Despite its small size, St. Maarten/St. Martin offers a range of accommodations: large high-rise resorts, small "bourgeois" hotels, locally owned guesthouses ranging from boutique-y to budget, not to mention villas and apartments. But timeshares comprise some 60% of the St. Maarten accommodations market. What this means is that you may be competing for rooms with timeshare owners, who generally get first dibs.
Dutch St. Maarten
The winding two-lane roads in Dutch St. Maarten are beginning to look like high-rise alleys, particularly along those densely developed sections of Maho Bay and Simpson Bay (and now Cupecoy, with its sprawling Porto Cupecoy complex). These areas are where the action is -- where most of the casinos, clubs, and beach bars are located -- so if you prefer a little peace and quiet, head to the Oyster Pond/Dawn Beach section of the island, which despite a handful of big resorts (the Westin, Princess Heights, Oyster Bay Beach Resort) still has a getaway feel. That getaway feel is present at little guesthouses like Horny Toad and Mary's Boon, close to the airport and the bustle of Simpson Bay, but still serene beachside havens.
Keep in mind that a government tax of 5% will be added to your hotel bill. On top of that, many hotels tack on a service charge of between 10% to 15%. Ask whether taxes are included in the original rates you're quoted.
French St. Martin
Unlike Dutch St. Maarten, French St. Martin has no high-rise hotels; lodgings on this side of the island are small-scale and trend toward boutique. Many, like La Samanna and the Grand Case Beach Club, are smack-dab on the beach; others, like Hotel L'Esplanade and Hotel La Plantation, are tucked into rugged green slopes above the sea. The largest French St. Martin hotel by far, the Radisson Blu, is nestled inside a protected cove, as serene and unobtrusive as Dutch St. Maarten's Sonesta Maho is in your face. Vive le différence!
Hotels on French St. Martin add a 10% service charge and a taxe de séjour. This local room tax is 4% to 5%. Expect higher rates during Christmas week. Note: Rates are quoted in either euros or dollars, depending on how establishments quoted them at press time.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.