We would definitely come again. The best thing about this resort is the beach. It is beautiful, clear turquoise water, and soft sand. The water is gentle enough for swimming, but you can also body surf or boogie board (rent for $5/day or $25/week at the towel hut). When you arrive, go out to the towel hut and reserve your beach chairs for the week. You can sleep in and still get the same chairs everyday! We drove around the entire island, stopped in Great Bay and Phillipsburg, Oyster Bay, Orient Bay, Marigot, Simpson Bay, and Maho Bay. We liked Little Bay the best. It is quiet, beautiful and not at all crowded. If you are looking for a party scene, this isn't the place. We prefer enjoying a beach without stepping over people to get to it, and Little Bay was absolutely perfect for us. The pool at the resort is very small. We never even used it as the beach was so incredible.
The building itself isn't amazing. Everything was very clean. We had daily maid service and they cleaned everything very well, even washed our dishes. It is dated however. If you are looking for a plush resort experience (like the newer timeshares that we have stayed in while in Mexico), this is not it. I would say the decor looks like it is from the 90's. You should just know this, as we did, before you book. If not, it might be a shock. I am very bothered when things aren't clean, and I felt very comfortable there. I do think they could greatly improve the first impression people get by simply painting the lobby area and getting some new pictures to hang behind the desk.
The kitchen is small, but worked perfectly for us. It has a full size fridge, 2 burners, and a toaster oven. It was sufficiently stocked for us. We cooked two meals a day and ate out one. The living area and kitchen have huge windows (basically a wall of windows) that overlook the ocean-Amazing view!!! The living area has two couches and a decent sized flatscreen with maybe 20 channels, all in English. There are two bedrooms, but one is very small. I think maybe the smaller one has just a full size bed in it, and it pushed against the wall to have enough room to walk around it. The larger of the two rooms has a king size bed. Both rooms have bathrooms (bath tub with shower in the larger room and shower in the smaller one). We never had a problem with hot water. Only the larger room has a TV in it, although it is maybe 10 or 12 inches. We never used ours, so if watching TV in your room to relax is important to you, you might get stressed just squinting to see it. The AC worked great. The balcony is the best part of the suite. It is large with a lounge chair, a small table and chairs. Each and every room overlooks Little Bay. The view is worth the stay.
We found the customer service at the resort to be great. I think that some of the complaints from other reviewers may come from differences in culture. We noticed that the people on St Maarten aren't as time oriented as Americans are. For example, when going out to eat, we almost always had to ask for our bill (and we weren't in a hurry). Time just moves slower there. We had requested a fourth floor suite for the higher view and less foot traffic, we got a fourth floor room. There was a question about our bill and they quickly resolved it when we asked about it. It was no problem to get a later check out. Housekeeping was very friendly and accommodating. There was one major deluge that showed there was a leak in the ceiling in our living area. The front desk immediately sent maintenance up to address the issue.
We didn't go to the Gingerbread Cafe. We heard mixed reviews from other guests. We just wanted to explore more of the island. We did go to Divi's (the other resort on Little Bay) outdoor grill and enjoyed it. One thing that we learned while trying different restaurants... don't buy mixed drinks while out and about in St Maarten's! I am an incredible lightweight. One beer makes me tipsy. I couldn't even taste the alcohol in the cocktails. Basically spent $8 on juice. Other guests commented on the exact same thing.
Food and dining out is very expensive in St Maarten. We got 2 crepes and 2 sodas and it was $20 plus tip. Dinner for a couple burgers runs about $40. We went to the Grand Marche and bought groceries. It is about a 7 minute drive from Belair. It has a good selection of foods that we were familiar with, and even had some of the specialty foods (like Boursin cheeses or Earth Balance butter) that we recognized from home. All of the food there is expensive as everything needs to be shipped in to St Maarten's, but it is much cheaper than eating out. We also brought some food with us from the States and customs gave us no trouble with that. We brought some tuna, granola bars, tortillas, PB, honey, etc. We also brought True Lemon water flavoring packets for the water. We did drink tap water and were totally fine. It was just okay tasting, so we often added the True Lemon to it.
We rented a car from Starlite Rental for 3 days and it was a great experience. They are located on site at Belair. Kevin picked us up from the airport. Since we were only renting the car for three days, Kevin offered to take us back the following Saturday with him as he went to go pick up more customers. It was seamless service. Nivi (?), the lady at the Starlite desk, was also very helpful and accommodating. She gave several recommendations on where to eat around St Maarten, all of them that we tried were excellent. Starlite is a bit more expensive than some of the other car rental companies (I compared for the dates and car make on Kayak before reserving with Starlite), but the convenience of having the rental company on site was a big deal for me.
Some people have said that you need to rent a car. I think it really depends on what you want to do. We were glad that we rented it for the three days. We got to drive around the entire island, go out to eat at more distant locations, go experience a plane flying in at Maho, but we were also glad just to lay on the beach and read. If you feel the need to explore daily, then definitely rent a car. It'll be cheaper than taxis.
Phillipsburg is a short walk away. We walked back and forth from the Belair in the heat of the day and it took us 20 minutes at a leisurely pace to get to the closest part of Front Street. There is a little hill that you need to climb. It was fine for us, but we are in our early 30's and in decent shape. I wouldn't recommend walking this at night just for the reason that you are on a narrow sidewalk on a busy road for maybe 5 minutes of the walk. Drive or get a taxi if you want to go into Phillipsburg at night.
We loved it at the Belair and hope to go back. The employees were very helpful. The guests were so friendly and kind. By the end of the week, people knew each other by name. We felt very safe with the 24 hour security. If you are looking for luxury, casinos, hopping night life, this isn't the place for you. If you want a gorgeous and quiet beach, this place is perfect.
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- Also Known As:
- Belair Beach Philipsburg
- Hotel Belair Beach
- Belair Beach Hotel St. Maarten-St. Martin/Philipsburg