The Westin St. Maarten Dawn Beach Resort and Spa and its fine dining restaurant Aura have each received the coveted AAA Four Diamond rating for overall quality, making them the only establishments with this distinction on the Dutch side.
Announcing this milestone for the year-old property that created quite a stir with environmentalists when it was being built, General Manager Carlos Sanchez said it was a testament to the resort’s staff friendliness, which has already received acclaim, and the general facilities and amenities available.
Tourism Commissioner Roy Marlin, who was involved with the resort from its infancy, commended the staff and management for continuing to strive for excellence.
It was a “rough ride” paved with a lot of criticism, he said, adding that the resort being recognised with the AAA Four Diamond makes it all worthwhile. “I am always happy to see the smiling faces of the local people working here. If I had to do it over, I would do it all again.”
The Four Diamond rating for the resort means that these establishments are upscale in all areas. “Accommodations are progressively more refined and stylish. The physical attributes reflect an obvious enhanced level of quality throughout. The fundamental hallmarks at this level include an extensive array of amenities combined with a high degree of hospitality, service, and attention to detail,” according to AAA.
Aura’s Four Diamond rating means that it offers a distinctive fine-dining experience. Often orchestrated by an executive chef and an accomplished staff, menus reflect a high degree of creativity and complexity, using imaginative presentations to enhance high quality, market-fresh ingredients. The equally proficient service staff demonstrates a strong desire to meet or exceed guest expectations. A wine steward is typically available to provide menu-specific knowledge on wine selection.
Aura is opened for dinner every day except Wednesday when the resort hosts its famous Pirates Evening.
The resort is “fully booked” for Christmas with repeat guests who visited the island last Christmas jostling with new visitors for rooms, according to Sanchez. For the first six months of the year, the resort will maintain between 85 per cent and 90 per cent occupancy of its 310 rooms.
However, amidst this good news from management, some people working in the resort and suppliers such as taxi drivers are complaining that the guests are scarce, but they remain hopeful that visitor numbers will pick up soon.