I‘ve never been interested in horror stories or haunted places, but I do have a thing for stories in general and that is what brought me to La Belle Creole, an abandoned luxury hotel in Baie Nettle, Saint Martin.
As the story goes, La Belle Creole was a flamboyant project of a visionary mind: Claude Philippe, a manager of one of the most luxurious hotels of all times, the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan. (To be clear, the place where the famous dancing scene with a blind Al Pacino in Sent of a Woman was shot). Meant to be nothing less than a mirror of French opulence in the Caribbean, the project was doomed by its very start in 1964. Work on La Belle Creole, in fact, stopped only three years later due to a curse by the long dead Arawak people, or, more likely but less charming, to lack of funds. By the 70’s “the resort began to slip into deterioration”. Theft was also very common and it is not hard to believe the urban legend that says everyone on the island has a piece of this resort in their homes. (Wikipedia)
In 1989, although much reduced in splendour, the resort finally opened for guests. Many people have sweet memories of their honeymoons here, others remember hotel’s labor union employees already in strike. However, both accounts would be soon interrupted six years later. In 1995, indeed, Hurricane Luis blew away what seems to have been the last chance of profit for the owners of La Belle Creole. La Belle Creole sans merci.
Of the stone Mediterranean buildings, of the shady squares and cool terra cotta floors, of the wood-beam ceilings, hand-carved wood fixtures and colourful island fabrics, of the swimming pool, jacuzzi and outdoor cafe nothing is left more than torn shadows.
The real mystery – if there is one – is to be found in the lush tropical greenery that continues to thrive amongst the ruins and in the serene beauty of one of the resort’s private beaches, finally free and blissfully unspoiled.
The roots of the plants are invading any space available, and not.