I checked out, but didn't stay at this hotel last April when planning my destination wedding. All year I read the negative reviews on this site and after hosting my destination wedding (about 35 people) & staying for 5 days at the Westin (before & after our honeymoon in St. Bart's, so we stayed in 2 different rooms), I can give you an honest, unbiased review. In our group we had 3 infants (less than a year old), mostly people in their 30's (all of our friends), 6 senior citizens (our parents in their 60's & 70's). All enjoyed the trip. Here's why this trip was great for all ages. Normally I'd have a hard time finding a place that I'd enjoy & that my parents would also enjoy.
Beach: The beach & views are beautiful. Perfect for wedding pictures, not so perfect for swimming in. There is no lifeguard, so if you've been drinking too much or not a great swimmer, have some common sense to stay in the pool rather than trying to swim out to the raft. I did not see any dogs wandering the beach. And I wouldn't call the beach a public beach. There is no road access/public parking available to the beach. Only Westin guests, and people who own/rent condos along Dawn beach have access. AND I only saw less than 10 condos there. Then there are rocks that you can climb over to get to Mr. Busby's & Oyster Bay Beach Resort (timeshare) but I can't imagine people doing this with all of their beach gear.
Pool: There are teak lounge chairs with thick cushions around the pool. The palm trees offer little/no shade. If you want shade, wear a sun hat. And, it's the Caribbean so wear sunblock & keep hydrated. There are beach/pool waitresses, an outdoor snacking area for lunch, (or waitresses can bring you food), a swim-up bar which is accessible from the patio on the other side, and the hotel's main restaurant's outdoor (but covered overhead) seating overlooks the pool area. Food was good. Not all fried all-inclusive nonsense. For lunch there were veggie wraps, chicken salad & yes, still had burgers. You can get unlimited towels for the pool & they didn't hassle me about returning at the end of the day if I wore towel to the room.
Location: The Dutch side is cheaper than the French side for food & hotels. Also, the Westin is an Americanized property with American standards. You have to drive/cab to everything. St. Maarten has extremely steep hill, & a lot of curves. Although I walked to Oyster Bay & Mrs. Busby's, you probably won't want to. Unless you're staying in Philipsburg or Simpson Bay you'd have to drive/cab too. But the Westin is much nicer than any hotels in those areas, so in weighing the options I preferred the Westin & taking cabs to staying there (we stayed in Phillipsburg in last April). Also, if you stay on the Dutch side you don't need travel adapters for your blowdryers, razors, etc.
Convenience: Restaurants available in the hotel. There is a nice gift shop that carries sunblock, magazines, swimsuits, snack foods, souvenirs so you don't have to go out for basic things. Cabs are waiting in the garage so they are ready to go whenever you want them. Free parking if you rent a car, or have friends come from their timeshares to meet up with you. Free Internet in the business center. Spa & fitness center on premise.
Casino: the casino was clean. Lots of slot machines and a few tables for blackjack, roulette, poker & craps. We had 3 people win significant amounts of money - table games & slots. One person won over $1,000.
Children: there weren't many children here. We had 3 infants in our group though. They were able to get cribs & strollers to use during their stay. We also noticed 4 children participating in the kids club, so if that's something you're interested in, it's available there too.
Rooms: We had an oceanfront room, but I visited our friends' oceanview rooms. All were spacious rooms with balconies. We had a beautiful view of the ocean & even left our doors open at night so we could hear the ocean. There were 2 chairs & a table out there. The rooms have the Westin bed which several guests commented on & I heard them talking about ordering them for home. Bathroom had a jacuzzi tub & shower. Lots of room. I did see a 5 tiny ants in the bathroom of one room, but this didn't really bother me. I figured it was because of the humidity & I had left the doors open.
Downside: The airconditioners need to be put up higher. One guest complained that there was no hot water - yes her room was on the 2nd floor at the end. They should offer umbrellas around the pool.
If you are planning a destination wedding, we were extremely happy with everything. My review is of the property, but the staff went above & beyond to accomodate us. They met with us several times to plan our event & were there the day of to make sure everything went as planned. It rained and they were able to accomodate me by setting up our ceremony outside (as planned) between rainstorms & then brought the reception into the Opal lounge (smaller catering room). They also had the ballroom available but that would've been too big for us. The catering manager let us use the presidential suite to get ready the day off, and it was available (but we didn't use it) to us that night.
The Westin Dawn Beach was the perfect choice for our destination wedding.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located on one of the most beautiful Caribbean beaches, The Westin Dawn Beach Resort & Spa, St. Maarten offers guests a true getaway. Scuba dive, take a ferry to Anguilla for the day, or just relax. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Westin Dawn Beach Resort And Spa, St. Maarten
- The Westin Dawn Beach Resort & Spa, St. Maarten Hotel St. Maarten/St. Martin
- Westin St Maarten Martin
- St Maarten Martin Westin
- Westin St Martin
- Westin St. Maarten/St. Martin
- St. Maarten/St. Martin Westin
- Westin St Maarten Dawn Beach Resort & Spa
- The Westin Dawn Beach Resort & Spa, St. Maarten St Maarten-St Martin, Caribbean