Sensational St. Martin

Continued (page 3 of 3)

With our body clocks now set to island time, we mosey on over to the champagne bar on the pool deck for a predinner drink. It's a cozy nook with the entire ceiling composed of a vintage Indian wedding tent—a memento picked up by the resort's original owner on one of his visits to Southeast Asia. The sky is darkening to a watermelon pink, so we retreat to the expansive patio for dinner, where each table is a box seat to the tropical sunset. A meal of foie gras, scallops and pan-seared duck is like a slice of the Left Bank magically transported to the Caribbean (which makes sense when we discover that some ingredients are actually flown in from France). The wine selection is beyond impressive. La Samanna's wine director, Frenchman Thibaut Asso, takes his role very seriously. He won a Gault Millau award for Best Wine List in the Caribbean in 2007, which spurred him to expand the cellar to 15,000 bottles (800 labels), including exceptional vintages like Harlan Estate 1991 (at $3,000 a bottle, it's worthy of any toast).

Far better than just a storage space, the cobblestoned cave is more authentic than many French cellars I've visited. The candlelight and cool cork-scented air make it a favorite for intimate dinners à deux. La Samanna excels at providing memorable moments like this, which may be why its Caribbean-French marriage is still going strong after all these years.

Rooms from $995, including breakfast and some activities. For more information, call 800-854-2252 or visit lasamanna.com.

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