St Maarten/St Martin
9 September 2007 Newsletter

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Weather: It's starting to turn into fall here in upstate NY in mid-August. The sky looks like October and that starts us thinking about our return to the island. However, it is still hurricane season and Dean should have reminded everyone of that. I had some renters in my condo at Sapphire and they reported not much action at all, cloudy skies, quite a bit of rain, high winds and waves, but little damage. The bridge openings were closed for a day and Cupecoy lost some sand. Here's the local weather forecast. Sunset will be at 6:17PM on Sunday (9 September). In a couple weeks, at the equinox, it will set at 6:06PM, heading for the shortest day (the winter solstice on 22 Dec) when it will set at about 5:40PM. Full moon dates for 2007 are: Sep 26, Oct 26, Nov 24, and Dec 23.

SXM-Beaches: Here's a late August report on sand at Cupecoy from Philippe at Tabba Khady: there was still a bit of sand at Cupecoy Beach. However, not much "beach" at Cupecoy as the waves produced by hurricane Dean took a lot of sand away. Not too worried anyway, as usually the sand comes back within few days.

Philippe also reports that there is a sign at Le Galion stating that it is a clothing-optional beach. It's always been a favorite of parents with small children because it is very shallow and well protected from large waves. It's also a favorite with the locals. Many locals and many people with small children aren't as thrilled with nudity as the birthday suit brigade and their admirers, the black-socked cruisers, seem to be. We'll keep you posted. If you don't know where the island's beaches are, visit SXM-Beaches for maps and photos.

Beach Reading: Wendy K has sent along A French Affair: The Paris Beat, 1965-1998 by Mary Blume - Amazon.com says: Even the most dedicated expat rarely manages to completely fit into an adopted foreign culture. It's precisely this quality that allows American Mary Blume to so thoughtfully observe and record Paris, the city that's served as her home for over three decades, though its ways may still mystify her. In A French Affair--a collection of essays published in the International Herald Tribune--the columnist deftly captures the quirks and changes that are visible only to those who live in France, though they may be most interesting to those who don't.

In a previous life as a technical rep for a large engineering company, I traveled the world and read the International Herald Tribune regularly. I found some of the articles vaguely familiar and then noticed that the dates coincided with my last posting to Beijing from June through September of 1998. St Martin is not exactly France, but many of the restaurateurs came from the "Metropole" and these stories can explain some of the things that happen on the island.

While you can't take this to the beach, Wendy has also sent along a link to a Paris food blog.

Caribbean Travel & Life's October issue has a list of 100 things you should do in the Caribbean. The first is see the Exumas from a small plane. As someone who chartered a very small plane with a very young pilot to take us from Nassau to a week on a 40 foot boat out in the Berry Islands, I can attest to the beauty of the shallow sea (that would be Baja Mer in Spanish, mangled into Bahamas) and low-lying sandy islands. Number two was the green flash, visible almost any place in the Caribbean with a clear look at the setting sun. One must have clear skies and it helps to be raised up above the seashore a bit. Even clear skies often have haze at the distant water/horizon junction. Nonetheless, we see an average of about a dozen per season from our sixth-floor condo at Sapphire. Cliffhanger, next door at Cupecoy Beach Club, is also raised up a bit with good views of the setting sun. Bamboo Bernies, Sunset Beach Bar, and the rest in that area have good views of the setting sun, but are at sea level.

Number four is "Do Carnival" and while St Martin and St Maarten have separate carnivals at two different times, CT&L recommends Trinidad's carnival. While I haven't been there, many people who have concur in this assessment. Number 22 points out that the runway on our sister island, Saba, is the Caribbean's hairiest thrill ride. Number 55 reminds people that our sister island of Statia was an important commercial center on 16 November 1776 when a ship called the Andria Doria sailed into the harbor. She belonged to the thirteen colonies who had recently declared independence. The island's governor fired off an 11 gun salute, making Statia the first foreign country to recognize the United States as a new nation. It doesn't mention that the British navy sacked the island in retaliation. This, of course, is not the same Andrea Doria that hit the MV Stockholm off Nantucket on 25 July 1956. Number 56 mentions that Alexander Hamilton was born (out of wedlock) on Nevis in 1757 before moving to St Croix in 1767 and on to the US to become the face on the ten dollar bill. Six places received sunset viewing recommendations, none on SXM. The favorite restaurant tables include La Samanna and nearby Pimm's on Anguilla and Carl Gustaf on St Barts. Number 98 is Guavaberry - thanks anyway.

Construction: - Rainbow Beach Club, the ever-expanding blight on the skyline in Cupecoy, is now selling timeshares!?!

I just got a notice that the Mullet Bay Pharmacy was moving to the Orange Grove Shopping Center. Not exactly construction news, you say? Possibly, but they said: "In the midst of the eventual development of the Mullet Bay area our operations is forced to move and we do apologize for the inconvenience and unexpected change." Maybe they know more about the eventual development than we do.

Activities: Roy Deep Sea Fishing takes out parties of four or five and comes back with wahoo, marlin, tuna, and mahi. Send an email if you are interested. If you don't have a party of four, we'll use this space and Roy's website to help fill out the charter. Send an email to get aboard.

Shopping: The large and ever-growing SXM-Info website just added Radiant Gems to its shopping site. They are located at 85 Front Street in Philipsburg, next door to Casino Rouge et Noir and Diagonally across from McDonalds. Their website comes complete with a shopping cart, if you need something before your next visit to the island.

Crime: The Daily Herald reports that the Prosecutor’s Office is taking action to confiscate wrecked ships from Simpson Bay Lagoon to have them demolished. We've been out on the Lagoon Pub Crawl many times and are always amazed at the wrecks that sit at anchor or are run aground. This seems like a great idea.

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. 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.

Note that building three will be closed for much of September for maintenance and the pool and restaurant area will be closed at times.

Travel: 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 and a birth certificate with a raised seal. 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.

I've heard that the passport crunch is over, but please plan ahead.

Acropole Orient Villa and Villa Coconut: Zuzu reports that both of her villas now have wireless internet access. She is offering Acropole, Coconut, and California Apartments at 10% off from 4 August until 31 October.

Groceries: We just picked up some Chaumes at BJ's in Saratoga Springs. It's a factory cheese, hardly made in artisinal quantities, but quite good and quite powerful if ripened sufficiently. US Import at the French bridge almost always has it.

Small island story: Martyne and Mario from Mario's Bistro stopped in during their vacation. We had a great meal featuring our chickens smoked over hardwood with some soaked cherry wood chips and veg (including new potatoes) from our garden. The dessert was a (local) blueberry cake with a 62 Ch Rieussec. This chateau borders the more famous Yquem. In 1984 the Lafite-Rothschild operation took over the estate and its continual revitalization may make it second only to Yquem at this time. The next night we had one of our lamb roasts for dinner with an editor from O Magazine. She liked the Mario's Bistro Cookbook, so there may be a mention in the future. Martyne reports that sales are doing quite well. It's best to buy them at the restaurant and get them signed, but they are available on the website. The small island part is that Martyne and Mario grew up just over the NY/VT border in Quebec. One of their earlier employers was David Hendricks from Rainbow Cafe. David and I grew up in western NY about 15 miles apart in the 50's and 60's. It's not just a small island, it's a small world.


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.

The casino has two new restaurants: the Rock House a sports bar serving a $10 buffet 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.

This newsletter's winners:
Tom O'Neill
Steve Hsieh

Martin Conway, casino manager and owner of Baccara Restaurant reports that Le Baccara is closed for its summer vacation and will reopen in November. Casino contest winners can use their dinner award at good for the Surf and Turf Bar & Grill, next door. They are open every night from 6:30 pm, last orders up to midnight. Live Lobsters at $23 lb, lots of steaks, and pizzas have been added to the menu.


Current Contest - until 4 November
Read our rules, visit the websites of these sponsors, find their contest codes, and enter them on our entry form:

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

Future Contests:

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


On 5 August the euro was at 1.378. The recent turmoil in the financial markets had pushed it back down a bit, but the recent cut in interest rates pushed it back up so today it is at 1.377. Last season, some restaurants were still offering a 1 to 1 exchange, but the numbers of such restaurants are decreasing. At a 15% or 20% premium they could do it for a while, but as the US budget and balance of payment deficits have ratcheted upward, international confidence in the dollar has ratcheted downwards. Most restaurants have dropped this because at 30 to 40% premium, there isn't much profit left. As we are no longer on the island, we will not post a list that could change in an instant. Almost all of the restaurants that are now offering 1 to 1 created their menus in the last two years, presumably with 1 to 1 in mind. It still saves you the 3% or so currency exchange charge on most credit cards and of course, what you see for prices don't need any conversion.

Barbara Kingsolver's book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, advocating local eating, has gotten a bit of flak. One the major ones is the comparative advantage argument, as old as Adam Smith. The clover rich fields of New Zealand can produce lamb cheaper than the barren fields of England. Thus, the barren fields get plenty of chemical fertilizer and this has a larger carbon footprint than the fuel for the boat transporting the lamb from New Zealand. Read lots more here.

Buccaneer Beach Bar (and Neil Rooney) are no more. The bar was closed for failure to pay taxes and Neil has left the island.

2007 Restaurant Closings
Restaurants Dates
Baccara Restaurant Open Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights
Bali Bar Closed for September and first half of October
Belle Epoque Restaurant open all summer
closed on Sundays in June
Blue Martini August
La Cigale August 25 to November 2
Le Cottage Restaurant September 1st to October 26th
Dare to be Rare No vacation
Closed on Sundays
L'Escapade Restaurant No closing, open every night
L'Escargot Restaurant Closed on Sundays until October
Dinner Cabaret Show continues every Friday
through the summer
Kokomarina Closed in June
Mario's Bistro 21 July-30 Sep
Rancho del Sol Closed in September
Sol é Luna Restaurant June 20 to July 7
Tabba Khady Last two weeks in August, maybe
Temptation Restaurant No vacation
Closed on Mondays


Our condo: We came 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 unit for $900 per week and I'll get a Don at GCL Car Rental to rent you a Hyundai Getz for only $10 per day.

Don at GCL Car Rental also announces that if you rent a car for a week from him, you'll get free week of chairs at Boo Boo Jam on Orient Beach. 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.

Wine & Cheese Party: Select Wine Cellar and Champagne Snack Bar are hosting a monthly wine and cheese tastings, usually on the first Friday of the month. We attended the first and it was pretty full. On 7 September they had cheese from Burgundy (Epoisses - one of my favorites, Trou du Cru, Brillat Savarin - another favorite, Délice de Pommard, Aisy Cendré, and Clacbitou with some Vouvray, Merlot (Organic) Vin de pays d’Oc, Savigny les Beaunes, and St Amour. Send an email to Sylvain for more details or a reservation (highly recommended as these are very popular).

Select carries the Tritan Forte wine glass line from Schott Zweisel. They are not unbreakable, but very sturdy, chip-resistant. My thesis advisor was associated with Dr Schott about 40 years ago, so I had to try these and now they are our favorite glasses on the island. A few restaurants use them and any tasting at Select will have some. Another item they carry is a decanter that seriously aerates wine as it removes sediment. David Foini at Gondola Restaurant used one on an older Italian wine to great effect one evening last season. We were so happy with the result that we bought one and have used it here in the US with our older wines. We tried it again a few days ago on an 88 and 89 Ch Leoville-Barton. We did the 89 first, serving half the table undecanted wine, and then decanting the remainder for the other half of the table. It was widely felt that the decanting did NOT improve the taste in this case! It helps to have a sommelier who knows things like this!

Ti Bouchon Wine Tasting: Every Tuesday afternoon from 5:30 until 6:30, 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.

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.

Can't remember if it is UnityCars.com or UnityCarRental.com? Now it doesn't matter. Michael and Joseph have both names pointing to the site that we made for them. Check out all the cars and make secure reservations on line at the site.

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)

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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