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“Very nice hotel with Amazing Views of Great Bay!”

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Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa
Ranked #3 of 12 Hotels in Philipsburg
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed November 6, 2012

My wife, 2 young children, and parents recently returned from a trip to St. Martin and stay at Sonesta Great Bay. I, like many others, don't understand the number of negative reviews the hotel receives. I guess you can't please everyone. When you check in they give you cold towels and a tasty cocktail to welcome you. Nice touch!

Rooms: We stayed in a 1 bedroom apartment and the room was fantastic (Room 461). We have been to 8 Caribbean islands and the view from our rooms was amazing! Ocean front rooms (2 balconies) with unobstructed views of the bay, the cruise ships, and the city of Phillipsburg. My parents were in the normal side of the hotel with ocean view rooms on the 4th floor and their room was also nice, but certainly not as nice as ours. The hotel appears to be renovating the rooms. Our bed in the room was absolutely amazingly comfortable. Probably one of the best beds we slept in. The fridge was stocked every day with water bottles, beer, and soda. A very very nice touch.

Pools: The have a total of 3 pools but no one seemed to use the one closest to the apartments. The Infinity pool with the swim up bar was excellent and offered amazing views of Great Bay and the ships/port. The swim up bar was very popular as you can imagine. The other pool behind was also nice.

Beach: The beach was ok. Unfortunately, there was a storm that hit a few weeks before that had wiped out some of the beach front and also kicked alot of seeweed/etc. Obviously, this is no fault of Sonesta's. The only annoying part is that you have to pass the ladies of the beach who offer massages, braids, etc. They're all very nice and will leave you alone if you want. We did partake in some massages and can't complain.

Food/Drinks: The food is ok, but not great. The breakfast buffet was excellent and had some very nice food choices. Thoroughly enjoyed it every morning. Lunch and Dinner buffets were ok. They have 2 other restaurants on site but only one was open during our stay. The food at Molasses was good. Much better than the dinner buffet. Definitely recommend getting the all inclusive package so you can drink and eat as much as you like there.

Service: Everyone of the staff we spoke to at the hotel was nice. We didn't have any issues with them. The servers at the buffet and restaurant were all very nice to us. The bartenders were also very nice. I would like to give a special thanks to Karl (the new General Manager). He treated us very kindly and said to ask him personally if we ever needed something. We actually ran into him every day and have very nice conversations with him. We asked for milk cartons for our 2 children and he was more than accomodative in getting us what we wanted. I also had some indepth conversations to find out what peoples issues are. Apparently, the new managment is changing some things (including the gazebos) and many of the regular customers are not happy with some of the changes. Some people compained that there weren't enough umbrellas which Karl said were on order and that they were waiting for them to arrive. All in all, the staff was very nice to us even if they are going through some of their own challenges with the new management. Change is hard and I hope everyone settles their differences for the benefit of the tourists and the property. Karl, thanks again for everything! Best of luck to you.

Things to do: I suggest you definitely rent a car and explore the island. I definitely suggest going to Sonesta Maho and using their facilities. You need to get the all inclusive package and use the other property. The food and food choices are definitely better at Sonesta Maho than Great Bay. Another cool part of Maho is the beach is located directly in front of SXM and you can watch the planes take off/land. Well worth a day trip or two. However, the views are much better at Sonesta Great Bay! We also drove to Orient Bay to check out that beach and drove around the island. The island has many many steep hills so be prepared to go up and down the mountains. We walked into Phillipsburg one day which was ok. Yes, they have many liquor and jewelry shops which have good deals if you want. Try and go on days without cruise ships as you can get better deals.

Definitely would return to Sonesta Great Bay especially if I can get the same room (461).

Room Tip: Rent a car and drive around the island. Make sure to go visit Sonesta Maho.
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  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled with family
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5  Thank ThePhillyCritic
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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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
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9  Thank Julie155019
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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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4  Thank carolyugo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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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5  Thank Namaste24
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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
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3  Thank Victoria K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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
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4  Thank MAB23_new
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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
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1  Thank PeterA848
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa

Address: 19 Little Bay Road, Philipsburg, St Martin / St Maarten
Location: Caribbean > St Martin / St Maarten > 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: $353 - $689 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — 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
Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa St Martin / St Maarten/Philipsburg

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