 
very  nice  little  party.  Take  a  tip, though, BRING BUG SPRAY!! We 
never  noticed  any  bugs any other time other than at happy hour, but 
there  are LOTS of little biting bugs around happy hour that will make 
your  time  there  miserable if you don't have bug spray. Just because 
you're  staying  at  Club O doesn't mean you can't go out most nights, 
or  every  night  if you want, to one of the many fabulous restaurants 
in  the  dining mecca of Grand Case, or to Marigot or Phillipsburg, or 
to  watch  some  live  entertainment  or to one of the many casinos to 
make  an additional donation to the local economy. Provided you have a 
car,  which  you  really must do when you go to St. Martin, if you are 
bored in the evening there, you aren't looking very hard. 

SO  WILL  WE  RETURN??  You  BETCHA!!! I think that, from now on, Club 
Orient  will  probably  be our number one choice for St. Martin, other 
than  Green  Cay  Village,  which  costs  at  least  twice  the money, 
depending  on  the  season.  We loved being right on the beach and not 
having  to  get dressed for breakfast or lunch. We loved being able to 
just  pop back to our room to get some ice water (or a little stronger 
drink!!!!).  We savored the companionship and fun of the other guests, 
both  on  the  beach  and at happy hour. We enjoyed being able to cook 
out  on  our  grill  a couple of times and relax, as well as save some 
money  to  do it. Mostly, we just enjoyed the relaxation of not having 
to  get  into  the  car  to  drive to our favorite place in the world, 
Orient Beach. 

| CTR Home | << Back | ToC | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Next >> | Search |