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“Great place unless you're a snob” 5 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
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
79 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 57 helpful votes
“Great place unless you're a snob”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 31, 2013 via mobile

I thought very hard about this review. I read some of the negative reviews and cannot figure out what their problem was. This was my 4th year coming here. The minute we walk in it feels like home.

Let me give you a quick rundown - First you walk in to a very comfortable lobby that is so inviting people are just hanging out all over. No it is not posh and fancy, it is warm and welcoming. There is a bowl of apples and usually cookies in the lobby. Also there is a Bellman available if you want help with your suitcases - he helped us!

The rooms and hallways are absolutely clean. I made a point of looking for dust in the hallway after reading a review that said there was dirt in the corners (even checking the fire alarms) and there was not a speck of dust. And if you get the junior suite for a little more money it is huge. The bathroom is also very large with a Jacuzzi bath tub.

The next complaint I have read is the staff - yeah they were a bit too cheerful for me in the morning. Most people were all-inclusive so they did not bother to tip but the servers were still friendly and attentive. Shout out to Vicky at the front desk. And anything else you need ask for Rosalie.

The beach area is great. Yes there are a lot of chairs but they are not heavy and the beach area is so large you can always move your chair if you want more room. There are two pools overlooking the beach that are lovely, one of which has a swim up bar. There was also more than enough beach towels. There are activities such as bingo if you feel like it (I could not believe someone complained you could hear them calling the numbers on the beach. Some people on the beach play.
The hotel is on a main street but I tried and could not hear any street noise from the pool.

At night there is entertainment in the lounge. Mondays are the best - there is a Managers reception followed by a barbeque and band for dancing.

The breakfast buffet has everything you can possibly want. And to show how accommodating they are I mentioned to someone that they always seem to burn the pancakes. The next day the pancakes were perfect and the staff made a point of showing me and were quite pleased I approved. After that they were always perfect.

I do like the food but admit it is not gourmet. However if you do not like the food and are all inclusive you can go to their sister hotel and eat in any of their restaurants as part of your deal. If you are not all inclusive there are plenty of good restaurants in town which are a 10 minute walk or $8 taxi ride.

So you get up in the morning, have breakfast, lie on the beach, eat and party in the Living Room or gamble in the casino. What is not to like?

I guess if you see the glass as half empty you can find a problem anywhere. i do admit the hallway did have a leak covered by a blanket which they were working on. This should ruin my vacation - really? The hall was still clean.

One last note. The fee for wifi is steep but if you go to Sonesta.com and register for their guest program, which is free, the Wifi is free when you give them your number.

Stayed January 2013, traveled with friends
Helpful?
13 Thank AdrienneB6013
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
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English first
Newmarket, Canada
Level Contributor
31 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 31, 2013

We were at the Sonesta December 6 through the 12, 2012 with our friends the Ducks. We were welcomed warmly when we arrived. We had an ocean facing room which was nice. The cleaning staff were good but usually forgot towels for our room. When asked we did get them. The beach was crushed shells so footwear is required. The weather was great. Hot liked we hoped. We spent most of our time at the hotel either in the pool at the bar or playing volleyball or dozing in our chairs. We enjoyed Nigels service at the bar who created many flavourful drinks for us. He even went above and beyond when my husband Peter wanted Guiness. Food was good. the restaurant upstairs was better than the buffet and the service was a bit slow but worth the wait. Jonathan who bussed around the restaurants was always smiling. Best smile ever. The wait staff were always pleasant. The entertainment staff of Danroy, Kevin and the girls were great. They had us participating in the "name that tune", bingo and the dancing in the evening. The elevator however did make scary noises so I took the stairs. Philipsberg was so close so we did walk there often. Great staff and fun hotel. We would go again. The Wattersons

Room Tip: We were on the top floor facing the ocean. Best view. Watched the ships come in the morning. Very co...
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
7 Thank Wendy A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lindsay, Ontario, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 30, 2013

Visited The Island of St. Maarten from Jan. 20 - Jan. 27 stayed at Sonesta Great Bay and absolutely had a great experience! The hotel itself was very clean (aside from a musty smell in the room) the staff was on the whole friendly, good food and great drinks!!! Beautiful beach!!! Would return for sure!!

Room Tip: Room on the south side are quieter
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
9 Thank LoriMichelle
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sudbury, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 30, 2013

Sonesta Great Bay Resort is a good resort with a superb location. After cruising for years and landing in St. Maarten on several occasions, my wife and I decided to change it up and stay at a resort. Price and staying near or in Phillipsburg was important as my wife likes to shop. Did a lot of research before deciding to go to Sonesta. Price was reasonable and couldn't ask for a better location. As stated in a lot of reviews, the resort is a 3-3 1\2 star resort. I would say it is a 3 1\2. It is bit dated, but very clean and provides a good open layout. We took an ocean view room on the 4th floor. To get above the palm trees, you need to be at least on that floor. The view is absolutely breathtaking. Rooms are regular hotel sized rooms that are clean and well kept. Food was good; with some very good dishes and some excellent! Even breakfast had a great selection. I pretty much tried everything and I can say that I did not find any food that I wouldn't eat. Does this compare to the value and the service you get on a cruise ship? ....well ...no, but it is more than adequate. And now for those who post very negative reviews for this resort... some of you need truly need a reality check. First off, do some research before you book any trip. You are at a 3 1\2 star hotel, you are not royalty so don't expect to be treated as such. Service is fine (you have to be polite to people, and treat them with respect) they will take care of you. Tipping helps no doubt, but a friendly conversation and getting to know your server goes a long way. We never had issues getting served, never ran out of drinks and beer of our choice, and certainly never had to beg for service. We did, however, see a lot of tourists treating staff with no respect and constantly complaining about everything. Overall the Great Bay resort is a pretty decent place. We will go back again and again. If you are a person with realistic expectations who is looking for reasonably priced resort in a great location, then this one is for you!

Room Tip: Ocean View at least on 4th floor or above to enjoy full view
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  • 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
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
10 Thank Walleyetracker
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
West Palm Beach, Florida, United States
Level Contributor
12 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 30, 2013

There are two sides to this hotel.One Newer and One Older. While off to a Rocky start due to this and the hotel being all inclusive (some very late Hijinks and Partying in the Hallways) the Management quickly took control and helped make our stay quieter and extremely enjoyable,Very Many Thanks to Rosalee (Front Desk Manager) for making the stay perfect after this.
The rest of the trip we got to enjoy a lot of Sonesta's Great Restaurants and Bars and relax and enjoy the amenities.
Great location to walk to Philipsburg and the staff are good,But under a lot of pressure from a mass of people all wanting to sit eat and drink like it was there last.So i can see both sides of peoples comments here.we tried to be patient and courteous and it was returned by most.
We will return to Sonesta and very soon and We will stay on the New Side and we will NOT bring our kids!
The Island itself is amazing and extremely reasonable,Found is a mix of a lot of Flavors But also has strong American Cusine readily available.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Daragh M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
washington, dc
Level Contributor
41 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 26, 2013

This resort is truly awful. The whole place is kind of run down. Our bed was hard as a rock, every night we could not sleep. The room and hallway smelled the mold.

The worst part was the service, which was nonexistent. One of the hotel staff members actually told my boyfriend that he had "never come to work sober" and smoked weed every day before work.

The food ranged from mediocre to awful. And while the website advertises so many restaurants, there was only one restaurant open at any given time. We ate at Molasses twice, and both times had to wait nearly an hour to be seated! The drinks were terrible - watered-down liquor drinks or Miller Lite were the only options at the pool, and the wine served at Molasses was literally undrinkable.

The beach was beautiful however, and the location near Philipsburg was good. However, right out my ocean view window, next to the gorgeous ocean and beach, was a giant disgusting hole full of murky brown water. It looked like some kind of half-finished construction site, and it nearly ruined the view! It was full of garbage and construction materials.

While $989 LivingSocial for 5-night all inclusive at the beach was a really great deal, we ended up eating out almost every single day because we couldn't wait to get out of the hotel! In addition, on our last day we left our towels by the pool. When we checked out, we said we had left our towels outside - and they charged us for each of the towels (which were gross old towels by the way!)

I have a friend who lives in St Maartin, and I tried calling her several times from the hotel phone, but I couldn't figure out how to dial correctly as there were no instructions. After several failed attempts, I gave up and used my cell phone. When I went to check out, they charged me $60 for "international calls" because I was calling a friend on the French side from the Dutch side! Each of my dial/hang up calls (totaling 8 seconds each) cost me $4. I never even SPOKE to her on the phone. They refused to remove the charges even though the bill clearly showed that each call was for 8 seconds each, and were incredibly rude about this.

It is HARD for a hotel to be so bad that it nearly ruins a trip to somewhere as amazing as St Maartin, but this hotel nearly did that. A beautiful beach and views is not enough to make up for terrible service, bad food, an uncomfortable bed, and even more. STAY AWAY FROM THIS RESORT!!

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
8 Thank MichelleC2288
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bowmanville
Level Contributor
10 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 45 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 26, 2013

Jan 17-24 2013, was our first visit to "The Friendly Island". We had a great time and I would recommend the hotel to anyone who wants to experience all that St. Maarten has to offer. Having said that- it's not for everyone and I can see why it does get some bad reviews.

This is one of 2 all inclusive properties on the island and with our package we had access to both. Each has good and bad points so having the option to experience both was a bonus. The Sonesta Great Bay is a 10 min. beach or road walk to a multitude of restaurants/shopping and Diamonds in Phillipsburg. From town you can take a local bus for $2.00 to the Maho resort which is close to the airport. The Maho is larger and much prettier, but there is no real beach. The planes are so close you can almost touch them and watching them sandblast people when they take off is quite entertaining.

Food Wise- It is like eating at home...At the Maho you can order Clubhouse sandwich, chicken wings, Chicken breast on a bun with fries and much more down near the water. At the Sonesta we had no trouble with the food either. it was your typical buffet type food or a choice of 2 a la cartes. Not huge variety, but good enough. I enjoyed the fruit and fresh salads (They had peanut butter, real ketchup!). I would have liked the pasta bar to be available very night. During the day you could get pizza and burgers, but be prepared to wait. The cooks at this restaurant were not very efficient. Other than the pizza snack bar, we had NO problem with service. Want to shout out to our favorite's- "Melon ball", Medesta, June, Jason (who turns 20 on Jan 29) Yolanda at the swim up bar and Owen in the lobby bar

The daytime entertainment was not loud and crazy like some resorts. There is no disco or "cheesy shows" by an animation team after dinner, but on the other side of the lobby bar, we busted some moves at a disco dance party, and attempted to Karoke another night. I don't know if they offer something everynight, but these 2 parties were fun and ended at 12 which was perfect.

The Wifi at the hotel is $16.00 a day, but I did hear from others that you can get a better deal if you sign up for a week. McDonalds in town offers free wifi or you can hit a bar on the beach and get free wifi while you drink a bucket of beer!

Booze is really cheap here. Duty free at the airport when we were leaving was the same price as the duty free in Phillipsburg. They have ice cold Coors light in a can and make a mean Caesar with Clamato juice! They serve name brand name liquor-- Baileys and Amaretto were available most of the time

The hotel is small and quaint in comparison to places we have stayed before-(Riu's in Ocho Rios, Pta Vallarta, Grand Bahia Principe Punta Cana etc. We normally pay $1500 or less for our holiday and this island has never been in our budget. We got lucky and paid $1300 by booking with a large group last June.

In my opinion, the reason this hotel gets bad reviews is because people who travel all inclusive regularly, pay $1700 - $2000 pp for this hotel expecting it to be the equivalent of what you could get for the same money in a 5 star in Mexico or the Dominican. You won't get the "wow" factor here. You will get a resort that is dated and small. The rooms are simple, but clean and you always have warm water. I didn't hear of anyone getting sick from the food or water. I felt safe always. Come to this resort so you can explore the island...See the beautiful beaches, look at the million dollar homes and yachts and wonder who can afford them!

In closing, for the money that we paid we are more than satisfied and am very happy that I was able to finally come to the island everyone talks about, but.... I am undecided if I would ever spend $1700 or more to come back...

Room Tip: All rooms have hair dryer and a small bar fridge. Not all rooms have a tub. Oceanview rooms come wit...
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
7 Thank YMDKelly
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 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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