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“Idyllic location, spotty service”
Review of Belmond La Samanna

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Belmond La Samanna
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Terres Basses
Certificate of Excellence
new York
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Idyllic location, spotty service”
Reviewed 19 February 2012

This is a boutique hotel with many charms, not least of which is an unbeatable location on a picture-perfect beach. It is upscale, yet unprententious, and is a respite from those overdeveloped mega resorts. The basic room we have has a breathtaking ocean view. It is somewhat sparsely furnished and could use some updating, but all in all, it is well-appointed and comfortable. The room is more rustic, than luxury five-star but the view makes it feel special. The tennis courts are wonderfully maintained, and the free racket rentals are a bonus. The beach is wonderfully close...just a few flights of stone steps down, and you step into the soft white sand. A line of beach chairs and umbrellas await guests, however there is a bit more demand than supply methinks, as it seems every morning there's a race to get a seat. The beach attendants are mostly cheerful, if not always readily available. A well-equipped hut nearby houses water sports equipment that is free to borrow. The fine dining restaurant has good food, and the poolside restaurant is mediocre, but decent. As a property, La Samanna is
a rough-cut gem in St Martin, but some of its charm is squandered by ill-trained, or in some
cases, ill- tempered staff. We have several examples of this, starting with the restaurant, Le
Reserve...When we arrived, the hostess had gotten into an argument with what looked like a manager, and ignored us when we approached. The hostess continued to argue, even as she
led us to our table. The waitress did not seem confident in being able to recommend dishes, and was a bit brusque as well. Other wait staff, and a gentleman that may have been a
sommelier, were friendlier, and more fitting of the sublime oceanfront atmosphere, and atmospheric prices. The spotty service has been a repetitive theme during our stay, and what
may not be obvious to less discerning or fastidious travellers really started to annoy us by our
third day. Now, what at first seemed innocent, looks more systemic...however subtle...The bell
boy and receptionist who brought us to our room were too quick to extend their hands to take
our (generous) tips. When we asked about cigars at the bar, the bartender looked like our
inquiry had disturbed him from something more important, and couldn't offer any insight other
than a curt, "I don't smoke." A similar curtness, short of rudeness, but far from the friendliness
we're used to at this caliber of lodging, greeted us when we rented snorkels, or asked for a
glass of water at breakfast, or inquired about restaurants. We don't expect everyone on staff to
be consistently cheerful anywhere, but we were most disappointed that one member of the
concierge staff was particularly unapproachable. Again, never blatantly rude, but not
particularly helpful, and less than friendly.
It goes without saying that there are plenty of wonderful staffers here as well. There are charming perks and people-- the ice-cold aromatic towels, the doughnuts the beach attendant passed around today, or the water sports guy who seems to speak ten languages.... If it weren't so, you would not see all the other glowing reviews. But we have come to expect a certain level of politeness, amiability, and going-the-extra-mile service when paying top dollar at the world's best hotels....until La Samanna fully gets that, this glistening property will lack some luster for us.

  • Stayed February 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank stimpyyoga
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
LaSamanna, General Manager at Belmond La Samanna, responded to this review, 27 February 2012
Dear Stimpyyoga,

Thank for your recent visit to La Samanna, and taking the time to share your experience with us on TripAdvisor. I appreciate your kind comments about the resort, location, beach and more. I would also like to apologize for the inconsistencies in service you received while on property. It's certainly not the impression we want to leave with any of our guests. While it's hard to read this type of feedback, it's also very helpful to learn where we might be falling short of our guests' expectation. I have discussed your detailed feedback with our associates, so that we can assure that similar issues don't negatively impact future guest stays.

We would love to have you back to the resort and have another opportunity to provide the complete vacation experience that you expected when selecting La Samanna. If you do plan to return, I invite you to contact me directly in advance.

Warm regards,

Pascal Deyrolle
General Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
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English first
Buffalo, New York
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 11 February 2012

We stayed for 2 weeks as a couple at La Samanna in January, 2012. We loved the resort and even though it is not cheap, we did not find a resort with the same quality at a lower price on the island. The grounds are beautiful and very well kept, in a quite, peaceful and private environment. The beach is gorgeous and the ocean is easy to swim in; there are no rocks, seaweed, etc. The service is outstanding. Everybody of the staff wants to make staying at the resort as pleasant as possible. The pool areas are wonderful and clean; the service there is also excellent. We were very impressed with the concierge service, especially with Muriel. We should also mention the Guest Relation Manager Maylis de Pompignan, who has gone out of her way to be helpful. Also special mention is due to Isabel at the front desk. Several kind employees come to our mind, like Edna at the pool area and members of the housekeeping staff. Our lowest category ocean front room was small, but adequate, however, the bathroom did not have a bathtub. The newly installed TV system did not function well without recurring problems, requiring repeated visits for repair. We saw the next level ocean front suite, which was spacious and beautiful. We also visited the villas accommodating 8-10 people - they were amazing! The breakfast buffet was in a pleasant setting overlooking the ocean, and the food was plentiful and the service was excellent. However, the restaurant for dinner and the lunch menu at the poolside did not measure up to the fame of St. Martin’s gourmet restaurants. Overall, we were very satisfied with our choice and are looking forward to coming back to La Samanna in the future.
Marietta and Thomas Kalman, Buffalo, New York

Room Tip: Be sure to get a renovated room!
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  • Stayed January 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Thomas K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Poplar Bluff, Missouri
Level Contributor
13 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 86 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 February 2012

Was able to stop by La Samanna for a tour as Travel Agents. Were we impressed!! What a beautiful property, whether you want beachfront rooms or a cliffside villa, La Samanna has it all. Beachfront restuarants with breathtaking views of the ocean and the incredible sunsets. The beach waiters were great and always around to get you anything you desired. Very comfy beach chairs and loungers for sunset viewing. The whole beach is basically all yours. No other resort could be seen anywhere. Rooms were large with big bathrooms and new furnishings. They were in the process of updating more rooms this summer to finish the renovation process. Thanks for making our time at La Samanna so memorable. We look forward to sending our higher end clients to this resort, they won't be dissapointed!

Room Tip: Try the snorkeling over by the cliffs, awesome!
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  • Stayed February 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank BeachTurf
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
LaSamanna, General Manager at Belmond La Samanna, responded to this review, 13 February 2012
Dear BeachTurf,

I am happy that you had a chance to visit La Samanna and learn more about our property. Thanks for taking the time to provide feedback on your experience with us. I'm happy to read your positive remarks about the property and our renovated guest rooms. Coming from someone with your travel industry experience, it means a lot.

Thanks again for visiting and sharing this review. We look forward to providing your clients with the same type of experience you enjoyed at La Samanna.

Warm regards,

Pascal Deyrolle
General Manager
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Charlotte, North Carolina
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 February 2012

La Samanna is one of the best hotel's I've ever stayed at. The hotel beach area is absolutely breakthtaking and is the perfect place to end your day & watch the sunset. The hotel staff made you feel like a celebrity upon arrival, handing you island-drinks and hot hand towels as you relax to check-in. The rooms were all beautiful and were more than accommodating. The breakfast each morning provided at the hotel was delicious and high qualify food. The staff was very helpful with everything that we needed from an American plug adapter to what we should do while on the island! I definitely recommend staying here! Wonderful Experience!

  • Stayed August 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank TravelBuff121
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
LaSamanna, General Manager at Belmond La Samanna, responded to this review, 10 February 2012
Dear TravelBuff121,

Warm greetings from La Samanna! I want to thank you for taking a moment to share your feedback with us. I love reading comments from our past guests, as it is truly helpful for us to see how our guests are experiencing the resort. I'm pleased to see that you felt welcomed by our staff. Our goal is to deliver a one-of-a-kind vacation experience for each and every guest, and it's great to see that we delivered on that promise. I took great pride in sharing your review with the entire team at La Samanna.

Thanks again for visiting us and sharing this review. We hope to welcome you back to La Samanna sometime soon.

Sincerely,

Pascal Deyrolle
General Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
East Amherst NY
Level Contributor
87 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 56 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 February 2012

There were several aspects of our vacation which were great and very enjoyable.The Staff at La Samanna does everything to give the quests a great time.Service is excellent.Excellent concierge services and room services and always a smile of anybody on the premises.The beach is exceptionally nice and so is the sand.There are hardly any shells no seaweed jelly fish etc.I would go back to La Samanna but a few remarks.The breakfast area is beautiful and the breakfast is good and more then adequate.I wish the food other then the breakfast would improve especially considering the competition of other restaurants in St. Martin. Maybe too much is catered to American guests rather then serving a more international and or french kitchen. I think that the new Manager at La Samanna is going in the right direction in keeping this a 5 star hotel. Everybody is open for suggestions and I would recommend this resort without any reservation. Also the grounds at La Samanna are beautiful and extremely well kept.

Room Tip: Be sure that you get a renovated room hopefully they all will be renovated by next winter.Also the b...
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  • Stayed January 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank tita955
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
LaSamanna, General Manager at Belmond La Samanna, responded to this review, 8 February 2012
Dear Tita955,

Greetings from St. Martin! Thank you for your recent visit to La Samanna and sharing feedback with us. It's wonderful to hear from our past guests and read about their experiences while visiting the island. I'm pleased to read your positive comments about our staff and level of service, as providing high-touch service to guests is our primary focus.

I also want to thank you for your constructive comments about our food program. We are continually evaluating our offering to guests, and the feedback from guest is very helpful. As we make improvements, we'll certainly look to include the suggestions from our guests.

Thanks again for taking time to share your experience. We hope to welcome you back to St. Martin in the near future.

Sincerely,

Pascal Deyrolle
General Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Rochester, New York
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed 22 January 2012

We've just returned from a 4 day stay at this beachside full service resort on the French side of St. Martin. Although it is a bit expensive, it was well worth it. The private beach is breathtakingly beautiful and the room was fully appointed and literally steps from the beach. The complementary breakfast is sumptuous, to say he least. Most impotantly, however, every single person on the staff was smiling all the time and ready to do whatever we required to make our stay as enjoyable as possible.We will go back and not soon enough!

  • Stayed January 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank DonandBeth R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New York
Level Contributor
34 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 258 helpful votes
Reviewed 22 January 2012

I hadn't been back to La Samanna for some 25 years, which turned out to be a mistake. There are only a handful of truly excellent oceanfront hotels in the Caribbean, and this is one of the oldest but also one of the best. While it is not perfections, the shortcomings are made up for by outstanding efforts elsewhere. For the details, read on!

I do not believe it is valid to criticize a luxury hotel for its prices. If you've agreed to pay them, you have no right to beef. La Samanna is expensive, but it is in line with other properties of similar quality, and cheaper than, say Sandy Lane. Its restaurants are exorbitantly priced, for sure, but St. Martin has so many options that the cost of a car rental will easily be outweighed by the savings if you choose to eat off the property.

Our room, a two-bedroom oceanfront suite, was well laid-out and adequately spacious. The decor was neutral - perhaps a bit disappointing in terms of taste and style, but certainly far from objectionable. Happily, the beds each had high-intensity adjustable reading lights, which are a godsend with the new florescent bulbs in most hotels providing only dim ambient light. La Samanna does better than most, using brighter bulbs that made the place cheerful in the evenings. The air-conditioning in all three rooms was excellent and powerful. The small kitchenette was fully functional, and the fridge proved to be a huge asset. The LCD TV's in the bedrooms were good, but there was none in the living room, which would have been nice.

Our suite was on the lower floor of the individual villa, as we requested, This was a tradeoff -- our patios were tiny terraces, unlike the huge, wrap around lanai above. It seemed the interior spaces above might have been smaller, but it was hard to stretch out or relax outside for us. The benefit was a direct, eight step walk straight onto that fabulous beach. This also meant no private sunning area, so anyone seeking an all-over tan might ask if the top floor units have private sundecks.

The real separation between La Samman and, say, Cap Juluca, a substantially similar resort on Anguilla where we have spent 10 Christmas vacations, is in the service and the food. The Administrative staff at LS is largely French, and they are classically schooled in hospitality and efficiency. While room service delays were typical of any hotel at full capacity, everyone really worked hard and was unfailingly gracious and anxious to help. Service on the beach was fantastic. Dirty dishes were collected within minutes of a call, and daily maid service was thorough and the ladies worked hard, getting it all done in less than an hour. When we asked to have them come earlier (they were showing up at 3) it was immediately corrected to about 1, when we would normally be at lunch.

The beach bar at LS is very Mediterranean in feel, look and cuisine. The music was pleasant jazz and some of that unknowable generic Euro-weenie stuff that blends seamlessly into a bottle of rose and a perfect salade nicoise or grilled mahi. The space is crisp, breezy and it's lovely to linger. The beach pool is a tad small, and overly-enclosed with obtrusive fencing, but no matter -- we spent only one afternoon there, when the surf was inexplicably rough. The main pool is stunning. Lunch at the Grill in the main house has a more extensive and expensive menu, but is delicious. The cozy bar is perfectly situated.

I did not do my customary inspection of all the room choices. We were extremely happy with our location between the main house and the beach bar. Everything was an easy walk. The large villas up on the point are spectacular, but the beach is a bit of a haul from there. The tennis courts are excellent, and David, the resident pro, an affable Swede raised in the Canaries has the game and patience to give you a workout or hone your skills.

La Reserve, the formal evening choice is set on the terraces of the main house. The food was outstanding, service impeccable. It is a bit too formal for a meal with small kids, though, and there are no other choices other than the wine cave which seemed depressing to me, and the beach bar serves only little brochettes - delicious but frustrating! It is hard to understand why LS does not have a real informal option for dinner - the beach bar with a simple menu of grills would be ideal.

We dined out seven of our ten nights, and had no bad meals. We did not explore too far, but were extremely happy with the Cafe de Paris for a typical bistrot menu, great service and food that was a notch above its competitors. The owner is a real hard-worker, and will do anything to please. It has a touristy feel, but believe me, the food was as good as you would find at any New York or Paris bistrot favored by locals. The nearby Italian (I cant remember the name) on the canal was superb for simple fresh pastas and grilled fish. Le Moulin Fou in gaudy, hideous Maho was a true effort at haute cuisine in a mediocre setting. The service was astonishing, and my lamb absolument parfait! The sauces were Escoffier heavy - ask for them on the side!

We also did quite a bit of shopping at the Cupecoy branch of Grand Marchais, an excellent little supermarket. Stocking up on soda, beer, wine, excellent fruit and veggies, cereals and snacks helped keep our food bill down, and our impulse needs satisfied. Bread everywhere on the island is the best in the Caribbean. The baguettes are crisp-crusted, the interiors soft but with body. This is a treat compared to the soggy crap almost everywhere else in the region, and, as in Paris, is undoubtedly kept alive by competition amongst the bakers to produce the best loaf.

All in all La Samanna is exactly what it says it is -- a top-notch and top-priced resort for lazing on the beach, swimming in the crystal water, and eating well and often. It is easy to get to, the service is fantastic, and they really try to please (They even spent a half-hour resetting their satellite TV so we could watch all four NFL playoff games!) It would be hard to imagine having a bad vacation here, and we are an extremely demanding and spoiled bunch. The only negative - the mysterious disappearance of an iPhone and iPod -- was immediately met with apologies and a full credit for their replacement cost. I don't know if they were taken or merely misplaced by the staff, but I often left money sitting out which was undisturbed. It was odd, but the unhesitating action by management to make it right was refreshing and given without any expression of doubt or anything but regret and embarrassment at the problem having happened. And, I am sure they investigated the matter, and whatever happened is unlikely ever to happen again.

I am not posting photos -- everything they have on their site is representative, and our suite was nicer than the very limited photos they post.

Bravo to the hotel for making my family's Christmas a smashing success, with great weather to boot! I can't wait to go back again!!

Room Tip: Pay the extra to be directly on the ocean. It might be a good idea to get a tour of what's avail...
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  • Stayed December 2011, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank MikeONYC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
LaSamanna, General Manager at Belmond La Samanna, responded to this review, 24 January 2012
Dear MikeONYC,

I wanted to write a brief note to thank you for posting a review of your recent visit to La Samanna. The holidays are a wonderful time of year to visit the Caribbean, and I'm pleased to read that you and your family enjoyed your time on property and exploring St. Martin. It's great to read your positive comments on the property, rooms, and, most importantly our staff.

I'm glad you were also able to explore some of the many sights and restaurants outside of the resort. Le Moulin Fou is a favorite spot for many members of the resort team.

We're happy to have you back as a guest and look very forward to seeing you and your family in the future!

Sincerely,

Pascal Deyrolle
General Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Belmond La Samanna

Property: Belmond La Samanna
Address: Baie Longue | PO Box 4077, Terres Basses 86200, St. Maarten-St. Martin
Phone Number:
Region: Caribbean > St. Maarten-St. Martin > Saint-Martin > Terres Basses
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Terres Basses
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££££
Hotel Class:5 star — Belmond La Samanna 5*
Number of rooms: 83
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Belmond La Samanna nestles amongst lush gardens overlooking 55 acres of spectacular beachfront. A complete resort in itself, Belmond La Samanna offers a spectacular private beach, two poolside terraces, 83 luxurious rooms and suites and 8 recently renovated 4600sq. ft. villas with private pools. Enjoy its sophisticated food offerings and award winning wine cellar, indulge in its European Elysees Spa, or simply enjoy the privacy and relaxation of this sophisticated and sensual French-Caribbean enclave. Gourmet dishes are served in the elegant Trellis, and Baie Longue Bar offers pool-side dining and views of Baie Long Beach. Dine on your private terrace and later enjoy a drink from the wine cellar. Belmond La Samanna is everything you could wish for in a Caribbean hideaway. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
La Samanna By Orient-Express Hotel St. Maarten/St. Martin
La Samanna Hotel
La Samanna Resort St Martin

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