By Alexander Britell
“To be able to spend several hours a day looking at this water, it starts to have an effect on you. You stop seeing it and you start to perceive it, to get a sense of its livingness and its fluid changes of color,” he says, looking out at the Creole Rock in the distance.
Roland Richardson has been painting St Martin for decades, often from this perch at the Sunset Cafe at the Grand Case Beach Club, collecting the oranges and yellows and greens of St Martin on canvas.
There’s always been a draw for the island’s most legendary artist here, something bewitching about this corner of St Martin, about the pair of beaches at the edge of town, about the red roofs and the blue water and the Rock.
That pull, that magnetism about the old French Caribbean town of Grand Case is what has drawn travelers to the Grand Case Beach Club for decades — and when the storms struck in 2017, a beloved part of the fabric of this place was taken away.
But now it’s back.
The Grand Case Beach Club opened with 48 of its 72 rooms completely transformed, with the Sunset Cafe returned and the rooftop pool rebuilt and a new lobby and a new energy —and sparkling, modern rooms filled with Richardson’s art on the walls.
And the moment it reopened, its longtime guests immediately rebooked.
That meant the families that have been coming back here, year after year, came back immediately, the Barkans and the Hendersons and the grandparents and the grandchildren and the friends who have felt that same pull here, who have fallen in love with this place.
The GCBC has perfected the art of the classic beach hotel, perfected the art of letting travelers experience what remains one of the Caribbean’s great little beach towns, without pretentiousness, delivering an experience that everyone can enjoy.
“If you want to relax and go on vacation, you don’t put on your fanciest dress shirt — you put on the shirt that feels the best,” longtime General Manager Stephen Wright says. “That’s what this hotel is — it’s a place that makes you feel good.”
It’s a proposition that’s hard to argue with, as one begins to settle into the routine of beach mornings and lazy lunches at the Sunset Cafe and evenings on the boulevard in Grand Case, which, it should be said, has seen a remarkable comeback in the last year and a half.
About half of the eateries have already reopened, including several new ones (like the terrific Barranco), and most of the town’s signature eateries: the Lolos and L’Auberge Gourmande and Bistrot Caraibes and the Rainbow Cafe and La Villa and Spiga and, most recently, Le Pressoir, which reopened with the added bonus of an adjacent rum bar.
Even at less than full strength, Grand Case offers an collection of world-class eateries that remains the envy of the Caribbean, a fun-loving town with a nightlife that’s already vibrant again, with the crowds at Blue Martini and the seaside beers at Max’s Place.
If you come for a few days or a week or two, you’ll have too many restaurants to choose from, a surfeit of authentic French Caribbean evenings.
And that’s what the Grand Case Beach Club has always been about, a gateway to this town, a place to enjoy the simple, wonderful pleasures that define Grand Case and St Martin.
And that’s what it still is, a way to really see Grand Case.
But here is the mark of a great hotel — when you stop seeing a place and you start living it.
For more, visit the Grand Case Beach Club.
See more in the latest CJ Video.