Tucked away in Anse Marcel, on the French side of the island, the all-inclusive Riu Palace opened in May 2014. A beachside property, Riu Palace is a good place to unwind and escape the bustling life of St. Maarten.
They say you don't forget your first timers. Be it your first love, the first time you've flown onboard an aircraft, the first time you drove a car or when you've taken up a certain sport. I'll always remember my first flight (October 2002, to Paris CDG), as well as my first trip to St. Maarten (June 2014, also through Paris). The first time driving a car? Well, this is a bit blurry, just like with the first love - I was way too young when Cupidon hit. I'll never forget the first time I rode a jet-ski - December 2004 in the marina next to Burj Al Arab - just like I'll always remember the first time I went kayaking. It happened at Riu Palace St. Martin this November, together with Robert, a close friend. The guy at the water sports booth was friendly and seemed to know us for years. After a nice chat with him we boarded the kayaks and headed out in the bay for over half an hour. It sure was a fun morning! My friend also insisted we do scuba diving, but I kindly declined since I cannot swim - yes, there are still people who don't know how to do that. :)
Speaking of activities to keep you in shape, Riu Palace has a wide range on offer. Gym, aquagym, French bowls, beach volleyball, snorkelling equipment, one introductory scuba diving lesson, windsurfing, catamaran and scuba diving school (PADI). When it comes to entertainment, guests can enjoy live music, a daytime entertainment program for adults, as well as a miniclub and daytime entertainment program for children ages 4 to 12 (all these programs take place several times a week). Riu Palace is not close to the world-famous Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM), about 20 km away, but there are many guests who prefer a secluded beachside property to unwind instead of a hotel or resort located next to the runway or Maho beach, on the Dutch side of the island. However, Grande Case and Marigot are closer: 4 km and 6,5 km away. Situated on the beach, Riu Palace offers direct access to Anse Marcel Marina, being the perfect place to enjoy some spectacular sunsets. Without doubt, the sunset we've seen after we checked-in easily ranks amongst the top 3 witnessed so far, together with the one from Cabo da Roca (Portugal) and Burj Al Arab. Add the white-sand cove and turquoise water and you can imagine how it feels to spend a few days at Riu Palace St. Martin.
Upon arrival, the colonial architecture of the property and well-defined lines caught our eye, reminding us of similar buildings from several US states. The check-in process went smoothly. At first we were given a room on the ground floor, but a couple of hours later - when we returned from one of the restaurants - someone from the Reception told us we were upgraded to the third floor, with rooms overlooking the inner courtyard. That was another pleasant surprise! With two 2-storey main buildings and 1-2-storey annexes, Riu Palace St. Martin boasts 258 guest rooms and suites, with free Wi-Fi around the hotel. Some of the services and amenities awaiting guests: room service 24 hours a day, turndown service, bathroom toiletries, special make-up mirror, hairdryer, carpeted floor, telephone, central air conditioning, minibar, liquor dispenser, coffee maker, satellite TV (flat screen), in-room safe and balcony or terrace. The Junior Suites boast king-size bed (190x200 cm) or 2 queen-size beds (150x200 cm) and garden or courtyard views, while Superior Suites come with bedroom and king-size bed (190x200 cm), separate lounge with sofa-bed, 2 satellite TVs (flat screen), 2 balconies/terraces and most of them have views to the marina. If you opt for the Gran Suites you get bathroom with bathtub and shower, bedroom with king-size bed (190x200 cm), separate lounge with sofa-bed, 2 satellite TVs (flat screen) and a large balcony.
There are 4 restaurants and bars at Riu Palace St. Martin. You can start the day with full American breakfast buffet, live cooking stations, fruits, juices and Cava, as well as continental breakfast and snacks. For lunch there's hot and cold buffet plus live cooking stations, pizzas, pasta, salads and assorted desserts. At dinner, apart from buffets and live cooking stations there are themed buffets (three times a week) and optional dining where reservations are required: "Krystal" fusion restaurant, "La Mer" French restaurant and "L'Île" grill and steakhouse. Guests can enjoy an extensive menu of local and international dishes prepared daily by the hotel's chefs, as well as delicious fruit cocktails. The sound of the waves splashing on the beach and the unforgettable sunsets from "La Mer" are also included in the menu. As for the huge infinity pool, it's the biggest we've tried so far during our iconic stays. Riu Palace St. Martin
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