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“Wedding Disaster”

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Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa
Ranked #3 of 12 Hotels in Philipsburg
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 5 April 2012

So here it goes, you may need to sit down for this one. For a year and a half my now husband and I planned this perfect wedding. Of all of the hotels on the island we decided to go with Sonesta Great Bay...BAD IDEA.

We initially visited the resort in March 2011 and came back with feedback to the hotel rep that at the time was assisting us to plan this once in a life-time event. One of the things we spoke about was customer services. Our guest would be traveling from New York and NJ and paying over $2000 to stay at the hotel that WE CHOSE and stressed that customer service was key. We were promised that everything would be perfect the week of.

So everything is great, until the guest begin to arrive. One of my bridesmaid and her significant other were given a room on the bottom floor where there is no ocean view there is only sand view and hotel supply view. The refrigerator leaked and the room had a weird smell. After complaining about the room, mind you they initially said we had to be stuck with the room, they moved her to a mountain view room which is not what she had paid for, but to prevent arguments she was a trooper and stuck with it.

Then as more guests arrived there was confusion about all-inclusive with Expedia.com. After 2 hrs on the phone with Expedia, mind you the hotel did nothing to say let me see what we can do, the guests were forced to pay $500 extra to obtain the all-inclusive they had previously booked.

Then the big day! We had met with staff at least on two occasions to finalize everything and the wedding planner met with them prior to our arrival and we had coordinated this event for a year and a half. Why on the day of the wedding the hotel refused to complete the original table set-up? I had numerous calls from the wedding planner who was also frustrated by the hotel's lack of professionalism.

Then we get to the reception and please explain to me why a hotel manager instructed our DJ whom we paid $1,000 for the night, not to play music while the orders of the guests were taken without our knowledge or consent? This went on for about an hour or so. My husband had to instruct the DJ to play the music at a level where people could heare the music and the staff could take orders.

Finally we get to the end of the night and I decide to give away bottles to my guests, thinking that because we had not only paid for more people than actually came to the wedding and we had a premium bar, that I could give my guests a little present. Please explain to me how the manager of Food and Beverage Julian decided to come to us in the middle of the reception floor to address us in front of our guests about giving away the bottles and then directed a staff to take the bottles back from the guests without explanation and then the staff began to accuse the guests of "STEALING" the bottles of liquor? Essentially it became an embarrassing argument between the Father of the Bride, the Father of the Groom, Managers, and hotel staff. Did I mention that the other guests at the hotel who were on looking at the event were also present at the time?

As if that wasn't enough, monetary gifts that were left at the sweetheart table managed to disappear also.

So the same night we file a complaint with management. Everyone is very sorry, but the envelopes had yet to appear. Subsequently after leaving the hotel we took time to wind down and think the event through. We had to apologize to our guests and family for the incident. We also reached out to Mr. Juan Fernandez himself and it is going on over a month and we have yet to even receive an apology on his behalf. We requested a refund, which we thought was proper and guess what we have yet to hear from the hotel or a rep.

The hotel staff such as Joan Samson, Violet, the activities team, and the chef Renada were amazing! A MILLION AND ONE THANK YOUS! Also thank you to Oro Diamente!

But the hotel management such as Mr. Fernandez and Mr. Richardson with whom the complaint was made on the night of, are unprofessional as was Julian who should have taken other steps when she felt that giving away drinks that we had paid for was inappropriate. As well as the staff who began to argue with the guests.

The hotel food is good, the bartender DESTINY is awesome, the front desk night staff are good too, the rooms on the apartment side are amazing and worth the investment, but it seems that in order for such a good hotel to become great it requires new management that actually care about their customers and keeping them coming back.

Our wedding memory was destroyed as people first remember the argument and not the kiss, or the decor, or the food, or the good time that was had prior to the embarrassment. Everyone we speak to question if the hotel even gave us a partial refund to compensate for the bad experience and we have to say that we are still waiting to at least hear back from the general manager. what is most upseting is that we paid for 50 ppl and we ended up with about 30. We overpaid the hotel for the amount of guests that attended. Each guest paid for their stay which was $330.00 per person per night all-inclusive and aside from that we paid about $77.00 per person for the premium bar, cocktail hour, and reception food. And we have not even received an I'm sorry, or please come back here is a voucher for you and your family, or the right thing a refund.

Aside from the wedding disaster, when we get home and go over our finances and statements we found that the gift shop had charged us twice for each purchase we made there and also charged seperate amounts for purchases that we had not made. Thankfully this was the one thing the hotel rectified.

I would recommend staying at any other hotel in St. Maarten than here. This place is overpriced and it does not have the professionalism or service to come with the price tag.

Room Tip: The Apartments are a bit of a walk, but they are the best the hotel has.
  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled with family
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17  Thank nRiches266
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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3,163 - 3,169 of 4,321 reviews

Reviewed 4 April 2012

My husband and I travelled to St. Maarten for a mini 4 day vacation. The location of the Sonesta Great Bay was perfect – walkable to Philipsburg and all the great restaurants, beautiful beach and pool. The restaurant, bar and activity staff were wonderful. They were friendly and accommodating. The only downside to this hotel was the guest room, particularly the bathroom. The bathroom needs a serious makeover – marble tile looked old, ceiling tile was falling apart, and toilet seat was broken. The bed was very uncomfortable and glass part of our balcony had a crack in it about 10-12 inches long. Some recommendations - go to Marigot for the day to the market, try all the restaurants particularly Chesterfields, Barefoot and Green House, and get an Ocean view room – there is no bad view at the hotel.

Room Tip: Get an ocean view room - 4th floor and above.
  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Topguest511
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 April 2012

We stayed here from March 23-30.... It was my first time to an Island and was a great experience... The staff was friendly... Special thanks to Simoine,Nigel,Jose, and Corey....You all were terrific and made our vacation one to remember...
Our room was always cleaned and taken care of every day... The one thing we did notice was that someone was always cleaning... We found it to be very clean...
They have a great choice of food also... The buffet was good with something different everyday....Also they did and huge BBQ one night by the pool which was out of this world...

We would definatley recommend this Hotel to everyone....

Room Tip: We had a Mtn. View Room which was fine because we didn't spend alot of time in the room... Beach...
  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled with friends
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Thank Robyn B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 April 2012

My husband and I stayed for 6 nights in a Deluxe oceanview topfloor corner room Rm 463 on the apartment side without the meal plan. The room far exceeded my expectations after reading negative reviews. It had a working safe, coffee maker, mini frig, iron and board, and the top floor balcony had nicer chairs with a stellar view. The bathroom had a garden tup, toilet and bidet, hairdryer and ample counter space. We did not use the TV or wifi nor the maid service (we keep our do not disturb sign on the door and reuse towels and sheets during our stay). We only had one meal at the hotel - the first night arriving late we found no alacarte restaurant except the reservation only ones, so we opted for the buffet offering. It was good enough but a shocking 31 US pp (we are light eaters). After breakfast the next morning at Front St Cafe, a good 15 block walk, we went directly the the grocery store a few blocks farther for fruit and sandwich fixin's. The beach is lovely and we were able to easily find chairs in the afternoon after our morning adventures in Phillipsburg or beyond. We did not rent a car and were pleased with the decision. We likely spent 250 US in taxis, but without stress of navigating or parking. Our pics for restaurants off site; Antoines on Front St for lunch or dinner, reasonably priced and an easy walk; Marks Place for ribs $10 cab ride; Jimbos in Simpson Bay $15 cab ride; Chesterfields $8 cab ride. Our last night, a local turned us on to Original Fat Boys BBQ, a decent walk but worth it for a $9 plate of BBQ ribs and chicken right off of his roadside pit. We thoroughly enjoyed a Tuesday sail around the island on the Quality Time Catamaran (Eagle Tours) with a stop at Calmos Cafe for lunch in Grand Case and two other snorkel/swim stops $109 includes lunch. We booked directly with them over the phone and they picked us up (note that 830am pick up is island time so be prepared to wait). The Sonesta Great Bay is a moderate hotel that caters mainly to travelers who enjoy the all inclusive meals and drink features, which we do not. But we so enjoyed the room and beach and overall St Maarten experience that we left feeling very satisfied.

Room Tip: Spring for the Deluxe Ocean View and request upper floor
  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled as a couple
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Thank LikesAShadyBeach
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 March 2012

My wife and I along with two other couples stayed at the Sonest Great Bay in April of 2011. This was our third trip there and it was truly a CHARM!! We were treated like family from all we encountred. Great accomodations, food,drink, weather and entertainment were enjoyed by all.
ONE COULD NOT ASK FOR MORE...
Now its April 12th.,2012, WE ARE ALL GOING BACK FOR THE FOURTH TIME. Can not waite.
Start up the Band Juan, and tell Michael to fill up the bar,the Julio and friends are coming back for TEN DAYS.

  • Stayed: April 2011, travelled as a couple
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7  Thank Andre K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
gmgreatbay19, General Manager at Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded 1 April 2012

We appreciate the loyalty and being a champion to promote our resort & the island of Sint Maarten. We made some changes since 2011 with upgrades to our buffet, new activity program, entertainment, etc... we still have Michael, Martiza & many other staff still at our resort. We will see you in a few weeks.
with hospitality,
Juan

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 March 2012

I came to this place with no reservation inquiring about a 3 night stay. At first I have a bad impression as the two out of the three front desk clerks were almost hiding or ignoring me when no one was in line. It was juts me at the front reception. I was happy that Ryan the person who set up my reservation help me out. I have stopped in almost every single resort in town with no luck in finding something, nice, all inclusive, family friendly. Ryan, helped me and my family, we took 2 connecting rooms. It was the kids, my husband and I.
The meals, drinks, water activities were all included. The price was very reasonable at about $300 + per night. The food and beverage Mananger and staff was very attentive they were always helpful to set up a larger table that could accommodate all the family. Jessica & Kevin were awesome entertaining my kids, they are the ones in charge of some of the daily activities for the guests including kids (crafts, videogames,painting was available for kids). I was in heaven I did not have to worry about anything thing. Just relax...My first night at the hotel was a BBQ dinner where you get to meet the manangers, they were so nice. This is a chain hotel but you feel like it is family owned. They make you feel like FAMILY.
Everyday was something new, Bingo around the pool with prizes, Salsa night with live entertainmet, a new theme everyday. The room was very nice, the beach was awesome, the infinitive pool was amazing and the hotel installations well decorated. I would recommend this place to everyone that wants a great stay in Saint Maarten. YOU cannort go wrong staying here!!!
Thank you for all the staff at the Sonesta Great bay for the best vacation in my life!

Room Tip: For family with kids, second floor is the best choice. WE have room 215-217 overlooking the kids are...
  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled with family
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2  Thank BeachgirlKeylargo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 March 2012

This is an older hotel which is directly on a fabulous, calm, deep bay. You can see where the cliff drops off into deeper water, (about 3 feet in). It was a long beach with plenty of umbrellas and chaise lounges, and you can walk into town along the beach in about 25 minutes, if you are slow like me, otherwise it will probably only take 10 minutes. Plenty of rib and beer joints in the town along the beach if you get tired of the hotel food. Taxis are always in the front and they have legal meters. The hotel usually has two operating restaurants, the buffet which is outside, and usually has live music, and a specialty restaurant, inside. You have to book the specialty restaurants at the buffet in the morning about 10:30am.
I found that I liked the buffet:the food changed every night, the nights were warm and there were no mosquitoes.
I paid the all inclusive fee, but I was disappointed with the second tier alcohol and the lack of bottled water. You could only purchase small bottles from the gift shop which closed at 6pm. I was told to drink from the bathroom sink, which I don't do at home.
The first room i stayed in was mildewy, when I complained, they immediately changed me to another comparable room which had no problems. This is an older hotel, with decent food and the kind of entertainment you would see at a senior citizens home. But it is quiet, small, clean , centrally located, with a great beach where you could uninterruptedly read a book.

Room Tip: They have an elevator so the floor doesn't matter, ocean views are beautiful can be noisy until...
  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled solo
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2  Thank OshunLibra
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

Address: 19 Little Bay Road, Philipsburg, St Martin / St Maarten
Phone Number:
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
#3 Family Hotel in Philipsburg
Price Range: $342 - $777 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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 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
Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa St Martin / St Maarten/Philipsburg

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