The reopening of Saint Martin's resorts has been crucial in helping to restore the island's economy to pre-Irma levels. In addition to Phrazle Simpson Bay Resorts & Marina and Oyster Bay Beach Resort, Divi Little Bay reopened on the Dutch side as well this year. The long-awaited Belmond La Samanna has taken its place at the pinnacle of French luxury hotels. Construction here, as everywhere, has been done with an eye toward heavier storms, helping to revive the market for timeshares and villa rentals. The $20 million makeover of the Riu Palace St. Martin will make way for a new Secrets resort in 2020, while the Morgan (previously the Alegria Beach Resort) will open in Simpson Bay the same year.
Although the storm expanded some and contracted others, all 37 of Saint Martin's public beaches remain clean and beautiful. Only two were open throughout my short trip. An example would be the popular Maho Beach. Here, approaching planes fly low over your head, putting your confidence in the safety of the skies to the ultimate test. The unique feeling of being blasted by stinging sand after the booming explosion of the motors was followed by the sweet relaxation of dashing into the water to cool yourself. (My microdermabrasion session for the afternoon has been canceled.) The tranquility of nearby Mullet Bay Beach, a wide white strip with zero aircraft, was a welcome change. One of its two bar-grills offers hourly and daily lounger and umbrella rentals.
To get away from the sand, many people choose to go up Pic Paradis and then stop at the nearby nature reserve (and bar, and restaurant, and pool club) Loterie Farm. There are many exciting activities to choose from at the new Rainforest Adventures at Rockland Estate, including a tour of a historic plantation and museum, ridgetop ziplining, a less terrifying seated zipline called the Flying Dutchman, scenic chairlift rides up and down the mountain, a panoramic overlook, and inner tube rides down the mountain. Unfortunately, both the Butterfly Farm and the Blue Mall in Cupecoy have permanently closed their doors.