by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | February 08, 2019
It has been a long road to recovery for Sint Maarten/St. Martin, the nearly 48-square-mile island in the Caribbean divided into a Dutch half and a French half, respectively. Catastrophic damage was suffered here in September 2017 from back-to-back hurricanes Jose and Maria, which also crippled the island's Princess Juliana International Airport.
 
Nearly 18 months later, this resilient vacation spot is back on its tourism feet and adding to its allure with a new airline route and the reopening of the last of its big resorts following major renovations.
 
On Feb. 14, JetBlue, which has long operated flights to the island from New York's LaGuardia Airport, will launch its first-ever daily nonstop service from Fort Lauderdale International Airport. The added lift will provide a huge boost to travelers looking to reach St. Maarten from South Florida.
 
While rebuilding is still going on, resorts continue to reopen. In December 2018, the all-inclusive, 130-room Sonesta Ocean Point Resort in Sint Maarten came back online following a top-down renovation. Its sister property, the 420-room Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa is now scheduled, after several delays, to reopen on Feb. 27. Completely rebuilt were the resort's guest rooms, full-service spa, five restaurants, Casino Royale and conference center, which offers 24,000 square feet of meeting space.
 
On St. Martin, the 83-room Belmond La Samanna has completed a US$25 million renovation and now features the full-service restaurant, L'Oursin, and three meeting rooms.