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“Relaxing Vacation”

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Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa
Ranked #3 of 12 Hotels in Philipsburg
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed November 15, 2009

We stayed at this resort for 7 nights all inclusive. We found it to be a good value for the price (we booked 4 days ahead of travel date for a great price with air inclusie). It is about a 10 minute walk to downtown Phillipsburg via the beach however on hot, sunny days the walk can feel blistering. Phillipsburg is a decent town, not a lot of bother from the locals, if you say no they do not follow you or keep bothering you.

The Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort and Casino was very clean with open air lobby. Check in was pretty quick and we were greeted with a rum punch and lots of assistance with luggage. We found the staff was polite and friendly but not always fast with service.

The pool bar was at the infinity pool between the ocean and hotel had the swim up bar and was the most popular bar. Service was a bit slow at this bar though. Beer we noted was Heineken, Coors Light, Budweiser, Carib and Presidente (last 2 are not local but Caribbean brewed). Mixed drinks were good as well. There were plenty of beach chairs available but pick your spot early as the umbrellas and shaded areas are the first to go. Believe us, you need some shade to escape to.

Be very careful walking by the pools, VER slippery. Take some pool shoes or flip flops as this will help keep you from falling. We observed at least 2 falls while there.

Restaurants were pretty good for the a la carte, not a huge selection but a nice change from the buffetts. You need a reservation for the restaurants. At this time the restaurants opened every other day from 6-10p. Service very good in restaurants.

Buffett was pretty good - breakfast from 630a-1030a, good food, service pretty good. Lunch from 12p-230p had good food, service okay. Everyday there were burgers and dogs on the grill at lunch (big burgers and good too). Supper from 6p-10p, food good, service okay. The one thing we noticed was the staff would come out and get their plates of food from the buffett (take it to the kitchen to eat thought) while our glasses of water of wine were empty so sometimes made us feel like WE were in the way (just in the buffet area). Lots of veggies and salad on the lunch and dinner buffetts and lots of fruit on breakfast. No snacks or 24 hour or room service so we felt like we had to grab a bite when we could, so we brought home a few extra pounds. My suggestion is to take a snack back to your room (rolls or fruit that will last a few hours).

Rooms were nice. Get an ocean view, killer views of the bay, Phillipsburg and the cruise ships. Worth the extra. Rooms were clean and they brought plenty of shampoo, conditioner, lotion, shower gel and soap (your room amenities). No mini frig in rooms but they do have hair dryers and iron/ironing board.

We went jet skiing thru the resort. What fun and negioated a better deal than advertised with the guys with a tip. It was rough that day so we got our money's worth.

No need to take extra booze as it is free flowing at the hotel from 9a until 3a everyday and so cheap to buy in town. Cigarettes are $2.50 a pack at resort (limited brands - Marlboro, Salem B&H) and about $2.00 in town (anywhere from 15.00 to 17.00 a carton) so buy them there. Tshirts tended to run $10-$20.

Fun time would go back.

  • Stayed: November 2009, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank twilsonb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed October 19, 2009

My husband and I recently returned from a one week vacation from the Sonesta Great Bay. It was truly a great holiday followed by friendly staff and accommodations!

Rooms: I would defiantly suggest booking an ocean front room, as it has a breath taking view to get up to each morning. The rooms were clean and a good size, the bathroom is a bit small for two people but manageable and the beds were quite comfortable! House keeping was always good with turn down service at night!

Food: Very pleased with the food at the buffet and a la carts! Each day was always a different theme for the buffet. The lunch buffet always had fresh BBQ chicken, fish and burgers! A la Carts were very good, we made reservations for three nights out of the week as October is a slow month!

Beach: We pretty much stayed on the beach through out the week. The sand is crushed shell, this being said we did not have any problems walking the beach or walking into the ocean. As you walk into the ocean, it does drop really quickly but this was not a problem for us. Shade on the beach was not an issue; again this is because it is slow season which worked out in our favor!

Pools: There are two pools and a hot tub. The infinity pool has the swim up bar and was always busy with people! Other pool was little quite but good for families with children.

Drinks: Can you say Heineken please because that was just one of many different beers with other drinks that they had to offer (never watered down)!

Staff: They call St. Martin the “Friendly Island” and it truly is! Not once did we experience any rudeness from the staff. In fact we would sit and chat with them once their shifts were over.

Night life: Other then the Lobby Bar and Casino, there is none! This was not an issue for us as we rented a car for five days and would leave the resort after dinner! Bars in Simpson’s Bay are good for drinks and live bands! Maho has a large casino and Tantra or Bliss night club (great on Saturday and Wednesday nights).

Orient Beach: One of our favorite spot on the island; powder soft sand, beautiful ocean views, tons of beach bars and restaurants and lots of water sports! We rented two beach loungers and an umbrella from the Biki Beach Bar for $15 US for the day!


Places to Visit: Philipsburg, 10 minute walk into town from the resort. Great for shopping and restaurants; Simpson’s Bay great restaurants, marina and bars; Marigot (capital of the French side) has a market Saturday and Wednesday mornings. Great place for shopping at the West Indies Mall, restaurants, bakeries, marina area with bistros and so one! Grand Case has tons of restaurants and great beaches. These were just some of the great places we visited on the island. Pinel Island and Anguilla are also two beautiful island close by that are a must see, however we never made it as our trips were cancelled three times.

Car Rental: there is a Hertz located in the front lobby of the resort, however I booked our rental one week in advance through Value rent a Car and received a much better rate! Unity is also another good rental company to go through!!

Just a Note: Sunday everything on the island is closed! French side Currency is in Euro’s; however there are some places that will honor the 1Euro to $1US dollar. Gas is cheaper on the French side. Dutch side of the island uses US Currency.

To conclude, we will defiantly be returning to St. Martin for a third visit. This beautiful island has so much to offer. It’s a small island but there’s a lot to see and do with no disappointment. The Sonesta Great Bay is rated a 4 star resort which we consider in our books. If you want 5 star plus service then go else where. You pay for what you get and this place is worth every cent! Remember your in paradise, smile and relax, there is no need to rush. Always treat people the way you would like to be treated and last but not least, a holiday is what you make of it, leave your worries behind! Here’s to a great stay at the Sonesta Great Bay and to St. Martin for reminding me why we Love this Friendly Island so much!

Happy Traveling

  • Stayed: October 2009, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank Smiley0
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
gmgreatbay19, Manager at Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded October 20, 2009

We appreciate the warm review. We can see you really embraced the full experience our wonderful resort and island has too offer for a vacation. We look forward to seeing you on your next journey to our resort and the island of St. Maarten!

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Reviewed October 9, 2009

I visited St Marteen with friends to celebrate my 50th Birthday. We stayed for 7 nights in the time share portion of the resort. The resort is rather old but the staff were very friendly. Although I did not spend much time at the resort I did spend some time at the swimming pools, walked along the beach and ate breakfast at the resort one morning.

I stayed in a 2 bedroom suite where I found the bathrooms to be the best feature. I thought the rooms were on the small side compared to resorts I've stayed in previously. The swimming pools (2) in the main area are in need of new pool linings but the pool dedicated to the timeshare portion of the resort is in better condition. Only 1 jacuzzi can be called that as most consider jacuzzis to be hot/warm water where they were as frigid as the pools. The beach is not the best but that cannot be held against the resort since its my believe that they are separate entities (not the best investment for a resort). If you're looking for calm waters and comfortable sands, Great Bay is not for you.

I was not impressed by the food but as I said I only ate one meal which happened to be breakfast. You can't go too wrong with breakfast since they did have someone to make eggs and/or omlettes to order and there was a variety of accompanying items.

The location of the resort is ideal if you're interested in shopping but if you want to visit some of the nicer beaches and/or are interested in the nightlife and do not want to drive this is not the best location. This was not a problem for me as we rented a car for the entire trip and were able to get around the entire island.

I expected more from the Sonesta name.

  • Stayed: July 2009, traveled with friends
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Thank beachlover759
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
gmgreatbay19, Manager at Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded October 20, 2009

Thank you very much for your review. We have some plans to upgrade our beach restaurant in November. In January we are purchasing an additional jacuzzi for the timeshare pool area. You are correct in your assessment on the beach, all beaches in St. Maarten are public, we have no control over sand and the shape and size. We appreciate the opportunity to serve with with our island hospitality.

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Reviewed September 24, 2009

My wife and I and another couple planned a Carribean vacation to last from 12 Sep 09 to 19 Sep 09 and chose Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort & Casino in Philipsburg, St Maarten. On the second day there, while getting out of the swimming pool, I slipped, fell and fractured my left hip. Resort personnel were slow to respond, but, did call an ambulance, which took me to St Maarten Medical Center. Notice I said MEDICAL CENTER, not hospital. As it turns out, the pool surround is ceramic tile, which when wet, is as slippery as ice. Our only option at that point, was to contact our insurance carrier and arrange for an Air Ambulance to fly my wife and me back to the U.S. for surgery. At the hotel, my wife attempted to call our insurance carrier on their toll free number, however, was adised by resort personnel that they "don't have that kind of line", and refused to put the call through. They also didn't have "that kind of line" for her to use an International Calling Card to contact our family. The result was a $237.00 phone bill from the Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort & Casino. In general, the staff, if not rude, seemed totally disinterested. The food, or at least the food that I had before my fall, was mediocre, at best. A very unpleasant place to stay for vacation. BE AWARE. BE VERY AWARE.

  • Stayed: September 2009, traveled with friends
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2  Thank carLehighton_Pa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
gmgreatbay19, Management at Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded October 20, 2009

We apologize for the reflection of your vacation. We did all we could too enact our emergency procedures and necessary steps for the well being of the guest in a accident situation. Our service team reacted quickly to make the best of the situation. We wish you the best in your recovering and future vacations.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 23, 2009

Arrived at Resort no issues with check in--room was clean--Maid was great every day she cleaned --nice job--Beach was good--hard to get in and out of water--Water was nice-pools were good--Close to town--nice shopping--Can walk to town-15-min-Food was not bad--Beer was good-Bottle Beer--mixed drinks no good -cheap products--Need more Friendy staff--not enough bar tenders--Casino small--not many people winning--Did use the local Taxi person forgot his name--green van--very good--and a Lady Taxi Driver--Very good--they are parked outside all the time--good people--The resort is nice overall--Close to a 4 star--Nice Vacation --had a good time on the Island--no issues--Airport is fine--about two years old--Watching the planes at Moho is fun--Thanks St Martin for a good Vcation--

  • Stayed: July 2009, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank millerb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 21, 2009

This resort had exellent food, breathtaking oceanview, but terrible personnel who were slow to serve and rarely smiled. If you ask for a drink at the bayview bar or at the pool bar make sure you state how many you want to begin with or else the bartender will give you attitude. Give lots of TIPS if you want good service even if you are in an all inclusive package.

  • Stayed: July 2009, traveled with family
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2  Thank oceana14
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 20, 2009

First night there we could not sleep because of barking dogs and rooster crowing. We requested to change our room which would be $50.00 more a night and closer to the barking dogs. We declined. Second night at dinner there were island children on the resort property. When they were asked to leave they got very upset. They threw rocks at the guest having dinner around the pool. A rock hit our table. We explained this to our waitress what happen and and we requested our bill. We did not go all inclusive, which we were glad becuase to food was horrible. After being in our room for a hour my partner went to get a soda. When he reach to lobby our waitress from dinner and the cashier came yelling towards him and accusing him of give them COUNTERFEIT MONEY. He knew that was not the bill he gave them but gave her another $20.00 bill. He was embarrassed that this was done in front of all the other guest in the lobby. He just wanted to get back the the room. When I found out I wanted to speak to the manager. The night and restaurant manager did not know anything about this or that the two employees confront him.We were told we needed to speak to the resort manager. After waiting Two days to sit down with both of them, we got our $20.00 back and was told if there was anything they could do to make our stay more comfortable. We requested to be moved to another resort which we were. We were told they would use this as a learing tool for their employees. WHAT HOW TO SCAM OTHER GUEST!

  • Stayed: May 2008, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank vacation2008_9
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 Family Hotel in Philipsburg
#3 On the Beach Hotel in Philipsburg
Price Range: $277 - $635 (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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