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Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa
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Reviewed April 30, 2005

I spent the week of April 11 to 18, 2005 at Great Bay Beach Resort & Casino Hotel in St. Maarten.... as part of a group of 122 Atlantic Canadians travelling with the Travel Store group. Since I had read some pretty nasty reviews before going, I was quite apprehensive as to what I would encounter. The hotel has just undergone some very extensive renovations and apparently it had reopened too early--which was the reason for the bad reviews from people who stayed in Feb. and March 2005. However, for the most part I was pleasantly surprised. The hotel was extremely clean.. rooms had new linens and bedding. You can either choose an Oceanview or Mountain View Room..Oceanview is more of course but well worth it... Awaking every morning to see cruise ships anchoring and people walking on the beach, the palm trees and views of the two pools and hot tub..was magnificent. Our room had two double beds..and a friend who was alone had a King sized bed. All rooms had balconies with chairs and a small table. The beds were changed every day...and fresh towels brought twice daily..which really amazed me! It was great as the weather was very hot and humid and we showered often...The shower.... now that is another subject... it was a glassed in part of the bathroom...we had no bathtub but other friends in other rooms had them. You walked into the shower and is was really part of the bathroom floor --- with only a very slight--maybe a third of an inch --division between the floor and the shower stall. Water would run into the bathroom unless you put a towel at the entrance. There was only one drain near the shower head which seemed inadequate. However-- we managed okay...water was always hot and available. There was a buffet everyday for breakfast,dinner and supper...the food was wonderful..very tasty. You could order an omellet or boiled or fried eggs at breakfast if you did not want the standard scrambled eggs. At lunchtime, if you did not want the buffet offerings, you could order a hamburger, cheeseburger or club sandwich..with or without fries. I like to finish a meal with a coffee or tea and I found that I always had to get up and seek out the waiter to get it. This was a little disappointing as I had experienced a lot better service in Cuba. There was a fine-dining facility called Molasses..which was very nice and offered a set menu--and you could go every evening if you wanted...just needed to make a reservation with the lady who greeted you at the Buffet...you make your reservation in the morning. We were on the All Inclusive package but at times, I found it difficult to get a drink...particularly at the bar near the buffet..the bartender would look over your head like you were invisible... others had the same experience as me too. The lobby bar and the bar in the Living Room Lounge (where there was entertainment every evening) were fine.
The beach was comprised of rather grainy sand with pieces of shells in it and was difficult to walk in..your feet sunk. There are dogs on the beach everyday--they seem to be well fed and I think belonged to people who live along the beach. They did not bother us and were friendly if you approached them. However, I did not ever encounter any doggy poo on the beach..of course I did not look too hard! Also.. the water had a sudden drop so as a non-swimmer, I stuck to the pools...loved the Infinity Pool with the swimup bar and made friends with Destine --the bartender who made the most amazing Banana Daiquiris!. I did pool aerobics a few mornings --in the other pool which was great as well. You could walk up to Phillipsburg on the beach or on the street...it took about 10 minutes and the shopping is out of this world!. I bought some jewellery and a digital camera..Nikon 5.1 megapixels for $235 US...a good buy I feel. I bought some things on the beach but found the items... a lot cheaper in the stores..like less than half price. so buyer beware... don't buy anything on the beach until you have a chance to look in the stores. The Hotel has a Shopping Trip on Tuesdays and Fridays when a young man named Don from Montreal brings you to town in an air-conditioned bus and guides you to the best shopping and buys. I went twice with him and would highly recommend this. All in all --I liked the Great Bay Beach Hotel and would go back again. We took a tour of the Island and another day went to Orient Beach--which is half nude and half normal..the beach is great -- sand like icing sugar.. and the scenery even better....glad I had sunglasses!!! This was probably the highlight of my trip! Wink Wink!

18  Thank Linda154958
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Fairfax, VA
117
Reviewed April 17, 2005

My husband and I just returned from a week at the Great Bay Resort Hotel in Sint Maarten (4/7-12). I was very skepitcal prior to our departure based upon several emails about the on-going construction noise in the hotel that were not encouranging. I am very pleased to say we had a wonderful time in our beautiful new room overlooking the water right on the beach...and no noises whatsoever. We spent allot of time on our balcony drinking our guavaberry coladas and watching the cruiseships come and go in the far distance. The hotel staff was extremely friendly and tried very hard to meet all your needs. I have to comment about Jessica - one of their social directors who helps you plan your time. She was incredible - if you run into her while you are there, count yourself lucky. The key to enjoying Sint Maarten is - be friendly and everyone will treat you great! We definitely will go back. Kudos to the food and catering chef!

Windy B.
Washington, DC

17  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Nova Scotia, Canada
118
Reviewed April 12, 2005

We just got back last week from Philipsburg. We, too, were with the Reunion Group (there were 55 plus our travel agent). We flew on WestJet--we've never had so much fun on an airplane! They have definitely got an advantage over other airlines--they hire people who have personality!

Check in at the Great Bay Hotel was a breeze. Front desk staff were ready and waiting for us with everything including our locks for the safes--and continued their excellent service throughout the week. Our room was ready, clean, bright, and fresh with a beautiful view of Great Bay. It was wonderful to wake up every morning and go out on the balcony to see which cruise ships had come in overnight.

The Italian Restaurant wasn't open during our stay but we certainly didn't allow this to dampen our spirits. We simply alternated nightly between the buffet and the restaurant. Buffet breakfast, lunch, and supper were very good with a wide variety of choices. The Molasses a la carte restaurant was amazing! We sampled everything on the menu and couldn't find anything we didn't like. The staff, especially Marcia, were so friendly and full of fun! Although the hotel doesn't have a nightly show, it didn't really matter to us because we could leave the property and go into town for entertainment if that's what we wanted. The activity staff were fun and always tried to include a variety of ages in their planned activities. The pools and hot tub were cleaned daily. The beach was clean and we found lots of places for shade.

It was obvious to us that the management and staff at the Great Bay work very hard to ensure the hotel is clean and welcoming. We saw the hotel manager, Renato Moretto, making his rounds everyday. He would always check in with our travel agent to make sure everyone was happy and took the time to talk with us. Check out was easy and could be done the night before for those wanting to beat the daytime rush.

There were dogs on the beach and they were friendly. We have dogs so it was nice to have them around during the week.

All in all, we would highly recommend the Great Bay Hotel. We have stayed at many 4 1/2 star resorts in Mexico, Cuba, and D.R., and this property allows you the flexibility to walk into a safe, clean, beautiful town for shopping, food, and drink (including the water)... or you can stay on the resort and relax.

The Rhino Tour was good fun for the money and a trip to the Sunset Beach Bar near the airport is a must. If you're looking for cab while at the hotel, we used a couple through the week but once we met Nathaniel Wyatt (taxi #71), we stuck with him--thanks Nathaniel, you're the best!

Thank you Travel Store & Bruce for the best vacation yet!

  • Stayed: March 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
18  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 12, 2005

We just came back from St Maarten at Great Bay hotel for 2 weeks. we came back on april 10. The food was great the rooms with view on the sea were great. The 2 pools are very clean , the poole bar is very good. The beach is not that great (we're usde to the cuban beaches) the sea is a bit rough because of the slope to get in the water. At nights, ther's a small steel band but no other shows like in Cuba. If you want action you've got to go in town. The casino is good but every night? If you want a vaqcation to rest and enjoy the sun you have the right place. We saw about 50 lines cruisers even the Queen Mary 11. If you want to buy things the ducth side is cheaper in Philisburg and the prices are even cheaper than the airport.
Coming back at the airport they are now opening your luggages before checking for your seats, and the 2 women that we had did not know what they we're doing and be careful what you say because they have the power and the know it. At the hotel the construction are all finished. For the activities like vollyball, you've got to push the people because they tend to try not to disturb the guests and you really don't know what's happening. We had a great time and gain a few pounds...

9  Thank patton1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 12, 2005

After reading all of the reviews we were not looking forward to our stay at Great Bay, however once we arrived it was better than we expected. We stayed there March 19 - 26. Read all of the reviews and were prepared to change hotels once we arrived in St. Martin since our tour operator and travel agent wouldn't do anything for us before hand.

FIRST IMPRESSION: Greeted by Michael with a tray of punch in a newly renovated marble lobby, very nice, nothing grande but nice.

ROOMS& HOTEL: As previously mentioned, very basic rooms, TV and a remote that did work, no alarm clock, however very clean, nice new and clean bathrooms (thin toilet seat & very uncomfortable) Only one night was the water pressure low. We didnt' spend much time in our room. No designation between smoking rooms and non-smoking rooms or floors. Also, we requested King size bed and given two doubles and then impossible to change. We were on the mountain side. It was a little noisey but nothing to complain about. After getting there I would definitely recommend the ocean view, even if you're not in your room often. The view in just incredible. How could you not want to wake up to that? We tried changing this as an other option and willing to pay whatever the upgrade, again, not possible. Cleaning service was great, women were very friendly and very trustworthy. Towels changed twice daily and bed turned down after dinner. We did not have a br fridge but looks like they were coming. We didn't use the safe in our room but opted for the safety deposit box at the front desk and we had no problem. I'd say if any staff was weak, he front desk needs some re-training. All of the renovations seemed to be complete. Staff always cleaning. New glass elevator. Large windows on main floor to allow for a clear, unobstructed view of ocean. Lounge area seemed a bit small but then never overcrowded. Never played in the casino. There was a band everynight. One night a reggae band played...they were incredible! Just amazing. We didn't go everynight and it seemed that not many took advantage to enjoy the music. Oh, we met people who transfered from the hotel by the airport and they said it was aweful. Old, dirty and noisy. They moved to Great Bay and loved it!

FOOD SELECTION:
Breakfast: This was the same everyday so it became a bit boring. You could ask for eggs made the way you wanted and this didn't seem to be a bother or a problem. Croissants were delicious! Good selection of fruit available, however only available during breakfast.
Lunch: Average selection available and varied every day. If you didn't like the choice you could easily ask to have a burger or club sandwich made instead.
Dinner: Again, average selection of food available. I must say that we were used to All Inclusives that had incredible variety and maybe way too many choices and too much waiste so after staying here you'd definitely say choice was limited but the food was very tasty and quite delicious. Fish was delicious (available every night) and so was the roast beef (melt in your mouth). The staff in the kitchen are very hard working and unfortunately don't receive much recognition. My husband really enjoyed the food... not sure what that says about my cooking. Dessert, I must admit was lacking. Not much selection at all and only things available were cookies, some plain pasteries. Cake and chocolate eclairs a few nights and both very, very tasty.
Overall: Presentation of food in nice, new stainless steel dishes. Restaurant manager ate their almost everynight and welcomed suggestions. Eating outside was beautiful, overlooked the crystal blue water, had an nice breeze and relaxing. Not much choice of food but it was very tasty. Service was very good. We sat in a few different areas and found the staff to be very friendly. They definitely do work at a slower pace than us but what's the rush when you're on vacation..it's not like you have somewhere to go!
Recommendations: I would recommend they improve the selection of food during meals including salads. MUST have fruit during all meals and not just breakfast.

BARS and DRINKS: All of the bartenders were great. We're not heavy drinkers at all but when on vacation we will enjoy a few cocktails. They had a good selection of alcohol and would make almost any drink you asked for. Water was safe to drink. Destine at the pool bar was terrific! We really enjoyed sipping our drinks while hanging over the side of the pool looking at the incredible view right in front of us.

POOL & REC. STAFF: Both pools were great. The infinity pool was fantastic. Never crowded, a stones through away from the ocean. GREAT! We didn't go in the round pool "hot tub" as some people were calling it, however it was enjoyed by many and during all times of the day. The recreation staff were definitely the stars for this hotel. They were incredibly friendly, helpful, and motivated to make your stay enjoyable. Even though the crowd at the hotel seemed more mature and quiet, these people were fantastic! Guido, Andrea, & JJ! We booked our tours through Guido....one through our tour rep. which was a mistake. I would recommend booking through the rec. centre. We also did the free island tour which was interesting and very entertaining as the bus driver was very funny!

BEACH: The sand was not powdery but we didn't care. It was very clean. Some dogs would hang around but they were harmless and didn't seem to bother anyone. There is a bit of a slope to get to the water but not as bad as people make it out to be. The water was amazing and as others wrote some days can have a bit of an undertow but go out a bit further and you'll be fine. Lots of action on the water with jetskis and this was a bit bothersome. The sun is incredibly intense and as result many tried to protect themselves under the umbrellas. There are some new lounge chairs and many old, with straps making it uncomfortable to lie on for a long time. We always either had our towels or one of the thick foam flotation mats. We lounged only for a few days but each day had to be out by 7:00, 7:30am (not something I wanted to do while on vacation) at the latest to get chairs and an umbrella. Other days we ventured away from the hotel and explored the rest of the beautiful island.
Recommedations: They definitely need to provide their guests with more chairs and MORE UMBRELLAS. It is critical for the protection of our health, really. Possibly plant trees or large potted plants for shade around upper pool decks...again same reason. Also, not certain why flotation mats are collected so early. Last thing, no where to rinse off feet or body as you come off the beach...need shower for this.

LOCATION: We thought it was fantastic. You're the only large hotel on the beach. Saw all of the ships come in (Queen Mary II and Queen Elizabeth) Within walking distance to Divi Little Bay where there was mediocre snorkelling but has a nice calm beach. 5 minute walk to shopping (if that's your thing). Great walk along the beach as the stretch is very long. There are residential homes surrounding the one side of the hotel and they weren't in the best shape but what you expect?

ISLAND: You must rent a car and explore the island for yourself. It is very safe and people are very friendly. We rented a car at Maynard's (supported a local instead of the larger companies) for $35.00. We saw almost every beach, all very beautiful! Island is very bare, no lush vegeation but nevertheless, beautiful. We brought back alcohol and couldn't believe the deals. If you're buying jewellery, we didn't think the prices were that great for the quality you were getting. Husband bought a diving watch...50% savings compared to home and no tax!

THINGS TO DO: We brought our own snorkelling equipment thinking it would be great. We were very disappointed. We went to Divi, Le Gallion, Pinel Island, and all the other spots reported to be great. The only place we thought was somewhat good was Pinel Island. The tiny island is beautiful. Beautiful soft sand, gorgeous water, paradise. Roped off by buoys, you'll see some fish right away but you need to go out far to see different ones. Le gallion was a bit scary as the water got pretty choppy and we were out quite far. Some of the roads we took to get to the beaches seems as though they led to nowhere and were unbelievably trecherous. Pot holes so big you'd think the car would fall in and not come out. But once you get to the beach absolutely beautiful. Le Gallion was just like a postcard picture. Beautiful and perfect for small children. Totally abandoned with only a small restaurant. Orient Bay is a must to see. Very busy beach. Lots of water activites. Did the sunset cruise...was ok but highly overrated. Recommend Prickly Pear. We didn't have time to go to St. Barth's or Anguilla but discovered you could take the ferry (to Anguilla) for $12.00 from Marigot. I guess next time.

OVERALL: We really enjoyed our vacation in St. Martin and our stay at Great Bay. The food was good, the hotel and rooms were very clean, staff friendly and weather absolutely incredible! We saw things being improved while we were there so it seems like improvements are on-going and that management is making an effort to make things better. It's an average hotel and is nothing glamorous, not a 4 star by any means, but it was all we needed. We went to get away from a long, cold and dark winter to relax in the sun and beautiful water. It's amazing that in only 5 hours you can be heaven! If you're not fussy or overly critical but looking for a nice place to relax, then I would recommend Great Bay.

  • Stayed: March 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
33  Thank mallory
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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