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Accommodations on Grande Terre, Guadeloupe

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I'm planning a vacation to Guadeloupe for next Thanksgiving. From internet and guidebook research, I've decided to stay in the east side of Grande Terre rather than around the more tourist-hotel area (I speak French competently and am planning to rent a car). I've narrowed by choices to these hotels in Ste-Anne and St-Francois: La Toubana, Meridien St-Francois, Plantation Ste-Marthe, and Hotel Anchorage Anse des Rochers. I wondered if anyone stayed in the Anse de Rochers in particular, or La Toubana and could comment. I really wanted Toubana as it's smaller and I have no interest in a lot of the typical resort activities (water sports, discos, etc), I want peace and quiet. HOwever, I read one review that said it was a very windy part of the island and the wind was so strong you could hardly go outside! This would not be so desirable. That reviews also said the hotel restaurant had lax service, but I'm more concerned about room quality and the wind and wondered if anyone had comments on that. Meridien looks predictable just huge and run-of-the-mill; the hotel doesn't seem to be facing the ocean, either, so I'd guess getting an ocean view would be tough. I'm really leaning toward Anse des Rochers but can find no comments on it anywhere. It's also a large resort complex but looks nice and is on the beach; it's rated 3-star and the room decor in the photos (www.anse-des-rochers.com) isn't as nice as the Meridien photos, but I've read elsewhere that the Meridien is kind of worn and not so nice anyway. The Plantation Ste-Marthe might be my first choice but it's inland and as long as I'm going there, I want an ocean view at my hotel, I think. Money isn't a big issue here, all of these seem in my budget (nearby La Cocoterie probably is not, I want to pay US$150, hopefully less, per night). Even the nicer rooms in bungalows at Anse des Rochers are only about 900F per night. Any advice or comments on these hotels is appreciated. I'm not a big swimmer, so don't care which has a better pool at all, and I mainly want the ocean view for looks, not sports etc reasons.

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    I'm afraid it has been 24 years since I visited Guadeloupe, but I have to say we really loved it. (As a matter of fact, it was exactly 24 years ago today Aug 10!) We stayed at the Meridian, although it was much smaller back then. We rented a car (Actually there were onlytwo cars that could be rented at the hotel and it helped to know the people who had it so you could be there when they turned it in. We were told not even to bother trying at the airport!) So you can imagine, tourism wasn't as overwhelmingly prime to the island's economy then as it is now. That was why we chose it to begin with -- we expected it to be more self-sufficient than other islands. We walked to St Francois for dinner several nights, (past a nearly deserted casino) took the "bus" into town and back one day (forgotten the name of the capitol just this moment, but it struck us as rather "seamy" and not terrifically picturesque.) Oh yes, we went bicycling one day to the other side of the island where it was truly windy windy windy. As I recall, the Atlantic side of the island is much calmer wind-wise. The Caribbean side was really crazy. I can believe the story about being blown away. Driving around was wonderful. We went up the volcano, and on a trek through the rainforest to view some waterfalls. We stopped in small villages and one day swam at a black sand beach and a pink sand beach before coming back to our hotel where there was a small white sand beach. Our flight back to NYC was delayed and people who had been staying at our hotel were shocked to discover we were from America, because they hadn't seen us at dinner at the hotel every night! We met tourists from France (One family showed up at the same little restaurants we chose at dinner time. The second night we stopped to introduce ourselves!) and a young man (on that black sand beach) who was going to college in the US to play basketball. He was tickled to death to show off his English to his friend that day. There was a charming elderly man who ran a little (think cement-block shed) store in St Francois selling sodas, beer and liquor -- we'd stopped by for rum and coke. He was really excited to talk with us, as he was planning a trip to New York City, himself. (I could only think of the term: "culture shock") My limited French was helpful, and as in many places, a little courtesy goes a very long way. Our memories of Guadeloupe (the first Caribbean island we ever visited) are very warm and wonderful.

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    Thanks, Diane, for your comments. If I understand my map correctly, Ste-Anne and St Francois are on the Atlantic side, I believe La Toubana is kind of up on a cliff so maybe that contributes; this article said Pointe-des-Chateaux was the windiest place. Well, I still can't decide on hotel, looking further at that Anse des Rochers, it sounds awfully large for my tastes (365 rms, largest hotel on the islands) and the Meridien is about the same rate with what they claim is a sea view. Actually, I've found a good rate at the deluxe Cocoterie suites hotel (also Meridien) next door to the Meridien for not too much if you get a room without ocean view. So now I'm debating Meridien vs Cocoterie no sea view vs La Toubana (if I can get a room). I was also considering Auberge de la Vieille Tour (Sofitel) in Gosier but it had no vacancies.

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    Unfortunately I'm not at all familiar with Anse des Rochers. Of the others, my choice would probably be Plantation Ste. Marthe, even though its inland. You'll get beauty, peace & quiet, and nice facilities there. Meridien is a typical box hotel full of french tourists on package deals - loads of activities and a very nice beach, but loads of people and no peace and quiet. La Toubana gets mixed reviews - some people love it, others find the rooms very disappointing. Another consideration is that you need to descend many steps on the hillside to get to their small, so-so beach. Auberge de la Vielle Tour has lovely grounds and a quiet atmosphere, but it's pricey and has a beach the size of a postage stamp. I stayed at La Créole Beach in Gosier, which I'd rate better than Toubana or Meridien. La Cocoteraie is arguably the best place on the island, but it's pretty expensive.

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    Thanks, Paul -- as I said, I'm not a big beach person anyway so don't really care that much what size it is or how many steps as I may not even go there, I just like the view. Anyway, the Auberge was booked so I can't stay there even if I want. I don't sunbathe and get bored out of my mind laying around on beaches very much, I won't go in the water. I've checked prices, so I know what they are pretty well and that I can afford all of these I mentioned, at least I can afford Cocoterie garden view, but not sea view (which is more like $215/day rather than $140 for garden view, which isn't bad). I do wonder if Toubana might not be as nice, I know it's not rated as high starwise--it's a problem as if I don't get oceanview at Toubana, I'd rather stay at Cocoterie, obviously, even though it costs more. I thought Plantation Ste Marthe did look pretty nice, but if I'm going to the Caribbean, I see no point in staying inland, I might as well just check into a nice hotel in Ohio. Well, not exactly, but that's my point of view--one of the main reasons I'm going to the Caribbean is for the views, I find it relaxing. For example, last year I went to Puerto Vallarta and had a nice hotel room with balcony and beautiful view of the bay, I really enjoyed that view and sitting on the balcony at end of day; I did not even go in the pool or ocean, though. I am sort of interested in the Creole Beach hotel, though if you could elaborate--how is that any different than the Meridien and what kind of views/beach do they have? (I can enjoy being on a lounge chair on beach if I have umbrella and total sunscreen, as I like ocean view, but I won't go in). The stuff I've read on Creole Beach lists it as smaller than Meridien (150 rms which is a good moderate size) but that it shares beach and facilities with two other hotels (Mahogany and Yucca) so that combined that is just as big as Meridien, I guess. Why did you like it better than Meridien? I just sort of thought being in Ste-Anne or St-Francois might be a little more relaxing or quiet, less urban, than in Gosier and since I speak French, I don't need to worry about that. I might like Hamak, ha ha, but they really are too expensive for me. What kind of restaurants did they have at the Creole, were they any good? Was it noisy? One drawback of some of these big resort hotels is they play loud music outside at night to appeal to party animals, I guess (my hotel in PV did that); I really don't like that if you can hear it at all in rooms. I've read the Meridien is average quality rooms, although their web site does have the rooms look tasteful and attractive with local style; Anse des Rochers has uglier rooms even on their websitge. I don't know, it's hard to decide.

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    Well, Christina, you're probably right not to go for La Créole Beach, because they DO have bands playing outside most nights, and you can certainly hear them from your room. I liked the hotel because it had personality, I liked how the grounds were laid out, thought the rooms were nice, they had a choice of 3 restaurants (their breakfast and dinner buffets in the main, more crowded restaurant offered huge selections - very good), including one quieter one tucked into a corner of the property. It has only two small man-made & shadeless beaches, but that's irrelevant - you just head down to the beach and walk over to the beach at the Hotel Salako two doors down, for a larger, palm-shaded & nicer beach, one of the better ones in Gosier. All that said, I wouldn't go back because I really did not like Gosier itself - so you're totally right to head for St.Francois or Ste-Anne, that's what I'd do if I returned (actually, I'd stay on Terre de Haute in Les Saintes, if truth be told). Like you, I speak french proficiently - while that's not essential for dealing with La Créole's front desk staff, it is essential if you want to communicate with any of the other hotel staff (in restaurants & snack bars, to obtain water sports equipment, maids, etc)or if you hope to speak to any other guests - my wife and I did not run across a single English-speaking guest in the week we were there.
    If you want quiet, I don't see how you'd like Le Meridien. It simply isn't quiet. If you're going for view, it makes more sense to pick La Toubana -even though La Cocoteraie is a nicer place, it's best feature is its beach. Go for Toubana. I'll be heading to St-Barth right about the same time - my favorite island!

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    hey, thanks a lot, Paul, for your detailed comments. Maybe I will try to book Toubana as long as the rooms aren't really cruddy. It's hard to tell from web sites, they look okay but I'm at the point where I need a nice vacation (don't ask, bad year) and can afford it and don't want to rough it. I was just considering Meridien as one of the big chain alternatives, they all seemed about the same to me, just different locations--and I liked the location of Meridien St Francois better than the ones around Gosier. If it's not too much trouble, when you said La Toubana gets mixed reviews, etc--what were you referring to? I mean, how many people and where did you read these reviews? Specifically, the ones that didn't like it, what did they say? I've read up on weather and the comment I read about really bad winds was during a windier time of the year (Feb) than I would be going, so maybe that would work. I just can get a pretty good deal on AAvacations at Le Meridien St Francois so if I go for a large chain, it seemed why not just stay there. Can you hear noisy bands in your room there, also? I don't mind it so much during the daytime (or canned music broadcast loudly, that's what they did in PV) when you're out, but hated it in PV every night until 12-1 am. I was even thinking of splurging for La Cocoterie sea view as a respite from the large chain hotels and nicer than Toubana, but I really don't need that much space as I'll be alone. Do you know if you stay at La Cocoterie is there some terrace you can sit out on for a view if you don't have a sea view bungalow? It didn't look like it to me from their web site.

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    If you really want to get away from the resort scene I suggest a bungalow, soecifically at Le verger de Ste. Anne. There is a web site with all pertinent information if you use your search engine. The owner and her son are very friendly and helpful. My daughter and I had the smallest unit, I believe. Inside there was a kitchen with a counter and window opening onto the front porch. We had a double bed and bathroom with a shower. A loft, requiring climbing a ladder up the wall, had a second double bed. The table and chairs were on the porch and the porch was surounded on the front and side by a deck. Off in the corner of the deck was another shower and lines for hanging clothes. Everything was very clean and attractive. The web site better explains the rest.

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    First I must confess I haven't read all these threads completely - it's very difficult without paragraphs!

    We've been to Guadeloupe twice and stayed near Gosier both times (at the Auberge de la Vieille Tour) - I agree that Ste Anne or St Francois are better bets for a quieter time. However you should know that these are now pretty tourist-oriented too, though in a good way - more restaurants than even just a few years ago, etc,.

    As long as you have a car, you won't go wrong with a more secluded option. If you really want solitude, consider the little islands that you can get to by ferry just off the shore of Guadeloupe.

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