St Maarten/St Martin
27 April 2008 Newsletter

Other newsletters
Contests | Restaurants | Bargains and Happenings



Weather: Sunday (6 Apr) turned out to be OK. The winds died out a bit but there were whitecaps on the Caribbean and even some on the lagoon. The temperature only reached 79F at 1:30. Finally, by Tuesday things calmed down and warmed up. But not much. Here's a photo from Friday's sunset showing Lambada on its sunset cruise, Saba in the distance, and almost total cloud cover. At the time it was about 73F. Saturday was a lovely warm day with lots of sun. The next few days were a blur of packing and dining. By 21 April, Wendy K reported that the weather had really changed. Gone were the cool, windy days with periodic rain. It was very warm since you left. Feels like SXM is supposed to! The next day she claims the winds have even turned around. The trades normally come in from the NW which is why the old explorers generally ended further south in the windward islands and even today, sailors generally make landfall south of SXM and have to tack their way back up the island chain to get here. When the winds back around, nobody goes anywhere, the air and water heat up, and hurricanes start to form (see below). Today's (27 April) sunset will be at 6:29PM. Full moon dates for 2008 are: 20 May, 18 Jun, 18 Jul, 16 Aug, 15 Sep, 13 Oct, 13 Nov, and 12 Dec. Here's the local weather forecast from the Weather Underground and here's one from the Weather Channel.   Saba at sunset on 11 April

Hurricanes: Dr. William Gray, the Colorado State hurricane forecaster, has predicted a slightly above average hurricane season for 2008. This is based partially on the "La Nina" condition in the Pacific which usually causes the tropical Atlantic to have more storms. Dr Gray's predictions have been incorrect on the high side for some years now. He is liable to be right one of these years. It's been nine years since Lenny, the last major storm to hit the island.

the little cove at Cupecoy   SXM-Beaches: Here is a shot of the little cove at Cupecoy taken a bit before we left in mid-April. You can see the wet sand line, indicating some available beach throughout the cove, but watch out for rogue waves. At the time, there was sand at all three beaches at the NW end of Cupecoy. The main beach at the extreme NW end (next to Shore Pointe) had the most. In the second week in April Wendy K said that Mullet was calm with occasional light swells and Cupecoy had people in the water at all three beaches, but the majority of sand is still at the main (NW) beach. The water was a bit wavy, but it was OK getting in & out at the far end. By the end of that week the sand was moving from the big beach at the NW end to the middle beach near the monolith. The next week she reported that the current is still taking sand from the main beach towards the middle beach. The water was very clear again, and Saba & Statia were visible. Roland Richardson was doing some painting on the middle beach. If you don't know where the island's beaches are, visit SXM-Beaches for maps and photos.

Beach Reading: I'm still reading Caribbean by James A. Michener. It really is interesting, giving a historical vignette for all the major islands. To get back on another horse, Michael Pollan had a very good article in the NY Times. It's well worth reading, especially if you didn't read his recent book: The Omnivore's Dilemma.

Activities: Marci wishes to remind you that her gym has salsa dance classes every Friday evening from 7 to 8:30. Get some exercise and learn how to dance at the same time.

Random Wind: Diane says, "We caught a barracuda Monday. We have just been sailing and having a good time. Saw a dolphin but didn’t get a photo. Everyone is raving about the mango chutney that we are serving. I make it myself and can it. When someone really goes crazy over it, I give them a jar. I am holding a meeting of the boat excursion owners to discuss cross promotion, safety, and emergency preparedness as well as increasing awareness of the water activities in general."

  Random Wind

Carnival: The Dutch side carnival is coming to a close soon. Calypso King Beau-Beau (Leroy Brooks) lead the pack of ten finalists chosen recently. His winning song: “Fight,” concerned Dutch Member of Parliament Hero Brinkman’s comments in early January that St Maarten was corrupt and should be sold on the Internet for US $1. You can catch Leroy at his restaurant in the Oyster Pond: Beau Beau's Restaurant.

Shore Pointe in 1995   Construction: On the left is a photo of the NW end of Cupecoy taken in 1995. Today, it is the site of Shore Pointe's wall. In truth, their wall did not subsume this beach. Hurricanes Luis in September of 1995 and Lenny in November of 1999 removed most of the sand such that when Shore Pointe built their wall, there was not much sand left. Admittedly, they built their wall too close to the water and were forced to move it back a bit - not enough to prevent the recent storms from breaching it, however. And Shore Pointe is constructing a very large drainage ditch with what looks like a sewer pipe, running along the wall separating their property from Cupecoy Villages along the old path, to the beach. Dany learned they apparently have a permit for it. Soon, Cupecoy will be as sanitary as the lagoon.

Sapphire Beach Club: I was about to start complaining about the hot tubs at Sapphire because on the Saturday before the last newsletter our tub filled up with what appeared to be ash. The newsletter went out early Sunday morning so I gave them a bit of leeway and by 11AM I had three people pass through my unit (and all the other units as we are on a common filtration and heating circuit in building 2) to clean up the mess. In the bad old days there was no hope of getting anything done on the weekends. A pump had failed, but by Monday my tub was full of warm, clean water.

It's that time of year. We are back at our home in NY. Our condo will be available for rent at $1000 per week from 15 April to December 15, $2000 per week during holiday season (20 Dec until 4 Jan), and $1500 per week at other times. The rental includes about $300 in coupons from several of our website clients. Check the calendar on our website for available dates.

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: Continental has followed USAir in charging for a second bag after 5 May. Here's the details.

We flew back on Continental to Newark and then on to Albany. We ordered the frequent flyer tickets last July and the schedule has changed several times since then, but Continental did keep us informed. Even better, the schedule actually changed to reduce a long wait at Newark from three hours to two hours. Nonetheless, the lack of a flight crew increased the wait on the ground by at least a half hour at which time we were number 23 for takeoff. We got in at about the previously scheduled time. It's a long day but all our luggage arrived. It included 9.8 liters of Armagnac and Cognac, purchased at a considerable savings on the island. We also brought home quite a bit of cheese, hot sauce, sea salt, and cassonade sugar. First we had to visit the alcohol people who graciously said that $500 worth of alcohol was not worth taxing, but they did send us to the food people. They were pretty backed up as an Air India flight had just arrived. Eventually, we got through with nothing confiscated and no tax.

All travel to the USA now requires a passport. Life is pretty easy if you allow enough time to renew by mail. All the details can be found at this State Department page.

Dominican tomatoes   Shopping: We stopped in at DK Gems to pick up Martha's engagement and wedding rings. they were getting a bit difficult to remove and Deepti sent them off to have clasps put on so that they could slide over the joints and be tightened on the finger. It's a bit of work and requires new gold/silver/whatever. It cost a bit over $400 per ring, but obviously this is a function of precious metal prices and if you haven't noticed, gold (and all the rest) are rising rapidly. The workmanship was fabulous.

Groceries: We used to extol the virtues of the Lido Food Express at Maho, even pointing out the comped parking on the lower level, but their prices have been rising considerably this season. Moreover, the selection has diminished somewhat and the service is worse. Grocery store service, especially at the deli counters on the Dutch side, is hopeless. I see many people behind the counters. They see me, but there is no acknowledgement, not even "I'll be with you in the next millennium."

Alcohol: In case you missed it above, we brought in 9.8 liters of booze. That's 15 bottles (at 700 ml), declared it, and were waved (and waived) on through customs. If you cut back on luggage and bring in a wine shipper, you can fill it up and import some very cheap alcohol.

Nature: The French side has placed recycling containers at several spots on their side of the island. Generally they consist of a pair of blue containers marked verre (glass) on a green placard and a pair of blue containers marked emballages (packaging, cans and plastic) on a yellow placard. They have pictures so you don't even have to learn French. Each container is about the size of a port-a-potty. A set has been placed just outside Rouge Beach, in front of the Howell Center, at the entrance to Columbier, in the parking lot at Grand Case, a set at each end of the lowlands, Orient Beach, and a few other places. Given that the French burn their garbage and the Dutch fill in Great Salt Pond, it would be a great help to remove something from the waste stream.   Recycling bins

Traffic: On Monday (7 Apr) morning the traffic backed up from the bridge to Maho contained 112 vehicles, 11 with R plates. On Tuesday morning I counted 75 vehicles and 7 with R plates - things are slowing down. That afternoon we got 12 R plates out of 72, ie 17%. Obviously, we don't see as many tourists during the morning rush hour, but they do increase during the afternoon. I'm not sure I want to put myself into the huge backup to check the 5PM crowd. But the point is that anybody (gov official or otherwise) who says that not allowing any more rental car companies on the Dutch side, while allowing existing companies to expand, is not addressing congestion. Even if the Dutch side companies did not expand, it would not reduce the number of R plates available for rent and, of course, does nothing about the French side. Moreover, the R plates account for only 10 to 20% of the traffic. Finally, the worst traffic is from 4 to 6PM heading east in Simpson Bay, coinciding with two bridge openings (4:30 and 5:30) and commuters heading home from jobs servicing tourists in Simpson Bay.

Gas Prices on the Dutch side increased by 10 guilder cents per liter since the last newsletter. The Texaco near the airport is doing 2.2 Nfl per liter and giving 1.8 Nfl/$. That is $1.22 per liter or about $4.70 per gallon. The Shell stations usually charge the same amount (it's government regulated) but use a lower exchange rate, not that anybody does the exchange calculation correctly anyway. Prices at Cadisco were $1.08 per liter at Orient and $1.05 in Sandy Ground, a bit over $4 per gallon at the end of March. They still do 1 to 1 for cash. The Gess stations have reopened and sell gas at 0.95€, but they are doing $1.35/€, so that is about $1.30 per liter.

This is all up for grabs however as the Dutch side government is going to "help" its citizens by (maybe) lowering the tax on fuel. The government was not planning on cutting its budget, however, so the money would be made up by increasing other taxes, notably, the TOT. What's a TOT, you ask? Turnover tax, as in a 3% levy on a company's gross sales. There is still an income tax on the off-chance that your company makes a profit. The TOT comes very close to being a sales tax on all goods and services. A duty is usually applied to imported goods, but this one goes one better and applies it to all goods and services. However, all goods are imported down here, so it effectively is a tax on imported goods. The reason you don't know about it is that the enabling legislation carried wording saying that this tax should not appear on any bill given to the consumer, lest the duty-free status of SXM be questioned. So the "help" shifts taxes from fuel to all consumption. As tourists are major consumers down here, it would seem to shift taxes to tourists and reduce them for voters, an excellent political maneuver.

And here is where this segues into the:

Small island story: As soon as one St Maarten politician floated the savior of small man blather about reducing fuel taxes and increasing TOT, his opposition lambasted him for increasing taxes on the small man by raising the TOT. Furthermore, it turns out that the TOT is a federal, ie Netherlands Antilles, tax with two administrative districts. Curaçao and Bonaire off the Venezuelan coast form one district and the S islands (St Maarten, Statia, and Saba) form the other. St Maarten cannot unilaterally increase its TOT. It has to be done over all three islands and each has a veto. Needless to say, Statia and Saba both told St Maarten to "go fish". Anyone thinking that this change will happen as soon as St Maarten achieves country status, may actually be correct. The question is , when? And at this point almost all concerned have given up on the 15 Dec 2008 date. As the astute twentieth century philosopher Roseanne Roseannadanna said, "It's always something."

  Politician on the wall at Tijuana Yacht Club


Winners of the Contest that just ended
Caribbean View Condo - half price summer rental (May-October) - Susan S
Halsey's Restaurant - $50 off a dinner for two - Jason T
Hibiscus Restaurant - $50 off a dinner for two - Jason T
Lagoon Pub Crawl - two for one ticket - Bonnie S
L'Escargot Restaurant - $100 off dinner for two (cash payments only, excludes Friday Cabaret show) - Yvonne R
Select Wine Cellar - Wine tasting and a bottle of wine - Bonnie S

Current Contest - now to 27 July 2008
Caribbean View Condo - half price summer rental (May-October)
Lagoon Pub Crawl - two for one ticket
Skipjack's - $50 off a dinner for two
Select Wine Cellar - Wine tasting and a bottle of wine
Marci's MegaGym 2000 - Two weeks gym admission and two mega-shakes
Random Wind - Two for one coupon for the Paradise Day Sail

Read our rules, visit the websites of these sponsors, find their contest codes, and enter them on our entry form.

One of the rules is that you should enter each contest only once.

Future Contests:

27 July to 26 October
Caribbean View Condo - half price summer rental (May-October)
Azure Guesthouse - seven nights for the price of four
Lagoon Pub Crawl - two for one ticket
Skipjack's - $50 off a dinner for two
Select Wine Cellar - Wine tasting and a bottle of wine
Random Wind - Two for one coupon for the Paradise Day Sail

26 October to 28 December
Caribbean View Condo - half price summer rental (May-October)
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
Skipjack's - $50 off a dinner for two
Select Wine Cellar - Wine tasting and a bottle of wine
Random Wind - Two for one coupon for the Paradise Day Sail


On 6 April the euro was at 1.572. Today it is at 1.560, although it hit record highs recently. 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 a 50 to 60%% premium, there isn't any profit left. California Restaurant, Kokomarina, Ti Bouchon, Paradise View Restaurant, Spiga, Le France, Fish Pot, and Spicy are still is offering 1 to 1 and many other restaurants are offering favorable exchange rates. Just taking your dollars at the current exchange rate saves the 3% foreign exchange conversion rate from most credit cards. The menus at Pirate Beach Bar and Baywatch are in dollars, no conversion necessary. The last time I was at Baywatch, however, a mysterious 15% charge was added to my bill. I called it a tip.

This is the last listing of 1 for 1 restaurants as we are no longer on the island and it is difficult to keep this list accurate when we are there and impossible when we aren't there. If any restaurateur or recent visitor writes before the next newsletters and confirms that a restaurant is still offering 1 to 1, I will pass on that info, but I fear that I cannot keep this even moderately accurate without constant input. Given the weak state of the dollar, I suspect more restaurants will give up 1 to 1 pricing over the summer.

Halsey's Restaurant
On Sunday we went for a photo op (and tasting) at Halsey's Restaurant on the lagoon across from Royal Palm in Simpson Bay (east). We started with the Vodka Shrimp Cocktail, jumbo shrimp with homemade peppered vodka cocktail sauce ($12) and moved on to Sesame Infused Sushi Grade Tuna Served with wasabi, soy sauce, and spicy red chili sauce. We added the upgrade that includes wakame seaweed and vegetable maki sushi ($16). The fish course was the Shrimp and Scallop Sauté with a black truffle cream sauce, bacon, scallion and shallot risotto and sautéed vegetables ($24). Our meat course was the Center Cut Beef Tenderloin Filet topped a broiled gorgonzola and balsamic vinegar reduction over rosemary roasted new potatoes with sautéed vegetables ($29). We did not move on to dessert, but Ryan Halsey always has some home-made ice cream and a roster of ever-changing desserts. Throughout we drank house wines and both the chardonnay and the pinot grigio were perfectly good. They offer Bouchard's non-vintage La Vignée Burgundy as a red house wine and we have recommended that it in the past. Bouchard has certainly increased the quality of every wine in the house over the last several years.

Bottom line, just look at the photos. Ryan makes some beautiful plates and uses quality materials. Halsey's and Saratoga are probably the most interesting restaurants from Maho to the French border, ie in Simpson Bay and Cole Bay. In Maho, Moulin Fou is in the same class and Atlantis Casino has Montmartre Restaurant, Temptation Restaurant, Dare to be Rare, and Gondola Restaurant.

And they just got better as they started doing the super happy hour again, now on Saturdays. Come relax on Simpson Bay Lagoon amidst the megayachts and experience "The Zen of Happy Hour" Saturdays from 3-5. It's the perfect way to get out of the sun and wind down after a day of shopping on Front Street or a day at the beach. Escape the maddening crowds for a while and enjoy daily Drink Specials including $5 Martinis. The Happy Hour Menu features ever-changing appetizer specials, sushi, and sashimi plates, fresh oysters and mussels.

Vodka Shrimp Cocktail

Vodka Shrimp Cocktail

Sesame Infused Sushi Grade Tuna

Sesame Infused Sushi Grade Tuna

Shrimp and Scallop Sauté

Shrimp and Scallop Sauté

Center Cut Beef Tenderloin Filet

Center Cut Beef Tenderloin Filet

L'Oizeau Rare Restaurant
On Tuesday we had a lunch L'Oizeau Rare Restaurant on the waterfront in Marigot. It is an authentic French restaurant housed in a refurbished Créole cottage on a slight rise at the northeastern end of the waterfront. The increase in height provides a nice view over the parking lot and ferry terminal such that the Cliff is visible in Cupecoy, Mont Rouge and the mamelles stick up from the French lowlands, the old Belle Creole peninsula comes next, followed by the sweep of Marigot harbor with views out to Anguilla. There is always a large board of specials and we seldom go beyond that, although the menu is quite large and includes pizza!

We made sure that both of our lunches came with what we think are some of the best French fries on the island. Hand cut and double-fried, they are crispy and have no idea what a freezer is. As you can see the beef tartare and the flank steak both came with these fabulous fries. The tartare had a bit of frisée and the very tasty flank steak included a bit of squash, some candied onions, ratatouille, and a slice of baguette topped with baked goat cheese, tomatoes, herbs, and spices. Each of these cost 15€ or about $22 using their 1.5 conversion. That is a lot of fine food for $22. We added a bottle of the 2005 Crozes-Hermitage from Jaboulet (25€, under $40) for a great lunch. If you are shopping or just sightseeing in Marigot, this is a great option. There is even a coupon on the website.

Beef tartare

Beef Tartare

Flank steak

Flank steak

Ti Coin Créole
We had fine local dinner at Ti Coin Créole at the far eastern end of Grand Case. We started with the crab back (6.5€) to which we added some of Chef Carl's homemade hot sauce. Most of Carl's cuisine, though tasty, is not too hot. He does have this bottle available for the intrepid - use sparingly. Martha had the stewed conch (13.50€) and I had Carl's signature seafood pasta (19€). A bottle of Picard's 2004 Bourgogne (22€) was quite nice. Red wine does go with fish, especially when the fish is in full flavored dishes like these. Our total bill was 61€ or about $85 as Carl used a generous exchange rate of $1.4/€.
  Crab back
Stewed conch Seafood pasta

Sunset Café
Thursday we had lunch at Sunset Café on the water in Grand Case, overlooking Créole Rock. It's no secret that Pascal and Karen (of Auberge Gourmande) have sold Montmartre Restaurant and are giving up the lease on Sunset Café. In a couple months the owners at Grand Case Beach Club will have decided on the new restaurant lessee. I don't expect things to change too much as the owners also make "suggestions" on the menus. That's plural as the restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We don't do breakfast, so I can only say that the menu runs from a continental breakfast to the full range of your imagination. We do a lot of lunches here and there are few places as lovely. No place has a better view of Créole Rock. This is as close as you can get unless you take a guided snorkeling trip with Sebby at the GCBC Activities Desk. The beach (below right) is also quite pleasant, rarely crowded, and all manner of watersports and drinks are available. We have often combined a morning snorkel around the rock with a great lunch and a long laze on the quiet beach in the afternoon. Dinners with lights on the water overlooking the rock are also quite special, especially when there is a fullish moon illuminating the bay.
  Créole Rock
Créole Rock
Fresh seafood starts to arrive from France on Wednesday in the bellies of the Airbuses and 747's flying in from Paris. By Thursday it is available in many restaurants and mussels appear on many chalkboards. We have always liked this version of the cream style. They add onions, shallots, cream, pepper, and a secret ingredient (19€). I suspect a dash of cognac or armagnac. Whatever it is these are fine mussels and the fries are double-fried to cook them through first and then flash fried at a higher temperature to crisp up the outside. Martha had the seafood salad (19.50€) with crab, tiny pink shrimp, a few large shrimp, scallops, and some fish. We added the Carte Noir Rosé (23€) and had a great time. Everything was very good, probably even better because of the great views. The total was about 61€ and as they are using $1.3/€, it was under $80.
Petit Plage Mussels Seafood salad

Tijuana Yacht Club
On Friday as I drove from the dentist in Marigot to the pharmacy in the Orange Grove Shopping Center, I was listening to Island 92 Radio. Jeff Sochrin (AKA Soc), Captain of Team Golden Dog, was filling in for Bogart and announced that he would be entering the next person who called into a drawing for free drinks at Senor Bernies Tijuana Yacht Club that evening from 7:00 to 9:00PM for the winner and 20 friends. I had my cell and managed to call in to be entered in the drawing to be held in an hour. There were only four other entries and in about an hour Soc called my cell to tell me I had won. You wouldn't think that it would be hard to find twenty friends to show up for free drinks, but by noon on Friday most timeshare people are packing and have their reservations for their last dinner on the island. I even put a posting onto Travel Talk Online. I did manage to get about ten people to show up off and on over the evening but for the most part, Wendy K, her husband, Martha, and I had to drink for twenty. I think we did an admirable job. Certainly my head feels like it this morning. Jukebox Heroes was supposed to start playing at 9PM, but they arrived at 7 and did several sound checks and rehearsals all the while we were there. They are fairly new on the island and I have wanted to hear them for some time, so this was most serendipitous. Unfortunately, they will have left for Europe by the time you read this.
Jukebox Heroes
After we worked our way through the last of our free drinks, we repaired to the dining salon where we enjoyed a chicken chipotle burrito (right, $9.50) and a beef enchilada ($9). As you can see, they come with beans and rice. You can't see the table, but it had about five varieties of hot sauce lined up and my chicken had a dash of chipotle on it already. Hot sauce is just the thing to put on a table when your main business is selling drinks. Not only is it hot but one of the main ingredients is salt. The extra hot sauce, of course, required a Dos Equis and our entire, quite filling dinner came to $27.67 after they added a tax and tip on the order. The menu does mention that a 15% tip will be added and the bill that arrived also states "Tip Included" in bold. Give them a credit card and it comes back, as they all do in the US, with a blank spot for you to add another tip. All in all, a rather pleasant, lively evening as the bar was full of youngish types stoking up on half-price happy hour drinks. Chicken Chipotle Burrito

Changes: Le Petit Market in Cupecoy is to be a restaurant with a chef from the US. I've been told that there is only one kitchen on the premises and Khush is already using it for lunch and dinner. It may be a cozy little restaurant. Wajang Doll in Cole Bay has not been open for quite some time. Tattoo, the dining and social oasis in Nettle Bay, appears to be a desert. Le Gaiac at the top of the West Indies Mall is no longer in business. That's 0 for 2 in this location. St Germain is now the Pink Pot - hasn't been the same since Patrick le Black left.

This is a repeat, but take note: L'Escapade Restaurant has dropped 1 to 1 pricing and gone to $1.25/€. Sunset Café has gone to $1.35€ and Auberge Gourmande is now using $1.4/€. I have heard that Rancho del Sol had gone to $1.2/€ and confirmed it on a recent visit.


Our condo: It's that time of year. We have returned to our home in NY. Our condo will be available for rent at $1000 per week from 15 April to December 15, $2000 per week during holiday season (20 Dec until 4 Jan), and $1500 per week at other times. The rental includes about $500 in coupons from several of our website clients. Check the calendar on our website for available dates. Hurricane Special: Any days in September and August for $100.

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. The next one is on 2 May. Send an email to Sylvain for more details or a reservation (highly recommended as these are very popular).

Orient Village has something similar to Grand Case's Harmony Nights. It's smaller but will happen on Friday nights through August.

And now, another "night" on Orient! This one is a "Thai Curry festival with Live Music a la Christine" at Bikini Beach on Wednesday nights starting on 2 April and will running for six weeks until 7 May. It's 24.50 Euros per person with a choice of Panang, Red, Green or Yellow curry. You get your choice of Vegetarian with Tofu, Chicken, Fish or Beef. Rice and a beverage included. Christine is a lovely blonde songstress with accompaniment du jour. She works with lots of talented musicians on the island and is sure to please just about everyone. Thai Curry starts at 6pm and the music starts at 7pm.

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:

Bikini Beach
Beau Beau's
Kakao Beach
Oizeau Rare
Paradise View
Pirate Beach Bar
Tai Chi
Lots here
and here
Select Wine Cellar
Endless Summer Beachwear
Diamonds International

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.