If I could use one word to describe the services and staff at this resort, it would inconsistent: from the smiles to the food. The only thing that was consisently excellent was the breakfast buffet. It was made even more pleasant by Patrizia, who worked breakfast and lunch.
This resort was transitioning to adults only while we were there for two weeks through the holidays. This may account for some of the deficiencies we experienced.
We booked our holiday in June and we were very disappointed not to be placed in renovated rooms. I believe they are lovely, but we stayed in unrenovated rooms, floors 1 through 3, so only these rooms I can review. I am not the type of traveller who posts photos of peeling paint and rusty air conditioning grills, but if I had, it would not be pretty. Suffice it to say these rooms are very tired and in need of renovating. When I asked about better rooms for our family, I was told that the room categories had changed since we booked in June, so we were only entitled to floors 1, 2 or 3. I was very pleased though that they were able to accommodate our request for four rooms on one floor, although I had asked for this in early November so there was plenty of time for this to be arranged.
The wifi situation at Great Bay was, at the time of our vacation, really annoying. The cost was about $80 per week, which gives you two codes. Once you use a code for a phone, for example, you cannot use the code on any other device. The system was not stable, requiring logging in every time the device is used. To make matters worse, the guests at Sonesta Maho received their wifi for free. When questioned, the Great Bay staff said that although they are both Sonesta resorts, there is different management. This was not a satisfactory answer.
The furniture in the room consisted of the bed, side tables, a desk, one chair, and a three drawer chest. The extra two chairs and coffee table have been placed on the balcony, resulting in basically no where to sit except the bed and one chair.
We found the beds extremely comfortable with very nice linens and pillows. The cleaning staff were efficient and pleasant. Although, when we were leaving our room and performing our last minute check under the beds, etc. to ensure we didn`t leave anything, there was a gross amount of dust and such under the small three drawer chest and much more under the bathroom shelving unit. Careful if you drop something in the bathroom as it can roll under the shelves.
The towel situation was quite annoying in that the dirty towels were gathered up during the day and clean ones not returned until after dinner, leaving no towels for showering after a day at the beach. On occasion there were no clean beach towels. On the day we were leaving, there was a mix-up and the room my daughter had booked for the afternoon to prepare for their departure was double-booked and my daughter walked in on another family changing. And then there were no towels to be found. My husband and I stayed a few days longer, so all of our family managed to get ready in our one room. But there were no towels. We managed to hunt some down.
As I mentioned, the breakfast was always excellent, consisting of made-to-order omelettes, freshly made french toast and pancakes, bacon, smoked salmon, fresh pastries, fruit and cheese, among many other items. The pizza at the cafe was always very good as well. Most items on the buffet at lunch and dinner were generally okay, with one or two days being not so good, with overcooked meats. One day, I pointed out to the staff a dinner roll from the buffet which was hard as a rock. For the most part, the food is good, and there was always something satisfactory. Christmas dinner was a huge disappointment. It was like any other night, except there was roast turkey and ham. No gravy and no dressing, although both were listed on the menu. Maybe they were served later. No decorations on the tables; nothing to make dinner more festive. Not sure what I expected, but we`ve been to Cuba for Christmas, and at that resort`s Christmas gala dinner, it was evident it was a very special dinner.
The beach consists of finely crushed shells which is no big deal, except that the area right near the steps and bar has larger shells which can be painful on the feet. We found the sand farther away, past the pool to be better. Entering and exiting the water could be difficult for those less steady or with mobility issues as there is a very large drop not too far in.
One of the reasons we booked at Sonesta Great Bay was for the Kids`Club. Unfortunately, it was non existent by the time we arrived because of the resort`s transitioning to adults only. I asked several times about this before my grandchildren arrived, and was told `they might have some activities`, but there really were none to speak of.
All in all we had a good vacation, but ended up travelling to more beaches than we expected. St. Maarten is a fantastic island with so much to offer. We decided to go all inclusive this trip because of the size of our group, but really, to enjoy the cuisine and the island non all-inclusive might be better, depending on your expectations. Great Bay Beach Resort definitely did not meet our expectations particularly for the premium we paid to be there through Christmas.
In spite of all of these shortcomings and our less than perfect vacation, my husband and I (not our children) would stay here again if the price was right, and just have some meals at restaurants just as we did during this recent vacation. If we ever return, hopefully all the rooms will be renovated.
- 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
- Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa St Martin / St Maarten/Philipsburg