ST. MARTIN

Both halves of this Lee­ward Is­land are bring­ing back their spe­cific de­lights

Coastal Living - - NAVIGATOR -

To the north it’s French and called St. Martin and a bit sleepy; to the south it’s St. Maarten, Dutch, and hop­ping with casi­nos and nightlife. But Hur­ri­cane Irma knew no borders when it blasted ashore on Septem­ber 6 af­ter its as­sault on Bar­buda in the wee hours of that same day. On the French side, Irma tore mari­nas to shreds, pulled trees out of the ground, and sent ve­hi­cles fly­ing. On the Dutch side, those same cat­a­strophic winds ripped the roof off Princess Ju­liana In­ter­na­tional Air­port, snapped jet­ways, and hurled heavy de­bris in all direc­tions. To­tal dam­age to the is­land was es­ti­mated to be

$1.5 bil­lion, and four res­i­dents lost their lives.

Per­haps the great­est sym­bol of re­birth on the is­land be­gan at the air­port, which re­opened in Oc­to­ber in a tented, tem­po­rary build­ing. A fully re­built fa­cil­ity (with a new roof de­signed to sus­tain winds of more than 185 miles per hour) is pro­jected to open in early 2019.

The first wave of re­opened ac­com­mo­da­tions was largely vil­las, con­dos, and smaller ho­tels; now, the is­land’s famed beach re­sorts are also re­turn­ing. In St. Maarten, Divi Lit­tle Bay Beach Re­sort, Simp­son Bay Re­sort & Ma­rina, and Oys­ter Bay Beach Re­sort have ren­o­vated or re­built and re­opened, among oth­ers. The adults-only, all-in­clu­sive Son­esta Ocean Point re­opens in Novem­ber.

In St. Martin, the in­ti­mate Grand Case

Beach Club opens in Novem­ber, and villa-style

Es­mer­alda Re­sort on Ori­ent Bay opens in Novem­ber. The big­gest splash, how­ever, may be in De­cem­ber, when the cos­mopoli­tan

Bel­mond La Sa­manna re­opens—with a com­plete in­te­rior re­design—on its serene mile of pri­vate beach. Rates start at $832; bel­mond.com.

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