Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
You'll find most features required of a full-scale resort -- but peace and quiet is conspicuously missing
Vacationers in search of a St. Maarten resort that has the requisite beachfront pool and restaurant, in addition to huge rooms with enough space for large groups and families, need look no further than Royal Palm Beach Resort. The 140-room property, ideally located just five minutes from the airport and within walking distance of virtually every Simpson Bay attraction, might not pile on the amenities like the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, but it certainly delivers the goods with a decent-size pool with pool bar, a breezy beachfront restaurant, a quiet beach, an activities concierge, and on-site car rentals.
The Royal Palm Beach Resort isn’t quite royal, but it’s certainly nice enough for families that want the self-sufficiency of condo-style rooms combined with the full-service features of a resort. One- to three-bedroom units are huge, featuring pull-out sofas and full kitchens -- both ideal for saving money. Like Royal Palm’s sister property, Flamingo Beach Resort, the units each feature furnished balconies and rather new kitchen appliances -- but materials look cheap (wicker furniture and tacky lamps), and the bathrooms are small (single sink vanities and no bathtubs). Across the board though, modern details include 32- or 40-inch flat-screen TVs, DVD players, iHome alarm clocks, and new appliances in the kitchens.
The inevitable comparisons to Royal Palm’s sister property don’t produce a clear-cut winner. The staff here has a reputation of being more attentive and friendlier. But the grounds at Flamingo Beach are far lovelier and better manicured, with the rooms spread out among several heavily landscaped buildings rather than one large tower. The restaurants and pools are relatively equal; Flamingo Beach has two beaches rather than one; however, quality beats quantity with Royal Palm’s beach being more remote and relaxing thanks to manmade jetties that keep non-guests out. Still, the lounge chairs and umbrellas are rather grungy at both.
Because of its location just beyond the bridge that links the road to the airport with all of Simpson Bay’s popular shops, restaurants, casinos, and bars, Royal Palm Beach Resort is far better suited for families and active couples rather than newlyweds or couples looking to be pampered with quiet time and fawning service. Take note, especially, that quiet time at the pool is uncommon; children run amok at this mostly shallow pool. Daily pool activities such as bingo and a DJ also shatter any illusion of tranquility. For a calmer environment on the Dutch side, consider leaving Simpson Bay altogether for the just slightly higher priced Westin Dawn Beach.
Secluded beach on one side, and all of Simpson Bay’s lively activity on the other
Royal Palm Beach Resort sits in the middle of it all -- located just beyond the tiny bridge that links the road to the airport with lively Simpson Bay’s main row of restaurants, shops, bars, and casinos. Even better is the resort’s beachfront, which has been cordoned off by manmade jetties that keep the tourists crowding nearby Kimsha Beach at bay. As a result, Royal Palm might be one of the only resorts in which you might never need a car. And should you want to check out additional beaches, such as Pelican Key, the hotel offers a free shuttle to its sister property, Flamingo Beach Resort.
Those who wish to explore the rest of the island will find that a drive to virtually anywhere on the Dutch side -- and even the western portions of the French side -- is relatively quick. Several lovely beaches, such as Cupecoy Beach and Mullet Bay on the Dutch side, and Baie Nettle and Baie Rouge on the French side, are all within a 15-minute drive, and the lively shopping areas of Maho Reef and the forthcoming Blue Mall are even closer. However, the main road is often packed with traffic, which can make driving even half a mile a 15-minute ordeal.
Spacious with private balconies, modern TVs and appliances, and full kitchens
Located rather compactly within a single V-shaped building, all 140 of Royal Palm Beach Resort’s “villas” are surprisingly enormous, with the smallest one-bedroom unit measuring around 1,000 square feet. Highlights include full kitchens with modern appliances, huge 32- and 40-inch flat-screen TVs, and all ocean-view balconies.
The decor is a bit dull, though, with the headboards in the bedrooms and the mirrored walls in the entryways having a 1980s sort of feel. And the bathrooms are quite small, featuring single vanities, walk-in showers, and nothing else of note. The rooms at the hotel’s sister property, Flamingo Beach Resort, appear to have received more recent updates, with nicer appliances and a few more high-end details, however, the rooms here are much larger. Of course, the rates do reflect the size -- meaning they are a bit higher.
Perhaps the biggest drawback is that the rooms here do not receive daily housekeeping. In fact, only those guests staying five days or longer will receive cleaning services (once every five days, that is) -- unless they want to pay between $40 and $80 per day for the service.
A medium-size pool, oceanfront restaurant, quiet beachfront, and nicely renovated cocktail lounge
Just an average beachfront restaurant and bar
The Cabana Beach Bar and Restaurant is breezy and casual, serving burgers, wraps, and other simple entrees for reasonable prices. There are a few tables located right on the sand, with the rest of the restaurant’s seating under a circular thatch roof. The restaurant’s bar also doubles as the pool’s swim-up bar; resort activities such as bingo and trivia take place here.
A central location on a quieter portion of Simpson Bay places this 140-room resort close to virtually every attraction on the island’s Dutch side. Solid (though not quite spectacular) amenities include a beachfront restaurant, a pool with swim-up bar, a fitness center, a cocktail lounge, and family-oriented activities. Generous rooms with full kitchens may appeal to families looking to save money while traveling, but couples wishing for a romantic getaway might consider elsewhere.