Friday, August 1, 2014

Travelers Not Tourists

My youngest son has dubbed my hubby and myself as travelers, not tourists, and after many excursions, I tend to agree with him. His original comment was, you guys don’t go on vacations and do the typical tourist things. You seek out the locals and find out what they do and that’s what makes you different from the normal visitors.

And that’s exactly what we did on our 6th honeymoon to St. Maarten. I did a lot of research into the hotels available, and one of them stood out above the rest.
If you're going to St. Maarten/St. Martin, for a vacation then you really need to take note of what I'm going to divulge about the hotel/guesthouse where we stayed. I've traveled quite a bit now and am still shocked by how false the reviews in the tourist books are. I should probably start my own book that's honest and lets you know what to expect but that's another story. Initially I went with what the travel books said, but time after time, I became disappointed in what they imparted as the truth and the actual delivery. So I began to check out the different trip review sites on the web for a hotel.

The one that stood out, way above the rest, is Azure, on the Dutch side of the island. It far surpassed what I expected, based on reviews and prices I found online. We don't like the huge hotels that charge astronomical prices, have no personal touch to them, and keep you on site, so the Azure seemed to be right up our alley.
We came in on our 6th honeymoon, Halloween, and got to see little Sky (the owners, Michael and Fawnette's, seven month old daughter) in her angel costume. Although we had to change rooms part way through our stay, and the second room didn't have a lot of bathroom privacy or size to it, all the other perks way offset this very small inconvenience.

Michael was the absolute best host ever. Each morning, we'd walk around to the back of the property (both our rooms opened up to the courtyard, which doesn’t have direct beach access) and sit on the common patio just feet from the beach. We’d lay out our excursions for the day, not sure of which ones to do. Any questions we had, Michael answered, even when he wasn't feeling well, and he went so far as to plan out the best trip for what we wanted for that day. At one point we had problems with our credit card, and he graciously allowed us to use his personal phone to fix the issue.
We loved the courtyard, which had a central, contained area for numerous turtles Michael housed, along with lizards. The hummingbirds strafed the area each morning and were an awesome sight to witness. This area was so peaceful and calming, we visited it every morning during the week we were there as we woke up and decided what to do for the day.

Anything we wanted, to include a convenience store and numerous restaurants, were within walking distance. Parking was a bit of a puzzle since the street that Azure is on is just over two vehicles wide, but again, Michael came to the rescue and allowed us to use his courtyard as a parking place when needed. He is the ultimate host in so many ways.
If you like the personal attention of a mom and pop guesthouse, want to have a local guide with a good rapport of the island’s best attractions, and desire someone who has a deep knowledge of the surrounding areas, then the Azure is your best bet, hands down. We snorkeled, we surfed, we swam, we went on a sunset cruise (the Passat), we explored, and we enjoyed, all because of Michael’s direction. You can’t go wrong with the Azure! It is well worth the money!

Michael, Fawnette, and Sky are the best on St. Marteen.

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