St. Maarten; Perfect For Weddings

Destination Weddings & Honeymoons Magazine recently polled their readers and learned that St. Maarten is one of their absolute favorite spots for a wedding or honeymoon.  Ah, the sunshine, sparkling beaches, brilliant blue Caribbean, swaying palm trees, great shopping, and diversions.  And, the food – it’s the culinary capital of the Caribbean.  All of which makes St. Maarten a destination for lovers (and others, of course).

Weddings are a year round thing, said Joan Samson of Divi Little Bay. There are nuptials at the resort nearly every week, she reports. Whether it’s an intimate, just-the-two-of-us ceremony or a wedding extravaganza for 100 guests, love is in the air there all year long.

Among those tying the knot at Divi Little Bay are cruise ship passengers, love struck by their days at sea. In truth, passengers wanting to get married in St. Maarten have to prearrange the ceremony, either by contacting Divi Little Bay directly or a wedding planner in St. Maarten. Chances are the local wedding planner will highly recommend Divi Little Bay to the love boaters. Among the reasons (besides secluded beach and lush, landscaped grounds, expertise) is the proximity to Philipsburg, where cruise ships dock. Couples usually have less than six hours to do a wedding before setting sail again. Missing the ship wouldn’t be such a terrible thing, but the 10 minute cab ride to and from Divi affords brides and grooms ample time to do the ceremony, enjoy the setting and even have a private meal on the beach, something Divi Little Bay likes to do to cap a day of romance.

The beachfront dinner is also part of the honeymoon special.  But, Samson says many guests see a couple dining on the beach and inquire if the set-up is just for honeymooners.  The answer is no.  Divi is happy to offer that to other couples.  It’s a love thing.   Call Divi Resorts either at 800.367.3484 or 721.542.2333 to arrange a just-the-two-of-us secluded table on the beach – any time of year.

Divi Owners: Michael Smith and Diane Renfroe

Michael Smith and Diane Renfroe are not unlike a lot of other Divi owners when they get to their home away from home: They get out and explore their surroundings.  They have plenty of time to do just that.  This retired husband and wife power couple from Washington, DC, he, a former business executive and she, a former tax attorney and partner, come to Divi Southwinds for eight weeks every Winter.  During their two months on Barbados, they always rent a car to tour the island.  Exploring is still a fresh adventure even after eight years, be it a new beach discovery or the Barbados culinary scene.

Others might say a morning walk on the beach is invigorating, and the Smith Renfroes wouldn’t disagree, but they also call it the most romantic moments of their annual Caribbean vacation. They are especially fond of a number of beaches found on the south and west coasts of Barbados.

But their absolute favorite thing to do?  Feasting with relatives on the island!  I’m sure they’re feasting sensibly though, because the couple admits to being very weight and health conscious. (Eight weeks in Barbados sounds to me like a prescription for well-being.) They partake of the many great restaurants and nightlife in the St. Lawrence Gap, which runs through Divi Southwinds.  This unique cobbled street lined with some of the island’s best dining is one of the reasons Smith and Renfroe love their home at Divi.

Elsewhere on the island, Cin Cin heads their list of romantic places, offering good food served under the stars and with sweeping views of the west coast of Barbados.

For relaxing, they are both exercise enthusiasts:  Smith makes great use of the outstanding swimming pool at Divi Southwinds.   Renfroe walks, be it on a Barbados beach or around the 20 acres of grounds at Divi Southwinds.   She also loves genealogical studies, no doubt putting her expert research skills to work tracing the family tree, both the Barbadian branch and those up north.

Ownership at Divi is a real value, they say, expressing that they receive first class accommodations for a very reasonable rate.   Said, Smith, “The people of Barbados are friendly to visitors and are very progressive in their education and infrastructure.  The staff at The Divi Southwinds under the leadership of Alvin Jemmott continues to amaze me with the continual improvements.”  All that seems to add up to eight weeks in paradise.

Divi Owners: The Browns

Divi owners, especially people like the Browns from Illinois, who have owned at Divi Little Bay since 1995, have become de facto travel advisers for other guests.  If you ask the Browns, they’ll tell you that it’s a wonderful day spent in the sunshine, sitting on the Divi Little Bay beach quietly reading a good book.  But, the Browns do get around.  In fact, delving into the life of the island is one of the best parts of their annual visits. After almost twenty years, which translates to more than 250 days on St. Maarten, they know the island top to bottom. By now, they can offer their take on best beach (there are 37 in total to explore), best restaurant (countless) and best bar (countless, too).

The Browns frequently drive to Grand Case Bay, a picturesque fishing village on the French side, noted for its gourmet restaurants.  The sheltered inlet creates a tranquil setting for an evening meal al fresco, a highlight of their stay.  A favorite daytime spot is Pinel Island, a little gem in the heart of the St. Martin Marine Park. The island is a favorite of several Divi little Bay employees, too. But rest assured, it’s quiet and a postcard perfect beach. Daily ferry service from Cul de Sac begins at 10 AM and continues every half hour, with the last return at 5 PM.  The ten-minute ferry ride costs about 6 Euros.

But the Dutch side is home for the Browns, because that is where Divi is, their longtime friends and the comforting familiarity of the Divi staff.  When they are handed the glass of welcome punch on arrival day and Sandra, the front desk manager greets them with a hearty hello, the Browns know they are home  – if only for two weeks.  Soon, they hope to make it three.

Favorite things to do near “home” are walking along the beachfront of Phillipsburg.  They’ll have a drink at Blue Bitch Bar.  In case you’re wondering, the name refers to a kind of shiny rock found on the St. Maarten shoreline, once sold for making gravel. The bar has many of these rocks as part of its décor.  Now that you know about blue bitch stone, you can join the Browns there for a drink and truly feel like an insider. Food specialties at Blue Bitch Bar include Creole Grouper and Creole Chicken.  Desserts sound pretty good, too, especially the Mango Blueberry Cobbler.

Food matters, but friends matter more to the Browns.  They revel in making new friends on each and every visit.  And, they note that Guest Services at Little Bay make it easy to spend every moment in relaxation and well-being. For a couple that values good health as the most important thing in life, we know that their St. Maarten/St. Martin friends go a long way toward ensuring that.