Recommend May 2015 - (Page 18)

The resort hugs a lovely stretch of beach. onsitereview A P R I L 2 015 Riu Palace St. Martin THE FRENCH SIDE'S ALL-INCLUSIVE ed wetschler It doesn't look like a Riu, at least not one of the larger ones in the Caribbean. But in recent years Riu has branched out, opening smaller resorts and city hotels (Miami in February, and soon, Times Square), and the 258-suite Riu Palace St. Martin makes the family tree even more interesting. Before it relaunched as a Riu in 2014 it was a Radisson Blu, and before that, a Meridien, so the main building is Meridien's white, 1990s neocolonial with classical columns, an open-air reception with more fields of white, and just a few touches of turquoise to evoke the sea. The sea matters, because the Riu hugs Anse Marcel, a peaceful crescent beach on the north shore of the French side. This rare all-inclusive on the French side shares the bay with Hotel Le Domaine, but even so, it feels far from the hullabaloo of Marigot and Philipsburg. Being fond of this spot-I stayed there with my wife when it was a Meridien-I visited at the beginning of April to meet the new regime. This time I brought, not my wife, but bronchitis. I mention this because when a server at the breakfast buffet heard me coughing, she came over to ask if I was okay. "My mother used to give me tea with lemon and honey," she said, "so I'm going to go back to the kitchen and see if I can find some for you." That's how the entire staff is. When I couldn't find the universal outlets in my suite, the electrician who came to my room not only refrained from calling me a lunkhead (there were five outlets right on the desk!), but apologized for my having missed the obvious. 18 may 2015 18-47 CB Onsites.indd 18 wicker and wifi On each side of the reception area a low-rise wing of guest suites extends toward the beach; each room has a balcony or patio. A third, freestanding wing fronts a small marina tucked off to the right. The hallways within these wings could use new carpeting and fresh paint, but the rooms are cheerful, with pastel stucco walls, wicker furniture, an adjustable bed, a flat-screen TV, radio, WiFi, a fully stocked minibar, four bottles of spirits, and a sleek bathroom with tawny tiles and plenty of glass. Considering that room service is also included, why ever leave my room? Dumb question; this is St. Martin! At the very least I had to do some shopping, watch the planes land near my head at Maho Beach, and revisit Orient Beach. The clothed-bathing section, anyway. Besides, back at the Riu, Anse Marcel beckoned with its gentle waters and, from my chaise longue on the right side of the beach, a strong WiFi signal. Some guests hung out at the immense, free-form infinity pool, which has an expansive shallow area for tykes and another area for volleyball. Too bad there's no swim-up bar, but guests who wanted a drink bravely walked the eight feet to a freestanding bar. Ambitious guests joined staffers in reggae dances, games, and contests, such as The Great St. Martin Kayaking Race. Kayaks, snorkeling gear, and one free diving lesson (there's a dive shop on premises) are included, but other watersports cost extra, and there are no sailboats. That's likely to change after August, when the 4/21/15 12:03 PM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recommend May 2015

Editor’s Notes
Lodgings Take Comforts to New Heights
Exclusive Group Travel
What’s New in All-Inclusives
Riu Palace St. Martin
Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach Cancun Resort & Spa
Trinidad & Tobago Travel Agent Specialist Program
Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta
Andalucia, Spain
Different Routes to Southeast Asia
The Guatemala Travel Experience
New Ships Bulletin
What’s New in Orlando
Orlando World Center Marriott

Recommend May 2015