At the gate in Miami on the way to St. Maarten, we were given complimentary upgrades to First Class based on my Executive Platinum Status because of the fact that first was only half full and coach less than one third full. Yes, I asked and was accommodated because I did so.
The flight was around three hours from Miami and immigration went quickly and smoothly. We were first to the cab line, bypassing the guy that asked us inside the airport if we were looking for a taxi (I don’t take that risk). The cab was not metered and on inquiry I found the fare to be $35 US dollars, which were accepted where ever we went.
The island is quite hilly and we proceeded about one half hour from the airport entirely on the Dutch side of the island to the Westin. Check-in was smooth, Elana upgraded us to an oceanfront room based on my Plat status with SPG and provided breakfast buffet coupons for each day of our stay. Every member of the Westin staff was warm and friendly and you wanted to know them all by name.
Come to find out the next morning we were on the windy side of the island and it did not let up for the five days we were there. If I had done some proper prior planning I would have heard about the Christmas winds and considered another hotel option. But then again, this hotel was free with points.
NOTE: The cancellation period for our stay was two weeks, they had my credit card on file and the cancellation price would have been $1,650. They are a limited participant in the SPG program.
The pool was beautiful but chilly, the omelets were the best I’ve ever had and the casino must have been rigged (only kidding). I play by-the-book blackjack and washed out quickly the three nights we tried.
Cab fare back to the runway for some plane spotting was again $35 each way but well worth the cost. We came to the island to watch the planes land over the beach and were not disappointed.
The Sunset Bar and Grill was packed and all were having a good time in the sun, sand, surf and jet backwash. I’m glad I’ve seen and experienced the runway and hope you aviation geeks reading make the trip yourself one day.
We went to Philipsburg another morning and found it to be, well, another Caribbean town catering to tourists and the cruise ships docked that day. People were friendly and not too pushy, but they all wanted you to stop in their shop.
I made some mistakes booking this short trip. I did not rent a car which may have helped us see more of the island, but in my defense my main goal was the runway. There is a Sonesta Hotel right near the runway that was more in an area of action and may have been a better choice.
We never made it to the French side but don’t feel a great loss for not doing so. We rested. We saw what we went to see and crossed off another Caribbean Island. Kauai is still our home away from home. Maybe we should just stop looking elsewhere?