I sort of felt like a French billionaire as I was driven toward Belmond La Samanna on serpentine roads through lush vegetation and fragrant blossoms. Once driven through the iron-black gates into the world of La Samanna, I knew I was in heaven on earth. I arrive at the open-air lobby of the resort and I’m immediately treated to breathtaking water views of Baie Longue and the Caribbean.
The resort’s location couldn’t be more perfect. It’s tucked in the uber-exclusive neighborhood of Terres Basses, located on the French side of Saint Martin in the French West Indies. It is located adjacent to Baie Longue, the island’s largest beach.
Its original owners were James and Nicole Frankel and it was designed and built by architect Happy Ward, of the Barbados firm Robertson Ward, created in the style of a traditional Mediterranean villa. Construction began in 1971 and was completed in 1973. Frankel named it after his three children—Samantha, Anouk and Nathalie—combining the letters of their names and adding the French prefix, “La.” In 1996, Orient-Express Hotels acquired La Samanna and embarked on a program of renovation.
In addition to the hotel buildings there is a row of cottages along the beach. There are also four villas situated on the cliffs by the beach. It has attracted famous guests including Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Robert Redford, Donald Trump and Barbara Walters.
At first I’m given a tour of the entire property which is filled with charm and subtle French touches; but I’m literally flabbergasted with glee when I see the breathtaking view of Baie Longue.
Suites and villas spread out down the beach. There are 83 guestrooms and suites at Belmond La Samanna, and each of them looks out over the sea. The design is Caribbean-chic, with whites and creams accented by pops of ocean blue. Watch the sunset with a bottle from the hotel’s famed wine list delivered promptly to your private terrace or balcony. Suites also include a separate living room and patio.
For those looking to be pampered in luxury, elegance, and atmosphere Belmond La Samanna’s spa pulsates with life and wisdom, purity and health. With a strong emphasis on natural healing, the spa draws its strength from the surrounding landscape, the integrity of luxuries French brands Sisley’s and Pure Altitude’s products and the intrinsic spirituality of its therapists. The vast open-air treatment pavilions nestle in their own lush tropical gardens.
For me another form of relaxation was in order so I spent most of my day lazing on one of the beach cabanas, where a private waiter kept me sated as I soaked up the beauty of Baie Longue.
If water sports is your thing there is a Water Sports Centre which offer guests a handful of complimentary non-motorized activities including catamaran sailing, single sails, windsurfing, kayaking and snorkeling. Thrill seekers with a need for speed can sign up for waterskiing, wakeboarding, wakesurfing, jet-skiing, kite surfing and Jet Blading.
Dining here is also memorable; there are several dining and drinking options around the property, but the showpiece is Trellis, a restaurant set on the edge of the beach, with open-air seating.
When lunch time came around I made my way to the beach bar, which offers a great bistro menu. I chose the light niçoise and caesar salads, followed by ridiculously delicious citrus tart.
I spent the rest of my afternoon between lounging by the poolside, swimming in their beautiful infinity pool, followed by long strolls through the stunning Baie Lounge.
Sun soaked guests pop up to the bar in the evening, sipping through endless glasses of chardonnay while taking in sunsets that feel like a powerful symphony quieting down, becoming more emotional and beautiful as it dies down.
This exquisite resort without a doubt the island’s most sybaritic place to stay. At the five- star Belmond La Samanna, you can choose accommodations ranging from studio- style ocean view rooms to three-bedroom cottages; or go all out and reserve one of La Samanna’s eight villas, which are situated atop a cliff with jaw-dropping views of beautiful Baie Longue. The resort is small enough to ensure personalized service, with enough amenities to keep on-the-go travelers entertained.