As my eyes land on the high masonry wall, covered with cascading pink flowers, I spy a colorful estate standing tall behind it. I immediately realize I have arrived at someplace special. Climbing the stairs into Graycliff Hotel‘s main lobby, I quickly feel as if I’m at someone’s home and not a hotel. Old style Nassau is seen, heard, and felt everywhere I look – old world elegance is found in the dark wood furnishings, a jazz singer playing the piano, and a cigar maker rolling the perfect cigars for those want to puff the night away.
Saint Martin is one of the many beautiful islands in the Caribbean. But, if your visit there doesn’t take you to Pinel Island, you would be missing one of its true gems. Pinel Island is a small island on the French side of St. Martin, just a few hundred yards offshore from the town of Cul de Sac. It is technically uninhabited but that is just a technicality, because during the day the two restaurants, a shop, and beach chairs are full of people enjoying the wonderful food, gorgeous views, and crystal clear water.
Known as Saint Martin on the French side and Sint Maarten on the Dutch side, a mix of people and cultures with a European influence merge with Caribbean flavor here. How it became divided remains obscured in legend. But today, as you drive this scenic island, there’s no need for your passport, because, if you notice at all, only flags and monuments mark the border. And, in case you’re wondering, a phone call from one side to the other is an international call.