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“Sonesta Not-so-Great Bay” 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 #2 of 15 Hotels in Philipsburg
Philadelphia
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5 reviews 5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
30 helpful votes 30 helpful votes
“Sonesta Not-so-Great Bay”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed June 13, 2014

I’ve read so many reviews of this place, and it seems people either love is or hate it. Put my husband and me in the latter group. There were a few positives, and I’ll start with those. By far the BEST aspect of this place is the people who work here. They are without a doubt some of the nicest, most helpful people I have ever met. From Jonathon, the first person we encountered, to Maritza, the best bartender there, the wait staff, the front desk, housekeeping and everyone else, everyone was so pleasant and eager to make us happy. We were given a room on the 7th floor (street view), and when we got there we found a bottle of cold champagne and chocolate-dipped strawberries to help us celebrate our 45th anniversary and my husband’s 65th birthday. The room itself was very nice and was very clean. The location of the resort was also good – a short walk to town.

Unfortunately, the “cons” were bad enough that we called USAirways our second night there to see if we could go home. It would have cost us too much to change flights and they couldn’t guarantee we’d get a refund from the resort, so we decided to stick it out for the week. The first two nights there we had no hot water for the shower and water pressure kept coming and going. As we met other people both on our floor and other floors, we asked them how the water pressure and temperature was in their rooms, and the majority of them had the same problem as we did. The next night the water cut off totally while I was taking a shower. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back – my husband went to the front desk to complain while I put my bathing suit back on. A maintenance man came back with my husband and tried to fix the problem but was unable to. So the hotel gave us an oceanfront room across the hallway, and the maintenance man made sure the water was working in that room before he left. (He had to run the water for 15 minutes before he got hot water to come out.) While I got a shower, my husband transferred our belongings to the new room. Then he had to run the water awhile to get the pressure and hot water back for his shower! Water pressure and temperature was iffy the rest of our stay. Our last day there was no hot water from about 1 pm up until we went to bed. (The hotel put a note under everyone’s door letting them know the hot water wouldn’t be working for three hours, which was a gross under-estimate.) By leaving the water run for 20 minutes, we got the temp up to “slightly lukewarm”, which is as good as it was going to get, but at least we had showers that weren’t in ice cold water. When the water problem was finally resolved and we turned the faucet on the next day, the water coming out of the faucet was yellowish brown – even the cold water. Fortunately we had bottled water in the refrigerator in the room. That was the day we were flying home, so we didn’t need to use the shower again, thank God. For the 7 nights we were there, we took cold showers 4 nights.

The food was mediocre at best, even in the “specialty” restaurants. The breakfast buffet was good and there was a nice variety, but lunch and dinner consisted mostly of spicy foods. Each night is a different theme night (Italian, Mediterranean, etc.), but there wasn’t much difference in what was offered. Although the web site says there are four restaurants, the Italian and seafood restaurants are not open every day. Some days you could go Italian, some days seafood, other days neither was open. Service was very good in these restaurants, but the food – not so much. We had filet mignon twice, and it was so tough we gave up trying to eat it and ended up at the buffet afterwards. There were a couple of nights that I made a salad and had bread and butter for dinner. It’s the first time I’ve ever gone on vacation – especially to an all-inclusive – and actually LOST weight. (I guess my Weight Watchers leader would consider that a plus and not a negative.) We had lunch twice in Tre Assi Pizzeria, the little restaurant by the beach. My cheeseburger took 35 minutes. My husband’s Panini (which was ordered at the same time as my cheeseburger) didn’t show up until 15 minutes later, after I was almost done eating. Not only was the bread on the Panini burnt but inside there was only one slice of ham and one slice of cheese. This was the off season and there were only a couple other people there, so it certainly wasn’t a case of the staff being overworked that made the meals take so long to come and then not come at the same time. We did get lucky one day and got there as a pizza was being taken out of the oven. (You serve yourself the pizza and don’t need to wait for someone to serve you.) We got our own drinks and our own silverware and napkins since no one seemed to notice we were sitting at a table, and then helped ourselves to the pizza, one of the better meals we had that week.

The beach was another disappointment. We didn’t mind the coarse sand, but the water was full of seaweed for the first three days of our stay, and there was a 3-4 foot incline you had to go down to get to the water, and then, after taking a few steps in the water, there was another steep incline, which led to a lot of people falling getting in and out of the water, including ourselves. The seaweed finally cleared up after several days, but we prefer calm water rather than the rough surf on this beach, so we usually ended up driving to another beach on the island. There are so many beautiful beaches with level, powdery sand and calm waters, but Sonesta Great Bay isn’t one of them.

The web site says you can use the Sonesta Maho Bay Resort, but be aware that you need to either drive there or take a taxi or public transportation because there is no shuttle and it’s not that close. They also say there’s free Wi Fi and there is – when it’s working, which often was not the case. I don’t know how many times we went to the front desk about it and were told “It will be back up tomorrow.” Nightly turndown service? We had turndown service once, but that wasn’t a big deal for us compared to other problems like having to take cold showers. Nightly movies? During the seven nights we were there, there was one movie. We also somehow missed the beach parties and night theme parties that are mentioned on their website, except for the night of the Manager’s cocktail party, which we missed because we were in the middle of changing rooms. If there were parties other nights, they must have been really quiet ones unless they mean a couple of people getting up to dance occasionally while a small band played music at night.

We’ve stayed at a dozen or more all-inclusive resorts over the years, and this was the most disappointing. I guess if you don’t mind cold showers with low water pressure, run-of-the-mill food, and a beach with an ocean that’s on the rough side, then you’ll like this place.

Room Tip: Ask for a room with hot and cold running water. I would have rated the rooms much higher if we hadn...
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  • Stayed June 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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2,107 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 (719)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
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English first
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 13, 2014 via mobile

I appreciated the willingness of the staff to make my stay the best ever. The resort is gorgeous and well maintained. My room was cleaned daily and well. The gym should be expanded to allow for more than 5 persons but I was able to get in early and be done. I like the option of buffet or restaurant and the ability to order what I want. Thank you for an amazing vacation resort.

  • Stayed May 2014
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 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.
Amanda F, Manager at Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, responded to this review, June 16, 2014
Dear Timyiaka,

Thank you for writing a review about your recent stay with us.

Thank you for highlighting the willingness of our staff, the cleanliness of the Room and the beautiful views through-out our Resort. We do hope you will come back to see us again soon to relax and have another amazing vacation.

Best regards,
Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
El Dorado Hills, California
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 13, 2014

We just returned from a fabulous stay at the Sonesta Great Bay. Our room in the Miramar wing was very nice, the staff was exceptionally friendly and attentive, the food was very good, and overall, the atmosphere of the hotel was just what we were looking for. The location of this hotel is perfect for enjoying walks on the beach to downtown Philipsburg. Special kudos to the butlers Taro and Marcia, the activities coordinator Denroy, and the entire dining room staff who were always right there.

Room Tip: We paid the extra for the Miramar Suite with butler service. A bit more, but the experience was wel...
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  • Stayed June 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amanda F, Manager at Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, responded to this review, June 16, 2014
Dear Steve W,

Thank you for taking the time out to write a review about your recent time with us.

We're happy to see that our staff was exceptionally friendly and attentive during your stay at our Resort and that you enjoyed the food and the location we are in also. We will make sure to send your special kudos to Taro, Marcia, and Denroy.

We hope you'll come back to visit us soon.

Best regards,
Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort Management
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Bronx, New York
1 review
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 12, 2014

This was one of the best vacations I have ever had. It had the perfect elements of paradise. The food varied every day and all of it tasted amazing. The bartenders, waiters and waitresses created a family atmosphere and were willing to help at all times. The view from my room was perfectly situated to look at the clear blue water. Every day I would practically bring a beach worth of sand back to the room and it would be spotless by the time housekeeping was done with it. The night karaoke and events made me want to stay on the resort at night. I would highly recommend this resort to anyone who wants to have a great time and feel completely comfortable.

Room Tip: The ocean view room is definitely worth every penny.
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  • Stayed May 2014, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amanda F, Manager at Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, responded to this review, June 16, 2014
Dear Shelly A,

Thank you for taking the time out to write a review about your stay with us,

We're glad to hear that you had such a great vacation at our Resort and that our staff was extremely attentive and helpful. It's good to see that our housekeeping did a great job keeping your room clean and that you enjoyed the entertainment at our Resort.

We appreciate the recommendation and hope to see you again soon!

Best regards,
Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort Management
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Laud lks
1 review
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 12, 2014 via mobile

While visiting St Maarten along with a group of approximately 160 others, I can gladly say that the staff at Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort made this well needed vacation one to remember. They were extremely accommodating; in fact, our every need was met before we could even ask...
The ocean views were amazing!!! The food - very filling; and the poolside entertainment was a pleasant way to spend the afternoon. I'd definitely recommend Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort to a friend. Tell them the #TravelFamily sent ya' ;)

  • Stayed May 2014
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amanda F, Manager at Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, responded to this review, June 16, 2014
Dear DDiamon,

Thank you for taking the time out to write a review about you time at our property.

We are so happy to see that you and the #TravelFamily all had a fantastic stay with us at Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort! It's also great to see that our staff took care of you and the other 160 guests to make you feel extremely accommodated and to show you a wonderful time.

We hope to see you and the whole group again very soon!

Best regards,
Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort Management
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Baltimore, Maryland
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 12, 2014

Myself and about 160 others made the Sonesta Great Bay Resort our home Memorial Day weekend and I had a great time. The staff was attentive and accommodating to our large group, the food was great, and the resort is beautiful. I would definitely return to St. Maarten to vacation again and I would also stay at the Sonesta Great Bay Resort again.

  • Stayed May 2014, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 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 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Long Island, NY
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 12, 2014

Our family just returned from a week at the hotel. We had college aged kids. Location is great. Rooms clean. Nice variety of food. Not really any guests the kids age. Small but nice and it was reasonably priced for an all inclusive for four adults. Loved the butler service. A big shout out to Taro and Marcia who were awesome and made our trip so relaxing. Liz was also a great help.

  • Stayed June 2014, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 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 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amanda F, Manager at Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, responded to this review, June 16, 2014
Dear RitaLongIsland_NY,

Thank you for taking the time out to write a review about your time at our Resort.

We're glad that you and your family enjoyed your vacation at our Resort and we are pleased to see that you liked our Butler Service Package; we will make sure to let Taro and Marcia know they were awesome and helped make your trip relaxing.

Come back to see us again soon!

Best regards,
Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort Management
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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:
#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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