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“Second time's a charm”

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

This was our second trip to St. Martin. We were there from April 8th through the 13th 2014. My wife and I so thoroughly enjoyed our stay last year at the Sonesta Great Bay resort that we decided to make it an annual event. This year another married couple - and our closest friends joined us. We had a great time as a group. It was more fun than last year. It’s nice to have friends to share paradise with.

OK, let’s talk about Sonesta Great Bay. Sonesta is an older resort, and that’s part of its charm. You combine its charm with a great staff, good food and great location and you have the recipe for an immensely wonderful relaxing vacation.

Don’t go there thinking that it’s an ultra-modern facility. Go there knowing that it is a very well maintained, clean, and ECO friendly facility that will take you back in time when life was full of simple pleasures and fun times. They seem to have an almost around the clock maintenance staff that is constantly repairing, cleaning, and maintaining the facility. This is an improvement from last year but even then the maintenance seemed adequate.

How do you describe a staff that is attentive beyond your expectations…? Wonderful!! The management team is indescribably attentive with managers covering the grounds and supervising each area to ensure that every visitor is provided with good service, enjoyment and safety beyond expectations. The staff is always friendly and makes you feel like family. Everyone remembered us from last year… and each new employee became our friends… It’s almost as if we never left.

The front manager, Miss Vicky, who you will definitely meet, will take care of any problem that can’t be solved under normal circumstances. She’s an amazing organizer and troubleshooter and performs her duties with such grace and charm… There’s no wonder she’s an Internet sensation. She’s one of the reasons we made up our minds to visit for the first time last year. Last year while researching Sint Maarten I read several rave reviews on the Internet about her that generally said “You got to meet Miss Vicky”. “She’ll take care of you”… and that she does.

Ms. Cleopatra Blair, I want to describe as a manager that seems to pop up whenever you think you need something that’s not immediately available to you. It’s as if she reads your mind… Miss Cleo, are you psychic? Psychic or not, she’s an amazing manager who seems to command the admiration and respect of the staff and visitors.

Bottom line - the management team, and I emphasize team, is very professional and just awesome at what they do. I want to term it “Organized Delightfulness” or something like that.

Don’t forget to meet “Elvis”!!! aka Ms. Germaine Jackson. She does a better Elvis impression than I do, and I think mine is pretty good. She’s such an attentive and professional staffer. You have to enjoy yourself whenever she’s around. Germaine - in my best Elvis impression “Ahhh thank you, thank you very much” for taking such good care of us but for now “This Elvis has left the building” We’ll perform our little routine again next year – I’ll be practicing.

Edwin – What can I say “you are the man”… Big ups to you my friend… take care…

Can you chant with me? “SONESTA GREAT BAY”, “SONESTA GREAT BAY”, “SONESTA GREAT BAY”

OK… OK enough with the praise. I’ll see you islanders again next year – same time same Bat channel. You know, they really like me down there ‘cause I’m just a fun kinda guy. The whole island starts cheering when I get off the plane. OK maybe not all that, Really they’re cheerful all the time.

Now, finally, let me give you the bullet point review you came here for.

• The resort is in the best location on the Island with easy access to shopping and any other venue on the island.
• The views are fantastic.
• The resort is clean and has plenty of amenities.
• The staff is very friendly and attentive.
• The food is very good.
• Overall, it’s a great value.

And if you don’t like this resort and don’t have fun - then something is wrong with you.. OK?!!

Room Tip: Stay on one of the upper floors for the view or in an apartment with a terrace
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  • Stayed: April 2014, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank Georgian_Gent
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed May 8, 2014

I was at Great Bay for 3 weeks in avril 2014, second time for 3 weeks, 7 times at Great Bay.
This is a friendly resort that I feel safe and the staff is very nice and helpful.
Stay at one, play at two(Maho). We had breakfast or lunch very day at Maho.
The renovations at Great Bay is great. The bar downstairs is very classy.
The food is excellent.
I would like to give a special credit to the staff because they are the gems to the hotel.
Rosalie= manager- she is helpful and very friendly
Marcellia=server at the restaurant- the best server in Sint Maarten, very professional and she knows to please us.
Kim et Marisa=bar ladies- very helpful and very friendly
Pauline=hostess at the restaurant- friendly and she know your needs
Butler lady- she have a smile and she can dance
Stanley= the host at the buffet= you will be miss
Nina=cook= she know what you want
Shawna=towel station she is very friendly and she knows your name.
I will be back next year.
Ceo denmar

Room Tip: Ocean view room is great. You can see the ships coming in.
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  • Stayed: April 2014, traveled with friends
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5  Thank Ceo denmar m
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 7, 2014

I stayed here with my mom and her husband on a timeshare. It was a nice location and we had one of the best 2 bedrooms on the first floor. I would say, being young I would have preferred to stay at the sister hotel at Maho Bay but it was a nice place. Nice walking distance to philipsberg. I will be going back to St. Maarten but I'll probably stay on the French side (mainly b/c the food over there is freaking AMAZING)

  • Stayed: April 2014, traveled with family
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3  Thank Rachel M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 6, 2014

For our second vacation to St. Maarten we decided to give the Sonesta Great Bay. We had previously stayed at the Sonesta Maho and were pleased. Arrival at the airport was flawless, the busses and luggage truck were waiting right outside the door. Check-in was prompt and dining was held over so that food was available at our late arrival.

We had booked a "Deluxe Ocean View" room and were very disappointed with where we were placed. Our room was on the first floor which was actually below the grade of the sand. This meant that to see the ocean one would have to be standing up and hopeful that there was a gap between the beach chairs (there never was). We immediately contacted the front desk and told them we had neither an ocean view, nor was it particularly deluxe. "Daniel" at the front desk asked if I had "proof" of my specified room. Upon providing a copy of our booking documents, "Daniel" could not provide a different room as the hotel was full. Attempting to gain a refund for the difference between a "Deluxe Room" and a "Deluxe Ocean View" room met with referrals to a supervisor, who never seemed to be around - so we unpacked and made do. Lesson learned: given the structure of the hotel and an elevated pool deck, if you want a "Deluxe Ocean View" specify fourth floor or higher and bring "proof". I will provide an update if we are compensated for the difference. Now onto the good stuff...

The Sonesta Great Bay has a superb location for sunning on the white sand beach or playing in the waves. The beach is very clean and no one disturbs you except to ask if you would like another drink which was amazing (kudos to "Kim")! The hotel is just a short walk to Philipsburg with all of its shops, restaurants and ammenities. You can watch the cruise ships arrive and depart daily from the resort. The grounds were very well-tended and it was obvious the staff took great care of the property. This is the hotel's best feature, its proximity to the city, its beach and its friendly cleaning and food staff.

It is clear the hotel is an older facility that has recently been updated but is still a work in progress. The premises were kept clean but the room and the hallways were tired and outdated. Our shower only had a partition not a door, so water on the floor was a daily occurrence. While the features indicated an electronic safety deposit box, ours required a metal key which meant not losing it for fear of a $100 fee. With the exception of the front desk staff all other employees were extremely friendly, polite and helpful. The room's small bar fridge was stocked every other day on average and this was a nice touch. Water bottles were available at the front desk if you asked nicely and didn't mind waiting.

The buffet restaurant always featured a wide array of food to suit anyone's taste. The menu changed daily so there was always a selection of something delicious to try. The chef in charge of the buffet should be complimented for his or her choices! The a la carte restaurant was uninspired with mediocre food. The scallop dinner I ordered had only three of the featured item with three shrimps on bed of sticky rizzoto and an empty crab shell inserted vertically in the rice. Did I mention the buffet was spectacular?

The beach restaurant featured traditional hamburgers and hot dogs but the surprise was the tasty salads and pizzas. Once again my compliments, having tasty food at the beach/pool level without having to get dressed again was certainly a bonus.

Bar staff were friendly and efficient. There was never much of a wait to get a drink and the selection and ingredients were always as expected. You could tip your bartender or not and still receive the same level of service which was a nice feature not common to every resort. The hotel had a "drink of the day" but a listing of "specialty drinks" either on a sign or leaflet would have been appreciated.

Activities staff are calm and friendly, you could choose to take part or create your own fun without any pressure. In the evening, music and entertainment is available but not overbearing. In town, once the cruise ships have departed most of the businesses close their doors.

The exercise facility was sparsely equipped, dark and not well-ventilated. As the hotel renovates, consideration should be given to locating the gym in the main area with the library and internet computers tucked away out of sight, rather than the other way around. Limited free wi-fi was available and upgrades were available for those who needed to be more connected.

Check out was smooth however with a standard check-out time and a later departure we tried to arrange a late check out with the front desk staff (bet you can already guess the result). We were told the hotel was full and a late check out was not possible. With our previously mentioned ground floor room and open curtains it was easy to see no one bothered to make up our room so we should have been allowed to stay longer. The solution was to check our luggage and a "hospitality room" for showering was offered. We made sure our luggage was locked up directly however the front desk staff was content to leave other people's bags unattended at the counter much to the dismay of their owners when they returned two hours later.

Overall we had a great stay at the Great Bay. The items mentioned, with the exception of the view were minor and did not detract from our vacation. They are mentioned in case the hotel management is looking for ways to improve or so that future guests can be aware. We would still return to either the Sonesta Maho or the Great Bay.

Room Tip: If you want Ocean View, you must specify fourth floor and above since there is an elevated pool deck...
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  • Stayed: April 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
5  Thank KnowEscape
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 6, 2014

Spent 4 days at this small but amazing resort. Thanks out to Vicky at the front desk, great service. Check -in was quick and painless, Our room was fantastic, upgrade for sure, food was great and the beach bar was busy but good. don't hesite to book this gem....If your really needy and can't function normally in life, you may find any resort hard to handle, but if your looking for a inexpensive get away this is fun....We will be back next fall. :)

Room Tip: treat your wife to the spa.....great value
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  • Stayed: April 2014, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank mikiebobbie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 6, 2014

From April 6 - April 20, The Great Bay Sonesta Resort was my home in St Maarten. It was a short drive from the airport and a very long wait for my room to be ready. When I finally got to my room at 4:30 not 3:00, I was met with a very musty and mouldy smell. The room was on the second floor overlooking the street and had not really been cleaned properly. I was tired at this point having been up for over 24 hours so I just flopped in bed. The next morning was our briefing with the Sunwing Rep so I talked to him about the unsanitary conditions of mould and mildew - his answer was sorry the hotel is full but talk to the people at the desk and he went back to selling tours. The desk clerks listened and later that day I was moved to a cleaner room on the 7th floor. Then my holiday began.
The resort is very good at catering to tourists with champagne tastes but can only afford beer. As with some all inclusive resorts some people get carried away with the "free booze" and lunch are rowdy and obnoxious. Sorry to say that these were Canadians who made the staff's job very difficult during the time that I was there. Most of us found chairs far enough away from this group and tried to ignore them. Now on to the resort.
Food - At the breakfast and lunch buffet as well as the two specialty restaurants, the selection was varied and well presented. You could not starve. The pizza was exceptional and the burgers were quite tasty.
Staff - always smiling, helpful and ready to assist. When the Sunwing Rep. was not helpful, Andrewly stepped up to help. Most of the chambermaids were pleasant but since they seem to operate on a roving schedule, I would tip each day for service and not weekly. Special thanks to Samuel at the buffet bar for his great Caesar's, Kim, who delivered drinks to the top pool level as well as the beach, Georgio the lobby concierge who was so proud of "his island" and Nas from the entertainment group.
The walk into Phillipsburg is interesting whether you take the beach or the street route. Check out Oro Diamonte in the hotel before you go to town to look at jewellery. Peter will help you find exactly what you want. The spa in the hotel did not look too inviting so I didn't try it. I heard that you must go off property to get your hair done.
This resort is in the process of either becoming a great 5 star resort or remaining an adequate 3.5 star resort. Yes I will go back to see if all the proposed changes have been made.

Room Tip: If the room smells musty and mouldy act immediately to change. Request an oceanview when you book or...
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  • Stayed: April 2014, traveled solo
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1  Thank Notme
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 5, 2014

The Sonesta Great Bay is indeed a great hotel. The rooms were comfortable, and the staff takes care of you! Kudos to management and staff. The staff is friendly, the pool and beaches are nice, and there are activities at night if you don't want to go out into the town. Good stuff! This was my first time there, and I'm ready to go back!

  • Stayed: April 2014, traveled with friends
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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3  Thank Omar A
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

Address: 19 Little Bay Road, Philipsburg, St Martin / St Maarten
Phone Number:
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
#3 Family Hotel in Philipsburg
Price Range: $331 - $692 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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 Martin / St Maarten/Philipsburg

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