Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
A small, contemporary hotel with a nice but crowded beach
Crammed rather claustrophobically on Billy Folly Road, just before the huge beach community along Pelican Key, The Atrium is a vertical mass smashed into the tight space behind the Greenhouse Restaurant. But pull up into the half-moon shaped drive and step into the glass-roofed lobby with bright light streaming in, and the mood quickly becomes one of serenity and peace. An ornate, almost Gothic-style chandelier appears suspended in thin air, dangling from the glass roof, and giant plants hang over colonial style furnishings, creating a garden-like environment and giving good reason for the “Atrium" moniker. (You'll also find a car rental desk and activities concierge here.)
The lobby is small, as is the property as whole. The 87 clean rooms, which include studios, one- and two-bedroom units, and a Penthouse, were renovated in late 2011 -- but that may not be obvious, as the decor is colorful but slightly tacky. In the studios, the layout is bizarre, with half of the kitchen on one wall and the other half practically on the other side of the room. Still, having a full kitchen -- including full-size stove and dishwasher -- is a plus.
The pool is a bit depressing, but this is a common occurrence in St. Maarten as most guests prefer the beach to a pool. Of course, the lack of interest in the pool might also have to do with the fact that it runs right up to a neighboring restaurant -- on one end, you’re close enough to reach onto someone’s plate for a taste of their food. On the beach, guests have their own lounge chairs and umbrellas, but there is no illusion of privacy here. Two neighboring restaurants also have their own beach set-ups, making for a rather crowded area. Nonetheless, Kimsha Beach is lovely, and a water sports pavilion with tons of kayaks and snorkeling is within arm's reach.
Additional features include Miguel’s Spa and Salon, which is surprisingly large for such a small property. Independently owned by the charming Miguel, you’ll find a full salon, manicure and pedicure room, a sauna, and several treatment rooms. Nearby is a small fitness center with a sufficient amount of equipment. There is no restaurant on-site, but the Greenhouse Restaurant next door offers all-day drink specials to Atrium guests. The Buckaneer Beach Bar, a cute open-air restaurant and bar with its own beach service, is nearby as well.
On a crowded portion of Simpson Bay, within walking distance of busy Airport Road’s restaurants and bars
Located directly on Simpson Bay’s Kimsha Beach, The Atrium Resort has the benefit of being just a stone’s throw from several beachfront restaurants and bars. A walk farther along Bill Folly Road leads to a larger beach community with several full-scale resorts, including Flamingo Beach Resort. As a result, you’ll find plenty more restaurants and beachfront areas. But both beaches here are quite crowded -- should you desire something more secluded, you’ll have to drive to the other side of Simpson Bay. Luckily, several lovely beaches like Cupecoy Beach and Mullet Bay on the Dutch side, and Baie Nettle and Baie Rouge on the French side, are all within a 20-minute drive.
Atrium’s location just off busy Airport Road is also beneficial for the close proximity to tons of restaurant, shops, bars, casinos, and a movie theater. A grocery store is a three-minute walk away, and plenty of the island’s popular hangouts (Topper’s, Jimbo’s, and Skip Jack’s) are all within walking distance. However, the main road is often packed with traffic, making driving even half a mile a 15-minute ordeal. So be sure to pad in plenty of extra time when arriving at your destination on time is important.
Renovated in October of 2011, the rooms are bright, colorful, and clean
All of the resort’s 87 rooms were renovated in October 2011, though you might not realize it for lack of any exceptional design elements. Yes, there are flat-screen TVs and stainless steel appliances in the kitchens, but you would think that completely refurbished rooms would have something nicer than the typical white-square tile floors, run-of-the-mill light hotel furnishings, and cheap patio furniture.
Even more unexpected for updated rooms is the state of the shower/tub combos in the bathrooms -- stained tubs, mildewy fixtures, and yellowing grout are far from a modern refurbishment. Still, the full kitchens in every unit are a notable upside.
A handful of decent on-site amenities, plus several independent features so close, they may as well be part of the resort
For a medium-sized hotel, this 87-room beachfront property has a lot to offer: a beautiful beachfront with water sports and beach bars, a small pool, a lovely spa and salon, and a fitness center. Updated rooms are bright and colorful, and all have balconies and full kitchens. There is no on-site restaurant (though several are mere steps away) and the pool is tiny, but for a hotel with this many features, the rates are excellent.