St Maarten/St Martin
12 August 2006 Newsletter

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Weather: On 22 July I got an email from Christian Moreau, chef-owner of Sol é Luna saying that "it's quiet, European tourists are few, and there is no traffic making it very easy to drive on either side of the island. Better yet, the weather is magnific! We don't know how long it will last, but we quite grateful for this in hurricane season.

Sylvain at Select Wine Cellar says, "The weather is not nice but the tropical storm (in early August) avoided the island, so it wasn't as bad as expected."

The sun sets at about 6:30. That's much the same as a month ago, but in the next month we'll lose 20 minutes. The moon was full ea couple days ago.

Beaches: No big news. THe island has avoided the early hurricanes/storms so there have been no large changes. Cupecoy seems to be better than ever, but that is a normal summer change.

Construction: Beachbum at TTOL has posted some photos of Cupecoy construction in an album of SXM Photos on MS Groups. Earlier there were no thumbnails, but that has been fixed. You'll note that the beach is larger than ever down at the wall, essentially as SXM Peter said after his visit about a month ago. There are a couple shots of Danny walking past a row of sun worshipers up against the wall with room to spare. There 's even some photos of the Cliff and Rainbow Beach.

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 only five requests, so this free offer is still out there. The owner of week 16 in Villa 1 just dropped the price from $19,500 to $12,500. Sounds pretty good to me.

Passports: This has been postponed once, but now they are saying that all travel to the USA will require a passport after 1 Jan 2007. If you are coming next year, think about this now, rather than at the last minute. Life is pretty easy if you allow enough time to renew by mail. All the details can be found at this State Department page. This is a repeat, but you need to heed it.

Club Fantastico is having a contest for a free week. Just head over to their website and follow the link to "Win a Free Week".

Select Wine Cellar: The wine of the month is RIOJA CRIANZA VINA IZADI 2002. Tasting notes : Intense ruby red, clean, fruity aromas from the tempranillo grapes blend with vanilla and smoky notes from wood ageing, elegant and balanced in the mouth, with an honest, stimulating attack. On other fronts: it's quiet on the island especially in Grand Case. I saw someone from the Radisson group this morning he told me that the opening will be in 2007 (third quarter).

Art at California Restaurant: Zouzou 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. Zouzou reminds us that she is still offering $1 for 1 euro for cash and traveler's checks.


The July issue of Conde Nast Traveler recommended six "green islands" in the Caribbean. Dominica has no luxury resorts and few crowds, but lots of friendly locals (including my maid at Sappphire), mountains (sort of), and waterfalls in lush forests. About a third of Grenada is protected land and similarly lush. Guadeloupe is considerably closer and has a rain forest surrounding its volcanic top. There is a nude beach and one of the Club Med's also has a nude section. Jamaica features Blue Mountain Peak where they also grow Blue Mountain coffee (among other things). Nevis is just the other side of it's sister island, St Kitts. On a clear day we can see the peak of Mt Nevis sticking up about 8000 feet from our balcony at Sapphire. We've been there and it is similar to Saba, but larger and not so steep as to preclude beaches. Many old plantation homes are now fine resorts. St Lucia is famous for the twin conical peaks called the Pitons. It is a rather large island with diverse geographic areas and a rather well-developed tourist industry. We stayed at a Wyndham all-inclusive on the island and were appalled at the begging that occured outisde its confines.

Anguilla was not mentioned, but it is the shortest trip you can make, about five miles by ferries running every hour from Marigot. Being quite arid, it's certainly not "green" but does have some of the best beaches in the Caribbean. We're going over in early December for a few days at Cap Juluca and will report back considerably more at that time. Christian Moreau, chef-owner of Sol é Luna Restaurant recently took a quick trip to a wonderful Paul Bocuse dinner at the CuisineArt Resort. I had a great lunch there on a day trip to Anguilla a few years ago. They have a hydroponic greenhouse providing great veg. We even got a tour of the facilities outside of normal hours because a hydroponic farmer was visiting us and he talked his way into the greenhouse for a personal tour from the director!

The May issue of Conde Nast Traveler featured their 2006 Hot list of hotels, spas, and restaurants. Three caribbean hotels made the list: Sivory in the Dominican Republic (not Dominica), the Ritz-Carlton on Grand Cayman, and Le Sereno on St Barts (doubles start at $540 per night). It made the leadoff writeup on 130 hot new hotels.


Summer schedule: the contests will last for two to four weeks. Win $100 at Princess Casino and Baccara Restaurant contest. Get $50 in casino action and $50 off a dinner for two at Baccara Restaurant, just above the casino floor. Make it a spectacular evening as you will be picked up and returned home in a chauffeured Bentley. You must enter this contest each week and you must use the entry form for this contest to be considered.

Martin Conway, GM at the casino, says that they offer free pick up service by Rolls Royce or Bentley and can send a bus for larger groups. Distance is no problem. With this service, there are no worries about security or drinking and driving. Our motto is Good Gaming, Great Entertainment, and Fine Dining.

Last week's winners: Nicoletta Lagarenne and Jim Kilgour
Two winners as it has been six weeks!



Activities and more - 13 August to 15 October
Marci's Mega Gym 2000 - 4 yoga classes with Valerie and one week admission to the gym
12 meter challenge: America's Cup Racing - two for one ticket on the number one activity in the Caribbean
Prince Rental Car - a week's rental in low season for only $50
Tri Sport - two for 1 kayak exploration of the lagoon
Octaedre Gems - earrings
Grand Case - Grand Case Cookbook

Simpson Bay Contest Winners
Horny Toad Guesthouse - seven low season nights for the price of five - Tom Van Veghel
Turquoise Shell Inn - seven nights for the price of five (until 31 Dec) - Susan Price
Unity Car Rental - $100 off a one week rental - Debra Lindholm
Halsey's Restaurant - $100 toward a meal for two - Jeanine Penta
12 meter challenge: America's Cup Racing - two for one ticket on the number one activity in the Caribbean - Jeanine Penta
La Guinguette Restaurant - $60 toward a meal for two - Jeanine Penta
Pack Light Rentals - A week's cell phone rental - Jeanine Penta
Grand Case - Grand Case Cookbook - Jeanine Penta

The rules make all other contests look like do-it-yourself brain surgery. Just find the codes, enter them on the form, click send - one form per contest. Good Luck.

Let's go over the rules:
Rule #1 - Visit the website(s) and find the entry code.
Rule #2 - Send in ONE entry using the form with all the contest codes for the contests you wish to enter.
Rule #3 - If the prize-awarding entity goes out of business before you claim your prize, you are unlikely to get your prize.
Rule #4 - Prizes are valid for one year from the award date.
Rule #5 - There is no rule number five.

It's a lot easier than other contests and there is no timeshare presentation. We choose an email randomly from all those received. If that person has entered multiple times, we throw them all out. If not, that person will win all the prizes for which the correct contest code has been entered. If all the contests have not been won by this person, another email will be chosen, etc until all prizes have been won. It isn't mentioned, but there are five slots for contest codes on the entry form. Thus, one entry can win five contests.

Future Contests:

15 October to 26 November
L'Esperance Car Rental - $100 off a weekly low season rental
12 meter challenge: America's Cup Racing - two for one ticket on the number one activity in the Caribbean
Blue Martini - $50 off a dinner for two
Grand Case - Grand Case Cookbook

Grand Case - 26 November to 24 December
California Restaurant - $100 off a dinner for two
California Apartments - $100 off a week's stay
Rainbow Café - $100 off a dinner for two
Ti Coin Créole - $50 off a dinner for two
Atelier des Tropismes - signed print from Paul Elliott Thuleau
Grand Case - Grand Case Cookbook
12 meter challenge: America's Cup Racing - two for one ticket on the number one activity in the Caribbean


Club Fantastico is giving away a free week every month over the summer. Get to their website to enter.


On 2 July the euro was at 1.278 and today it is at 1.276. Not much change. 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 got it at Ti Bouchon, Ti Sucrier, Auberge Gourmande, Sunset Café, California Restaurant, Bistrot Caraïbes, Le Cottage Restaurant, Rainbow Café, Pirate Beach Bar, Pedro's Beach Bar, Bikini Beach, and Restaurant du Soleil and noticed it at Layla's, Santal, Chez Martine, Marlin's Cafe, and all the lolos in Grand Case. 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.

The August issue of Food & Wine goes on about "green" cooking. One of the things that make French cuisine so good and so expensive is the small farms following centuries-old tradtional ways of raising vegetables and meat. I've talked about this before and, in my own way, follow it up in the summer when I am not on the island. We raise chickens and lamb for meat, have free-ranging laying hens for eggs, and have about 900 square feet under intense cultivation. The meat chicks have access to grass as soon as they have enough feathers to withstand the cold. The five lambs are on two acres of pasture with a bit of additional grain as a morning and evening treat. The free-ranging hens are a constant source of amusement and this morning's egg never made it to the refrigerator, going straight into the local version of an egg McMuffin using local grass-fed, nitrite free bacon (or other days hot Italian sausage) from Lewis Waite Farm, our egg, fresh chives, cilantro, and tarragon from the kitchen garden, and topped with a bit of cheese from Three Corner Field Farm, another local farm, all between two toasted slices of bread from Klinger's. The bakery is a franchisee of Rockhill Bakehouse, started by Michael and Wendy London. Another approach is an omelet using the same cheese and herbs and adding whatever else you like. I picked an oyster mushroom and a bolete (porcini) last week and added some local goat cheese and onions.

Wine Spectator's Dining Guide listed two restaurants in the Caribbean on their honor roll of Grand Award winners: Greycliff in Nassau and Malliouhana on Anguilla. They list almost 4000 restaurants around the world and split them into 77 Grand Award winners, 700 Best of Award of Excellence winners, and about 2995 Award of Excellence winners. Pimms at Cap Juluca is one of the Best of Award of Excellence winners. Blanchard's, Koalkeel, Oliver's Seaside Grill, and Santorini at the CuisinArt Resort on Anguilla have Awards of Excellence as does La Samanna on St Martin and The Gate House on Saba. I've been to Greycliff and several places on Anguilla and the prices are one of the reasons that I purchased a condo on SXM. The former British colonies tend to have extremely high import duties, making everything quite expensive. For an insight into how frustrating this can be, read A Trip to the Beach by Melinda and Robert Blanchard.

The June Food & Wine had an article by Paula Wolfert on making kebabs. If you can't find that, you could pick up a copy of her Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco. Probably the easiest approach is to head over to Marrakech Restaurant in Marigot.

Changes: It appears that Bananas has closed. The Burger King on the other side of the Dolphon Casino has also closed.

2006 Restaurant Closings Dates
Bali Bar Closed for September
Beau Beau's Restaurant open all summer
Belle Epoque Restaurant open all summer
Blue Martini 14 Aug - 5 Sep
Sunday and Monday
California Restaurant 20 Aug - 20 Oct
Le Cottage Restaurant September and 2 first weeks of October
Escapade no vacation closing
L'Escargot Restaurant Closed on Saturdays until October
The cabaret show will close July through October,
but can be booked for parties of 20 or more
Sol é Luna Restaurant June 20 to July 12


Caribbean View Condo: We are back in the USA, so our one-bedroom 1,000 square feet condo will be available for rent. The rate on the website is $1000 per week and you get a $50 gift certificate to Ama Bella, jewelers and more, a coupon good for the very best discount that Select Wine Cellar can offer plus a few tastes, a $50 coupon to the island's best new restaurant SkipJack's, a two for one ride on Celine's famous Lagoon Pub Crawl, a welcome champagne and an after-dinner drink from your choice one of the following: Auberge Gourmande, Sunset Café, or Montmartre, two free admissions to Golden Eyes, adult entertainment in Simpson Bay, and a 10% discount off the prices posted on Unity Car Rental's website. Moreover, I'll take $100 off for any newsletter subscriber. That brings the cost down to about $100 per night, tax and service charge included.

Coupons: Look on the SXM-Info website for a list of all restaurants and others that have coupons for some freebie or discount. There are several coupons there to make your vacation a bit cheaper. Here's a list of what you'll find:

Le Baccara Restaurant
Bikini Beach
Beau Beau's
Kakao Beach
Los Gauchos
The Greenhouse
Oizeau Rare
Pirate Beach Bar
Paradise View
Paris Bistro
Pedro's Beach Bar
Saint Germain
The Wharf
Lots here
and here
Select Wine Cellar
Endless Summer Beachwear
Good Cards (and gifts)

Those who like Club Orient might be interested in Club Fantastico. Check it out. Richard says "At Club Fantastico the Jacuzzi is percolating and the pool is a perfect temperature for skinny dipping late into the evening. The Caribbean Sea is aqua blue and warm as can be. They welcome all of you who are taking in the peace and restful summer with us. Starting September, things will be gearing up, so make your reservations now, and get a special deal. Chef Antonio plans his return in the fall. Dates not yet set. Music and fine cuisine will be the norm."

L'Esperance Hotel has great rates and is conveniently located. It's quite handy if you just need a night or two at either end of your vacation because of the wretched flight schedules. They have a lovely pool and offer free wireless internet access.

Sandy Molloy at Molloy Travel says that she can generally beat any rates you can get from the hotels. Give her a shot.