St Maarten/St Martin
31 May 2004 Newsletter

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Weather and Beaches: Richard Scott at Cliffhanger Bar above Cupecoy Beach says that after three weeks of terrible weather; terrible weather, if you're on holiday but great if you are tired of the sun... it got hot again....the last few days have been in the high 80's low 90's with very little wind.........the sea is a lovely 77 degrees and sky blue.....the beach in front of bar is starting to shrink with about 10 people a day still enjoying one of St Maarten's most beautiful beaches......great for relaxing with the bar doing lunch specials as well as our famous cocktails.......hope to see you all down soon. Veronique from Antoine Restaurant confirms that it has been raining over in Pburg and Elisa from Bikini Beach on Orient says that it rained for two weeks straight. It's not surprising that it has been raining all over the island, as it has been raining all over the Caribbean, with disastrous mudslides in the Dominican Republic. Elisa further says that now it is now ungodly hot and everything is green and overgrown. She has a few events going in the near future:
  • The Laser Cup Party Saturday night 5 of June - dinner and music
  • Salsa Night with Henry Knowles 5-9pm - 20 June
  • "Fly to Red Bull King of the Air" Kitesurf Competition, Youth Waves Band live and dinner 7pm till ??? on 26 June
  • Turtles and whales: Good news, Betty at the Horny Toad Guesthouse reports that the first leatherback sea turtle of the season deposited her clutch of 150-175 eggs on Simpson Bay Beach a few hundred yards from her guesthouse in the early morning on 24 May. Bad news, a stranded 10-foot, 700-pound pilot whale apparently got separated from its pod and died in Orient Bay despite great efforts from volunteers.
    Carnival: There are lots of photos from the Dutch side carnival parade that marched down Front Street past Escargot at the end of April.
    Photo feature: There are some new SXM photos at a secret location not posted here. Subscribe to the newsletter to get the location. There are some flora shots in Philipsburg and a couple long shots of Philipsburg, waterfront and pondfront.
    Animals R Friends: This foundation looks after animals on the island and could use your help. Check out their new website.
    The Temptation Restaurant $100 gift certificate was won by Debbie Schenkel.
    Vacation Suites at Oyster Pond is sponsoring the current contest, which will run until 30 June. Just click their name to go to their website, find the link to sign up for the SXM-Info newsletter, click it, sign up, and you are entered. Obviously everybody that is getting this email is already signed up for the newsletter, but you are not automatically signed up for the contest. You do have to go to their website and click the email link to show you visited their site. Just tell me you are already on our mailing list, and I'll leave you signed up for the newsletter and just add your name to the contest list. The prize: 1 free week over the summer! You have to go to the Vacation Suites website and find the contest signup link. It's not on the first page. So look around, and if you win, be prepared to take a vacation before 15 November.
    Here is the list of future sponsors. We urge you all to sign up ONCE for each contest. Our clients want you to see what they have to offer. Go to their websites at the appropriate time, click the link, and you could be a winner. Look for future gift certificates from:
    L'Auberge Gourmande - 1 July to 15 August - $100 off a meal for two
    Sunset Café - 16 August to 30 September - $100 off a meal for two
    Montmartre Restaurant - 1 October to 15 November - $100 off a meal for two
    Sealine Charters - 16 November to 15 December
    Chez Pat/Tropical Wave - 16 December to 6 January - $100 off a day at the beach: food, drinks, chairs, windsurf lessons, etc
    Marci's Mega Gym - 7 January to 27 January 2005 - a week of gym usage for two
    California Restaurant - 28 January to 17 February 2005
    Escargot Restaurant - 18 February to 4 March 2005
    Hot Tomatoes - 5 March to 26 March 2005
    The Horny Toad Guesthouse - 27 March to 24 April 2005 - seven low season days for the price of five
    Celine Pub Crawl - 25 April to 5 June 2005 - two tickets on the Lagoon Pub Crawl
    Hot Tomatoes contest: The Hot Tomatoes contest is over. Brad and Tekki are looking over the entries and will pick a winner for the two pizzas with a bottle of red.
    Not my contest, but: When Jeff Berger's site reaches 750,000 visitors some time in the next several weeks, he will give away two vacations in St. Maarten and numerous other prizes. One vacation is a week at Summit Resort, and another is a four-night vacation at Divi Little Bay (that goes to the 750,750th visitor). There are many dinners at fine restaurants including Spiga, L'Alabama, and Turtle Pier's famous lobster, a half day island hopping cruise in a 1200-hp Cigarette boat, a Bentley limousine to take you to one of the dinners, and much more. Details are on his St. Maarten home page.
    On 17 May the euro was at 1.188 and today it's at 1.218. Not much happening, but it is now getting worse, rather than better. French side restaurants with many costs in dollars and many American (or Canadian) clients have been offering more favorable exchange rates. Some restaurants offer a 1 to 1 exchange. We will no longer publish a list of them as it is hard enough to keep track of them while we are on the island and impossible from NY. Some restaurants have lowered their prices.  As always, know what the euro is worth, what the restaurateur is offering for an exchange, and what the costs are on the menu. Finally, you are here to have fun and fine food, not complex financial calculations, so don't worry about it too much. 
    On Friday (7 May) we had dinner at Spartaco on the hill above Cole Bay. We started with the zucchini and tomato combo topped with mozzarella. It was quite nice with the 2000 Chianti Classico from Nippozanna ($35). I had the fresh pasta with lobster and mushrooms in a tomato sauce and Martha had the red snapper in an artichoke sauce. It was a quiet evening with a lovely breeze, a perfect evening for relaxing on the porch of this refurbished plantation home. Good food, good service, and valet parking.
    On Saturday we went to Les Dunes on the Marigot Marina. It is a lovely space at the far end of the marina, past Chanteclair and the now-closed Jean DuPont. They serve northern African and southern French food. Martha started with fresh oysters (it was a Friday, so they are coming in fresh from France). They are not cheap at 12euro for six, but good. I went with a baked goat cheese salad. We had started with two glasses of champagne and Martha finished mine with the last of her oysters as I moved on to Givry premier cru (28euro) for the salad. Givry is a Burgundy from the Chalonais near Chalon-sur-Saone, south of the famous Burgundies from Beaune. It's a bit lighter, but a premier cru has a bit more body, so it was a pretty good wine with the strong flavors of baked goat cheese. It was wonderful with the quail on a bed of spinach flavored with figs, raisins, and onions that Martha had and even better with my duck breast with foie gras in Moroccan spices (featuring cinnamon). Both dinners were priced at 22euro. The combinations sound strange to our western experience, but they are quite good. Two aps, two wonderful main courses, and a very nice bottle of wine for only 100euro or about $120. The restaurant is owned by Georges from Belle Epoque and his wife is usually managing Les Dunes while one of Georges' best waiters has come over to wait on tables, so the service is good also.
    For our last night on the island, we went to Montmartre, partially because it is close, but also because it is good and the service is outstanding. This restaurant is owned by Pascal Nemer who also owns L'Auberge Gourmande and Sunset Café in Grand Case. His wife, Karen, is usually managing this outpost and Olivier and Arsene are two of the finest waiters on the island. The kitchen turns out interesting food and there is a very large wine list.  We no longer have to order wine as both waiters remember that we like the 97 Beaune Premier Cru Champs Pimont. We started with the scallops wrapped in bacon, a classic combination, but still very tasty.  this one was part of a salad in a light vinaigrette with tomatoes and asparagus. Our dinners were the duck leg confit and the tuna steak in a sesame crust with a caper sauce and  myriad of vegetables. The photos on the website are making me hungry all over again. 
    And that ended another season on the island. We flew out the next morning and got stranded in Chicago as tornadoes swept the Midwest. The plane that was to take us to Albany never took off from Springfield, MO. We (Martha, myself, and Princess Penobscat Maine Coon Cat, aka Penny) spent the night in a Quality (I use the term loosely) Inn near O'Hare and made it in the next day. More about traveling with animals and 24 bottles of booze in the next newsletter.
    Our one bedroom condo will be available for rent until we return in mid-December. Last year we replaced the microwave with a new GE Advantium model and this year we replaced the refrigerator and dishwasher. The unit was painted. New drapes were put in front and back. All the upholstery was recovered and a new cover was put on the king size bed. We rent it for $1000 per week and throw in a $50 voucher on a dinner for two at Hot Tomatoes and a $50 coupon to Ama Bella Jewelers with any reservation. We include a special invitation to Vinissimo where you will get at least 10% off and a few samples. Finally, Pascal, owner of Auberge Gourmande, Sunset Café, and Montmartre Restaurant, is offering a welcome champagne cocktail and an afterdinner drink at one of his restaurants to any of our renters. That's a net of about $850 for a sixth floor one bedroom unit. The rest of May is lovely and our on-island friends tell us that June is calm and quiet. July is largely taken already and August is when the French arrive for their month's holiday, so the restaurants are all open. September is probably the hottest and wettest month, so many restaurateurs close and take their vacations. We have been here in October and November and loved it. By then the restaurateurs are back and trying out new ideas. Go over to our website, check out the unit and its fabulous views, check the calendar for availability, and send us an email if you are interested.
    Look on the SXM-Restaurants website for a list of all restaurants that have coupons for some freebie. There are several coupons there to make your vacation a bit cheaper. (www.SXM-Restaurants.com/coupons.html)
    L'Esperance Hotel (www.LesperanceHotel.com) in Philipsburg is bargain at $65 per night for a 1BR suite with a kitchen. It's not on the water, but they have a pool.
    Delfina (www.SXM-Hotels.com/delfina) now charges $95 per night for a double and includes two breakfasts and evening cocktails. They are in the Cupecoy area, not on the beach, but close enough to walk and they have a pool. You also get a $50 coupon to Ama Jewelers with any reservation.
    The Banana Cabana (www.SXM-hotels.com/index.html#bc), a one bedroom studio on the lagoon in Cupecoy, is only $695 for the week all taxes and service included.
    California (www.SXM-hotels.com/california has two apartments for rent that are right on the water in Grand Case. The one bedroom, sleeps four, is $550 and the two bedroom, sleeps six, maybe more, is $900 for the week.