I’ve talked a lot about growing up spending most of my weekends as a teen in all-inclusive resorts because of my father’s job in the hospitality industry in the Dominican Republic. There isn’t a lot about these types of resorts that I don’t know.
As a mother of three, I have come to appreciate them more because of the flexibility they offer family travelers, of those traveling on a budget or not wanting to worry about managing one, and of those just wanting to relax.
I have also noticed that more and more all-inclusive resorts have woken up to the reality that travelers don’t always want to stay confined to the walls of the resort and enjoy options that allow for exploration and familiarization of the area they are visiting.
But still, staying at an all-inclusive isn’t an automatic decision for us when we travel. Sometimes, they can feel too big and noisy. I consider myself a fun gal, but not so fun that I want to be surrounded by loud music and even louder people when I vacation.
When I invited my husband to join me on a work trip as the guest of RIU Palace St. Martin (full disclosure), I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I knew about RIU resorts thus far was that they tend to be huge, with a lot going on – so I expected this to be my experience in St. Martin as well.
What you need to know
The resort is located on the French side of the island (St. Martin), facing the quiet cove of Anse Marcel. It only has 258 rooms, so considerably smaller than its RIU counter parts, giving it a more boutique feel in comparison.
It was formerly a Radisson Hotel and reopened in 2014 after undergoing a 10-million dollar renovation, though some areas still need some TLC. That being said, I enjoyed my stay here and loved that I got to experience it with my husband. Though great for families too, I found that it was easy to have romantic, quite moments with him.
We would get up early in the morning and head out to explore St. Martin, easy enough to do if you rent a car. We even went on an early morning hike up one of the mountains next to the resort and came upon a secluded beach – a bit rougher than the resort’s beach, but still beautiful to watch.
The amenities are what you would expect from an all-inclusive: unlimited drinks, food, and kids club. The water sports are an extra fee, as are the spa treatments, private pool-side cabanas, and babysitting. There are 4 restaurants, 3 á la carte which require reservations and 1 buffet, as well as a beach snack bar. It’s important to note that though they are still working on improving their restaurant reservation process (past guests have commented on how difficult it can be to get a reservation), the experience is worth it. I will say that the food overall, even at the buffet, is very good. Their breakfast buffet is one of the best I have ever experienced at an all-inclusive resort. A must try: the freshly made donuts. They fry them right there in front on you and are still hot when served!
The baked goods at @RiuHotels are made fresh every single day. Watched as these donuts were made for breakfast this morning, still warm when I took my first bite! #ZOMG #RiuPressTrip #GGTinStMartin A video posted by Carol Cain (@girlgonetravel) on
Getting our groove back
A photo posted by Carol Cain (@girlgonetravel) on
It was work and we were busy, but we also got to enjoy some down time in between. Being able to be in an environment that allowed us to take quiet strolls, or lazy around the beach and float around in the still ocean waters was a much needed break for us as a couple.
A photo posted by Carol Cain (@girlgonetravel) on
I often stood from afar looking at him. It had been awhile since I had been able to just watch him without interruption, like a girl with a not-so-secret crush.
Granted, it’s important to note that we were there when the season hadn’t yet started, meaning there were families, but not too many due to kids still in school and the spring breakers hadn’t yet arrived. When you decide to visit might decide how much busier the ambiance will feel. Yet, because of the size of the resort and the amount of spaces where one can retreat to, it isn’t too hard to find tranquility if you want it.
Even the pool, which also happens to be the largest infinity pool in the Caribbean, has different sections for adults only and families.
Plus there is so much to do off-resort that you won’t often find too many crowds on-site during the day.
And still, the most important thing of all of this for us is how we reconnected on this trip and how the chill vibe of the resort allowed for that.
We came back home, making out like school kids, horrifying our children with our public displays of affection and ready to take on the world…or at least the rest of the school year and work. Though maybe next time, we might decide to party a little bit more in another fun RIU location!
Read my article on Sint Maartin in Expedia Viewfinder where I share what other fun things we did on our romantic trip to St. Martin! You can check out more images from our visit to the RIU Palace in St. Martin on my Instagram, #GGTinStMartin.