Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Quiet and lushly landscaped grounds with spacious villas ideal for self-sufficient travelers
With so many similar properties clustered along the quiet palm tree-lined road that travels through upscale Orient Bay, it’s difficult to ascertain what makes each any better than the others. The general vibe at Hotel La Plantation is virtually identical to that at neighboring L’Hoste Hotel and Esmeralda Resort, with colorful Creole-style buildings clustered among lush grounds and just a few resort-style extras such as a pool, restaurant, and bar. So why favor one over the other?
At La Plantation, the qualities that beat the competition are clear: The private patios in the rooms are huge, the pool and lobby have a trendy ambiance, and the Cafe La Plantation serves exceptional French-Creole cuisine. However, both Esmeralda and L’Hoste are closer to the beach. And at Esmeralda, rather than one central pool, there are 18 different pools reserved for each of its three- to five-unit villas.
La Plantation does, however, surpass the competition with its partnerships at almost all the beach restaurants and bars in Orient Bay -- La Plantation guests can go to Waikiki Beach, Bikini Beach, Coco Beach, Kontiki Beach, and Kakao Beach for free lounge chairs and umbrellas, and service that can be charged directly to their rooms.
Aside from these few standouts, though, La Plantation is at an even keel with the area’s other properties -- doing little to pull ahead of the competition, but not exactly falling behind the lines either. The reception area features two free computer stations and a car rental/activities desk, and the grounds are overflowing with bougainvillea, allamanda flowers, and cacti. Two tennis courts are also located across the street. However, the lush grounds, which initially look appealing, actually turn out to be one of the biggest drawbacks at La Plantation, due to the lengthy walks in the unbearable heat that are required to get from your villa to the lobby, pool, restaurant, or hotel exit.
In the villas, the standard Studios are a bit larger than at Esmeralda, though the bathrooms are smaller and the furnishings aren’t quite as nice. The One-Bedroom Suites features full kitchens, spacious living rooms, and much larger bathrooms, though. Across the board, the decor is tropical, with lots of bright colors and varying color schemes -- bright stenciling on the walls, colorful mosquito nets over the beds, and vibrantly painted vaulted ceilings.
Within walking distance to one of St. Martin’s prettiest beaches, in an upscale gated community on the island’s French side
Located just a short walk from the lovely white-sand Orient Bay, guests at Hotel La Plantation have quick access to water-sport rental shops, restaurants, bars, and massage huts right at the water’s edge. In true French spirit, the beach is clothing-optional. Whether or not nude sunbathing is your style, the happening scene, pristine sand, and cerulean crashing waves are a major island draw, and all are within five minutes on foot.
The Orient Bay location is also attractive for its safety and well-manicured grounds. Monitored by a security gate off the main road, the area is ideal for families and solo travelers. Parking is no problem, as La Plantation has driveways in front of each of its 17 three-unit villas. When you choose to head outside Orient Bay, keep in mind the island tends to have quite a bit of traffic, so be sure to add extra minutes to your estimated travel time when promptness is important.
Spacious rooms with colorful island decor -- but small bathrooms and some signs of age
Hotel La Plantation’s 17 plantation-style villas each include three separate units (two studios and a one-bedroom suite) for a total of 52 units. Each villa has a private drive, unique color scheme, charming porch, and lush surrounding grounds. All units have their own private terrace; entire villas can be rented out as one large unit connected via interior doors.
La Plantation’s Studio units are larger than those at the neighboring Esmeralda Resort, and have better-equipped kitchenettes (hot plates, microwaves, mini-stovetops, and plenty of appliances, and serveware) and much bigger terraces. In the One-Bedroom Suites, full kitchens and separate livings rooms are spacious (though smaller than those at Esmeralda). In all units, the decor is lively with bright, one-of-a-kind artwork, hand-stenciled murals, vibrantly painted walls and ceilings, and colorful mosquito nets covering the beds. Still, the furnishings themselves are rather outdated, with signs of wear and tear in fading curtains and dirty tile grout.
Few amenities beyond a pool and two tennis courts, and no full-time front desk staff
A small French and Creole cafe, and a dining program that lets guests charge meals at almost any Orient Bay restaurant to their room
Cafe La Plantation is colorful and breezy, centered around the hotel’s pool and featuring open walls and lined with sheer pink, yellow, and blue curtains. A focus on French and Creole cuisine lends exotic flavors to the refined European fare, with specialties including the duck and sea scallops. Weekly lobster parties (Mondays) and live entertainment (Wednesdays) are quite popular.
Cafe La Plantation is closed on Sundays and only serves breakfast and dinner the rest of the week, so guests will need to venture out for the rest of their meals. Luckily La Plantation has a relationship with most of the dining venues around Orient Bay, allowing guests to charge their meals directly to their hotel rooms. This includes the Waikiki, CoCo, Bikini, Kontiki, and Kakao beach restaurants, which are located on Orient Bay’s white-sand beach (they also provide free beach set-up for hotel guests).
Located within an upscale community featuring several resorts, restaurants, and one of the island’s best beaches, Hotel La Plantation’s colorful Creole-style villas offer seclusion with well-spaced and stylish tropical rooms, a small but lovely restaurant, a modern pool with chic lounge seating, and beautifully lush grounds -- all within a five-minute walk to the beach. There is no fitness center or spa, but for self-sufficient couples and families looking for a lush retreat with a great location, La Plantation is a solid choice.