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4:20 in St. Martin

Location: Grand Case, St. Martin

Couple dating can be hard. (Oops, let me clarify - I don't mean the wife-swapping kind, I mean the couple friend kind). Have you ever noticed that? On the rare occasion that you make new friends in the "real" world, too often you find that one or the other of you is getting a better deal - either the women hit it off, or the men hit it off, but rarely both. Or, for that matter, how often do you really meet new friends? 

Maybe it's something in the warm tropical air, or the fact that so many of the people we meet are here on vacation, or if not, have made a conscious choice to live the island lifestyle... whatever it is, we've met the most amazing people. Of all ages, from all over, from all walks of life. Instead of working together, or knowing someone from college, or whatever, the common theme we have drawing us together is simply our love of a beautiful destination. 

I've already raved about Hotel L'Esplanade's great rooms, beautiful location, etc., but there is something unique here that I've never found at any of the other 5 star resorts we've visited. Every afternoon, something magical happens at the Esplanade pool: people start talking. Not surprisingly, the beginning often coincides with the first drink order of the afternoon... someone breaks the seal, and next thing you know, Alain is whipping up Tiger Woods rum punches (I have no idea what's in it, or why the name, but it is a killer), and all of a sudden it's a party, and people are genuinely talking.

The people who visit here have been coming for years and years, and like turtles nesting, they follow their instincts and return religiously, some more than once a year. 

Every day, a little after 4pm, the newbies arrive from the airport, and it's all we can do to stop ourselves from yelling "De plane! De plane!" like Tattoo from 'Fantasy Island.' OK, sometimes we don't restrain ourselves. You can always pick them out - their bright white legs sticking out from under slightly travel-creased khaki shorts, their blinking eyes squinting in the face of the bright sun, and the swarm of mosquitoes hungrily following the smell of fresh meat of those who haven't yet remembered to lather up with Off. 

They always start out by ordering something tame, like a wine/beer, or something NY like a martini, as they sit there with their shoulders hunched, twitching from crackberry withdrawal. But within minutes, Alain invariably has them drinking a pastel-colored punch, heaving a deep sigh, and they are newbies no longer. Alain reigns supreme at his pool bar, along with his delightful mother and wife, and together they create an atmosphere of convivial relaxation.

Every time we've spent the afternoon at the pool, we've met fascinating, funny, intelligent people. Last week we met a couple from Seattle (but who had lived here a few years ago), with whom we spent an afternoon and an evening, and I feel like we've known each other for years. Oh, the inappropriate conversations we had! We loved it. It usually takes years to get to that level of inappropriateness.

On Friday, our time at the pool led us to an impromptu evening of fantastic wine consumption with another couple, from Vermont, two of the most genuine people you'd ever meet. He's an old-school trial lawyer, but there's no need to hold it against him, he's just a delight who tells great stories. As he describes his wife, "if you don't love her, there's something wrong with you," and he's absolutely right about that. She's just one of those people you flock to, with her generous spirit. They're leaving today, but returning in April, and it's hard to say... we may still be here then. As I write, she's bringing up all their leftover beer and fruit before they leave for the airport.

Last night we had dinner with them, and the couple who owns the hotel. We had been hearing about them for weeks, from everyone, and they lived up to all the hype. I can completely see why wonderful people return to this hotel year after year. The atmosphere the owners create mirrors they themselves - warm, fun, open, and yet with a forthright type-A attention to detail that I myself greatly appreciate. 

OK, we're off to Orient Beach, our first foray to unexplored waters (by us, anyway), and rumored to be truly European in its array of clothing-optional-ness. Will report back later.


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Reader Comments (2)

We miss you and Steve already. Trip back was eventful, first no reservations for the Grossman's. So I called my neighbor in Vermont and had her break into my house....well we do not have locks so she walked in got on my computer and pulled up my reservations and yes she found our confirmation number and all but JetBlue had other information!! Long story short we went stand by the whole way!!! Remember I told you Richie did not feel well....he got progressively worse as the trip went on...needed a wheelchair by JFK....made it home by 1:00am...woke up at 5:00 I was already to be at work on time but he was sporting over 102 temp!!!! I will take him to doctor soon...I am sure all will be fine he is tough but stuborn....I need to do my best Nurse Ratich. LOVE the Blog...what is a URL??

March 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMame

Oh Mame! What a nightmare. We were thinking good thoughts for your travels yesterday, but apparently not enough. I'm afraid we infected you with what we experienced in St. Croix with our hotel. Thank goodness you at least made it home. I hope Richie feels better soon. Good luck as Nurse Ratich, I know what it's like taking care of an overgrown baby ;).

Take care, and write soon!

March 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLucinda

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