Hi there all, just returned from a great week :( and wanted to share our experience at the Esmeralda....
I have heard over and over again about how much people liked it, so we stayed there on our last night (long story, but it was a last minute trip so we had to move around a bit). Having stayed at the nearby Alamanda just prior to our move to the Esmeralda, I was hoping that the transition wouldn't be a big deal as the hotels are affiliated and are rated the same. In fact, the actual moving part wasn't bad, but the Esmeralda itself left much to be desired.
We stayed in on of the little cottages close to the beach. When we walked in, I was startled by the dank smell that greeted us. As one of our new friends at Bikini Beach later that night mentioned, it smells like some tennis pro's old sweaty undies. (I know, gross, but it's the best we could come up with.) Anyway, smelled nasty, and though the room was sized nicely, it was dark and altogether creepy. Only 2 lights I think -- at any rate not nearly enough to illuminate the room.
So we went to check out the nearby pool, which was similarly disappointing. It was small, but that wasn't so much the problem as the fact that it was just unattractive -- no landscaping, 4 beat-up chairs....no wonder no one was using it. And that is not to say that we go to SXM for the pool (how silly would that be?) but it was a fairly windy day and the sand on the beach was becoming pretty unbearable by that point in the afternoon.
That night, I could not sleep for the life of me because I kept waking up to weird noises, it may have been the pipes or something, but it sounded like there was something in the closet. To make matters worse, when the wind started to get pretty strong later on, the sound of the howling and rain was pretty intense, and not in the nice, calming way that rain and wind have sounded to me at the Alamanda, but very loud and really sort of spooky. (I realize that the hotel has no control over the weather, but again, I have actually enjoyed sleeping on stormy nights elsewhere.) Being unable to sleep, I thought I would watch TV for a bit, but found that there were only 3 channels, CNN being the only English of the lot.
Having had such great experiences at the Alamanda, I am just really surprised by how disappointing the Esmeralda was. Even more surprising is how well it is spoken of. I see nothing distinguishing about this hotel and will make sure to book well in advance next time to avoid another overpriced experience here. We have stayed at many fine hotels in the Caribbean and Europe, and this is simply not one of them.
Sorry to be so very negative but I wish that I had this information before we booked there.