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“Great Beach / Location &Staff but Dated Resort”

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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
29 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 82 helpful votes
“Great Beach / Location &Staff but Dated Resort”
Reviewed April 17, 2013

There is no getting around that this is an older resort and in need of updating and those who comment basing this resort against a 5 star standard are sadly misguided. With that said, that doesn't mean that SBG is without merit ... it is
You will find its merit based on upscale restaurants or fancy wine bars or disco ball lit clubs that are often found in the amenity folios in other all-inclusives. You are choosing this resort as a value priced way to enjoy St. Maarteen and in that it succeeds. And if you read notihng further understand that I would return to this resort.

Check in was smooth easy and courteous thanks to Vicki
Room:
My room was not ready but Edrick valeted my luggage and directed me to the bar so I could enjoy the resort without worry about my luggage. Edrick was equally gracious upon my departure again holding my luggage until I was ready to leave for the airport
I had a Mountain view room on the 2nd floor and it was accessible to the bar/ pool restaurant area w/o using the elevator or stairs (an option if you have mobility issues)
Downside is the view of the street from the balcony vs. mountain and the rooster who served as my alarm clock.
This is where I will be the most critical of this resort as I am not a big room reviewer but there were several elements that were less than satisfying - broken fixtures, moldy smell , old furniture, curtains and a strange tub shower arrangement. The room had a flat screen TV.
not a big deal for me because I'm not in SXM to watch TV.

The staff works hard at keeping the resort clean and given what they have to work with they should be commended. I can forgive an old room but not a clean room.Overall the resort is extremely cleaned and maintained.
Beach:
Great Bay is by far the best beach on the Dutch side. With it's location at the far end of the bay you are pretty much exclusive to the guests of the hotel and not subject to vendors, gawkers and tourists from the cruise ships across the bay. Although it is quite a sight to see the number and size of ships at the Phillipsburg port. Great photo ops.
The sand on the beach is a little different from most Caribbean sand as it is like panko bread crumbs vs. the more familiar granular sand.
- The resort should definitely fix the last step to the beach as the drop off is ridiculous and potentially dangerous. Shade umbrellas are limited and I was told by a member of the staff that people are placing towels on the chairs at 6:00 a.m. when breakfast is served and showing up to claim their umbrellas at 3:00 later that day.
Phillipsburg is a short 10 minute walk along the beach or the street; your choice and is lined with honky tonk beach bars serving $1 beers to the cruise passengers. This is also your shopping mecca for the island.Front Street (separate post on details)
Note- US $ is the currency of choice and exchange at the hotel for a better rate vs. euros plus no fee.
We visited other beaches both Dutch and French and on the Dutch side this is the beach of choice. Use that in making your decision to stay at this resort (+)

Note: rent a car if you plan on leaving the resort more than twice
Most of the excursions leave from Phillip's Bay and it's a $40 cab ride from the resort and a car rental is $99 for the week Easy math there. Bonus is you get to visit the French side beaches - Orient, Cupecoy, Maho.

Much ado is made about topless sunbathing on St.Martin and from my observation it is much more prevalent on the French side vs. the Dutch, But really not a big as big a deal as promoted.


Restaurants / Bars :
This is where the resort succeeds and creates the value you are looking for.
There are three dining choices which do not require reservation for seating... yes that means no getting up at 8:00 in the morning to stand on line for chance at dining that night.
Two of the restaurants are Al-fresco,the buffet is one, but one is in doors and the food at all of them was always above average. Dining themes changed each evening so nothing was ever just routine.
June and Gilberto exemplified service beyond the measure of the the resort
Pool: again the age of the resort showed but the younger guests and families appeared to be oblivious to the outdated infinity pool and spotted liner. ( the water and surrounding area were always clean).
Hey..this is an all-inclusive so let 's not forget the bars and entertainment
Again, this is an area where the staff exceeds the resort. Owen ( both of them ) and Yolande provide the guests a level of service that is 5 star.

I'll wrap this up....
SGB is resort of merit is you temper your expectations to the fact that this is a 3.0 to 3.5 resort and you are working with that in mind. You are choosing this resort based on value .The staff is great and the location / beach is excellent
I am planning my return so to me that speaks volumes

Room Tip: get a higher level room it's worth it
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
8 Thank Yankee12518
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
16 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed April 17, 2013

When we arrived at he hotel my first thought was boy did they use creative photography on their website, but the location was great and we were just there to relax and have fun. Overall the hotel was clean and the food was good...I was pleasantly surprised by the food... but the service could use improvement. The staff were not friendly ( other than Virginia in the restaurant who was fantastic) and they seemed to care less about helping guests or providing a good customer experience. We requested that our room be cleaned by 2 pm each day...it only happened once. At dinner a server broke a dish and the shattered pieces hit my friend in the foot and she was bleeding. only one person after we told them what happened offered to get something to clean it and bandage it. Little things added up over our 9 days there and ended on a poor note. I was told my credit card was declined and they provided no means to call the cc company unless I wanted to pay $6.50 a minute. I had a friend use their card and they were told it was declined as well. I used my cell phone and incurred the international rates only to be told that the front desk never even ran the card! They simply asked for a different means of payment because they saw an error on their computer screen.

I'd consider going back but only if I found a much better deal than what we paid.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Jill B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed April 17, 2013

I purchased my stay through a living social package and was very happy with it. A great vacation for a great price. Please read my recommendations below:

Pros
1.) Ocean View Room - Million Dollar View! (high floor)
2.) Phillipsburg (boardwalk) is apx a 10-15 walk from the hotel (but I don't recommend to walk in the evening, advise by a local)
3.) Infinity Pool w/swim up bar - Gorgeous, perfect temperature
4.) Majority of the staff was stupendously friendly and accommodating (Allon, Eduardo, Edrick & Michael to note) Do NOT forget to TIP!! These guys bust their butt to make sure your stay is pleasant and you are taken care, don't forget to take care of them.
5.) Great selection of food, including apx 3 sit down restaurants and one buffet. The pool side hot dogs, burges and pizza were delicious! Also very much enjoyed the manager's pool side bbq one night.
6.) AC in rooms great
7.) Refilled mini-fridge daily
8.) Delicious Cab Sav Red Wine! (Premium beers and select hard liquors as well)
9.) Access to sister resort, though you must provide your own transportation (taxi apx $20)
10.) Clean rooms, renovated bathroom - simple and to the point.


* Adivse *
If you want a good beach chair, it's a race to the finish. I recommend getting down there and putting your towels down by 6am (no joke)


Cons
1.) All smoking hotel, YUCK
2.) Only a hand full of channels on the television, but hey, you're not there to watch TV
3.) Older clientele, which makes for a very relaxing experience, but evening time is dead! Quiet by 11pm.
4.) Slippery tile pool side! Be careful
5.) Slow service at the sit down restaurants, but I need to remember everyone is on 'island time'.
6.) Bring bug spray, the mosquitoes are brutal.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank DGEC22
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brussels, Belgium
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed April 17, 2013

Someone from the house keeping have stolen our teddybear "Freddy" out of our room. It was very valuable to us.
So we went to the hotel manager and he hasn't done anything at all.
We were very disappointed. So we advice you, Do NOT go to this hotel!
The hotel staff was also very unfriendly even when you gave them a tip.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank katleen5985
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Orillia, Canada
Level Contributor
40 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed April 17, 2013

safe drinking water beach and walk to town on the sidewalk or from the beach out front of the hotel

willing to accommodate any needs you have at the front desk

staff expects nothing in return accept a smile and thank you

great steel band entertained us!!

everything clean and working

Room Tip: all ocean view rooms have great view of ships ocean pool beach elevator in hotel
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank tiffanybond
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
70 reviews
45 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 94 helpful votes
Reviewed April 16, 2013

I stayed here last year and felt it was an OK hotel, but lacked any enthusiasm. Somehow, Sonesta has changed this place around in the last 12 months. To start with, make sure and sign up for the Sonesta Travel Pass as it gets you free internet and water bottles in your room. Internet worked good. It is now a primarily all-inclusive and I have to say that they did a great job on providing decent meals and drinks. There are a number of restaurants to choose from. All seemed to have fresh food which was much better than I expected or have had at other all inclusive hotels. You have a choice of a sit down restaurant or buffet. The drinks were pretty speedy in coming and most of the wait staff was very friendly. Especially since usually no one tips at all inclusive. My room was great with good AC. So good, I had to turn it off at night. Bed was very comfortable and linens were great. A woman came by each day and stocked my frig with free beer, sodas and waters. When my buddy and I were leaving for a tour of the island, I told the bellman we could use a couple of beers. He appeared with an ice cold 6 pack of Coors light which was perfect. Phillipsburg is a short walk from the hotel. The infinity edge pool with a swim up bar was great as were the 2 other pools. Give this place a try--you won't regret it! We also got vouchers for $50 off massage and $50 off Manager's wine selections. There was of course free wine and beer, but the $50 bought a bottle of the best red in the house.

Room Tip: Ask for a room in the "Apartments".
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank morgini
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Scarborough
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed April 16, 2013

Denroy, the Animation Supervisor was a real entertainer. He really went out of his way to include all the guests in all the programmes. He made them more fun, when he was there. He had great ideas for adding a little challenge to an otherwise completely relaxing holiday.

Room Tip: Rooms with the ocean view is the way to go. No street noise from the north side of the hotel.
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank mexicoScarborough
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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