St Maarten/St Martin
1 February 2009 Newsletter

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Cupecoy sunset

Noon on Thursday   Weather: Sunday started out rather cloudy but cleared up and reached 82F with lots of sun. Monday started out in the high 70's with lots of clouds and haze that obscured Saba and the day proceeded along that path, lots of dribbles and a few raging squalls, but nothing that lasted more than 10 minutes. Similar weather prevailed on Tuesday and Wednesday, mostly clear, warm (82F), but a few cloudbursts now and then. Thursday was rain free for most of the day, although as the photo (left) shows, fairly cloudy with haze on the horizon. Sharp-eyed readers will note Saba in the distance behind the sailboat. The other ship is the local Navy defending our shores. The evening brought very heavy showers.   Sunset on Saturday
Friday brought an absolute whiteout before we even left for the gym at 8:30 and another shower as we were stuck in traffic waiting for the 11:00 AM bridge. Saturday arrived with lots of clouds, rain squalls on the western horizon, and nary a glimpse of Saba. By the time these sailboats came past, it was much brighter and the horizon appeared to be nothing but haze. That's an improvement over rain squalls. The sunset is from that evening - still lots of clouds, but it didn't rain in Cupecoy. Click for Juliana Airport, St. Maartin Forecast Here's the current local conditions and here's the forecast from Weather Underground and here's one from the Weather Channel. We've passed the winter solstice, so for the next six months we'll be getting more sun every day, increasing slowly at first. Sunset today is at 6:04 and the moon is waxing. Full moons for 2009 are 9 Feb, 11 Mar, 9 Apr, 9 May, 7 Jun, 7 Jul, 6 Aug, 4 Sep, 4 Oct, 3 Nov, and 2 Dec.   Sailboats on Saturday

SXM-Beaches: On the left is a shot taken from just outside Grand Case Beach Club. The photo on the left was taken from the eastern edge of GCBC looking west across Grand Case. At the other end of the beach California Restaurant and La Marine offer access to the beach and great lunches and in the center of the town Zen It and Calmos Café do the same. A few other restaurants are open for lunch, notably: L'Escapade Restaurant, Il Nettuno Restaurant, Le Tastevin, and Restaurant Le Soleil. The center photo was taken looking back at Grand Case Beach Club. It shows they have little beach left on the western side of the resort. Not to worry, the eastern side, Petite Plage, now has quite a bit of sand.

Grand Case Bay St Martin Beaches St Maarten Beaches Sint Maarten Beaches Saint Martin Beaches Grand Case Bay St Martin Beaches St Maarten Beaches Sint Maarten Beaches Saint Martin Beaches Grand Case Bay St Martin Beaches St Maarten Beaches Sint Maarten Beaches Saint Martin Beaches

Beach reading: Darkness, Take My Hand featuring PIs Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro is Lehane's second novel. His first, A Drink Before the War won a Shamus award and more recently he wrote Mystic River, which became a major movie directed by Clint Eastwood starring Sean Penn. In this one, Boston PIs Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro agree to help psychiatrist Diandra Warren. Her patient, using the name Moira Kenzie, has said she was abused by Kevin Hurlihy, a sociopathic Irish Mafia henchman who grew up in Angie and Patrick's neighborhood. Hurlihy may have threatened the doctor, who fears that her son, Jason, may be in danger. While Patrick and Angela shadow Jason, another former neighbor, Kara Rider, is found crucified. Sensing a connection, Patrick seeks out a retired cop turned saloonkeeper who recalls a hushed-up crucifixion murder in the neighborhood 20 years ago. The suspect in that killing is in prison, so he can't be murdering again, can he? As Patrick probes painful memories, he faces losing the woman he loves, Grace Cole, who is appalled at the brutality invading their lives. By the time Patrick and Angie realize how the murders relate to their own youth, they are the next targets. The showdown is unpredictable, like the New England autumn which, in Lehane's depiction, is informed by a wind "so chilly and mean it seemed the exhalation of a Puritan god." The story is densely peopled with multidimensional characters; there are no forgettable, walk-on roles on Lehane's stage. Lehane's voice, original, haunting and straight from the heart, places him among that top rank of stylists who enrich the modern mystery novel.   Darkness, Take My Hand

Marci   Activities: We are back in our groove again and heading over to Marci's Mega Gym 2000 in Simpson Bay early in the morning to work off all the fabulous calories we are consuming. Marci has all sorts of classes at various times of the day and on into the evening, but we just use the cardio machines and the weight machines.

Diane from Random Wind says that she got her Captain’s license and she's now “Captain Mom”! "The “Family Trip with Captain Mom” is geared toward families with children who are looking for a memorable outing with laughs, splashes, and smiles. I am the Captain so I pay extra attention to the kids. I will swim with them and will even look after them while mom and dad have a little quiet time to themselves. The first two pictures below were taken on such a trip last week. After the family swam and snorkeled together, I stayed on board with the kids chatting and munching while mom and dad had some alone time in the water. I always have great munchies including homemade cookies." Care to join? Enter the SXM-Info contests for $40 coupon. Five lucky couples win this every year. It might as well be you.



Villa Regia   Puyanché   Alcohol: I know I have nattered on about Burgundy so much that many people feel I must own a vineyard over there. I wish! Unfortunately, I do have to purchase every bottle and I realize all too well that they are expensive. That is one of the reasons I come here. They (and all other French wines) are significantly cheaper here. But don't think that inexpensive, yet quite flavorful, wines cannot be found. I popped this question to Marina at Select Wine Cellar and she poured a glass of Vila Regia from the Duoro region. It's quite good at about $7 per bottle. The Puyanché is a $12 Bordeaux that Sylvain serves at Moulin Fou when people ask for a glass of red wine. It would be a very pleasant surprise, but that is what you can expect when the sommelier in the restaurant runs a wine shop during the day. This was surprisingly flavorful and at a bit over five years old, the tannins are mellowing nicely. The Crozes-Hermitage on the right is one of the wines I continually recommend as a lower priced alternative to big Rhone wines such as Chateauneuf du Pape, Hermitage, etc.   Croze-Hermitage

Construction: I've had a couple people ask about Caravanserai recently. Here's a photo showing that the roof is not finished. I've built two houses myself, remodeled/refurbished numerous other houses and three-family apartment buildings, and worked construction over the last eight summers. Generally one puts in a foundation, then walls and floors, then a roof. The roof provides some protection from the weather. Exterior windows and doors are then installed to finish weather protection and add some security. At that point the interior finish can begin. Generally every man-hour required to get tight-to-the-weather requires two man-hours of finish work. In the Caribbean, this may be high because a lot of the work of rough wiring and plumbing has to be incorporated into the wall and floor building stages and insulation is generally omitted. That is man-hours, not elapsed time. The size of the construction crew can be used to change man-hours into elapsed time, but the schedule to get tight-to-the-weather, can't be speeded up too much by additional laborers. One can't get five concrete crews and build five floors at once. You can get five finish crews working on the five completed floors and that will shorten the total schedule. What you see in the photo, however, is zero workmen. I have yet to see one on this site over the last two weeks. You don't need my help to estimate a finish date with that as a basis.   Caravanserai

Coeur du Berry   Groceries: Here is a Coeur du Berry, a heart-shaped goat cheese from the northwest of France along the Loire River. It's beautiful, lush countryside, generally not given to goats, but small farms in this region turn out fabulous chevre. Jenkins in his Cheese Primer says "France's most exquisite raw-milk chevres are made by hand on small farms throughout Berry." We got this one at US Imports for 4.60€ (about $6) for a piece that was about 6 ounces. At 45% butterfat, it was a creamy delight that we added to salads or just spread on baguettes.

Which reminds me, now that Ted Bakery is no longer at the US Imports, we are getting our baguettes at either Sarafina or Sucriere on the Marigot waterfront. Sarafina has some excellent bannettes, also. As always, we buy several, freeze them in plastic wrap, and heat them up in a toaster oven. They are even better than fresh, as they are crisper and warm!

Sapphire Beach Club: Our condo will be available again in low season (starting 15 April) for $1000 per week. The rental includes about $500 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.


Radiant Gems   Shopping::We stopped into DK Gems to say hello to Deepti and the guys. She had been in Mumbai during the recent troubles and actually planned on being at the hotel in the center of the trouble but changed her plans. Martha got a free cleaning for the diamond earrings she had purchased here and the rings she had refitted. They even did my ring, purchased elsewhere. Nice people.

Sunny Lalwani at Radiant Gems has signed on as a contest sponsor and put a coupon on their website for a free stone. They are on Front Street and are quite proud of their collection of rare gemstones such as Alexandrite, Pink Emeralds and Mexican Fire Opals.

Travel: The Daily Herald reported that about 1.4 million people came through the airport last year, most of them arriving a bit higher than the aircraft in this photo. There are reports that visitors are decreasing and spending less even if they do arrive. The car rental companies are all complaining. It appears that older, well-established restaurants are still doing well, but I fear that some of the newer ones may be in for a rough season, which is always followed by a rough off-season.   Airplane

Gas: This is a repeat, because of a typo, noted below: Gas is a bit cheaper than last year, but not much, especially on the French side. The Texaco at the airport has it at 1.45 NAFl per liter or about 80 US cents per liter, $3.11 per US gallon. The Texaco in Nettle Bay is now a Cadisco selling gas at 0.83 euro cents per liter. Using 1.33 dollars per euro, this amounts to about $4.26 per gallon - not so good. The Gess in La Savane is selling gas for 0.87 euro cents per liter, or $4.46 per liter - less good. The Blue Point on the waterfront road just outside of Marigot sells at 0.93 euro cents per liter, $4.78 - absolutely no good. The Cadisco at Orient is using 0.86 per liter, but doing 1 to 1 on the euro, bringing them to about $3.20 per gallon. It appears that the Dutch side now has considerably cheaper gas for the first time in several years. The highlighted figure had a typo making it $4.20. Thus, the conclusion remains the same: Gas is cheaper on the Dutch side, but if one seeks out Cadisco stations that are doing 1 to 1, it's not significantly cheaper. If you go to the other stations, it is.

Sugarbirds   Nature: These sugar birds were out on our balcony picking through the old nest and taking useful parts off to their new nest. They also bathe in our ashtray that Martha carefully refills every morning. We originally attracted them to the sixth floor by putting sugar in a feeder. They are quite beautiful and chatter incessantly.

Traffic: The government finally bought the last two parcels needed to put a roundabout on the Cay Hill turnoff from Welfare Road to Philipsburg. They paid $325,000 for about a quarter acre of land and expect construction to start this year. The road to Galion Beach, home of Pat and Tracey Turner's Tropical Wave, is going to be repaired! Bayside Riding Stables and the Butterfly Farm are also on that road and it serves as the link to the south entrance to Orient Beach.


Small island story: Best of St Maarten The awards are out and while they claim it's the best of both sides of the island, there was very little from the French side. What do you expect from an English language newspaper distributed on the Dutch side? Moreover, the voting is even less supervised than that in Florida. It may actually represent a groundswell from readers or an attempt by someone to stuff the ballot box, which at least counts as ambition. So without further hooha, here are some winners that might be of interest to tourists:

Best Adult Club - Platinum Room
Best Gym - Marci's Mega Gym 2000
Best Guesthouse - Horny Toad Guesthouse
Best Seafood restaurant - Skipjack's
Best French restaurant - Moulin Fou
Best Italian restaurant - Gondola Restaurant
Best Mexican restaurant - Tijuana Yacht Club
Best Chinese restaurant - White Swan - two locations in Simpson Bay
Best High End restaurant - Temptation Restaurant, with Rare and Gondola Restaurant mentioned
Best Sushi - Bamboo Bernies as usual, and I've heard nothing but good things about the new location
Most Romantic restaurant - Romantica Ristorante with Temptation Restaurant and Gondola Restaurant mentioned

Crime: Leta Cordes's husband was released from jail this week after spending three months in Pointe Blanche. The authorities say they don't have enough evidence to hold him, but he is still a person of interest.


Current Contest: 28 December to 1 March 2009
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
Random Wind - $40 gift certificate
GCBC Watersports - Two for One snorkel trip to Créole Rock
Tijon Perfume - One free bottle
Peg Leg Pub - $50 off a dinner for two
PassportMD - Six months free service
Radiant Gems - $50 off a purchase of $200 or more

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. You can enter five of the drawings on one entry. Thus, you could win a rather nice vacation at a considerable savings by combining accommodations with dinners and activities.

Future Contests:

1 March to 26 April 2009
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
Random Wind - $40 gift certificate
GCBC Watersports - Two for One snorkel trip to Créole Rock
Tijon Perfume - One free bottle
Peg Leg Pub - $50 off a dinner for two
PassportMD - Six months free service
Radiant Gems - $50 off a purchase of $200 or more


On 25 Jan the euro was at 1.298. Today it is at 1.282. Vanessa at California Restaurant confirms that they are still doing 1 to 1. We had a lunch at Kokomarina where the menu proclaims 1 to 1. Le France in Marigot's Marina Royale is doing 1 to 1 also. We'll let you know as we hear from more of them.

L'Escapade Restaurant
We had a wonderful dinner at Escapade early this week. We had reservations and were rewarded with a 7:30 waterfront table. We ordered the crab and lobster appetizer (17€, left below), the French organic chicken breast with oyster mushrooms and garlic mashed potatoes (34€, below center), and a duck special that included minced duck breast in a puff pastry topped with a bit of foie gras. (below right) We started with two flutes of wonderful Laurent-Perrier Champagne and a lagniappe of braised beef ravioli. With great forbearance, we made the Champagne last until the crab and lobster roll with its tasty Thai fish dipping sauce.
  Vigne de l'Enfant Jesus
The wine list is one of the best on the island and includes a fabulous collection of Romanée-Conti. We toned things down a bit by ordering a 2001 Premier Cru "Les Grèves" Vigne de L'Enfant Jesus from Bouchard. (112€) In the 17th century, this plot of land was owned by the Carmelite nuns before it was surrendered during the French Revolution. It was subsequently bought in an auction by Bouchard. The legend says that Marguerite du Saint Sacrement, the Carmelite founder of the "Domestiques de la famille du Saint Enfant Jésus", predicted the birth of Louis XIV, the Sun King. She had heard the prayers of his mother, Anne of Austria, for the required male heir. Since then, this piece of land which still houses the convent of Beaune, in the heart of the "Les Grèves" appellation, has borne the name "l'Enfant Jésus". The wine was fantastic, especially as it warmed up a bit in the warm evening. The wine went perfectly with both the very flavorful organic chicken had a tasty brown sauce and the even bigger taste experience of the duck with foie gras. The bill came to 188€ or $245 using 1.3 €/$. Note that the wine was two thirds of the bill and that there are cheaper wines on the list.
Lobster and crab roll Lobster and crab roll Lobster and crab roll

Bistro Caraïbes' logo  
Bistro Caraïbes
Amaury and Thibault have redecorated the restaurant using the colors in the new logo on the left. The website has also been revamped to reflect the new decor. We saw all this last week when we made reservations and enjoyed it on Monday evening. The menu has remained essentially the same. Normally, I deride menus fixed in amber (or at least plastic) but this menu has so many wonderful dishes that I have a hard time choosing. I think their smoked salmon is my favorite on the island (14€). It's simple, merely smoked salmon with fresh, crisp, and mild onions, some capers, a wedge of lemon, and good toast. No fancy sauces, no salad, nothing to interrupt the smokey buttery smoothness of the salmon as it melts against the crunchy bread and the tart crispness of the onion. Add a little lemon and caper for an extra taste sensation and follow with a bit of Rully from Chateau de Rully (48€). That was our first course, and has been for several years. Although if we go too often, I usually find the sautéed snails and mushrooms in a creamy garlic sauce available as a special.
Our main courses were the marmite of red snapper (Martha's favorite, 24€) and the French seabass, sautéed and delivered deboned on a bed of shaved veg floating in a chive sauce, with seasonal veg on the side (27€). The marmite is on the menu and looks a little different this year, but tastes as good as ever. The yellow color comes from saffron and it tastes even better than it looks. The seabass is a special and depends upon air delivery from France. If they have it, order it if you like fish. If not, my other favorite is the rack of lamb. There's a photo on the website. The total dinner with water and espresso (plus two complimentary Armagnacs) came to $158 using 1.25 $/€. Both Amaury and Thibault worked as chefs for Paul Bocuse in France and at his Epcot outpost. They have developed several fabulous dishes and trained a staff to reliably reproduce them. It's a different approach, but one that has pleased me for a dozen years. More on Bocuse below.
Bistro Caraïbes' new interior marmite of red snapper


Fusion Contemporary Cuisine
We had to do some shopping in Philipsburg on Tuesday, so we planned a lunch at Fusion on Front Street. It's toward the foot of town, at the end of the boardwalk, near Sea Palace. The entrance is striking, a little stroll through an atrium to reach a rather nice contemporary dining room at the back of the building overlooking the boardwalk, beach, and all of Great Bay. We had a long talk with Chef Marvin who has recently arrived here from Suriname. They are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They do have burgers and sandwiches for lunch, but also some more substantial and interesting fare.

A specials board offered some bacon-wrapped scallops (below left) and a veal scaloppine rolled around ricotta and spinach (below right). Our waitress, Farah, (also Marvin's sister) offered crabcakes as one of his signature dishes, with a side salad (right). She suggested mashed potatoes with the veal and Marvin added some plantain. The salad came with a house-made creamy garlic vinaigrette. We decided that all these could withstand a pinot noir and chose a 2006 Concannon from the Livermore Valley in California (quite nice, and only $28) from a reasonably sized, and moderately priced, wine list. Three pieces of focaccia arrived with a very tasty olive oil based dipping sauce containing herbs and parmesan bits. All this augured well for the rest of our meal and we were not disappointed. All of these dishes have been done before, but note that the scallops came with a caramel-balsamic drizzle, neatly arranged, no less. The salad had radicchio neatly tucked into the corners. The crabcakes had a very colorful mango and roasted red pepper relish topping and floated on a basil chili aioli. Even the veal had a sauce. Everything was lovely to see, quite tasty, and had a little extra. The service was also superb. All this for a mere $65, almost half of which was wine. It's well worth a visit, stop in for lunch if you are shopping, or come in at night for a great dinner and use their parking lot.

Last week we showed an old cannon aimed across the bay at a cruise ship. That cannon is at Fort Amsterdam at the high point of the Divi peninsula in the top photo.

  Crabcakes and a salad

Crabcakes and a salad

Scallops wrapped in bacon Veal rolled with ricotta and spinach

Le Chalet Restaurant
On Wednesday we took a short drive to Sandy Ground for raclette (22€). I didn't even know what it was a year ago, although Martha had heard of it. Basically a half wheel of raclette cheese is heated until it melts. The melt is then scraped onto a boiled potato and various bits of charcuterie are added to bites of the potato/cheese mix. All that is required then is a glass of red wine. We had a pinot noir from Burgundy (25€), although there was a Crozes-Hermitage on the wine list at 28€. We had a bottle of water and the total bill was 74€, translated to $96 using 1.3$/€. An adjoining table had Chef/owner Stephanies's version of the bacon explosion: beef tartare topped with bacon topped with melted reblochon. Waitress/owner Isabel recommended ice cream imported from Haut Savoie for dessert. No chance this evening, but we'll try it someday and report. The website has many more photos.

News and Changes: I think that most cooking competitions are a bit over the top. The Bocus d'Or took place this week and it appears that even Danial Boulud agrees, as he says in this NY Times article, "... the Bocuse d’Or does not honor the best chef in the world — just the one who can cook best in an artificial setting."

If you haven't heard of the bacon explosion, you are behind the curve as it has already jumped the shark, but here it is: Bacon Explosion.

Olivier, late of Montmartre, has moved across the courtyard to TBone Steakhouse where the Moroccan restaurant was. Seems strange to open a French steakhouse around the corner from Dino's Rare Steakhouse.

On a similar note, Liesa Euton has left the island and Los Gauchos has been turned into Ciao, an Italian restaurant and pizzaria. Seems strange to have two Italian restaurants in Pelican.

Cedric has rented Restaurant du Soleil to a new team: new manager, waitress, and chef with a new menu (lots of Alsatian specialties). Also, the name has changed to Restaurant Le Soleil.

It appears that the Blue Martini on Airport Road in Simpson Bay will be presenting semi-famous musicians: John Cafferty and Beaver Brown Band with Eddie and the Cruisers on 22 Mar, and Firefall and Al Stewart on 11 April.

Karakter, on Simpson Bay Beach near Mary's Boon, is having a beach dance at 6:30 on the first Friday of every month.

Wine tasting dinner: La Samanna and François from Philipsburg Liquor are putting together a magnificent dinner and wine tasting featuring two wonderful wines from Bordeaux on 3 Feb. The Gruaud-Larose is a St Julien containing about 60% Cabernet Sauvignon with the balance being mostly Merlot. It looks across the Gironde to St Emilion where the Grand-Mayne features 76% Merlot. Contact La Samanna at 0590 87 64 00 or François at 0690 87 29 78 for reservations. Here's the menu and the paired wines:

Château Grand-Mayne  
Dinner at La Samanna featuring
Château Gruaud-Larose and Château Grand-Mayne

Poivrade violet artichokes and black truffle, Cream of artichokes and black truffle en croute,
artichokes and truffle flan, crispy toast of artichoke en "Barigoule"

Sarget de Gruaud Larose 2001
Château Plantes du Mayne 2004

Terrine and cromesquis of duck foie gras, gingerbread and citrus caramel

Château Gruaud Larose 2001
Château Grand Mayne 2001

Sautéed Crayfish with snow peas, almond and bellota iberico chorizo

Château Gruaud Larose 1995
Château Grand Mayne 1995

Pheasant supreme with porcini mushroom, kale cabbage compote, balsamic sauce with maple

Château Grand Mayne 1990

Potato pie, ventreche pork and vacherin cheese

"Conférence" pear infused with coriander, heart of praline and walnut, anis and licorice ice cream

Château Gruaud Larose 1989

$195 per person

  Château Gruaud-Larose


This year's Art in the Park will take place on Sunday, 8 Feb, at Emilio Wilson Park, past the Texaco at the Pburg roundabout. Parking costs $1 and the proceeds go toward maintaining the park. There will be lots of local crafts, some music, and a few beers.

Axum Art Café will be showing the movie The Diving Bell and the Butterfly at 8:00PM on 3 Feb. It's a true story about Jean-Domanique Bauby, the editor of French ELLE who suffered a stroke at 43. He learned to communicate by blinking an eye and wrote the book that became this movie by winking at a series of beautiful amanuenses.

On Thursday of last week Frank Shorter, the gold medal marathoner of the '72 Olympics, arrived on a cruise ship with a group of runners. They ran down the boardwalk and back. Tommy Leonard actually got Shorter to come to Falmouth, MA and compete in the Falmouth Road Race in 1975 where he defeated Bill Rodgers. You can read about it here. I actually lived there, ran in the race from 89-93, and heard all these stories about the early days.

  Our condo: We are here until 15 April and have a good bit of the following two months rented already. The condo will be available for rent at $1000 per week from 15 April 2009 to 15 December 2009. The rental includes about $500 in coupons from several of our website clients. The holiday weeks will be available at $2000 per week and the balance of the high season that is available will be $1500 per week. It will be unavailable from 15 January 2009 until 15 April 2009. Check the calendar on our website for available dates. The rate is so good and the coupons are so popular that we get about 60% occupancy in the low season (we are already at 30%). If you want a week, it's best to book early.

  SXM-Info has chosen SkyMed as our preferred medical travel insurance partner. Any medical travel insurance will get you back to the US, but SkyMed takes you home. Where's home? From their website: "Our definition of home is simple: Home is where you say it is. When struck by the unexpected, our service takes you home.  

PassportMD provides many things, including access to Monthly Harvard Health Letter and the Harvard Mental Health Letter, savings on prescriptions, medical reminders, an ability to email your doctor, and more. The most important benefit for travelers on cruiseships or those who take extended vacations in the third world is the ability to have your medical records stored in a secure server that will allow quick access in your time of need. SXM-Info has teamed up with PassportMD to provide these services with a two month absolutely free, no strings attach trial.


  Our article featuring four recipes from four restaurants from Cupecoy to Sandy Ground has been published in St Maarten Events and is available on the island. Look for a moules appetizer from Mario's Bistro, a vichysoisse from Ti Sucrier, lamb chops from Montmartre Restaurant, and a blanc mange dessert from Boucaniers. I had taken several photos for the article and Michael Dingemans, the publisher, was on the island just before high season taking more photos. As always, his wife, Carina, turned it into a beautiful layout. The magazine is distributed free throughout the island and contains a useful island map as the centerfold.

Amazon: I'm not convinced that the Kindle e-book from Amazon is the best thing to take to a beach, but it sure is a lightweight way to get some of your favorite books to the Caribbean, especially now that the second bag costs $25 or so on most flights! Martha has been downloading audio books from our local library to her Zune (an iPod knockoff) and that has been working rather well. Obviously, these are audio books and it's not the same as "reading" the text, but it works quite well.


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
Select Wine Cellar
Endless Summer Beachwear
Diamonds International

Mario's Cookbook   The Mario's Bistro Cookbook is still available online. 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.

Sandy Molloy at Molloy Travel offers personalized service to fit your needs and budget.

Colombus Hotel in Oyster Pond is conveniently located between Philipsburg and Orient Beach. The rates are quite attractive (about $200 per night in high season) for a room with cooking facilities, there's a lovely pool on the premises, and you can walk to several restaurants, including Captain Oliver's which is essentially across the street.
  Colombus Hotel