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Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa
Ranked #3 of 12 Hotels in Philipsburg
Certificate of Excellence
Colchester, Vermont
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 13, 2004

Sorry it has taken so long to write this review. My husband and I travelled to St. Maarten in late February, 2004. What a mistake I made by choosing the Great Bay Beach Resort.

When we arrived at the hotel, we were really disappointed. The hotel looked very run down and was located in a busy area right in Philipsburg. We checked in and went to our room. The room wasn't anything special and smelled very musty. Before putting our bags down, we decided to upgrade to an oceanview room. Our new, oceanview room was just as musty. The floor tiles were cracked/broken, the bureau drawers were overlapping each other and made of ver cheap particle board, the slidding glass door was broken, the toilet wouldn't flush, there was a rusty bidet in the bathroom that was just revolting, and the bathroom itself was very small/dirty. I could go on.

I was very disappointed to say the least. We spent $1900 per person on Expedia---, all-inclusive (air, hotel, food, drinks, etc...). It was not worth the money at all. We proceeded to check out the grounds. There was no landscaping, only one very small pool, and a not-so-nice beach. The sand was coarse, the beach had a steep slope into the water, there were wild dogs everywhere, begging for food. Very sad (not the way you want to feel when you're on vacation).

My husband went to the bar to get a beer and was met with less than friendly service. Only four choices of beer. We were hungry, so we checked out what they were offering. It was around 4:00pm, so they had some food out on a table outside.......a bin with browning lettuce and a pot of ribs that looked as if they had been there for hours, GROSS! Even more disturbing was the fact that we looked around us and nobody was smiling!!! Very alarming!

I told my husband that it would ruin our vacation to stay there. So, we decided to find out if we could get our money back and check-in to a different hotel. I remembered reading a bad review on trip advisor--- that told readers to "save yourself from Great Bay and stay at the Maho Hotel". I should have listened. When we inquired about the Maho Hotel, they said that it was their sister hotel. After giving us a hard time about wanting to leave, they finally gave us the option of transfering to the Maho, a four-star hotel. It was an even exchange.

When we arrived at the Maho hotel, we were astonished to see what we could have been missing by staying at the Great Bay Beach Resort. Lush landscaping, two pools and one with a swim-up bar, marble floors, incredible service, beautiful resort, I could go on.....

Save yourself the hassle and stay at the Maho Bay Beach Resort!!!!

13 Thank Shannon4965
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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3,944 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 bubbles
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A TripAdvisor Member
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 2, 2004

The wonderful time I had staying at the Great Bay Beach Hotel in St. Maarten. It's been a year, but I'll never forget it and can't wait to go back! The room was amazing - clean, comfortable, well laid out....and I certainly can't complain about the food - plentiful and delicious! The staff was great! The weather was sunny and hot! hot! hot!

4 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New Jersey
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 16, 2004

My wife and another couple just returned from an 8-day trip to St. Martin. Although we loved our trip, we made the mistake of choosing the wrong hotel to start at. We began our trip at the Great Bay Beach Hotel, which we booked through Expedia. We lasted a total of 1 night at this hotel, as it was by far, the worst place I have ever stayed at.
There were tiles falling from the ceiling, there were stains on the floor of our room as well as our bathroom. The bed was broken so that when you sat on it, it flipped up on an angle. The bathtub was filthy along with the towels, and neither looked like they were ever cleaned. The bathroom contained a bidet (Not sure how you spell it), which I have never used, but I'm pretty sure the water is not supposed to shoot sideways. There was a large brown and orange stain behind and around the sides of the toilet. The shower leaked and flooded our bathroom when we used it. The beach was full of wild dogs as well as their excrement. In addition, it is located across from the bay from port, which is nice as you get to see the cruise ships, but all the garbage washes up on the beach. The sand was also very uncomfortable to walk on and actually hurts more if you wear sandals as it gets between your feet and the sandals. I took some pictures to post, but was unable to do so here. The hotel is nowhere near as nice as the online pictures. Luckily, we booked our trip through Expedia and they moved us the next day to another hotel. However, this was not until after arguing with the front desk as they would not let me speak to a manager and they told me the only phone I could use was the payphone located in town. (The one in my room would not work) Several hours later, after finally getting the phone in my room to work, it wound up costing me $100 to place the phone call as you cannot dial 800 numbers and it was $3.50 / minute to call the states.
So far, I've only discussed the room, but the rest of the hotel is a dump also. The all-inclusive plan is horrible. You have to wear a bracelet and still give you name and room number each time you want a drink, which I don’t think had any alcohol in them at all. The staff was rude and could care less about your complaints, even when we told them were checking out 7 days early. Even this was a problem as they said their “system” was down and we could not check out. It was another half hour wasted. We didn’t get a chance to eat much food as we were only there for one evening. However, for dinner, they served what they called prime rib, but what I would term a slice of roast beef with canned gravy. The place reminded me of a Jersey Shore – more specifically, for those of you who are familiar, a Seaside Heights, beach hotel that you would stay at after your high school prom! I don’t consider myself a very prissy person and my friend and I read the reviews before hand and thought, "how bad could it be, we’re only sleeping there". We wish we took the advise of other people and changed our plans before hand. Do yourself a favor and don't make the same mistake we made....go someplace else!

  • Stayed May 2004
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
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    • 1 of 5 bubbles
9 Thank EDietz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
117 reviews
44 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 239 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 14, 2004

We visited Great Bay in January of 2004 and were pleasantly surprised. The rooms were average at best, but who spends time in the room when the sunny 80 degree beach is calling? With three hearty meals per day plus free strawberry daquiris (or whatever your libation) at hand, myself and my partner were happy clams. The meals were plain but filling, the drinks kept coming, and the place is clean and freindly. The casino is open from around 10 pm till someone loses all their money (me!) and they even give you a drink to go if you want. In the am, you can enjoy "parlor games" by the pool with an engaging member of the activity staff. Or, you can just sun yourself (sans top, if you please) at the beach.

Overall, this was one of the loosest and most pleasurable vacations we have ever had. Take the time to walk into Phillipsburg and get some great deals. Also, rent a car for at least a day and tour up to Orient Bay. The locals are amoung the most freindly I've encountered and they're quick to let you know that they appreciate your business and want you to come back. You'll want to take them up on it too.

Great Bay is an "entry level" hotel. Moderate but clean rooms, great views of the bay, good staff, and adequate food. For the money, on the all-inclusive package, you can't go wrong here.

  • Stayed January 2004
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
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    • 3 of 5 bubbles
2 Thank gotarheels
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 9, 2004

We visited St. Maarten for one week, Feb 23 - 27, 2004. My husband and two teenage daughters. We had a great time. My husband and I had an oceanview room and our daughters had a mountain view. They were not bad. I agree with some other comments that I have read that there was a distinct musty smell. The air conditioning unit was in bad need of cleaning and a new filter. That would have taken that smell away, I am sure. My daughters room had no smell, however they had some problems with the toilet. These things did not bother us. How much time do you spend in the room?All in all we had no complaints. The view from our room was spectacular. We found the food good. I have two picky eaters and they had no problem finding food to eat. We thought the beach was beautiful. We certainly did not find it dirty. The lack of sand was great. We did not mind the crushed shells as sand, it did not stick to you as much as the fine sand at Orient Beach. It was not hard to walk on either.We loved being able to sit by the beach each day watch the ships and walk to Philipsburg. We had a great time and would go back. In fact we are hoping to bring a number of friends with us the next time, hopefully in 3 years. It was a great holiday and most relaxing.As others have said, if you did not have a good time then it was your own fault.

3 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 14, 2004

Wow, what can I say. It has been about a year since I came back from my vacation at the Great Bay and I still rave about it. I had a blast. I stayed in a "Mountain View" room and it was just as nice as an "Ocean View" room. You can see the ocean from the open-air lobby so don't worry too much about the view in your room. The people that stay there are usually on a Saturday - Saturday or Sunday - Sunday trip so you spend your trip with a lot of the same people and get to know them (I met wonderful people, some of whom I am still friends with). There is entertainment nightly, very amusing and cultural and the "activities staff" do a wonderful job of running activites throughout the day. The "activities staff" was my favorite part of the hotel. They are great characters. Does anyone know if Luce and Vince are still around? They are great guys. Beach is nice and separate from the area where the Cruise ship people go. I love this hotel and would HIGHLY recommend it.

1 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 6, 2004

we have never burned or come home more tired from a 10 day stay. The price was inflated for the value. The meals were spiceless and had little variety and nothing related to the local culture. inclusive also means cheap liquor, so we purchased our own bottles at the supermarket for use while at the facility. only one towel per person. There are 3 unbrellas at the pool, after everyone was fried from the sun and lack of shade the choices were; sit under the patio in a chair at a table (not relaxing) or 3 lounges would crowd together and 2-3 people sat on them together to stay in the shade. on the beach, it's one small unbrella per couple and no padding on the lounges which means another way to get fried! it's a dredged man-made beach. there are no palm trees like in the picture... the pictures were before the hurricane's and the place has not been upgraded since. Basically, if you wish to read and relax then stay in your room. be sure to take bug spray and 30 sun protection. The tv has three channel that 'works?' if you like snow screen...and that's nashville local station or 2 expn stations. The staff are excellent especially considering how they are treated by management and some patrons. We tipped and they were appreciative - they work for small salary so give them a break. the rooms are small and musty smelling and the ac is only so so. We took trips to the french side, rented comfortable lounges with umbrellas as well as other tours to get away from the place and relax. What made it good? we did meet wonderful people from Canada and the US that made it worth it!

Thank A TripAdvisor Member
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
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 Family Hotel in Philipsburg
#3 On the Beach 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 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
Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa St. Maarten-St. Martin/Philipsburg

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