Expert Advice

A Tale Of Two Resorts: Stay At A Caribbean Paradise With Hilton Grand Vacations

Members review their picture-perfect island getaways

Deanna and Mike O

As HGV Max Members, we have access to two wonderful resorts on the small island of Sint Maarten. We booked a 2-Bedroom Suite at Royal Palm, a Hilton Vacation Club for a week in late October.

Then we heard about Zemi Beach House on Anguilla, a nearby island with fantastic beaches. We saw ads for this incredible resort but never dreamed of going there. We booked seven days in Anguilla using our Hilton Honor Points.

We enjoyed our stays at Royal Palm and Zemi Beach House, which offered two completely different vacations. Here is a review of the two Caribbean properties.

Our Review Of Royal Palm, A Hilton Vacation Club In Sint Maarten

View of Royal Palm, a Hilton Vacation Club in Sint Maarten from an ocean-view balcony 

Our 1,100-square-foot, 2-Bedroom Suite was recently updated. The kitchen is galley style stocked with all the comforts of home.

The pool has a swim-up bar and a nearby restaurant. We had a great time participating in daily pool activities. There were no hot tubs, but the pool felt like bathwater.

Other amenities include the beach, on-site laundry facilities, a gym, a convenience store and a car rental. The car rental was convenient — you can rent the car from the front desk and then drop it off at the resort.

Adventure packages from Aqua Mania Adventures were also available on-site, offering a good selection of activities at reasonable prices. The grocery store is within walking distance of the resort.

Our stay coincided with Halloween, so Royal Palm put up seasonal decorations and incorporated Halloween activities into the rotation. We also attended a reception just for Members to sample small plates and rum punch, learn about plans for the resort and enjoy some entertainment.

The kitchen and living room of a 2-Bedroom Suite at Royal Palm, a Hilton Vacation Club in Sint Maarten, one of Hilton Grand Vacations' newer locations 

Sint Maarten Travel Tips

While in Sint Maarten, we rented a car, explored the island and took advantage of the pool and beach. The Dutch side of the island can be extremely busy. Phillipsburg is a popular cruise port. Plan ahead with the cruise schedule if you plan to visit.

Maho Beach is about 10 minutes from the resort. We had a few drinks at Sunset Bar & Grill and watched planes fly low to the ground. Amazing. Check the flight schedules if you want to see larger aircraft fly over.

The French side is more relaxed. Marigot is a great place to pick up souvenirs from open-air vendors. You’ll also find some nice French restaurants and bakeries here.

There are many restaurants, clubs and bars near the resort. We mostly utilized the grocery store and our in-Suite kitchen for meals. However, we recommend Topper’s on the Dutch side and Talk of the Town on the French side. The best fish and chips was at The Boon Beach Bar.

An airplane landing overhead Maho Beach on Sint Maarten 

If you rent a car while in Sint Maarten, here’s what you need to know:

  1. Drive on the right-hand side of the road.
  2. Roads are very narrow and hilly.
  3. Motorbikes will drive between the cars, so watch your blind spots.
  4. Road signs and street names can be sparse.
  5. Drivers are very courteous, in general.
  6. Roundabouts are prevalent, with very few stoplights.
  7. Some stores, restaurants and attractions have dedicated parking lots — but not all. Be prepared to park anywhere you can find a spot along the road.

Our Review Of Zemi Beach House In Anguilla

We took a 20-minute public ferry from Marigot to Anguilla. They don’t take reservations, but the schedule is available to help plan ahead. You can also take a private charter to Anguilla, but the prices are considerably higher. Zemi Beach House can arrange the ferry and taxi to and from the resort. This service can be charged to your room and converted into Hilton Honor Points.

Pool and palm tree at Zemi Beach House in Anguilla 

Once at Zemi Beach House, we slowed down and enjoyed the upscale setting. The resort itself is very tranquil. It’s a luxury boutique hotel with very little activity. We were upgraded from a garden view to a room with an ocean view. The room was very spacious, with a nice-sized balcony. Housekeeping comes by daily and offers a turndown service at night. Each guest receives flip-flops and a beach bag (one per room).

The staff learned our names and used them often. We even received thank-you notes from management, housekeeping and employees at the restaurant.

Attendants set up chairs and cabanas for us at the beach and family pool or brought us towels, ice and bottled water. The adult pool is a quiet area with no attendants, although water and towels are always available. Sunscreen is also available at both pools and the beach.

Two Hilton Grand Vacations Members smile on Shoal Beach in Anguilles 

Shoal Bay is one of the top beaches in the world — and we agree. Snorkeling gear is free and accessible from the beach. A reef runs along Shoal Bay. You don’t have to swim far to reach it. We had a few days of rough waters, so the key is to snorkel when you can — you don’t know what tomorrow holds.

On-site restaurants were very good and reasonably priced for the island. As Diamond Members, our rate included the amazing breakfast buffet. Wednesday nights are Caribbean BBQ nights. The lobster and crayfish were especially fresh and sweet. Overall, it was amazing.

Several restaurants were available within walking distance. We ate fresh fish at Madeariman Bar & Restaurant. Most other restaurants are on the other side of the island. If you venture by car, driving is on the opposite side of the road. The government sets taxi fares, which tend to be expensive.

Read “Wondering How To Capitalize On Your Hilton Honors Membership? This Couple Shares Their Top Tips” to see how else we’ve maximized this amazing perk of vacation ownership with Hilton Grand Vacations.

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Hilton Grand Vacations Owners Mike and Deanna pose at the beach

Deanna and Mike O

Mike and Deanna are Centum+ Owners who’ve owned with Hilton Grand Vacations since 2019. Their favorite vacation destinations include Barbados, Orlando, Arizona and Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. They enjoy golfing, seeing historical sites and attending HGV Ultimate Access events like the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions. So far, they’ve visited 26 properties — with plans to visit more thanks to HGV Max.

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