March 22, 2008
This was our fourth trip to St. Martin. The Orient Bay Hotel is lovely - quiet, away from traffic and noisy tourists. You must rent a car though - the hotel isn't on a beach, and is not walking distance from anything (unless you enjoy walking far distances in blistering heat!). We used Best Deal, located at the airport - and they really do give you the best deal compared to the other car rental places.
Orient Bay is not all inclusive, so you are on your own for meals. Which suited us just fine - we had done all-inclusives before and were disappointed. Hairdryers and shampoo are also not included.
The rooms (or villas, to be more accurate) come with a kitchenette stocked with dishes, pots and pans, coffee maker and toaster, utensils, etc. There is a French bakery at the end of the street - fresh croissants for breakfast! There are plenty of grocery stores in the nearby towns to stock up on staples. I recommend eating out for dinner though - tons of fabulous restaurants all over the island. Sure bets are Au Grain De Sel in Cul-de-Sac (5 minute drive from the hotel) and anything in Grand Case.
The hotel doesn't have a restaurant. You can have a Continental breakfast by the pool though for 10 Euros - must be booked the day before, and is only available from 7 - 9:30 am.
Rooms are clean, but there is no housecleaning service. Towels are changed on Wednesdays and that's it. Housecleaning services are 12 - 24 Euros per hour, depending on the size of room you have.
Beds are firm and comfy. And the place is quiet - perfect if you want to get away from noise and pollution and parties. I always get the best sleep when I'm in St. Martin!
There are two pools at the hotel, but were rarely used while we were there - why would they be, when there are over 30 different beaches to explore! Our favourite is Bay Rouge - clean, soft sand, not crowded or touristy. Orient Bay is the most popular - which means crowds, noise, music, and unfortunately, lots of garbage on the beach (cigarette butts, plastic cups and straws, and beer bottles everywhere. Yuck.)
Speaking of beaches, I am annoyed that I had to pay 30 Euros to rent our beach towels (which you could exchange daily for clean ones) - I've never had to pay for towel rentals before, so this was an expensive addition. So bring your own beach towels if you don't want the added expense (buying beach towels in St. Martin is not any cheaper - we checked!)
You can also rent beach towels and chairs/umbrellas on a daily basis from most beaches. But 15 - 25 Euros a day gets expensive. This time around, we rented chairs, an umbrella and a cooler from Pack Light Vacation Rentals (not allowed to put a link here, so Google the name) for $25 US for the week. Much cheaper and way more convenient. Craig meets you at your desired location with the equipment to make the whole process easy.
To sum up, we enjoyed our stay at the Orient Bay. It was affordable (slightly cheaper than all-inclusives at an average 3 star resort). I've posted photos so you can see what the place is like. I'm a little ticked off about the towel rental and no housecleaning, but other than that, it's great. Definitely not a party hotel - go to Cuba if that's what you're looking for.
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