Westin Dawn Beach Resort in a Nutshell:
This opulent resort is nestled into the lush hillsides of the Dutch side of the island—St. Maarten, featuring white sandy beaches, a pool with cabanas, and suites so luxurious that Netherlands Queen Beatrix uses the resort as her home-away-from-home when she visits St. Maarten. An elaborate spa, numerous dining venues (indoor and out) and a casino off the lobby await guests. You really don’t have to leave the property, if you just want to unwind and relax, but that would be to deprive yourself of myriad activities — including St. Martin, for those who might want to brush up on their French and sunbathe au naturel.
The resort features 317 spacious rooms and suites with either a balcony or patio. Spring for a room/suite with an ocean view. The “Dawn” in the resort’s name suggests the spectacular sunrises over the Atlantic Ocean. Rooms’ sleek décor is subdued natural tones with island art and photographs adorning the walls. All rooms include Westin’s Heavenly Bed with a pillow-top mattress, a rainforest shower, and separate tub. Satellite/flatscreen TVs, wi-fi, housekeeping service and free local telephone calls round out the picture.
Dining at the Resort:
The variety of dining venues at the resort are a plus, since, especially at night, one might not always be in the mood for the winding trek into town. Ocean restaurant is the main hub of the resort for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There you may dine indoors or outside on a terrace overlooking the massive infinity pools that stair-step down to the Atlantic Ocean. Fresh local seafood such as Mahi Mahi, snapper, and lobster from neighboring island, Saba is featured. Dress is casual. Aura is an upscale adults-only restaurant and is only open for dinner. Seafood and steak is the way to go, particularly the certified Angus beef that is dry-aged for at least 21 days. During the day, head to Liquid for a light lunch fare and tasty libations. Ocean Blu is a cozy and relaxed place to enjoy sushi and tapas from noon to 2 am. And, of course, room service is available 24/7.
Since you’re at one of the world’s most beautiful seascapes you can take advantage of the resort’s specialty — destination weddings
on the beach — with views of the island of St. Barths in the background. Ceremonies feature an arch adorned with your favorite flowers. Weddings can range from just the two of you, an officiant and witness (if you’re eloping) up to affairs with hundreds of guests in the grand ballroom. Spectacular receptions may also be held on the beach or poolside. The resort’s wedding specialists are busy year round making sure that each couple will have a tailor-made wedding to treasure. They also manage the paperwork and apprise you of legalities to insure their brides and grooms are indeed married.
The resort offers couples the opportunity to create their own honeymoon registry, allowing friends and relatives to give couples gifts in the form or room nights, meals, spa treatments, off-property activities, excursions to nearby Anguilla and St. Barths, and gift certificates to shops around the island. The registry can be easily set up online via the resort’s
. Those who like to be pampered (and who doesn’t?) will swoon over dinners for two in beachside cabanas and butler-served breakfast in bed.
The large outdoor pool stair-steps down to the beach that runs along the property. Romantic sunrises are offered daily, free of charge. There is also a casino off the lobby with hundreds of slot machines and Vegas games, including Texas Hold-em poker. While there are other casinos on the Dutch side of the island, this is the only one in a luxury resort. And, should you win big, you can spend the extra cash at Silver Palms boutique, also in the lobby, which offers tropical clothing in addition to unique jewelry and paintings from local island artists.
Hibiscus Spa has a candle-lit couples massage room—very Zen and ultra-romantic. Massages may also be performed in-room or in a beachside cabana. There is also a fully equipped fitness center in case you need any last minute tune-ups before a wedding or during a honeymoon.
What to See and Do Nearby:
The resort is about a 30-minute ride into Phillipsburg, the capital of the Dutch side of the island. Shopping is the main sport there, with boutiques representing the world’s leading designers alongside places selling local arts and crafts. A must-stop is Guavaberry Emporium, which sells the national liquor, Guavaberry, in addition to a variety of rums and gift items. Some liken the taste of guavaberry to a sweet red wine, others prefer it blended into a daiquiri or margarita. Proost!, as they say in Holland. Nearby, sailing fans can participate in a yacht race at
America’s Cup Yacht Racing
. Two yachts compete several times each day in a 12-meter challenge, where paying guests become real crew members. For landlubbers, a drive around the island offers the chance to sample different beaches, including
, which has the island’s only official clothing-optional section.
Drawbacks at The Westin Dawn Beach Resort and Spa:
You’ll need to decide whether to rent a car or not. Taxis are readily available, but your negotiating skills will come in handy, especially if you’re out at night and need a ride back to the resort. The resort is in a beautiful secluded area, and that can mean a 30-40 minute trip into Phillipsburg, the airport or to the Maho area, which features the island’s most active nightlife. If you do rent a car, parking at the resort is complimentary. There are no tennis courts on property nor is there a golf course. The resort can make arrangements for guests to play tennis nearby and for golfers to hop over to Anguilla to play at a water-side course. Editor's note: According to multiple TripAdvisor
comments, potential guests ought to keep in mind they may be approached by timeshare touts, could find the water on the Atlantic-facing beach a bit choppy, and might encounter less-than-hospitable staff members. Also, this is a family-friendly resort, so there are no adults-only facilities.
Is Westin Dawn Beach Resort Right for You?:
This is the island’s largest resort, offering guests a breathtaking seascape, luxurious spa, fitness center, casino and numerous dining venues all surounded by immaculately landscaped grounds. Its imposing contemporary architecture and dazzling location draws an eclectic group of guests, including singles looking for a good time, couples who have already found romance and the occasional family romping around. Thankfully, there are areas reserved for adults-only: at the pool, in guestrooms and inside the restaurant Aura. Moonlight or sunrise strolls along the beach are a romantic way to savor the best of St. Maarten.
Westin Dawn Beach Info and Reservations:
144 Oyster Pond Road
Phone: 599-543 6700
Official Hotel Website
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The resort is located approximately a 30-minute drive from the Princess Julianna Airport.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodation and meals for the purpose of reviewing those services. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.