I had did plenty of research before booking this hotel, including reading the reviews at Trip Advisor. I was also enticed by the fact Carlson Club (Radisson Gold Points) was running a promotion that gave me 10,000 more points for booking online. After researching the rates at Radisson.com, Expedia, Apple Vacations ,and Funjet I caved and booked using the 35% off summer special for a basic room, expecting to get a sales pitch to upgrade at checkin. I opted for my friend and I to use the boat shuttle from PJIA to the hotel for$156 for the two of us. Once we landed, we cleared customs quite quickly and went to the Hertz desk to check-in… allwhile the other local car rentals were haggling us for a car. The employee pointed us in the direction of a Hertz sign and we waited there for a bit (more instructions would have been nicer) for the van to appear. We were then driven off-airport to the Hertz location, which happened to have a dock behind it. We met the captain & skipper (GET NAMES!) who carried our luggage down to a fairly large boat and off we went. They told us we may get a bit wet since the ocean was rough, but my friend and I toughed it out
The cruise took about 25 minutes to get to the Anse Marcel marina and it was a pleasurable one. The ocean wasn’t too rough and it was nice taking in the sites from the water instead of from a speeding taxi.
Upon docking at the hotel, it was a very short walk to the lobby of the hotel, where some fairly rude French tourists interrupted our check-in to complain about their room. My French isn’t that good, but I think they were complaining about the smell. I was thinking “it’s the Caribbean, all rooms have a bit of an odor… its always humid here”. Jeanelle, the front desk clerk, apologized profusely and I told her she doesn’t have to apologize for other people’s rude behavior. Check-in was fast & easy, my Carlson Club membership was recognized, and she mentioned she put us in an upgraded room on the 3rd floor.. nice She gave us a welcome drink of rum punch in the nicely decorated lobby, then pointed us to the room. It was nice feeling a breeze blow through, and also having the ability to check-in a bit earlier than the normal 3PM. A short walk & lift to the room and I was pleasantly surprised to NOT have a smell or tropical odor in the room! The room was very nicely furnished and bathroom was fairly large. As was the balcony – something I totally forgot about! The air conditioning was also on a nice level and we had a nice relaxing nap after our flight from Ft. Lauderdale (and San Juan). The sleep number bed was a nice touch, along with soft sheets & variety of pillows.
A little exploring of the grounds and this was a very pristine resort. All the fountains seemed to be working, no visible signs of wear/tear, sidewalks were all intact with no cracks. The pool area was a short walk from our room but had numerous entrances (be a bit careful at night, the foot basins can be tricky to see & you could trip). There was a main entrance for towels/activities with bathrooms behind it which seems to be staffed from mid morning until early evening. Here you can rent cabanas for about $50 EU during the off season to $80 EU during the high season, and I would strongly recommend this Some of them were very comfortable and naps were nice there. The pool is apparently one of the largest in the Dutch Antilles and apparently the largest in St. Martin (even St. Maarten?) and it was well maintained. Its big enough to keep people segregated (ie – shallower areas on one end for kids/families). The infinity part was nice, and the “beach” section was a great touch. A bit further back there are two areas where I believe you can even put your chair in the water as it was only about a foot deep. Plenty of beach chairs are about, and the Jacuzzi is a bit “hidden” but is a nice touch, except for the fact we had to keep turning it on as the timer only lasted about 5 minutes. The pool & Jacuzzi temperature was perfect. The only downside was no pool-side bar (it was detached and on the other side of the fence, so you couldn’t order a drink and enjoy while in the pool). Off to the side of the pool was the lunch/dinner restaurant La Marche which had a decent menu but at resort prices.
We befriended our cab driver, Rene, who was amazing and very fair in his pricing. We spent a lot of time in Grand Chase, about a 10 minute cab ride from Anse Marcel, and we also used him for a ride to Philipsburg. The Dutch side was definitely much MUCH more touristy than the French side. He was great with advice on where to go and took us to some local stores to buy better food and of course the alcohol. My friend & I had a much more enjoyable time at the resort & Grand Chase than we did on the Dutch side. Just something about seeing “Dominos”, “Hard Rock Café”, “Diamonds International” just turns me off when it comes to being on vacation. He was always very fair and was honest about the exchange rate (for Americans, it is better to pay in USD than Euro). He will also pick you up at the airport and let you pay by the day or every few days. He even came and got my friend and I at 730AM on HIS BIRTHDAY to take us over the hill to Grand Case to go diving ON HIS BIRTHDAY. He only answered his phone for us that day email is email@example.com or 0690 22 81 59.
We did not dive with the company in the hotel as I saw some good & bad, but went with Octopus Diving – plus it was easy to book online. Sally was an utmost pleasure to deal with and I have NEVER had such an amazing time diving – and I am a very experienced Caribbean traveler/diver. While I didn’t go with the dive shop at the resort, I STRONGLY recommend using Octopus despite needing to cab it over…. They run a very very top notch operation. I heard that the hotel concierge doesn’t recommend them – which is a shame. I’m not sure if it is because the other dive shop pays more commission or is closer, but I found Octopus to be one of THE best, no they were THE best, of any dive operator anywhere. Only 6 divers on the boat and you are guided by one of their dive masters – they just don’t throw you in the water and say “see you in an hour”. But again, I didn’t have any experience with the hotel dive shop, but just had to share my experience and make sure people are aware there ARE other options.
The food experience with the buffet at the hotel was also nice, except that the hotel breakfast doesn’t start until 7AM – which is bad if you are a diver like we were (we had to be at the dive shop by 7:45AM for an 8:00AM launch). Would have been nice if the Radisson Blu would consider an “express” breakfast of a bagel or baguette with fruit for those of us who need to leave early. We did get to eat a bit more on our last day and it was a typical “European” style menu with American choices. The food was always warm, the fruit was VERY fresh, and my friend said the coffee was amazing. Plenty of choices to satisfy any palate. I saw other complaints on here about the covers & bugs – this is an outdoor restaurant and buffet, I didn’t have a problem with their service or how the food was presented.
Internet was free and available everywhere, including the pool – nice touch. I’d also like to add it was always fast.
The boutique in the hotel was pleasant but on the high-side of pricing.
The grounds at night was very pleasing to the eye and senses, especially with the gentle hues of blue and purple throughout. I felt very safe here, even on the beach, at night. There aren’t many other accommodations or tourist-activities in Anse Marcel, so there aren’t any hustlers running around begging for money or trying to sell you something. Friends who have seen my pictures said that “this is the true Caribbean experience” and we agree.
My ‘friend’ and I had no issues or fears at this resort, which is a member of the Lesbian & Gay Travel Alliance. So if you are going with your partner or gay friends, you won’t have ANY issues with staff or locals. This is one of the main reasons I picked St. Martin/St. Maarten over other Caricom countries/islands. You can hold your bf/gf’s hand here (or probably ANYWHERE on this island) and feel comfortable.
Few notes: some of the smaller businesses have issues with credit card machines, so its always helpful to have some cash on you. The ATM at the hotel doesn’t charge a fee to withdraw money. The fridges in the rooms are MINI-BARs, not fridges, so plan accordingly.
Regarding its ‘remoteness’ – I think this is a HUGE selling point. This hotel isn’t like the others on St. Maarten/Martin where you have mega hotel/casino next to other hotels, or the adjacent liquor store/tourist trip/adult club. This is your traditional Caribbean resort with a French atmosphere and was absolutely perfect for us.
They will try to upgrade you at check-in - not always a bad deal. I don't believe ANY of the ro...
See more room tips
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.