Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Low rates are the biggest selling point at this dated hotel
Located just off the main highway on the northwestern coast of St Lucia, the 87-room Bay Gardens Hotel is an explosion of color -- a vibrant yellow facade and entrance dotted with bright red flowers give way to a lobby lined with peach and turquoise columns, and filled with wicker furnishings and oversize ferns. The overall aesthetic is rather hodgepodge, with some furniture looking more English colonial than tropical, and an almost Baroque room divider confusing the concept further. Still, with the vaulted double-height ceiling, inviting breeze, and tropical colors, it maintains a casual island hotel vibe.
There are two pools -- an oddly shaped one just off the lobby, and a small rectangle located amid the accommodations buildings -- though neither are particularly enticing, with barren landscaping and plastic lounge chairs. The half dozen or so buildings that house the guest rooms and suites have a slight plantation architectural style, but slabs of concrete amid thin grass don’t do much for the surroundings. And rather odd is a shrine to the Virgin Mary located along the edge of property.
Still, the Bay Gardens Hotel delivers far more than you’d expect for the price. The rooms aren’t large or modern, but they are clean, well maintained, and feature private balconies or terraces. Additional amenities include an on-site restaurant, bar, and lounge, as well as a free hourly shuttle to sister property, Bay Gardens Beach Resort. Here, guests have access to a large beach with chair and umbrella service, a water sports pavilion, a fitness center, and several additional restaurants and bars. As such, hotel guests gain access to the same full-service amenities (sans the pool) as Beach Resort guests who are paying more than twice as much.
In the harbor side town of Rodney Bay, near a handful of attractions on the island’s northern side
The northern side of St. Lucia is inherently the lesser side of the island, simply because there are no views of the iconic Pitons, and the majority of the tourist attractions are clustered around Soufriere to the south. However, the Rodney Bay area is lively, with plenty of shops, restaurants, coffee shops, and bars sprinkled throughout Reduit Beach and Gros Islet. Also close by are hot spots like a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course and the historical Pigeon Island.
Virtually all of these attractions require a car or taxi; luckily, distances are shorter and road conditions are considerably better than on the southern side of the island. The Inn’s free hourly shuttle to Bay Gardens Beach Resort also provides free transport to the beach, which is within walking distance of plenty of shops and cafes.
Those guests who hope to visit some of the south side’s stunning natural attractions (the volcano, the cocoa plantations, the Pitons) should consider hiring a car for the day -- the drive is roughly 90 minutes and nighttime driving is not recommended for those unfamiliar with the roads, which are marked by hairpin turns, deep potholes, and virtually no lighting.
Ranging from small standard units to two-bedroom villas -- but all are dated and unfashionable
The Bay Gardens Hotel is the eldest of the trio of Bay Gardens-branded properties -- and its rooms do little to hide that fact. The TVs are old tubes, the beds are covered in a tacky floral pattern, and the tiny bathrooms feature mismatched tile and dirty grout. Nonetheless, the units are, on the whole, clean, and private balconies are a welcome addition (though many have terrible views, like the one I stayed in, which faced the public bathrooms behind the pool lounge).
The Croton Two-Bedroom Suites are the hotel’s newest addition (completed in 2007), but the units themselves don’t provide much improvement, aside from a larger floor plan and full kitchen. The furnishings and technology are still outdated; and even worse, all of the units in this building face an unsightly, unfinished condo property -- a casualty of the real estate woes of the last few years.
Two pools, a restaurant, a bar, a lounge, and a large conference room -- plus tons more at its nearby sister property
A casual restaurant and bar in the lobby with moderate prices
Spices Restaurant serves all three meals and features the usual Caribbean fare. An all-inclusive rate is available, which is worthwhile due to the availability of additional restaurants at Bay Gardens Beach Resort. However, plenty of local restaurants are within walking distance, making the meal plan somewhat unnecessary.
The 87-room Bay Gardens Hotel is one of the cheapest full-service hotel options in Rodney Bay -- and on the entire island of St. Lucia. But there's no gym or spa, and the property’s two pools, restaurant, and grounds are noticeably dated. The rooms are no better, with outmoded technology and tacky decor. However, those looking for incredibly low rates -- not to mention the ability to access tons of amenities via the free shuttle that takes guests to nearby Bay Gardens Beach Resort -- will be hard-pressed to find a better deal.