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“Terrific spot”

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Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa
Ranked #3 of 12 Hotels in Philipsburg
Certificate of Excellence
aurora canada
Level Contributor
9 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“Terrific spot”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 9 March 2014 via mobile

My wife and I spent a great week at the Sonesta Great Bay resort. We found the staff, food and location to be terrific. From Vicky at the front desk, to Virginia in the dining room,Innocent on towels to Kim serving drinks on the beach all went out of their way to be accommodating , helpful and genuinely pleasant. They, along with many others, were models of hospitality. The room was more than adequate and always, clean and well maintained. We found the choice of food for each meal to be far more than we could wish for..always lots of fruit, cheeses and salads. The beach could be a little rough at times, and there was a big step down once in the water. We have visited 8 different resorts in the Caribbean and felt this was one of the best.

Stayed March 2014, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
3 Thank gardaw
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 bubbles
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Hamilton, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 9 March 2014

We just returned from a fabulous 2 week stay at the Sonesta Great Bay resort. The service was exceptionally good. A special thanks to Vicky at the front desk for going above and beyond in meeting our needs. Also thanks to the many friendly and courteous wait staff at the buffet especially Florita and Patrizia.

Most importantly I want to mention the accommodation that was provided to address my medical dietary needs. Initially Chef Renata arranged to get appropriate food supply for me and subsequently Chef Neil took over catering my meals and I must say there were works of art. There was genuine concern from the Chefs that I have a positive holiday experience.

We want to note that the beach at the Sonesta Great Bay was superb. Far better than the one at the Maho. We had great weather and enjoyed the hospitable services of Kim and Mauricio. The first week our hotel room was island view and the second week it was ocean view with the ocean view being the clear winner. Tip we don’t recommend the island view….it faces a busy roadway.

We would recommend this vacation destination if you’re looking for R&R in paradise.

Room Tip: Ocean view as the island view faces a busy roadway. Also there are no ground level walkout rooms...
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  • Stayed March 2014, travelled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank Suzanne A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
pittsburgh
Level Contributor
13 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 9 March 2014

We have been going to Sonesta Great Bay for the past 6 years and every year we can't wait to return. We were there the week of Feb 14th to the 23rd in a Ocean view Jr Suite. The hotel is very clean (there is always someone cleaning something) where ever we went, never seen any mold, never seen a bug in our room and and if you don't like the food you just like to complain to complain. I am gluten intolerant and even though I was offered gluten free bread and noodles by the staff, it was not needed because of the tasty variety of food offered. We were treated this year with ox tail, yucca, conch soup, fried plantains and escargot. The food was the best I have had there since Steve left. The two complaint I have was a few late evening we went to grab a hamburger and the place as was not open. It is suppose to be open every night according to the info paper they give you on check-in. And the other was the Monday night dinner. In past years you would eat under the stars and they would grill all the meats outside. This year there were only a few tables set up outside and the only thing grilled was chicken and corn. Monday nights were special and magical and now it is gone.
The Jr Suite is large, comfortable, well maintained and with plenty of storage. Loved getting up every morning to coffee on the balcony. Thankfully they kept the lovely teak furniture. . You get what you pay for, don't complain if you don't like what you booked! Serenity island=plants, grande island=land, serenity ocean=beach, grande ocean=panoramic ocean. The rooms can have a musty smell if they have not been used recently. As I said I have never seen mold, you have to realize the humidity is high in the Caribbean and smell is normal. Just turn on the air conditioner to fan and it will be gone in no time.
Never turned on the TV, we can watch TV at home. The WIFI is slower, but good enough for email, etc. There were always towels available at the pool. People do go out early to save chairs by the pool/beach (maybe to use them 30 min or never), but we always found a pool/beach lounge chairs. Remember don't lose your pool towel card or it will cost you $25.
The bars are greatly improved this year. They were well stocked and well staffed. The pool bar could use a ice machine of it own though and was to be open till ten, but on several nights the lights were on and there was no bartender to be seen.
For you newbies here is a little hint on what to wear at the resort. MEN - Shorts and tea shirts are fine for the day. Please leave your beer slogan/favorite bar/favorite sayings tea shirts at home. Also leave the ratty old ball caps at home and buy a new one to wear. A shirt and shoes are to be worn in the public areas and restaurants during the day. Night time a COLLARED shirt is fine with a nice pair of shorts. Leave the ball cap in your room. LADIES- Shorts and shirt are fine during the day. Please leave the holey ripped jean shorts at home. If wearing a bathing suit a cover up should be worn in public places and restaurants, Evening is a little more chic, from a simple cocktail dress, sundress, to caprices with a dressy shirt. Even the staff uniforms change from casual daytime to Caribbean chic at nighttime. Also remember you are in a hotel, not everyone needs to here you in the hallways and restaurants. If you are looking for all day casual the Sonesta Maho might be better for you.
My favorite staff. Breakfast/Lunch - Virginia and Gilberto (I wish they would put Gilberto back on dinner) Dinner- Thanks to Kaleem for running upstairs for ice cream for me. Bar- Michael, Kim, Sheldon, Kenda, and Marrissa. We didn't even use the lobby bar this year. Check-in - the gracious Miss Vicky. Lobby staff - Edwin (or something close to that), Allan and a nice young man whom we did not get his name. He is leaving this summer for a dutch university.
I loved the remodeling Sonesta done. They updated with out destroying the art deco elegance's of the hotel. You could tell they retrained staff (still a few bartenders and waitstaff that could use another retraining of PR) and upgraded entertainment and service. Also thank you for getting rid of the ladies pushing their wears on the beach. I wish Philipsburg would do something with the people trying to get you to visit their stores. Every year it they get more aggressive.
Don't forget to visit Nandy at the hotel jewelry store. Very knowledgeable and reputable and non pushy. She wants you to love your jewelry. I have bought many lovely pieces over the years from her and it always appraises higher at home than the cost.
If you haven't been there since the remodel you have to plan a visit and check it out. Just remember when you step off the plane, you are on island time, relax don't be in such a hurry. We will be back defiantly next year.

Room Tip: Grande Ocean view is the way to go.
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  • Stayed February 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
5 Thank averagejoe53
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Miami, Florida
Level Contributor
18 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 8 March 2014

OMG!!! Cant believe that people write anything good about this hotel! The only positives were the location and most of the staff were great. Our room and bed linen smelled of severe damp, there was rust in the metal trusses holding the roof panels up in the room, the water coming out of the hot water tap was brown, the sliding door to the balcony did not lock properly, there was mould around the tub, the glass screen on the balcony was smashed, the balcony floor had some kind of product left on it from a previous guest (obviously never cleaned) and there were cockroaches. The reception area was pleasant enough but when you went down to the restaurant the terrible experience continued. Its buffet style and terrible. There is no refrigeration on any of the salads that sit there for over two hours, the rest of the food is cheap quality and poorly presented. We decided to try their 'Italian night' - what a joke! The waitress in charge of seating guests was unbelievably disorganised. The 'Trio of bruschetta was just three pieces of oblong white bread that had been shown the grill, one with a couple of anchovies, one with a small amount of tapenade and one with a few chopped up unseasoned tomatoes. To be fair the steak was acceptable. No dressing on the salad and I had to go to the pool bar to order our own drinks as no one asked what we wanted. Some of the breakfast staff hid behind a pillar and ate food without washing their hands afterwards. This place is not worth the money. The staff need to have some professional training on food hygiene and I think that if there are any chefs (I use the term loosely) behind the scenes they should be ashamed of what they produce. The place either needs to be levelled or have a serious make over as its in a great position at the quiet end of Great Bay. This review is honest and a fair report on my experience at this hotel.

Room Tip: Don't stay in 514 if you decide to stay here after reading this.
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  • Stayed March 2014, travelled on business
    • Value
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    • Rooms
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Helpful?
3 Thank John W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Karl B, Manager at Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, responded to this review, 20 March 2014
Dear John,

Thank you for your review of our resort. We are happy to hear that you were pleased with our location in St. Maarten and our staffs great customer service. We are sorry to hear about your experience regarding your room, our buffet/dinner options and over all experience. We pride ourselves on providing an excellent experience to our guests and inspect our property and rooms several times throughout the day to ensure we meet excellent standards. We also provide our guests with a wide range of menu options, sensitive to dietary requirements and offer themed cuisines each night at our buffet. To further ensure our guests happiness, we immediately respond all issues that are brought to our attention. We have checked with our staff and were unable to confirm you reaching out to us while you were here to voice your concerns and should this have been the case – we would have been able to verify your claims and take action to ensure your happiness immediately. We are also extremely concerned with the email you sent us threatening to post another bad review of our resort on Trip Advisor within 72 hours should we not provide you with the full refund you demanded. Unfortunately since your complaints were not brought to our attention while you were here with us and we are unable at this time to verify the authenticity of your claim – we are unable to provide you with the demanded refund. We do hope to see you at Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort in the future. Very best wishes.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Miami Beach, Florida
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 8 March 2014 via mobile

Every year I've been going to great bay 3 per yer me and my family and we decided that this was going to be our last year because we didn't like it. ...we have spend alt of money there atliest 15 thousand a year for the 3 trips that we take well when we finally arrived they made some changes nothing wow the rooms are the same nothing special and the staff but there's a girl name shantisia and she was really polite and VERY professional wow she made our trip worth it with her advises and she give me a good idea on how to propose to my girl friend and she loved it!! I would like to thank her for everything and I will be coming sxm more she seemed a bit young to work but she was above age but overall great bay is nice the staff (shantisia) also very nice and loving the all exclusive package I give it a 4 stars and not a 3 because of how that girl helped me with my wife thank you very much!!!

Stayed March 2014, travelled on business
Helpful?
1 Thank riches4ever
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Connecticut
Level Contributor
73 reviews
34 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 92 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 8 March 2014

We stayed here from Feb 21 - 28, 2014. I am shocked by the review that said "dirty, disgusting, terrible." That is ridiculous. Message me if you want to ask anything specific. The Sonesta Great Bay is on a beautiful stretch of beach (one of the nicest on the island in my opinion). It is now adults only and we did the all-inclusive package. I was a little nervous about all-inclusive since St. Maarten is know for its great restaurants. However, I was not at all disappointed. Here's the rundown:

-we arrived around 3:30 pm after traveling all day. While we didn't get the champagne greeting as advertised (although I saw many people checking in later in the week who got champagne at check in), we were offered a cocktail right away by a nice young man. Vicki checked us in and our room was ready. They whisked our luggage to our room while we had our Miami Vice cocktail looking out at the gorgeous pool and beach area.
-our room was in the Miramar wing which is the low rise area. We had an ocean front room with an amazing view. The room was standard - not great, not bad. It is obviously not a Ritz-Carlton but the room was perfect for us for the week. The small refrigerator was stocked with beer, soda, water, and there was a bottle of coconut run and vodka to make our own drinks. The only problem was the bathroom. The configuration was very strange. I won't go into detail but watch out for room 459 in the Miramar wing. If you are over 5' 8", you probably won't be able to sit on the toilet. I think this problem was unique to our room at the end of the hall.
-the hotel has 3 pools. The one in the Miramar wing is small and hardly anyone ever stayed there. It looked nice but we like to be around more activity. There is an infinity pool with a pool bar that looks over the ocean and another pool where they do water aerobics. For me, the pools were a little chilly. Our main goal of this vacation was to get away from the horrible New England weather and to relax as a couple for the first time without kids in over 23 years! This place was the perfect spot for us.
- the beach is beautiful. The only problem is that there are not enough umbrellas. People here actually get up at the crack of dawn (by 7 am) to put towels down on the chairs under the umbrellas. When I'm on vacation, I am not getting up to do that. We would get up at 9 am or so and get 2 lounge chairs on the beach in the full sun. Usually people leave and were able to move to an umbrella by mid-day. One suggestion for the Sonesta is to get more umbrellas!!
- the food: As I said, I was nervous about an all-inclusive. However, it was awesome to not have to worry about getting restaurant reservations and taking cabs or a bus to get to dinner. Breakfast was great - tons of fresh fruit, custom-made omelets, waffles, pancakes, etc. We had a mimosa almost every day! For lunch, we usually ate at the outdoor pizza bar. The pizza is really good! You can also get salads, burgers, hot dogs, etc. We had the lunch buffet once which was a nice change but we preferred eating lighter at lunch and hanging at the beach and pool. For dinner, we ate once at Il Pescatore, the seafood restaurant on-site, which was excellent. You don't need reservations and we were seated right away. This is full waiter service with a menu. The food was great (get the crabcake!). We ate at Water's Edge, the Italian a la carte restaurant) twice. This is outdoor dining which overlooks the beach. The lasagna was very good. I would not recommend getting the sirloin - it was a little too fatty for my taste. Again, this is full waiter service. The rest of the time we ate at the dinner buffet. I really thought I would be motivated to go off property for dining but it was so convenient and relaxing to say at the hotel that we never left (except to go into town). I would say the quality of the food was very good and much better than an all-inclusive that I stayed at in Punta Cana.
- the bars all had top notch liquor. For beer, it is Heineken, Coors Lite or Miller Lite. We had the house wines at dinner and we thought they were fine. The mixed tropical drinks were all good and we always tried the drink of the day. By the end of the week, we were actually tired of alcohol and switched to Diet Coke!
-from the hotel, it is a short walk to Philipsburg which we did twice. We walked along the upper end of the beach where the sand is packed down and never felt unsafe. We enjoyed shopping on Front Street and getting cocktails down town for a change of scenery. We loved the mojitos at Dirty Sanchez crew bar right on the Boardwalk. We also went to happy hour at the Greenhouse which had 2 for 1 drinks and $2 off of appetizers. We had a couple of rounds of awesome Margaritas and nachos for a ridiculously low price.
- Entertainment. I would say the average age at this hotel is 50 - 55 years old. It is not a spot for young couples looking for wild nightlife. For that, try the Sonesta Maho (which we visited for a day and enjoyed but are glad we didn't stay there for the week). There was a band every evening and we often say and had a drink listening to the band (which often played oldies or reggae music). The casino is a bit of a joke. There are no live dealers. For black jack, it is a video dealer which is a little creepy (Stepford wife looking). We played a few hands and did the slots a few times, but gambling is not our thing. It was a fun diversion for an hour or two. They have bingo at the pool every day at 2:30 which was popular but the animators have a much harder time rallying people for beach volleyball based on the average age!

We did a day trip to Anguilla with Aqua Mania which I reviewed separately along with an 1/2 day ATV tour of the island also reviewed separately. Both were great.

For us, this was a relaxing, enjoyable trip. The all inclusive turned out to be a great plus. The people who work there are all very nice and friendly. Remember, you are on island time there so service may be a little slow but that's just the way it is. I would recommend the hotel for couples looking for relaxation, a great view, and having little too worry about!

Room Tip: Get ocean view!! You can see the cruise ships coming in and out of port which is very cool.
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  • Stayed February 2014, travelled as a couple
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
3 Thank cab1118
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Winnipeg, Canada
Level Contributor
32 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 7 March 2014

We went for our honeymoon and had a wonderful time! Vicky greeted us at the lobby and took great care of us!! Located perfectly on Philipsburg we could walk downtown . Patricia was the nicest person there!!! She took such good care of me!!Staff very friendly. Will go back for sure!!

Room Tip: We stayed in the apartments which were amazing !! An ocean view is a Must!!!
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  • Stayed February 2014, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank moe m
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

Property: Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa
Address: 19 Little Bay Road, Philipsburg, St. Maarten-St. Martin
Phone Number:
Region: Caribbean > St. Maarten-St. Martin > 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
#3 Family Hotel in Philipsburg
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £££
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 Hotel Philipsburg
Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort And Casino
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. Maarten-St. Martin/Philipsburg

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