Oceanfront location with sandy beach, lounge chairs, and cabanas
Spacious rooms with flat-screen TVs and air-conditioning
Beach bar and Tipsy Seagull restaurant with frequent live music
Small pool, simple fitness center, and small spa
Environmentally friendly features like solar panels reuse of gray water
Dive shop and activity desk for excursions and rentals
Free sailboat, kayak, and stand-up paddleboard rentals
Casino and gift shop
Wi-Fi is free throughout the resort
Much of the resort is dated and needs a renovation
Wi-Fi is spotty in most guest rooms
Food at the Tipsy Seagull restaurant is mediocre
Long walk from reception to rooms and no porter service
Gym has dated workout equipment and no air-conditioning
Plane and jet noise audible due to proximity to airport
The three-pearl Plaza Beach Resort Bonaire is a rare all-inclusive resort on an island without many such options. Its 126 rooms are a mix of dated and modern spaces. All are simple and include air-conditioning, balconies, and free (spotty) Wi-Fi. The hotel’s seaside buffet restaurant, the Tipsy Seagull, has great views and live music on select nights, though the food is uninspiring. The in-house dive shop and activity center can arrange diving trips, excursions, and free rentals of kayaks, sailboats, and stand-up paddleboards. The beach is long and there's a decent pool, as well as excellent environmentally friendly features, including an extensive solar energy program. For an equally green alternative to the all-inclusive scene, the diving-focused Buddy Dive Beach Resort has more charm and a delicious restaurant.
All-inclusive resort with dated style that appeals to laid-back beach-seekers and divers
The first impressions here are notable -- in fact, driving up to Plaza Beach Resort Bonaire feels like you’ve arrived at a grand tropical estate. Tall palm trees line the long, private drive, past a small fountain and lake. Once inside, however, it's clear that any sense of grandeur was left behind in the decades leading up to the turn of the millennium. Everything feels a bit shabby and unintentionally retro, details that might be overlooked if this resort was a particular bargain or if other problems weren't in evidence (noise from airplanes, mediocre food, and bad Wi-Fi are just some of its faults). Once inside, decor is a granite and formica affair, with a bit of beach-casual thrown in the mix (there are lots of palapas all around). The hotel's grounds are lush, at least, full of palm trees and plants native to Bonaire (one of the hotel’s environmental initiatives) -- the landscaping overflows with the petite red blossoms of faya lobi and frangipani flowers. The hotel’s man-made beach is a mostly sand, though there are rocks underwater, though it doesn’t seem to deter guests from swimming or diving in the azure ocean. Hotel guests are mostly from Europe, although during our visit there were quite a few mature Americans at the hotel’s Coconut Crash Beach Bar. Despite its all-inclusive status, the resort itself is relatively calm throughout the day and gets a bit more lively at night., When cruise ships port at Bonaire, the beaches all around can become quite rowdy.
On the south side of Kralendijk, close to the
airport, town, and supermarket
Plaza Beach Resort is so close to the airport (a five-minute drive), you can hear the jets arriving and departing (a 747 arrives from Amsterdam daily) from Flamingo International Airport. It’s also a five-minute walk to the center of Kralendijk, Bonaire’s capital and best spot for restaurants, bars, and shopping. The nearest grocery store to the resort is a five-minute drive away. To visit other Bonaire sights, a car will be necessary. It's a 10-minute drive to The Donkey Sanctuary, a refuge for the island’s feral donkey population, originally introduced by the Spanish in the 17th century. Wild donkeys still roam the island today and the sanctuary helps protect, heal, and care for them. For lovers of wind sports, Lac Bay is where the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean meet -- it's the island’s hub for kiteboarding and kitesurfing and will take about 20 minutes to reach by car. Klein Bonaire -- a popular day trip -- is just offshore.
Range of dated and modern rooms with flat-screen TVs and spotty Wi-Fi
The quality of rooms at this resort vary widely, though even the most modern rooms are quite simple in terms of decor. These units -- like the Lagoon Grand Suite and Superior Grand Ocean Suite that we visited -- have large mahogany-red headboards with inlaid chrome stripes, clean-lined furniture in neutral shades, and minimalist lamps made of stacked lucite cubes. Dark brown wood-tile floors contrast turquoise bed sashes and matching chairs with faux alligator print vinyl. Despite the marginally up-to-date veneer, there's a decent amount of wear on things, and the overall effect isn't exactly polished. The bathrooms are also simple and modern, with white tiling, suspended wood countertops, and rainfall showers. All have separate bathtubs and showers.
Unfortunately, other rooms are even less appealing. The Junior Suite Ocean that we visited is long overdue for a renovation. The tile floors are salmon colored and the room’s green wicker furniture (including bamboo headboards) scream: “Florida grandmother’s apartment circa 1985.” Bathrooms in these rooms are likewise outdated, with long granite countertops, block-glass shower stalls, and separate tubs.
Suites are available with ocean or lagoon views and are available with either one king or two queen beds and have either a terrace or balcony furnished with dark brown rattan chairs and a table. Many have lovely ocean views. Mini-fridges, air-conditioning, coffeemakers, and electric tea kettles are standard, and rooms have both 110v and 220v plugs. Irons are available upon request at the front desk, and all rooms are supposed to have Wi-FI, but during our visit it was spotty in guest rooms. VIP packages are available for all rooms and contain robes, fresh-cut flowers, a bottle of wine, and towel sculptures of swans. It's worth noting that there's no porter service and the resort is quite large, meaning guests have to haul their own bags to their rooms.
Two pools, nice beach, oceanfront restaurant, and full-service dive shop and activity desk
Plaza Beach Resort’s trapezoidal pool has ocean views and is surrounded by a tile deck, wicker resin lounge chairs, and thatched palapas. Guests often relax on a small island in the big pool, or splash in its gurgling fountain. Next to the large pool is a shallow wading pool for children. Like much of the resort, the whole area looks held over from a much earlier time. The hotel’s man-made beach stretches the length of the resort and is mostly sandy, though there are rocks and coral pieces under the water offshore. Lounge chairs and cabanas line the beach and there’s a badminton court for working up a sweat. Every Tuesday night the hotel screens movies on the beach.
The full-service dive shop, Toucan Diving, is located next to the hotel’s free parking lot. Beyond organizing dive trips and renting dive gear, the shop also loans snorkeling equipment for free, though a deposit is required. They also have a free locker area for storing diving gear. The beachside activity center arranges tours throughout the island and is where guests check out the available sailboats, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards (free, one-hour time limit). The hotel’s gym feels like an afterthought. It doesn’t have air-conditioning and its machines and free weights are practically antique despite having one modern elliptical machine. The hotel's small spa also hosts yoga classes and offers standard services like massages, facials, and body treatments.
The thatch-roofed Coconut Crash Beach Bar is a popular spot for a snack or cocktail and has great sunset views. Drinks are included in the hotel’s packages, so the happy-hour specials won’t entice hotel guests, but locals hang out at the bar too, especially on the weekends when live music transforms it into a party spot. The Tipsy Seagull, the hotel’s buffet restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and has a live-cooking station where guests can order items like steak-cooked to order (depending on the nightly dinner’s theme). Unfortunately, the food is mediocre. The restaurant’s bar looks like a miniature galleon from Pirates of the Caribbean"" and there’s live music four nights a week.
Four meetings rooms are available at Plaza Beach Resort including one with a guest computer and free printing, a Nespresso machine, and coffee pods. Laundry service is available and hotel also has an on-site casino. Wi-Fi works well in common areas, and is free. The resort has fairly extensive environmental policies, including solar energy, reused gray water, and recycling programs.
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