St Maarten/St Martin
22 April 2007 Newsletter

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Weather: Sunday cleared up a bit and was quite nice, eventually getting up to 86F. Monday was clear and hot. By Tuesday the tradewinds had died off and swells started to come in from the south. By Wednesday the wind was coming briskly from the south and the air was hot and humid. This continued until Saturday. There was lightning off in the direction of the Anguilla channel around 6PM. After this storm passed, the wind died and turned, coming from the north. It rained after dinner and we hoped for better weather, but Sunday morning has arrived with total cloud cover and a hazy horizon, but the rollers on the south side of the island have subsided. Sunset will be at 6:28PM on Sunday. Full moon dates for 2007 are: May 2, May 31, Jun 30, Jul 29, Aug 28, Sep 26, Oct 26, Nov 24, and Dec 23. May 31 will be a blue moon, the second full moon in a month. Note that these are full moon dates for the Caribbean. A full moon occurs at an exact instant when the moon is opposite the sun with the earth in the middle. This happens at 24 different times in the 24 different time zones, some on each side of midnight, leading to European, American, and Asian calendars sometimes having different dates for full moons and, rarely, different months for blue moons.

SXM-Beaches: On Wednesday Wendy K says "A HOT day today with very little breeze. The waves were crashing at Cupecoy, after a long stretch of calm, very clear water. We went to Mullet, but the waves were crashing there, as well. Lots of seaweed, too." The next day was worse, as she said "You can probably see them from your balcony, but the waves were really crashing this morning at Cupecoy. We've never seen them breaking so far out - beyond the monolith." And she was right, we can see and hear them from our balcony six floors up! We drove into Beacon Hill and noticed that the waves were coming up over the road at the end of the runway.

Beach Reading: Jill Alexander wrote me and said that she too missed that Greek yogurt that was briefly at Le Grand Marché. This reminded me of a chapter in The Magic Christian by Terry Southern. Guy Grand is fabulously wealthy and goofy. He serially opens stores in NYC and stocks them with fantastic bargains. Minor riots ensue as local residents go to great lengths to get the bargains. The store then closes abruptly. The punchline is that people who have been to one of these stores keep searching for the next one with a crazed, haunted look on their faces. This explains the looks of many New Yorkers. Sometimes I feel as if I have that crazed, haunted look as I approach the dairy aisle in Le Grande Marché.

Construction: The roundabout on Pondfill is operational, but not a complete roundabout. The last time we were there one couldn't turn into town nor come out of town at that spot. The first part of the back street reconstruction is done and now they are closing the other part to do it. Same story as Front street: cobbled streets, pavers for sidewalks with a curb, streetlights, underground electric and phone lines, and palms.

The new multi-story residential building on the Pburg waterfront in spot that previously housed Wajang Doll was dark the night we drove past it recently. Similarly, Las Arenas, about eight units on Simpson Bay next to Horny Toad Guesthouse, is also pretty dark at night. We're beginning to think that a lot of these units will not be used or may not have been sold. We did meet a couple who had rented at Arenas for a short vacation.

Duck International (Coral Beach) in Oyster Pond is taking Joan V (Mrs B's) to court again after she refused to sign a deal with them.

Elections: There are less than 20,000 registered voters and a bit more than 13,000 of them (about 70%) made it to the polls on Friday. The three major parties DP (Democratic Party), NA (National Alliance), and the PPA (People's Progressive Alliance, perhaps) each fielded 19 candidates and with a few from minor parties, there were 64 candidates for 11 seats on the island council. Theopholis Priest, inveterate writer of incomprehensible letters to the Daily Herald, is the head of one of the minor parties, it's only candidate, and must have 19 friends who voted for him. That's not the worst, one candidate got only one vote. From what I can discern from Saturday's paper, the 13000 people vote for ONE candidate. They tally all votes for the candidate's party affiliation. In this case, the 13000 voters divided by 11 seats yields about 1200 votes per seat. Thus, 1200 votes for a party yields one seat for that party. The DP got around 7000 votes, NA got around 6000 votes and the PPA got less than 1200. That caused the PPA to lose its only seat while the DP took six with the NA getting the remaining five. What's it all mean? It will be an almost evenly divided council, and while that leads to more noise, the majority will get their way. The majority is led by the top vote getter Sarah Wescott-Willams, same as before. The number two vote getter was Theo, driving force behind all the projects in Pburg: cruise ship docks, beach reconstruction, boardwalk, Front street beautification, parking along the pond, a few roundabouts with more to come, and the current Back Street beautification. The DP also includes Roy Marlin, essentially responsible for handing out all the building permits for all the private projects all over the Dutch side, although the entire council is in on this to some extent.

Thus, reading this as a referendum on all the building, public and private, seems to suggest that the voters approve. One other point is that they rejected the head of the PPA who was against the current version of the agreement for the recognition of the St Maarten's new status separate from the Netherlands Antilles. Now I think that most people here are for separation and most politicians follow the voters. Of course, with DP doing the negotiations, the other parties had to snipe at certain aspects of what was being done, even if they approved of separation in principle. It appears that the voters are getting a bit tired of the blah blah and want some movement on the issue. What does it mean for tourists? Certainly most of the public projects that Theo has pursued benefit tourists (and locals). The private projects are mostly built for tourists, but the locals get jobs building them and working in them after completion. Of course, some tourists may think the island is overbuilt and stop touring. Hasn't happened yet, but the big building boom just started a couple years ago. Stay tuned. As for separate status, it looks as if it will come sooner rather than later with the continuation of the DP in power, but I don't see much difference for tourists.

Free (or cheap) phone calls via Skype: I got an email asking more about Skype. This is what I found here in the Netherlands Antilles and as the internet signup program knows where my server is located, you might find something different, but Skype to Skype calls are FREE. Download the software, install it, plug in speakers and a mike (could be a headset with a mike), and you can talk computer to computer with someone else who has done this. You find each other definitively via email addresses or login names (which are unique), although you can search on many other criteria.

If you wish to call someone who does not have Skype, and that includes most people who do not have computers, you must have SkypeOut. Not exactly a plan as all you do is give them $10 and then you can call almost any phone number in the world. Even better, calls to most phones cost 3.9 cents to connect and 2.1 cents per minute thereafter. The US, Canada, China, and most of Europe are at that rate, and that is most phones in the world. Calls to mobile phones frequently cost more and calls to third world countries that own the phone monopoly, pad the payroll with no-show jobs, and price calls to still show a profit, cost even more. Calls to Russia are 4.8 cents per minute, Guadeloupe (which includes the French side of the island) 9.5 cpm, the Netherlands Antilles 17 cpm, Philippines 19.8 cpm, Palestinian Authority 22.9 cpm, Guadeloupe (mobiles) 31.3 cpm, Myanmar 39.4 cpm.

If you want people to call you using a phone, you need a SkypeIn number. They dial the number and your computer rings. They will pay whatever they pay for calls to that number and you can get numbers most anywhere, not related to where you are. The cost is $12 for 3 months and $38 for 12 months.

Traffic: Not a bad week. We have moved into low season. The tourists are younger, which is to say stronger and poorer. The number of them walking along the Airport road with luggage has increased, meaning cars have decreased. Except for election-related problems, the traffic hasn't been too bad. Big election rallies attract crowds and block traffic. The government forced businesses to close for 4 hours on election day, essentially putting everyone out of work for the afternoon on Friday, blocking traffic. Voting caused nitwits on four-wheelers to zip around voting places with their party affiliations emblazoned on their tee shirts. The cops rounded up dozens of these unregistered and uninsured vehicles from their unlicensed drivers. Winning the election is cause for a rally blocking traffic in Pburg followed by major motorcade to spread the pain to all sections of the island. Losing the election was a good enough reason for the NA to do likewise.

Sapphire Beach Club: Sapphire's wireless internet is in operation and worked free for a while but now costs $5 for an hour, $9 for a day, $45 for a week, and $70 for a month. Not bad prices and when it was free, it worked fine for me.

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. We charge $25 per year. If you wish to rent or sell your unit, send us some text (and $25 to esk@sxm-info.com via Paypal). If you wish to rent or buy a unit without high middleman fees, check out the website. Given the large assessment that Sapphire just levied, there may be a lot of sales. At present, there are 20 sales and/or rentals available directly from owners. Given a 25 to 35% standard rental commission, there should be some bargains in eliminating the middleman and dealing direct.

Travel: Spirit Air landed their first plane here on Friday. We just watched the second day's plane take off to the south, a rare occurence, but the strange weather is the reason. Check their site for cheap airfare.

All travel to the USA now requires a passport. Note that says to the USA. You still can get here on a driver's license. You just can't get back home, although I've heard that they just make your life miserable for a while. Life is pretty easy if you allow enough time to renew by mail. All the details can be found at this State Department page. Get a Passport!

Groceries: We had a sausage fest from US Imports this week. They weren't doing anything special, but Martha picked up the normal boudin blanc (a delicate white sausage made with pork, chicken, eggs, cream, bread, and seasoning that is wonderful with the sharp Dijon mustard also available there), a boudin noir (blood sausage), and another sausage, smoked with lots of garlic. It makes an inexpensive, quick, and quite good meal.

I have run out of cereal, but we have eggs, baguettes in the freezer, Selles-sur-cher goat cheese, and Bayonne ham. Put it all together and you get an Egg McBaguette!

Small island story: I was heading toward the water on Rue Kennedy in Marigot, coming down to the stop sign where it meets the one way street on the right coming in from the eastern end of Marigot and the main road from the lowlands into Marigot on the left. Things were somewhat slow, but got even slower when a localmobile (possibly that should be spelled locomobile) executed a seven point turn at the convergence of the three streets. I am not making this up.

Club Fantastico


For those staying elsewhere in St Martin this season, we welcome you to visit the Club and spend the day with us for $125 per couple, enjoy our facilities and make your future reservations to stay with us. This includes use of our property including open bar, beach transport, Pool, Jacuzzi, Satellite TV and more fun than you can have anywhere else in the Caribbean. For more info on the club, visit our website. Hope to see you at Club Fantastico this season! And while you are there, enter the summer contest where they can enter to win seven nights during June, July, or August.


Winter schedule: Win $100 at Princess Casino and Baccara Restaurant contest every week until April 2007. Get $50 in match play 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.

Martin also notes some changes at the Princess for this season. Le Baccara has a new chef. The casino has two new restaurants: the “Rock House”, restaurant and sports bar and a terrace restaurant called “Surf & Turf” Island Grill and Bar. The entertainment is great with a special themed evening every weekend. Examples so far, Miss Princess, Caribbean Night, Oriental Night, Mr.Princess, Victor-Victoria. Friday Night in the Rock House is Karaoke with over 2000 songs in English and French. Monday night (in football season) is, of course, Football night and we have 7 large screens and a couple of pool tables.

Last week's winner:
Joseph Seder


Current Contest - until 13 May Read our rules, visit the websites of these sponsors, find their contest codes, and enter them on our entry form:

Horny Toad Guesthouse - seven low season nights for the price of four
Caribbean View Condo - half price summer rental (May-October)
Princess Casino and Baccara Restaurant - $100 plus limo ride
L'Esperance Car Rental - $50 off a week's car rental
SkipJack's - $50 off your bill
Lagoon Pub Crawl - two for one ticket

Future Contests:

13 May to 5 August
Caribbean View Condo - half price summer rental (May-October)
Princess Casino and Baccara Restaurant - $100 plus limo ride
SkipJack's - $50 off your bill
Alizes Car Rental - $50 off a low season weekly rental
Bikini Beach - A DAY AT THE BEACH
(including 2 chairs and a parasol, 2 welcome punches and $50.00 credit towards food and drink)
Lagoon Pub Crawl - two for one ticket

5 August to 4 Nov
Azure Guesthouse - seven nights for the price of four
Princess Casino and Baccara Restaurant - $100 plus limo ride
Bistrot Caraïbes - $100 off a dinner for two
Restaurant du Soleil - $50 off a dinner for two
Pack Light Rentals - Your choice: 2 chairs and 1 umbrella for a week or
one free cell phone rental for a week or
free snorkel gear for 2 for a week
Lagoon Pub Crawl - two for one ticket

4 Nov to 30 Dec
VistaRoyale - seven nights for the price of four
Princess Casino and Baccara Restaurant - $100 plus limo ride
Valley Car Rental $50 off a week's rental
Ti Coin Créole - $50 off a dinner for two
DK Gems - $50 off a purchase of $100 or more
Lagoon Pub Crawl - two for one ticket

30 Dec to 2 March 2008
Princess Casino and Baccara Restaurant - $100 plus limo ride
DK Gems - $50 off a purchase of $100 or more
Antoine Restaurant - $100 off a dinner for two
Le Cottage Restaurant - $100 off a dinner for two
Lagoon Pub Crawl - two for one ticket

2 March to 27 April
Caribbean View Condo - half price summer rental (May-October)
Princess Casino and Baccara Restaurant - $100 plus limo ride
Halsey's Restaurant - $50 off a dinner for two
Hibiscus Restaurant - $50 off a dinner for two
Lagoon Pub Crawl - two for one ticket


Joan Daniels, a previous winner of the Princess Casino and Baccara Restaurant contest asked if she could bring six people rather than two. Here's the answer from Martin Conway:

The more the merrier. We are always happy to get more people to our casino. Please call me when you arrive in St.Maarten and I will do my best to get you all in one car or I will arrange a second vehicle.

It's $50 off a very good meal and $50 to play in the casino and we give one away every week in high season and several over the summer. Don't miss your chance.


On 1 April the euro was at 1.353 and today it is at 1.360. This season, some restaurants are still offering a 1 to 1 exchange, but my list of restaurants is smaller this year. Moreover, it is getting to be something of a gimmick as by now the prices have been adjusted to enable a profit at 1 to 1 or else the restaurant would be out of business, so it merely helps with the math and eliminates currency transaction costs, not insignificant benefits to Americans. To further confuse the issue, others are offering an advantageous rate, but not as good as 1 to 1. In any event, these still have pretty good prices and as many restaurants have online menus, you could do the math (if the websites were up to date). We noticed 1 to 1 at Blue Martini, California Restaurant, L'Escapade Restaurant, Hibiscus Restaurant, Restaurant du Soleil, Rancho del Sol, Kokomarina, L'Estaminet, Spicy, and La Marine. Pedro's Beach Bar and Pirate Beach Bar on Orient are something of a special case as their prices have always been in dollars and still are. 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.

I note that Ti Bouchon has abandoned 1 to 1 pricing and remind you that it won't last long at Restaurant du Soleil. Almost all of the others created their menus in the last two years. Yes, Hibiscus, California, and La Marine have been around for a while, but the current owners have only been there for a year or so.

On Sunday we tried Aldywan, a Lebanese restaurant in Simpson Bay. It's on the first floor of the Travel Inn, next door to Endless Summer and across the street from Tri Sport. The have a small air-conditioned dining room and a much larger covered porch overlooking the parking lot and Airport Road. OK, romance is out but there was a nice view of some of the Golden Eye girls at the next table. The menu is as expected full of kebabs, baba ghanoush, tahini, shwarma, tabouli, and a few things you might recognize. The bread is generally pita, but I did get French fries with my beef shwarma. For the uninitiated, a shwarma is essentially salad, spices, a sauce heavy on the garlic, and lamb bits, although chicken or beef can be used or they all can be left out for a vegetarian version. In the real version the meat is on a vertical spit and continuously basted and grilled with heat from a side. Small bits are cut off as they cook and put into the mix which is then wrapped in pita bread. For $8 I got about nine inches of a two inch diameter wrap with fries and a salad. The place also gets good marks for having Stella Artois ($2) and Matouk's hot sauce. One demerit for Hunt's ketchup. Martha went native ordering the hummus (ground chick peas with garlic, lemon juice, and olive or sesame oil) with beef bits, baba ghanoush (puréed roasted eggplant, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil) with chopped tomatoes, and tabouli (a salad of cracked wheat, parsley, onion, tomato, olive oil, and lemon). She found that the hummus did not have a profound flavor and the tabouli was very heavy on the parsley. As we all know, nobody eats parsley. Our total bill (with four Stellas) was $33 and there was a note that service was included. We took home about half of Martha's meal and left the fast and friendly waitress a bit of an extra tip.

On Monday we went to Ti Coin Créole in Grand Case. We arrived about 7PM and got a spot in Carl's small lot next to the restaurant. He has recently upgraded his wine list and we choose the Côtes du Rhone "Les Abeilles" from Jean-Luc Columbo (20€). A good sturdy Rhone wine will stand up to the heat of Créole cuisine. The wine and water arrived followed by complimentary johnnycake, fried dough with a sugar topping. We ordered conch stew Créole style and conch curry style for our main courses (both 13.5€). The conch was tender and both preparations were very tasty. Neither was too hot, but with Carl's homemade hot sauce on the table, you are free to heat it up to your taste. Generally, I don't say homemade in restaurants, using housemade, but Carl and family live in this house. He also grew up in this house so it is a home and many of the recipes are from his family. Astute observers will note that we have skipped an ap and will now be startled by two desserts: a coconut tart and a sweet potato pudding. Coconut lovers will love Carl's tart but we really liked the sweet potato pudding which contained carrots and pumpkin with a hint of guavaberry, brought in fresh from Columbier. It was very tasty and the carrot strips give it a bit more texture than the standard dessert. We finished with coconut rum. Carl also abandoned 1 to 1 pricing as the euro climbed from less than 1.2 last season to well over 1.3 this season. He uses 1.25 and takes a bit of a beating on French wines. Our dinner only cost $80 with the wine and water. Carl sat down and chatted over the after dinner drinks and introduced us to his new sous-chef, Carlton, who is six months old. Carlton and all of the dishes appear on the website. We hope to have the recipe for the sweet potato pudding in St Maarten Events next year.

Tuesday evening we went to SkipJack's Our wine was the Robert Mondavi's Coastal Pinot Noir. We had started with a bottle at the bar as we talked to Brad's wife, Tekki, who was with another couple. Eventually, we all went to a table together. I really was not watching the others, but we started with a lovely arugula salad with a light vinaigrette topped with shaved parmesan - very good. Our dinners were a special grouper stuffed with crab, an island recipe that we hope will be featured in St Maarten Events next year. Grouper is a lovely mild fish, a perfect foil for a tasty stuffing, and when fried to achieve a crispy crust, quite a dinner. We liked it very much (took at least half of it home for a great lunch), so if you ever see it on the menu, give it a whirl. Or just buy some in the fish market along with some crab and follow the recipe!

On Wednesday evening we had a very good dinner at L'Oizeau Rare Restaurant a few steps above Marigot Harbor. Christian has been turning out some very interesting and reasonably priced food in this location for several years now. We were happy to see them so busy. There was no problem getting a table, but there was a steady stream of patrons, many of them Americans. We had a bottle of the 2002 Beaune du Chateau from Bouchard (35€) and before our baked Crottin de Chavignol salad (11€) arrived, we had a small glass of gazpacho courtesy of the chef. The goat cheese in the salad is one of the finest and a bit of heating with some crunchy toast under makes this a lovely starter. Jenkins in his Cheese Primer calls it "the tastiest little chevres." Our dinners were a fish soup and a Créole tuna. The soup came with the slices of toast and rouille laden with garlic. Slather the spicy rouille on the toast, sprinkle some cheese on this, and float them around in a soup brimming with seafood. It was quite good and we have half of it here at home. The tuna was rare, as requested, and topped with onions and peppers in a tomato sauce with bonus sesame seeds. Most dinners were in the 20 to 25€ range. We had started with drinks and cheese at Wendy K's condo on the lagoon, so we called it an early night and headed home. Our bill came to $126 using the real exchange rate. Given over $50 was a bar tab, that is fairly cheap for such interesting food in a lovely place. The exterior on two sides is a water feature with lovely gardens. The side toward the street looks out to the waterfront. Well worth a visit.

On Friday evening we went to Antoine Restaurant on the waterfront in Philipsburg. We had a reservation and found a waterfront table waiting for us, while earlier patrons dined further in the restaurant. Reservations are good. It was actually rather breezy, but died out a bit as we sat down. We ordered Bouchard's 2002 Savigny-les-Beaune and a bit of conch chowder to start, tender conch in a rather thick tomato based chowder. We hope to get the recipe and feature it in St Maarten Events next year. Our dinners were the canard Montmorency and the bowtie pasta with shredded veal. The duck dish is supposed to contain the famous cherries from Montmorency in France, a bit doubtful when cherry blossom time is just arriving, but the idea of mixing a sweetish fruit with game (and duck is fairly close to game) is a good one. It came artfully arranged with a sweet potato purée, a bit of mashed potato, broccoli, and green beans. The bowtie pasta was al dente with tasty veal in a reduction sauce, topped with parmesan. Both dishes were great with the Savigny. There are photos on the site.

On Saturday we headed over to Montmartre Restaurant for a final meal here before our departure. We could walk, but as Rainbow and The Cliff are still construction zones, the sidewalks are rudimentary. We drove the quarter mile to Atlantis Casino, planning on using the free valet parking, when it became apparent how low the season has become. There was parking on the street in front of the restaurant. Now, Saturday night is slow as the timeshares turn over, but this was remarkable. The restaurant was still half full and our table was just being vacated. We had a couple flutes of champagne and chatted with Karen at the bar. I glanced at the bar and a bottle of 2002 Beaune du Chateau from Bouchard was coming to room temperature with two giant Burgundy wine glasses waiting. After our table was cleared and reset, the bottle was waiting for us. I think I'm getting a bit predictable. Thierry Delaunay, one of our favorite chefs, had received all the usual seafood suspects on the Air France flights and was featuring a crab soup and the standard platter of seafood with his not very standard sauces. That was all Martha needed to know. The nice thing about Montmartre's seafood platter is that you specify what you want on it. It is not a draconian assortment from the kitchen. This causes a bit more work for you, the waiter, and the kitchen, but you do get exactly what you want. The other special was a chicken leg, deboned and stuffed with a mushroom duxelle. I took that, remembering this dish from a couple years ago when it was made from chapon, invariably mistranslated as Cornish game hen, a rather small bird with tiny drumsticks. A chapon is a capon, a rooster minus the bits that make a rooster taste bad after reaching adolescense. Removing the bits means they can continue growing, producing thunder thighs quite suitable for stuffing. For an appetizer, I choose the house made fois gras paté and a glass of Monbazillac, a sweet wine from southern France, quite good and a less expensive alternative to the standard Sauternes as an accompaniment to fois gras. The dish was lovely to behold but I did not have my camera. There was a small ramekin of coarse salt and cracked pepper in the center of a square plate. On the two sides of the ramekin were two-inch square slices of lovely foie gras paté. The four corners of the plate contained tosted brioche, candied onion, a ramekin of aspic, and a tomato rose surrounded by mache, lamb's lettuce, lightly dressed. There is a picture of the previous chef's approach to this dish on the site, but this was more attractive and offered more taste and textural sensations. The crab soup was a creamy, tasty, rather thick broth with a zuchinni slice wrapped around several ounces of crabmeat forming an island in the center of the bowl. It was wonderful and visually interesting. Martha had chosen some bulot (sea snails), shrimp, three oysters, and a half crab. Thierry's sauces were a mignonette (mostly for the oysters), a plain house-made mayonnaise, and a house-made garlic mayonnaise. The bulot and shrimp were wonderful with the garlic mayo, but I didn't get any of the oysters, so I guess Martha liked them. The crab came home with us as this was entirely too much. My chicken leg was centered on a square plate and drizzled with a light brown sauce. The upper left corner had a tiny canning jar full of freshly sautéed mushrooms and a tiny spoon for extracting them. The lower left had a delicate fan of thin sliced, fried potates. The right had side was taken up with an artfully arranged pastry basket with sweet potato purée, scallions, broccoli, and zuchinni. Again, I wish I had the camera. We finished with decaf espressos and a balloon of vintage Laubade Armagnac. A truly marvelous evening, it's a pretty room, superb service, and great food arranged by an artist.


We are heading back to the US on 25 April. As usual, our loss is your gain. Our one bedroom condo will be available for rent at $1000 per week until we return in December. Several weeks are already taken by repeat visitors, but for those remaining weeks, I'll take $100 off the rate for newsletter subscribers. That's about $125 per night for a bedroom with views of the lagoon and a kitchen/living room/porch that overlooks the Caribbean out to Saba, Statia, and St Kitts. It's all included, there are no service fees, timeshare taxes, energy surcharges, or anything else that can add 20 to 30% to your bill. You also get coupons from several of our website clients to save you money and get you great service. Go to the website, check the calendar, and send in a reservation. Mention that you are a subscriber to get the $900 per week deal. I can't include the free car at this price, but mention that you like this newsletter and I'll get a Hyundai Getz from Don at GCL Car Rental for you for only $75 per week.

Wine & Cheese Party: Select Wine Cellar and Champagne Snack Bar are hosting a wine and cheese tasting on Friday May 4 at 6 pm. This week spotlights the wines and cheeses of Provence. Send an email to Sylvain for a reservation.

Every Tuesday afternoon from 4:30 until 6:00, Ti Bouchon will host a small (ten people maximum) wine tasting on their porch. There is no charge, but if you would like to attend, please visit the website and call or send an reservation request no more than one month in advance. Be sure to mention a date and the number in your party.

Friday night sushi and happy hour (from 4 till 6 PM) is still happening at Halsey's Restaurant. We had a great time when last we were there.

Bali Bar in Marigot's Marina Royale generally has live music or a DJ starting at 7:30 CST (Caribbean standard time) on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.

Roy Deep Sea Fishing is looking for two more people at $150 each to fill out a morning half-day charter on 1 June. Send an email if you are interested.

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. The easiest free welcome champagne cocktail from Auberge Gourmande, Montmartre, and Sunset Café is no longer available, but here's a list of what you'll find:

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

We have a car from Don at GCL Car Rental. They have always been good to us and you can read several testimonials on their site from others. He and Daniel are certainly worth an email when you want reliable, yet inexpensive, transportation. I've never tested them, but they say they will come and pick you up if you think you have over-indulged.

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. Chef Antonio was here over the holidays and will be back, so stay tuned. Music and fine cuisine will be the norm."

The Mario's Bistro Cookbook is now available. They are shipped via UPS and cost $49 for one, $87 for two, and $123 for three, delivered. Delivery via UPS should take a day or two in the US.

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 offers personalized service to fit your needs and budget.

Erich S. Kranz
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