HWelcome to a Beach Gotel with a Fabulous Caribbean Location
Note to readers: in 2016. this resort was "reflagged" as a property of the Riu brand, popular in the Caribbean and Mexico. Its new name is Hotel Riu Palace St. Martin. The primary change is that the hotel is now on an all-inclusive pricing plan.
• See the hotel's website
• One welcome change: wifi is everywhere, and free
Location, location, location. The Radisson Blu Resort, Marina & Spa, a beach resort on the Caribbean island of St. Martin in the French West Indies, has plenty of it. The island is divided in two: a Dutch side (Sint Maarten) and a French side, St. Martin. The Radisson Blu St. Martin sits on 18 beachfront acres on the French side of the island. but travel between the two requires no passport control.
An International Crowd at Radisson Blu St. Martin
Radisson Blu St. Martin is the island's most luxurious property, and attracts a high-end clientele. Approximately 60% of the resort's guests are from North America, mostly from the Northeast. A quarter of the resort's guests travel from France, and quite a few are from Quebec. Many guests are honeymoon couples.
Radisson Blu St. Martin offers a marina, a 1,600-foot stretch of white-sand beach, a small spa, and a tremendous pool. The resort is close to Grand Case, a neighborhood whose restaurants and cafes draw locals and tourists.
Radisson Blu St. Martin is within easy reach of Pinel Island, a popular kayaking and snorkeling site. A 20-minute taxi ride brings guests to the town of Marigot, known for its duty-free shops and twice-weekly market.
For travelers landing at St. Martin's Princess Juliana International Airport, the Radisson Blu operates a water taxi service that shuttles travelers to the resort. This takes minutes, versus approximately 40 by car.
Radisson Blu St. Martin is owned and operated by Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, usually known in the U.S. for their midscale hotels. The Blu brand, on the other hand, is Radisson's relatively new luxury label.
Radisson Blu on St. Martin, a former plain-jane Radisson, was renovated and upgraded in 2012 to become Carlson's first Radisson Blu in the Caribbean.
Guest Rooms & Suites at Radisson Blu Resort Marina & Spa, St. Martin
Sunny, Comfy Rooms at Radisson Blu St. Martin
Radisson Blu St. Martin is styled like a French West Indies colonial plantation estate, with breezy porticoed buildings painted sparkling white.
Radisson Blu St. Martin's rooms have a sitting area, private balcony or porch, and king or two queen beds. The rooms' décor reflects a Caribbean color scheme, with cool blues, sunny yellows and splashes of tropical accent colors.
Currently, rooms have ethernet connections. Wifi, with an occasionally wavering signal, is complimentary in the lobby. All rooms will go wireless in late 2012. Connections will be free, a nice touch. In lieu of a business center, two PCs are available for free guest use.
Spring for a Suite at Radisson Blu St. Martin
Guest rooms range in size from 430 square feet (Superior room) to 1,050 (Deluxe Grand Suite). The 63 suites are even more gracious. Each has a bedroom with a king bed, a living room, and a bathroom with both a shower and a soaking tub.
Suites occupy quiet adjoining wings with four suites per building, each with a private balcony or patio facing the marina. However, when I visited in May 2012, access to suites entailed walking along an unsightly, partially screened construction and storage area. I found that unacceptable for guests in the hotel's priciest accommodations.
The best ocean view at the resort is from room 1334, a deluxe-category room.
Standard room amenities include:
- Large closets with shelves plus a chest with deep drawers
- LCD HDTVs with limited channel choices
- iPod/iPhone dockable clock-radio (which is capable of charging an iPhone)
- DVD player
- Nespresso pod coffee and tea maker with complimentary pods
- Gratis bottled water
- A safe wide enough to accommodate a 17-inch laptop
- Writing desk with a 110-volt power strip configured to accept US plugs (other outlets are 220 volts; these require a currency converter and/or adapter North Americans)
- Iron and ironing board
- One sink
- Waffle-cotton bathrobes and slippers for two
- Outlets that accept both European and North American plugs
- Magnifying makeup mirror
- Full-length mirror
- Deluxe Anne Semonin-brand toiletries from France
What makes the service at Radisson Blu St. Martin a Caribbean standout? >>
Outstanding Service at Radisson Blu Resort Marina & Spa, St. Martin
Unlike many Caribbean resorts, outstanding service is a priority at Radisson Blu St. Martin. The general manager told me that during the resort's seven-month closing for renovations in 2012, "We kept all 170 employees on the payroll (for) nearly 500 hours of training, from customer service to teamwork."
Radisson Blu St. Martin's high-level service was evident on my visit:
- At the main restaurant, servers remembered dinner guests’ favorite wines and cocktail preferences from a meal two days before
- Wines were properly stored and served
- Tables were precisely set
- Rooms were thoroughly cleaned each day (I had surreptitiously left loose threads in several places to see if the housekeeping staff swept and dusted all surfaces. They did)
- Requests for porter assistance and wake-up calls were properly dispatched
Carlson Rezidor's president, Thorsten Kirschke, was at the St. Martin resort for a site inspection during my stay. "A 100% satisfaction rule has long been an anchor of our brand," he told me. "If something doesn't meet our guests' satisfaction and we can't fix it, the guest doesn't pay."
Read about the délicieux dining at Radisson Blu St. Martin >>
Dining at Radisson Blu Resort Marina & Spa, St. Martin
Dining is a central focus at Radisson Blu St. Martin. The chefs are French at its restaurants: the upscale, beachside C le Restaurant and the informal Le Marche. Caribbean-style menus are grounded in classical French cuisine.
Fresh-caught seafood is a highlight at C le Restaurant. Grilled sea bream, a special lunch feature while I was visiting, was everything you'd expect of a first-class oceanfront restaurant: sparkling-fresh, perfectly seared, boldly seasoned. For dessert: an equally excellent lemon curd tart. (In my opinion, you should never skip dessert when the chef is French.)
The informal Le Marche serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A well-stocked breakfast buffet is included with most room rates. Its offerings include fresh-squeezed juices, an omelet station, cereals, and delectable, house-made, French pastries and croissants.
The lobby bar features a full cocktail menu. But the best choice is mixed drinks with (or straight pours of) Caribbean rums that the bartenders infuse with over a dozen tropical ingredients like coconut, mango, and passion fruit. (Guests like me, who are curious about house specialties, can sample all the infused rums in a tasting.)
What else can Radisson Blu St. Martin guests do? >>
Other Things to Do at Radisson Blu Resort Marina & Spa, St. Martin
How to Choose Between the Resort's Great Beach and Its Amazing Pool?
The resort has an exceptional white-sand beach. Its location in a protected cove makes for gentle surf and easy swimming and snorkeling. An on-premises dive shop offers reef and wreck dives as well as certification dives for scuba newbies. Fishing expeditions are available in the resort's adjacent marina.
Radisson Blu's 300-foot long beachside pool is touted as among the largest in the Caribbean.
Use of the hotel fitness center is free to guests. The facility is compact but equipped with free weights, Nautilus circuit machines, a stationary bike, four treadmills and an elliptical trainer. Each station has a television attached.
The small spa performs a full menu of treatments in its five private rooms. Guests can also schedule massages in a poolside cabana.
The resort offers guests activities like nature hikes and rum tastings. The Kids' Club entertains young guests with arts and crafts, pool games, storytelling, and so on.
Radisson Blu St. Martin is close to duty-free shopping in Marigot. (Swiss watches represent good values here).
St. Martin markets itself as the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean. Most of the gourmet restaurants are located in the area of Grand Case, near Marigot. They serve Caribbean-French cuisine and French wine. Casinos and a vibrant club scene can be found a half-hour drive away on the Sint Maarten (Dutch) side of the island.
Is Radisson Blu St. Martin right for you? Take the quiz >>
Is Radisson Blu St. Martin the Right Caribbean Resort for You?
Will Radisson Blu St. Martin Be Your Caribbean Bliss?
The answer is probably yes if:
- You want a secluded, white-sand beach
- You value top-notch service with a caring attitude
- You like to eat and drink well, and will enjoy French-inspired Caribbean cuisine
- You seek an airy, spacious, quiet hotel room
- You want a quiet, relaxed hotel for a couple's vacation
- Your ideal is a beach resort near shopping and good restaurants
The answer is probably no if:
- You seek a lively resort with nightlife and casino action
- You prefer historic or grand hotels with name-dropping value
- Or your style is a design hotel with hip, super-stylish looks
- You are a single traveler (or friends on a getaway) hoping to meet other singles
- You can't deal with very young guests, and would be more relaxed at an adults-only resort
How to connect with Radisson Blu St. Martin & start planning your Caribbean getaway >>
Radisson Blu St. Martin: For More Info
Hotel Riu Palace St. Martin
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