St Maarten/St Martin
30 June 2004 Newsletter
In mid June, Vincent at Thai
said the weather had been very
hot. Elisa from Bikini
reports great beach and great weather.
Unfortunately, she's "still in Thailand. Actually at Koh Samui, an island about
twice the size of SXM, staying on Chaweng beach. Almost a second Orient Beach
with its hotels and restaurants. Be back mid-July."
Zuzu at California
says the weather is absolutely beautiful
with just a slight breeze. It's perfect and the business was
good in May. Their specials at this time are lobster cake and curry
dressing, home made foie gras pâté, encrusted brie cheese
and crispy bacon, exotic lobster salad (half a lobster, jumbo shrimp, sea
scallops, and exotic fruit), monkfish and jumbo shrimp
in saffron flavor, sea scallop risotto, cotriade (couscous de la mer),
duck breast topped with goat cheese, beef tenderloin in
morel sauce, and chicken stuffed with lobster.
Sylvain from Vinissimo
says that it's very quiet in St Martin, but we still doing some business
and having good time also. He had the
opportunity to try some Kobe beef for the first time this week-end with a
Beringer Private Reserve 1997 and Volnay Champans 1998. May was very rainy and it still rains quite often at the moment, so the
good point is that the island is very green for this time of
year. He will be in France in August for
vacation and will find new wines for us to try next
Cruise Club has opened at Bobby's Marina. They offer a week-long
catamaran cruise, complete with a captain and private chef, for a
mere $8,000 to $20,000.
first leatherback sea turtle hatchlings of the season appeared at Guana Bay on
Saturday (5 June) and promptly headed out to the
Travel and Leisure Magazine: The Inn at Cupecoy is Travel and
Leisure magazine's "Inn of the Month" in the July 2004 issue ....
at newsstands now or use this
link to view online.
Air Canada: Air Canada will start weekly direct
flights from Toronto to SXM in December. Currently it's slated to continue
until April 2005. We've heard great things about Canadian airline prices,
mostly charters, but have never used them ... yet.
Dolphin Casino: It has been reported that Dolphin Casino has
closed again. Not my fault.
Turnover Tax/Customs: There is no
customs duty upon entering SXM and therefore, there is no inspection of luggage
to find dutiable items. You really shouldn't bring illegal drugs onto the
island, but bringing alcohol, cigarettes, meat, jewelry, whatever, while
generally silly in terms of cost savings, is not illegal.
This is the basis of the island's claim to being a
duty-free paradise. Be that as it may, most businesses are expected to pay a 3%
Turnover tax (TOT) to the government. Basically they add up their total sales
and give 3% to the politicians. Given that few businesses make more than a 10%
profit on their sales dollar, this is a rather high tax on their profits and few
businesses can, much less, will give it up willingly. Most raised prices by 3%
(or more). Some started to add 3% to all bills as they were presented to
customers. This then put the lie to the "duty-free" part of paradise. Though
many people have accused politicians of being dumb, it is rarely true. They know
where they make their money and act accordingly. Thus, the authorities came out
Inspectorate of Taxes, St
TO ALL ENTERPRISES TAXABLE FOR THE TURNOVER TAX
Hereby, the Inspectorate of
Taxes, makes known to all the enterprises taxable for the turnover tax,
that the turnover tax is NOT a Sales Tax and should NOT be levied as such.
THE CUSTOMER SHOULD NOT BE CHARGED TURNOVER TAX NOR SHOULD THE TURNOVER
TAX BE SPECIFIED ON THE RECEIPT OF THE CUSTOMER. Please take notice that
the Turnover tax should NOT be specified as a "3% Government tax" which
frequently appears on receipts within the hotel and catering industry.
PLEASE TAKE GOOD NOTICE OF THE ABOVEMENTIONED !
Thank you for your understanding.
Philipsburg, February 4th, 2003
The Head of the
Inspectorate of Taxes St Maarten
Mr. R.G. Richardson
visiting address : Vineyard Building, Buncamper Road 33,
visiting hours : 8am to 12pm and 13pm to 15pm
address : P.O. Box 1026, Philipsburg
Telephone : 542.2143 / 542.5301 /
542.5304 / 542.3839
Fax : 542.2918
This ensures that the tourists will not notice the government's
hand in their pocket. In theory, you can demand that this charge be removed from
any bill, as the charge is supposed to be included in the prices that you are
given. Good luck. I am indebted to Watchdog on the TTOL bulletin board for
bringing this up. We, of course, knew this from reading the local papers, but
few tourists read as many issues as we do.
Christmas: Possibly it's a bit early,
but Philipsburg is planning an extravaganza for next
Christmas/New Years featuring the new boardwalk. The Dutch side is trying hard
to get people back and the boardwalk is a great start. There are new restaurants
and some of the old restaurants are among the best on the island. Check them out
Other news: From Neil Rooney
at Buccaneer Beach Bar: Simpson Bay Yacht Club is adding units, between Saratoga
and The Boathouse, they've got the walls up. There is a new project being built
on Simpson Bay Beach, South of Mary's Boon. There are two new projects on
Cupecoy, between Cupecoy Beach Club and Sapphire. (That would be Tendal's
project and Erato's Rainbow Beach Club - ESK note). Maho's Aqua
Marine project claims that over 60 percent of the units are sold. The new seven
theater movie complex, attached to the old Lightning Casino opened in early
June. Some of the land at Cupecoy, at the French border is being cleared. It's
owned by Orient Express, the owner's of La Samanna Hotel. (The plans I saw
called for private villas and a small "Mediterranean" village - ESK
note). La Belle Creole was sold to an American Company in March, but
nothing is happening at the site as yet. Indiana Restaurant is closed for
"renovations", will reopen in .... September? Lots of restaurants for
sale...Mezzanote and more (add Boathouse and Spartaco, but this
is hardly news ESK note)...The Airport expansion has started, the
land across the road, by the cement plant, is being cleared.
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 birds that were near our unit at Sapphire over the
Bonus photo feature:
Veronique from Antoine
Restaurant took many fine photos of the St Maarten
Carnival parade. I have just worked ten of them into a new page on her
L'Auberge Gourmande is sponsoring the current contest, running from 1 July to
15 August. Just click their name to go to their
website, find the link to sign up for the
SXM-Info newsletter and contest, 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 really 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 is $100 off a meal for
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
- 16 August to
30 September - $100 off a meal for twoMontmartre Restaurant
October to 15 November - $100 off a meal for twoSealine Charters
16 November to 15 DecemberChez Pat/Tropical Wave - 16 December to 6 January - $100 off a day at the beach:
food, drinks, chairs, windsurf lessons, etc
- 18 February to 4 March 2005Hot
- 5 March to 26 March
Celine Pub Crawl
- 25 April
to 5 June 2005 - two tickets on the Lagoon Pub Crawl
Tomatoes contest offering two pizzas
with a bottle of red was won by Wayne and Phyllis Underwood.
On 17 May the
euro was at 1.218 and today it's at 1.219. Not much
happen over the last month. 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.
Having said that, I note that Maryline at Le Mambo
sent me an email saying
that they will be doing 1 dollar for 1 euro all summer.
We ordered a can of saffron from Saffron.com for a mere $35 an ounce. The saffron was intensely colored and
quite flavorful, better than that which we have been getting on the island at
Guichard in the industrial zone in La Savane outside of Grand Case. This
web-based order seems so much easier and possibly cheaper, given the
euro/dollar fiasco. We then got a side of wild Alaskan salmon on sale for
$5 per pound. The first meal was salmon fillets with a saffron aioli. Those
interested in saffron with fish will find it in bouillabaisse at many
places on the island and in the marmite at Bistrot Caraïbes or a
recurring special at California featuring monkfish and giant shrimp in
a saffron sauce. Our second meal from the salmon was made by gleaning bits
of salmon from the frame and putting it into a saffron-flavored crêpe.
If you like crêpes, St Germain on the Marigot Marina is one spot
and California in Grand Case is another. Alain
at California is from the Brittany on the NW
coast of France where buckwheat (sarrasin in French) is used for the crêpes,
although they call them gallette de sarrasin as the word krampouez is used
for crêpes in the local patois. Call them what you will, they are
cooked on a bilig and one turns the paste with a rozel to make them
round. There are a lot of crêperies (restaurants with only crêpes and
galettes) now everywhere in France, as they are a
hot speciality item. There is some schools where you can learn to make
crêpes, but Alain and Zuzu learned from their mothers and sisters
with a grandmother's recipe. Buckwheat is actually an herb of the genus
Fagopyrum, native to Russia. The flour is ground from the triangular and
quite flavorful seeds and is used in blinis.
Claudette Davis of Paradise View reports that she and Mario of Mario's Bistro, Simone Raviscioni from the Spiga, Christophe Martinez from Cottage, and Olivier Dulac from Tastevin were the five chefs from St.
Martin who went to introduce the cuisine gastronomie St. Martinois to the
European market. The event was held in Hotel Ampere (4 star
hotel) in the 17th arrondissement in Paris and was filmed by RFO (French
television). Each chef prepared four dishes. Claudette prepared Stuffed
Dumpling, Beef Stew, St. Martin Traditional Boiled Fish, and Bread Pudding.
Mario prepared Cream of Plantain Soup, Black Bean & Conch Chili, Sour Cream
and Plantain Chips, Baked Mahi Mahi with West Indian
Crab Crust, Pan Fried Yucca cakes and Creole Cherry Tomato
Salsa, Guava Glazed Roasted Baby Chicken with
Tropical Chutney, Plantain Crème Brulée and Guava BBQ
Sauce, and Upside Down Caramelized Coconut and Banana
Tart with Mellasso Ice Cream.
Toufik Lahlou (ex-maitre'd at Citrus) has opened
his own restaurant called Marrekech in Marigot at 169 Rue de
Hollande (011 590 590 27 54 48) near Match in the Howell Center. Given the
restaurant name and Toufiq's background, it is an authentic Moroccan restaurant.
He spent quite a bit of time gathering the restaurant's fixtures in Morocco and
even more time remodeling the space. I haven't seen it, but
I bet it is quite lovely.
Bernard of Paris Bistro
in Maho is opening a new
restaurant, tentatively called The Wharf, on the lagoon between Lee's and the
entrance to the new megayacht marina.
Karen at Montmartre Restaurant
said that they had a writer from Bon Appetite who will feature them
in the Feb 05 issue. A photographer will be coming along in the next two
months or so to take some pictures that will show up in the article
and on the website, someday. They had a special with frogs
legs that was so popular that they are now including this dish in
their new menu. The new menu will make it to the website as soon as the English
translation is completed.
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
a net of about $850 for a sixth floor one bedroom unit. 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
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
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
(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 from this
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.