Just back from La Samanna


Aug 31st, 2004, 10:16 AM
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Just back from La Samanna

My wife and I just returned from a week at La Samanna.

We typically take a couple of trips per year to the caribbean and always wanted to try La Samanna given what we have heard and read about the property. We do not mind paying up a bit for a resort (i.e. Cap Jaluca, Caneel Bay, Peter Island, etc...) but we have an upper limit of what we consider resonable and have always found the prices at La Samanna to be north of that. However, we found a very good rate on a one bedroom cliffside suite that we decided to book and check out the resort.

Overall I would sum up La Samanna by saying that the beach and pool areas are nice - on par with other Caribbean resorts - but the overall condition of the rooms and rest of the property is relatively poor. La Samanna seems to us like a resort living off its past reputation and in serious need of an update.

I've summarized out thoughts by category below.

Ease of travel: a plus
Flying from NYC, La Samanna is very easy to get to. Several direct flights from NYC, and a short ride to the resort. We were at La Samanna by 1:15. A representative from the resort meets you at the airport and puts you in a taxi (although this is not really necessary given the number of cabs available).

Lobby/common areas: on par
All well maintained and well landscaped. The main building sits up the cliffside and has great views of the bay and surrounding area. On par with other resorts we have visited.

Room: a minus
We were upgraded to a one bedroom beach front suite, which was a nice amenity. We were a mere steps from the beach which makes for a nice beach vacation. However, the rooms are in serious need of an update. We say this after putting rooms at many caribbean resorts in context (i.e. $600-800/night in season does not get you St. Regis/Ritz Carlton type rooms, but gets you a nice, comfortable room none the less). The furniture and appointments in the rooms are on par with an inexpensive motel, and the beds looked and felt like they were bought surplus from a 1970's motel liquidation sale. In short, if I was paying in season prices I would be outraged.

Bathroom: a minus
Along with the room, the bathroom left much to be desired. The fixtures and appointments were average at best. The framing around the door and mirrors was disjointed, crooked, and broken. The hot water had a nasty habit of cycling from freezing to scalding and the tub was very outdated.

Beach: average
The beach is not a white sand beach, but I did not expect it to be. Some other posters have commented that the beach is rocky, which it is, but I did not find this a problem. By rocky, what we found were large rocks in the sand leading out to the water. Certainly not such that you would need shoes or flip flops. Otherwise, the beach is very pretty and the water was clear and calm.

Beach amenities: a plus
The ease of access to the beach bar is better than some caribbean resorts and the beach furniture is nicer than many other resorts we've visited. The lounge chairs have large comfortable cushions.

Pool: a plus
The pool area is above average as far as most of the carribean resorts we have visited; however, I would put this in perspective given that at most resorts we do not spend much time at the pool, but rather, spend our time on the beach. If a pool is important though, La Samanna's pool is very nice. The pool furnitue and lounge chairs are also very comfortable and I would consider them above average versus what many other resorts offer.

Food: a plus
The quality of the food was generally on par or better than many caribbean resorts. We expected as much given the French influence. We only had breakfast one day, which is served as a buffet in the main restaurant. It was a tyical Continental breakfast. The lunch options were varied and good. We had dinner one night in the main restaurant which was very good, but we found the food options for evening dining to better off the resort. (Note that part of our plus rating for the food relates to the quality of food on the island in general in that we found very good dining off the resort relative to what we've experienced on other islands). One thing we found to be a drawback is that the only evening dining option on the resort is the main, formal, restaurant or room service. Some nights we like a more casual option and that was not availabe on the resort unless we wanted to eat in the room (which we did not).

Food and drink cost: average
One thing we were curious about was numerous comments about the price of food and beverage at La Samanna. Granted, we are used to NYC prices, but we did not find the cost of food or drinks at La Samanna to be out of line with what we have experienced at other Caribbean resorts. Dinner was a little more expensive than dinner on the resort at some other places we've stayed, but then the quality was better. The one area of costs where we felt like the resort was a bit excessive was the price of bottled water and soft drinks. While we don't mind paying $6 for a beer or $12 for a cocktail, $6 for a soft drink and $6 for a bottle of water is a bit egregious, in my opinion.

Staff: a minus
Unlike every other resort we have visisted where the staff is friendly and helpful, we found the staff at La Samanna sub par. Service was as expected - on island time, but the real issue we had with the staff was its attitude. It seemed like every interaction was an imposition on their time. Any request, no mater how ordinary was greeted with an attitude of annoyance. I am not a demanding hotel guest, and that type of service I find completely unacceptable.

Fitness center:
Equipment was nicer than many resorts we've visited. Lifecycle treadmills and all Cybex equipment. The equipment was in good shape, but along the lines of the quest rooms, the facility was general in a poor state of repair.

Spa: did not use
hockeyfan is offline  
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Aug 31st, 2004, 11:55 AM
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Thank you for the interesting and thorough trip report!
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Aug 31st, 2004, 05:49 PM
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Well that's somewhat refreshing to read. I visited La Samanna last year just as a side trip to see the place on the way to Cap Juluca. It had a reputation as being one of the best Caribbean resorts (about 10-15 years ago).
I was so glad I only visited because I was very underwhelmed.
yet I rarely read anyone at this board comment negatively about LS.

Important to note that for people who usually stay at more economical places LS may be their dream destination. But we typically seek the best lodging any area has to offer and don't mind paying for it. We're especially picky about room and bathroom quality. These seem to be LS's weakest points. LS looked waay overpriced to me.

Thanks for the report, hockeyfan.
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Aug 31st, 2004, 09:36 PM
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Just a few minutes ago, I was looking at the La Samanna website, because was thinking of spending two nites there prior to starting a 9 day stay on Anguilla. So what great timing to read your report. Sounds like we would be better off to extend our stay on Anguilla by two nites instead.
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Sep 1st, 2004, 09:51 AM
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Unless you have a burning desire to stay a La Samanna or to spend time on St. Martin, I would stick with Anguilla. Where are you staying on Anguilla?
hockeyfan is offline  
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Sep 1st, 2004, 11:38 AM
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We'll be staying at Rendezvous Bay Hotel -
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Sep 1st, 2004, 01:41 PM
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Great review! We stayed there for 5 nights in the late 90's. We always travel through ST. Martin to go to Anguilla and thought La Samanna was the best place for us(mostly because of the beach). I agree it was the prime resort in its day,I can see how it influenced the architecture of the villas of Cap Juluca and the main building of Malliouhana. We did however make the best of our stay. At the time their rates for a beach front room were
ridiculus compared to our home away from home, Cap Juluca. We explored
a bit, dined in Grand Case, visited a very busy orient beach, and watched the twinkling lights of Anguilla, wishing we were there!
BTW Orangetravelcat, I love the restaurant at RBH, Cedar Grove is great for dinner and lunch, we did check out the beach villas. The beach is fantastic, and one of these days I will
give it try. Its a nice laid back place!
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Sep 1st, 2004, 05:03 PM
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We just want some R&R so RBH seems like it will be perfect. We will by flying to/from St Martin and ferrying over to Anguilla. Our return flight leaves St Martin around 3:15pm. What time do you think we need to take the ferry from Anguilla? Thanks.
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Sep 2nd, 2004, 04:07 AM
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At RBH you are not far from Blowing Point, so that part makes it easy. I think I would opt for the noon ferry.
I would have Bart or someone at the hotel call that morning to check the times(done each day as they can vary a bit). Get to the ferry at least 10 minutes prior to departure, as they will
close it off. The crossing takes anywhere from 20-30 minutes. Taxis are easy in Marigot-trip at the most 30 minutes. It really easy an easy trip. I just make up my mind that the day I leave is a travel day!
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Sep 2nd, 2004, 05:16 AM
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Thanks for the report on LS. I have always been curious about staying there, given its reputation, but am now convinced that we should stick to our tried and true Le Habitacion.
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