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“Enjoyed Christmas with Family in St. Maarten”

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Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa
Ranked #3 of 12 Hotels in Philipsburg
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed January 8, 2014

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.

Room Tip: Avoid floors 1, 2 or 3 until they are renovated.
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  • Stayed: December 2013, traveled with family
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3  Thank wsibconsultant
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
alexlynch, Guest Relations Manager at Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded January 9, 2014

Dear Guests,

Thank you for taking the time to post a review on your stay at the Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort. We value and appreciate all of your comments and can assure you that all will be dont or has already been done to ensure that all the services and amenities mentioned are taken care of. We look forward to welcoming you back in the near future.

Kind regards,

Alejandra Lynch
Guest Relations

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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2,470 - 2,476 of 4,336 reviews

Reviewed January 7, 2014

This was my first trip to Sint Maarten. I loved the island and the location of the hotel, within walking distance of Philipsburg and with the breathtaking view of the bay and the cruise ships. The room was OK but no information available on anything in it aside from a sheet with the time and place of meals. Bathroom was really worn out with a leaky ceiling and hot water was hard to find and the towels very small and no bathrobe. Staff was generally nice. Food was good, with an excellent breakfast. Did not use the swimming pools (which are tiny) or the jacuzzi but the beach is great and swimmers have their own safe spot to swim in away from the jet skis. Just be early on the sand (8:30 - 9 am) or you'll find all the seats and umbrellas taken. The all automated casino is fun (not my thing though) and I didn't try the spa. But I'll be back...

Room Tip: The sea side is just dreamy
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  • Stayed: December 2013, traveled with family
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3  Thank countryfrog
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
alexlynch, Guest Relations Manager at Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded January 9, 2014

Dear Guests,

Thank you for taking the time to post a review on your stay at the Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort. We appreciate your comments and look forward to welcoming you back in the near future.

Kind regards,

Alejandra Lynch
Guest Relations

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 7, 2014

We have never been to St.Martin and wanted to explore both sides of Island. The hotel itself did not meet our expectations, we did expect more. The bar was closed when we arrived and yet our room wasnt ready for another hour. So we waited by the beach. The room was okay, nothing impressive. The food was just okay, We ate the same thing everyday-- not many choices. Good Alcohol,horrible wine.

  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank WorldTravler3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
alexlynch, Guest Relations Manager at Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded January 9, 2014

Dear Guests,

Thank you for taking the time to post a review on your stay at the Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort. We value and have taken note of your comments, and look forward to welcoming you back to stay with us.

Kind regards,

Alejandra Lynch
Guest Relations

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 7, 2014

I was only here one night on business so please take that into account when considering the following:

Unfortunately, I got a room on the ground (almost basement) floor on the back of the hotel. That certainly did NOT enhance my experience as I was looking at a retaining wall and some foliage with the main road beyond. However, it was not noisy.

Now, I don't know about the oceanfront rooms but this room was poorly maintained with peeling paint, worn doors, an old style TV with very few channels, terrible pillows, etc. I give this room about a D. I hope yours will be better.

The setting here is quite nice.....it sits on the bay with a great view of the harbor, the cruise ships and yachts across the way, nice sunset and view of the ocean......very pleasant.

We were treated with a nice, refreshing drink and enjoyed one night of their "all inclusive" package.
We elected for the seafood dinner in the restaurant over-looking the bay....very nice. Our waitress was THE best customer service person I have ever encountered on this island and I have been here many times. Sorry I can't remember her name, but she was simply wonderful. The fact that she was generous with the merlot helped!

We found the food to be quite good though they were a bit stingy with the shrimp and lobster on my seafood pasta dish. The portions were on the smaller side but were fine for me as an average-sized guy.

Breakfast was fine, if not memorable. The waterfront looked nice but isn't large.

Overall, I wouldn't stay here because of the room, but other than that, I found it a pleasant property.

In general, I don't find the people of St. Maarten to be particularly well-trained nor do they seem to understand that the tourists are the reason for the islands' prosperity. Perhaps it's a cultural thing that I don't understand but other than our waitress, I find the people of the island to be not friendly.
But, hey! Maybe it's me!!!!

Room Tip: See above, but make sure get get and oceanfront one.
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  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled on business
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Thank AbenakiW
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
alexlynch, Guest Relations Manager at Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded January 9, 2014

Dear Guests,

Thank you for taking the time to post a review on your stay at the Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort. We have taken note of your comments and we would like you to give us another try in the near future and we will prove to you that we can provide better service than what you recently received.

Kind regards,

Alejandra Lynch
Guest Relations

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 7, 2014

It's my understanding the hotel is under a management transition. While the location can't be beat, management needs to listen to the complaints and take note. While the outside space is quite nice, the indoors space is lacking in any charm. There's just no excuse. I am going to avoid knit-picking the minutia and focus on the service. In my opinion, this can make or break a vacation experience. While a handful of the female staff were freindly, the service from male staff was appaling! Not a smile or word from bar staff when ording a drink. It was as if we were an imposition. I am not exaggerating. BAD!!!!! We had four people in our group and all experience the same. Even with the rest of the staff it was as if you had to work at it to get them to warm up. We have been traveling to the islands for many years so the "culture" excuse doesn't fly. As for management, that remains to be seen. On New Year's Eve, no sign was posted as to what the events of the evening were going to be. No communication. It was appeared to be thrown together at the last minute. Even with the threat of weather, Plan B should have been in place. Shame!

  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled with friends
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1  Thank eric h
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
alexlynch, Guest Relations Manager at Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded January 9, 2014

Dear Guests,

Thank you for taking the time to post a review on your stay at the Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort. We value and appreciate your comments and can assure you that steps are or have been taken to improve in the areas mentioned. We do hope that you will return in the near future.

Kind regards,

Alejandra Lynch
Guest Relations

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 6, 2014

Been here since Thursday, only food to eat is buffet or pizza and burgers. Buffet is disgusting, beef stew was so tough couldn't chew it, pork chops were prepared in advance, and then reheated. We were then presented with the same pork chops the next night. Some staff are rude and arrogant. Will never come here again, or recommend this hotel.

Room Tip: Don't waste your money on Sun wing, a lot of false advertising.
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  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank carolsc19
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
alexlynch, Guest Relations Manager at Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded January 9, 2014

Dear Guests,

Thank you for taking the time to post a review on your stay at the Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort. We took note of your comments and apologize for not being able to meet your standards. If you should decide to return, we will be more than happy to receive you.

Kind regards,

Alejandra Lynch
Guest Relations

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 6, 2014

This was our 2nd visit to Sonesta G.B. - the hotel is good, the food is ok, the location is SUPERB! and our waitress, Patrizia, made the stay really great! Grazie!
We stayed a week, would have easily stayed longer.... hope to visit again soon.

Cheers,
Francesca and Angelo (il sosia di Corona)

  • Stayed: December 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank fvincenzetti
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
alexlynch, Guest Relations Manager at Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded January 9, 2014

Dear Guests,

Thank you for taking the time to post a review on your stay at the Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort. Cheers to Patriczia who made your stay a great one, along with the other things mentioned. We appreciate all of your comments and look forward to your return visit.

Kind regards,

Alejandra Lynch
Guest Relations

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative 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
Price Range: $362 - $698 (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 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

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