St Maarten/St Martin
30 September 2004 Newsletter

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Weather, Hurricanes, and Beaches: Elisa from Bikini Beach reports that at the end of August she had several wonderful horseback rides on the beach at Bayside Stables. "I just came back from one of my weekly rides. You see Orient Bay and Galion in a whole new way on horseback. And if you go on the two hour ride, they take you swimming bareback in the ocean too! It is my only source of exercise and relaxation. I am hooked! Lately, however, the weather has put a damper on business. Cruise ship cancellations two weeks in a row and now repairs to the terminal in Miami. Arrivals are down from last year, for sure. The taxis say October will be very calm, too. Orient Beach is fine. Not much change at Bikini. We seem to be protected being in the middle of the shore line.  Opened up her new bar on the beach "Fresh Squeeze" on 18 Sep. 100% fresh juices, smoothies, Batidas, and some vegetarian goodies. Wanted to work the kinks out before high season. Next time your here. Come for a "Squeeze" at Bikini. That is a "Fresh Squeeze" , hahahaha !

Both Kristin Petrelluzzi from L'Esplanade Hotel and Gerald Romani from Escapade Restaurant say they were very lucky with the passing storms. Grand Case is in perfect shape as Ivan passed well to the south and while Frances was closer, it passed to the north. Even though Anguilla can't block much wind, it does stop waves! Gerald will announce a new wine list in middle of October and my new menu for the food in middle of November.
However, Richard Scott at Cliffhanger says the beaches on the island have certainly taken a beating from the huge swells that have been hitting the island over the last few weeks. The beach in front of Cliffhanger (ie Cupecoy Beach on the west side, facing south) is all but gone but that is expected over these late hurricane months with the full beach reappearing in December. We are building a new sun deck at Cliffhanger which will sit on top of sand cliff overlooking the sea....truly a beautiful site to sip those sunset drinks....We are looking forward to a huge season at Cliffhanger this November as a new band, new deck, and new drinks are the order of the season.
Joyce Prince of Prince Rental Car says "The Island is as beautiful as ever. So far we have been spared of hurricanes which we are thankful for. We have been bracing ourselves each time we hear something is coming our way but we have been fortunate so far. We hope it stays that way. We had some much needed rain on Tuesday the 14th of September Wednesday the 15th. Events had to be postponed but that was the worst case. There was no damage and the mountains are now nice and lush after several months of drought. When Hurricane Ivan was in our area there were a few beach erosion so some of the beaches lost some sand but they are gradually coming back."
I haven't heard of any damage to my unit at Sapphire and my ex-wife's home (also in Cupecoy) had no damage. It appears that the some beaches were rearranged, lots of water was deposited, and not much else - so far.
Travel insurance: A recent medical problem in St Maarten prompted a major thread on TTOL regarding travel insurance. This is not just insurance to cover your non-refundable travel costs if you can't make a trip, but it also covers your medical expenses overseas (many HMO's don't cover anything overseas and you can bet that the local hospitals and doctors are NOT part of your plan). Moreover, in the event of serious problems, one would probably want to be back in the US. The medical evacuation part of this coverage would take care of this. These costs sometimes reach $50,000 for a journey. I found a site that compares the various plans and gives pricing. If you are interested, check out this site. The offerings range from just medical evacuation to a full range of coverage. Logically enough, the cost depends on your age and the length of your stay overseas.
Lowlands zoning: In mid-August there was a meeting where the Department of Environmental Development and Property Management Policy Department (VROM) presented the plan for the Lowlands to residents. The session was led by Commissioner Roy Marlin and presented a plan that was put together by VROM and city planner Rien van Rosmalen Zweers. The session covered not only the new building scheduled at the far end of the lowlands, but also Mullet at the near end. Part of the plan entails that all beaches in the area will still be accessible to the public. As all beaches are public, this was not news, but access to the beaches is restricted, as was the case in Mullet Bay before Hurricane Luis, or now via Ocean Club's locked gate. The plan called for residential buildings (low villas) and a small scale hotel in the area close to the French border. There is supposed to be no development, paving, information stands, storage, parking facilities, hotels or restaurants within a 25 meter strip from the high water mark of the lagoon and the ocean with a rocky coastline, and a 50-meter strip for sandy beaches. Sounds good, but many of us remember that the far end of Cupecoy was recently bulldozed and a breakwater made of huge boulders was built on the sand. Today, there is rarely any sand at this location, much less 50 meters.
Little League World Series: It's a bit of a stretch, but this is island news. A team from Curacao, capital of the Netherlands Antilles, won the world championship by beating a team from Thousand Oaks, CA on 29 August. The game was televised on ABC in primetime.
Fishing: Marten at Random Wind says "Lately we've been catching pretty good fish also with my little "At Random" boat. Check my website to see what I am talking about." Click the fishing link.
Sailing: Neil on Celine has set up a charter on the Saturday of the Heineken Regatta (5 March 2005). At $75 per person, it includes a complete day on the sea with all food and drink. It is a long way off, but the island gets pretty crowded and the charter boats fill up. If you want a front tow seat for the action, go to Neil's website, check  out the regatta page, and send him an email reservation. 

Concerts: Just a reminder that Bamboo Bernies  has confirmed Kool and The Gang in concert on Saturday, December 18.
The Anguilla Tranquility Jazz Festival will be held from November 10 to 14, 2004.  The Carimar Beach Club is offering special package rates for the events starting from $496.00 for a three-night package.  For more information on the event visit www.anguillajazz.org or contact the Carimar Beach Club. It's not SXM, but it could make a nice addition to a vacation here.

The Piano Bar is the name of the new entertainment venue slated to open at the Pelican Resort & Casino on October 1.  The bar will feature top entertainers currently performing on the international piano bar circuit.
Dock on back side of Pinel is demolished:  The dock built by Emile Larmonie in 1992 on the east side of Pinel to allow the mooring of boats was demolished in mid-August. Emile demolished it because Beach Safaris, a Dutch side company that organizes boat trips to the island, had been paying him $500 per month but had stopped making payments when French authorities informed them that they were not required to pay anything because the platform had been constructed on the maritime domain of the state and that the area was part of the Natural Reserve of St. Martin. As most stayover visitors don't use this service, it probably won't make much difference to them, but daytrippers from the cruise ship may be inconvenienced.
Wine tastings: Sylvain at Vinissimo says "I've just came back from vacation last week in France where I did about 40 wine tastings, so I will have lots of new wines this year to try for the Thursday wine tastings." Sounds good to me.
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 sea creatures on the rocks at Cupecoy: crabs, winkles, and limpets.
Bonus photo feature:  We have put up some photos from a snorkeling trip we took on the Random Wind. This will be turned into a regular feature on the website and if you have any photos and text that you would like posted here, send it to SXM-Info. If we like it, we'll put it up with credit.
The week at Sunset Cafe was won by Gary Reinitz of Memphis, TN. Congratulations.
Montmartre Restaurant is sponsoring the current contest, running from 1 October to 15 November. 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 two.
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:
Rainbow Cafe - 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
Escapade Restaurant - 6 June to 17 July 2005
On 1 July May the euro was at 1.236 and today it's at 1.240. 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 to do complex financial calculations, so don't worry about it too much. 
Mario's Bistro has four new photos to go with the new additions to the summer menu. Wish I were there. The seared tuna and the scallops are what I miss most.
Los Gauchos has some recipes on the website thanks to owner Liesa Euton. If you are interested in trying to repeat the fabulous experience of dining at her restaurant, check them out. The nibbles and the sauces can be reproduced, but Argentine beef, largely grass-fed and devoid of growth hormones, has a different texture and taste, in addition to being lower in cholesterol. I can't find a supplier in NY or on the web, so my advice is to head for Pondfill and have some on your next visit to SXM.
Amaury at Bistrot Caraibes has just came back from Florida, where he played golf all the time (between hurricanes, I presume). They have opened the restaurant as of the 27th of September, and say it seems pretty quiet.
Warung Bali has given up in Simpson Bay. After Wajang Doll, the longest running Indonesian restaurant on the island, lost its lease in Pburg last season and moved to Simpson Bay, it seemed that there was one too many of them in the area. Halsey's has moved in serving French cuisine to mixed reviews.
Splash Restaurant closed:  Bill and Phil got a good offer for the property on Billy Folly Road in Simpson Bay and have left for either the US to return with a new venture in November (Jeff Berger) or the south of France (MChuck).
Magret de canard (Duck Breast): When we purchased the foie gras from Hudson Valley Foie Gras in Ferndale, NY, last month, we got a fresh duck breast also ($8 per pound). The HVFG people use the moulard variety of duck, claiming that it is a crossbreed between a Moscovy male and a Pekin(g) female, which are artificially bred.  This technique was invented in Israel in the mid 1970's and Izzy at HVFG was one of the first to utilize this technology in the production of Moulard Foie Gras.  As a hybrid is more resistant to disease than either parent, it become feasible for the entire production to take place under one roof in the southern Catskills. In late August we bought a frozen duck from a local supermarket ($1 per pound) and tasted the two with several people at a dinner party. I hate to say this, but while the Moulard was tasty, it was quite tough. The Long Island Duckling ( a Peking variety, so named because all of these ducks can be traced back to one drake and three ducks that arrived in the US from Peking, now Beijing, in the 1800s) was pretty tasty and very tender. The island features some fabulous duck and /or duck breast. Both Mario's Bistro and Rainbow Cafe, where Mario and Martyne used to work, are famous for a crispy duck.  Saint Severin in Marigot imports duck breasts and foie gras. We had a great grilled duck breast with a caramelized shallot sauce for only $20 last March.
Vanilla: We buy vanilla on the island. You can get beans in most of the larger grocery stores, Ram's and US Import/Export come to mind. When we ran out, we went to BJ's Wholesale and were still appalled by the prices, so we checked the web and www.Saffron.com, in addition to having great and inexpensive saffron, has vanilla beans and extract at very good prices. Our order arrived in a timely fashion with a bonus two ounce jar of extract and a bar of vanilla soap.
Restaurant Vacations
Antoine no closing
Bamboo Bernies no info
Auberge Gourmande
1 Sep - 14 Oct
Belle Epoque no closing
Bikini Beach no vacation, but
no dinners in September
California Restaurant 16 August - 16 October
Hotel remains open
Chez Pat
Tropical Wave
no vacation, but
closed on Monday
Citrus Restaurant 20 August - 20 October
Escapade no vacation closing
closed on Wednesday
Los Gauchos 19 September - 19 October
Mario's Bistro 8 June - 15 August
Montmartre 30 September - 4 November
Paradise View Open for lunch throughout
closed for dinner from 20 June until 1 October
Sol e Luna 6 September - 1 October
Temptation no closing
but taking Monday off in low season
Thai Garden 1 September - 15 October
Our one bedroom condo will be available for ret 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. There's more: Pascal, owner of Auberge Gourmande, Sunset Cafe, and Montmartre Restaurant, is offering a welcome champagne cocktail and an afterdinner drink at one of his restaurants to any of our renters.  Take 20% off the price of a sunset cruise on the White Octopus. It's normally $25, but for our guests, it's only $20 per person for a great sunset cruise on the lagoon. There's snacks and plenty of drinks and as the White Octopus is berthed next to Hot Tomatoes, this would be a perfect time to use that gift certificate also! Finally, Unity Car Rental is offering 10% discount off already low website prices on any week's rental. That's a net of about $800 for a sixth floor one bedroom unit. 
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 $5 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 we?site.
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.
Erich S. Kranz
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