Staying at B&Bs over the years was a key factor in our deciding to become innkeepers, but we also love going to the Caribbean for a winter break. Hotels and time-shares are the norm on island vacations and something a little different takes time and a little research to discover. We just returned from a relaxing, idyllic trip to St. Martin and we found a place this year that offered the more personal touch we look forward to in our B&B stays. Françoise and Yves Hamel-Camaïeu live on the French side of the island in the Cul de Sac, a remote corner of the island. After winding your way up and down hills and around corners, with glimpses of mountains plunging to the ocean between roofs, you come to their home at the end of the road.
They rent only one studio out of their house and you are greeted at the gate by their dog “Moose” and Moses the cat. Françoise leads you to around the side of the house to your private little deck surrounded by a white picket fence and dripping with Bougainvillea. The newly renovated apartment is ultra modern inside and dotted with bright, bold island oil paintings. The couple frame art and run a gallery in Marigot. Although breakfast is not included, like it is at a bed and breakfast, Françoise did leave us a fresh baguette, with little ramequins of apple butter and jam, 2 eggs and some slices of watermelon for our first breakfast on the island. Breakfast on the deck every morning was a delight. A little pot of sugar hanging from a tree drew bright yellow sugar birds to our breakfast nook every day. The little birds were busy constructing a nest of island cotton and twigs in the Bougainvillea above the clothes line. Only the beach could lure us away from our little retreat! That, and the wonderful French restaurants. Next year we hope to spend more time with our charming hosts!
*A Better Way to Stay is the Professional Association of Innkeepers International campaign to educate the public about the benefits of staying at B&Bs and inns when traveling for pleasure or for business.