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“Worst Trip Ever!”

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Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa
Ranked #3 of 12 Hotels in Philipsburg
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed July 24, 2010

My stay at the Sonesta Great Bay Resort has ensured that I never return to St. Maarten again! This was by far the WORST run hotel I have ever had the displeasure to stay at. The staff were completely unmotivated and the supervisors remained hidden so that they would not have to deal with any of the complaints, and let me tell you they were coming in fast and furious while we were there.

Upon booking, we made sure we had a bathtub; a necessesity when travelling with small children. We were also told that ajoing rooms would be available. This was a must for use being we were visiting with 4 children. Neither of these ameneties were provided and we were given a constant run-around for the first three days of our vacation when trying to rectify this problem. After wasting hours or our time, we were informed that the resort would compensate us by allowing us to move to their sister hotel by the airport. Anyone travelling with small children knows that this is not really an option. You do everything in your power to reduce the amount of travelling chaos, not double that torture for the young ones. Although three other families were unhappy enough to take the resort up on this offer and left during our stay.

The state of the pool was atrocious. Green algae covered the walls and debrise was regularly floating on the surface. We were told that it is very difficult to keep the chlorine levels blanced. Funny, as a pool owner myself, I never seem to have that trouble!

All inclusive guests (wearing an identifiable wrist band) were treated like lepers by the staff. It was all too evident that the guests making a short trip from neighbouring islands such as Puerto Rico, and Curacao were given preferential treatment over the All Inclusive guests. This effectively negated the All Inclusivity of the trip, instead making this high paying group of tourists feel like a burden on the staff. For instance, whenever I went to the bar for a refrshment, I would ask for a tropical drink for my kids. This was often met with excuses, even though the bartender would go on to make an adult guest a drink using the same ingredients. And if one of my children tried to order a refreshment themselves, they were treated as an annoyance. I tried increasing the size of my tips, but that had zero influence on our service.

After a major rainfall, a backhoe was brought to the beach to release the drain water into the ocean. All of the water from the dirty resevoir was released about 100 feet from the resorts beach. With the pools teeming with algae, and now the beach churning with sewage water, that ensured no swimming for the day.

The security guards are merely locals who walk around in white shirts. Twice I tried to get their assistance and both times the guards did less than nothing. The first time an adolescent soccer team was running through the downstairs lobby and around the pool area naked. This had been going on for three days before I complained. Nothing was done. Second, there was a young local man who sat down beside us and decided to smoke a bag of marijuana. Now I'm as liberal as the next guy, but having my 5 and 3 year old daughters asking me what the funny smell was became a bit much. The security guard walked over to the young man, and then walked away, not to be seen again.

My wife and I visited the island 18 years ago and felt like we were in paradise. Now, I wouldn't send my worst enemy there. It is so sad to see such a beautiful spot become so run down. And it is ALL due to mismanagement. This hotel would not last one day in North America the way it operates.

And what were we given for our troubles? Nothing. If you value your money you will not spend it at this resort.

  • Stayed: July 2010, traveled with family
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5  Thank Capekiller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
gmgreatbay19, General Manager at Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded July 26, 2010

Thank you for your opinion, we appreciate it very much. The past week was a tough & difficult week with terrible tropical wave severe rain and high winds. It made it tough on the guest vacation and for our staff in maintaining the pool, beach, towels, etc... Our pool team @ 5am immediately on Tuesday, once the storm broke began to clean stabilze the PH balance. All pools require this after rain fall, which once you have multiple days, we sure there is no pool company that can keep a pool balanced in the constant rain or clean. We must just wait it out and then proceed when the rain stops. Teh backhoe that was evident on the beach is public lnad controlled by the island of St. Maarten. In severe weather the channel must be open to prevent flooding in the low lying land. We do not control the beaches on St. Maarten, all beaches are open to the public for anyone to walk up and down. The local soccer team, was not local, they were on island for compeition and paying guests of the resort. We appreciate the comments on our security team. We will address there effectiveness for doing the job properly and professionally. What occurred last week is just a tough time in bad weather, our staff did the best they could in a difficult situation. If our standards did not meet your expectation,our hotel is not meant for North America, but we are not in North America, we are Caribbean destination with island cultures, sites & sounds. IIt was a tough week for all with terrible rain, no sun and trying to figure out what to do with children in wet weather. We wish you all the best in your vacations.

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Reviewed July 18, 2010

I had read other comments on Trip Advisor and generally tend to take the reviews with a pinch of salt - boy had I wish I had paid more attention to them!

My husband and I had stayed a week in Grenada and were due to spend the second week of our honeymoon in St Maarten. We were so excited until we got there.

The island was far from the 'Caribbean' we expected. The hotel too was very disappointing. We arrived a bit early to check in so our luggage was put in storage - the bar next to the restaurant unattended and unsecured. We went to have lunch - bland and very much aimed at the American tourist market. After lunch we were able to check in the room. The corridors were almost clinical and the room was awful. When it was time to check in, my husband went to get the luggage where no one questioned if it was his to take (thank god no one stole it in the mean time). He asked the bell hop to help where he was told he was too busy (too busy playing on his mobile phone) so we struggled to get it up ourselves.

As honeymooners, we had been given a twin room. The net curtains were discoloured and dirty. We found a glass chip in one bed. The "mountain view" consisted of a cliff face with a dilapidated shed, hotel and a landfill just to the right. There was also a very busy road outside where at night it seemed was a popular spot to race up and down the street. The night sounds were further complimented by the barking of no less that 3 digs and a cockerel crowing - certainly not the best night sleep I ever had.

The beach is as described elsewhere awful. The sand is not sand at all. It is very roughly crushed shells which physically hurt to walk on. The beach I assume was man made as it seemed to sit on a yellow concrete block (if you looked across the harbour you could see a huge mound of this sand). Part way down it parted to reveal what I think was sewage or drainage of some kind. The pool was on the beach front and didn't really offer much privacy if you wanted that option.

Internet access was charged at $8 us for 30 minutes and the speed is ever so slow so you don't really get much for your money. We made one single phone call within the Caribbean for under 10 minutes and were charged almost $200 us for it. We only lasted 24 hours on this island before we wanted to get out. The island didn't really have anything genuinely Caribbean about it - we could have saved thousands and gone to Europe for what we saw - pure tourist tack. Such a shame as the rest of the Caribbean had been so beautiful. Speaking to locals it seems not many have a high opinion of St Maarten.

When we were checking out the service was terrible. The lady serving was slow and didn't speak at all. I only needed to hand back keys, settle the bill and leave - this took 30 minutes! She kept leaving me to deal with other customers and staff and seemed quite clueless as to what was actually going on. I got quite upset and frustrated by this point and started to cry only to hear 2 staff members mocking me! The manager was also behind the counter and when she saw me cry she turned and walked away - GREAT SERVICE!!! Never before have I felt so disgusted but such unprofessional behaviour as this. In the end we did get out and managed to catch our flight in time (no thanks to the slow service) and we managed to enjoy the end of our honeymoon but it is a real shame that this episode had to happen at all and tainted what was a holiday of a lifetime for us.

I wouldn't wish this place on my worst enemy.

  • Stayed: July 2010, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Lister66
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
gmgreatbay19, General Manager at Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded July 22, 2010

Thank you for your opinion. We apologize that the island of St. Maarten or our resort did not meet your expectation as a Caribbean destination. Our resort has many options of relax, recline, renew and fun for all types of guests. We wish you the best in your choice of vacations.

thank you,
Juan Fernandez- G.M

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Reviewed July 17, 2010

I recently returned from a trip to the Great Bay Beach Resort. We chose this resort because of the location. It is a 10 minute walk to Philipsburg, which is a wonderful duty free shopping area. Our group of women agreed that this outting was a favourite part of our trip. The resort itself needs a lot of sprucing up. The Infinity pool was in need of a good cleaning. Algae was growing freely in the pool, and even when the manager was informed, we didn't see a lot of improvement over the week.We did not see any pool attendants tidying this area during the day, so empty cups were collecting up, and blowing into the pool. The pool bar got to be a joke, The bartender would leave for long periods of time (30 plus minutes) and guests would have to walk up to the other bar, which clearly stated no wet suits in this area. Guests started to serve themselves, and only then would the bartender surface to yell at them for doing so. The manager was informed again, after a verbal dispute between a guest and the bartender, but still no improvement was noted.
The rooms were fine, but as other guests mentioned, there was a constant mouldy smell. I don't think this can be helped in humid climates. The food was actually a pleasant surprise.
The 2 restaurants had great service and food. We tipped extra nightly, but only a dollar per person, since our service charge was already factored into our bill. This amount got us very attentive service for all our meals. The bartenders in the lounge area are very experienced and make you feel very welcome. Michael was especially welcoming.
We made our own fun, and didn't let the imperfections spoil our holiday.

  • Stayed: July 2010, traveled with friends
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Thank ycnanb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
gmgreatbay19, General Manager at Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded July 22, 2010

We appreciate the opinion of our resort. We utilize these opinions from our guests on hospitality and service training. We are sorry to hear about some poor services, we will be sure to address in our training for hospitality improvements and 1 on 1 directions with the staff. We are happy that overall you enjoyed our hospitality and service of the resort and island of St. Maarten. We will be sure pass along the positive mention to our bartender Michael.
We look forward to your next visit on St. Maarten and would like to see you visit our resort in the future visits.

Thank you,
Juan Fernandez- G.M

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Reviewed July 6, 2010

This place is much better than the reviews. thye food was better then most of the all inclusives I have ben to and I have been to too many to count. I did run into one unfriendly waitress that wanted a big tip. most all incusives you wont get ice cold Heineken bottles like here, you get half cold lousy beer. bring some one dollar bills and tip just a bit they will bring you anything before you ask for it. the resurant is better then 90% of the all inclusives I have been to. take the safari snorkel trip in the big speed boat worth the $100. also you are close enough to walk to town. my only sugestion is they use one pool for the kids the other for adults. but most hotels dont either. I dont like babies in diapers in the pool I swim in.

  • Stayed: June 2010, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Dino005
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
gmgreatbay19, General Manager at Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded July 14, 2010

We appreciate your feedback on our resort. We utilize this in training with our staff. Your are correct on one of the most important items you mention, we serve ICE COLD Heineken! :>) We appreciate the positive opinion of our resort & the island of St. Maarten. We look forward to seeing you on your next trip to our wonderful resort.

thank you,
Juan- General Manager

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Reviewed July 2, 2010

Our first trip in 16 years and we found a excellent quiet resort . My biggest concern was the food but this resort was excellent with it's high variety buffet and a la carte. They also had a take out menu for late afternoon snack like burger and fries or pizza. Accomodations were very moderate and the oceanview room was fantastic. A very short walk along the beach takes you to the boardwalk and many stores. Island access was easy and affordable through bus and rental car right at the front door of the resort. It would be nice if the internet cafe and fitness center has longer evening hours.Room service was knocking too many times on the door. Once a day in the mid morning is fine. Their were families with kids and they had a great time as well as the retired couple we met. The jewerly raffle was fun and my wife went home with a beautiful necklace. Overall a very affordable vacation.

  • Stayed: June 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank ownajdeere
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
gmgreatbay19, General Manager at Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded July 14, 2010

Thank you for wonderful review, we appreciate all of our guest's opinions on our resort and the island of St. Maarten. We utilize these reviews for staff training and development in improving our service and guest hospitality. Your review is very thoughtful and honest perception of activities, entertainment, location to shopping and our culinary experiences of Sonesta Great Bay. Please and wonderful and exciting summer!

with hospitality,
Juan- General Manager

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Reviewed June 21, 2010

We got married here in 2008 because my aunt works there and she was able to help us organize everything. When we got here I was expecting more but eventually I fell in love with the place. The first room they gave us, the door wouldn't unlock with the key they gave us so after several trips back and forth to the front desk to exchange keys I was able to talk Jacques??(I think that was his name) that we need a better room because I didn't like where that one was located. We were able to get an even better oceanview room down the hallway by the casino where the time share properties were. Our room was beautiful with breathtaking views. We loved to watch the cruise ships come in and out. Our wedding there was fabulous and everyone was super nice. The food was average, nothing to rave about. The beach was a little rough for us none swimmers. There is a really steep drop off at one part. Not sure that I would stay there again but our wedding guests are still raving about our wedding and the good time they had there so it was probably the company that made it great. Being close to downtown was great for shopping. We were able to walk to downtown either by walking on the beach or taking the street. Getting there by the beach was more fun though.
We were able to take the ferry over to Anguilla for a day trip and that was really great. You need to go to the French side to get the boat and you will need your passport when you get to Anguilla.
If you're not a particularly fussy person and just want to get away you may not mind some of the minor things about the place. Like the fact that the hotel could use some updating eventhough they say they recently updated it. It really depends on what you're looking for.

  • Stayed: August 2008, traveled as a couple
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Thank Tabby80
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
gmgreatbay19, General Manager at Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded June 25, 2010

Thank you for your review, we share this reviews with our team members. Jack will be very happy to see his name mentioned for a wonderful job. We are happy to make such a positive memory in your life. We look forward to seeing on St. Maarten and visiting Sonesta Great Bay Resort another time. Once again, Thank you for your business and the opportunity to be a part of a special moment in your lives.
Juan Fernandez- General Manager

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Reviewed June 15, 2010

I would recommend to anyone even thinking about going to St. Maarten or staying at the Sonest Great Bay Beach Resort to save your money and stay elsewhere. The people at the hotel were rude except for Nevil...he was the only one that was nice and very helpful! The entire island is rude, no one is friendly and I heard this from more t han one person when I was traveling. Everyone on the plane was saying the same thing...that the people on the island are rude and its not worth wastng money to go. I will never return or give another dime of my hard earned money to St. Maarten. The hotel staff are rude and they act like you are an inconvenience to them. I will NEVER go back!

  • Stayed: June 2010, traveled with friends
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Thank soprissi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa

Address: 19 Little Bay Road, Philipsburg, St Martin / St Maarten
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
Price Range: $546 - $767 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — 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
Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa St Martin / St Maarten/Philipsburg

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