Since I gave this hotel a very favorable rating 18 months ago, there have been changes — and not necessarily for the best. The hotel is under new ownership which plans to shut it down in April for extensive renovations which will continue to December. Architect sketches, now on display in the lobby, suggest a splendid new luxury hotel awaits visitors. Well, we shall see. What does seem probable is a substantial increase in room rates which may deter the many regulars who have stayed at the Beach Plaza for years,
Yes, the hotel has become a little run-down — shabby furnishings in the lobby, rust in the bathrooms, ridiculously small TV sets in the rooms — so touching up is certainly justified. But the basic complex has always remained attractive. the rooms are excellently serviced, the beach area is pleasant although small, and one huge bonus is that guests are only a five-minute walk from Marigot and some of the best restaurants on the island.
The hotel has offered good value. Whether it will continue to do so is a matter for conjecture.
With the hotel closing for renovations in April, what follows is an interim report, aimed at giving guests some idea of what to expect over the next two months.
I had a prepaid confirmed reservation when I checked in, but the front desk was not expecting me. Its arrivals list for that day did not contain my name. It later transpired that my arrival and departure dates had been incorrectly entered by staff into the hotel's computer system. They managed to find me a room but only after deciding to upgrade me. But what happened was disturbing given the fact that a few days after my arrival the hotel was completely sold out. I subsequently discovered that such mix-ups have happened more than once.
Housekeeping of the rooms was as usual impeccable. The free breakfast was as usual generous in its selection but no longer consistent in quality. You were safe if you wanted fresh fruit, but if you wanted hot food from the buffet, you had to be prepared for mornings characterized by watery scrambled eggs and bacon which was either burnt to a crisp or alarmingly undercooked. You often had to go chasing after the basket of fresh croissants traditionally supplied to each table, and there was a failure to regular replenish the assortment of jams which on most mornings were deprived even of identification labels. Cold cereals were hit and miss: sometimes at least cornflakes were available, sometimes not even this because of failure to replenish the cereal containers. This is a sloppy way to run a breakfast service.
The new ownership has already made unwelcome changes. The lounge chairs which used to be available in the shaded verandah overlooking the beach have been removed and replaced by formal dining tables with cutlery and tablecloths at one end and, at the other end, lobby furniture which has been moved from inside onto the verandah, Twice, while sitting there reading, it was suggested to me that I shouldn't be occupying this space unless I wished to order a beverage. I ignored the advice, and stayed where I was while inwardly fuming.
The popular pool bar was shut down while I was there, and the pool area itself was unusable for several days, with the poolside deck chairs stacked up and the area taken over by a huge heap of sand.
It's always tricky to pass judgment during a transition period, One wishes to be fair. But at the moment there seems to be a cavalier disregard for guests and what they have a right to expect when staying here.
There's little doubt that employees are distressed by what is happening now — also, presumably, by what the future will bring. One ex-employee told me bluntly that the new ownership has little or no experience in hotel management. This didn't seem to be sour grapes, given that he had worked at the Beach Plaza for more than a decade, knew what he was talking about and was quick to point out that the new owners had the best of intentions. We shall see whether good intentions are enough.
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- Also Known As:
- Beach Plaza Hotel
- Beach Plaza Marigot
- Hotel Beach Plaza St Maarten-St Martin/Marigot