OBBR has a nice location on the island if you prefer to be a bit farther away from the congestion of the Phillipsburg/Simpson Bay area. If offers both a dramatic ocean view and a picturesque harbor view with mountains in the background. As others have noted, you need a rental car here unless you are satisfied with staying put, with the occasional taxi trip somewhere.
Our reservation was via a timeshare exchange for a 1 bedroom unit. For the week we had available, the only option we could get was a studio size unit. On the positive side, it had a partial ocean view with a balcony and the breeze was nice. But the studio units are quite small and the kitchen area was a bit frustrating to work with, other than for the simplest food preparation. The A/C unit was of the wall-mount type but was effective and not too noisy. We had a few minor maintenance/condition problems but nothing truly serious. Not all were addressed while we were there, but I assume the management will act on the written descriptions I left with them.
We give high marks to the housecleaning staff and the activities desk personnel; all very courteous and helpful.
The beach is nice, not the nicest on the island but not disappointing. It has a great view of Saint Barthélemy (St. Barts), which cuts a dramatic profile on the nearby horizon. This area is not very good for snorkeling, unless maybe you're up for a very long swim out to the true reef. During our stay, this entire side of the island (eastern side) was more prone to wind and waves than some other areas, but the outer reef catches most of that energy so the waves at the beach were quite small. We visited a lot of other beaches on the island - some just to look, not to swim. Among the most beautiful, I thought, were Baie Rouge and Baie aux Prunes. There are many others but some are hard to find and a somewhat long side-trip off the main roads.
One maintenance complaint we have about the resort grounds is a leaking sewer odor that is sometimes noticed in some locations when we were walking around. It was slightly noticeable on the nearest portion of the beach, depending on wind direction. They need to find and eliminate that.
Although quite small, the pool is interestingly designed and puts you almost at the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean, especially the "endless pool" section and if you're in the jacuzzi.
General comment about the season: Although having fewer tourists to compete with has its advantages at beaches, on the road and at restaurants, we concluded that this was not a good time to be there if you want to dine out and are particular about it. Among the island's restaurants with high ratings on TripAdvisor, nearly all were closed for the entire month of September, and some even longer, and they don't even announce that on their websites or even by signage at the main entrance.
About driving on the island: We ended up making about 3 "circumnavigations" by driving, and I eventually became comfortable with it. But at first, it is a bit unnerving because of the narrow, winding, often rough roads and because of the lack of clear signage. I strongly recommend not driving to some new destination at night, unless you've already scouted it out by driving during daylight.
About food shopping: The standard recommendation seems to be the "Le Grand Marché," near a major roundabout point near the northwest corner of "The Great Salt Pond." But for OBBR, we found it much easier to drive in the other direction (into the French part), up to an area called Hope Estate, where you will find the "Simply Mart." The drive down to Grand Marché is very congested and slow, whereas the other way is much less so. But they both are worth using, as they have quite different assortments of food. Oddly, the French-named Grand Marché (in the Dutch part) has more of a Dutch orientation, whereas the English-named Simply Mart (in the French part) is much more French in its food selections.
About other shopping: Just speaking from a perspective that is more my wife's than mine, this is not a great island for any type of upscale shopping. Sure, it has some of the upscale names in a few places, but in comparison to another of the Netherlands Antilles- Aruba-it is rather disappointing. Marigot on the French side has a nice, but small mall called West Indies Mall. Change is underway: a new and quite fancy mall, the "Blue Mall," is open in the Cupecoy Bay area but doesn't have many stores yet. Perhaps by the next high season, it will.
Overall, about OBBR: If your previous experiences have been with larger resorts or all-inclusives, you may find it a bit boring here because there are few options for dining or evening entertainment. But with transportation to explore elsewhere, it's a nice place to come back to.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Just south of the amicable French/Dutch divide, Oyster Bay Beach Resort awaits. Perched on a coral reef overlooking the Caribbean ocean and Oyster Pond Marina is paradise found. With breathtaking ocean views, white sand beach and countless amenities Oyster Bay Beach Resort and its sister properties, Mainsail, Spinnaker and the Lighthouse serve as your escape from the every day. Find adventure, serenity and the fullness of life at our island resort. Make Oyster Bay your next stop. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Oyster Bay Beach Hotel Oyster Pond
- Oyster Bay Beach Philipsburg