We stayed for 5 nights and regretted not staying the remaining 2 nights of our trip, but we had already made arrangements before traveling.
Bruno the owner was very helpful both during the days ahead of our trip as during our stay. He has great tips that he emails you in advance and is always ready to help you out while at his property. Overall we felt very comfortable at his place.
We loved the studio and the amazing view of the sailboat dotted bay, with the green mountains in the back.
We truly enjoyed our kayak outings (first time kayaking with a 5 year old but it is safe enough).
We also enjoyed walking to the beach 200 mts past the back road that leads to the studio, which is a wild, quiet beach inside the reservoir.
*Note that the beach in front of the studio is not for swimming, but perfect for kayaking. We knew this in advance and were not disappointed.
We enjoyed stocking up on european goodies at Super U supermarket on our way from the airport, and then returned a couple of times, since the island roads are nice to drive and easy to tour around.
We drove to many different beaches, each with a beauty of its own. But our most perfect day was the trip to Tintamarre, only 10 minutes by boat from the pier at Cul de Sac bay (Bruno helped setting it up with a boat, instead of a tour), where we took our picnic supplies and had a blast.
We stayed here with our family of four. It was a nice, relaxing home away from home. We really enjoyed kayaking out to the nearby islands with the provided kayaks and barbecue on the beach. Our stay was a little short, but accommodations made by owners. Very friendly and helpful owners. We would definitely stay here again.
We booked our 3-week holiday (late Feb to mid March) in St-Martin last summer, as we wanted to get the best spot for such a long vacation. We have visited St-Martin three times before this, and so know the island quite well. We favour the French side because of its European character, the smaller, quainter accommodation and the lower key lifestyle. This property did not disappoint.
First, I'll list the almost insignificant short-comings.
If you're particular about your bed, the mattresses here could use an upgrade. I found the king size mattress relatively thin and quite firm. The fitted sheets also kept shifting off the mattress, exposing it almost every night.
The beach in front of the studios is *very* shallow, still and sticky. It is still beautiful, but is not that perfect Caribbean blue and definitely not swim-able. There are a lot of "upside down" jellyfish, which are not the stinging kind but can irritate your skin if you are sensitive and touch them. We would go out in the morning and put the 'beached' ones back into the water, hence my itchy hands.
There can be power outages, but they are usually resolved within 5-10 minutes.
We found the tv controls a little tricky, but mastered them over time. If you watch tv and speak English only, the only option really is CNN (Channel 45).
The place is very quiet and peaceful. On a Friday or Saturday night, we could hear faint music thumping from across the bay, but only outside until about 11 or 12, and not in the bedroom.
There are dogs! (and a cat, if you're a cat person) Hera (female black dog) and Zeus (male blonde dog) will be your best friends if you are receptive -- otherwise, they'll leave you alone. We loved them and they often spent the evening hours keeping us company and wrestling with each other. They followed us along the shoreline and then across the ocean waves when we kayaked to Isle Pinel, about a 15 minute paddle, but we feared for their safety, especially on their return (they wanted to ride in the kayak back home, but there wasn't room), so we didn't make the trip again. Bruno said they were around 5-6 years old and I think Zeus has a bit of wonky back leg so after their adventure, they spent the next 24 hours recovering from such a tiring outing. Of course, we are "dog people" so are extra sensitive and wouldn't want any harm to come to them. They do not come into the bedroom so no worries if you fear they might want to sleep on the bed with you!
The studios (we stayed in the first studio adjacent the driveway) are well equipped: an older but serviceable fridge, microwave, toaster, coffee maker, blender and two burner gas stove (we used a lighter to activate it - there may be a gas lighter there that we didn't find). The double sinks are only partially covered by a pergola-type roof so if it rains, it will not be protected. There is a table with four chairs, an l-shaped rattan sofa with cushions (we were happy that Zeus slept here) and a hanging egg-shaped swing chair/lounger (that I loved!). You are also provided with beach towels, info about the area, beach loungers, beach umbrella (which we were encouraged to take with us if we visited a swimming beach) -- Bruno also brought us life jackets and a water resistant beach bag for our kayak trip. There are two single kayaks and two doubles; a paddle board; a hot tub; and a barbeque.
The immediate area (Cul de Sac), within about a 10 minute walk, has at least three good restaurants: Pancho Villa (Mexican, run by an ex-pat Canadian from Ottawa!), Jam Rock and Le Grain de Poivre. There are others but these are the most conspicuous. A local groceteria (Coccia Market, I recall) is well-stocked but expensive. Better to drive to Marigot and shop there.
You'll need a car, but this is not a bad thing. Bruno helped orchestrate our rental, as he has with other clients, and this was helpful. They picked us up at the airport and took us back on our last day. For three weeks it was about $1400 CAN; don't know if bigger companies would have given a better deal, but we were satisfied with the car (Kia Picante), even driving along some pretty harsh roads.
There are a lot of things to do in St-Martin and this is a lovely place to retire to after a day out exploring and eating. We used the kitchen several times; usually for a leisurely breakfast and snacks, but normally went out for a late lunch/early dinner around 3 or 4 p.m. We always seemed to find a place to eat at this time and were able to bypass crowds. I recommend the lolos in Grand Case and the Calmos Cafe; if you're in the area for breakfast, then the Love Hotel has a great offering.
Be prepared to eat baguettes, croissants, seafood and pretty well anything you want in St-Martin and don't shy away from the drinks. It's a holiday after all!
I definitely recommend Bruno's studios for a holiday of any length. He and his wife (who speak French and English) are incredibly friendly, hospitable and accommodating and are keen to make your stay as pleasurable as possible.
The spot is wonderfull: at the end of a dead-end road, a nice studio with a lovely little private beach in front. Lying in the kingsize bed the bay is nearby. A well equipped outdoor kitchen and 'dining room' invite you to an endless stay. Sugarbirds and humming birds at an armlength of your table, lizards and iguanas at the palmtree-shaded beach...
But I should not tell all these things: its so beautiful at the Pinel studio, keep it a secret...! We'll certainly be back next year!!
We have stayed at Studio Pinel 4 times and we are booking #5 right now. The Studio has a perfect location. You can Kayak to Pinel Island, take a walk on a private beach just minutes from the studio and reach other great beaches by a short car ride.
The Studios are clean, comfortable and I always feel very safe. If you need anything Bruno is happy to help. We really like the patio. You can easily spend your entire day just sitting on the patio enjoying a book or just watching what is happening on the water.
You can walk to Villa Pizza or Poncho Villas for an amazing dinner. The local grocery also carries a large selection of items if you want to eat at the room. We always enjoyed having breakfast on the patio watching the day get started overlooking the water.
We really enjoyed being able to Kayak to Pinel Island. Karibuni Beach Restaurant and Bar is a wonderful place to spend the day. They have nice chairs sitting next to the beautiful blue water. The service is excellent and I cannot say enough about the food - Yummy!
We also like going to Orient Beach, Friars Bay and Grand Case.
I need to mention again that Bruno and his wife have always been very attentive to anything we have needed and make booking the Studio very easy.