Choice Hotels International, Inc. , one of the world's leading hotel companies, continues to island-hop in the turquoise blue of the tropics. This week, Choice's Ascend Hotel Collection announced further Caribbean expansion with the addition of the distinctive 78-room Alegria on the southern coast of St. Maarten. Alegria is the 11th hotel property in the Choice Hotels Caribbean portfolio, joining the Ascend Hotel Collection member hotels quickly on the heels of ACOYA Hotel Suites & Villas on Curaçao.

Overlooking the ocean at Maho Bay and adjacent to Maho Beach, Alegria is an oasis where visitors can immerse themselves in world-famous white sand beaches and enjoy the excitement of watching airplanes land at Princess Juliana International Airport. The hotel is a short taxi ride from Philipsburg, capital of the island's Dutch side, and numerous beaches.

"With its extraordinary location and high level of service, the addition of Alegria to the Ascend Hotel Collection elevates the portfolio like never before. This boutique-style property set in the middle of paradise offers guests a truly unique travel experience and convenient access to one of the most popular beaches in the world," said Michael Murphy, senior vice president of upscale brands for Choice Hotels International. "Each member hotel within the Ascend Hotel Collection provides a distinct and memorable experience that brings the local culture to life. Alegria delivers on this promise in a truly special setting."

A Unique Location

All year long, visitors flock to Maho Beach to experience the excitement of jets flying overhead as they approach Princess Juliana International Airport. (The night skies remain clear, however, as the airport restricts flights after 9 p.m.). In addition to this, Mullet Bay Beach is known for its expansive, white-sand and waves, which make it a popular destination for casual beach-goers and surfers alike.

Nearby attractions include the Loterie Farm Nature Reserve nestled in the hillside of Pic Paradis on the French side of St. Maarten which offers dining, hiking and zip-lining over the treetop canopy. Guests can also visit the St. Maarten Zoo, the largest zoological park in the Caribbean; and just a short cab ride away is Fort Amsterdam, a historic site that was built by Dutch settlers in 1631 renowned for its architectural ruins and spectacular views.

"As more international visitors discover the beauty, lovely climate, crystal-clear waters and countless attractions of St. Maarten, Alegria will introduce them to island hospitality and the adventure of vacationing off the beaten path," said Brian McSherry, chief operating officer of Alegria's management company, M&R Hotel Management.

A Heightened Guest Experience

At Alegria, guests can choose from several spacious room types that are fully equipped with upscale amenities such as flat screen televisions with satellite, plush bedding, coffee makers, free Wi-Fi, and, the best part - balcony views of the gardens or beach. The two-bedroom penthouse offers more than 2,000 square feet of space, king beds, two and a half baths, a lounge area with sofa bed, designer kitchen, as well as a washer and dryer.

The hotel also features two pools with a swim-up bar and duty-free shopping are just a short walk away. Excellent dining options, casinos, nightclubs and an 18-hole championship golf course are also close by.

Health and Wellness

Guests of Alegria can indulge in Spa and beauty treatments in the privacy and convenience of their rooms. Services are provided by Good Life Spa, which is recognized as St. Maarten-St. Martin's leading spa. Guests are invited to relax and recharge with a wide range of spa and salon options, including massages, body treatments, facials, waxing and manicure-pedicures. Only the healthiest ingredients, without harmful chemicals or additives, have been selected for treatments at the Alegria.

Dining with a View

Adjacent to the hotel is the Sunset Bar & Grill, which is St. Maarten's most popular beach bar. Known for its white, sandy beach and lively entertainment, Sunset Bar & Grill also is one of the premier spots for watching planes land at Princess Juliana International Airport.

The Choice Hotels International Caribbean portfolio currently includes hotels in the Caribbean destinations of Aruba, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Curaçao, Dominican