<< Short Version >>
Much worse than expected. It was so bad that we left 12-hours after checking in.
<< Long Version >>
Phrases written by other people that have stayed here, phrases such as, "We read the reviews on the board before going, and wished we had listened" and, "The staff and service were horrible" should be read, re-read, and then committed to memory.
It has been over a month since we stayed at Divi Little Bay, and yet, I'm still irritated about our (short, thank gosh) stay. Nevertheless, I will try to put aside my personal feelings and write a helpful and informative review.
Please note that I made it a point to take many detailed photos, as I believe my photos will be helpful to you.
Like many people, I read dozens of posts about St. Maarten and Divi Little Bay. The reviews I read were mixed, but the general feeling was that Divi Little Bay was in a nice location, had decent amenities, and was competitively priced. For these reasons (and the glorious photos posted on the Divi web site), I booked a 5-night stay at Divi Little Bay.
We landed at Princess Juliana Airport (SXM) at about 9:00 PM on a Friday. It was about a 30-minute wait to clear customs, not the fastest I've seen, but not the worst. After going through what I can only explain as a "Stock Exchange Trading Floor" of rental car sales people trying to win my businesses, we met the rental car van for our pre-booked car.
Apparently, rental cars are not allowed on airport property. This is to (and I quote) "Preserve the livelihood of taxi drivers." Ah, socialism at its best.
That being said, we eventually got to the rental car place, did the paperwork, and were on our way by about 10:00 PM. Our goal was to check-in, change clothes, and go out for a late dinner.
Finding Divi Little Bay was not easy. Even with a local map (and some intel from the rental car company), we ended up twice driving past Divi Little Bay before finding the hidden entrance. Apparently the road sign for the hotel was missing (the security guard said, "It sometimes falls down.")
Even with the delay, it was only about a 20-minute drive from the airport area to Divi Little Bay. Not so bad. I do, however, considered myself lucky, as there was another person in the check-in line that ended up driving around for 4-hours looking for Divi Little Bay. He finally spoke with a police officer and was given an escort to the hotel. I'd say that is more driver error than hotel error, but more signage would have been nice.
We pulled up to the traffic circle where there were 6 security officers and 2 security dogs. None of them were actually working, 2 guys were smoking, 2 guys were on their mobile phones, and 2 guys were taking a nap. That goes for the dogs too (which were obviously napping [last time I checked, dogs don't smoke or use cell phones]).
When I finally made it to the front of the queue (I'd say it was a 15-minute wait) I provided my name and credit card. After looking in the computer for about 3-minutes, the woman that was checking me in started speaking to another employee in a mix of English and Papiamentu. The words I made out were, "We've got another one." Then, both began to laugh. I asked what was so funny, and she said, "Oh, you're the 3rd person in a row that isn't in the computer." I told her that I did not think it was funny. She then replied with, "Are you sure you are at the right hotel?"
I quickly pulled out my reservation confirmation that I printed from the official Divi Little Bay web site. Problem solved, right?
She told me that my confirmation number was invalid. I then showed her an E-mail on my BlackBerry that I received from Iain McCormack (the General Manager) that also referenced my confirmation number.
For the next 30-minutes the staff looked through various documents to no avail. I was finally told, "Our corporate office is closed until Monday, but we found a room for you." OK, not so bad, I thought. Then I was told, "We will have to charge you the full rate and then once your confirmation is located, we will adjust the booking rate to match the discounted rate shown on your confirmation." The booked rate was twice the rate that was shown on my confirmation. And if that weren't annoying enough, the only room available was a lesser one than I booked. Not that it helped, but she did tell me that our room had a "Wonderful ocean view."
Having no place to stay, I agreed (knowing that American Express would back me if there was a dispute) to her terms on the condition that they made a photocopy of my confirmation and stapled it to my paperwork. They told me that the copier was out of order and that they needed the original. It could have been honest, or it could have been a trick. Nevertheless, I agreed, but did manage to take a photo of the confirmation using my camera's macro (close-up) mode.
After another 10-minutes of paperwork (and waiting), I was finally given key and told to move my car from the traffic circle to the car park, and that a shuttle van driver would take us to our rooms.
Yes, that is correct, you cannot park anywhere near your room!
While not a major issue, it was inconvenient to have to walk 500-meters (about 1/3 of a mile) to (and then from) the car each time you needed it. If one really wanted to, they could call (and then wait for) the shuttle van driver each time, but that would take three times longer than the 500-meter walk.
The shuttle van driver picked us up, took us to our room, and then took off. It was at that point that I discovered that two things: (1) It took over 1-hour to check in and get to my room and (2) the room itself was MUCH WORSE THAN EXPECTED.
While at first glance, the room appeared to be "average" (i.e., livable -- but in desperate need of renovation), we soon found out this room was "less than average" (to use polite terms).
Here is a list of the problems we discovered that night.
* Room had a strong musty odor. Hotel staff claimed it was" because of the humidity."
* There was visible mold (both fresh mold and freshly painted over mold).
* The gap under the door was large enough to allow cute little lizards (and ugly little bugs) into the room.
* The bed was very uncomfortable. It was not only too soft, but so worn that you could see (and feel) the springs.
* The TV did not work. Not that I had planned on watching much TV, but we had planned on looking at some of our digital camera photos using the "TV output" function of our camera.
* The toilet was dirty (rust stains).
* The toilet did not properly flush. You had to flush it 2 or 3 times. Yuck!
* The bathtub was dirty. Not filthy, but dirty. There was sand in it from the previous user.
* Like the toilet, the shower had rust stains. But it also had mold and dirt.
* Paint was peeling off the walls in many places.
* Light switches were dirty and rusty.
* The whirlpool (spa) function of the bathtub was inoperative (there was a handwritten note saying so).
* And my personal favorite, no hot water. When we called to the front desk, they said, "Someone must have used it all, but it will be OK in a few hours."
While the plan was to shower and change, we omitted the shower part due to the lack of hot water and some "Health and Welfare" concerns.
That night, we went to dinner at a little place called Lee's Roadside Grill. Lee's is both a restaurant and a fishing charter company. Nice combination. The food was affordable, plentiful, fresh, and tasty. They had live music, good drinks, and a friendly wait staff. While it wasn't be best meal I've ever had, it was a welcome change from our horrible hotel.
We were out pretty late, which actually worked out for the best, as sleep came easily when we got back. In the morning, we woke up with that type pain you get when you sleep in a crappy bed. No surprise there.
We decided to be positive and give the hotel a try. That was mistake #1. Mistake #2 was trying to take a shower. Knowing that the shower was a HAZMAT zone, we threw down some towels (trust me, you wouldn't have wanted to stand on the actual tile) and turned the water on. Guess what? No hot water (again). We called down to the front desk (again) and were told (again), "Someone must have used it all, but it will be OK in a few hours." Yes, word for word what we were told the night before.
We took a brief COLD shower and got dressed. We stepped out onto the patio to see our "Wonderful ocean view." It was not so wonderful. As you will see in the photos, it was peek-a-boo view (as they say) of the ocean.
Lucky for Divi Little Bay, when we arrived the night before, it was still dark. While the arrival of the sun did give us a peek-a-boo view of the ocean, it also gave us an up-close-and-personal view of the horrific state of Divi Little Bay.
* The long curtains that covered the patio door were ripped. While not viewable from the inside of the room, it was quite apparent from the outside.
* Paint was peeling everywhere. On both the exterior walls and corridor walls.
* Additionally, there was rust, water damage, mold, and gosh knows what else growing on the corridor walls.
* In a few locations, the stairs were deteriorated to the point that you had to skip a step to avoid falling down.
* The amount of construction going on was ridiculous. There were large mounds of dirt and debris all over the place. I think they were replacing a water pipe. Maybe for the hot water?
There was more bad news: The pool ran out of towels, coffee shop ran out of milk, and so on and so forth. At this point, it was quite apparent that we could not stay here any longer.
To be honest, I'm not sure if it was the mold, musty odors, rust, water damage or a combination of these things that did it, but we simply reached our limit.
We called the most senior staff member on duty (the assistant to the assistant manger I think) and told them we wanted out. Unlike most of the employees I had spoken to, this person genuinely seemed concerned at our dissatisfaction. They heard what we had to say, apologized, and offered to move us to an "upgraded room." We stated that we would like to see this room before deciding and were promptly given a key.
Unfortunately, the "upgraded room" was only slightly better than the room we had. It too had major problems (no hot water, cracked mirror, a cracked window, and mold). As you might guess, we decided to cut our losses and leave Divi Little Bay for once and forever. We told the assistant to the assistant manger, "Thanks, but no thanks" and checked out.
It was the longest 12-hours of my life.
After signing my American Express bill (for twice the amount I had expected to pay), we were on our way. As you might guess, Divi Little Bay never refunded the difference between my booked rate and what I paid. After my credit card statement came, I disputed the charge. Divi Little Bay apparently tried to dispute my dispute, but in the end I got my money back.
Simply put, we came to Divi Little Bay for a romantic getaway, but it ended up feeling like one of those B-Movie prison camps one might see on the A-Team.
Perhaps if we stayed a few days longer, we could have actually been rescued by Hannibal, Faceman, B.A., and Murdock?
Needless to say, "I pity the fool that stays at Divi Little Bay."
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- Also Known As:
- Divi Little Bay Beach Hotel Philipsburg
- St Maarten Divi Little Bay
- Divi Little Bay Resort
- Divi Little Bay Beach Resort St. Maarten-St. Martin/Philipsburg
- Hotel Divi Little Bay Beach