My fiancée (26 y/o) and I (30 y/o) were scheduled to stay at the Sonesta Great Bay Beach & Casino for 7 nights (July 10 – July 17). However, due to safety issues we incurred on our walk to Philipsburg, we moved to the Sonesta Maho after 1 night at the Great Bay (note: just to be clear, the safety issue did not occur at the property). So my review is based on limited time spent at the property. I travel a significant amount with work and am not a picky traveler at all. Overall, the Great Bay was a nice, average resort. We did not do the all inclusive and did not eat any meals at the property, so I can’t comment on the food.
(1) Room. Our room was average…it wasn’t great but wasn’t as bad as some of the reviews make it out to be. I didn’t pay for a Ritz room, so I didn’t expect Ritz quality. I didn’t notice the musty smell others were referring to (we were on the 6th floor). Two minor issues with the room…(1) the room had a safe, but it wasn’t an electronic safe. As a result, we had to constantly carry the safe key and worry if we lost the key, they would charge a $100 replacement fee. Also, the safe was relatively small and only big enough for wallets, passports and jewelry (ie no laptop). Granted you’re on vacation and shouldn’t carry a laptop, but just wanted to mention it and (2) the room didn’t have a mini-fridge, which would have been useful for water, beer, milk, etc. Once again, these were minor issues but just wanted to bring them up.
(2) Nightly entertainment. There are a few small bars at the hotel and a small casino, but it was relatively quiet at night with not too much activity.
(3) Walk to Philipsburg. It is about a 10-15 minute walk from the hotel to Philipsburg. On the way to Philipsburg, we walked on the road, which was not the safest walk since you pass by a lot of local housing. On the way back to the property, we decided to walk along the beach. On the way back, we encountered a few stray dogs which were pretty intimidating. As a result, we returned back to the street. On the street, we encountered some harassment from the local kids (with their parent’s present). After this experience, we decided to move to the resort’s sister property. My advice is if you walk to Philipsburg, do it during the day and stick to the beach.
(1) Location/beach. Based on the location of the property, the only people on the beach are generally people from the hotel. As a result, the beach is not very crowded. There are plenty of free chairs and umbrellas on the beach. Also, the hotel is a 10 minute walk to Philipsburg (assuming you can avoid the issues we encountered), which has a ton of shopping and restaurants.
(2) Pool. The infinity pool is probably the best feature of the resort and provides great views of Philipsburg, the bay and the cruise ships. Also, there is a swim up bar at the pool. There were plenty of available chairs at the pool and was not very crowded.
(3) Minimal number of kids. Based on my limited time at the resort, I didn’t notice a lot of kids at the resort. While I don't have any problem with kids, sometimes kids get a little out of control around the pool. Luckily, this wasn’t the case at the Great Bay. A majority of the people at the property were couples or families (with older kids).
Overall, the Great Bay is a nice, average resort. If you’re looking to relax by the pool without too many distractions, this is probably a good place for you. There is also a ton of shopping and restaurants a short walking distance away. On the negative, the rooms were nothing special and there weren’t a lot of nightly activities unless you walk to Philipsburg.
Feel free to contact me with any questions. After 1 night at the Great Bay, we transferred to the sister property, Sonesta Maho Beach Resort & Casino. See my separate write-up on that resort.
- 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
- Reservation Options:
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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