My wife & I have been to this property 6 times since 2002, each time for at least a week. Initially Le Domaine and its neighbor, then known as “l’Habitation,” were one property managed by Le Meridien. When that ended the Domaine side was closed for refurbishment and later the sister property, acquired by Radisson, was also spruced up and added to.
Both properties are absolutely gorgeous with incredibly wonderful landscaping and a shared beach on a cove that cannot be easily reached except by boat or by cars that have to pass through an entry gate, so there are no hawkers, unlike some other beaches on St. Martin where the parade is endless. Nearby is a marina with two restaurants, a mini market, some souvenir shops and a car rental, but mostly empty storefronts these days. The cove is as far from the airport as one can go, so there are no planes landing nearby and no cruise ships to be seen.
We’ve stayed on both sides (Le Domaine and l’Habitation/Radisson), but we’ve always preferred Le Domaine because it consists of a dozen buildings in a sort of arc, and from many of the rooms you can see the sea, whereas almost none of the rooms at the Radisson afford a view other than of the opposing wing or of the marina (where there are suites with kitchenettes). Overall the two hotels (used to) combine to afford one of the most perfect properties in the world if you want a quiet beach with beautiful views–and I’ve been to 50+ countries in my travels.
However, two years ago we discovered to our horror and disbelief that Le Domaine had added something new–loud music blaring all day long from a bar/restaurant resting on the dune that separates the beach from the rest of the property. The music drones on all day, every day, and is almost impossible to escape. You cannot sit on the beach, swim in the pool, or even swim in the roped off portion of the sea without hearing the music, and what carries furthest are the drumbeats that make the whole beach sound like a fitness center for the hard-of-hearing. Ditto for eating lunch at the bar–endless loud music–and sometimes there’s different music playing from an adjacent restaurant simultaneously!
Although I didn’t want to return this year, my wife convinced me to take the risk. Sadly, the music, though a tad lower, is just as pervasive from perhaps 10 AM until at least 5:00. I cannot imagine why! Nobody goes to St. Martin for loud music, even if some people don’t mind it or even enjoy it. In addition, every morning at 8 AM there was a race for beach space at the end of the property, i.e., as far away from the music as possible. That’s where we sat, but even with my iPod playing in my ears I could still hear the drumming.
I’ve read some other recent reviews, some of which highly praised the place and some of which complained, especially about poor service in October. What we discovered was that the Maxwell House coffee someone liked has been replaced by instant, coupled with instant (powdered) milk, all dispensed by a machine. There’s an ample supply of what I’m sure were frozen crepes and pancakes that are heated on demand. The fresh orange juice machine we saw two years ago has been replaced by frozen or canned juice, and during our stay they even downgraded the brand of jam. Pleasant enough fruit each day, but we never saw a banana or a berry. My wife said that the croissants weren’t worth eating–and this place is in France! And there’s a shortage of spoons and plates every morning! On the other hand, the staff is very friendly.
All the rooms at Le Domaine have round bathtubs in the middle of the room, reached by a ladder–fun for honeymooners, but I’m not sure many other people appreciate them. Fortunately, we requested and were assigned a room that has a wonderful stall shower in place of the former WC, and there’s hot water all day, but be careful, it’s the hottest water I have experienced in a shower anywhere in the world. There’s free internet, but it comes and goes all day long and seems to be turned off every night. Also, if you want to plug in your laptop, bring an extension cord; there’s no outlet near the only table in the room and none on the balcony (every room in both properties has a balcony). And if you’re coming from the U.S., bring a converter for your plugs. The room has two sinks and an incredible amount of space to keep your clothes and stuff and a nice fridge. The a/c works 24/7, but it’s hard to maintain a constant temperature; I felt alternately hot and cold whenever I was in the room as the thermostat turned the unit on and off.
We ate dinner at the main restaurant on the property our first day. The meal was tasty, but the appetizer was expensive and minuscule; both pieces of meat were cooked more than we wanted and came without any accompaniment. The next night we had a much more copious meal at l’Auberge Gourmande in Grand Case, for a little less money, with appetizers that were delicious and huge. And the rest of our stay–9 nights–we drove into town every night and had wonderful meals at Le Pressoir, Tastevin, La Spiga and Le Cottage.
So we concluded–if you want to stay there, don’t eat dinner at Le Domaine; don’t eat lunch unless you have earplugs or don’t want to have a conversation while you’re eating; and only eat the breakfast because it’s included in the price and it’s OK as hotel breakfasts go. Next time we’ll stay at the Radisson which is not 100% as attractive but has a quiet pool that is 3-4 times as big as Le Domaine’s, and has a quiet beach. And perhaps The Radisson has a manager who is able to say hello and goodbye to his guests, unlike Mr. LeBrun at Le Domaine, who shook his head to acknowledge receiving my message and email complaining about the music on the beach, but never had the courtesy to say a word to me other than when I stood directly in front of him and asked for a response and he mumbled that he had a very busy day. That was midway in our nine days at his hotel, and this was our 6th stay! And that was it; never another word. Friendly guy!
Ask for a room with a seaview and a stall shower above ground level.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC