More about Alamanda Resort
Very Very Nice!
A few weeks before my husband and I were gonna leave on this well-needed vacation, based on reviews we switched our hotel from the one people don't seem to care for (you fellow St. Martin researchers know which one I mean) to the Alamanda Resort. Boy, did we make the right decision! It's located in a bright and colorful little village. Intimate hotel, rooms are clean and spacious along with a nice size terrace with lounge chairs. We had a ground floor room, which may sound just OK, but we had a pool view and could see the ocean behind it, you can hear the waves all the time which is sooo relaxing! My point being that no matter what type of room you get, you'll be satisfied. Our package came with daily breakfast, which was also just great. Rather than those heavy buffets at some places, here you sit outside by the pool while these sweet girls bring you your very fresh fruit cocktail (and I'm picky with freshness) along with soft pull-apart croissants (regular and chocolate chip - yummy). Can't forget the good variety of fresh fruit juices, definitely try the Guava! Staff overall is definitely friendly and helpful. As far as the island, renting a car is a good idea. It's easier to get to really explore and see how life is on the island, and of course see more gorgeous beaches! Grand Case has amazing restaurants, I recommend L'Escapade and La California. Marigot has great shopping, check out the open market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Dutch side is fun, especially the thrill of the planes flying over at Maho Beach, and good nightlife there too. Obviously then, French side is beautiful and relaxing, Dutch side is to go play. We chose the French side to stay on, chose the great Alamanda Resort and rented a car to go explore and play. We had an amazing vacation!
Just returned to Boston on 5/8 after a 7 night vacation at the Alamanda Resort on St. Martin. This hotel is everything the reviewers noted. Beautiful, functional rooms with ocean views that are kept impeccably clean. Separate tub, shower and toilet in the bahroom, comfortable king-size bed with large terraces furnished with teak furniture (adirondack type chairs). The staff is friendly and accomodating and really appreciate your attempts at the French lanquage. The Cafe at the hotel was excellent. Try the chocolat soufflet! Orient Beach is a trip, but if you prefer quiet, family type beach, Friar's Bay Beach is a short drive (as are all the beaches). The hotel provides a guest charge card for 5 other bars/restaurants on Orient Beach. My wife and I rented a car for the week and spent a few nights on the Dutch side. We much preferred the French side with its boutique size hotels, no fast food joints and a quiet ambiance that is just the opposite of the "cruise ship/tourist types" in Phillipsburg. The French gourmet restaurants in Grand Case (5 minute ride) are incredible. Cannot say enough about this hotel other than to go and enjoy. Say hello to Andres who was our waiter/bartender. We intend to return.
A wonderful week
My husband and I stayed at the Alamanda from 2/28/04 - 3/5/04. We had a fabulous time. As mentioned in other reviews, the rooms are very clean, and the place really does look like its photos on the web. The little village next door is great. We, too, had french bread and cheese with wine for lunch every day. We spent most of our days on the beach, and while I was initially a bit uncomfortable seeing the old naked men, I got used to it. In fact, it was almost refreshing, because I ended up feeling much better about my own body after seeing what they're willing to expose! The food in Grand Case is excellent. We ate dinner there every night except one, and that was the one meal I didn't enjoy as much. I brought far too many fancy dresses that I didn't wear. Even the most elegant restaurant follows a more casual dress code (think resort wear). We will definitely be returning to the Alamanda Resort next spring.
Not as great as expected
Just came back from a few days at the Alamanda Resort. It was nice, but definitely not as great as some other reviewers claimed. The woman at the front desk who checked us in was extremely unfriendly and mumbled alot. Not a good way to start the trip in St. Martin. The other staff members were defintely more friendly and helpful. We had a pool front view room. The room was nice and big and the view was OK, but there was construction going on right outside of our room while we were there and it was pretty noisy. We tried to change our room but the only other room that was available had a very bad view (it is possible - no pool no beach) and had a weird odor, so we stuck with our original room and lived with the noise.
The hotel has a big dirt road/parking lot between it and the beautiful beach. Kind of strange and not too appealing. My boyfriend almost got hit by a car the first day we were there. Overall, I would say to go to this hotel if you can get a good rate, but it wouldn't be my first choice.
Myself and my husband stayed at the Alamanda Resort 4/13/04 until 4/18/04 and did not want to come home. The hotel is small but has everything you could want. If you have any questions, the staff is extremely courteous and friendly and happy to assist you with anything. They rented a car for us it was delivered right to the hotel, also they arranged for cell phone rental, the gentleman came right to the hotel, dropped off phone, we paid him $20 and he picked it up at the airport upon our departure. Could not have been simplier, the hotel goes out of their way to accomodate. The rooms are sooooo clean, and that was very important to me. The balconies are large, the food is delicious at the restaurant and all over the island. Lots of restaurants in Grand Case, should drive over if you have a car. Also, visit Philipsburg for the typical island shopping experience (very much like St. Thomas), tons of jewelry and liquor stores. Can't wait to go back, the beach is always busy, lots of nice bars - Visit Kakao Beach Bar and Restaurant the drinks at the beach bar are delicious and the food is great at the restaurant. The food prices are pretty typical in price, we did not think they were too expensive. G.P. at the Kakao Bar is very friendly and makes super drinks. Geraldine at the front desk is so nice and takes the time to talk with you, and help you with anything. Beware of lots of old saggy men walking the beach (not many women), they really shouldn't strut their stuff, because it is not good!! Have a blast, we did!
My husband and I stayed at the Alamanda Resort from 7/17/04 to 7/24/04. It was just wonderful. It is not a big, posh, full service chain hotel. It is a peaceful haven of understated luxury right on Orient Beach which is a beautiful and fun place. The hotel is so comfortable and friendly, the service personal. We did not feel like we do when we stay at a large commercial hotel that nickels and dimes you for every little thing. The staff was there when you wanted them but they were just as good at respecting your privacy. We often sat at the dining tables by the pool at night with drinks from our room and nobody bothered us. The rooms and grounds are clean, well kept, and done with a beautiful French West Indies charm. Although the hotel is small, it has just about everything you will need (restaurant, bar, pool, gym around the corner, room service, etc.). Every room has a large terrace with teak furniture and views of the pool and beach. No room has a bad view. The hotel allows you to charge food and drinks to your room at 5 of the beach bars on Orient Beach as well as a couple of other restaurants for nearby dinner. There is alot to do on St. Martin. Shopping is fun in Philipsburg and Marigot. Dinner in Grand Case is a must. The food really is incredible. We went to Rainbow and thought it was great. You can also island hop to Anguilla, St. Bart's, and some other islands. We went to Anguilla which is 18 minutes by ferry. It is gorgeous and serene with not much to do (kind of the opposite of St. Martin), but I did not want to leave. It was so peaceful and there are a lot of incredible resorts and restaurants there. We had a wonderful vacation and I think staying at the Alamanda had a lot to do with it. We would definitely stay there again if we went back to St. Martin. You won't be dissapointed if you give it a try.
Re Orient Your Outlook
uThis is a well-run, modern and clean hotel, staffed by friendly and helpful personnel. The hotel is close (about a one minute walk) to Orient Beach. There is not a whole lot to do in Orient Bay, but for us that was the point. We fell into a wonderful routine, starting with an excellent "American" breakfast at the hotel (not too much extra than the Continental breakfast that was part of the room). We proceeded to the beach where we spent the day reading, swimming and walking along the shore. The beach is everything you would want. There are some convenient beach side restaurants for lunch or mid-day snacks and drinks. Of course, we often saved ourselves for dinner. We had a very nice dinner one night at the Tropicana, located in Marigot. However, the delight of our dining experience was a hotel restaurant called L'Astrolabe at the Esmeralda hotel that is close to the Alamanda. Rather than spending time and money on a taxi, we ended up going to dinner at L'Astrolabe four nights. While it might sound boring to return so often to the same restaurant, the setting, service and food was worth it. The staff was simply wonderful. Our favorite dishes: Rack of Lamb and the Filet Mignon. The wine list has something for everyone. Try the relatively inexpensive red wine from Provence if you want a great bargain. I definitely would return to the Alamanda and can recommend it for those looking for a real break.
My new bride and I spent the first week of our honeymoon at the Alamanda. We had the Presidential Suite, and I was not able to see any of the other rooms, but I get the impression that they are all nice. If you can, get one of the suites (I'd recommend the Presidential over the Orient-even though both are identical-because the Presidential is located on the second floor, and the balcony for the Orient does not offer the same view. Also. it opens right onto the front of the property, which would make me feel a bit strange late at night.)
The service was perfect. Breakfast was nice, and in reality that was just about the only time we saw any other guests (we were told that 21 of the 42 rooms were booked).
This is the "off-season", but we found Orient beach to be so much fun. The difference between in season and out of season is simply less crowds, and the bars/restaurants on the beach close much earlier (7-8 pm instead of 3-4 am). However, we spent enough time exploring the island and eating dinner in Grand Case, etc.. as to not even notice. Plenty to do on Orient beach, including every imaginable water sport. You could go for 2 weeks, and eat lunch at a different place nearly every day.
Visit Pinel island, which requires a 5 minute drive to a nearby dock, and where a $5 round trip ferry will take you there and back hourly. We loved this place. Greatest lunch of our week was at the restaurant furthest from where the ferry drops you off (there are only 2 on the island). Very private, great snorkeling, great nap beach.
We did the horseback riding at Bayside stables, about 2 minutes from the Alamanda. This was a memorable experience, as the guides were great, the scenery perfect, and we actually swam with the horses.
Grand Case is the spot for dinner, although I would recommend finding some of the smaller, less touristy places, as they tend to be a bit more economical. Food is unbelievable at the fancy French places though, and we had two meals that won't soon be forgotten.
Marigot is a fun spot during the day; there's a market, and lot's of good eating. Plan to eat most of your stay, as the food is beyond compare nearly everywhere.
If you stay on and enjoy the French side there is little reason to go to the Dutch side, unless you want to drive the island, visit a different beach, or buy diamonds/electronics. Or perhaps go to a casino (none on the French side).
DRIVING ON THE ISLAND is not easy. It's one road, but the locals drive as if they've all stolen their vehicle, and it's downright scary at times. Oddly, you will get used to it after a day or two. But you will say "LOOK AT THIS GUY" about 20 times on your first day. Mopeds flying between cars where there seemingly is never enough space, and cars passing with less than a second to spare....it's all very interesting.
I cannot say enough good things about the Alamanda. As other here have said, it's not the Ritz; there is nobody opening doors for you. It's understated, and comfortable, and the staff was so helpful. They would make our reservations, share stories with us about their favorite spots, and never once pointed us in the wrong direction.
Email me if you want specific restaurant names/reviews, or need more info on what to do, where to go, or whatever. We were pretty good about keeping notes, and it certainly helped us to have some insider info going in.
Our week in St Martin
My wife and stayed at La Alamanda in Orient Bay from 05/07-05/13. The hotel met our high expectations in every way except the oceanfront view wasn't that great. (There is a distance of about 100 yards from the hotel to the beach. The service was excellent, and the contintental breakfast was looked forward to every day. (great chocolate croissants!) Keep in mind that this is a Euopean style boutique hotel--no Marriott/Hilton extravagances.
The island itself is VERY expensive. Better tropical beauty and value for the dollar could be had in Hawaii, but experiencing the French culture and food made it worthwhile. Overall, they were much more friendly than we had expected.
The beach was nice: soft sand, cool beach bars, fairly calm, clear water. As another poster mentioned though, you will see more than you'd like to see from old, fat, naked men walking up and down the beach.
We had a car for the week and drove the island. Driving can be difficult on the narrow unmarked roads, but there are so many things to do across the island that we thought it mandatory. If you decide to hike Paradis Peak, I'd recommend wearing pants. There are many spiders, and some type of plants that sting the skin on contact. My wife and I like to hike, but found this island lacking for this activity.
Citrus in Cupecoy is a very seductive restaurant with great ambience, and fairly good food. (2 for dinner /w wine =$150+)
Lee's Seafood grill in Simpson Bay is a simple place that serves up great grilled fresh fish at good prices. (2 for dinner ~$40)
L'auberge Gourmande in Grand Case was excellent! Fine French cuisine w/ a classic carribean ambience. (2 for dinner /w wine =$150)
Overall, we enjoyed our trip, but would proably not return anytime in the near future. Pricing and uncleanliness of urban areas are negatives, while food and fun are the positives.
Fauna & flora
rose de porcelaine
iguana's - this one is a permanent hotel guest!
oiseau de paradis
special kind of palm tree on the island of Marie-Galante
birds, lots of birds - not easy to put on film though!