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“Family vacation” 2 of 5 bubbles
Review of Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa

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Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa
Ranked #3 of 12 Hotels in Philipsburg
Certificate of Excellence
Galloway, New Jersey
Level Contributor
96 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 59 helpful votes
“Family vacation”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 21, 2013

We purchased vouchers to this resort on Living Social so did get a great deal. In light of that, I hesitate to be too critical but can say that I would never return. I booked 3 months in advance, asking for adjoining rooms. We were not given same, and when we refused the substitute, had to wait until evening to check in. Eventually we were given adjoining rooms, but the air conditioning in one of the rooms did not work the entire time we were there. Despite multiple complaints and visits by maintenance, we finally kept the door between the rooms open to cool both units. All the units are sadly in need of updating. The food was passable at best on the buffet, although the restaurant was of better quality. Unfortunately, the menu never changed so we had tried everything by the end of the trip. The wait staff in the restaurant was excellent. Friendly, concerned and helpful despite this being an all-inclusive. The hotel staff and bartenders, overall, worked at their own pace and did not seem nearly as concerned with customer service. The beach was beautiful and water sports abundant. Big shout out to Kelly who greatly aided my nephew in his goal of becoming PADI certified for diving. She is a bright shining light for the entire vacation. The only thing that prevented this from being a disaster vacation is the fact that it was with family. I would not recommend this resort. I will return to St Maarten as it was truly lovely. We have traveled quite often to the Carribean with stays in Jamaica, Freeport, Nassau, Paradise Island, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Playa del Secreto, Cozumel and Anguilla and this was by far the most disappointing.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank nshawk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (1,490)
Date | Rating
  • Danish first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Hungarian first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
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English first
Landskrona, Sweden
Level Contributor
7 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 21, 2013

Not recomended hotel for holydays. Uninterested personal in reception, more interested in internal discussions that taking care of guests.
Dirty in general speces as lifts, corridors. Between hotel and beach a stinky dam with rubbish. Low level pool bar servic serving just basic burgers, pizza

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank LGAA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Prior Lake, Minnesota
Level Contributor
98 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 20, 2013 via mobile

This was my first time going on a white sandy beach vacation and staying at an all inclusive resort. If you are going to St. Maarten for the airplane watching this is not the place for you because it is located a $18 taxi ride from the airport. If you just want to relax and hear nothing but carabean music and the waves crashing this is the place for you.

The staff at this resort is great. I really like their bartender Michael Thompson. He loves what he does and the island he lives on. If you have the chance take Michaels island tour.

  • Stayed January 2013
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Stephanie P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 18, 2013

This was my first time to St. Maarten and this hotel was recommended to me, so I took the advice to try it. Based on mixed reviews, I figured it was good value/location and how bad could the service be?! Well, upon check in, the latter part was proven to be terrible. We had upgraded our room and were expecting oceanfront. We were given our key and had to shlep our own bags in a tiny steamy hot elevator, down a long hall, to a room that was average with no view. We immediately went back down to concierge desk and it got worse from there. They claimed they didn't have an upgrade request in their system and all ocean view one bedrooms were booked. I think it was partially because of timeshare travelers. After going back and forth with the front desk person and getting extremely frustrated we finally got a key to a room that was more of what we expected. That set the tone for the almost non existent customer service.

Great Bay is beautiful, I think the best hotel/beach on the island. The breakfast was awesome- buffet style and everything was above expectations there. Except service there too was barely existent. There were dirty tables with great views of the beach that were empty and there wasn't anyone eager to clear them off. Dinner buffet was really good too, and we ate a night at the sister hotel, Maho, which was a much bigger hotel with no beach, and more of a campus feel, which we weren't looking for. Also the area around Maho is kind of trashy with a nightclub nearby and not upscale what so ever.

Great bay is in great midway location to the French side, and the Maho area (which is busy, and has some good after-beach bars). Theres sunset beach bar where you can watch the planes come in right over the beach, which was pretty fun.

Phillipsburg is super close to hotel, maybe 5 min can, really really cute streets and souvenir shops as well as great jewelry stores. Streets are a block from the water and there is an awesome boardwalk. Loved it!

I highly recommend Grand Case on the French side for dinner and drinks. We went to a cool outside bar with live music, blue martini. Awesome place! Tons of authentic french restaurants to choose from.

We also went to Anguilla for the day (shoals bay) nicest beach I've ever been to! And went to st Barths for a day, well worth 45 min boat ride. Must go to Pinel Island too, a small cay off french side , maybe 10 minute boat ride.

Great island, culture is very cool with dutch/french sides, definitely would go back!!! Not sure what hotel, but maybe for more upscale stay on the French side, Raddisson Blu looked extremely nice.

  • Stayed August 2012
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Love2traveljlv
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Garden City, New York
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 18, 2013

Booked my trip back in May of 2012. Received an email confirmation for my 2 br suite on Dec. 28, 2012, then arrived on Jan. 1st to be told it was unavailable b/c someone had decided to extend their stay. We were given two adjourning rooms and could not get into the suite until 3pm the next day. When asked why the guests who wanted to extend their stay weren't moved into the two rooms, we were told by the manager Sonia Stoe they were a big family and couldn't be moved (we were a family of 4 with a confirmed reservation made directly through Sonesta). This made us feel like our business was not appreciated. When we did finally (well into the second day of our stay) transfer to our suite we found out that the elevator only went down to the 2nd floor (we were on the first). When I asked a male employee where the elevator was for the 1st floor he simply pointed to the stairs. When we were leaving 9 days later we found out even the elevator up to the 2nd floor was broken (lobby and check out desk was on 3rd floor) so we had to carry our bags up all those stairs. We were never notified of the outage of the elevator or offered to have our bags carried. The service was very poor bordering on rude. There was never anyone to hand out towels (after 2 days of using our bath towels we started helping ourselves to towels). Hotel was poorly maiintained with a light fixture in the bathroom severely cracked, pool tiles missing, faded, dirty looking lounge chairs and tiles around the pool area very slippery. We were not on the meal plan and the only offerings for lunch other than the $24 pp plus service charge buffet (which looked wilted as soon as it opened) was a choice of hot dog, hamburger or pizza at the grill. At the fitness center the one elliptical was broken and there were only 2 treadmills and one bike besides that. When we asked the front desk to make dinner reservations for a restaurant that told us we needed to have reservations, we were told that none of the restaurants on the island required reservations. After 4 separate trips to the front desk requesting the reservation be made on our behalf we finally had to make an online reservation for ourselves. I have told all my friends that I would never go to another Sonesta again which is unfortunate b/c we had been frequent visitors to the Sonesta Key Biscayne years ago when it was still open. We have traveled extensively in the caribbean to: Puerto Rico, St. Croix, St. John, Turks and Caicos and this was our worse experience by far.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
9 Thank Angie R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 16, 2013

Just returned from one of the best vacation I have ever had in the caribbean and I have been around. Thanks to the warm, friendly, courteous staff, especially Sonia(what a pleasant,beautiful person), Rosalie(ditto), Vicky, the Owen's at the bar, especially GT Owen(for the lime and the carib), Renata, who went out of her way to get us some great hot sauce, Sterling, always working hard, Nana, for the great omlettes and smile, the GT guy who fried the accra and johnny cake. Stayed at the Sonesta Great Bay from Jan 6th- Jan13th in a parking lot view room and it was great. I tried to scam an Ocean view room from Rosalie, but it didn't pan out. She charmed me out of that and I was just as happy in my spotless clean road view room which was very comfortable. The cleaning staff did a great job and the fridge was always stocked.
This hotel is in the perfect location, right on the water, beautiful white sand beach, a little deep and no life guard, close to the shopping area, as a matter of fact, close to everything because the island is so small. The view from the lobby over the ocean,night and day, with the mountains and cruise ships in the background is like a dream. You cant help but feel like you're on vacation when you look over the lobby balcony into the sunshine over the water every morning. Then you go down for breakfast and you're sitting on the dock of the bay,
watching the tides roll in(Otis Redding), just overwhelming.
The food was great at the buffet for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I would go out on a limb and say this was the best tasting food I have had at an all inclusive. The variety was perfect for a hotel of this size and the supply was readily replenished. Dessert needs a little work, almost the same everyday, but still good. No coconut ice cream!!
The dinner at Molasses restaurant was pretty good also, but the dinner service at the pizza restaurant was not good. No blame on the staff because it was only two of them serving all the tables and the rain came when we did get served. Pizza and hamburger was great during the day!! These folks did a great job!!
The bars had an ample supply and pretty good choices. I was just drinkig CARIB and Heineken.
The Owen's did a great job, especially the GT Owen. Great, smart, level headed guy who knows what he wants and how to make customers happy.
The pools looked good but my wife and I are beach folks. Beach a little too steep for us at the bat so we walked over the hill to DIVI Bay and it was perfect for a non-swimmer like me.

Small hotel, with a really spectacular dream like view, beautiful white sand beach, met some really wonderful people, fantastic staff, excellent food and great nightly entertainment.

Thanks folks for allowing us to share such a wonderful vacation with you. We had a great time and I am sure we will be back. I would strongly recommend this hotel to anyone who is considering a visit to ST Maarten.

Room Tip: every room is good when you have a few drinks
See more room tips
  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Trini_Sham
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Canada, Kentucky
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 16, 2013

I love St.Maarten the people are so friendly the enviroment is amazing
their is so much to do and see on this beautiful island
I love the carribean people, But most of all i love Sonesta Greatbay hotel this is my 5th time back its relaxing its beautiful the staff is fun I love the animators they does a great job i've met two Shanella and Marian their Very nice people i've also dine with them they were smiling and and laughing we had fun!We talked alot about st.maarten. I will be back soon to Sonesta GreatBay very beautiful!


Love stephanie

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled solo
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Stephanie R
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 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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