The Radisson Blu is overall a really delightful property. As someone who has been to St Martin several times and knows the island relatively well, I was perfectly happy to spend a few days in this self-contained place, though it may not be ideal for newcomers to the island who really want to explore every day, because it is cut off from everywhere else by the mountainous access.
However once your car descends the hill and you enter the setting of Anse Marcel, a beautiful cove surrounded by low mountains, you are really in a Caribbean Shangri-La. Next door is another hotel, the Domaine de Lonvilliers, but you would never even know it unless you walk the length of the beach; other than that, it is an utterly secluded and wonderfully tranquil place, with almost no development Although far from the airport end of the island and from the ticky-tacky of Phillipsburg and its endless T-shirt shops, it is a very short drive or cab ride to two of the best places in SXM - the village of Grand Case, for fine dining and the famous beachfront lolo barbecue joints; and Ilet Pinel, an amazing place to spend a day lolling on a gorgeous beach and having lobster and champagne for lunch while your feet dangle in the warm sea.
Radisson took over the property from Le Meridien and made a great choice to fill in the old, smaller pool, and build a new one beachside. The old pool is now the vast central lawn; and the new one is probably the absolute highlight of the property - a huge, gorgeous, meandering lagoon pool, with multiple access points, a zero-entry area, an enormous jacuzzi adjacent, and the beach just beyond. The Radisson has also adopted the clever idea of gating the pool and putting showers and foot baths at each entrance, so that people can easily rinse off the beach before walking sand into the pool area. If you are a connoisseur of beautiful pools, you will love this one. It was fun just to decide where to place myself each day because every seating area presents a different vista!
Though I could easily have lingered by the pool the entire day each day of my stay, the calm sheltered waters of Anse Marcel bay are equally irresistible. Floating in the sea, looking at the lines of coconut palms and sea grapes onshore, Anguilla across the channel, the sailboats and catamarans moored offshore, and the lush green peaks (as they are at the end of the rainy season) surrounding the clear waters, you are truly in a fantasy vision of a Caribbean paradise. Note only that the surrounding mountains mean that the direct sun is gone from Anse Marcel about 45 minutes before true sunset, if you want to maximize your time in the sun.
Regrettably the property inherited the less-than-brilliant design of the Meridien with respect to the rooms and layout as well. No rooms have the much-coveted ocean view of other resorts - some face the landscaped grounds (and each other), others just face service roads and the backs of the dining and meeting facilities. Even the much-vaunted Marina Suites don't especially have a great view - it's really just a view of a channel from the bay to a boat basin backed by the mountains that ring it. And these uniquely positioned suites still lack any wow factor when you walk in - no great view and the living area furnishings are a little frumpy, though the bedroom is much more stylish, and the huge bed is extremely comfortable, with firmness control and high-quality linens. However, the landscaped grounds are absolutely beautiful, laid out in a formal Continental garden style, with walkways shaded by striking double rows of royal palms, and scattered with fountains, and flowering plants, with wonderful vistas to the water and the Roman-villa like main building. And free wi-fi is a nice touch since so many upscale properties just view that as another revenue generator (though the ubiquitous and irritating resort fee features on your bill here as at so many other properties.)
The food is by and large delicious, and there is a great - and complimentary - American-style breakfast buffet in the open-air Le Marche restaurant. This is particularly noteworthy as it is not a traditionally European thing to do - the nearby Grand Case Beach Club serves a true French breakfast - croissant, baguette and coffee, period - and I have heard American tourists there complain about having to pay for eggs or bacon in addition. At the Radisson the diehard American breakfast buffet fan will be more than satisfied, (though the Eggs Benedict are an extra charge and need some work - suggestion: improve them and include them as part of the buffet. ;-) ) In fact, breakfast is generous enough that you may not need or want lunch...!
As I was there in off-season only one of the two restaurant options was open for dinner each evening, but there are a couple of places directly outside the front doors of the resort, easily walked to, as well as a small market where you can buy staples if you want to keep some in your room. A fridge rental is 20 Euros for the duration of your stay, and not a bad investment - be warned that if you even so much as look at the ultra-sensitive minibar, it will register a charge that you will have to undo at the desk. LOL As far as food and drink prices, to those who complain, remember that it is a) the Caribbean; b) a resort; c) priced in Euros, as is everything on the French side; d) and no worse than big city prices here in the U.S. In NYC I have never had, let alone seen, a $5 cocktail, so I thought an 8 Euro pina colada was perfectly reasonable. I have stayed at the Westin as well, and it is equally isolated, with few onsite dining options, but the Dawn Beach area is being highly developed and is much less lovely than Anse Marcel. Furthermore Dawn Beach is exposed on the Atlantic side of the island, and the seas are much calmer at Anse Marcel, which I prefer.
I didn't avail myself of concierge services as I wasn't looking for tourist info, but a few minor hiccups were handled with charm and aplomb by the staff, including the delightful Guest Services Manager, Liliana Arrigoni, and the chef himself, both of whom went out of their way to quickly and graciously remedy minor inconveniences. Tip of the hat to lovely Wordline at the front desk who checked me in with a huge and warm Caribbean smile; to charming Julian at the bell desk who made himself unobtrusively available and helpful; and to jovial Nigel at the pool hut, who was friendly, easy-going, helpful and hard-working.
If you need to be in the middle of everything, this isn't the place for you - there is no banging music poolside, no over-programmed activities schedule taking over public spaces, no casinos on the French side at all, no nightclubbing. But if you appreciate a refined but unpretentious and utterly soothing atmosphere in a beautiful tropical setting, then I wholeheartedly recommend the Radisson Blu.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Discover the Hotel The Hotel Riu Palace St. Martin, situated at the beachfront on the Caribbean island of St. Martin, is the perfect place for a dream vacation and it's ready for you to enjoy all the amenities and services RIU offers to its guests. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Radisson Blu Resort, Marina & Spa St. Martin Hotel Anse Marcel
- Radisson Blu Resort, Marina And Spa St. Martin
- Radisson Anse Marcel
- Anse Marcel Radisson
- Hotel Riu Palace St Martin St. Maarten-St. Martin/Anse Marcel