- Pool is tiny and uninspiring
- Ocean Studios are small
- Some elements of rooms show wear and tear
- No Internet in rooms
A low-key resort with two peaceful beaches that's not far from the action of Grand Case
With two-story cottage-style buildings nestled above two pristine beaches, the setting of this 71-room resort is truly idyllic -- colorful bougainvillea climb the white adobe walls, bananas and coconuts hang from the trees, and teak catwalks overlook the beach and downtown Grand Case. Opened in the 1970s as a quiet retreat on the island’s French side, Grand Case Beach Club is isolated enough to feel exclusive, with two private-access beaches and a security gate, but still close enough to the main boulevard to be within walking distance of plenty of restaurants, shops, and bars.
Make no mistake -- this is no megaresort, and it doesn’t exactly shine like a new penny. Rather, the setting is more Robinson Crusoe meets bed-and-breakfast. The tiny pool is hardly anything to look at, with just a handful of lounge chairs, yet along the resort’s two beaches, the landscaping is lush and romantically rustic. Thatch umbrellas shade lounge chairs, outdoor showers are built into palm tree trunks, and giant iguanas are a common encounter. Raise the blue flag attached to your umbrella on the beach, and an attendant from the Sunset Beach Cafe will come to take your order. Or head over to the extensive water sports pavilion, where you can check out free snorkeling equipment to use right on Grand Case’s shores, or arrange for a boating excursion straight from the resort’s private dock.
The tropical rusticity is somewhat blurred in the rooms though. The tattered bathroom towels and kitschy tropical furnishings feel dated rather than deliberately simple, and guests will find creature comforts such as iPod-enabled CD stereos, flat-screen TVs, and full kitchens that are decidedly modern. Shortly after my stay, however, the hotel updated all of its bed linens and curtains with classier cream-colored fabrics that more closely match the modern style of the updated bathrooms and kitchens.
Additional details are piecemeal, with some generous freebies (non-motorized water sports, a small and simple breakfast at the café , Wi-Fi, a bottle of wine at check-in), but other simple features that require an unpleasant charge (use of the fitness room, barbecue grills, and lobby computers). Wi-Fi is quite unreliable, mostly working just around the lobby, but a lovely porch is a suitable setting for email checking -- and as with the other drawbacks, complaining in such a lovely, unpretentious setting almost feels nitpicky.
Isolated enough to feel tranquil, but close enough to the main row of restaurants and shops
Just past the culinary hub of Boulevard Grand Case on the northernmost part of the island’s French side, Grand Case Beach Club is tucked away behind a manned gate along an isolated dirt road. As a result, the resort enjoys a certain level of privacy and security, with extremely safe grounds and beaches that are only accessible to guests. Still, the main row is just a short walk away, giving guests easy access to the island’s best bistros, cafes, bars, and lolos (local barbecue joints). Farther away, but still close by car, are a number of beaches and attractions on the French side; however, the more touristy Dutch side is a bit of a trek.
Simple island-style furnishings with kitchens and private balconies
The hotel prides itself on its pomp-free attitude -- something that feels more Hawaiian than French. That said, its 71 rooms are no over-the-top luxury suites by any means. In fact, the Ocean Studios are extremely small -- among the smallest on the island. Be sure to book at least a Studio Loft if having a little bit of wiggle room is important to you.
Decor is fairly modern, but not necessarily sumptuous. Both the bathrooms and kitchens have been renovated in recent years, featuring snazzy walk-in showers with pebble floors in the former, and modern appliances and granite countertops in the latter. Minibar offerings are limited but quite affordable, and each guest is given a free bottle of wine upon check-in. An upgrade to an ocean-view room is ideal -- the views of Creole Rock and distant Anguilla are spectacular, of course, and the ability to walk right out to your own lounge chair overlooking the ocean is hard to beat.
Excellent water sports, beaches, and grounds -- but the pool is hardly worth mentioning
A beachfront cafe featuring breakfast, lunch, dinner, and beach service
The Sunset Cafe is a casual eatery with better-than-expected fare. Open for all three meals, the vibe turns from beach-bum casual to slightly more elegant at night, with rich French-influenced entrees and desserts headlining the specials. The seafood is perhaps not quite as fresh as you’d expect in a tropical location. Still, interesting concoctions like the banana egg roll served with ice cream and chocolate sauce showcase the French chef’s talents. Prices are generally quite affordable for the level of cuisine and dramatic beachfront setting.
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