Princess HeightsOyster Pond, St. Martin/St. Maarten
- Reception isn't open 24 hours
- No on-site restaurant
- Remote location means few things are within walking distance
- Small and dingy fitness center and laundry facilities
- No Wi-Fi in rooms (wired Internet only)
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Oyster Hotel Review
Services and features are few, and you're a steep five-minute walk from the beach
This small, 51-room condo complex set on a clifftop above picturesque Dawn Beach romances couples and families alike with its mind-blowing ocean views from virtually every angle -- whether on your condo's expansive private balcony, lounging at the rooftop pool, or just wandering the vertically stacked property. Decor and furnishings vary between the hotel's original 15 units (completed in 1995) and the remaining 39 that were added in 2008. But all of these luxury condos (from expansive 500-square-foot studios to one- and two-bedroom suites up to 1,500 square feet) come with well-equipped kitchens, posh marble bathrooms, brand new flat-screen TVs, and free Internet.
Aside from the large suites, it is the panoramic vista of Dawn Beach that provides the most compelling reason to stay at Princess Heights. But beyond a dramatic rooftop pool, a dingy fitness center, and a cavernous laundry room, amenities and services are limited -- no spa, no restaurant, no kids' club, no porters, and limited front desk hours.
Perhaps detracting from the amazing views is the giant brown-box Westin Resort, which landed on the shores of Dawn Beach in 2007. However, the trade here is that guests at Princess Heights are welcome to use virtually every amenity on the Westin's property. As a result, it's almost a better deal to stay here and just visit the Westin -- you get a pool that's never crowded (though not as nice, of course), as well as access to everything else at the neighboring resort: the casino, the restaurants, the bars, and even the beach. Not to mention, you'll save loads on rates, have a much larger room than if you were staying at the Westin itself, and get the benefit of a kitchen for home-cooked meals.
Secluded on a dramatic peak for amazing views, but little nearby
You'll likely think you have missed the turn to Princess Heights when you reach the incredibly steep hill just before the hotel. But keep going, and just before the supersized Westin Dawn Beach, the Princess Heights' entrance will come into view. Such seclusion and soaring elevation surely means amazing views; however, it also means that virtually nothing, aside from the neighboring megaresort and the beach, is nearby. Luckily, the Westin gladly welcomes Princess Heights guests, providing access to a casino, several bars, the beach, a few shops, and two restaurants all within a five-minute walk.
The hotel's Dawn Beach location is convenient for its proximity to both the French and the Dutch side of the island. The upscale Orient Bay beach community is only 15 minutes north, and Philipsburg is about 10 minutes south, providing access to two different cultures (and even countries).
- 20-minute drive to Princess Juliana International Airport
- 5-minute steep walk to Dawn Beach
- 5-minute walk to the Westin Resort for access to a casino, restaurants, bars, shops, and the beach
- 10-minute drive to Bobby's Marina for ferries to neighboring islands and water-sport excursions
- 10-minute drive to Philipsburg/Frontstreet
- 10-minute drive to Great Bay Beach and the boardwalk
- 10-minute drive to the St. Maarten Zoo
- 10-minute drive to the St. Maarten Museum
- 15-minute drive to the Butterfly Farm
- 15-minute drive to Orient Bay
Spacious and contemporary with kitchens (or kitchenettes) and eye-popping views
The 51 units at Princess Heights were completed in two phases -- the first 15 rooms opened in 1995, and the remaining 36 were completed thirteen years later in 2008. It's no surprise then, that the more recent units are much better, with newer furnishings, state-of-the-art kitchen appliances, and nicer overall decor. Rates for the newer units are the same as the older units; as a result, the booking team places guests in the newer units first before filling up the older ones. When booking your reservation, it's wise to confirm that you'll be in a new unit.
Across the board, the units are spacious, starting at 500 square feet in the Deluxe Studio Suite. All units feature flat-screen TVs, marble floors, free wired Internet, Jacuzzi bathtubs, and furnished private balconies with amazing ocean views. With the exception of the studio units, all suites feature full kitchens with dining areas. These units also not only have foldout sofas, but foldout chairs, adding the ability to sleep several additional guests.
Decor in the new units is contemporary and clean -- beds feature leather-bound headboards and crisp white linens, bathrooms are lined in Italian marble and have sleek granite countertops, and kitchens are filled with brand new stainless steel appliances.
- All units (except studios) feature full kitchens with refrigerators, stoves ranges, microwaves, and tons of cookware, tableware, and appliances.
- Fridges stocked with free water bottles, sodas, and beer
- Melitta and Toulouse coffee packets
- Sony 33-inch flat-screen TVs
- Furnished ocean-view balconies
- Bathrooms feature Italian tiles, granite counters, double sink vanities, Jacuzzi bathtubs, and Lord & Mayfair toiletries.
- Safes large enough for a laptop
A pool with amazing views, a smelly, old fitness center, and a tiny laundry room complete the short list of amenities