Sonesta Great Bay: Easy All-Inclusive Beach Resort on St. Maarten

  • 01 of 05

    Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort: Will It Be Your Best Caribbean Getaway?

    Beach at Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort on St Maarten.jpg
    ©Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort

    Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort: Adults-Only Caribbean All-Inclusive 

    Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa is a relaxed beach resort on St. Maarten in the Caribbean. It is adults-only and all-inclusive. With great food choices, a small casino, and a fun beach scene, there's a lot to like at this resort.

    Sonesta Great Bay is not a super-deluxe five-star hotel. It is four-star, with nice but not over-the-top rooms and a compact property. I found the resort’s service and food to be excellent. The resort is promotionally minded, offering a variety of discounts and packages.

    The Big Picture: Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort’s Setting Is Tops

    This resort boasts one of the most beautiful beach vistas I’ve ever seen.The sand is sparkling ivory, and the crystal-clear water shades from turquoise to sapphire. The resort perches in a bay, with an open view of the harbor and the mountains in the distance. The panorama is mesmerizing, and the sunrises and sunsets are magnificent.

    Sonesta Great Bay’s “Limitless All-Inclusive” Pricing

    This hotel’s all-inclusive rates give guests everything they expect from this plan. (Find out more about all-inclusive pricing)  
    • Included: all meals and snacks, liquor (including top-shelf), wifi, basic watersports, snorkeling equipment, activities and entertainment, beach loungers and service, tips, taxes
    • Not included: room service and booze in room (except in Oceanview Rooms and Butler Suites), airport transfers, motorized equipment like jetskis

    Another perk: Great Bay guests have dining and all other privileges at sister resort Sonesta Maho Beach. This property is in St. Maarten’s Maho Village, with a big casino, nightclub, and shopping.

    As one couple who’s been coming to Great Bay for almost a decade told me, “It gets better each year.”

    Will You Like Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort?

    This may be your ideal Caribbean getaway if:
    • You just want to chill out on a beautiful Caribbean beach
    • You want a nonstop flight to your destination (St. Maarten is reachable direct from several US gateways)
    • You like adults-only resorts
    • You want uncomplicated all-inclusive pricing
    • You'denjoy walking on the beach to neighboring towns
    • You like modern guest rooms with amenities like a big-screen TV, coffeemaker, free wifi
    • As a diner, you'll appreciate a choice between easy buffets and full menus
    • You could get into classic resort entertainment like beach volleyball, bingo, karaoke

    Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort may not be your favorite if: 
    • You’re opposed on principle to all-inclusives
    • You’re looking for a glamorous five-star resort
    • You prefer traditional Caribbean plantation-house style to a modern look
    • You like big resorts with a huge variety of dining and entertainment
    • You enjoy strolling around a vast property
    • You want a golf course on-site
    • You like lots of nightlife on and off the premises
    • You need a place to bring the kids

    Who Is Sonesta?

    The Sonesta Collection is an independent American hospitality company that runs nearly five dozen hotels and resorts in the U.S., Caribbean, and South America. Sonesta was founded in 1943 and is based in Newton, Massachusetts.
    • Sonesta's free-to-join Travel Pass loyalty program

    See what the rooms & suites are like at Sonesta Great Bay >>

    Continue to 2 of 5 below.
  • 02 of 05

    Sonesta Great Bay Resort Rooms & Suites

    Ocean-view hotel room at Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort on St Maarten
    at ©Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort

    Guest Accommodations at Sonesta Great Bay Resort

    The resort is mid-sized, with 257 guest rooms and suites. It's bigger than a boutique hotel, but it's not a sprawling resort where you can feel lost and never see the same people at the pool twice.

    Suites and many rooms have spectacular Caribbean views.
    • The panorama from my Ocean View room’s terrace was lovely, taking in the resort's pools, the beach, and the Caribbean beyond
    • "Island View" rooms take in green St. Maarten. It’s pretty, but if you want an ocean view, reserve that

    Suites are bigger than rooms, with amenities like a living room and butler service. Top digs: the plush Miramar Two-Bedroom Butler Suite. It comes with butler service day and night, living and dining area, two bathrooms, and an open kitchen.

    What Sonesta Great Bay Rooms are Like

    Rooms are spacious, and mine was quiet. The décor is Caribbean-feeling, with a palette of bright tropical accents. Rooms are pleasant and airy, but not high-style. (My room felt under-furnished, lacking a seating area.)

    Guests have their choice of a king or two double beds. Standard room amenities include:
    • Balcony or terrace with chairs and views
    • Flatscreen TV with international channels
    • Frequently restocked minibars with soft drinks (and booze in Oceanview Rooms and Butler Suites)
    • iPod dock, coffeemaker, hairdryer, iron, room safe
    • Free wifi (yay!)

    No Club Floor or Club Lounge Here

    There is no Club Floor or Club Lounge at this resort. Guests who desire an upgrade simply book a higher-category room such as Ocean View. Butler Suites are the top echelon here.

    Be hungry for the excellent dining at Sonesta Great Bay >>

    Continue to 3 of 5 below.
  • 03 of 05

    Dining & Drinking at Sonesta Great Bay Resort

    Restaurant at Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort on St Maarten
    Il Pescatore, the fine-dining seafood restaurant at ©Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort

    Dining & Drinking at Sonesta Great Bay Resort

    The dining scene at this resort is quite varied in style and cuisine, with a number of very good dining options. Most dining is outdoors, and every one of the restaurants has a dazzling view of the bay.

    A Splashy Seafood Restaurant

    Il Pescatore, the resort's fish and a seafood restaurant, is the resort’s fine-dining venue.
    • Guest change into their resort party wear to dine here
    • The service is just wonderful
    • The chef's Caribbean fish is all fresh that day
    • Other entrees we tasted were top-notch too

    Some guests want to keep it casual, grabbing a bite in their flipflops.
    Water’s Edge lets guests stay near the beach and enjoy burgers, salads, and the like
    Tre Assi Pizzeria doesn't bake the kind that a true New Yorker like me is accustomed to, but it fills the bill for a late-afternoon snack. And of course the red wine is all-inclusive

    What, a Buffet at an All-Inclusive?

    Buffets are a focus of Sonesta Great Bay chefs, and they do a good job.
    • Guests have the option of a lavish buffet for breakfast, lunch, or dinner
    • The Bay View Restaurant, where buffets reign all day, has a different cuisine every night: Caribbean, Mediterranean, Latin, French, barbecue, Italian, and "International," featuring all of those plus Asian specialties
    • During my visit, Bay View’s food was uniformly good each night, with lots of dishes
    • The dessert selection was varied and voluminous, delighting sweet-toothed guests – and guest who wanted to indulge in a sweet treat after a day of swimming or lounging
    • You want details? Cakes and pies (some spotlighting island-grown coconut), brownies, chocolate mousse, chocolate-dipped fruit, oversized deli cookies, soft-serve ice cream, and more sweet treats

    Room service is available only in some suites, where it's popular for breakfast on the terrace.

    Bars & Lounges at Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort

    Cocktails on demand are a big draw of all-inclusives. Here, alcohol flows all day.

    At the Bay View Bar, friendly mixologists concoct creative cocktails (try to say that three times fast!) My bartender made me an excellent Mud Slide, involving vodka, chocolate, Bailey’s and possibly more vodka. It left me with a delightful buzz until I was ready to wade into the ocean.?
    • True to its name, the Anchor Swim-Up Bar is in the pool
    • The Lobby Bar is for dressier drinking after sundown
    • The Living Room Bar and Lounge features live entertainment and a local band nightly; it's a social spot and the perfect end to a lazy day on the beach

    No complaints about the beach at Sonesta Great Bay >>

    Continue to 4 of 5 below.
  • 04 of 05

    Beach, Pools, Recreation & More at Sonesta Great Bay Resort

    Beach at Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort on St Maarten
    ©Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort

    Many guests come to Sonesta Great Bay Resort to relax and recharge by the pool or on the beach.  But this compact vacation station offers a lot for guests to do.

     Beach at Sonesta Great Bay Resort

    The resort's mile-long strip of sand is a top-notch Caribbean beach, with waters the unbelievable shade of aqua-blue.
    • The sea is calm here in the bay, with little undertow and few currents
    • When I visited in March, the ocean water was cool but very pleasant for swimming
    • Waiters prowl the resort's beach to take your bar and snack orders (all-inclusive, of course)
    • Tip: the beach loungers with an umbrella go fast. Stake yours out with a towel by 10 a.m.

    Guests like to stroll on the beach for long walks in the sunshine or moonlight.
    • The beach leads to a nice boardwalk with an interesting range of shops
    • A 10-minute stroll down the beach leads to Philipsburg, St. Maarten's photogenic capital
    • Tote footwear; the sand is dotted with shell fragments

    Pools at Sonesta Great Bay Resort 

    The resort has three pools.
    • The most popular is the long Infinity Pool overlooking the beach and set beside a lively outdoor bar

    Golden Casino at Sonesta Great Bay Resort 

    The lobby’s Golden Casino has slots only, more than 85 machines.
    • If you like casinos with a social scene or table games along with one-armed bandits, this one will fall short for you
    • But if you like to feed your pet slot machine in privacy, you will like Golden Casino
    • And can play till the wee hours

    Entertainment at Sonesta Great Bay Resort 

    The resort works hard to entertain its guests, with a variety of activities every day for guests taking a break from their beach reading.
    • On offer: everything from old-school favorites like bingo to beach volleyball

    Watersports, Snorkeling, & Diving at Sonesta Great Bay Resort 

    As at most all-inclusives, guests here have free access to “non-motorized sports" (kayaks, windsurfing, boogie boards). Motorized sports like jet-skiing cost extra.

    Guests have free access to snorkeling equipment (leave your mask and fins at home and carry on all your luggage!)

    Serenity Spa at Sonesta Great Bay Resort 

    Serenity Spa is low-key and full-service.
    • Treatments cover the basics (facials, massages) with a Caribbean touch
    • The spa menu also offers specialized services like the Green Coffee Cellulite Treatment

    Gym at Sonesta Great Bay Resort  

    The hotel’s fitness center is small but adequate.
    • It has a few bikes and elliptical machines and a nice set of free weights
    • Like the spa, it’s modest, but it does the trick for guests looking for bodywork or exercise

    How to find out more about Sonesta Great Bay >>

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Connect with Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort

    Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort Miramar Suite Terrace.jpg
    ©Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort

    Connect with Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort for a St. Maarten Getaway

    • Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort website
    • On Facebook 
    • On Instagram (@greatbaybeachresort ) 
    • Sonesta Hotels 800.766.3782

    Sonesta Great Bay Resort, Casino & Spa
    19 Little Bay Road
    P.O. Box 910
    Philipsburg, St. Maarten

    As is common in the travel industry, the Guest Author was provided with a complimentary visit in order to describe the resort. For details, see our site's Ethics Policy.