If you have read any of my other reviews, you may find that we (a young-ish couple) are not the type that spend our entire vacation locked into the resort. We use the beds as sleeping and fun (wink wink) and expect clean rooms/linens/grounds, good service, and a comfortable atmosphere (including pool/beach and surrounding areas). that being said....
We stayed at this hotel for 7 days/6 nights in the middle of February. Our first encounter was with the friendly doorman and associates at the reservation desk. I will mention at the onset that nearly all the islanders are VERY FRIENDLY, as long as you say hello or smile at them. The front desk associate actually upgraded our room to an "ocean view" which meant that the room face the pool, but from the balcony you can easily see the beach. Our room had two double beds; we had booked an ocean-view king room, but CheapCaribbean.com does not guarantee the room you book, which was our mistake. I should have called the hotel to request that type of room. HOWEVER, the friendly front desk associate was extremely accommodating and did her best to help us out. 2 days later a king room became available and we were notified, but we found our room to be comfortable and we stayed put.
The room was clean and inviting, the bathroom generous with both an enormous shower and a tub (not a jacuzzi). Beds were comfortable.
There is a casino in the lobby, but did not make use of it. Not sure why others make a big deal of the lobby and it's ambiance. Who cares? Nevertheless, we found it to be nice, and not loud even though there's a casino right there.
The pool area is impeccably clean. Save for a random plastic cup that a guest left behind to be carried by the wind, I found the entire pool area to be very nice. Same goes for the beach. Do note that this is called "Dawn Beach" because (I assume) it's the best place on the island to watch a sunrise. That being said, you will have to face your beach chair away from the beach (toward hotel) after noon if you want to continue tanning. The current can be strong here also. You will not get to see the sunset here. But the pool bar and deli are convenient, if not expensive (all food is pricey on the island).
We found both restaurants to be very good. We enjoyed breakfast, lunch and dinner at Ocean, and at all of these meals we found at least one item that made us go "YUMMMM", more than the rest of the "yums" elicited. We actually had our anniversary dinner at Aura and enjoyed it immensely. I forget the name, but there is a tuna tartare appetizer that is to die for. Does Aura ship to NY???
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the SUPERIOR service that we got from both Nicholos and Alberto. Nicholos is a really cool guy that had great tips on island happenings. Alberto is one of the hardest working men at that resort. His passion for service is uber-evident, and management, if you're reading this, these two gentlemen deserve a juicy raise!
The location of the resort is remote. We preferred this. It's away from the hub-bub of Simpson and Mullet Bays, where the nicest neighborhoods are. It is advisable to rent a Jeep. Not a new one. Get a Jeep Wrangler and enjoy exploring the island via the one road that loops all the way around. It is a hilly island, and the roads are curvy and feature numerous potholes. The fact that it's hilly is part of the beauty, as you can enjoy stunning views from multiple areas. I read someone complain about that. If you want flat, go to Anguilla.
In the Dawn Beach/Oyster area, visit Busby's Beach Bar for breakfast/lunch, and that same place becomes Daniel's by the Sea for dinner. We had all three meals here, and each one was delicious.
We went to the spa too. I would say this is the one area of the hotel that could use an upgrade. They should consider a material other than tile in their steam room; grey grout tends to look moldy, even if it isn't. It WAS clean, just my opinion. The decorative feature in the center of the relaxation area used to be a fountain, and needs an update too. A little nit to pick. However, the masseurs were some of the best we've had. My hubby said it was his best massage ever!
In sum, the Westin is a very nice 4-star (it is not a 5-star, don't expect a 5-star, people!!!). They will try to get you to take a time share tour, but be smart: there's no such thing as a free lunch. If they're going to give you a free catamaran tour or something, expect to sit through an hours-long timeshare presentation. Instead, book your own tour, and be firm but polite to the timeshare sales associate. She's only doing her job!
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