No question about it... go for Banana Beach.. the extra dinero is way worth it, at least in my humble opinion.
Tim manages both hotels and obviously would be happy whichever one you choose, but since this is your vacation, go with the nicer place.
We paid about 960us for an oceanfront room for 10 days from may 11-20th. (three out of our four couples had oceanfronts.. one couple had a poolview which was exactly the same as the others except it looked out onto the pool on oneside and a sideways view of the beach on the other.. think they paid about 760.)
for the extra money, you get a kitchen...( we prefer to eat breakfast in our room everywhere we travel, sitting on our deck looking at the ocean..) a living/dining room, big refrig (for all that rum and belikins), plus a fantastic view of the ocean, and one of the best beaches I've seen on AC. You also get a pool ( do not underestimate the value of an afternoon spent sipping belikins in the little kiddie pool/not-so-hot tub.)
You also get the friendliest staff possible. Horace and Henry will do anything to make sure you're having the best time.. tip them if you wish, each time they do something for you, or at the end of the trip, or not at all...they do it because they love making people happy, they're not standing around waiting for a tip. ( although I did make henry very happy by selling him a brand new CDplayer/radio boombox for $30us, which I left for our maid.. he said the same thing on the island would cost over $100us).
I haven't completed my trip report yet, but when I do, you'll have a chance to read about all the great things that made AC a fantastic vacay. I met Nicki there after her wedding, and if it's good enough for that special day in her life, then I'm sure it'll do just fine for most people's vacations.
When you get there, make sure to stop at Mata Rocks and have a Mata Colada.. (very yummy for a girly drink... don't let the guys see you holding one)... and a hotdog which is served with the coolest condiment container ever!!!