There is something extremely enthralling about driving along the lone, winding road on the French side, going towards Marigot. There are vast, French estates set against wild, mountainous terrain—too beautiful to look away, but you must, simultaneously, be aware of the passing drivers. No matter how fast you drive on the curving road, there are ALWAYS those people that do not think you are going fast enough. In fact, driving is the only thing that the locals seem to do in haste!
The entrance to La Belle Creole was nestled within some overgrown brush, with the only indication of it’s existence being a broken tile sign and a short, metal gate marked “privé” or private. From the road, you would never know that past the long, formerly lit driveway was once a beautiful, sprawling resort.
The construction of La Belle Creole began in 1964 and was as the brainchild of Claudius Charles Philippe, the “maître d`” and banquets manager at the famed Waldorf Astoria. Philippe furnished the resort with extravagant furniture, as the French do, but eventually ran out of money in 1969.* The resort, apparently, sat unused for 25 years while the convoluted muddle of financial issues were being sorted. Finally in 1988, the resort was opened under new management.
Unfortunately, the resort wouldn’t make it a decade before a natural disaster, Hurricane Luis in 1995, took her down for the count.
Our friends, Jeremiah and Christine, took The Boyfriend and I to explore the resort one day. B was hoping to practice his photography skills, but didn’t. At least he didn’t until we got to the private beach. He found a metal fence post and carried it the entirety of the time we spent at La Belle Creole. I don’t blame him. The place was so eerie and quiet, despite it being broad daylight. We couldn’t shake the feeling that something was going to pop out at us at any moment.
It was really quite odd seeing a place so desolate, and then finding a piece of furniture, like a solid wood armoire, in perfect condition. Christine found a towel draped over the shower rod as if someone had just left it there the day before. Other parts of the resort were rotting messes.
Here is a site with photos of when the resort was at its liveliest.
According to this post, locals believe the site was once the burying ground Arawak Indians and that is why it’s cursed! Of course it would be!!! The post said the site was also haunted. I found no indication of this. Of course, I also explored in the daytime. There is no way I would return at night to find out if the rumors are true!
How To Get There:
I don’t even know. No matter where you are coming from (the North/South, Dutch/French), drive towards Nettle Bay. Somewhere along the heavy brush there is a gate marked privé or private. If you’re coming from the North, it will be on your right. From the South, on your left. You cannot drive in, so you have to park along the road. Walk the long driveway… eventually you may want to take a right and you will find the courtyard. I’ve heard there are sometimes French gendarmerie or police patrolling for squatters. Not sure if they are under orders to prevent people from exploring?
*Starting projects and running out of finances occurs quite frequently on the island. There was an apartment complex being built right across from our apartment. It began sometime last year, but the owner, had no money to continue, so now it’s abandoned and overgrown.
Also, there is a rumor that every family on the island owns a piece of furniture from La Belle Creole. I am jealous!!!