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“Average hotel.”

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Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa
Ranked #3 of 12 Hotels in Philipsburg
Certificate of Excellence
Toronto, Canada
Level 3 Contributor
22 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Average hotel.”
Reviewed November 6, 2012

I did expect a little more for a hotel in St. Maarten. Although this hotel was all inclusive, it still didn't provide everything everywhere. Most of the staff were very friendly (Michael, Kevin, Mariska). We found out that the hotel just underwent a change in management, but not for the better unfortunately. Management needs to work on treating their staff better and to provide them with the resources they need. The staff worked on keeping the hotel clean! It is a bit dated, but it looks like they are working on improving it :)
The food was good. Not a huge selection, but what food was there was good. The value was good and I would go back? The location of the hotel was great too and close to St. Phillipsburg.
Also, I don't understand why only ocean view rooms were giving liquor in their rooms and mountain view rooms did not. Also, it would have been nice to have the water and pop replenished in the room more often.
The only bad part of the trip was the disgusting couple who decided to go skinny dipping in the ocean and then carried on in the swimming pool!!!

Room Tip: Spend the extra money and choose ocean view.
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with friends
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
9 Thank Julie155019
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed November 4, 2012

Nine "older"women travel together each Oct. We like the all-inclusive resorts . Much easier. This Sonesta is a nice size-about 250 rooms. Oct. is off season so it was easy to get a table or a beverage. Mostly buffet--only one other restaurant and only open certain days. The rooms are OK-nothing special. The employees are very friendly, from the waitresses to the bartenders to Kevin, the aerobics instructor. There was little or no beach because of a bad storm the previous week. It was nice to walk into Philipsburg and shop. We took a tour of the island one day with Michael(who was also our night bartender) What a guy--great tour.. The last night they put all the tables by the pool--candles all around the pool and a great buffet. A great ending to a fun week. St Martaan is a lovely island!!

Room Tip: Ocean view are much better than the view of the street and hillside that we had. But there is a pric...
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled with friends
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank carolyugo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Montreal, Canada
Level 6 Contributor
228 reviews
39 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 148 helpful votes
Reviewed November 3, 2012

I have stayed here but also rented a car to go to Sonesta Maho to spend the day and for sure the beach at Great bay is much better. You can walk easily to the shops and downtown area as well as have great views of the port with the cruiselines.
It is quiet at night as there isnt much to do around as all the action (clubs, nightlife, ) is all in Maho. There are a few restos but other than that you would need a car,
Daily buffet everyday at the hotel and different themes.
Breakfast was ok (lots of fruit)
The gym is quite small.
You can rent kayaks directly from the hotel.
daily activities
nice view of the mountains
Some of the servers/front desk staff were friendly all week while some were a little bit rude at time.
The great thing is that with your wristband you can go spend the day at Maho and eat in their restos.
As for location, make sure you walk along the beach to the town or even further to the port area
But a big suggestion.... Make sure to visit the island, rent a car (not from the hotel) right across the Great Bay as there is a small rental place and we were extremely satisfied and had a good deal for the week. Dont spend the week in the hotel as it would be a shame to see what you can miss. :)

Room Tip: The best way to have great rooms is to book with the hotel directly as their delux mountain or ocea...
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  • Stayed May 2012, traveled with friends
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Namaste24
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
sarasota, florida
Level 4 Contributor
41 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
Reviewed November 3, 2012

I bought a room at the sonesta great bay beach resort and casino based on the name Sonesta and "casino" (what a joke that small casino room was : ). It took almost two hours for them to send me on a wild goose chase to at least five different rooms (all of them had mold for which I am allergic)...before finally finding a room on the other side of the hotel that did not appear or smell like mold. Thank Gosh for John, who finally got us a mold free (almost sort of) suite......but not without me spending two hours of travel time traipsing around the hotel looking for a "moldless" room. Thank Gosh the deliciious cookies at the front desk kept my travel companion from losing it completely. I was sorely disappointed to see Sonesta's name on this property.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
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Helpful?
3 Thank Victoria K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tecumseh, Canada
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed November 2, 2012

Just returned from my 4th trip to Sonesta Great Bay so obviously something keeps bringing me back, or did until this year. Saw many changes this trip, not all of them good. First year there was a fridge in our room. Nice addition. Had a mountain view so fridge did not include beer and there was no complimentary alcohol in our room. Apparently that is a perk only for the water view rooms. Always liked the servers in the buffet restaurant but this year, with the exception of a couple of young men, the ladies were all bitter and unfriendly. Bar staff, especially Nigel, Liz and Michael were awesome. Kevin is a blessing and the resort should make sure they don't lose that young man. He is a breath of fresh air and makes the guests feel very welcome. Perhaps others there could take a lesson from him. Not a fan of the new management. Very rude front desk staff. Used to be able to get a pizza and hamburg from the wait staff at lunch. Now you have to go get your own which I did the first day there. Tripped on the uneven steps coming back to the dining room and lunch went flying. Observed a number of others tripping on the same step over the period of the week. Usually lots of fresh fruit in the morning and yogurt in yogurt containers now they have small plastic cups of yogurt sitting in the heat with flies landing on them. They aren't even cold and fruit isn't always available every morning. Molasses restaurant menu is horrible. Few choices and SLOW service. Never any towels at the pool when you need them:(. I love the location and Kevin and the bar staff but not sure if I will return for a 5th year. It really irked me that the mountain view guests didn't get any bottles of alcohol nor did we get any beer in the fridge. Internet was HORRIBLE couldn't get it anywhere I'm the hotel. Very frustrating. Nice addition was the jewellery store in the basement. I am most disappointed in the serving staff in the dining room. I would think that they would be happy to have jobs in the hotel but many seem to be displeased with the new management. Sonesta GB needs to make some changes if they wish to keep customers happy and stop the negative feedback. I have always had a clean room, never noticed any mold, the cleaning staff work very hard. This is not a 5 star and I don't expect it to be but better food and friendlier serving staff is a must.

Room Tip: Ocean view is beautiful.
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank MAB23_new
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Level 2 Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed November 2, 2012

I decided to make a return visit after 10 years and there has been much improvement in the hotel. The showers and rooms are great and the staff are all willing to go thje extra mile.

The buffet was ample although not always to my tastes you could always find something. The chefs stations at breakfast were great for having eggs any way and fresh waffles, pancakes and french toast was always ready. The panini station at lunch was nice too with good options besides the buffet. The only area that was lacking was the burger area where burgers were precooked and then reheated fro the ruch leading to them being dried out on occassion.

The only staff member that was rude was Julia by the burger station who was not aware of hotel policies. The food manager admitted he had not trained her properly. With her attitide she would have been fired at my firm. When you are in the hospitality business there is never a reason for rudeness.

There was a decent a-la- carte menu as well and the staff was always able to make adjustments to ensure that the meal was goos (swapping side dishes, not putting sauces, etc.). Adding specials and switching up the menu would be welcome.

The salt and peppper shakers were often clogged due to the humidity - a return to grinders would be a good idea.

Kevin made a point of checking on with guests on a regular basis and is great at making people (regardless of age, sex or sexual orientation) feel comfortable.

The closeness to Philipsburg makes it a great shopping destination as it is a short walk to town where good deals could be found.

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank PeterA848
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Charlottesville, Virginia
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed November 2, 2012

My wife and I recently honeymooned at Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort. There were some really great things about the trip and some not so great things that I will try to catalogue here so people will be better informed about the property.

To start with, the hotel is easy to get to. Every cab driver will know where it is, and a bus headed to Philipsburg can drop you a few blocks away. The bus thing is important since buses cost two dollars or less, where as a cab will cost you $20+. Coming in from the airport, you'll want a cab for all your baggage, but after that, sticking with buses will save you a lot of money. The hotel is in a beautiful location. We never tired of the view from the pool, our room's balconey, or anywhere along the beach. It is a truly gorgeous place and you'd be hard pressed to find fault. After noticing the beauty, you'll have your first encounter with the front desk staff while you check in. There was always someone at the front desk, but that is where the good things we can say about that portion of the staff ends. They are bored, uninformed, disinterested in assisting you, and generally unable to assist you with out a manager. We had several problems with the front desk staff. An example of a frustration with them was trying to get laundry tokens for the washers and dryers. The first time I asked for them, I was told they were all out, and that if I came back in the morning, I could get some. Early the next morning, we called from the room about the tokens and were told that the woman who would have them was in a meeting and to check back later (the person who can help with any issue is always in a meeting when you need her). Later I stopped at the desk to ask about the tokens. The girl there said they had none. I pushed the issue because I wanted some clean clothes. She asked someone else, then dug around for a bit and produced a bag of tokens, complete with a very poor attitude and made it clear that she wasn't interested in helping us. Another example of their poor service is the drinks in our room. We were there on an all-inclusive rate which includes a minibar in the room with spirits that is supposed to be refreshed daily. There were none in our room when we arrived (this was not the front desks fault, our reservation was mangled by Expedia and we were forced to upgrade to all inclusive upon arrival) but it was like pulling teeth to get them to bring the drinks. Once they were brought, they were not refreshed except upon request, which was very frustrating. Most of the other guests we spoke to did not have this problem. When I complained about it to the front desk, they informed me that it was a complementary thing they did, not something I was paying for, so don't stress so much about it, but it is listed as a benefit in the all inclusive rate on their website, so that tells me I'm paying for it. Lastly, internet is a paid add on to your room rate. It costs about $55 for a week and is sketchy at best. After the first two days, I was never able to log in from my room and had to move to the lobby to gain access. When I asked about this at the front desk, they told me that there was a problem with the router for my floor, but had no plan to resolve the problem. Addidtionally, you can only log in with a single device, so when I first purchased the access and logged in at the front desk with my phone, I was locked in to using only my phone for access the rest of the trip, something I wish they had warned me of when I made the purchase (it does say that on the sheet they give you with the access code, but I was trying to resolve a problem with my reservation at the time and they could not provide me unpaid internet access).

Don't let the front desk dissuade you though. Most people will have little reason to speak with them. The staff you will have the most interaction with are the bartenders and animators. They were all very pleasant and eager to help you. There are some specific staff that we'd love to say thank you to for making our trip great!. Michael, Nigel, Liz, and Kevin were all very fun, very helpful people that will make you glad you chose this hotel. They will keep the drinks flowing, can entertain you with conversation, knowledge of the island, games that bring folks together and you will want to reach in your pocket to tip these folks. The wait staff at the restaurants were generally nice, but were usually working too many tables to provide excellent service, but I can't fault them individually, this I put on management for not having more staff in place.

There are a number of scheduled activities at the resort each day. Unfortunately, most of these never happen, but they are fun when they do. Poolside bingo with bottles of liquor and gift certificates for prizes was fun, as were some of the ping pong table drinking games. The activities desk has several options for fun excursions away from the hotel and some of the bartenders work on the side as tour guides for the island. If you get the chance to go out with one of them take it, it will be cheaper than the traditional excursions and you will have a great time.

The hotel is right down the beach from Philipsburg where there is shopping, shopping and more shopping available. If you go into town on a non-cruiseship day, you will be better able to find a good deal, but you will also be one of the only target for all of the hawkers trying to get folks to look at their wares. Many of the stores will try to convince you that no tax on your purchase is a huge savings, but haggling for a good deal will get the price where you want it on most things. Most of the jewelry stores will keep you in drink while you shop, so take advantage of that if you like, but don't feel compelled to buy from them just because they are plying you with drinks. Most places will offer you the opportunity to have things appraised before paying, if that is something you want.

In Philipsburg, you may also be approached about buying some marijuana. I had no interest in this, but did hear stories of people getting searched by the police immediately after speaking to one of these street peddlers. If you plan on partaking, best to go informed about your legal rights for that country.

There is one last thing that was crucial to our enjoyment of our trip to this resort. The other guests. The pool bar, the activities that do happen, and the other restaurant bars will give you a great opportunity to link up with other guests. We had the best time hanging out with our new friends there, and looked forward to hitting the pool each day to join up with them. Don't be shy, say hi to folks and the comraderie there will make your vacation everything it can be.

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank Luke F
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 Family Hotel in Philipsburg
#3 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 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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