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“Not what we Expected” 2 of 5 stars
Review of Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa

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Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa
4.0 of 5 Hotel   |   19 Little Bay Rd, Philipsburg, St Maarten-St Martin   |  
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Ranked #3 of 15 Hotels in Philipsburg
windsor Ontario
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Not what we Expected”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed June 12, 2011

This hotel needs much upgrading. The rooms have a musty smell and even if the air conditioner is kept running the smell does not disappear. The bathroom is full of mold. Not only is there mold on the ceiling tiles but the corners of the walls in the shower also have black mold. The ceiling in the hallways leak and there were blankets placed on the floor the whole length of the hall to collect the water drippng down. The paint was peeling off the corners where the decorative wood moldings were placed.
With the exception of the maid service and a few waitresses in the Bayview restaurant, the service was sub-standard. It took the staff a long time to clean tables, hence you seemed to be always waiting to be seated. It's a good thing that meals were a self-serve buffet because unless Elixabeth was our waitress we could end up not getting any coffee until we were finished our meal. The bar tending staff would rather fill the fridge than wait on customers. We were constantly ignored while we waited to be served and it didn't seem to make the service any better even when we tipped. Most of the staff never smiled or spoke and it seemed like they really did not want to be there.
The night life was virtually non-existent unless you call one individual who sings dances, and plays the guitar appropriate entertainment. I am used to resorts where they put on shows, have singers and dancers who perform and have a disco where you can dance. Even the bars at this hotel close early. The Bayview Bar closes at 10pm and the Lobby Bar closes at 12am. These are not vacation hours.
I would return to Cuba, take a cruise or try a different resort in St. Maarten before I would return to this resort.

  • Stayed May 2011, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
gmgreatbay19, General Manager at Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, responded to this review, June 13, 2011
Thank you for your travel review, we appreciate the comments & business opportunity. We did not meet the expectations as your recieved on Cuba vacation mentioned in your post. Our resort works hard to offer the best services of the island of Sint Maarten. The resort recieved a major renovation and we consistently make improvements each year to keep our resort in the best possible condition. We will take note of your comments on service & entertainment and put forth our efforts to improve.

with hospitality,
Juan- G.M
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2,394 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (854)
Date | Rating
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  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
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English first
Toronto, Canada
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 8, 2011

We stayed at the Sonesta in June 2011 and it exceeded our expectations. Based on some reviews, I had really low expectations of this hotel, but I was pleasantly surprised.

The rooms were pretty clean (although dated). The bathroom could be spruced up more, but our room on the 3rd floor was always kept clean. Our bed was made even twice a day. Fresh towels were given to us twice a day, as well.

The beach is really nice, although do explore the other beaches on the island since there's so much!

It's walking distance (about 15 min) to Philipsburg but don't expect anything to be open during low season! We walked to Philipsburg in search of a breakfast place since the hotel charges so much if you are not all inclusive.

It's worth the walk. There are a few restaurants open by the beach, as well as McDonalds (opens at 7:30 am).

Cab rides are also pricey, so it's best to rent a car so you can see the island!

St. Maarten is such a beautiful island. I'd definitely go back and stay at this hotel again.

  • Stayed June 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
gmgreatbay19, General Manager at Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, responded to this review, June 13, 2011
We appreciate the travel opinion. We untilize these posting to assist with training and always making the effort to give guidiance to our staff to provide the best hospitality at our resort & the island of St. Maarten. We look forward to your next visit.

thank you,
Juan- G.M
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Houston, Texas
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 4, 2011

Our room was simply OK, we stayed for 8 nights, front desk was never helpful, to be honest rude. The location was good enough. We like small hotels, so that was a plus. In the dining area we were yelled at not to sit at the waterfront table because it was for 4 people, not 2, excuse me, that was unheard of. Would you want to eat after that? The activity center to purchase trips, stay away, total idiots, just kids that know nothing. Now the bartender was great and so was Cathie at the timeshare sales. We met some wonderful people. Loved St. Maarten and look forward to going back, who knows we may even stay there again. I did see a roach crawling on our wall & at the bar.

  • Stayed June 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Whitby, Canada
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 1, 2011

We just returned from Sonesta Great Bay on Saturday and would have stayed another week if our schedules had allowed it. The hotel was fantastic, the staff are friendly and courteous we even met the General Manager and top executives at the hotel during the Managers BBQ and Raffle night. The food was amazing and plenty of variety. We really enjoyed the theme nights for the Buffet. The town of Phillisburg was less than a 10 minute walk from the hotel and the people of St Maarten are friendly and so nice. The hotel and the Bare Foot Cafe were highly recommended and neither disappointed. As it was low season the nightly activities and some daytime ones were cancelled, however it wasn't an issue. Best trip yet.

  • Stayed May 2011, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
gmgreatbay19, General Manager at Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, responded to this review, June 6, 2011
Thank you for the review, we appreciate you taking the time to post your vacation experience with our resort and the island of Sint Maarten.You mentioned some wonderful suggestions for all guests to experience and enjoy. The resort has many facilities with 3 pools, multiple bars & restaurants, casino, largest beach on the island and the proximity of walking to shopping district. We look forward to your next visit.

with hospitality,
Juan- G.M
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Springfield, Missouri
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed June 1, 2011

I just got off the phone with this Hotel. I called to ask what the discount was for AARP members. The person that answered the phone spoke so quickly and had such a thick accent that I had to ask if he just said 'Sonesta Great Bay' and he replied very rudely that yes he had. So I informed him that I was just checking to see what the discount was for AARP members and instead of trying to answer my question he said 'hold on' and sent me to an answering machine. I then called the Sonesta Maho and spoke to two ladies who were very polite and competent enough to find out who could answer my question. I will be booking with them and not Great Bay. For every one hour of training you put into an employee you gain you can earn $20. I suggest the management at this hotel looks into this.

  • Stayed June 2011, traveled solo
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
gmgreatbay19, General Manager at Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, responded to this review, June 6, 2011
We are sorry we missed this opportunity, calling the (800) line is always easiest to reach instead of calling the island directly. We only run a staff of 1 person in our local reservation office. Our staff receives several hours of customer service training and phone technique. Unfortunately, we did not leave a favorable impression. Please note, we do offer AARP rates via our website. PLease enjoy your stay at our sister property of Sonesta Maho Beach.

with hospitality,
Juan- G.M
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 30, 2011

I read the reviews and was worried but had a great time.This is a hotel not a Jamaican resort.It could use some cosmetics but is clean and the staff were friendly and helpful.Being smaller everyone gets to know each other made a lot of friends.Meet 1 woman who has being going there for 16 years and others from 3 to 12 years.My wife even won $400 at the casino,walked to town 4 times.Wewill go again.

Room Tip: Ocean view only
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  • Stayed May 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ontario
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
33 helpful votes 33 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 28, 2011

My husband and I just returned from a week at the Sonesta Great Bay and had a wonderful time.

Hotel: The hotel is older but clean and comfortable. We had mountainview - not a problem as we were barely in our room. The bed had a duvet which was really comfortable, hot shower everyday, no complaints. The hotel is smaller which was nice because we got to know the other guests. The location is fantastic...a short walk to phillipsburg. The two pools were refreshing. We never had any trouble getting a lounger. The activities desk is very helpful - we played shuffleboard, and booked a couple of excursions. If you are looking for a huge resort with tons of amenities, this is not the place for you. If you want everything you need to relax and enjoy yoruself, then it is perfect.

Food: The food was the highlight of the hotel. It was delicious. The breakfast buffet had everything you could possibly want, at lunch we ordered off the menu every day - turkey sandwiches, fresh pizza, wings, hamburgers, etc. For dinner, our first night we had the mexican buffet - the chicken tacos were so good. The a la cartes make food that rivals our local canadian steakhouse. We had steak dinners 4 nights...tender, fresh Filet mignon, a perfectly grilled t-bone, etc. We also enjoyed an italian pasta night, a BBQ poolside, and a prime rib buffet.

Service: We read a lot of reviews before we left complaining about poor service. We went with an open mind. The truth is there are incredible staff at the Sonesta who go out of their way to make your stay wonderful. There are also a few staff who are not happy to be there and it shows. We rewarded those who treated us well, and laughed a bit at those who were grumpy. Special thanks to our incredible servers Marcia and Sharon - these two women made our meals perfect. They went out of their way to make us feel welcome. Stanley, the restaurant manager, greeted us with a smile every morning, served us and made us drinks often when his staff were running around, and gave us tips on seeing the island. Jose the bartender is the best....he made us special drinks and was always happy to make you whatever you wanted. He should be at the pool bar more often.

Sightseeing: we rented a car for a day from Hertz and toured the island. This was the best way to see everything. We drove around the isalnd twice, stopping to swim, shop, and eat. Do not miss orient bay...we have never seen such a beach - crystal clear water, white sandy beach, it was heaven. We also went to the sunset beach bar to watch the planes land...tons of fun. We also went on the pirate boat tour - highly recomend it. We went snorkeling, swam with sea turtles, enjoyed a fab lunch on pinel island. Thanks to Captian Bob for a great day.

Overall we had a fantastic stay. It's the best value on the island for a clean room, great food, all you can drink, and a place to call home while you tour all that the island has to offer.

Note: The hotel has music at night but no nightly entertainment, we enjoyed this as we are early to bed but if that's a highlight for you - take note.

Only complaint: There is a lagoon next to the resort...pretty grosse looking. When the water gets too high, they dig it out and drain it into the ocean which makes the beach grosse for a day or so. This is out of the control of the resort and didn't disrupt our stay. We went to orient bay that day.

  • Stayed May 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
gmgreatbay19, General Manager at Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, responded to this review, May 30, 2011
Thank you for the review. We appreciate all the nice comments and tips for guests who read tripadvisor. We will share your comments with our staff on a job well done. Our staff works really hard to always provide the best service on the island of Sint Maarten. You offered some great ideas on excursions & things to do around the island. We are glad your enjoyed the stay @ Great Bay and the island.

with hospitality,
Juan- G.M
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa

Address: 19 Little Bay Rd, Philipsburg, St Maarten-St Martin
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > St Maarten-St Martin > Sint Maarten > Philipsburg
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Casino and Gambling Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#2 Family Hotel in Philipsburg
#3 On the Beach Hotel in Philipsburg
#3 Romantic Hotel in Philipsburg
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa 4*
Number of rooms: 257
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa is a serene Caribbean haven - and St. Maarten’s premier, limitless all-inclusive, adults-only resort. Delivering a new level of sophistication and style, the elegant destination hotel is situated on a mile-long white-sand beach, overlooking Great Bay and the sparkling sea. With endless amenities and personalized service, the resort invites guests to unwind at three swimming pools, four restaurants, four bars, a spa and the Golden Casino for the ultimate vacation experience complimented by stellar service. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Sonesta Great Bay Beach Hotel Philipsburg
Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort And Casino
St Martin Great Bay Hotel
Sonesta Philipsburg
Great Bay Beach Hotel
Philipsburg Sonesta
St Maarten Great Bay Hotel
Hotel Sonesta Great Bay Beach
Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa St Maarten-St Martin/Philipsburg

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