Belmond La Samanna Rating: 4.5 Pearls
Though by St. Martin standards, La Samanna is relatively large with 81 rooms, it deliver a boutique experience. It is easily one of the most luxurious resorts on the island and there are certainly no crowds to worry about here because Baie Longue, the pristine beach, is virtually private -- St. Martin has no "private" beaches in the literal sense of the word, however, the only way to access this beach is via the resort, which is tightly guarded. The vibe remains the same elsewhere at La Samanna: whether having a Shiatsu massage and body scrub at the Elysee Spa, drinking cocktails in the Moroccan-themed Baie Longue Bar, or watching the sunset from your room (more than half of which were renovated during the fall of 2011), you'll have the same discreet yet utterly accommodating experience.
Esmeralda Resort Rating: 3.5 Pearls
Located within an upscale community featuring several resorts, restaurants, and one of the island's best beaches, Esmeralda Resort's colorful Creole-style villas offer seclusion and elegance with semi-private pools (shared among four units), stylish tropical rooms, and a well-respected restaurant -- all within a two-minute walk to the beach. Additional features are few, but for couples and families looking for a lush retreat with a great location, Esmeralda delivers the goods.
Holland House Beach Hotel Rating: 3.0 Pearls
The stylish 54-room Holland House Beach Hotel might be missing a pool, spa, and fitness center, but its location in the middle of Philipsburg gives guests the best of everything else -- step out the front door, and you’ll find some of the island’s best shopping on Front Street. And just out the back door, Great Bay Beach and the Caribbean Sea await. Inside, spacious rooms are updated and tastefully designed. Take note: With a surrounding such as this, opting for a beach view is well worth the extra cost.
Princess Heights Rating: 3.5 Pearls
Perched on a dramatic hill above Dawn Beach, this 51-room condo property has jaw-dropping views. A rooftop pool and spacious balconies take advantage of the vistas, and full kitchens and pull-out couches are ideal for families or groups looking to save. There is no restaurant, bar, or spa, but Princess guests have easy access to the casino, beach, shops, and several dining options at the megaresort Westin next door.
Bleu Emeraude Rating: 3.0 Pearls
Opened in 2009 and still gleaming, the intimate 11-room Bleu Emeraude sits along a peaceful crescent-shaped white sand beach, just a short walk away from the culinary mecca of Grand Case. Modern rooms are sleek with updated electronics, designer furnishings, and white-on-white decor that puts the focus on the stunning ocean views. However, the hotel sits on a particularly busy street and has virtually no amenities beyond the beautiful beach.