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“Okay food, not so great service, but great location on the bay ; still might not come back until they update the rooms & rehire ”

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Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa
Ranked #3 of 12 Hotels in Philipsburg
Certificate of Excellence
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Okay food, not so great service, but great location on the bay ; still might not come back until they update the rooms & rehire ”
Reviewed June 25, 2012

My husband and I booked the place after reading the reviews about the negatives, such as the service, broken ac, and okay reviews on food. We went to Turks and Caicos for our honeymoon then Jamaica too. This island and resort was on the bottom of our list in all areas.

First off service was pretty bad, if you read other reviews overall the restaurant and hotel staff are not there to please. The woman Vicky at the front desk is saved only because she changed our room that had no ac ... After I got upset. I'm six months pregnant and the male staff in the evening did not offer and would not make accommodations to change our room. The next day I had to make threats and be a bit more stern before we got a proper room with air.

Well the front desk staff was saved partially too only because after we moved rooms , my husband couldn't find his wedding band. They let us back in the room and low and behold it was left on our room floor and must have fell off.

We went to eat at the sister resort Maho and comparing beaches, this great bay resort is the better of the two.

Maho has lots of kids and was under renovation. But the buffet food in Maho was ok and their restaurant The Point was better than Molasses.

The location is just great and private pool side is by far better than the sister hotel. The food was just average and hours of service are not accommodating ; in addition, the service is consistently horrible. The servers don't want to be there and the only guy who wants to be there is the activities coordinator. Eh the rooms are ok as far as clean and updated. We asked for bottled water and the front desk kept saying they were out of it. Most things we asked for they also ran out, once we wanted a piña colada and they were out, I wanted ice cream from the molasses restaurant and they were out, tiramisu ... Out of it too.

The pool needs updating and fixing by the time share side; the shower doesn't even work there. Ps the towel lady is very mean, just like the rest of the staff.

The beach is what this place has going. My only complaint is that the music was almost always blasted when we were trying to relax poolside, what made up for that was the hidden gem of a pool after you pass the restaurant buffet.

For the location thumbs up. Service thumbs down and needs work. Food needs some more variety & could use better chef some meals.

  • Stayed June 2012
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Helpful?
2 Thank Msjsunshine
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Montreal, Canada
Level Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed June 24, 2012

We enjoyed a 7-day, all-inclusive stay at this resort in mid-June, just at the beginning of what is normally hurricane season down there. A word of advice: do not heed the long-range Weather Network forecasts for this area... we had nothing but sun, sun, sun, despite WN forecasts calling for rain and thundershowers. The locals tell us that when showers do come, they're invariably short-lived.

The grounds and facilities were well-maintained and the room more than adequately met our needs and expectations (although we did pay for a room upgrade so that we were higher up and faced the sea and the upgrade was well worth the cost as we spent a lot of time on the balcony). We also paid a little extra to have access to the resort's Wi-Fi network in the room but with everything there is to do and see on the island, we spent very little time online.

All three pools--swimming pool, bar pool, and whirlpool--were clean and relatively uncrowded. It was easy to have fun and relax in any of them. Although there were some children at the pool (as the beach is a little too steep for them to enjoy in all safety), the calmness of the grounds was never broken.

Sint Maarten's is known as "The Friendly Island" (this is, in fact, its license plate motto) and staff lived up to, and even exceeded, this reputation. From the wait staff and bar staff to groundskeepers and management, all were friendly and sollicitous to a fault. A special shout-out, here, to Stanley and Mr. Destine, at the bar, who made winding down from a hard day's shopping and excursions a treat and to Marcia, Gilberto, Charlene, Virginia, and Teolinda, so generous with their time when serving us our meals. Be sure not to miss the made-to-order omelets for breakfast, which Charles prepared for us with a friendly smile. The buffet food, by the way, was very good, thanks in large part to Kenneth's expertise in the kitchen. We were always greeted with a warm welcome by Camille, our hostess extraordinaire. Finally, the pool bar would not be the pleasant place it is without the expert attention of Nigel and Simone. All were friendly and welcoming, including the manager, Daniel.

There are quite a few activities to participate in on the grounds (organized with aplomb by Kevin) but we usually spent much of our time exploring nearby Philpsburg (the Dutch side capital) or Marigot (the French side capital). There is much to do in Sint-Maarten's, from dining and shopping (alcohol and jewelry are very inexpensive) to excursions and clubbing. We highly recommend you seek out Clyde "Captain" Hook for a pleasant three- or four-hour taxi tour of the island, including a pitstop at one of the island's many "lo-los") and also take the "Pirate" excursion for a boating tour of the island that includes free booze and a beachside meal as well as snorkeling stops (many thanks to Captain Bob Cass of Soualiga Destinations for a most entertaining day!). If you need to book or obtain information on an excursion, be sure to talk to friendly Mikeshia who will help you discover all the possibilities the island has to offer.

A big plus for us: the resort was fairly calm and quiet past 11 p.m. The only things preventing us from adding an extra star to this review were the fact that the Great Bay beach, being a dredged beach, consisted of finely broken shells rather than sand, and that the food served in the à la carte restaurant upstairs was passable at best.

Regardless, a stay at the Sonesta Great Bay is totally worth it, especially when you consider that being a client there also gives you access to the nearby Sonesta Maho facilities (where you'll find the famous beach where planes fly in right above your head at the Princess Juliana International airport).

We will definitely be going back!

A final shout-out to Sharon, our SunWing on-site rep, and to the SunWing flight crew who made the journey there and back a memorable one. Thanks, guys!

Room Tip: Worth it to upgrade to a room with a view on the ocean.
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank Daniel_Ouellette
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
1 review
Reviewed June 23, 2012

Everyone that worked there were absolutely amazing. Everyone was extremely friendly and helpful and to the fullest extent aided in making our experience memorable. By far the activities staff were the best I have seen on my years of travel. They always made sure you were having fun. They were great with kids when need be and always kept the adults entertained and excited to win the local Rum. All four activities staff were enthusiastic and entertaining and are a phenomenal addition to the hotel staff. Kevin, Shelly, Maria and Dialey were such amazing people to meet, they always made sure all the guests were having fun no matter what age they were. Very Impressive to see that Kevin could speak several languages, definitely noticed it was helpful for guests. Maria and Dialey are lovely and were amazingly sweet to guests. Really liked that they socialized with the guests and hopped into the pool once or twice and just got to know the guests and what found out how they could make their time spent at the hotel more enjoyable. Shelly was an amazing asset to the team, he definitely put a lot of effort into seeing that the activities of the day went through and that everyone was having fun. He never let an opportunity to pass to play a game of pool or ping pong with the guests.All four seemed very responsible and quite organized, regardless of the change in management whilst being there. The Bartenders were amazing and the drinks were always on point.Nigel always made sure our cups were full and we were happy. Both Alex and Nigel made amazing drinks and I never stopped going to the bar thanks to those two. The Drink of the day was always nice since I got to try new things I've never heard of. However a menu of drinks maybe helpful in order to give guests an idea of what they can have, not a whole list but a few examples would be nice.One thing is for sure I never had a boring moment with those two sets of people. The hotel would definitely have not been nearly as amazing without these amazing groups of people. More activities for kids would probably benefit and food selection wasn't up to par in comparison to other 4 star resorts I've been too. Selection wasn't amazing and once or twice there was leftovers of dinner served for next days lunch. A delight to see was the restaurant upstairs which was a much better improvement, though once we were told that there was no steak that they ran out and it had only been 7 pm. Only one major problem, was the lack of service when it came to traveling with a child with special needs. I was very disappointed in the lack of sympathy and assistance when it came to asking for a plate of pasta for dinner for him since he would not eat anything else. I got quite a bit of attitude and I myself lashed out in response.Besides that overall the entire experience was amazing and definitely worth another trip to the Sonesta Great Bay.

Room Tip: Both sides are gorgeous. If you have the rooms facing the hills, though gorgeous are a little louder...
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank Marina D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed June 22, 2012

Room: We had a room on the 4th floor, facing the ‘mountain’. In reality you are looking at a street, but as we didn’t spend much time in the room this wasn’t a big problem. What was a problem however was the cockroach we found on our second night. After waking up the guy working the front desk we were moved to the room right beside our current room. It was close to 4a.m. so we just accepted this for now. In the morning when we went to speak to the front desk, not only were they 1.not surprised 2. embarrassed or 3. apologetic the only room choice they gave us was literally the farthest room from the lobby as possible. She claimed there were no other rooms available, but we spoke to other guests who were moved after us and rooms upgraded because they didn’t like the street view from their room.

Staff: Bad, very bad. We felt very unwelcome, to the point where I felt uncomfortable asking anyone for anything. Rasta at the beach,Kevin one of the activity staff members and the chef that usually did the bbq and the omelets in the morning were fantastic, always smiling and talking to guests.....they should give lessons to everyone else.

Food: It was o.k., breakfast and lunch were fine, but there isn’t much variety at dinner if you are eating at the buffet. Our biggest complaint is that there was no food after 10 pm…at all. If you want to eat late you either have to call Dominos or as our Sunwing rep suggested walk at 2am the 3 blocks to the closest restaurant.

Beach: Beautiful, this was the main reason we chose this resort over the Maho and we were not disappointed, the view is amazing. The location of this resort is also fantastic, close to shopping and local restaurants.

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Tabitha R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
wilfromgrandrapids
Level Contributor
13 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
Reviewed June 17, 2012

We purchased a Groupon Getaway for this resort. I believe we paid around $1100 for a 4-night all-inclusive stay in an ocean view room. We felt like it was worth what we paid, but would have been a little disappointed if we had to pay full price. We were told that the Maho resort has a better beach and better food. But after seeing it from Maho Bay, it looks like it's located behind another resort and shares the beach with them.
Regardless, here's my analysis of Sonesta Great Bay Resort:
Pros:
Very nice view of the ocean (not everyone had a nice view, so make sure you get an ocean view room otherwise you'll be looking at the parking lot)
Relatively clean through the resort
Great ocean view from the buffet restaurant
Friendly Staff
Decent food
Very good at giving you booze (room had a fridge with beer and 3 5th's of liquor with soda to mix, the bar tenders were always happy to give you drinks, and the evening waiters at La Cuncina and Molasses Restaurant always made sure your wine glass was full)
Not super busy and not super big
Lots of beach chairs and places to enjoy the gorgeous views
beautiful infinity pool with swim up bar

Cons:
Our room had a nasty smell, but we get used to it after a while.
Sand on the beach was very coarse.
Cheap sheets on an old bed
The water on the beach looks beautiful but there was very poor visibility, so forget about snorkeling off the beach (go to the French side for that).
The Buffet food was okay, but they ended up having a lot of the same food every day. Unless you remember to make reservations for the other two restaurants (only open at night and on certain days), you will be eating at the buffet for every meal.

Recommendations: Get the all inclusive stay but don't pay more than $300/day. Enjoy as much food and alcohol as you can. Stay for at least 4 nights (we wish we would have stayed for 5) Make reservations for the the evening restaurants (they're much better than the buffet). Get to know some people, you'll have a much better time.

Overall we liked it and would go again.

Room Tip: Get an ocean view room on the 3rd floor or higher for a good view.
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank wilfromgrandrapids
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hamilton, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed June 15, 2012

The resort is very nice and the beach is wonderful. Not recommended for children as the drop off occurs almost immediately after stepping into the water. The staff were very helpful during check in, especially Vicky. Our room was not ready yet so they stored our luggage and we changed into our beach wear while we waited which was great. The bell man Edreck was very attentive and assisted us with our luggage to the other elevator and very nice during the entire stay.
The bar staff are full of life and very entertaining. Nigel and Olga did an excellent job of making everyone's drinks at the pool bar despite the demanding numbers. Make sure to try a 'Bob Marley'. Michael in the lobby bar was lots of fun and had tons of great information about St. Maarten and excursions to take. The food was good, however definitely lacked in variety over the course of 7 days. The wait staff are good, some move slower than others but we are on island time I guess. Chris the chef is a great guy to talk to and comes out into the dining room to speak with all of the guests daily. Gilberto is an amazing waiter who took care of us each evening and made sure to touch base with us during the day to see what time we'd be dining at. Camille is a very lovely hostess with a warm greeting every morning. I do think that the management of the hotel need to do some serious education on public relations and customer service with a great deal of the staff that haven't been mentioned. For some reason a large number of the staff do not smile or greet you when you pass them by as they do in many other hotels and resorts. Especially a manager named Daniel who works in food services/dining room, never smiled out of 7 days there. It was very uncomfortable and gives good reason as to why the other staff don't smile as they take their manager's lead.
With that being said the activity staff are very energetic and have a positive nature, especially Kevin the activitie's supervisor. He has such an engaging personality that makes everyone want to join in. Make sure to participate in his water aerobics class as it's a great work out in the sun. The guys who run the jet ski's are great as well, not sure if they actually work for Sonesta or a jet ski company, but look for Rasta if you want to buy a jet ski ride. He will show you a fun time and is a great person as well.
If you are on the beach and in need of some relaxation don't be afraid to get a massage from one of the local ladies selling an aloe vera massage. I highly recommend Pauline, she gave me the best massage ever with great pressure. I think she could show my RMT a thing or two.

Something else that was great was that we had the option of using all of the services and amenities at the other Sonesta hotel in Maho. There was a shuttle from Great Bay to Maho several nights per week at 3 different times taking us into town to the clubs. Andre was a great driver who always made sure to get us there and back safely.
The rooms were nice and always clean. We had a mountainview which I preferred as the oceanviews can get a bit noisy with the music from the pool area. The fridge was alwasy restocked and the maid came in the evening for turndown service and to replenish towels. All in all a great relaxing vacation since we had the beach to ourselves. And only a 5 minute walk into town for shopping and able to get back to the beach quickly. Make sure to hit the jewellery store in the hotel as they had some excellent deals. If you are looking for a busy nightlife at the hotel, everything tended to die down after 11:00 and the lobby bar closes at midnight. Not a great deal to do every night with only a few nights had entertainment or bbq's. Suggestion to pump some music into the Living Room lounge each night to attract guests and dancing.

Room Tip: Rooms above 3rd floor are best as they do have some rooms below ground level.
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
6 Thank 77Karma
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Limerick, Pennsylvania, United States
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed June 15, 2012

Got a great deal to stay here from LivingSocial, totally worth the money. Tons to see and do, Resort was nice enough to keep us satisfied, staff was friendly and helpful. Loved this island vacation

Room Tip: Make sure to ask for ocean view room from floor 5-7! Best views of the ocean
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
6 Thank Kevin T
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

Property: Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa
Address: 19 Little Bay Road, 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 Parking Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#2 Romantic Hotel in Philipsburg
#3 On the Beach Hotel in Philipsburg
#3 Family 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 Resort And Casino
Sonesta Great Bay Beach Hotel Philipsburg
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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