With only a 'welcome' sign between French St. Martin on the northern side and Dutch St. Maarten to the south, the smallest island in the world shared by two nations is a sunny sliver of Caribbean life. Surrounded by 37 beaches, both sides are popular with sun seekers on an escape mission from the winter winds at home. No passports are needed to cross the border between the two countries — just cross the road for the casinos, shopping and all-inclusives on the Dutch side to gourmet eats, bustling markets and cozy hotels in the north. On the getaway hot list, holidays to the island are a breeze with WestJet flights from Montreal, Air Canada Rouge from Toronto and too-good-to-miss Sunwing Vacations hotel and flight packages to a variety of hotels and resorts. (www.sunwing.ca)
You won't find bottles of aged rum in the fridge, titanic buffets or butlers who unpack your bags but you will find spacious suites, awesome views around every palm tree and staff so friendly you’ll think you’ve met them before. In the quaint village of Grand Case, 71 suites at the Grand Case Beach Club come with patios that lead to the beach and the coolest pool on the island with views all the way to neighbouring Anguilla. The name says it all at the Sunset Café where breakfast (included in room rates) is a fresh glass of orange juice, strong café chaser and a basket full of ooh-la-la fabulous chocolate croissants. An impressive wine and cocktail list and a glimpse of the green flash at sunset seals the deal for a glorious dinner. "We are a terrific example of word-of-mouth advertising," says Steve Wright, an affable Brit who has been general manager for two decades. "More than half of our guests are repeat guests and often request the same room at the same time of the year." ( www.grandcasebeachclub.com) The capital city of Marigot is 15 minutes from the resort and popular for the bustling craft market and the many cafes, bistros and patisseries that line the town square. Marigot is also where the ferries depart for nearby Anguilla and St. Barths.