Before I begin, fair warning: I’m going to gush. And I don’t often gush. My wife and I have been wanting to visit Anguilla for years, but the combination of on-and-off flights from the US, high-cash/no points lodging, the devastation of Hurricane Irma and the COVID-19 pandemic has kept us elsewhere.
In the meantime, Zemi Beach House has become a hot topic in the points and miles world since it became a part of the Hilton portfolio as an LXR property in 2019. It was already very well-regarded as an independent property and, for the first time, provided a points-bookable option on Anguilla (outside of the Four Seasons). The pandemic came within months of the transition, so it’s only been recently that us curious types have been able to make our way there.
My wife and I were able to spend six nights at the resort at the end of March and, in my opinion, it’s the best use of a Hilton free-night certificate that I’ve found in the Western Hemisphere.
Let me temper my deep relaxation and profound smittenness by saying that many of the same caveats that apply to the Maldives skeptics also apply here. This is not a party island. Just a hair over 15,000 people live here and it feels that way…it’s the polar opposite from neighbouring St.Maarten/St. Martin. It’s not as easy to get to as many other more well-known Caribbean islands. If you’re looking for lots of action and activities, this may not be the place for you. If beach vacations sound boring, this is probably not for you either.
If, one the other hand, you like empty white beaches, great snorkeling/diving, incredible seafood, friendly people and postcard-perfect beachfront bars and restaurants…this might be your nirvana.
When I was researching our trip, I didn’t find a lot of good, current sources for Zemi or Anguilla in the form of logistics, tips, etc. In the hopes of preserving the (kinda) brevity of our bottom-line reviews and also providing the resource that I wish I had, I’m going to break our Zemi post into two: this review and a later post that dives deeper into both the island and the resort. You can find that post here.
But for now, let me just say that from the moment we were unexpectedly met at the airport by a Zemi House front desk agent, to our last morning where our breakfast servers gave us a hand-written and flower-adorned card signed by everyone who had served us during the week, we were blown away.
The Zemi Beach House Bottom Line Review
Bottom line: We absolutely loved Zemi Beach House. This doesn’t feel like a Hilton in the best way possible and the fact that it’s bookable on points is incredible. From the moment we arrived at the airport, to the moment we left, it was superlative. The beach is stunning and this is the only full-service resort there, in contrast to the wall-to-wall resorts on Meads Bay where the Four Seasons is. The 77-room property was almost fully occupied, but we often felt like we were one of a few lucky people there…at the beach, breakfast, taking walks, etc. There’s a lovely reef 30-40 yards offshore that’s a pleasure to explore and you’re a short walk up the beach to restaurants grilling seafood caught that day. The service is outstanding, full of unique touches that made us feel like we were constantly being cared for. I feel like a fanboy, but I can’t recommend Zemi enough. This place is great.
- Room – We were upgraded to an ocean view room. The standard ocean/garden view rooms are huge at 600-750 sq feet with 15-ft tall ceilings. The bathroom included a his/her sink and a separate makeup counter. There was a stand-up shower, a separate soaking tub with bath salts supplied daily and a partitioned toilet area. The patio is spacious, with a table for four and two outdoor easy chairs with an ottoman. There is an overhead fan on each patio as well.
- Service – I’m adding this category because it needs to be mentioned. Outstanding. Just outstanding. Almost everyone on property was friendly and authentic, going above and beyond to make sure we had what we needed (and what we didn’t know we needed). In-room amenities are refreshed without asking. The beach servers will bring (complimentary) “ice-bags” with cold waters without asking and refresh your ice throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of sunscreen, etc. There is someone there to guide you through every part of arrival and departure (including placing staff at the airports and ferry terminals) and help with arranging covid-testing and transit reservations. We made ferry reservations through guest services two days prior to leaving and the bellman showed up to take our bags day of, without being called, at exactly the moment we needed to leave the room in order to make the ferry. On our last morning, we were presented with a hand-written card, signed by every breakfast server we had during the week, thanking us for staying and wishing us a pleasant journey. The only service lapse was when I (gasp) needed to get my own towels for the beach chairs one late afternoon. I thought nothing of it, but a manager saw what had happened and came over to ask if he could buy me a drink and apologized that I had to get my own towel. These folks take pride in hospitality and manage to do it in a way that seems unobtrusive and genuine. The best I’ve encountered outside of Asia in recent memory.
- Points Price: 95,000 pts/night (for now) or bookable with a free night certificate from the Hilton Aspire or Hilton Surpass Card.
- Cash Price: There is some seasonal variation. The nights we were there in late March, a garden view room was ~$1200/night after taxes. I’ve seen it as low as $600 (during the pandemic) and as high as $2000.
- Points Value: Terrific, among the best in Hilton’s portfolio. Normal cash rates provide value of more than 1 cent per point, well above our 0.4 RRV. If using a 5th-night free redemption, the value gets even better. That said, I think it’s just a matter of time before this becomes another 120,000/150,000 point property.
- Resort Fee: None.
- Parking: Self-parking (right in front of the resort) is free.
- Turndown service: Nightly, includes fresh cookies, coffee refresh, and cold bottles of water. They will also check to make sure your ice bucket is still full (all without asking).
- Housekeeping: Constant and unobtrusive. We were there for six days and were never bothered when we were in the room, yet somehow the coffee station and ice were always refreshed, the room was cleaned and turndown service was done while we were out (at different and varying times of the day). After one night, they took note of which pillows we used and stacked the rest to the side when they did turndown. Seriously impressive.
- Internet: Decent-ish. It’s not fast and could be spotty in different parts of the property. I was able to do work from the couches at the beach and do a zoom meeting from our patio without incident.
- Breakfast: Included with all rooms, regardless of elite status. It’s served at the 20 Knots beachfront restaurant and is very good, if not spectacular. There is a made-to-order egg station, pastry station, excellent smoothies that change daily, a huge array of grilled vegetables, cold meats, cheese and smoked salmon, as well as three changing hot dishes. All coffee, tea, juice and espresso drinks included.
- Lunch & Dinner: There are four food and beverage outlets on property:
- 20 Knots Restaurant – Breakfast 7:00am-10:30am, Lunch/Dinner 12:00pm – 9:30pm. This has the best location of the four outlets, which is a bit odd since it’s the most “casual.” The breakfast is served here and about half of the tables are on sand. We never ate here outside of breakfast (and a late-night room service pizza), but did spend several lovely hours working on the beachfront couches.
- Bohio Bar – Lunch/Sushi 1pm-10pm. I’ll be honest, we never darkened the door here. They have some cool fountains that turn into firepits at night and serve some (rather pricey) sushi. There is live music a couple of nights a week.
- Stone Restaurant – Dinner 5:30-9:30pm. This is meant to be the fine-dining “pinnacle” of the f&b options. The problem is that, on an island with almost ideal weather year-round, it’s completely indoors. There’s almost no ocean view and it feels fairly sterile. While I appreciate the intention, to me it doesn’t compete with its beachfront cousin, or the plethora of beachfront, just caught fish outlets around the island.
- Rhum Room Rum Bar – Cocktails 5ish-10ish. Ok,everything that I just said about Stone applies here as well. It’s a beautfiul room, completely enclosed, at the back of the central pool area (right across from Stone). Rhum Room, however, is an experience. If you drink alcohol, you should go at least once. There are a vast array of rums not available in the US, but even more special is the Italian guy who runs it…passionately. Like, hand-burns each page of every menu passionately. Think drinks aged buried in sand for 6 months and served inside a treasure chest underneath rice paper. Another drink is served in a custom-made glass pipe set on a minature pot-still. There is an incredible amount of thought that goes into everything that happens here. Yes, the drinks are $20 a pop. The rum flights start at double that. But this is such a delightful, creative experience…I wouldn’t want to stay here without trying it out. Even though it’s too cold inside and you can’t see the water :).
- Spa: The Thai House is a South-Asian-themed spa and it is excellent. My wife and I both got massages and they were outstanding…my wife said it was among the best she’s had. The facilities are lovely and they schedule appointments so that you feel as though you’re the only one there. Very professional, attentive and intuitive. Just a lovely experience.
- Fitness Room: It’s good enough. Three treadmills and three ellipticals with a full circuit of resistance machines, free-weights and kettle-bells. I was able to do a complete resistance workout. There are twice-weekly (T/Thur) yoga classes at the Thai House Spa that are complimentary for Hilton Honors elite members (I wonder if anyone gets charged, in truth). My wife went to both and said they were very good. Classes are limited to 6-8 people but were never full.
- Kids Club: There is a complimentary (and well-reviewed) kids club open from 9am-5pm daily. Open to kids aged 2-12 and there are activities that begin every hour. There are also movie nights from 6:30-8:30 twice-weekly to allow for parents to have a solo dinner.
- Hilton Diamond Benefits:
- Upgrade: Upgraded from a garden view room to ocean view. It seems like this is the standard upgrade for elites, both Gold and Diamond. Suite upgrades aren’t given, as far as I can tell. That said, the rooms are great, bigger than many suites (600-750 sq ft) with huge furnished porches and 15-18-foot high ceilings.
- Hilton Honors Elite Amenities: Free snorkel gear (that can be taken off property), free kayaks, free (constantly supplied) bottled water, free fitness classes and a welcome amenity. For us, the welcome amenity was a bottle of Prosecco waiting for us on ice along with sparkling water, Panna and a plate of house-made truffles.
- Free Breakfast: Very good and included for all guests.
- Late Checkout: Left at noon, but checkout time was never specified.
- Free Parking: Free self-parking.
- Would I stay again? We’re already planning on it. Zemi Beach House is destination-worthy. The island is great, the property is near-perfect. My wife, who is never sad to go home, said the she wished we could spend another week at Zemi. I would agree.
- Zemi Beach House pros:
- Incredible location, as the only full-service resort on one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean
- Outstanding service
- Great balance between full-service resort and boutique property
- Excellent, spacious standard rooms
- Property is in excellent shape
- High-quality breakfast, included for all guests
- Good variety of included amenities
- Even at full capacity, the crowd level is a fraction of any other Caribbean property that I’ve been to
- Good choice for non-elites or non-Diamonds as many of the services are already complimentary
- Zemi Beach House cons:
- Anguilla is a little trickier to get to than other islands. Update: as of 4/4/22, AA is now flying to AXA daily from Miami.
- Standard room availability can be tough to find at times
- Can Hilton continue to manage it (or not manage it) in a way that doesn’t make it feel like a Hilton property?
- The “fine-dining” restaurant is completely enclosed with almost no ocean view. We didn’t go there and, from the looks of it, not many other folks did either.
My husband and I just got back from 8 nights in Zemi. We had about 800,000 Hilton points to play with. I agree with pretty much everything you said. We’re from the north east part of the US.. and given we didn’t want to be on a plane for 20+ hours this was probably one of the better options. We were going back and forth between Zemi and the Hilton’s adults only all inclusive in Cancun. While there were some downsides to Zemi.. Shoal Bay and the amazing beach made up for it.
Additionally they had some really nice events.. the Wednesday barbecue was fun and the sunset happy hour on Friday was nice as well… such a cool vibe! I also appreciated the little library of beach reads inside the gift shop.
While the service was overall pretty good (housekeeping, turndown service and checkin/checkout were AMAZING).. the food and bev were inconsistent at times, but still pretty good. Sometimes it took a bit longer to get a drink or a food order would get messed up… but the overall vibe, kind people, and amazing views made up for it.
Our only major negative was the amount of children. I’m prefacing this by saying.. we have never been ones to complain about children. Perhaps it was just the timing of when we were there.. but it was extremely family friendly… which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but when you have so many families with young children, chances are you’ll have a few that might not follow the same etiquette you’re accustomed to. Specifically, there were several breakfasts/ lunches with MULTIPLE crying babies and screaming toddlers. There were a few times when my my husband and I both wore our AirPods because we needed the noise canceling to enjoy breakfast in peace. And at one point there was a toddler running around naked at the pool. Frankly there were times the main pool felt like a YMCA with all the Marco Polo etc and screaming kids. Again.. not necessarily a bad thing.. but a handful of times it got to the point where it just wasn’t for us. That’s when we’d move up to the adult pool.
The adult pool was incredible and a nice break. However there is no service at the adults only pool. We had to order drinks at the bar then walk up to the pool.. which wasn’t a huge deal.. it just wasn’t as easy to post up there all afternoon. They also booked some families with young children in the rooms directly over the adults only pool.. on one day we could hear yet another kid crying from the balcony that was looking over the adults only pool. Again.. I’m never one to shame a crying baby on an airplane or whatever.. but when you’ve specifically retreated to an adults only pool it took a few deep breaths and some AirPods to cope with the sound of children.
Overall it was very nice. My favorite thing was the beach and the culture of Anguilla. Wading in the ocean while sipping on a nice crisp rosé, watching the water turn from crystal clear to an electric turquoise was incredible. I also loved being able to walk to Gwen’s and some of the other bars/ restaurants with live music from the resort.
Would we go back to Anguilla.. yes 100%, but we’d probably look into other options outside of Zemi.
There seems to be zero availability (cash or points) from Aug 21 to Oct 20 at Zemi Beach House. Is there any way to find out the reason behind this?
That’s strange. It’s not uncommon to see Zemi sold out of points options for long stretches, but that’s unusual for cash rates. It’s not exactly peak season either. Did you contact the hotel?
I emailed the property and received this response: “Unfortunately the resort will be closed during that period. Like many other resorts and restaurants on island, we close as this is the peak point of the hurricane season.”
I was not aware of this practice, it would be a lot of lost revenue every year to be closed for 2 months.
[…] Before I begin, fair warning: I’m going to gush. And I don’t often gush. My wife and I have been wanting to visit Anguilla for years, but the combination of on-and-off flights from the US, high-cash/… Read full article […]
I’m here now and I think it’s OK. If you can only stay in this hemisphere it’s just OK. The breakfast is nothing to write home about. I’m diamond and didn’t get an upgrade, but did get champagne as a gift, which is nice. I think it’s average for 95k points a night. I will spend my weekend certs at other places next time.
Came back after a week here. I have to say that I agree. The property and the beach is very nice. The staff for the most part are attentive and friendly. But I found the room – and particularly the A/C – a bit wanting. Ditto for being a diamond and no upgrade. The breakfast was definitely average. The remaining meals were definitely quite expensive and average at best, although I do understand the reason for the prices – well-off guests, captive audience, etc.
For me this property is similar in ways to Park Hyatt St. Kitts. Super hyped, good services, (a complimentary Diamond suite upgrade for me). The breakfast at PH was much, much better; the rest of the meals were certainly not up to par for the price. In other words, a good experience but there definitely better bang-for-the-buck properties out there.
Hope you enjoy the rest of your stay. FYI, if you’re into it, only go to the Rhum Room if Eduardo is staffing it.
For those who are dying to know – maybe dying isn’t the best choice of words given the circumstances – I am staying at this property right now. A few families have gotten positive Covid antigen tests. I may or may not be one of them. For the benefit of future travelers, will update with what one can expect should your return home be in any way impacted due to this.
Ok, so to my knowledge, at least 2 other families and mine had positive antigen tests. As soon as the hotel was notified of the results, the staff came to find us and told us we had to quarantine in our rooms. They immediately arranged for a nurse to come back to the property, take another sample for a rapid PCR test, and promised they’d get the results as soon as they could. That was around 4 pm; the lab they use closes at 6 pm.
Thankfully, our 2nd test – the rapid PCR – came back negative around 6:30 pm, and we were able to enjoy our final evening on the beach. In the meantime, a chat w guest services informed me that were we to get a positive PCR test, they would provide us with a “special” quarantine rate. I asked what the rate would be, and I was informed it would be entirely at the discretion of the general manager…so unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get the exact info I would’ve liked for the benefit of the readers here. TBH that did leave a bit of a bad taste in my mouth, given we’d effectively be “prisoners in paradise”. I’m not sure if we would’ve had any other options, given I can’t imagine that any other hotel on the island would take in any Covid “refugees”. But all in all, I did appreciate how smooth they made the process of exit testing, re-testing, and transportation arrangements.
As for the other 2 families w/ initial positive tests…I did not see them for the remainder of my stay…so I truly hope they weren’t quarantined to their rooms.
Great post! Looking forward to more details, especially about the dining options and prices. Thanks.
How did you book the property? 4 free nights (2 from 15k spend on 2 surpass cards and 2 aspire cards) plus 2 nights on points?
I actually had seven free nights certs expiring this year that were leftover from pandemic extensions, so I used six of the seven (I debated about using points for 5 nights and take advantage of the 5th night free, but decided it was more useful to burn the certs).
So was it 4 nights from 2 aspires and then 3 nights from $15k spend on 2 surpasses?
My wife and I were there in November for four nights (two free night certs) and I have to agree with your review. I had planned it months in advance for her 40th birthday and was prepared to even pay the exorbitant entry fee that Anguilla was charging at the time for a short 4 night stay. Fortunately they reduced it to $50 per person just days before our arrival. The Italian guy you mention I think was the bar manager. He made us incredible rum punches one night. I’m surprised that Princess wasn’t the one hosting you in the Rhum Room, she was the resident rum expert and was a delight to chat with. perhaps she was getting some time off.
2nd picture of the post is not showing.
sounds/looks like it isn’t an good option to travel solo
Tim I just got back from a week at Zemi as well on saturday. First time at Zemi Beach. Third time to Anguilla. I totally agree with your review on every point. Hotel Beautiful. Service Excellent. Thai House Spa I had a 80 minute massage by Surya which was one of the best i have ever had and i am in the industry. Breakfast Excellent. Lunch Beach Bar Great. My husband and i also enjoyed Bohio and the sushi bar. Rhum Room was beautifully appointed. Great space to enjoy a cocktail. We did have one dinner at Stone and the food and service was excellent.Although not on the water with views it did give you a lovely respite with a/c and it was lovely. The left side of Shoal Bay is lovely and private which I enjoyed as well. The rooms were great. I was in 209 oceanview. Amazing view. Can’t say enough about staff. Top Notch in service. See you next year Zemi❤
Marie, that’s hilarious! We were right next door to you in 208…we probably passed each other in the hallway! What are the odds of that. Glad you had a good time!
You too!! You’re pic looked familiar to me. We will definitely revisit
Blasphemy, better than Pedregal? 😉 I do have my eye on this resort as well 🙂
I was coming here to make the same comment. Pedregal is almost in the same league as WA Maldives. However, Zemi looks great. Good review – thanks
Interesting, what is it about Pedrogal that you guys like so much?
TOP LUXURY FOR North America. Crazy location (you need to drive through a mountain). Food was superb
Gotcha. when I look at pictures for that hotel I can’t help but feel that it looks a little dated / in need of a renovation…so I’ve been surprised they are able to command such insane cash rates.
who said they are? could be full of points redemption people like Maldives.
Perhaps, it would certainly be interesting to know the split between cash/points customers at these hotels
@Tim – I was at Zemi recently as well and enjoyed it for the most part.
The one downside is that I felt like it was quite windy, to the point where we couldn’t comfortably sit on the beach because the wind was so strong that it was kicking up sand and just generally not relaxing. Seems like most of the other guests at the hotel felt the same way because we noticed almost nobody used the beach chairs while we were there. (The ocean also had a red flag warning 75% of the time that we were there so that was a bummer in terms of not being able to go in the water.)
The good news is that the seating at the pool is somewhat sheltered from the wind so that was a more pleasant experience, and that was where the vast majority of the guests congregated every day.
What was your experience with the wind Tim?
We stayed at the Manoah last week. It was a lovely property, but doesn’t compare except on one point – best stretch of Shoal Bay beach. Our bed was about 40 feet from the surf with a large outdoor patio. This was the only area it excelled. Otherwise no comparison. We spent a lot of time at Zemi and will go there next. Very beautiful! We were treated like guests and staff even knew our name.
@Hoko, I’ve seen comments on the wind in tripadvisor, so I imagine that it can be a reoccuring issue. It was a little windy the first day we were there, but was pleasantly breezy outside of that. We never had red flag day, just yellow, very doable for swimming/snorkeling/playing in the ocean.
I know exactly what you mean though, I’ve had that sort of beach day several times in Hawai’i and stinging sand is no fun!
I had 4 free night certs expiring end of 2022 so I booked Zemi for November, without knowing much about it. You have made me so excited about it, I just added a 5th night! Looking forward to your further post.
How easy is it to get to other dining options off resort? It looks fairly isolated from town. My wife is vegetarian and it’s important that there are good options besides the one or two same meals at the hotel every day. Thanks!
I just returned from Anguilla and ate frequently at 20 knots. I loved it! On the beach, good vegetarian options. Eating on the beach at night was a highlight for me.
Oh, the island has a fair number of vegetarian options including at Blanchard’s. I did not have any issues really. Vegan would be tougher.
Not easy for vegetarians — the hotel menus are on-line. Mostly grill-type places nearby. For real variety over a week, you’ll need to drive elsewhere — and it’s not relaxing. Take a look at Anse Chastanet, on St. Lucia, for a vegetarian (and vegan)-friendly spot.
My wife is vegetarian and we spent four nights here in November. She was quite satisfied with the options on site and a couple nearby jaunts to fill in the gaps. We ate at Gwens just down the beach one day for lunch, also at Madeariman which is walkable down the beach. One day we had a rental car and ate dinner at The Pit Stop by Ben just a short drive from the hotel. There’s also an Artisan pizza place that gets good marks on Tripadvisor just a short drive/taxi from the hotel.
Went in January 2020 and again in February 2020. Then covid hit.. Would love to get back again. Still in touch with some of the staff there.
Thanks for this review. I am going later this month and am very excited after having to cancel reservations for April 2020 and waiting for Anguilla to reopen and for COVID protocols to reach a level that worked for my travel plans and style. FYI, Anguilla further relaxed protocols effective April 1, so fully vaccinated (and boosted if initial vaccine is more than six months old) visitors no longer need to test on arrival.
One thing I was wondering about is the airport greeting service. I had read about it on the hotel’s website, but it wasn’t clear what they do.
I see that! They changed it this week! It will make things much easier.
MIA/AXA is now daily
Lol, you’re right…starting today. The last day that they didn’t have a non-stop flight was yesterday…they we left. Great news that it’s back to daily.
My wife and I had reservations here when they were supposed to reopen at the end of 2020. We’re Diamond and have the points and certificates, so we were going to stay a while. Unfortunately, airlines canceled, the hotel decided they weren’t ready to open (training on COVID cleaning) and most of the island was closed to Americans (although we had pre-approval). I found this place when searching in 2019/2020 for a place we could use our HH awards, but with one that wasn’t closed off due to COVID. It was even going to cost us a lot just to get the approval when they created that plan. But, the pandemic shut down our much needed vacation, like it did so many others. Great review and photos. Did you have to get pre-approval to enter the island? At one time their were charging a hefty amount for the approval process which had to be pre-paid, but that was before the vaccines were available. They did a good job locking down that island so that had no cases when we were going. At that time you were required to stay at the resort for 14 days before exploring the island, which we were fine with. The poor wifi is a concern for us though since we would have to work some while there (we are daily website managers and graphic designers), so there’s usually certain days spent in our room/villa/bungalow working online, but need a fast connection. They even had beach patrol to check Americans if they wondered too far, but never heard how strict they were on that. For 2 people it was an extra $600 or $700 from what I remember for the approval process.
As of April 1st, full vaccinated travelers no longer need to apply for pre-approval and you don’t need an entry test as long as you’ve had a booster or a second vacc\ine does within the last six months.
Also, not sure what kind of wifi speeds you need, but it was doable for me. It could be mildly frustrating at times, but I wouldn’t think enough to make working impossible. But I get your hesitation.
I rented a can and found is useful, used Gumbsie car rental and had a great experience. I have went through StMartin and took the public ferry and it’s not a big deal. However if you can fly directly to Anguilla it is more convenient.
We did that as well because there was no private ferry option back when we were there. It was a bit of a taxi ride from the airport but not too bad. I can probably figure out when we were there through Google because on one of the days we drove our rental car back to the airport to see the Queen and Prince Phillip visit the island.
Had to Google it. February 1994.
We have reservations there for five nights on points and are looking forward to it. Trying to figure out—did you fly directly to the island coming in (since you said they met you at the airport) but left by ferry to St. Maartin? Since you mentioned reservation did you take the private ferry? How did that work out? Also, did you rent a car on the island? I’ve been to Anguilla twice in the past but, it was many years ago and back then, you really needed to rent a car if you were ever going to leave the resort. Glad you enjoyed your trip and hopefully the Covid precautions weren’t too bad.
I had the exact same questions as you, which is why I’m going to write a resource post for it…there’s not a lot of clear info.
There are 3x weekly flights from MIA – AXA on American…we flew directly on the way there. That’s the only way directly from the US. On the way back, our departure day didn’t line-up with the American flight, so we took the shared ferry back to Saint Maarten and flew from there. There is a public ferry to Marigot, on the French side, but it’s longer and taking it involves a 45-minute taxi ride to SXM that almost negates the price difference. The high-speed ferry is 20-25 minutes and goes to the terminal on the Dutch side. The ticket will include a shuttle once you clear immigration on St Maarten to drive you and your bags across the interchange to the airport.
If you take the ferry either way, I’d reccomend just booking it through Zemi. It’s the same cost and they will have someone that meets you in St Maarten to make sure that you get to the right spots. I can’t overemphasize how much you can rely on the guest services team to help you out.
I would absolutely rent a car, if only to sample the various fun beach restaurants. We used the Hertz by the airport (Triple K) and they were terrific (a one-week rental using the Amex Plat discount was about $200). They drove the car to Zemi with our paperwork and then let us leave it at the ferry terminal for them to pick-up…with no extra charge.
Note that, currently, you will take a mandatory antigen test on arrival and won’t be allowed to drive your car until the results were back (in a matter of hours). I didn’t know this (Because I made the mistake of not communicating well with Zemi) but Zemi did and arranged for a taxi from the airport for us ($18) and for our car to be dropped off at the hotel.
Have a great time!
Good follow up post.I’ll stick to to the regular places as one mistake could be a real hassle.Nice to see Hawaii dropped all their rules but they haven’t yet.
Tim, thanks so much for the detailed reply! Just got back yesterday from the Park Hyatt New York (gotta use that cat 1-7 certificate while you can) and always planning several trips ahead. So glad you joined FM—this site has always had in my opinion the best, most detailed analysis on the web of the points and miles world, which I really, really appreciate!
DSK, FYI, all of that has changed as of this week. MIA-AXA is now daily and you don’t need any testing on arrival if you’ve had a vaccine dose within the last 6 months. If your last does was more than 6 months ago, you’ll still have to test on arrival.
Great news about the testing. Thanks!
Hi Tim, Looking forward to the Resource Post 🙂
Do you know if Anguilla are accepting eMed for the pre-arrival test ?
I had read somewhere that they did not accept video proctored tests
We are staying later, too, but I have booked Anguilla Air Services (AAS) from St Maarten for $122/pp. At 10 minutes long, it’s the world’s shortest international flight! The ferry takes much longer and is almost the same price.
That’s another option as well. Which ferry were you looking at? For us, the cost of the ferry, with transfer, was $70. I’m wondering if some of the other companies are more expensive.
The primary reason we chose not to do the flights on the way back was timing…we wanted to have a couple hours to check out Maho Beach on St Maarten. The ferries were every 30 minutes, but the flight timing didn’t work out.
I was tempted by the shortest international flight though!
I don’t remember which ferry services I first shopped but after I read a couple of blog posts about disappintment with long waits for the ferry and even one no-show(!) I opted out anyway.
Is there a kids pool or kids area?
Johnson, thanks for reminding me. I don’t travel with kids and always forget to mention this. I’m going to add a section now. Yes, there’s a complimentary kids club for ages 2-12 from 9am-5pm daily and activities on the hour. It also has twice-weekly movie nights so that parents can have dinner solo. You can find the activity schedule here.
I was their last month and agree with everything you said. I am also planning my return, and am gathering Hilton points as fast as I can.