St Maarten/St Martin
15 Nov 2005 Newsletter

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Beaches and weather: It's been rather warm lately, with temperatures in the upper 80's. I've seen 86F (30C) several times on the temperature reading on the front page of www.SXM-Info.com. Sylvain from Select Wine Cellar  also reports that the weather is good, sunny and hot.  They will be opening as this email goes out, so go to the website, print out the coupon and stop in for some chilled wine on these hot days. BTW, 11 Nov (Friday) was a holiday, Armistice Day on the French side (as in the US, because of the Armistice that took effect on 11 Nov at the end of WWI) and St Martin's Day on the Dutch side because that is supposed to be the day that Columbus sighted the island.
Construction: Veronique from Antoine Restaurant has sent in some new photos of the boardwalk extension. It will be ready for high season. The photos were added to the existing construction feature

Habitation to become Radisson: This shaky project has been taken over by the Carlson group who will spruce it up and try to reintroduce Radisson to the island. They lasted about two years at Oyster Pond, but may last longer on the French side. I'll make no predictions. The location is difficult - difficult to get to and difficult to get back out from. They have always tried to make up for it by having everything there: several restaurants, shops, a pool, a lovely beach. However, the resort faces north, not the best for a Caribbean resort with the sun to the south and site is further hemmed in by large hills on the eastern and western flanks. It's great for the harbor (I've heard that the Germans resupplied from here in WWII), but doesn't do much for the suntan. Moreover, the island bills itself as two countries on one small island with some of the best restaurants in the Caribbean and many fine beaches. Most people like to travel about and the road up and over the hill to Habitation is daunting.
Dawn Beach to be a Westin: It has been said that the property that has booted out Scavenger's Beach Bar and generally messed up Dawn Beach will be come a Westin. It's quite possible that when it is all put back together that it will be quite beautiful, but some questionable decisions have been made along the way.
Ram's on Cay Hill: The Ram's Food World on the hill heading into Pburg is closing. We certainly used the one in Cole Bay more often (as it is closer to us in the lowlands). But the revamped Food Express in Maho was pretty good and closer still. If we did drive over the hill, the Grand Marche was just a few hundred yards further than Ram's with a better selection and better parking. I'm told that Ram's also owns Grande Marche, so this may be a way to break the union.
Sapphire Beach Club: For those of you who wish to sell or rent their week or unit, we have opened up the Sapphire Beach Club website for that purpose. The first ten weekly listings are free. After that, we will charge $25 per year and have only received a few requests. So this offer is still out there.
Select Wine Cellar: Sylvain and Marina (from Vinissimo) will be opening their own shop in the Orange Grove Shopping Center in Cole Bay. Look for it in mid-November (which is to say NOW) and look for a 10% discount coupon on their website. 
Art at California Restaurant: Zouzou says that for the summer, and possibly longer, she has a seashell art exhibition in the restaurant containing mirrors, mobiles, jewelry boxes, seashell boards, cards, and more. There are a couple examples on the boutique page of the California website.  Zuzu reminds us that she is still offering $1 for 1euro for cash and traveler's checks.
Trip report from Teri Palmer:
Hi Erich,
I just returned from St. Maarten yesterday, and had a wonderful stay at the Sapphire Beach Club...my 20th visit to the island!  What they are doing to Cupecoy is sinful.  I have some pictures, but it was changing daily....so I am sure they are obsolete today.  There was a beach from Sapphire all the way to Cupecoy, and the other way to the Cliff....which is another sore subject.  There were rumors of a 'moratorium' on building...and this is it...but who knows?  What they have done to Dawn Beach is also horrible...and the divers and water people aren't very happy about it, because of the wildlife it affects...(sea turtles, etc.)
On a good note...the food was wonderful, excellent dinners at Spiga, the Lolo Shacks, Beaches, Sapphire, and some intimate private dinners created by friends at their timeshares.  Orient was it's usual lovely self....and the people as friendly and welcoming as ever. 
I made the trek up the 95 steps to Fort Louis, for the 4th time....and it didn't rain this time!  Yippee!  The Marigot market place was as unique as ever...and exciting, loud, full of discoveries....good food, and friendly faces.
And broke even at the casinos....so alls well that ends well. 
So, when I get done with my argument with US Air, and the Transportation Security Administration.......and get a new suitcase, I will truly say the trip was very enjoyable. 
Trip report from Wendy K:
I'm writing this from the Sunset Beach bar, where our neighbor, Enrique is once again tending bar, on a rainy Mon afternoon. They have free WIFI here and it's great! Mon used to be $1 Heinekens, but now it's 2/1 [$3] - still not bad so long as I can nurse my 2 until the battery runs out!
We arrived exactly a week ago. Our plane hasn't come in yet though today. The new airport terminal is looking impressive. Don't know why it needs to be so big...$$$$ The road now goes around behind it along the lagoon, and the entrance to the old terminal & parking are in back.
We haven't found traffic to be too bad  - yet, although a very minor fender bender coming down the hill towards Cole Bay from Phillipsburg caused massive gridlock on Wednesday and traffic was backed up to the Triple D. They are laying some kind of pipes heading through Terres Basses and at times only one lane is open, but this hasn't been a problem for us. I also read in Saturday's Herald that they are going to be resurfacing Welfare Rd between the Daily Extra and KFC. That should be a nightmare when it's going on. It's expected to be completed before the high season.
Moving along towards Maho, Signore Spadaro is back on the island as of a few weeks ago. The Italian Fashion Outlet is no more and the stores are for rent.
I think I just heard a report of a tropical storm over the radio... Hmmm (ed note: she is right, but it is to the east, and will stay there - we hope)
As to Cupecoy: there are a few stakes in different places on the beach. Danny told us the "current" ones have yellow ribbons on them. They appear to be about 10 ft from the former wall. There is plenty of sand and the water is calm and warm. Not much sand to speak of at the two smaller beaches now.
The Orient Express development doesn't appear to have done much other than fill in the end of the lagoon with masses of sand. The lagoon itself, is quite cloudy; probably a result of the filling that's going on across from the end of the airport runway.
Parc Lagon, our home, is looking great. The land to one side of us is for sale again, and nothing appears to be happening with the other side either. Most of the growth that was cut back last season [above Cupecoy, as well] has grown back. (ed note: Parc Lagon is on the lagoon in the lowlands, quite close to the Orient Express development. Ed and Sandra posted a photo on TTOL showing the sand that has filled in the mangrove swamp at the NW end of the lagoon near the border. The "house" at the very top dead center is Parc Lagon which actually contains about ten condos.)
We had dinner at La Main a la Pate Friday night and the Marina restaurants were fairly empty.
The old Bar de la Mer in Marigot has a "coming soon " sign that says Bistro de la Mer.
Ram's is - or has -  closed. Grand Marche is PACKED, and I still say Food Express is the best bet on the Dutch side. US Imports has changed hands, but the only real difference I can see is that they've paved the parking lot. (ed note: great minds think alike, especially if they live in the lowlands)
It's now POURING and the Air France at the end of the runway is apparently waiting for the weather to let up to take off. As will I.
Photo features: The current photo feature has many photos of Philipsburg and starts with the four sponsors of the current contest. Some of these shots were sent in by Glenn Aker who also provided some extra shots for the SXM Beaches page.


The winners of the Orient Beach contest were:

Chez Pat - $100 toward a day on Galion Beach - Tom Van Veghel
Kakao Beach Bar - $100 toward a day on Orient Beach - B. Forester
Sol e Luna Apartments - $100 off on a one week stay - Ava Dunlow
Nono Car Rental - $50 off on a one week rental - Ava Dunlow

Several businesses in the Philipsburg area are sponsoring the contest that runs from 16 November until 15 December offering prizes totaling $800.The contest includes a free low season week in Oyster Pond, a $100 off a week's car rental, a great meal at Antoine, and a lovely bit of bling-bling from DK Gems. Just click their name to go to their website, find the contest code(s) and the link to our new signup form, fill it out, click send, and you are entered. Put all the contest codes for the contests you want to enter on ONE entry. Do not send multiple entries.

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. We have so many prizes that we will be doubling and tripling up for several contests and producing feature photo spreads in conjunction with the contests. Here is the list of future contests and feature photo spreads:

Philipsburg Feature - 16 November to 15 December:
Vacation Suites - a free low season week!
Lucky/Hibiscus Cars - $100 off a one week car rental
Antoine Restaurant - $100 off a meal for two
DK Gems - $100 gift certificate

Karen and Pascal's Restaurants - 16 December 2005 to 6 January 2006
Auberge Gourmande - $100 off a meal for two
Montmartre Restaurant - $100 off a meal for two
Sunset Café - $100 off a meal for two
Panoramic Car Rental - $100 off a week's car rental

Karen and Pascal's Restaurants - 16 December 2005 to 6 January 2006
Auberge Gourmande - $100 off a meal for two
Montmartre Restaurant - $100 off a meal for two
Sunset Café - $100 off a meal for two
Panoramic Car Rental - $100 off a week's car rental

Round the Lagoon - 7 January to 27 January 2006
La Vi Bô Kaye - Seafood or barbecue buffet for two - two prizes - four dinners total
Select Wine Cellar - $100 off on a case of wine



On 31 Oct the euro was at 1.206 and today it is at 1.1792 That's fairly steady  but the dollar is slowly reaching 2 year highs against the euro. 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. Note that some only offer this rate for cash. 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.
Rumors of Hot Tomatoes closure are greatly exaggerated. Tekki just sent me an email saying that it is still in operation even though Brad has opened a new place called Skipjack on the other side of the bridge near The Wharf Restaurant. Tekki also had a baby boy about six weeks ago, so she is rather busy also.
Montmartre Restaurant has been remodeled and will be opening on 15 November.
Marrakech Restaurant in Marigot is now serving Moroccan cuisine every evening. Toufiq has a new cell phone number 011 590 690 34 03 51.
Claudette Davis at Paradise View Restaurant says things are very slow but the restaurant is still there and the Sunday buffet serves up some great local food and a great view of Orient Bay out to St Barts. 
Spiga Restaurant has  new kitchen, new dishes, new china and new enthusiasm for a great season!
Bruno says Le Cottage Restaurant has opened on the 1st of November and is serving dinner every night. Bruno also owns La Veranda which opened on 12 November serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week at the soon to be Radisson in Anse Marcel. Le Domaine Hotel will be open on 1 December. This obviously is the French side Veranda, not the one in Pelican on the Dutch side.
Georges from with Belle Epoque Restaurant in the Marigot Marina has reopened with the essentially the same staff, only two new people in the kitchen. He also owns the BALI BAR in the marina and reopened it on 19 October with some changes for this season. There's a big bar inside and outside with the new decor. They are serving tapas and other Spanish cuisine with a bit of , Asian, kebab plates, and fajitas. there's a DJ on Friday and Saturday from 11 pm to 02.00 am. They are open from 6.00 PM to 2.00 AM every day except Sunday.


Look on the SXM-Restaurants website for a list of all restaurants that have coupons for some freebie or discount. There are several coupons there to make your vacation a bit cheaper.
Caribbean View Condo: Our condo is for rent in our absence. It's $1000 per week until 15 December and $1800 per week thereafter. The website has a calendar to show availability and details the $200 worth of coupons that comes with the week's rental. If you ever wanted Christmas or New Year's in St Maarten (or both), this is a great opportunity.
California has two apartments for rent that are right on the water in Grand Case. The one bedroom, sleeps four, is $750 and the two bedroom, sleeps six, maybe more, is $900 for the week. Zuzu said she would take 10% off September to November for the apartments at California. Zuzu and Alain now have the Acropole Orient Villa for rent at very attractive prices, especially for three couples.

Those who like Club Orient might be interested in Club Fantastico. Check it out.

Sandy Molloy at Molloy Travel says that she has negotiated a great deal at Alamanda and has can't beat rates at Le Petit, L'Esplanade, Maho, and La Plantation. If you like great food, Le Petit and L'Esplanade are the two bookends on Grand Case's restaurant row. Maho is in the thick of the action in Simpson Bay and if you're part of the birthday suit crowd, La Plantation is a lovely place within walking distance of Orient beach. I can now say I have been in Alamanda's lobby. It's quite nice and a very short stroll to Kakao on Orient Beach.