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“Not bad: gorgeous hotel, lousy service”
Review of Belmond La Samanna

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Belmond La Samanna
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Terres Basses
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 21 February 2012

About the price: yes, it's really expensive, so how to think about it? For me, I can appreciate a good bottle of wine for $12-15; would I ever buy an $85 bottle of wine? Probably not; I just wouldn't expect it to be 5+ times better than the $15 one. Same with airfare: first class seats cost 5x what coach does. Is it great to fly first class? Yes. Would I pay for it? Probably not, or it would have to be a darn good occasion. I didn't come to La Samanna expecting it to be 5 times better than other resorts where I've stayed, though it costs about 4-5 times as much; but I did expect it to be better. I knew the property was gorgeous from the reviews; and I also expected top of the line service. On this latter point, they did not deliver.

We only had a weekend, it was a very special occasion, and decided to try it because of the convenience (direct flights from US; 10 minutes from airport); and because it looked beautiful, and sounded like the kind of place where if you only had 2 days, you'd just want to stay there. And for the most part, it was.

Our room was absolutely beautiful, on the first floor, steps from the gorgeous water. The cove is stunning. It was perfect for spending the little time we had. A nice touch was they left a bottle of champagne in the room for us; though we saw that others checking in were getting a basket with a bottle of something else and fruit -- which we didn't get. But ok, fine, not a big deal.

A number of people have commented that at this price point, they expect perfection, and I'd have to agree. There were many hiccups:
1. When we arrived, tired and antsy to get to the beach, the person checking us in took his time giving us a tour of the premises until we finally said, "no thank you". He was distracted, phone ringing, talking to other staff in the middle of our conversation. It would have been nice to have a little "you're with us for 2 nights, welcome, what are your plans while here, can we do anything to make you more comfortable?" In general, the attitude of the staff seemed kind of short -- maybe a cultural difference? We asked if we could have a late checkout when leaving for example, and were told in a somewhat brusque way: you'll have to request it the morning you're leaving. Ok, that's fine; but could you have been a little nicer about it? how about "oh, I see you only have 2 days with us. We're glad you're here and understand that every moment counts. We'll do what we can. Please check back with us morning when you're leaving, but I'll make a note of your request here.." Something like that. Same message, but presented so differently, would have left us feeling so much more welcomed.
2. The room is small, but fine, very nice, and the beach is gorgeous. The shower in the bathroom is completely open -- no curtain or glass b/w it and the room; and we needed to use 2 towels to mop up the water that ran off toward the middle of the bathroom. Also, the screen door to the outside didn't shut tightly, so we were apprehensive about leaving the main door open at night for fear of bugs getting in.
3. The toiletries were nice, though we had to ask cleaning crew to replenish them; and cleaning was very irregular. On both mornings we were there we said hello to the cleaning ladies standing outside the door as we left for breakfast, expecting them to clean up while we were gone. No. Both days we got back, and they hadn't done it and started doing it after we got back. When I made a comment about needing to change, the woman said, "just go in the bathroom," rather than leaving to let us get ready for the beach. Similarly, both nights, we told them what time we were going to dinner; and they didn't come till after we got back, after 9 p.m. to turn down the beds. The second cleaning is much needed because even though we tried not to, we got sand into the room, and it needed to be swept. Second night a supervisor came to knock at the door after 9 o'clock asking if they'd been there. They hadn't. Wasn't till 9:30 till a woman came. In general, we couldn't understand why with the number of staff visible throughout the grounds, they could not have been more attentive.
4. dinner at the hotel restaurant was pricey and "meh". We asked several questions about the menu of the waitress, and her only response was "it's good" without any explanation of the dishes offered. Our second night we went to Le Moulin Fou, and it was fantastic, at about 2/3 of the price; the waiter steered us to excellent specials. Also, our second night was a Sunday, and the concierge informed us that most restaurant on the French side would be closed. So, see above, would have been nice as we were checking in if someone said, "oh, I see you're here for 2 nights; I recommend if you want to eat on the French side you go tonight b/they are closed Sundays..."
5. Breakfast was good, but service was slow -- I was on my second plate of food before coffee came, and only after a request -- no one came up and greeted us at the table. They were busy, but still...
6. Our bill included a charge for a lunch that we did not have, on the day we checked in, and we didn't arrive till 5 p.m. We were offered no apologies when we phoned to ask about it, just a "we'll check into this," as if there was a possibility that we were making this up????? At checkout the charge was still there, "oh, it's a computer error" we were told; no apology offered.
7. there was much confusion when they made the reservation for Moulin Fou and called us a cab. AT the agreed upon time a taxi came, we got in, the driver said he didn't know where the restaurant was (????). We pulled up to the main lobby, he asked a staff member, who told him there are 2 Moulin Fou restaurants (???), so we asked that he checked with the concierge who made the arrrangements. Finally concierge came out, told us we got into the wrong cab, insisted that we get out and wait for "ours". We waited for another 15 minutes for the "right" cab to arrive. This was all very strange (why couldn't we have taken the cab that we were already in?), and again, no apologies.

In general, and here is where I think I agree with the "at this price point comments" -- it was a good stay; a gorgeous property. I'm glad we came. But I really wanted to love it; wanted to create the kind of memory where we felt so welcome and special that next special occasion we'd want to come back. But that's not the feeling we're left with. I would expect and have had these little hiccups happen at many other hotels, but not when paying $945 per night.

So to me the question is: can I find a property that's equally gorgeous for less money? My guess is yes; Would I come back here? If I had only a couple of days, and wanted something easy and convenient -- maybe. Did I expect it to be 5 times better than the other hotels where I've stayed in the Caribbean? I don't think so, that would have been unfair; but I did expect an experience a notch above in service, and that didn't happen here.

Visited February 2012

  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled as a couple
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8  Thank Frugaltrips
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 reviewResponded 5 March 2012

Dear Frugaltrips,

Thanks for choosing to stay with us at La Samanna. I wanted to write a brief note of thanks for the feedback on your experience. While it's not always easy to read reviews from guests, I look at each in one its entirety so that I can learn firsthand from the way guests are experiencing the resort.

I appreciate the nice comments about the property and our rooms, however, I want to sincerely apologize that we weren't able to deliver the "memorable experience" that you were looking for. No matter what price our guests are paying to stay with us, we set out to deliver the best possible vacation experience and in the case of your visit it looks as though we failed to meet that goal. As a guest, you shouldn't have to settle for anything less than a 5-star experience.

I would appreciate the opportunity to speak with you directly to discuss the issues you've detailed and personally apologize. If you would be open to talking about your experience further please contact me via email at your earliest convenience with your contact information and I will contact you.

Sincerely,

Pascal Deyrolle
General Manager
pdeyrolle@lasamanna.com

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641 - 647 of 1,144 reviews

Reviewed 21 February 2012

this truely is a 5 star resort . the newly refurbished rooms are big and comfortable. we had a one bedroom with plunge pool (jacuzzi) . the staff were polite and helpful, the room was clean and the views amazing.we had a fabulous time here. the breakfast has something for everyone, a varied menu for lunch on the beach and dinner was excellent in the main dining room over looking the beach. we had a couples massage and that was excellent and well done. the only bad thing? we had a 4 min passing rain shower!!. i will definately be going back.

  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank britandproudNyc
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 reviewResponded 27 February 2012

Dear BritandproudNyc,

Just a quick note to thank you for choosing to stay with us at La Samanna. I also appreciate you taking time to share a review of your experience. Feedback from our guests is invaluable and we carefully read all reviews to see where might have opportunities to make improvements. I'm happy to read that you enjoyed our newly renovated guest rooms. I'm glad you enjoyed your meals and visit to the spa.

Thanks again for sharing feedback. Let us know the next time you're planning to visit, and we'll see what we can do about the "passing rain shower."

Sincerely,

Pascal Deyrolle
General Manager

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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
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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 reviewResponded 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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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
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4  Thank Thomas K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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
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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 reviewResponded 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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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
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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 reviewResponded 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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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
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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 reviewResponded 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

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Additional Information about Belmond La Samanna

Address: Baie Longue | PO Box 4077, Terres Basses 86200, St Martin / St Maarten
Phone Number:
Region: Caribbean > St Martin / St Maarten > 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: £474 - £1,227 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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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