The Westin Dawn Beach Resort & Spa, St. Maarten
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Travel Blogs from St. Maarten/St. Martin
... the lines it had been so fantastic.
“Because you've flown us so far, I need to get us down very quickly or we will miss ze landing field. So I am going to put us into a big spin. OK?”
the next second we were both literally hurled outwards as we corkscrewed clockwise; dropping
rapidly. I began to feel ill.
I must have said something because he said, “OK, we go ze oser way now.” ...
... over the moon... and then it begins to rain..... and visibility becomes less and less. So we had to proceed very slowly. Not only because of the weather conditions, but also because the buoy markers which should have flashing lights..... well, all I can say is that many of the lights decided either not to flash, or come on at all. And hitting one of these things in the dark can be quite catastrophic to say the least. But make it we did and were really pleased to be back in one ...
... on any greater trip. And I also wanted to relax and maybe work a bit freelance with my IT-skills for people back in Denmark, and get my hands dirty with code again – before I completely forget how a keyboard works.
However, more than one person has strongly advised me to leave the island as soon as possible to avoid any hurricanes, even if it means going on my own, as a fairly inexperienced sailor.
At the time of writing I am looking for another ...
... unable to make it to shore. So we went on to Pinel Island, which has a beautiful beach. We again had to swim to shore and Sebastian took us to see the iguanas and visit the shop (I didn't have my waterproof bag this time so no money). I walked around and took some pictures then we swam back to the boat and headed back to Oyster Bay.
The tour ended about 1pm local time (12pm ship time) so I went back to the ship to clean up ...
... the beach. We did have fun just people watching and visiting with the locals. Actually, if you're shopping for jewelry or watches, you probably won't meet any locals. Everybody we met had an East Indian accent. By the time we got back for a late lunch we were worn out and decided to spend the rest of the afternoon at the pool. After that it was dress up time for formal night in the dining room. We both had the lobster tonight ...
How has this hotel rated in the past?
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Historical Traveler Reviews The Westin Dawn Beach Resort & Spa, St. Maarten St. Maarten/St. Martin
Westin . . . We Try Harder
Stayed at Westin 1/13 to 1/18 with 4 other couples. Room not ready upon arrival and waited 3+ hrs. Travel agent went with us on this one and she ended up getting the first night for us at no cost-other than inconvenience. As the week progressed, we noticed that the lobby had a constant stream of parties waiting for rooms. The lobby bar was usually packed and service at the bar, desks, maids, restuarants, and poolside was always courteous.
Rooms were nice but all in our party had patio doors that would not lock. Maintenance guy came the first night and obviously knew how to provide the right fix. Took him 15 minutes but it worked. Electrical panels throughout the facility were not attached . . . best one was in the spa next to the sauna. Tried turning up the heat and the whole unit fell in my hand. Good news . . . the massage was splendid-try it!
If you are staying here - stay at the beach/pool cause it was great. Westin could use a covered area out by the pool other than the pool side bar. Bring something for your feet to wear in the ocean cause the coral/rocks are not far off the shoreline. The beach was in great shape but don't expect a long walk. Go to Orient beach for that romantic jount. Charter a catamaran for a day cause St Maarten has many sides that need to be seen and from the water is a great perview.
Best eats: Rancho Del Sol (on the way to Orient Beach-French side) for dinner. Bo Bo's (close by and at the entrance to Oyster Bay) for breakfast and lunch. Both were reasonably priced, service was great and the owners + staff were exceptionally friendly, non-pretentious and smiled easily.
Great island-will go back but will stay up near orient Beach at a condo or home. Westin should be up and fully operational in 1.5 years.
We just got back from a five night stay and my comments really mirror the comments Iv'e recently read here in reviews. Here's my take on things at the Westin:
(1) Checking in - not bad at all- quite smooth.
(2) The room - very large, very nice very comfortable with great large bathrooms, terrific shower, etc. For the reduced fare we paid - this made the hotel more than worth it.
(3) The pool and beach - beautiful pool - the highlight of the hotel, facing gorgeous ocean views. For some strange reason (I think they do the same thing at a few other Westins) there are no umbrellas and I don't believe they will be getting them. Instead they will have a few cabana options- but that was a little bit of a bother.
(4) Lobby - the lobby is, as far as I can tell, finished and it is the weak point of the hotel - am I in St. Martin or Indianapolis - I can't tell - the lobby is supremely bland and undistinguished and the small casino is cheesy. A bar with flat screen tv in the front - big deal - no atmosphere.
(5) the restaurant - we ate at the casual one the last night and it was depressing - the low point of the trip - so unbelievably overpriced- my wife ordered the only vegetarian entree and what she got for $25 was three little phyllo "appetizer" things stuffed with a small amount of cous cous, a vegetable "medley" of sorts which was really a slice of zucchini - two asparagus spears and a small mushroom cap filled with hummus. We thought it was a joke - and we are not really that difficult (despite being from NYC!). They were nice about it and took it back. We did love the food overall on St., Martin though and were thankful we rented a car to explore the different beaches
(6) The gym - nice enough I guess - not great but not bad either for resort. The spa - we never wrnt but I'm sure it is nice - the spa lobby seemed very nice.
(6) the Westin and construction: They are still working on things - but it didn't bother us at all. The pool, the beach, the rooms - all the main items are in place. Weird how they don't have creamers for the coffee and umbrellas by the pool.
(7) Location - this side of the island is a little less developed and the immediate area - Oyster Pond is beautiful but we found it a little bit of a hassle to drive 30+ minutes to be by all of the French-side action at Grand Case, Marigot, etc. It is a little closer to Phillipsburg - but the traffic in and around Phillipsburg were a drag.
In summary - a great stay with a few unpleasant items - (the overpriced restaurant - which we admittedly risked when we ate there ). Rent a car - its cheap and there are so many beaches to explore!!!!! We enjoyed St. Martin a lot as two people in their mid-30s and would definitely return.
Like the past few reviewers said, this property is improving but is not yet where it should be. Some forms of construction are still going on in the hotel, not just in physically removed wings, but in areas you pass numerous times every day. The result is that there is a lot of dust, dings in the walls, occasional paint spills, etc., but no real disruption. Only one bank of elevators was working when we were there, although I think by February all will be up and running. In fact, by some time in February most construction in the hotel should be done (though not the condos), based upon the progress we saw in the 5 days we were there (Jan. 10-15).
It's not clear that all operational issues will be worked out by then. There are lots of little things they need to address, like the fact that they give you great coffee to brew in your room but there are no creamers (dairy or non-dairy) and no way to get milk in the hotel other than at the buffet. Or how they have poolside service but no end tables. Or how the exercise equipment provides video at each station but no audio. Or how there were no facial tissues in the rooms. The fine dining restaurant is quite expensive and nowhere as good as half the restaurants in Grand Case. They organized no activities such as poolside games or musical entertainment at all. In fact, you should not come here expecting to never leave the resort--it's not really optimal for that kind of vacation.
That's all the negatives. On the plus side, we had a great time and everyone else seemed to be as well. The breakfast buffet is quite good (and they have take-out containers!), the beach and pool are very nice and the view is fabulous. There's an amazingly well-stocked market you can walk along the beach to reach. The staff is friendly and helpful. The beds are really, really comfortable and the rooms are large and quiet. You can get shade in the pool area by putting your chairs along the south side, where the south wing of the hotel casts its shadow. Along the beach, you can get shade by going to the north end where they have planted palm trees. There is tons to do in and around the island. St. Martin is a destination where getting out and about the island, especially for dinner or shopping, is an essential part of any successful vacation there, so I would not weigh too heavily the lack of activities on-resort.
I would not hesitate to recommend this hotel. Just be prepared for some minor inconveniences.
I was a little scared about my stay here at the Westin after reading all the bad reviews, but it turned out to be one of the best vacations I have had. It still has a lot of work to be done, but if you can deal with a little construction noise, i would def suggest it. I am lil biased because i got the $199 special rate.
The pool and ocean front view was great. The casino was ok even though i lost $150. No ATMs though...couldnt figure this one out...dont they wanna make $$?? Restaurants are def overpriced...$160 for 2 people at Aura
I suggest renting a car and traveling around the island and eating at Grand Case...a lil scarey at night with no street lights...but the locals are very friendly!!
Also, dont be scared of eating some local bbq...food was great and not too expensive.
Will Be Great
I concur with my fellow reviewers - this hotel opened too early. While the key facilities were functioning (restaurant, pool, etc.) the lack of other amenities and a staff that is not yet fully trained precludes this hotel from being a true "resort". The staff is very responsive to immediate needs, but a resort guest's needs should be anticipated. If you find a great rate take advantage - the basic facility is really nice and it's close to Orient Beach, Pinel Island, etc. In six months to one year, however, this hotel will be a true resort. and will be great.
Opened Six Months Too Early, But Still Enjoyed Our Visit
This is a long review, so apologies up front. Having just returned from the Westin, it is clear they opened six months too early. Even their own staff members told me that. However, my partner and I had a great time, despite some glitches along the way, all of which were minor. It helped that we were there on a special rate of $199 a night available to those arriving after January 1.
If you are arriving at night and do not know your way around the island, take a taxi from the recently expanded Princess Juliana Airport ($30 one way). The hotel is located on Dawn Beach near Oyster Pond, down a steep road that is literally on the border of Dutch St. Maarten and French St. Martin. It is about the furthest you can be from the airport, and since traffic can be horrendous, it could take anywhere from 25 minutes to more than an hour. It took us the latter arriving on a Tuesday night.
You will be greeted inside by a staff member offering you a cool washcloth and a refreshing cup of juice. Before you sign off on your rate, check the form carefully. They had me down for a $349 a night rate. Luckily, I brought my confirmation form showing the $199 rate. What caught me by surprise is that there is a daily 15 percent service charge and a $5 resort fee, plus 8 percent tax. So, we were looking at another 25 percent on top of the room charge. It also leaves little incentive for additional tipping, since even on $200, you're hit with $30 in services charges daily. There is also a 15 percent service charge on food. Again, tipping is up to your discretion.
Also in the lobby is a small bar with flat screen TVs. Food is also served at the bar. There is a small casino, mostly slots, one roulette table, one craps table, five or six blackjack tables, and dozens of slot machines ranging from pennies to dollars. Several banks of machines are not yet operable. There are only two storefront shops open - one hawking Westin condos and the other a branch of Little Switzerland. There is a room with two PCs with Internet connections. However, one machine was down quite often thanks to a virus one boy brought on the machine while he was playing online. There is almost always a line to use the two computers, many times because parents let their kids IM with the friends forever, or the parents themselves bring laptops and videocams to talk to their friends. WiFi is available in the lobby and hotel rooms. Why they don't cam there, I have no idea. There is also a small children's play area - set up like a day care center.
Car rentals can be arranged through Hertz, which has an agent floating around the lobby and garage, and Prestige Value, a local company that opened shop in an office near the computer room our last couple of days there. Michael from Hertz quoted me a price of $70 for a Toyota Corolla initially, but when I told him that was higher than the airport Hertz would have charged and I get a break as a Hertz Gold Club member, he came down to $50.
Now, about our room...since we just brought carryons (we did not wear anything my formal than shorts and polo shirts our entire stay), we took our bags to our room. One hint - if you are a Starwood Preferred Guest, make sure you include your number on your reservation or bring your card with you. It will save you from getting a room with a less desirable view.
For $199, our room was very nice, although some finishing touches (fixing small marks or nicks in the walls, or smoothing out the carpet) were lacking. The bathroom was bigger than many hotel rooms in which I've stayed and had a separate glass-enclosed shower (featuring the Westin standard two-head shower) as well as a bathtub, plus a large vanity with mirror, four electrical outlets, nice toiletries and plenty of new, fluffy towels. In the entryway, there was a large closet with two Westin bathrobes, a floor safe, and plenty or hangers. The bedroom was large, although some furniture was not yet placed in the room. We were missing a chair and/or ottoman. I have the feeling we were the first guests in that room. As a matter of fact, only three rooms on our side of the hall were ready for guests. The others had lists on the doors as to what was still needed in each room. There was a large desk area with chair and a nice-size bureau which also housed a small fridge with all of the costly items we didn't eat or drink. The LG flat-screen TV offered about ten channels, including the ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox New York City affiliates, which we liked since those are our hometown stations, plus Superstation WGN from Chicago, ESPN, Disney, USA, and other stations that fluctuated. One day we had CNN, the next day they were gone but the NASA channel popped up.
Our room faced the courtyard, which, while not an oceanview room, was nice. Each room has a balcony with two chairs and a table. However, there is a nightclub currently under construction that can be entered from that courtyard. I'm sure the party action will spill over into the courtyard once it opens, so in the future, those rooms may be susceptible to noise. For now, it was very quiet.
The hotel is divided into two wings, one much larger that the other. On our floor (the second), rooms facing the courtyard are 2117 (near a stairwell that is currently used heavily because the two elevators near there are not yet working), 2119, 2121, 2123, 2125, 2127, 2129, 2139, 2141, 2143, 2145, 2147, 2149, and 2151 (near an exit that takes you, the back way, to the parking deck). Rooms facing a dusty hillside, and thus, should be avoided, are 2130, 2132, 2134, 2136, 2138, 2140, 2142, 2144, 2146, 2150, 2153, 2155, 2157, 2171, 2173, 2175, 2177, 2179, 2181, 2183, 2185, 2187, and 2189. Ocean front rooms are even number rooms from 2168 through 2194, and in the smaller wing, 2041, 2042, 2043, and 2044. The presidential suite is 2164 and what looked like a two-bedroom "parlor suite" is 2154. Neither was ready, but the workers let us peek inside. Those facing the pool include 2156, 2162, and even number rooms from 2114 through 2126. Those facing the pool and having an ocean view are 2003, 2005, 2119, 2121, 2123, 2125, 2127, 2129, 2131, 2133, 2135, 2137, and 2139. Some other rooms, whose numbers I forgot to write down (sorry) face the construction of the new Westin condos. For now, you can see some ocean, but you'll be looking into the condos in a few months.
No one told us the workout room or spa were completed. We found them one day on the third floor near the one working bank of elevators. The workout room was small and rather darkly lit (it may be a temporary location) and while the young woman working in the spa said it was open, it didn't appear to be so to us.
The pool is huge with many comfy lounge chairs. The beach was very nice, but wave action could be a little strong for children. There is no shade on the beach or by the whirlpool, and minimal shade by the pool, except for the movement of the sun and shadows cast throughout the day. Towels are available near the pool and there are other lounge chairs by the beach. The pool, which ranges in depth from six inches to six feet, has a swim-up bar. They started bringing in the cushions for the lounge chairs by 5 p.m.
There are two restaurants in addition to food being available at the bar. Ocean provides standard fare with a nice breakfast buffet and decent, though not great, food at dinner. We did not eat lunch there. Aura is an Asian-French fusion restaurant with prices even more outrageous than Ocean. If you're going to drop up to $100 apiece at dinner, go to Grand Case and eat at any of the fine establishments there such as Le Tastevin, Auberge Gourmande, or Spiga (we enjoyed them all). Also tempting in Grand Case was a relatively inexpensive mom and pop BBQ place that offered succulent-looking ribs and chicken. We're sorry we didn't try them.
Each night, someone knocked on our door for something trivial - another bottle of water, a card explaining how to use the phone, a notepad, etc. Many of the staff have been culled from other Westins to try to smooth over the ruffled feathers of guests who must have gone through hell the first two weeks they were open. I found the staff - those from St. Maarten and those from the other Westins to be friendly and accommodating.
So, all in all, we had a nice visit, enjoyed the pool and ocean, drove around the island, enjoyed many great meals in Grand Case, took a day trip to Anguilla, went shopping in Marigot, Grand Case and Philipsburg, and slept in - when the fire alarm didn't go off early or the construction start too soon. Particularly for the price, it was a good deal for a clean, upscale hotel that, in time, will be a premier resort on the island.
Overall it was fine
just returned from the westin st. martin. overall it was fine. however it is still under serious construction. we were there with our children (ages 4 and 1). they loved the pool however the ocean front (which was not finished and under heavy cnstruction) was just too rough for them. we took daily excursions to find calm beaches.
there was no sundrie shop. that too is under construction. the ATM is not working yet. a few other shops are also under construction.
while we were there we did see improvement with each day. i would say in 6 mo it will be the westin one would expect.
you can get spa services but can not enjoy the facilities such as the shower/steam/sauna - that too....under construction.
the rooms were clean, new and nice. the staff was as accomodating as possible. they tried to offer solutions which was great.
i can say there were alot of unhappy guests. although we did not have the highest expectations so we were not some of them.
and by the way the weather was fantastic.
good luck if you go. it gets better there everyday!
Four stars with caveat...
My husband and I stayed here from Dec 27 - Jan 3. We thought it would be a plus that it had just opened. It wasn't. The hotel isn't quite ready and it was small things like: when we arrived there was valet parking but the next day no valets, and they couldn't find our keys for more than 20 minutes, no one filled up our mini bar the entire time (despite requesting it), we didn't have a mirror in our bathroom for the first 4 days, the gift shop isn't open and there's nowhere to get sundries, etc. However, the pool and beach are fantastic. The food is good at the restaurants. The staff is friendly and very very nice. It's just not quite at its top efficiency and is unfinished in various areas. Spa isn't open. Lots of construction still going on. I think it will be fantastic in a few months, but right now, I'm not sure it justifies the high price tag.
Also - the island is really nice, the people are very friendly, and we had a great time!
Don't Go! Get out while you can
Upon learning that we were pregnant, my husband and I booked this trip. We were under the impression that the hotel would have been open for a few months, but found out that it would only be open for 2 weeks when we arrived. Dec. 27-Jan.3rd
Our room which was to look out on a mountainside, looks out on a dirt pit and a construction site.
The elevator rarely works. Pregnant, this is a royal pain.
I've only had one warm meal here. The food is overpriced and the service is terrible and the food other than breakfast is awful. I sent my grilled cheese back twice to be warmed and it still wasn't warm. Finally my husband got on his blackberry and rented a car for the week.
Our room is nice inside but always missing something. No lightbulbs, no ice in the ice machine on our floor, no bathmat. At 450 a night, this is absurd.
Then the business center is always full of kids playing video games, making it almost impossible to check email.
Graham, the manager and other staff are nice, but they were clearly set up to fail. This resort is not ready for vacationers and our pleas have fallen on deaf ears since there are people with worse issues than us. We are really pissed and feel ripped off.
Don't stay here. Trust me.
Wait until May!
My Husband and I where very excited to visit the new Westin. We've stayed in a few Westin/Starwood resorts and we felt they handle openings well.
Except this time!
Not only did we recieve the wrong room that we booked online (on their own website) but the room was never serviced and we where offered no compensation for the down grade. We where also double charged and yet to see a refund (which hurts the pocket because the rooms are $399USD a night.)
The staff are rude and the night and day managers are unhelpful.
The worst bit was nothing look finished. Too many sections still looked like a building site and the beach was just ugly.
We left early even though we had a room booked until early Jan 07 - it was that bad.
I would stay away until a good 6 months has passed so the hotel can finish it's building and the satff can improve their customer service. Some new managers who know how to deal with the public wouldn't hurt either (after all if they can't deal with the public how can their staff improve.)
At the moment the quality is on par with the Sonesta. It will take a long time form this place to become a luxury 5 star hotel.
If you are unfortunate and are staying at this location this month or next just grin and bear it. Get out, hire a car and explore. I LOVE st Maarten and your trip shouldn't be spoiled by this place.
Fingers crossed this place improves with age because it has potential to be ok but it's a waste of money at the moment.