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“We loved this hotel” 4 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 #2 of 15 Hotels in Philipsburg
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
“We loved this hotel”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 1, 2008

We just returned from a 2-week stay at the Sonesta Great Bay and we really loved our vacation. We found the staff to be lovely and the food was absolutely delicious. We have stayed before at beautiful 5-star hotels on the Mayan Riviera and sure, the rooms at the Great Bay are not as fresh and lux, but, the beds are very comfortable and the view from our oceanside room was amazing.

We ate at the buffet restaurant just about every night because the food is so good. There is always fresh green salad at lunch and dinner and always, always something delicious to fill you up. We used the all-inclusive option and I believe that is definately the best way to go as eating on this island can be very expensive.

We loved the view from the beach and even though we rented a car for the two weeks, we did not venture out in it as much as we thought we would. We just loved to be on the beach in front of this hotel watching the cruise ships and the mega yachts in the bay.

We did venture out to a few beaches and, as promised they are beautiful. The one thing I would say is DO NOT GO TO PIC PARADIS. In the 5 minutes we were gone from our rental car it was broken into and they did a lot of damage to the car. Afterwards we could hear them laughing and talking loudly in the woods down the hill from our car. Obviously they know that we are not going to go and confront them. When we went directly to the police station afterwards, they said ours was the third break-in reported that day at Pic Paradis. There are many other places on the island to get a great view so AVOID PIC PARADIS at all costs!!!

Don't hesitate to book this hotel. I did not want to come home!

  • Stayed December 2007, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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2,106 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 (718)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Senior Contributor
48 reviews 48 reviews
48 hotel reviews
Reviews in 44 cities Reviews in 44 cities
108 helpful votes 108 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 27, 2007

Visited St. Maarten in late October. Hotel was OK. A good half hour walk to the center of Phillipsburg (the pier). Would recommend the walk during the day and not at night. Nice beach, however the surf was rough in that section of the beach when we were there and couldn't swim much in the ocean. However, by the time you got to the beach in Phllipsburg proper the surf was much calmer and perfect for swimming. Pools are nice though never used them when we were there. We had a problem with the beach towels, as they seem never to have enough of them and on ocassion we had to use the room towels because they just run out of them. The ocean front rooms were great for the ocean views. And now the food: it was terrific. Breakfast was good, had a lot to choose from, and the waitress that had the section we liked to seat was just great. She'll see us come in and had coffee and tea ready for us even before we got to the table. The Molassess restaurant was incredible. We had to congratulate the chef (lovely older woman) who really enjoyed our praises of her cooking and would prepare anything that we asked her. Just fantastic. Overall it was an enjoyable stay, but if we ever go back would like to stay at the Holland House right in town, on the boardwalk and ocean.

  • Liked — the food
  • Disliked — rough surf, lack of enough beach towels
  • Stayed October 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed December 26, 2007

This hotel is one of those that has all the ingredients to be great, but doesn't really live up to its potential. The location is very picturesque, the beach is good, the pools are lovely. The staff is attentive and friendly. Now we get to the way that this place is being managed and maintained.

1) Our beach-view room looked very clean but smelled horrible. I kept looking around for signs of mold or mildew and although I didn't see it visibly, the nose doesn't lie. I was able to adjust to it within a few minutes of the AC running, but my wife (and I suspect most women with sensitive noses) would find it unacceptable. Every morning we would wake up with new mosquito bites as well. You can pretty much forget using the very pretty balcony, because there's no screen door and if you leave it open any significant amount of time, you give entry to the bugs.

2) No economical options for food. The price for the breakfast buffet $17.00 per person. Not much of a selection and a food selection that was boring and of average qulity. We got tricked once and then never ate there again. The gift shop sells coke by the six pack, the bar charges a drink price for a 12 oz. can, and the vending machine doesn't work. Thanks Sonesta, I'll just go out in town and buy water and soda so I can have something to drink by my bedside.

3) The Pool Miser. Upon check in you are presented with two orange Towel Cards. When using pool or beach you present these cards and are issued one and only one towel per person. Want more? Too bad. The Towel Nazi says that this is strictly verboten. The front desk will not overrule them either, so don't waste your time walking back upstairs. Want more orange cards? No Mein Herr, that too is against the Sonesta Party Rules. Should you be misfortunate enough to misplace your little orange towel card, then you just got busted for $25.00 US per card. We wasted a good thirty plus minutes searching everywhere just to save the 50 bucks, and lucky we found them.

Bottom Line. If you want the customer to come, stay, and use your facilities, then don't try and screw him with excessive prices and policies. My wife and I thought that the Sonesta Great Bay was a hotel that was close to being a good place if only they would pay a little more attention to detail with the room, and made some adjustments to their food prices and ditch the ridiculous rules.

  • Liked — The beach and proximity to town
  • Disliked — The odor and the overpriced dining
  • Stayed December 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 24, 2007

My husband and I and two other couples arrived in St. Maartens January 21 to January 28 2007. The front lobby was very clean and the check-in time was very fast . Our rooms was outstanding and very clean. Only thing i will remember to bring with me next trip is facecloths. I guess it is european thing to wash with ones hands instead of using facecloths. The maid service was the best , twice a day they would come to your room to change towels and turn down your bedlinen. They were very friendly and courteous. The food was excellent , for people to say the food was terrible , then i don't know what they were looking for because they gave you a wide arrangement of choices to choose from, someone people can never be satisified, really!!! The waitresses Geniveve and i cannot for the life of me remember the other women's name but between the two of them you couldnot ask for anything better. I cannot wait to see them again this January from the 13th to the 20th . The casino was a blast and i won $750 from matching the coupon of $10 that they give you to play with, yahoo shopping here i come. The town is only a 10 min walk and there is sooo much jewellery to see , it was dazzling to my eyes and i came back to Toronto with some very nice pieces and now cannot wait to go back for my custom made bracelet, the store that i shopped at was Princess World Jewelers , Mike the store owner is out of this world to your needs, I bought several pieces but the one i love the most is the diamond ring he design himself, and very excellent prices. You will not be dissappointed. All in all , i would reccommend this hotel to all of my friends, the beach is wonderful , lots of seating and not overly crowded. Nice quiet resort , but if you want more action , you will have to go into town, but hey that is what you are there for to explore, right??? The people are great , they treated us with great respect and vise versa. You get back what you give . Loved it so much that now my best girlfriend and I are going back but this time to show her St. Maartens!!!! Watch out St. Maartens , here we come!!

  • Liked — The Friendly staff
  • Disliked — no facecloths, but not a big problem bring some with me the next time,lol
  • Stayed January 2007, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 2 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Senior Contributor
39 reviews 39 reviews
22 hotel reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed December 19, 2007

Stayed here Dec 3-10, 2007. Hotel is clean, location is good, facilities are good. Food in buffetrestaurant is not bad, in the speciality restaurants the food is much, much better. The only problem we had was with the service of the hotel, especially in the bars (inside and outside) and in the restaurants. The women were very friendly but the male staff was not nice, even rude. They appear to have a problem with two men travelling together and simply ignore you. For a Sonesta hotel, unacceptable.

  • Liked — Location
  • Disliked — Service
  • Stayed December 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 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.
New Hampshire
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 16, 2007

My girlfriend and I stayed here from Nov. 3 - Nov. 10 for a really peaceful, relaxing, and beautiful time. Check in was fast. The hallways and rooms were sweet smelling and very clean. The maids changed towels twice a day, and they even entered your room at night to turn down the bed linens. I was impressed. The open air dining, and scenery is awesome. I've been to many 3 and 5 star carribean resorts. I expect average everywhere I go, so that when things are better I am pleasantly surprised. Late October and first two weeks of November are quiet because of hurricane season ending. We were told by staff that the week prior to my arrival, it rained steady for an entire week. Well, we hit the weather perfectly. Every day was full of sunshine and 89 degrees with a light breeze. All staff was friendly, the drinks were plentiful, and we always found something interesting at the buffet. The restaurants are also a good idea for a change. A walk to Phillipsburg everyday on the beach was a great routine. We always stopped for a drink, or a bargain shop. The infinity pool with wet bar was great. I recommend the "Rum Runners." I noticed that the staff loves compliments and friendly people. They do respond in kind. They do this job all year round, and some people can be abnoxious and unappreciative. Try it, you'll see the difference. No complaints about the service. The jacuzzi is huge, very hot, and it as well as the pools are lighted and available for night swims. Very romantic. Came home very relaxed, well fed, with Rum coming out of my pores. Good time!

Stayed November 2007
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Contributor
34 reviews 34 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
36 helpful votes 36 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 31, 2007

A beautiful resort. We went in the "off" season (Oct 20th to Oct. 27, 2007) and we were glad. The hotel pool was almost deserted so we didn't have to get up at the crack of dawn to get a lounge chair. They have 2 large pools but the Infinity pool is wonderful and has a swim-up bar. The hotel rooms smelled somewhat mildew-like but probably because of the sea air although we never got used to it. All the rooms have a small veranda/balcony and that was nice to sit out there! They don't have much in the way of restuarants there. They have 3 but only the Buffet and Molasses restaurant were open. The buffet is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner but unless you go all-inclusive (which we didn't), they are kind of pricey. We wanted just coffee and a danish or bagel but found out that the "Continental" breakfast was $7.50 a person and they pick out your pastries. There was no where to just get a cup of coffee or tea or juice without paying that price. We found a great restaurant on the beach called "Cronies' that made home made Johnnycakes (a cross between an english muffin and a puffy biscuit.). We got egg, ham and cheese and it was yummy! Plus, it was very reasonable at $6 each. It's about a 10 minute walk from the hotel on the beach but worth it. We never went to the Molasses Restaurant. While your at the hotel they try and sell you a time share. For your hour and a half you can get a great price on a catamaran over to St. Barts. The normal price would be $55pp but it cost you only $5 plus the $12 pp port fee and the cab ride, but still a savings of $100 a couple. We didn't buy a time share either!!! St. Bart's is gorgeous and very clean and very pricey. We walked to Shell beach which is covered in millions of shells - great souveniers! We ate at a French sidewalk cafe that was reasonable. Don't go to the restaurant they recommend on the catamaran. People told us it was a $20 pp cab ride and then $20 pp when they got there and they only got a choice of 2 entrees and neither was very good!

We took a day trip to Orient Beach and that was nice although it rained. In the off season none of the outdoor toilets were open so we had to get a key from the restaurant we ate at to go to the bathroom. Of course, you see a lot of nude or almost nude sunbathers there and some should leave there clothes on!

Our list of great restaurants would be the Boathouse in Simpson Bay - absolutely outstanding! The Greenhouse in downtown Phillipsburg was very good for lunch and dinner. Get the conch fritters as an app - great! Antoinne's is also downtown and very good and so is Chesterfield's near where the cruise ships come in. We went to Maho and ate at Cheri's and what a riot. They have a show every night and it was a gas! They give you clackers to clap with and it was so much fun. The food is good but not great. We also ate at The Soprano's in Maho because it rained so hard that night and we had wanted to go to Lee's but never got there. This restaurant was good but not great. My husband loved it though because he got Pesto Liguine and he said it was great.

We went to several casino's but they are all very small. The one next to Cheri's is a nice size and they actually have Let it Ride and 3 Card poker there. Most just have a few Blackjack tables and lots of slots.

All in all it's a nice trip Next time we go we will stay in the Maho Beach area. Phillipsburg is great for shopping and close by the Sonesta Great Bay. They have WONDERFUL prices on jewelry there and a lot of souvenier shops as well.

All in all, we would definitely go back but choose a different hotel and go all inclusive next time. That way it won't matter if the danish is $7.50!

  • Liked — Beautiful pool area and great Infinity Pool!
  • Disliked — No place to just get a cup of coffee or tea.
  • Stayed October 2007, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 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.
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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
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:
#1 Family Hotel in Philipsburg
#2 On the Beach 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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