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“Much Worse than Expected (I pity the fool that stays at Divi Little Bay)” 1 of 5 bubbles
Review of Divi Little Bay Beach Resort

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Divi Little Bay Beach Resort
Ranked #2 of 12 Hotels in Philipsburg
Certificate of Excellence
Irvine, California
Level Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 57 helpful votes
“Much Worse than Expected (I pity the fool that stays at Divi Little Bay)”
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 14, 2006

<< 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."

  • Stayed December 2005
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
57 Thank code7700
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 bubbles
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English first
Long Island, New York
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 31, 2005

This was our third consecutive year staying at Divi Little Bay. Each year just seems to be better than the last. We vacation at least twice a year. This past summer we went to Hawaii, which was beautiful, but we always look forward to our St. Maarten trip. The Divi staff is friendly and very accommodating. The property has been being worked on and units updated. They do work on Island time, slow but work is in progress. The resort views and grounds are breathtaking. Our early morning and late evening walks go undisturbed since the resort grounds are large enough not to keep running into people if you don't want. My husband and I use our time here for bonding and making our life's major decisions in this serene atmosphere. The resort is centrally located, but very private on its own little inlet. This year we had the added bonus of being there at the same time as the Strong Man competition.

  • Stayed December 2005
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
17 Thank val4gene
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
35 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 84 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 7, 2005

We spent a week at the Divi Little Bay in June of 2005-this review took so long to write because we're still getting over this experience! However, we feel compelled to write.

We read the reviews on the board before going, and wished we had listened. We know an owner, and because she said everything was fine, we went. We didn't know that all the refurbished rooms and good service was for the owners.

We reserved a 2 bedroom unit and got a 1 bedroom with a studio next to it for our guests - the first of many disappointments. Then it took two days to get enough keys so that our guests could use the kitchen in our room!

Staff and service is horrible. We didn't have enough towels for the four of us and after waiting hours, we finally took them from a clean bag of linens on some steps in front of another unit.

Air conditioning never worked. Our room was warm, the studio was freezing. No one fixed it for us during the entire stay. The rooms are old and smell moldy. Appliances are lacking -coffee pot broken and we waited 24 hours to get a new one.

The maid came on Wed. and when we returned, the door was open and unlocked! When we voiced our concerns to the front desk, no apology was given.

When it rained, our bathroom ceiling leaked...water dripping on you when you are on the toilet. A call to ask it to be fixed was answered with "Wait until it stops raining" When we insisted it was dangerous and must be attended to we were told that it was late -9pm, plus the maintenance staff doesn't work in the rain! We protested still, and finally got someone over. It was someone from housekeeping who came with 3 or 4 towels and put them on the floor to absorb the water!

The fitness room - small, dirty, no water available. When I notified the front desk that the one exercise bike was broken on Monday they said someone would fix it. I asked again on Wed. The bike was never fixed. We work out daily due to medical concerns and were quite disappointed. We're not looking for a 5 star gym, but this was awful.

They advertise 3 pools. The infinity pool that is pictured in Caribbean travel and life never worked! It was dirty and moldy. What a disappointment. On the way to this pool, you pass junk....discarded appliances and beach chairs that are rusty.

The Laundry room is dirty, and that would even be ok, but when our guests used the machines, they got rust stains on their clothes.

The cruise ships bring their guests to the Divi on Wednesday. We were actually told that it would be best if we left the property that day!! We saw why-the entire beach is transformed into one big party for these guests. They go all out for them and ask us to leave! What a racket.

Food is passable at best. We ate in as much as possible. The entire resort seemed "dead" - seemed like a lot of empty rooms. We thought it was just off season until we spent our second week at another resort and saw the huge difference.

The resort advertises a dive shop. MY husband is a diver and likes to dive daily. No dive shop anymore.
When we asked the activities director, she was extremely unhelpful in directing us to another place. Good thing we had a car and found a dive shop in town - not an easy feat.

The only good thing about this resort was the beach- great snorkelling, great view, and the room we had overlooking Great Bay had a nice view.

We are not used to 5 star resorts and were not expecting that. THe Divi, although it professes to be wonderful, is more like a 2 star, and that is only due to it's beautiful location. However, our second week was spent at Oyster Bay and it was fabulous -
great staff, everything is clean, beautiful pool and view. They were sold out, tons of activities and great fun.

If you are thinking of taking a chance on the Divi, don't!

  • Stayed June 2005
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
23 Thank NHIslandGirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boston, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 26, 2005

We stayed at the Divi for 8 nights in May. The best part of the hotel is the scenery. The beach is very nice, great views, private. The restuarants on the premises were ok. The service was slow, but ok. We had some plumbing problems in our room the 1st night, but with one phone call it was resolved with in a half hour.
The Hotel has a great location, not too far from downtown, close to everything.
Overall the staff was pleasant and helpful. I wasnt too impressed with the place, but it was nice.

  • Stayed May 2005
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
15 Thank BooClarendon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boston, MA
Level Contributor
14 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 13, 2005

Thanks to all who wrote in. We selected this spot based on reviews. The hotel beach is beautiful - private, uncluttered, view to the open sea. The rooms and facilities are simple, but comfortable. What appealed to us is its low profile - 2 stories only - and its ability to cater, but in an unpretentious manner. Drawbacks are: cruiseship holiday makers seeking a beach for a day are bused in (not a problem for us in the low season), music on the beach sometimes, slightly tired furbishings and structure.

The island itself is quite developed. Roads are overcrowded and poorly maintained. Despite that, the beaches are beautiful, and we had a great time.

  • Stayed November 2005
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
17 Thank Boston1019
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
St. Thomas
Level Contributor
12 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 57 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 23, 2005

Our family stayed at Divi Little Bay in July 2002 for my graduation & had such a wonderful time then, that when we got engaged, we decided to have our destination wedding there. We got married in November 2004 & had 86 guests. Although the resort is not a five star (rated between 3-4 stars), what we got for the money was great. Most people paid between $126-$160 per night (for a studio w/kitchenette or a 1-bdrm/2 bath w/full kitchen). The rooms were not spotless, but clean & the views were breathtaking on either side (Little or Great Bay). The staff personifies the countries motto: "The Friendly Island". The staff is not fake, like in other tropical places, nor rude (as in places where they resent your presence--especially if you are of color). Because the resort is on its own peninsula, you get secluded comfort (no huge groups of vacationers), but its close to downtown Philipsburg & the club/bar/restaurant-filled area of Simpson Bay, near the airport.

The wedding was great (flowers, food, officiant) and the coordinator arranged it all (Lucie Davis, ---). The photographer, Jean Vallette, was wonderful & we got our pictures 3 days after the wedding, with negatives included in the price (they do not do that in the US)! The reception was in the restaurant & they transformed the room for an elegant formal affair. The Caribbean-style food at the reception was exceptional!!!!

Overall, don't expect Ritz Carlton-like amenities, but for the price, you cannot beat the comfort, service & friendliness of Divi Little Bay.

  • Stayed November 2004
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
12 Thank Vinewbie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 19, 2005

My girlfriend and I just got back from 5 days at Divi Little Bay Beach Resort, which literally sits on a peninsula, thus sharing two bays. We had a great time on the island!! (We do a lot of traveling and always refer to this site for frank, candid discussions about the resorts we intend to visit). We stayed in a one-bedroom apartment with a kitchen and two bathrooms, which looked over the larger bay towards Philipsburg and the Cruise ships; the smaller bay (Little Bay) was were the swimming and water sports took place. It was beautiful in the morning, and even better at night. Our room was spacious but not renovated. So, ask for one of the renovated units-they give them to owners as a priority, but worth a try asking. Also, take some bug repellant, the critters are there. Finally, they don't clean or change linens everyday, so be prepared. As for the rest of the resort: the beaches and pools were nice, security was present, the restaurant (we ate there once) was NOT that good (how could you mess up breakfast), but the location was excellent, convenient to all parts of the island and far enough from the airport not to be disturbed, and the staff was helpful, but not overly friendly. Definitely get a car and explore the French side and do some shopping. Don't know why they call it a "Resort and Casino", as we saw nothing that led us to believe that gambling was going on anywhere at the property!!! Finally, it is a timeshare, but the sales pitch was VERY minimal, and took exactly 1 hr (as promised). Much better than Mexico, where you can be tied up for hours. I recommend the place to everyone and we look forward to going back soon.

  • Stayed September 2005
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
17 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Divi Little Bay Beach Resort

Property: Divi Little Bay Beach Resort
Address: Little Bay Road, Philipsburg, St. Maarten-St. Martin
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > St. Maarten-St. Martin > Sint Maarten > Philipsburg
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#2 Family Hotel in Philipsburg
#2 On the Beach Hotel in Philipsburg
#3 Romantic Hotel in Philipsburg
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Divi Little Bay Beach Resort 4*
Number of rooms: 220
Reservation Options:
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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

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