The perfect location (on one of the islands prettiest beaches), villa-style accommodations, and fantastic French-Caribbean fare make La Samanna St. Martins leading luxury hotel. White-washed Mediterranean villas perched above Baie Longue feature 83 newly renovated rooms and suites (since November 2011), complete with white travertine floors, marble bathrooms, shabby-chic furnishings, and oceanview balconies or terraces. The best suites come with their own private plunge pool or terrace with jacuzzi. A clubby colonial bar, impressive wine cellar, pool deck, and small spa round out the offerings. If you still need selling, a meal at Le Reserve is bound to dazzle. Alfresco seating on the oceanfront deck, bites of lobster ravioli, and a bottle of crisp Sancerre easily won me over. Rates are steep, starting at $845/night, but the resorts More Paradise offer includes breakfast and $100 resort credit daily in peak winter season. www.lasamanna.com
For general trip-planning info, see our St. Martin Travel Guide.