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Discover Grand Case at Hotel L’Esplanade and Le Petit Hotel

Sprinkle gourmet restaurants serving fois gras, frog’s legs and a delectable choice of sommelier-recommended Grand Crus bordeaux.

Toss in a one-mile stretch of golden sand beach embracing a Caribbean bay.

Mix with Hotel L’Esplanade and Le Petit Hotel – two impeccably-run, Provencal-style boutique hotels.

And you have the recipe for a très élégant beach holiday in beloved Grand Case, St. Martin!

Hotel L'Esplanade

St. Martin boutique hotels in Grand Case

We love escaping to the Caribbean for some some sun, sand and sea in winter – Caribbean villas are especially ideal for family vacations.

But St. Martin (or Saint Martin) was new for us. It’s the Caribbean island with dual personalities.

The Dutch side is known as Sint Maarten (or St Maarten).

The French side is Saint Martin, and it offers one of the best Caribbean beach vacations for foodies.

Another fabulous French-influence Caribbean island? See our guide to St. Barts – the chichi island!

Grand Case restaurants: Delicious French food!

Badly damaged by Hurricane Irma in September, 2017, the island is almost fully recovered and welcoming tourists again.

During our St. Martin visit, we discovered that Grand Case is the place to treat yourself to the most tantalizing French food, short of visiting Paris (maybe St. Barts too, mentioned above).

And the following two hotels – Hotel L’Esplanade and Le Petit Hotel – are perfectly located for enjoying Grand Case’s culinary delights.

Hotel L’Esplanade

Owned and operated by the Petrelluzzi family since it was built in 1992, Hotel L’Esplanade is the best of the resort-style Grand Case hotels. But think “resort” on a small scale.

Built on a hillside, the hotel only has 24 rooms.

Hotel L'Esplanade reception

Guests return year after year, booking ages in advance.

If it wasn’t for the hurricane which had closed the hotel for more than a year, we probably wouldn’t have been able to get in.

The hotel is now completely renovated (unlike some of the island’s hotels which have partially opened but are still restoring other sections).


Hotel L'Esplanade

All “rooms” are really large suites with kitchens and Bali-style furniture.

The smallest are the deluxe studios at 560 square feet in size.

The largest are the one-bedroom suites (1025 square feet), which feature a private bedroom separated from the kitchen and living room space.

Our one-bedroom suite was modern in style, with grey slate tile floors and white-washed walls.

The oversize bathroom had double sinks, a pebble-walled shower made for two and a selection of organic toiletries.

In the kitchen, a welcome basket of goodies sat on the kitchen counter.

Coffee? Good. Cookies? Not so good for the figure. Fresh baguette and jam? Great.

Hotel L'Esplanade welcome basket

We especially loved the huge stone terrace with a double hammock and a dining table and chairs for four.

Overlooking greenery, it offered views of the sea with sailboats bobbing in Grand Case Bay.

View from Hotel L'Esplanade

Before going out for dinner, we’d light candles (supplied) and have a glass of wine on the terrace, enjoying the cool breeze and listening to frogs and cicadas.

The only small niggle was that we couldn’t get the TV channels to work. (Mind you, we could have asked for help.) And it was refreshing to take a CNN break.


Hotel L'Esplanade pool

In the garden, the hotel has a pretty tiled pool, a few minutes’ walk down a rope-lined path.

You can get drinks, lunch and snacks (like grilled shrimp) from the bartender there from late morning to early evening.

Access to the beach:

While Hotel L’Esplanade isn’t on the beach, it’s close to popular beach clubs on Grand Case Beach.

It’s about a 10-minute walk through the hotel’s property and down the hill to the Grand Case Beach Club. The walk to the Rainbow Café beach club is a bit longer – about 15 minutes. (See details on these beach clubs after Le Petit Hotel below.)

Guests of L’Esplanade may also use the lounge chairs and umbrellas at Le Petit Hotel (about a 20-minute walk away) free of charge.

Spa and Yoga:

The hotel’s Ti Spa offers a full range of massage treatments.

And the newly rebuilt Ti Temple offers complimentary yoga classes for guests, including morning and evening sessions.

Le Petit Hotel, St Martin

Le Petit Hotel St Martin

Boasting a coveted position at one end of Grand Case Beach – one of the best St. Martin beaches – Le Petit Hotel is a three-storey white stone villa.

And it is indeed petite; there are only 10 rooms.


All rooms (except one) are sleek studios with full kitchens.

They come with cool grey slate floors, king-size beds and white corian kitchen countertops.

The white-washed walls are decorated with beaten silver wall sconces and plates, lending the rooms a slightly Moroccan feel.

Bathrooms are large, white and bright, with oversize sinks and rainshowers.

From the red-tiled terrace of our top floor room, we had splendid views of the beach and Grand Case.

Le Petit Hotel St Martin

The best rooms are the two on the main floor, with private terraces and direct access to the beach.

One is a one-bedroom suite; the other is an oversized deluxe studio.


The beach was so inviting, all we wanted to do at Le Petit Hotel was to lie on a beach chair under an umbrella and read a book, occasionally rousing ourselves for a swim in the sea.

And that’s what most guests like to do here.

Beach at Le Petit Hotel, St. Martin

If you feel like being more active, take out the (complimentary) SUP board for a paddle.


Le Petit Hotel doesn’t have a pool (just the whole ocean right at your doorstep).

The reception is staffed during the day, but not in the evening or night.

Rates include a complimentary continental breakfast.

Between 8:00 and 10:00 am, you pick up a basket from reception with coffee, fruit and pre-ordered items (ham-and-cheese croissant, apple turnover, etc.), which you take to your room.

Beach Clubs in Grand Case

Orient Bay Beach was once the most popular beach in St. Martin – known for its nude section.

Almost all of its bars, restaurants and hotels were destroyed by Hurricane Irma. Thankfully, as of 2020, the beach clubs have mostly been restored.

But why go to Orient Beach when we could just walk to Grand Case Beach? Many of its restaurants and beach clubs are open too.

Rainbow Café, St. Martin:

Rainbow Cafe St Martin

The Rainbow Café is the place to be. Both times we were there, it was hopping!

This is a classy beach club, with bright red lounge chairs and umbrellas lined up on the beach.

The Rainbow Cafe is one of the best beach clubs in Grand Case.

When it’s time for lunch, gravitate to the open-air restaurant and enjoy a delicious long lunch the way the French do.

Don’t expect burgers (remember, we said this place is classy).

Think crusty snails in garlic butter on a crusty pastry bed, a creole fishpot or roasted duck breast with foie gras sauce.

All washed down with a fine bottle of French wine, of course.

Dining at Rainbow Cafe, St. Martin

Rainbow Cafe Cost:

If you have lunch, your beach chairs and umbrella will likely be free (ask). Otherwise, it’s $15 for the use of two beach chairs and an umbrella for the day.

Grand Case Beach Club, St. Martin:

Grand Case Beach Club

For non-hotel guests, the beach club section of Grand Case Beach Club is now open.

You can rent very comfy cushioned lounge chairs and umbrellas, set up on a darling little cove of beach (Petite Plage) just below the hotel.

An inviting bar and restaurant at the water’s edge is also open for drinks and food.

Petite Plage at Grand Case Beach Club

Grand Case Beach Club Cost:

$25 for two beach chairs and an umbrella. As the beach is small, there’s only room for a handful of chairs and umbrellas, so go in the morning if you plan to chill at this beach club.

Grand Case restaurants

Before the hurricane, a slew of legendary French bistros, gelato parlors and coffee shops lined Grand Case Boulevard.

Grand Case was known as the “gourmet capital of the Caribbean.”

Today, Grand Case is almost back to reclaiming that honor again.

More than a dozen Grand Case restaurants have been refurbished and are back in business.

Serving ribs and fish from the barbecue, Lolo’s is popular with locals and visitors looking for a tasty but inexpensive meal.

The elegant Le Pressoir (white tablecloth dining) offers a fixed price menu.

Spiga continues to get rave reviews for its Italian food.

We enjoyed a very fine dinner of duck confit and other French delicacies at Le Cottage.

When walking down Grand Case Boulevard by the harsh light of day, it’s a bit disheartening to see the buildings that still need to be repaired.

But at night, when the lights are twinkling and people are out and about enjoying themselves, the place takes on a Caribbean charm.

Free hotel shuttle

Both L’Esplanade and Le Petit Hotel offer a free on-demand shuttle service in the evenings to and from the Grand Case restaurants.

Just let reception know in advance what time you want to be picked up. When you’re finished dinner, have the restaurant call the shuttle driver to take you back to your hotel.

Bottom line?

If you’re trying to decide where to stay in St. Martin, whether for a pre- or post-cruise hotel or a week-long holiday, do yourself (and your tastebuds) a favor and book either (or both!) of these luxury St. Martin hotels.

Trust us, you’ll have no regrets – they’re two of the best hotels in St. Martin.

The kitchens are an added bonus and make both hotels very comfortable for week-long (or longer) stays.

For more information:

Hotel L’Esplanade: Check rates and availability

Le Petit Hotel: See the hotel’s website

Flying to St. Maarten

The international airport on the Dutch side of the island, Princess Juliana Airport, operated out of tents until late 2018. But now there are air-conditioned arrivals and departure halls (complete with washrooms, bar, food kiosks and restaurants).

Flights from Delta Airlines, American Airlines, Winair, West Jet, Air France and other major airlines are bringing in plane loads of happy sun-seekers from the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Wouldn’t you like to be one of these vacationers?

Discover more fabulous luxury hotels for a beach holiday!

Read our posts on:

Los Cabos | Check out the best boutique and 5-star hotels in Cabo San Lucas. (And discover where the celebs like to stay.)

Kauai | From an adults-only boutique hotel in Poipu to the lovely Grand Hyatt, these are the best hotels in Kauai, Hawaii.

Bali | Need a hotel on the beach? Want something super romantic? You’ll love these beautiful luxury hotels in Bali. (Find the right one for your vacation style.)

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Hotel L'Esplanade and Le Petit Hotel St Martin

Photo credits: 7 to 10, 14, 15, 19, 21, 22 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | 1, 3 to 6, 11 to 13, 16 to 18 Hotel L’Esplanade and Le Petit Hotel | 20 Rainbow Cafe24 Le Cottage

We stayed at these two luxury hotels in St. Martin for purposes of review on our blog. But our hotel reviews are always wholly our own, and we let you (our readers) know if there are any cons.

About the authors:

Janice and George Mucalov

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George are the publishers of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents.

Find destination guides, global food-and-wine stories, luxury hotel reviews, articles on cultural explorations and soft adventure trips, cruise reviews and information, insanely useful travel tips and more!


Sunday 3rd of March 2019

I stayed at Grand Case Beach Club after a Windjammer cruise way back in 2002...and loved it! I see the resort is still undergoing renovation from Hurricane Irma. (Can you believe it? I still wear a long-sleeved t-shirt I bought there that says "Chill" on the front and "Stress Blows" with a puffer fish on the back, along with Grand Case Beach Club, St. Martin underneath.) I recall walking into town for several wonderful meals. It would be fun to return after nearly two decades to experience the French side of St. Martin again.

Janice and George

Sunday 3rd of March 2019

Oh what fun! Sounds like it's time for you to do a trip down memory lane and return to Grand Case in future ?.