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The Sad Story of La Belle Creole







Those who know St. Maarten know the long running drama behind the  closing of Mullet Bay Beach Hotel after Hurricane Luis.
Many do not know about the long running drama behind the closing of La Belle Creole on Nettle Bay on the French side of the island..
I was there on Sunday for the International Coastal Clean up and I forgot how beautiful it is there.
I hadn't been there in years. It's difficult to have direct access to the area because the property is closed off to visitors.
Sadly the hotel is in ruins now.
When I first arrived on the island in the seventies, the hotel was only half built. Claude Philippe from the Waldorf Astoria began building the hotel in the sixties in a replica of a Mediterranean village. He ran out of money and the resort lay half finished for many years.

Then after a long time,  construction was completed by another owner and the resort was opened in 1988, I believe.

The following link describes what was Claude Philippe's dream and the obstacles he encountered.

http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/1989-10-15/features/8902040372_1_dreams-desalting-plant-creole

After the hurricane in 1995 the resort closed and has remained closed ever since.

I guess there have been many issues complicating the situation, but I know originally after the resort closed there were big issues with french labour unions.

Local
legends is that the resort was built on an Arawak Indian grave site and that is the reason the place is jinxed and will never succeed. Some people say  the site is haunted! :-)
Who knows?

Here is a link with an old advertisement ( it was advertised as a 5 star resort)  which shows what the resort once looked like.
http://www.gobeach.com/bcreole.htm

I also have a postcard showing what it once looked like.


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And here are some pictures we took this past Sunday.

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Comments

( 36 comments — Leave a comment )
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ext_858653
Sep. 20th, 2012 02:26 pm (UTC)
As I told you, a few months before Luis, we were on island and stayed at Le Meridien, but I really wanted to stay at Le Belle Creole. What a gorgeous property. Sad.
Thanks for the pictures..........
irina
(Anonymous)
Jan. 3rd, 2014 01:46 am (UTC)
La Belle creole .
The owners tried to re open La Belle Creole following the hurricane, but the Union blockaded the property and the first guests were evacuated to another hotel. The Union demanded full pay for the period it was closed and all employees to be rehired even though only 25 rooms were opened. The owners could not mee the demands of the union and it remained closed.

the hotel was destroyed by the unions .... not the hurricane !
(Anonymous)
Mar. 22nd, 2014 04:07 pm (UTC)
Memories
I stayed at this Hotel in 1990, I believe it was a Conrad Hilton. A wonderful place with many fond memories. I will always be thankful to the bartender who recommended a restaurant calls Casa Anise in Marigot.
(Anonymous)
Jul. 27th, 2014 11:31 pm (UTC)
sad...
My husband and i were engaged there...in a hammock overlooking the lagoon. It was just beautiful there...
Very saddened to hear of its current state. Ill forever have my wonderful memories of La Belles magic :)
(Anonymous)
Aug. 23rd, 2014 09:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you
For your blog. My husband and I stayed there when it was a Conrad. Just heavenly. Thanks for the memory
(Anonymous)
Oct. 12th, 2014 01:02 pm (UTC)
La Belle Creole
I had the pleasure to open this hotel in 1988 as director with Conrad Hotels. There are many stories surrounding this special place. I spent the better part of 3 years navigating through the various French rules and regulations to have a successful opening. I later stayed there (1993) and was saddened to know what befell the property in Luis and Marilyn in 1995. The intervening years have not been kind to the place. My last time there was in 2000 when I walked the property extensively and saw first hand the impact of the storms and subsequent neglect.

Despite all of that, I have many fond memories of those years in St. Martin. It was a time before big development came to the island and it still felt like the small place it is. Bon chance La Belle Creole....whatever lies in your future.
(Anonymous)
Oct. 12th, 2014 04:17 pm (UTC)
Beautiful Resort
I stayed there for a few days back in 1993. It was beautiful.
The staff were so friendly and helpful. My room was huge.
Food and drinks were great.
It's a shame that it has remained closed for so many years.
(Anonymous)
Jan. 13th, 2015 09:40 pm (UTC)
la belle creole
Thank you so much for posting this information! So sad. My husband I spent our honeymoon there in November 1994. We will never forget this beautiful place!
(Anonymous)
Mar. 27th, 2015 01:23 am (UTC)
la Belle creole
We spent our honeymoon there. It was the best place on the island. It's sad indeed. We took a walk thru last year and I would like to bring it back.
(Anonymous)
Jul. 18th, 2015 06:29 pm (UTC)
Demolished?
Has redevelopment gone ahead? Are the ruins still there? Thanks.
barcann
Jul. 21st, 2015 01:02 pm (UTC)
Re: Demolished?
yes, the ruins are still there. There has been no development.
(Anonymous)
Aug. 21st, 2015 06:05 am (UTC)
My family and I passed through this deserted, but, yet,such beautiful place this past week. I could not help of the eerie feeling that came upon me, in seeing such emptiness of the atmosphere, yet such beauty that once filled rooms. The beauty of the old buildings, like a silence in the night, you could just feel the presence of the excitement that once was there. Feelings of life and living and carefree fun times. The vintage and beauty of the old stone buildings and the outside bars. You could feel the liveliness of the music in the air, the breeze dancing in the night. You could feel the people and the laughter that was all once there.
It was like a time away from time and I felt as though "why"? Why did this beautiful place die like this? I wondered and wondered and when we returned I wanted to know more and found this site. Thank you for sharing "The Sad Story of La Belle Creole".
barcann
Aug. 21st, 2015 04:09 pm (UTC)
thanks for your comment. Yes, Belle creole is still a sad, beautiful special place
(Anonymous)
Sep. 3rd, 2015 08:57 pm (UTC)
Beauty and tranquility=La belle creole
My first visit to the Caribbean was to St. Martin and La Belle Creole. I selected la belle creole for personal reasons (being a native of Louisiana) and I was not disappointed. It was a such a beautiful, tranquil and spiritual place. I had so looked forward to coming back. It was special in so many ways. I almost thought I would have been stranded there for longer that my designated stay. My Pan Am flight was the last to leave the island, before the airlines ceased flying for good. I said goodbye to La Belle Creole with every intention of coming back to this wonderful place. As an earlier comment indicated, there was not much development and it was a BEAUTIFUL place to visit and be in touch with oneself. La Belle Creole will always be my first and so far my last impression of what a real restful, enjoyable week in the Caribbean should be. That was in 1991 and I still remember that week. I mourn its demise.
barcann
Sep. 7th, 2015 11:19 pm (UTC)
Re: Beauty and tranquility=La belle creole
you have described it beautifully
(Anonymous)
Sep. 28th, 2015 06:23 pm (UTC)
so sad
my husband and I honeymooned there in June 1994. I have always thought it would be so special to go back there for our 25th anniversary or something like that. It is so sad that it is in such sorry shape. I have such fond memories of our room overlooking the water, hanging out on the balcony with our baguette and bottle of wine, and hanging out on the hammocks. I would be so intrigued to see it and find our room again but it sounds like it is kind of creepy now?? I'm so sad...
(Anonymous)
Jan. 18th, 2019 12:21 am (UTC)
Re: so sad
My Husband and I were just there this week Jan 2019. We explored most of it with a ton of pictures and video.... Please email me, we would love to see some pictures from former guests and are willing to share ours from just a few days ago.... debcw36@gmail.com
(Anonymous)
Oct. 25th, 2015 01:31 pm (UTC)
La Belle Creole
Barbara:

Nice story on such a unique destination. My wife and I were married on the property 25 years ago and will never be able to stop talking about the place. Do you know who owns the property now? Thank you, Karl K
(Anonymous)
Apr. 9th, 2016 12:38 pm (UTC)
From a La Belle Creole veteran
My wife and I first vacationed at LBC in 1990, and over the next 4-5 years visited more than a half-dozen times. It was a magnificent, Mediterranean-classic property that offered gorgeous, well-proportioned rooms with incredible views, beautiful private beaches (3 to be exact), good food and excellent, friendly service. We went so many times and raved about it to our friends so much that several of them began going, and one of them held their wedding on one of LBC's beaches! It's still the only time I've ever worn a tuxedo on the beach!

When we first started going, LBC was a Conrad property which was a part of the Hilton hotel chain. I used my Hilton points for most of our stays, which was great since it made staying almost free! One of our visits happened to coincide with the hotel being sold to another company, and my wife and I were invited with several other hotel guests to a party in the hotel's courtyard celebrating the change. We received gifts with the Conrad logo on them ---- since it would no longer be a Conrad property they had no use for the items.

The trouble for LBC began way before any hurricane issues. One of our couple friends visited LBC during a period when the hotel's labor union employees were striking. The union employees actually blockaded the front entrance of the hotel so no one could leave. Our friends had to drive off the road and through heavy brush to reach the main road. Apparently the unions were striking for either better pay or working conditions, or both. This came as a surprise to my wife and I since we never detected any unhappy or disgruntled employees during any of our stays. Later, the hurricane came and caused the property to shut down, and it never re-opened due to the same union issues. So the unions destroyed LBC, not the hurricane.

Oh well, we still have lots of pictures to go along with tremendous memories. Au Revoir, La Belle Creole.
(Anonymous)
Jan. 18th, 2019 12:24 am (UTC)
Re: From a La Belle Creole veteran
My Husband and I were just there this week Jan 2019. We explored most of it with a ton of pictures and video.... Please email me, we would love to see some pictures from former guests and are willing to share ours from just a few days ago.... debcw36@gmail.com
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