A gem of the Caribbean: Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort

Cover: Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


As I gazed out over St Maarten‘s Great Bay upon our arrival at the Sonesta’s Great Bay Beach Resort, I simply thought, “I can’t believe it’s been a decade since we’ve been to this beautiful island.”

With high hopes for a weekend on an island that had captured our hearts years before, we cooled off upon arrival with the welcome towels and glasses of champagne with which the hotel staff had welcomed us. Having been invited to check out the Sonesta Great Bay while we were in St Maarten, this was our first time visiting the resort and things were definitely off to a great start.

View from bar at Sonesta Great Bay Resort, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten
View from bar at Sonesta Great Bay Resort, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort

Located within walking distance to Philipsburg on the Dutch side of St Maarten / St Martin, the Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort is an all-inclusive resort with spectacular views, fabulous food, and an amazing staff.

Lobby view, Sonesta Great Bay, Sint Maarten
Lobby view, Sonesta Great Bay, Sint Maarten
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

An escape unto itself, the Great Bay Beach Resort has three pools, a grand beach, a spa, a casino, four restaurants, four bars, activities throughout the day and evening and loads of comfortable seating throughout the hotel to find a quiet spot with a glass of wine and simply take it all in.

Beverages are includes at Sonesta Great Bay
Beverages are included at Sonesta Great Bay
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The rooms

The hotel has two buildings, The Flamboyant and the Miramar – each with a different feel, but both with stunning views.

The Miramar building, Sonesta Great Bay, Sint Maarten
The Miramar building, Sonesta Great Bay, Sint Maarten
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

We stayed in the smaller, quieter Miramar building. A peaceful retreat from the Caribbean action, the room was large, with a big, comfortable bed covered in pristine, white linens. Eyeing the two big comfy chairs, we grabbed a couple of beers from the stocked refrigerator (replenished each day) and relaxed for a few minutes.

Guest room Sonesta Great Bay, Sint Maarten
Guest room Sonesta Great Bay, Sint Maarten
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The large bathroom had a corner tub and shower, Gilchrist & Soames toiletries, and plenty of fluffy, white towels.

Bathroom, Sonesta Great Bay
Bathroom, Sonesta Great Bay
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Stepping outside to our patio, with its teak table and chairs, the beautiful expanse of the calm, turquoise waters of Great Bay once again sprang into view.

Guest room patio, Sonesta Great Bay Resort, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten
Guest room patio, Sonesta Great Bay Resort, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Each level of the Miramar building has a large terrace with lounge chairs – a perfect place for reading, catching some sun, and watching the cruise ships as they come and go from the St Maarten cruise port across the harbor. On the first level, accessed by stairs from the other levels, is a quiet pool and hot tub.

View of harbor at Sonesta Great Bay
View of harbor at Sonesta Great Bay
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Miramar buiding patios, Sonesta Great Bay
Miramar building patios, Sonesta Great Bay
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Miramar buiding pool, Sonesta Great Bay
Miramar building pool, Sonesta Great Bay
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

We next decided to explore the hotel and headed over to the Flamboyant building to check it out. Located on the other side of the lobby, it is the largest of the buildings, with both island view and ocean view rooms. More bustling than the Miramar, the Flamboyant building is situated directly above the two main pools and beach.

Reaching around the water from the hotel to Philipsburg, where it is lined with shops, restaurants, and bars, Great Bay Beach is one of the longest on the island.

Great Bay Beach and the Sonesta Resort, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten
Great Bay Beach and the Sonesta Resort, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Heading down to the first floor, we located the Serenity Spa. Offering a wide selection of relaxing and therapeutic options, services range from specialty massages to pedicures.

Serenity Spa, Sonesta, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten
Serenity Spa, Sonesta, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Serenity Spa at the Sonesta Great Bay Sint Maarten
Serenity Spa at the Sonesta Great Bay Sint Maarten
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Next door, we stopped by the gift shop, where you can find just about anything you may need, then headed out to the pools just in time for a spectacular St Maarten sunset.

Sonesta Great Bay gift shop
Sonesta Great Bay gift shop
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Sunset views, St Maarten
Sunset views, St Maarten
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The restaurants and bars

Oceanside dining at Sonesta Great Bay Resort
Oceanside dining at Sonesta Great Bay Resort
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

From casual dining to buffets to à la carte menus, Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort has something to satisfy every taste from breakfast to lunch, to dinner and snacks in between. And – it’s all included!

Any day that begins with a smiling face and the question, “Would you like a Mimosa or a Bloody Mary?” is my kind of day.

Mimosa or a Bloody Mary?
Mimosa or a Bloody Mary?
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Breakfast is a massive buffet spread at the Bay View Restaurant with fresh fruits, pastries, really good croissants, meats, cheeses, juices, custom omelets and made-to-order pancakes.

Breakfast buffet at the Bay View Restaurant, St Maarten
Breakfast buffet at the Bay View Restaurant, St Maarten
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Made to order breakfast at the Bay View Restaurant, St Maarten
Made to order breakfast at the Bay View Restaurant, St Maarten
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

For lunch and munching throughout the day, choices are available all over the hotel from pizza to à la carte to the lunch buffet at Bay View.

Cocktail time! The Great Bay Beach Resort bars are pouring all day, evening, and night. As a Stoli girl, you can imagine my sheer joy when we sidled up to the lobby bar and behold, the choices were abundant, including multiple flavors of my favorite clear beverage.

Cocktails at Sonesta Great Bay, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten
Cocktails at Sonesta Great Bay, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

As the sun headed toward the horizon, the staff kicked into high gear at both Il Pescatore Seafood Restaurant and the Bay View Restaurant.

Edrick, Sonesta Great Bay Resort, Philipsburg, Sint Maarte
Edrick, Sonesta Great Bay Resort, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Il Pescatore, Sonesta Great Bay, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten
Il Pescatore, Sonesta Great Bay, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Both choices are amazing. From à la carte seafood delicacies at Il Pescatore to another lavish display of goodness served against a backdrop of the twinkling lights of St Maarten, the food is fabulous and the service, beyond stellar.

Fresh grilled deliciousness under the stars in St Maarten
Freshly grilled deliciousness under the stars in St Maarten
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Desserts galore at Sonesta Great Bay, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten
Desserts galore at Sonesta Great Bay, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The casino

Night view of Sonesta Great Bay in St Maarten
Night view of Sonesta Great Bay in St Maarten
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

After dinner, coffee and a nightcap, if a bit of time spent playing some games of chance strikes your fancy, then a stop at The Golden Casino should be on the agenda. Located in the hotel lobby, the Golden Casino has over 110 slot machines, electronic blackjack, 3 card poker, ultimate Texas hold’em and roulette machines.

Golden Casino at the Sonesta, Philipsburg, St Maarten
Golden Casino at the Sonesta, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort staff

Our hopes for a fabulous St Maarten weekend were fully realized at the Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort – a fun, vibrant hotel with stunning views, fabulous food & drink and most of all, one of the best hotel staff we’ve met.

Vicky and Edrick, Sonesta Great Bay Resort, Philipsburg, St Maarten
Vicky and Edrick, Sonesta Great Bay Resort, Philipsburg, St Maarten
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Excellent staff at Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten
Excellent staff at Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

We met guests that have returned to Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort for decades and it is understandable. From Vicky and Edrick to Alexandre, to Rosalie, Rolf and the entire hotel team, everyone was helpful, polite, and always had a smile on their face – which turns a good hotel stay into a great and memorable one.

We can’t wait to return – and, this time we won’t wait a decade to come back!

Alexandre, Sonesta Great Bay, Philipsburg, St Maarten
Alexandre, Sonesta Great Bay, Philipsburg, St Maarten
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Sonesta Great Bay St Maarten
Sonesta Great Bay St Maarten
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort

Reservations & more informationSonesta Great Bay Beach Resort website

Location: 19 Little Bay Road, PO Box 910, Philipsburg, St Maarten

Design: Contemporary Caribbean

Rooms: 257 guest rooms and suites, 205 in the Flamboyant building and 52 in the Miramar building

Room amenities: Private balcony or terrace with table and chairs, Flat screen TV with US & international satellite channels, Direct dial telephone, Air-conditioning, Iron and ironing board, Coffee maker with coffee and tea, In-room safe, Radio/alarm clock, Hairdryer, Mini-fridge with water, beer and sodas (highest room categories also have spirits and beer)

Room amenities, Sonesta Great Bay, Philipsburg, St Maarten
Room amenities, Sonesta Great Bay, Philipsburg, St Maarten
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Toiletries: Gilchrist & Soames

Gilchrist & Soames toiletries, Sonesta, Philipsburg, St Maarten
Gilchrist & Soames toiletries, Sonesta, Philipsburg, St Maarten
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Hotel amenities: Champagne and cold towel check-in, Full breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks each day in any of the resort’s restaurants, Unlimited international and domestic premium beer, wine and spirits, fruit drinks and soft drinks in all bars, including the swim-up pool bar, Weekly manager’s cocktail party and beach dinner party, Fitness center, Guest pass to Sonesta Maho Beach Resort with complimentary use of our sister resort’s facilities, restaurants, bars and lounges, Optional butler service

Sonesta Great Bay Resort St Maarten
Sonesta Great Bay Resort St Maarten
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Activities: Three swimming pools and beach, The Golden Casino, Scheduled daytime activities like aerobics, bocce ball, billiards, board games, darts, ping-pong, snorkeling, tennis and water aerobics; Nightly theme parties, live entertainment, and outdoor movies, Staffed tour desk, Duty-free shopping in nearby Philipsburg

Activities at Sonesta Great Bay St Maarten
Activities at Sonesta Great Bay St Maarten
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Spa: Services include guavaberry and sugar body scrub, Sint Maarten island flow massage, Thermal stamp massage, Hanakasumi foot massage and more.

WiFi: Free

Restaurants & bars: Bay View Restaurant, Il Pescatore Seafood Restaurant, Pizzeria Capri, Water’s Edge Restaurant, Anchor Swim-Up Bar, Bay View Bar, Lobby Bar, The Living Room Bar & Lounge


Disclosure & disclaimer: Special thanks to Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort for hosting us as their guest. The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Exploring St Maarten
Exploring St Maarten
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media