Georges was kind to one St. Martin resort

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Associate editor Amy Spiezio visited the Grand Case Beach Resort. Her report follows.

GRAND CASE, St. Martin -- As was the case for many other properties in the Caribbean, the Grand Case Beach Resort battened down the hatches and hoped to avoid the worst from Hurricane Georges.

Grand CaseFortunately, the storm did little damage to the hotel: three rooms suffered minor water damage that was repaired within a week. The storm actually provided some additional sand to the beach, property representatives reported.

The resort has a knack for coming out of storms with improvements. Last year, a storm wiped out the seawall that supported the restaurant and gift shop. "We felt, if we lose this wall we lose this building," general manager Steve Wright said.

Instead of experiencing a loss, a new seawall was constructed clearing the way for expanded views of Creole Rock and Anguilla from the hotel's two beaches. The new wall also created a patio area that is used as a tour desk during the day to make reservations for rides on the 75-foot catamaran Scoobidoo or to reserve nonmotorized water sports equipment. The space also is utilized for social events in the evening hours.

During my visit, the patio served as an alfresco gallery for an exhibit of sculpture by a local artist, something that Wright said could become a new tradition for the property. Guests visiting this winter may be able to partake of an afternoon tea, another tradition in the making that Wright and his staff are working on for the winter season.

This year, Wright said he also plans to install plaques to identify the property's colorful plants, which were selected from among the abundant local plant life. "I like to take things from the area because it will work here," Wright said.

These touches join massage therapy, available at a cost of $30 for 30 minutes or $60 for an hour, and the Sunset Cafe, enriching the day-to-day operations at the resort.

There also is a small pool that is rarely visited by guests. The pool is built into a jetty above the hotel's gift shop and restaurant building and has a nice view, but the surf below at the Petit Beach and the Grand Case Beach seems to satisfy the guests.

The resort is within walking distance of the village of Grand Case, which is dotted with more than 50 restaurants. The town also is home to a full spectrum of shopping stops including T-shirt stores, craft vendors and even a chic art gallery. At least part of the day during my visit was spent sampling the resort's sand and surf.

A favorite activity was taking a long swim, paddling from Grand Case beach around the jetty where the property's restaurant is set and onto the Petit beach and relaxing in the sun for a while before swimming back. Thanks to the rock jetty, the water in front of my room was calm and still, with hardly a wave to interrupt swimming or conversations with other bathers.

Most guests I spoke to were repeat customers, either to the island or to the hotel. They were drawn back by the French style and American comforts such as simply decorated but spacious rooms with fully equipped kitchenettes.

"It's the style of it that makes it comfortable for Americans to stay here," Wright said. According to Wright, 95% of the guests at Grand Case are from the U.S., with the remainder made up of a mix of Canadians and Europeans.

The property's five buildings feature studios and junior suites as well as one- and two-bedroom suites with ocean or garden views. This winter, Wright said he plans to place market baskets in each room with coffee, tea, milk and other staples as an honor bar of sorts.

He also was forming a shopping list of items for guests to order to stock their rooms. Wright predicted, however, that most guests would set out to town on their own to pick up cooking supplies at European-style markets. "Shopping down here is fun; the French take their food so seriously it's unbelievable," he said.

The in-room kitchens, he noted, provide guests with a welcome alternative from the multicourse French feasts the area is famous for. "After a few nights of those large meals, they want to prepare their own light meals," Wright said. Room rates at Grand Case Beach Resort through Dec. 18 for gardenview accommodations are $135, single or double, for a studio; $180 for a one-bedroom apartment, and $310 for a two-bedroom apartment, triple or quad.

Oceanfront rooms' nightly rates are $180 for a studio, $195 for a studio with loft, $215 for a one-bedroom and $335 for a two-bedroom.
Grand Case Beach Resort
Phone: (800) 447-7462

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