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Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa
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3,620 - 3,625 of 4,342 reviews
Reviewed February 15, 2007

My husband and I just got back from our first trip to St Maarten's / Great Bay Resort from January 20th-29th. Although we expected a lot worse after reading all of the reviews, we were quite happy with the hotel, the island and had a great week overall. In the last few years, we've travelled to Mexico, Cuba, DR and Costa Rica and we found St. Maarten's to be a great island that met our expectations. Although, it's probably important to say that we're not the picky type and can usually enjoy ourselves no matter where we are in order for you to take something from our review.

Resort: The resort is pretty small & quiet and fairly clean. The food was pretty good although the Buffet wasn't super big but had a nice variety. We ate at the Molasses restaurant a couple of times and really enjoyed the chicken, beef and lobster there (20$ extra over All-Inclusive). Drinks were great and there were lots of choices. All you can drink Heineken, really, who can complain?

Staff: We found the staff to be friendlier than expected. I had read a lot of comments that the staff wasn't necessarily friendly but this was not our experience (especially Micheal & Maritza at the upstairs bar). They took us to the Greenhouse on Tuesday night and we had a blast with them. I found that if you took the time to talk to the staff, they would be more than happy to help out or chat with you.

The downside: We were given a room on the 2nd floor and because of many reviews; we asked if we could move to a higher floor. We were totally given the run around. We were told to come back 4 or 5 times to check if there was an available room and each time were told to come back and check later. I just gave up after a while deciding that I wouldn't let this ruin my vacation but it was annoying to not be taken seriously, especially because we knew they had moved a couple that we had met from Ottawa. Although I could smell a bit of a mildew smell in the hallway on the first night that disappeared quickly and I couldn't smell anything the next morning or for the rest of the week.

Car: We rented a car for 2 days (strongly recommended) and drove around the island. We went to Orient Bay, which was pretty cool, but not our favourite type of beach. It's way too packed for our liking and we prefer more secluded types of beaches anyways. Although, we had never been to a nude beach so that was an experience in itself. We also went to Pinel Island (nice),
Friar's bay & happy bay (really nice and less busy) Marigot and Grande Case.

Snorkelling: (One of the best days of the week - In my opinion) We went on the Anguilla snorkelling trip that was offered through the hotel (with Swaliga tours) and that was a blast. They take you to three snorkelling areas, 2 of them being secluded islands in the middle of the ocean (Prickly Pear and Sandy Beach - which were the most beautiful beaches we've seen anywhere). The snorkelling was pretty decent; we got too swim with huge turtles and saw some octopus and lots of different types of cool fish.

ONE BAD THING...There is a nasty swampy, sewage-like smell that comes out near the resort outside after dark. They must drain the sewage in the evening because it was pretty bad after about 8 or 9pm. But, unless you plan to go for a walk at night, you may not notice, so no big deal.

Overall, I would say this hotel was a pretty good deal. The main attractions of this hotel are definitely the closeness to Phillisburgh and the views. The views were just amazing and it was kind of neat to see 6 cruise ships docked at the same time. It is definitely an older crowd at the hotel so it's pretty quiet at night. If that's what you're looking for, then you're going to the right place. If you are looking for something more exciting, I would guess that the Sonesta Maho might be more of your kind of place. We like to stay somewhere quiet but go out to explore during the day and go outside of the hotel at night for some night life and we were more than satisfied.

  • Stayed: February 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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10  Thank msd123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 14, 2007

We just returned from St. Martin after spending a week at
the Great Bay Beach Hotel. You have to go to this hotel with the knowledge that it is a Hotel. It's not a resort. It's on a small piece of property, and it is not a huge place. We found all but one of the wait staff to be very friendly, especially June,
Dawn and Mersilla, and most of the bartenders were also great.
If you are bossy and demanding, people react badly to your behaviour. You have to be nice, and almost always, people are nice in return.
The hotel is located very close to the town of Phillipsburg.
You can walk by beach or road. We rented a car for the week, but
didn't use it every day.
The maids replace your towels 2 and 3 times a day. If you have
an afternoon shower, your towels are replaced while you are out to dinner. We were very happy with the service we received.

We love this hotel, and we will return.

  • Stayed: February 2007, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
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    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
4  Thank Dawn55
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 5, 2007

My husband and I stayed in this hotel to attend out friends wedding the last week of January 2007. Since I relied heavily on trip advisor for all my traveling I had read the reviews and I did not expect this hotel to be all that, but we had our obligations to our friends. Well, when the taxi first pulled up to the hotel, I though well it is a only a 3 star. Then we entered the lobby and I was shocked. It was so dirty, dusty, although that hotel had just spend millions in renovations, the lobby was maintained very poorly. I have to say I started to complain to my husband very disappointed, because at $ 220/night (just for a mountain view, which meant the loud main street) I expected better. I have to say that only thing that took my mind off the hotel was the beautiful view of the Philipsburg marina that we saw walking through the lobby to the elevator.
Our room was in the 7-th Floor so we did not have the foul smell that all our friends had I the other rooms, but there was a slight smell of mold in the room every time I shut down the air-condition. When we walked to the room, I was not impressed with the room décor but I must admit that the sheet were clean (that’ the first thing I checked). However the second day thay I realized that instead of changing the sheets they flipt them inside out; this was discusting since the sheets touched that old bad pad ( that I dod not think it was ever washed), so I made sure that from that day on I removed the sheet by myself every morning.
They had renovated batchrooms, but they should have spend their money on towels and decor. The hotel NEEDS new towels. They had these rags, discolored, old and very rough called “towels” that you were afraid to put in your body, after a shower. The water pressure sucked. The day of your friends wedding we came back to the hotel and there was no water for a good 15 minutes and when we called the front desk and they simple said to wait, since they could not do nothing about it. Well after 15 minutes there finally some water drisellin; very third world with their plumbing.
ONE thing I read on someone’s review was about the noise of the roosters. Yes, we also heard the darn roosters especially the first night there, I could not fall asleep from them, but I guess the rest of the week, we came back to the hotel at 2 or 3 in the morning so we were to tired to bother with the roosters. In the morning heading out to our rental car we would encounter the “criminal roosters” near our car singing. Well, the rooster’s would be OK if we were having a pilgrimage through a 3-rd world country but not near a so called “resort”. Well the resort is really targeting elderly; we were the youngest group I the hotel; the rest of the people were mostly 50 +, there were 2-3 couples in their early forties.
The hotel amenities were very disappointing, the beach is man-made (crushed sea shells) and it was so rough it hurt just to walk on it. They the water in front of the resort was deep very quickly and you actually sank when you got in; it was a little scary as you almost though for a second that you were on quick sand. The pools were as cold as the ocean water, the bars by the pool side serves barely any good alcohol, and when they did the drinks were so watered down. The only descent drinks we got were upstairs in the lobby bar, when the bartenders was actually good and made nice drinks if you asked him nicely. The so-called Jacuzzi tub was barely at 70-75 F so when we tried to go at night the water was luke warm.
The hotel shuts down at 10:00 there is no food to eat, no room service to order, and the bars close and there is absolutely nothing to do. Except the pathetic casino with 20 machines and 2 blackjack tables. The only meal we even had there was 1 breakfast ( and even that was only buffet style) and it was all about quantity and not quality; nothing looked appetizing even though were hungry. So one recommendation is DO NOT go all-inclusive. There is so many nice restaurant in the other part of the island, better beaches and more things to see and enjoy.

Thanks to our friends, who rented a car we got to enjoy the better part of the Island, the French side by Orient Beach. Best beach in the whole Island was Orient beach, it a must go, very happening place; just watch out for the “60 + year old nudists couples”.
Great restaurants: in Phillipsburg: The Hollandaise Hotel Restaurant; great atmosphere, great décor, wonderful staff, great presentation and wonderful food. The Yellow fin tuna was unbelievable. We stayed there until 12:30 a.m. for a long dinner and I watched the staff steam and hand clean all the silverware one by one at the end of the night; I must say I was impressed for a beach front restaurant.
The other great restaurant was the The Bistro Caráibe, in Grand Case, in the French side of the Island. Great staff and wonderful French food, escargot was great as well as the frog legs, very nice and tender. The Grand Case was like a little Paris streets (of course with worse roads here) but very cute and lots of nice restaurants. La Creperie had very nice crepes too, located next to the Voila store. In Margot (the capitol of the French side) there were 2 little bakeries (next to each other) facing the Marina that had unbelievable French baguette and croissants for Breakfast and Café Olé. So definitely the best food in the French side, the good shopping deals in Phillipsburg.
I will definitely return to St. Martin, but not at the Great Bay Resort and Casino. It is nice to rent a car while you are in the island so I would probably recomand anyone to at the French sideor at the Maho bay area, and rent little villa or an apartment for less then what we paid at the Great Bay. There are other resort that I would explore like La Samana. Best casino in the Island was The Princess Casino; fun place to be and live music too; and of course good gambling.
We were disappointed with the Great Bay Resort, so we returned to our rooms very late at night once we discovered the better part of the island. Must spend a day in Maho beach by the airport and watch the plains land right above your head. My husband had a blast here taking pictures of the plains landing and I was tired posing for him :)
To conclude I would not recommend the Great Bay when there are much better hotels and resorts in the island. However we loved St. Martin and I would definitely recommend this island to anyone who wants a beach vacation with a little European twist and great food. The locals are nice a friendly :)

  • Stayed: January 2007, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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6  Thank eva10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 4, 2007

Great Bay Beach Resort is not as bad as some of the reviews that are written here. Yes, there is an odor to some of the rooms on the mountain view side so make sure you book an ocean view. These rooms are beautiful and are worth every extra penny. The food was one of the best all inclusive's I have stayed at. Most all-inclusive resorts serve the same meal everyday, but this one has different food every night. Breakfasts are good, with omelets made to order, fresh fruit, and the usual buffet choices. Lunchs are good and you can always order a hamburger or cheeseburger if you don't like the choices. Dinner was excellent! They had prime rib night, which was wonderful, a carribean night, a cookout, italian night, etc. They offered chicken, fish, beef and pasta every night. They have two restaurants which also have good food. Most of the staff were very nice and helpful, although the bartenders (except for Jose), were unfriendly and sometimes rude. The drinks are all high quality and some are even made too strong. There is no night life at this hotel except for a small casino and a couple of singers. I didn't see anyone winning big at the casino so if you are a big gambler, go somewhere else. They hotel provides transporation to Orient Beach and other places on certain days. The downtown is a block away. If the resort had a nightlife and the bartenders were not so rude, I would have rated this resort a four.

  • Stayed: January 2007
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
3  Thank shcommish
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 30, 2007

My finance and I stayed here for 3 nights. We had been to St. Maarten in 2003, and stayed right next door at the Divi. We had an awful experience at the Divi, so we were set for a better experience.

We arrived on the island on a Saturday afternoon, and rented a car. Finding the hotel was a little confusing, but we arrived in short fashion, and had to find parking across the street. There was room for at most 12 cars. Luckily, there was always at least one spot to park all the time, otherwise, we'd would be walking blocks to get a spot.

The staff was friendly upon our arrival. The first thing we noticed when walking into the lobby was the view. It was magnificent. It faces south to take in the sun over the water and all the cruise ships pulling into Phillipsburg. The second thing we noticed was the absolutely awful stench. It was like rotten eggs and would continue to pervade in varying intensities throughout our stay. The view is the only good thing about this resort.

We were booked into our room and found it to be very neat and clean. However, there was a musty smell that wouldn't completely go away throughout the trip. Additionally the remote didn't work for our tv, and hot water pressure was incredibly erratic. The staff was notified about both, and acted as if they couldn't be bothered to fix either problem. I understand that water pressure could be an issue hard to deal with, but I would've liked to see something done with the remote. As we weren't there to stay in the room it was not a big issue, but pointed to a serious lack of attention by the staff.

We got changed and headed out to check out the rest of the property. As a veteran to the island, I feel very confident in saying this is the absolute worst beach on the island. It's man-made out of crushed shells, which feel like glass on your feet. The first part of the beach is about 8-10 meters at a slight grade filled with beach chairs and umbrellas. The next 2-3 meters drops to about a 40 degrees angle dropping into the water that's at an even steeper grade. The water is incredibly cold and the depth makes it awful for wading and for most swimming. My fiance is an expert swimmer and hated the conditions of the water. The Little Bay beach is much better than this, and Orient Beach is 10x better. This alone makes it a terrible place to stay.

We went to the casino one night and was severely disappointed. It is absolutely tiny, with few machines, and only 6 tables (1 roulette, 3 black jack and 2 carribean stud). The bars were adequate at best, serving pretty weak drinks. We also tried the jacuzzi which really seemed to just be a whirlpool. It was warmer than than the pool, but since the pool was colder than the ocean water, that's not really saying much.

Sonesta advertised that they invested $12million in a renovation of the property, but between the beach, the casino and the whirlpool it doesn't seem like they did a lot with the money.

At night past 10p the whole hotel shuts down. The only action is the lobby bar and casino. The beach-side bar is closed at 9:30p, and the pool level restaurant and bar closes at 10p. I've read the reviews on here saying that it's a very relaxing place to be. This should be interpreted as it's like vacationing with the dead and those with a fear of the dark.

Based on reports by other guests, we decided not to dine at the hotel, this is besides the fact that it was amazingly expensive ($14 for breakfast per person!). You could easily walk to Phillipsburg for a better meal, and drive, cab or bus to Marigot for a superb meal at half the price.

The maid service was adequate at best. They were friendly and replaced the towels, cleaned the bathroom, but only flipped the sheets, not actually change them.

When we checked out, we had a late flight so we asked if we could have a late checkout. We were told the latest was 12noon. Not even an offer of a late check out fee of $50 as previously reported here. So you can chalk another one up to the staff's lack of attention.

All in all, I can't say it was the worst hotel experience I've ever had, but for the money it was not at all worth it. The beach is terrible, the food below average and expensive, the drinks weak and inconsistent, the smell nauseating, and the entertainment non-existent.

You can stay at the Maho or a small villa on the French side for the same price or less, and have much more fun and a better experience.

Stayed: January 2007
5  Thank NYC_CarribeanFan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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