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Review Summary


Pros

  • Tranquil location, within walking distance of Philipsburg’s dining and entertainment
  • Direct access to a scenic, uncrowded beach 
  • Three great outdoor pools, including an infinity pool facing the beach
  • Cheerful guest rooms, some with kitchens and separate living areas
  • Small spa includes the option for beachfront treatments
  • Four restaurants and four bars with a mix of indoor and outdoor dining
  • Free day passes to Sonesta Maho Beach Resort and Casino
  • Plain but functional fitness center with treadmills, ellipticals, and free weights
  • Tiny casino with range of electronic games
  • Free Wi-Fi and parking

Cons

  • Decor is uninspiring
  • Food is hit or miss
  • Pools are small

Bottom Line

Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort & Casino is a three-pearl, all-inclusive adults-only resort located just outside St. Maartin’s capital, Philipsburg. The hotel’s 257 guest rooms and facilities are generic, but the property does offer all the features that travelers would expect from a mid-range resort. The location is among the hotel's biggest perks, with its restaurants (and many rooms) offering striking views of Great Bay. The property backs onto a fine stretch of beach, and its setting is delightfully quiet despite its proximately to touristy Philipsburg. Travelers looking for a stylish boutique option could try the Holland House Beach Hotel, though it lacks a pool.

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Scene

Mid-range, cookie-cutter resort with dramatic bay views 

The pool area provides dramatic bay views that are the pull at this mid-range resort; interiors are cookie-cutter

Open for more than 50 years, Sonesta Great Bay is among the oldest and largest properties on the island. The hotel underwent renovations in 2014, but it appears as though a number of areas were overlooked. The hotel grounds are simple and compact, with the facilities and rooms branching off the round lobby. There are no major eyesores -- everything is tidy and appealing -- but this hotel is far from stylish. The fitness center was enlarged but its no-frills decor is unchanged. New circular benches and chairs in the lobby match its round layout, but the space could still use more oomph. The guest room colors are more distinctive, but the drab pre-renovation furniture remains.

The picture-perfect views of Great Bay are the showpiece here and the property's long stretch of beach is another unexpected gem. With virtually no vendors or other tourists, guests really only need to compete with one another for a spot on the sand. Sonesta Great Bay is an adults-only property, and mosts guests are over 40, which keeps the party vibe at bay. While the atmosphere isn’t overly hectic, it’s lively enough to keep things interesting.

All-inclusive options on St. Martin are limited, making this resort a solid option for travelers interested in package deals. For a higher rate, the hotel’s sister property, Sonesta Ocean Point, is also adults-only and all-inclusive, but the rooms and facilities are significantly chicer. 

Location

Serene location within a 10-minute walk of Philipsburg’s shops and restaurants

Map of Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort & Casino

Sonesta Great Bay is set on a peaceful stretch of Little Bay Road, close enough to the Dutch capital of Philipsburg to be convenient, yet far enough away from the crowds to feel pleasantly secluded. Philipsburg is packed with duty-free shops, restaurants, and bars, most of which are concentrated along Front Street, about a 12-minute walk away. There’s also a buzzing boardwalk that runs along the white sands of Great Bay Beach. Most cruise ships dock in nearby Great Bay Harbor, and Philipsburg has a bustling, commercial ambiance as a result. The hotel is less than a 20-minute drive from Princess Juliana International Airport, and Fort Amsterdam is a 10-minute walk away. The French capital of Marigot can be reached in 20 minutes by car. 

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Rooms

Pleasant rooms include furnished balconies or terraces plus minibars

The pleasant Junior Suite incorporates somewhat dated furniture and colorful furnishings

Guest rooms at Sonesta Great Bay feature a bright color scheme of golden yellow and lime green. All rooms include balconies or terraces furnished with clunky wooden tables and chairs. The views of the ocean are beautiful, but Island View Rooms mainly overlook the hotel parking lot (though picturesque rolling hills are visible in the background.) Rooms are clean and modern, but the medium-brown wood furniture looks dated. Wall-mounted flat-screen TVs are positioned over long dressers topped with basic coffeemakers. Dressers also hold minibars filled with soft drinks, and some room categories have liquor and beer. Some room categories also include separate living areas, kitchens, and multiple bedrooms.

Bathrooms have old-fashioned fixtures, magnifying mirrors, and roomy countertops. Glass walk-in showers are stocked with pump bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and Gilchrist & Soames brand body wash. Suites in the Miramar Building have bathrooms featuring sleek above-counter sinks and rainfall showerheads.

Rooms and Rates

Features

Three outdoor pools with bay views, four on-site restaurants and bars, and quiet beach

The hotel's quiet beach (not technically private) generally isn't crowded, and loungers and umbrellas are provided

Sonesta Great Bay Beach doesn't have outstanding features, but it checks all the boxes for the typical mid-range resort. The main pool is set in a modest courtyard facing Great Bay with lounge chairs and beach umbrellas. The deck drops down to a second level, which features an infinity pool with a swim-up bar. This lower deck also includes a round hot tub and a few cushy day beds. A third, clover-shaped pool is found by the apartment section of the resort. All three pools are on the smaller side, with most guests clustering around the infinity pool.

The resort's “limitless all-inclusive” package includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks each day in any of the property's restaurants, along with beer, wine, and spirits. The main buffet restaurant, Bay View Restaurant, features a breezy open-air layout and an eye-catching bar area decorated with blue glass. Set on a lovely terrace, casual Pizzeria Capri offers more wonderful ocean vistas. The same space transforms into Water’s Edge Restaurant in the evening, which features a more upscale Mediterranean and Italian a la carte menu. Il Pescatore Seafood Restaurant is located off the lobby, and offers a smaller dining area with a more intimate feel. Although this restaurant is set indoors the ocean views have not been neglected, and there are floor-to-ceiling windows along one wall. Note that the food is reportedly average across the board.

The hotel backs onto a remarkably pristine stretch of beachfront. Separated from the main part of Great Bay Beach by sand dunes, this beach isn’t technically private (none are in St. Maarten), but is generally free of tourists. It still gets busy with other hotel guests, of course, but it’s far less crowded than many of the island’s other beaches. The resort's Serenity Spa is tiny but adequate, offering massages, body scrubs, and other treatments. Treatments can also be arranged outside in a beach gazebo. The neighboring fitness center is similarly run-of-the-mill, with a decent variety of cardio machines and weights. Golden Casino is located in the hotel lobby and has electronic games such as slot machines and roulette, but no table games. It feels small -- particularly when compared to the enormous casino (purportedly the island's largest) located at the resort's sister property, Sonesta Maho.

The hotel offers plenty of regular activities and events, including aerobics, board games, dance classes, nightly theme parties, and live music performances. Guests can also receive day-passes to use the extensive facilities of Sonesta Maho. There's also lots of meeting and event space for rent and free hotel-wide Wi-Fi.  Free parking is available in a lot directly across the road from the hotel.

Amenities

Key Features
Pool
Fitness Center
Spa
Internet
Jacuzzi
Casino
Hotel Services
Transport to / from Hotel
Concierge
Dry Cleaning
Free Breakfast
Laundry
Things to Do
Business Center
Casino
Fitness Center
Located on the Beach
Pool
Spa
Tennis Court
Room Features
Air Conditioner
Balcony
Television
Full Kitchen
Separate Bedroom / Living Room Space
Internet
Address
19 Little Bay Road, Philipsburg, Caribbean
Phone (599) 542-2446
Room Types
  • Deluxe Ocean View Room
  • Mountain View Room
  • Ocean View Room
  • One Bedroom Suite

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