Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
A cluster of charming -- if slightly kitschy bungalows -- on a quiet part of Simpson Bay attracts those wanting a mellow vacation with direct access to the beach
Mary's Boon Beach Resort has one particularly large caveat that must be addressed up front: The hotel is located next to the airport. The entrance and parking lot at Mary's Boon runs right up to a chain link fence, with the runways roughly 20 yards behind. And unlike the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, there are no soundproof windows here. So if the occasional plate-rattling or heart-thumping commotion is a deal breaker for you, move on.
But if you can get past this one detail, you might just find yourself thoroughly pleased with Mary's Boon's slightly offbeat, utterly friendly charm. First opened in 1970, the beachfront property's palm-filled garden is decorated with goofy tchotchkes, such as a plastic hanging monkey figurine, a five-miles-per-hour speed limit sign, and walls painted with phrases like "A vacation is having nothing to do, and all day to do it in."
In the 37 bungalow-style units, the decor varies -- in part due to partial renovations that have not yet made their way to every room, but also due to private ownership of some units. Across the board, you’ll find vaulted ceilings, private balconies or porches, kitchenettes, and lots of color. Some rooms are definitely nicer than others, and not just based on their size or view. In fact, ocean-view units are rarely worth the extra cost -- it would be more wise to ensure a newly renovated unit with better kitchen appliances and fewer signs of wear and tear (issues can include missing tiles, bleach-stained bedspreads, and stove burners you might hesitate to actually cook on) than to shorten your walk to the beach by only a handful of steps.
The grounds are eclectic, with the pool almost comically decorated with a fake-marble statue of a Greek God preparing to throw a discus, as well haphazardly strewn plastic chairs, and a smattering of Buddha statues and African masks mingling among cacti and allamanda flowers.
The beach just outside the restaurant and bar is a beauty -- long and wide, with the smooth, white sand and turquoise water for which Simpson Bay is known. The water is also rather calm, due to the inlet that forms the bay, and soothing beachfront massages are a spectacular addition to the hotel (a small spa near the hotel's entrance also allows for indoor treatments). Best of all, there's no jockeying for a good lounge chair -- the hotel has plenty for guests, and outsiders tend to stay further up the bay near the Flamingo Beach Resort.
The laid-back attitude is surely what has kept Mary’s Boon in good standing for so long -- guests seem genuinely happy to be here, mingling with one another far more than at any of the other resorts on the island. Perhaps it's the staff’s friendly demeanor that puts guests in a convivial mood, or maybe it’s the happy hour drink specials that get the conversation flowing at the bar.
Near plenty of casinos, shops, and restaurants -- not to mention steps from the airport's earsplitting runways
Located in a rather residential area on a road that turns into little more than a dirt path, Mary's Boon Beach Resort has the sort of address that can only be found by following your instincts. Luckily, most of the winding roads connect, so no matter how many wrong turns you take, you'll probably end up where you want to be (eventually). Not so luckily, this means that virtually nothing, save for the beach on which the hotel is located, is within walking distance.
When you are trying to sleep in, enjoy breakfast, or have a relaxing massage on the beach, the thunderous noises coming from the neighboring airport might not be so welcome. To avoid it altogether, ask the staff what time the daily flights are (they've surely got them memorized by now), and head out to any of the numerous restaurants, shops, casinos, and other beaches that are less than 15 minutes away. (Don't miss the Carousel Gelateria.)
Lastly, be aware of the island's unpredictable and oftentimes heavy traffic; if you need to be somewhere in a timely fashion, you'd be wise to pad quite a bit of extra time into your journey.
Varied in decor, and showing some signs of wear and tear
Rates at Mary's Boon are low, which means luxury is not on the bill (literally). In the 37 bungalow-style units, the decor varies -- in part due to partial renovations that have not yet made their way to every room, but also because of private ownership of some units. Across the board, you'll find vaulted ceilings, private balconies or porches, kitchenettes, and lots of color. Some rooms are definitely nicer than others, and not just based on their size or view. In fact, ocean-view units are rarely worth the extra cost -- it would be more wise to ensure a newly renovated unit with better kitchen appliances and fewer signs of wear and tear (missing tiles, bleach-stained bedspreads, and stove burners you might hesitate to actually cook on) than to shorten your walk to the beach by only a handful of steps.
If at all possible, avoid units 10, 11, and the dreaded "Lucky 13." These units are accessed through a murky, dark alleyway offering no light, and appear more like converted janitor's closets than actual hotel rooms.
This is no luxury resort, but there are a few modest amenities
A breezy oceanfront restaurant with reasonable prices and a few exceptional dishes
Given Mary's Boon's central location, there's no need to eat too many meals at its Tides Restaurant. However, a breezy ocean-view location and exceptional prices make it a worthwhile stop during your stay. The head chef, Leona, has been with the property almost since the beginning, and certain dishes simply must be sampled, namely the nightly specials (both the Veal Dijon and the Red Snapper in Creole Sauce were excellent and well-priced). For breakfast, try the mango pancakes -- slightly crispy on the outside, extra fluffy on the inside, and just the right amount of fruit.
Locals love to hang out at the restaurant's bar, which has happy-hour specials every evening. The ambiance is lovely, especially around sunset when the salmon-colored walls create a vibrant contrast to the deep purple and royal blue hues of the evening sky.
This 37-room beach hotel along Simpson Bay is certainly no luxury resort -- rooms show wear and tear, the pool is untended, and extra features are few. But an amazing beachfront location, small spa, and lush grounds full of character make it almost impossible not to appreciate Mary's Boon. Some people may not appreciate, however, the thunderous sound of planes at the neighboring airport, but then again, the low rates are hard to beat.