Arrival/Check-in: After traversing the full length of Saipan from the airport by van (about 25 minutes), I arrived at the Mariana Resort’s vast open-air lobby, passing their tennis courts, go-cart track and horse-riding field on the way. Once check-in was handled, I was loaded into a golf cart for the short ride to the Reefside building where I would stay for six nights. (27/30)
Guest Quarters: Due to a last-minute accommodations change and the resort’s truncated Web site, I had no idea what level of room to expect. The first impression was quite nice. My room was large and bright, with light stucco walls, wood floors and two beds, one of which was a king-sized, curtained four-poster. The resort apparently follows the Micronesian tendency to cater to Asian visitors by providing over-firm beds; the king-sized bed felt like a thin mat laid on a gym floor. The smaller bed was more forgiving. The tea station was generous, but if you need coffee to live — as certain journalists do — it was sorely lacking. The minibar was half empty, leaving chill space for bottles of juice or wine. In-room entertainment consisted of liberal (by island standards) cable TV offerings and a dated boom box. The mammoth closet had a safe just a hair too small for a normal laptop. (24/30)
Services/Amenities: The Mariana Resort is a destination in its own right. There’s a wedding chapel, an 18-hole golf course (6,910 yards), Mandi Asian Spa, fun pools, a 50-meter pool, an onsite trekking/biking/tour shop and the 12th Night Italian restaurant with an outstanding seven-course surf-and-turf dinner. Breakfast is served in an open-air, thatch-roofed dining area with beguiling sea views. In addition to the Reefside rooms, all with sea views, there are newly renovated villas, some with sea views, sundecks and Jacuzzis. A pair of PCs in the lobby provide free Internet access; otherwise, in-room WiFi costs $8 per day. (39/40)
The Experience: No hotel classification structure exists on Saipan, but by my estimates the Mariana Resort is a firm 4-star facility, with only minor failings. The staggering number of onsite activities, the sprawling property and the overarching tropical character forgive any nitpicky shortcomings. The only true drawback is its cumbersome distance from nearly everything of interest on Saipan. Though a few public transportation options exist, springing for a hefty taxi fare or rental car is unavoidable. As a stand-alone site, the Mariana Resort is dazzling.
Total Score: (90/100)
Mariana Resort & Spa
P.O. Box 500527
Saipan, MP 96950 USA
tel 670 237 2089
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