- Beach is crowded and easily accessible by non-guests
- Some aspects of rooms are rundown and need upgrades
Condo-style units meet resort-style amenities ideal for couples and families alike
This 240-room resort consists of seven buildings containing studios, one-bedroom suites, and larger villa units with full kitchens, brand new large flat-screen TVs, pull-out couches, and furnished balconies. With two beaches, a breezy oceanfront massage hut, a lively beach bar and restaurant, and a large pool featuring daily activities and games, the resort itself caters equally to couples and families with young kids. Set in Simpson Bay’s Pelican Key, with several similar resorts nearby, the beach is crowded not only with resort guests, but also other tourists wandering in along the shore -- and vendors hawking souvenirs and beach junk are a common sight. As a result, those vacationers looking to carve out some quiet time might consider abandoning the Dutch side altogether for the more adult-friendly Orient Bay or Grand Case areas.
This combination of well-equipped condo-style units and resort-style amenities handily trumps the majority of St. Maarten's Dutch side hotels. One the one hand, the Sonesta Great Bay has just as many amenities, but the rooms are typical small hotel rooms with no kitchens or additional features. Meanwhile, at other condo/time-share hotels like the nearby Simpson Bay Suites, the rooms may have full kitchens, but amenities are few and far between. The mere presence of both of these qualities is a real feather in Flamingo Beach Resort's cap.
The Flamingo Beach Resort unexceptional staff and lack of exclusivity hold it back, though. Regarding the former, front desk staff is slow to help guests (there is actually a roped-off area in which guests are expected to form a line, which is often half-a-dozen people deep), and genuinely unconcerned with guests' complaints (I overheard a couple complaining that there was only one large towel in their bathroom -- the front desk clerk took almost three minutes before agreeing to have someone bring them more). As for the latter, the layout of the resort is such that its various buildings are interspersed with other resorts. As such, the beachfront units face a walkway filled with guest and non-guests walking to and from the beach; and garden view/ocean view units require a good five-minute walk through various hotel parking lots and facilities before reaching the main hotel.
On two Pelican Key beaches, within walking distance of busy Welfare Road’s restaurants and bars
Located directly on Simpson Bay’s Pelican Key, Flamingo Beach Resort has the benefit of being situated among a cluster of resorts (each with its own beach access), and public restaurant and bar. A short walk down Bill Folly Road leads to even more businesses, including the beach bars and restaurants on Kimsha Beach. A few minutes’ walk farther leads to busy Airport Road, which provides close proximity to tons of restaurant, shops, bars, casinos, and a movie theater. A grocery store is a 10-minute walk away, and plenty of the island’s popular hangouts (Topper’s, Jimbo’s, and 3 Palms) 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.
Spacious with private balconies, brand new TVs and appliances, and full kitchens
Spread out across seven white adobe buildings with blue trim, all 240 of Flamingo Beach Resort’s units are huge, starting around 750 square feet for a studio, and include private balconies and true full kitchens. Of course, some of the balconies do not face the ocean, and many of those that are labeled “ocean-view” are still a good walk to the beach. And those balconies in the beachfront rooms are hardly private, with guests walking to and from the beach at all hours of the day.
The decor is somewhat outdated (as in most St. Maarten hotel rooms) with tacky blue and orange lamps, small single-sink vanities, and tiling with dirty grout in many of the units. Still, the rooms are a bit nicer than at their sister property, Royal Palm Beach Resort, with detailing such as plush carpets elevating them to a slightly cozier level. The resort also makes an effort to update in stages: 32-inch and 40-inch flat-screen TVs were added in 2009, and all of the villas got fresh sofas and kitchen appliances.
Extensive amenities compared with other nearby resorts
A beachfront restaurant and bar is a local hit
The privately owned Topper’s restaurant on Flamingo Beach Resort’s beachfront is a second Simpson Bay outpost of a beloved island hangout. The food is what you would expect -- not exactly gourmet cuisine, but good-enough steaks, burgers, and seafood -- and the drinks are weak and cheap. Really though, you are paying for the atmosphere, which is lively, friendly, and all about having a great time at the beach. Topper’s also operates a second bar at the resort’s pool with daily happy hour specials.
Finding an acceptable beach hotel on a shoestring budget is no mean feat -- and it can be all the…
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