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“Beautiful St. Maarten....amazing vacation!”

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Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa
Ranked #3 of 12 Hotels in Philipsburg
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 28 February 2014 via mobile

Just returned from this paradise in the Caribbean! St. Maarten is definitely a place to visit. Hotel is very clean, food was great (must have the pizza), and some of the staff is friendly (Vicky, Patrizia, Georgio)!

Definitely visit Maho Beach. Watching the planes come in overhead is spectacular. Orient beach....take it or leave it. Beautiful beach but St. Maarten has several. Loved Philipsburg. Cute town that reminded me of Europe. Great shopping and busy when the ships come in. Barter....they will drop their prices in most stores!

Sonesta Great Bay is not as lively as some other resorts (like the Sonesta Maho) because there are several older people (50+), but the strip of beach is amazing (better than Sonesta Maho) and if you want to relax this is definitely the resort to do it.

Took a day trip to Anguilla. Expensive day trip for just sitting on a beach ($145), but another beautiful beach (Shoal Bay)!

One suggestion to the resort....St. Maarten is the friendly island. Remind some of your staff!

Would definitely go back to St. Maarten and stay at this resort. Can't wait!

Stayed: February 2014, travelled with friends
1  Thank mm42ra
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 27 February 2014

This was our 1st visit to Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort. The resort was clean very well maintained and the staff took a lot of pride in your visit. We see now why the island is called the friendliest with the attitude of the staff. There was some type of activity or entertainment going on each day. The food was different but enjoyable, desserts were to die for. We took a tour with Marty who showed us a great day of sight seeing. The shopping in Philipsburg was a different experinence that everyone should try. Jewerly store after jewerly store a woman's paradise. We enjoyed our stay very much and will return. We were celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary. It will not be that long until we return. The Galloway's from Ky.

Room Tip: We were on the 2nd floor where we could see pools, ocean and the cruise ships. It doesn't get m...
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  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled with family
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5  Thank Bobby G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 February 2014

My husband and I usually go to Sandals. This year we tried something different and had a wonderful time. The hotel can use some upgrades but it was nice. We had a wonderful time. The staff was awesome. Vicki at the front desk took very good care of us (from arrival to departure). The lobby bar (Owen) was nice to sit and chat with every evening and even made us some special drinks when we were tired of the usual. The pool bar staff Sheldon, Kende, Kim and Maurico kept up laughing and always had a smile. The buffet staff Manuela, Cleopatra, and Jonathan from the grill staff were very welcoming. Sansary, we are definitely coming back next year to book another excursion...Thanks you all for making this an awesome experience. Oh Yeah, Mr. Roland (security) was full of knowledge regarding the French and Dutch side. Also, Serge thanks for the exceptional taxi service and we will call you for the island tour next year. Peace M&A

Room Tip: Troneisha at Maho can tell you which rooms are great. Thanks for getting my husband a wonderful roo...
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  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank AnnieB H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 February 2014

We stayed at the Sonesta Great Bay for 10 days. The room was average, the location was great, right on the beach, but certain staff members made it all worth while. Virginia our sever was great and made us feel special. At the beach bar Kim was very attentive and always had a smile. Denroy the activities director was very special and made sure we were all included and busy with fun things to do. Donna-Indy

  • Stayed: February 2014
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Thank Donna E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 February 2014

We stayed here for two nights in March 2013 before a cruise and were happy to think about returning, which we did 9 - 12 February and 19 - 25 February 2014, with a seven night trip to Nevis in between. The hotel has a number of great attributes: it's right on the beach, it has three pools, it's within walking distance of Philipsburg, and is within easy reach of all that St Maarten has to offer by taxi.

Before booking, we looked again at the hotel website, which we now know frankly makes a number of claims that would be a breach of consumer protection law in the UK. It says the hotel is newly refurbished. The rooms in the main hotel wing might have been, the buffet restaurant has some glitzy panels on the back wall and some extra cooking stations, and there are some new beach beds and umbrellas. We could see no evidence of any other refurbishment in the main public areas. We had booked a room in the Miramar wing because of the hype in the guest rooms section of the website. No refurbishment has taken place there yet. Whilst the rooms are clean and linen is changed daily, the bathrooms are looking decidedly tired. Why not be honest and say something like 'the hotel is in the middle of a programme of refurbishment'?

The website claims there are four restaurants. No, there are three, one of which (Tre Assi) changes personality from a pizza cafe at lunch to an Italian restaurant five evenings a week. Both it and Il Pescadore sea food restaurant are only open five or six nights a week, so several nights a week there is limited choice between buffet and waiter service. My recollection is that this limitation of opening nights was made clear a year ago, but not now. There is also a claim that Il Pescadore offers 'white glove service' breakfast as an alternative to the buffet. When we brought this to the attention of several of the managers they were gob-smacked, as they knew this was an absolute misrepresentation.

To conclude on the website, it states the hotel is now an adults only all inclusive hotel. Not quite. The rooms in the Miramar wing are time share places that are marketed by the hotel to other guests as available. The management know that they can't expect timeshare owners to exclude children. (On the other hand the few children who were around were impeccably behaved.)

None of this is the fault of local management. It can be laid directly at the feet of corporate management. Has the marketing person responsible for the website even visited the hotel? Over to you, CEO, make sure your website is honest!

So to our experience. On the first of our two stays, we arrived at 1.30pm from our nine hour flight from Amsterdam. We were told the room was not ready and hotel policy meant we could not get access till 3.00pm. On the other hand, we did get our glass of 'champagne' at check-in (another misrepresentation, the beverage is a French vin mousseux, perfectly quaffable, but it ain't champagne!) and our wrist band so that we could eat or drink until our room (363) was ready. Three pm became 3.15, 3.30 and eventually we got access. We let it ride.

On our second visit, we arrived about 12.30noon from a local flight. Same story: can't access room till 3.00pm. On this occasion access (room 364) was eventually just after 4.00pm, the tiled floors had only just had a wet mop put over them, and the duvet cover arrived for the bed about 30 minutes later. And for several days, our room was not cleaned until 4.00pm, even near to 5.00pm, and laundry items were missing because they had not yet been returned from the in-house laundry. There's something about the pattern of working of the housekeeping and laundry staff that needs improvement.

Management's initial solution to these problems? Initially a 'complimentary' bottle of 'champagne' delivered to the room (it's an AI hotel, so a stock order drink cannot be seen as 'complimentary' in my book, but at least someone somewhere had taken note of our plight and sought to respond). In fact, over the space of three days we did get to know two duty managers, the front of house manager, the executive housekeeper, the operations manager - and they all did go all out to resolve things, despite some of the comments about the remoteness of management from other tripadvisor contributors, and we reached an amicable 'settlement' to the problems.

Elsewhere? We don't go much on buffet after buffet after buffet, especially for dinner. We ate more frequently at the Water's Edge and Il Pescadore. The only adverse comment we would make was that there is no rotation of menu in either outlet, so over four or five nights you could eat you way through the whole offering. But the food was good, it was hot where it should have been hot, and the staff were pleasant. The choice of wine for a 'limitless all inclusive hotel' was exceptionally limited - one Chilean Sauvignon Blanc and one Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon. Drinkable but ubiquitous.

The staff. Yes, some of the bar staff did look as though they expected tips (being European, we only tip where exceptional service is given, and mixing a cocktail at a beach bar in a plastic 'glass' doesn't meet that criterion for us). But there were some brilliant customer focused staff: Georgio, the front desk concierge, and Taro, one of the butlers, were brilliant. It's a pity others can't be encouraged or trained to be as responsive. And, I'd say it again, so were some of the managers. When customers are as picky as us (that is, we expect what the website promises), they were the ones trying to unravel promises that corporate HQ make but on which the local staff can't deliver. Go on, CEO of Sonesta, get down there, see for yourself the misrepresentations, sort out the people at HQ who write the mistruths, and empower and encourage the local staff who deal with the front line customers. Better still, go incognito as a normal customer and check it all out for yourself.

Room Tip: If you want peace and quiet, go for a Miramarwing room, despite the fact they haven't been refur...
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  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled as a couple
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5  Thank Peter S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 February 2014

Guest rooms were tired and needed updating. Unsafe condition with broken slider door lick. Most of the wait staff were cheerful and helpful. Desk staff was Ineffectual. Some of the bartenders were just surly. Had to wait most nights during stay to 5 pm or later for clean towels.

Food and drinks were good.

  • Stayed: February 2014
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3  Thank Joetzz191
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 February 2014

I had no choice but to go back to this hotel. Staff response have certainly improved, though not all. Rooms from the 4th Floor and up seems to be in better shape than the lower floors. The air condition worked really well. It appears that they are trying to improve and while it is better than last year, there is room for further improvement. Oh.....and there is wireless Internet. The free basic package allows you to stay connected but not good for heavy stuff.

Room Tip: Ask for rooms facing the beach and from the 4th floor and above.
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  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled on business
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1  Thank mlt1964mba
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
Region: Caribbean > St Martin / St Maarten > Sint Maarten > Philipsburg
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Casino and Gambling Fitness Centre 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: £245 - £454 (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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