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“Excellent hotel staff”

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Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa
Ranked #3 of 12 Hotels in Philipsburg
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed February 15, 2014

We stayed at the Sonesta Great Bay the week of February 8, 2014. We stay on a different Island every year and have had a lot of experiences at different hotels. The Sonesta is a great all inclusive with a great staff from the front desk to the pool bar with Sheridan and Kimme, everyone was great. The hotel was very clean. We have stayed at more elegant hotels at other locations, but the staff and all other accommodations plus the friendly and helpful staff made this experience a great one. The staff also informed us of great places to go. Pinel Island on the French side was my favorite. The short walk to Phillipsburg was also nice.

Stayed: February 2014, traveled as a couple
4  Thank Joanne W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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2,411 - 2,417 of 4,336 reviews

Reviewed February 15, 2014

We spent a week at the hotel. Very clean, good food,generally good staff. We booked an ocean view and were on the 2nd floor-not as high as we booked,but okay. My impression is that the upper floors are reserved for return guests or certain travel groups?? A few inconveniences that the hotel should address: 1) our room had an ancient safe box with no lock. it took two days to get one as they don't have enough to go around! An excellent property provide safes for every room.
2) the area around the pool and outside areas is large tile that is very slippery when wet. Several people took falls. Also, there is a 6" step down with no warning tape or paint. They need a bright yellow strip along this edge to warn guests.
3) some of the waitresses in the buffet/dining room are a bit too familiar in the way they speak to guests. Courtesy and politeness are the sign of a first class operation.
4) we paid for a late checkout as our flight didn't leave until late evening. Vicky at the front desk was very accomodating in this request. She also removed the charge for a long distance call made from our room; must have been a worker who used the phone.
We loved the pools- well maintained. Good animators for activities,but the choice of loud music played on the deck must be for them, not most of the guests. Average age around 60.
5) smoking is allowed on the deck, including cigars!
The view is spectacular,weather was mid-8o's with a lovely sea breeze. On the whole it was great vacation.

  • Stayed: February 2014, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank Edgar R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 15, 2014

We stayed at the Sonesta Great Bay for a week in January 2014. The hotel is well located, walking distance to Philipsburg city center and a short drive from many beaches. We were not very well received by the front desk, but were reasonably fast given the keys to our room.

The room is nice, but take some bug spray with you (for the room). The whole Island is rich in mosquitoes (I'm from Rio, I know what I'm talking about) and the authorities don't seem to worry about that. The cleaning ladies were also very nice, but the ladies delivering the towels were always knocking on our door around 5pm... nap time... I was furious about that.

The food is really good, especially on the main floor restaurant. That chef knows food!

We've stayed on other all inclusive hotels before and this one should not be compared to the big ones in Punta Cana or Cancun, it's smaller, but really good. The only thing I would complain about is that the waiters serving the drinks at the restaurant were not very attentive to the guests. I had to ask to get my cup refilled several times, they would just pass by and didn't bother to ask if I would like any more drinks.

Thanks Ubencia for taking so good care of our room and David for his big smiles!

Room Tip: As for an ocean view!
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  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Loraine A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 14, 2014

I got the notice literally 2 days before my departure that I won't be able to get de luxe room ocean view which I paid for. I opted to accept the change as there was almost nothing available elsewhere. I arrived with my 80 yrs old mother to the most run down place imaginable. I was given the room that hasn't been painted in last 20 yrs at least, literally face to face with the busy main street, with no natural light whatsoever. In bathroom the facets were falling apart, water was leaking and bathtub hasn't been properly washed for probably extended time. In the middle of the floor there was the door banner on which I tripped over and hurt my ankle. Truly everything is far from de luxe in this hotel and 4 stars as agency is promoting is a big joke. If I was lucky I was getting my room cleaned around 7 pm and had to beg on daily basis for the clean towels. The hotel's outdoor space is dangerous as there are steps absolutely invisible unless you really pay attention by looking straight down. I fell down the step and injured my ankle again, the other person broke the shoulder, another person fell as same as I did...... The food choice was the same all 7 days and lineups for the table were constant. And not to be the end of this terribly bad time, I just notice unexplainable hotel charge of 37 US$ which I have never had......... I'll call hotel tomorrow to try to rectify, and if need be report unauthorized charge on my credit card, but truly I am wondering is it ever going to be the end of this nightmare. Think twice if you plan to book your vacation via Signature, and good luck if you decide to go to Sonesta Grey Bay- you 'll need it!!!!!

Stayed: February 2014, traveled with family
5  Thank Mirjana M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 13, 2014

The ocean view room was wonderful. To have your coffee in the morning and a glass a wine in the evening on the balcony with the ocean right there was beautiful. The food was very good, especially the seafood venue. The buffet food was very good also. The beach was very private and not crowded. You could walk into town to all the jewelry shops you could ever hope to find. If you are looking for a relaxing holiday then this is the place to be. The bar staff is the only draw back. It was very hard to get their attention to order a drink even when you were the only one there. Seemed like they did not need your tip money!!!!! That aside it was a great vacation.

Room Tip: Ask for an ocean view room.
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  • Stayed: February 2014, traveled with friends
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6  Thank Linda D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 12, 2014

We had a group of 10 people and had booked through APPLE Vacations a couple months in advance but 2 days prior to leaving were told the Sonesta Great Bay was over booked and we could either 1) get all our money back or 2) go to Sonesta Maho. Our group decided to go and stay at Sonesta Maho dispite some poor ratings (staff not friendly, flu outbreak, outdated rooms). When we checked into Sonesta Maho our group was split between Sonesta Great Bay and Sonesta Maho. We were very disappointed and ended up renting a van to go between the resorts, about a 20 minute drive.

I was lucky, my room was at the Sonesta Great Bay, stayed Feb 1 to Feb 6. Vickie at the front desk was helpful and Georgio in the lobby was friendly. Our room was clean and updated. Beds comfortable. Our room faced the bay so we could watch the cruise ships come into dock. I enjoyed sitting on our balcony. The food was very good (but some flies on the food because it is open air dining). Drinks were tasty & lots of chairs and umbrellas to choose from at the pool or beach. The water aerobics instructor was excellent. The average age of guests was around 60.

Room Tip: Get an ocean view
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  • Stayed: February 2014, traveled with friends
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3  Thank Pondgirl2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 10, 2014

We spent the last week of January at the Sonesta Great Bay as part of a package put together by a travel agency.

Had we been booking a trip to St. Maarten that was not part of a package we might not have booked the Sonesta due to the very mixed reviews. However, we were pleasantly surprised by what we found and our total experience.

The location if fantastic. The 10 minute walk to into downtown is very accurate - 10 minute stroll down the beach and you are on the "boardwalk". Numerous restaurants and bars, and then all types of shopping on Front and Back streets. Additionally, this property is on the beach - the view is phenomenal. The bay is beautiful and you see the cruise ships come and go.

As others have said, the beach is not fine sand - it is more coarse, and may well be ground up shells. However that did not detract from the beach at all - not hard to walk on and still beautiful. The Sonesta has a large number of chairs on the beach area, some right at the waterfront. People do go early and "reserve" them with a towel or book - by 8 a.m. most of the chairs and umbrellas on the waterfront are spoken for. But there are a lot more to be had, just not the front row. People also "reserve" the poolside chairs - so if you see a location you like go down early and mark your territory.

When our group arrived we were greeted by a staff person (name unknown) and provided damp towels and mimosas. She briefly explained the resort, and we were given our wristbands and room keys.

Our room was spacious with a view to die for - 6th floor with a view of the bay. Very clean with a newer king bed. There was not a dresser or chest of drawers as a U.S. traveler might be used to in the room - only a larger desk type piece of furniture, so drawer space was limited. And, no chair in the room except for the desk chair - but, we were not in the room much except to shower, change or sleep. And the lack of drawers was not an issue. Also, this room had one of the best air conditioners we have experienced in a hotel room. Quiet but outstanding on cooling the room.

The room was immaculate and was kept that way daily by the staff; we were very impressed how they managed to get all the sand cleaned up on a daily basis. We did not have any issues with towels as some reviewers had .

The food was very good to excellent. Unfortunately we did not eat at the fish restaurant until the last night; that was a mistake. The food was outstanding and the service was very good - even though the place was packed. The Italian restaurant was very good. We had daily breakfast and several dinners at the buffet.

We found the buffet food to be generally very good. We agree with other reviewers that the breakfast buffet is the best: great selection, lot of fresh fruit and a good variety of pastries. Also an omelet station, waffle station and French toast station. Additionally, hot pans of potatoes, eggs, peppers & onions and bacon (great bacon).

Evening buffet themes changed daily, but each was very good with a decent variety. And, the buffet is not just a bunch of hot pans that they keep refilling. There are several stations where they are preparing the food as patrons come by. There are a few hot pans on the back wall, but they are changed frequently and do not get cold and stale. And, there is great salad selection nightly.

The outside pizza is excellent. We stopped there several times in the afternoon as we skipped lunch due to a large breakfast.

There have been a lot of reviewer comments about the internet and having to pay for it. When we went to sign on we noticed the free option and took that. It worked well, sometimes not the quickest, but worked well in the room. And, usually we were able to access it from the beach also. We did talk to one couple that had a room on the road side of the hotel and their internet was sporadic. But ours was not, and it was free. I asked a staff person about it being free and was told it was something they had just started. It worked great for us.

Staff at the hotel and restaurants all did their job. Some were a lot friendlier than others and while some might appear to not like their jobs, they still did what they were supposed to do. No one was rude but some were disinterested.

We tend to tip for good service, and tips certainly tend to help at the Sonesta. Having a dollar or two in your hand when you order a drink brought out some smiles and drinks that had a little extra.

The property in total is amazingly clean. Almost any time of the day or evening someone is cleaning, mopping or sweeping somewhere. They go out of their way to keep everything immaculate.

The casino is small but fun for a little entertainment if you are into casinos. No live dealers, but we only played the slots.

We saw some of the entertainment and it was good. Also there are activities going on through the day from aerobics to beach volleyball to bingo if one is interested.

The bars generally offer upper tier brands of liquor, but the wine is usually limited to "red or white" with no variety. While the Chilean wine was good, the Sonesta needs to add a bit more variety - wine drinkers may be disappointed.

To put our review of the Sonesta in perspective: we had never stayed at an all-inclusive prior to this (our previous visits to the island had been via a cruise ship stop). Thus, for us, it is hard to compare this to other all-inclusives. We have heard from other travelers that some are larger and offer more to do with more varieties of food and restaurants. That may be the case, but we found the Sonesta to be excellent for its size. Plenty of food, variety, good liquor and a hard working staff. And the location is nothing short of outstanding.

The group we were with was probably aged 40 and up. Being around them at various times we never heard a complaint from anyone about the Sonesta.

We are senior citizens by definition, but very active and do not go somewhere and just sit around doing nothing. We are active and enjoy life as such. We were up early, on the beach and then eating, drinking, shopping or going into town. We greatly enjoyed the Sonesta Great Bay and plan on returning, possibly this year. As far as a total rating, considering everything, we give it 4 stars on a scale of one to five. It is worthy of a visit.

Room Tip: Pay the extra and get a room facing the water - the view of outstanding. Probably better the higher...
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  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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13  Thank IllinoisTraveler425
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member 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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