I’m just back from a great trip to St. Maarten where I experienced BOTH of the popular Sonesta St. Maarten Resort Hotels; the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort and the Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort. (Both on Dutch side)
Sonesta Maho Beach Resort and Casino is conveniently located right next to the airport – you’ll be checking in minutes after clearing customs. The hotel has a city feel, although once inside the resort, you’ll find all the tropical amenities you would expect from a beach resort. We had a great room on the 9th floor overlooking the pool, sundecks, beach.. and airport (more about that later). I was very favorably impressed with the rooms. While this is an older property, the rooms have been nicely renovated with stylish marble baths, handsome furnishings and luxury amenities.
The public areas were bustling with activity. There are several sundecks surrounding the very large pool, along the waterfront and small beach. If you’ve come for long walks along miles of beachfront, you’d be better off at the Sonesta Great Bay. Yes, you should rise before 9am and throw your towels on a lounge chair. There are a number of nice restaurants, bars and a casino, a video room for the kids and game tables in the lobby. The daytime music is pumping as most of the guests are young, energetic and definitely in a party mood. There were lots of families on vacation here as well.
And now for the elephant in the room – the airport. Maho Beach is located RIGHT at the end of the main runway! Staying at Sonesta Maho Beach Resort means you’re going to get some of the most exhilarating and unique entertainment imaginable. If you love going to airshows – this is the place for you! Jets of every size and color come barreling in, skimming just above the airport’s chain link fence. Beach goers who dare, get unbelievable snapshots of the underbellies of the planes. And when the jumbo jets take off – OMG… think mini-hurricane right on the beach. The force of the jet’s exhaust literally blows everyone into the water! Guests at Maho Beach Resort relax with their favorite beverage and watch the show. I have to confess I couldn’t keep my eyes away, it was fascinating, great entertainment. And there’s something about the sound of all that raw power that get’s your blood pumping. Planes typically land and take off during mid-day, so it’s not an early morning or night-time onslaught.
Almost all of the guests appeared to be staying on the all-inclusive plan which includes drinks. We witnessed several of the bars run low on some beverage selections during later evening hours. I would recommend this resort for travelers who enjoy lounging by the pool, a young atmosphere, and casino hopping at night.
Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort and Casino is located near the town of Philipsburg – a short distance from the Cruise Port. Guests who are staying at either of the Sonesta properties on an all-inclusive basis can “stay at one and play at both” – a great deal.
This resort has a much more relaxed, intimate feel, and enjoys a location at the tip of a long scenic beach (sand has a course texture). There are two nice pools (one a dramatic infinity) and a large jacuzzi tub. Soft-rock and tropical favorites plays in the background and guestrooms are bright and nicely decorated with upscale teak furnishings.
I thought the restaurants at this resort were a tick above those at the Maho Beach sister property and I noticed a wider selection of premium wines and spirits. The buffet restaurant follows a different theme each evening, there’s live entertainment 5 days a week, a lovely oceanfront fine-dining restaurant, and my favorite… a festive Monday night outdoor BBQ.
For Those Looking For A Secluded Luxury Experience
The Sonesta Great Bay also has a private Suites Only (Miramar Wing) that offers lovely one and two bedroom oceanfront suites in a 2 story low-rise building. Suites feature a separate bedroom; livingroom, efficiency kitchen, dining area and marble bath. Best of all however are the private balconies with mesmerizing ocean views or oversized terraces with lounge chairs and alfresco dining area. Waves crash dramatically along the rocky shore just below your windows and there is a dedicated pool and sunning area for this section. These rooms provide secluded luxury just a short walk from the main lobby area.
We really enjoyed our stay at this resort – especially dining under the stars to the sounds of a steel band at the Monday night BBQ. The resort is not new and is well-used, but the rooms have been freshly remodeled with deluxe features and the public areas are comfortable and appealing. Travelers who enjoy a low-key comfortable resort with a great location along a nice beach and walking distance to town for a bit of shopping will enjoy staying here. It’s also a perfect location for a pre or post cruise stay.
REASONS TO PLAN A VACATION TODAY:
From April 19 – May 2, 2012, St. Maarten celebrates Carnival with lots of local events and concerts. There will be dancing in the streets, parades, jump-ups, and plenty of Lo-Do food (local cuisine). Don’t miss it!
And clearly the Sonesta properties in St. Maarten are a great place to stay.