St Maarten/St Martin
15 March 2009 Newsletter

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Cupecoy sunset

Weather: Sunday was almost as blustery as the earlier days of the regatta. There were numerous accidents, various mechanical failures, and quite a bit of bouncing in the Anguilla channel. So much so that they rerouted the regatta on Saturday and Sunday, avoiding the channel. It had certainly cleared up by Saturday, but was still cool, especially with the wind. By Monday the wind had slowed a bit, but the temperature reached a mere 79F. It got up to 81F on Tuesday, and as the photo on the right shows, the wind had subsided enough that there are no whitecaps on the lagoon. The other interesting thing about the photo is that I took it from the roadside balcony on our condo in Cupecoy. That is the lagoon in the foreground and the Anguilla Channel on the other side of Sandy Ground/Nettle Bay in the background. It's quite easy to see Créole Rock off Grand Case in the distance. Below left is the full moon rising up over Maho. This shot was taken leaning against the wall of Moulin Fou and shooting back over Pizza Pasta. The shot below right is a large cat coming past Saba at sunrise on cloudy and calm Wednesday morning. Thursday was even calmer and a bit clearer. The fullish moon was still making quite a show at night. The extreme calm of Thursday morning brought a slight change of weather with big rollers (and surfer dudes) approaching Cupecoy. Both were gone by late Friday morning, but I did awake to the sounds of waves crashing.   Lagoon and Creole Rock

Saturday started out better, hazy, but not covered with gray clouds. There were still whitecaps on the lagoon, indicating that the easterly wind is still rather strong. The day was lovely, but our return from dinner in Grand Case revealed that it had rained quite hard in Marigot and Cupecoy. Sunday morning arrived looking rather gray and before I finished this newsletter, we were engulfed in a total whiteout.

Full Moon   Click for Juliana Airport, St. Martin 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. In fact, we are approaching the equinox (20 March). On that day we all get 12 hours of sunlight. After that date, those of you further north will get more sunlight than we get here on the island. Sunset today is at 6:19 and the moon is a waning gibbous. Full moons for 2009 are 9 Apr, 9 May, 7 Jun, 7 Jul, 6 Aug, 4 Sep, 4 Oct, 3 Nov, and 2 Dec.   Cat coming past Saba at sunrise

SXM-Beaches: We stopped in at Bay Rouge this week and found out it had been a bad week there. It is essentially on the Anguilla channel and when the regatta boats were complaining about the wind and the subsequent chop in the channel, Bay Rouge was taking it all in. These photos were taken on Friday afternoon and you can see some pretty severe wave action in the center photo. I had created a 3-4 foot drop-off on the beach to the right of the entrance. It was a bit less on the left and the second beach bar was open, but the deck of the first was covered with sand. There was some beach available for tables and chairs and more beach for sunbathers in the distance. As you can see from the sky, it was not a very sunny day, although there was little rain.

Similarly, On Saturday The wind was blowing and the waves were crashing on Maho. However, on Cupecoy the little cove was full of sand (and people) and the water was calm! There was some sand at the middle beach by the monolith, but none at the "villa" beach. Things move around, especially when the wind is blowing as it has been for a week.

Gus's Beach Bar Bay Rouge Bay Rouge

Beach reading: George Will is published in the international edition of the Miami Herald which is distributed free in many hotels on the island. His column in the 10 March edition summarized Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma as he (George Will) gave some advice to Tom Vilsack, the new Secretary of Agriculture. First, it is interesting to find a conservative columnist extolling Pollan's work, but I guess conservatives and liberals agree we need a Department of Agriculture, if only to keep rat droppings out of peanut butter, for instance. Quite possibly they should keep high fructose corn syrup (and a myriad of other man-made monstrosities) out of food also. If you haven't read the book, you should at least read the column to see why George Will seems to think this might be a good idea. Omnivore's Dilemma Cover

Random Wind   Activities: Here's a few shots taken from Random Wind as we went out on Saturday to see the Heineken Regatta up close and personal. There are a lot more on our Regatta page. We had a great time on the water, but the fierce winds and waves played havoc with the racing boats. Eventually, the course was changed to keep boats out of the extremely rough Anguilla channel. Enter the SXM-Info contests for $40 coupon aboard Random Wind. Five lucky couples win this every year. It might as well be you. On the right is Captain Trevor and First Mate Christina back in Simpson Bay with Royal Palm in the background.   Captain Trevor and Christina

Three boats approaching the start

Under sail
Start on Saturday
Crossing the start
Cupecoy Yacht Club   Construction: Here's a couple shots of the special excavators being used at the Cupecoy Yacht Club to dig out the yacht basin. On the left you can see the excavator reaching about as far as it can go to scoop out the basin as it moves back along the little land area it has left. On the right, you can get some idea as to how far the boom can reach. These are special excavators with longer than normal booms (and this is the shorter one!). They also have large buckets, which only work when they are digging softer material, such as the muck at the end of the lagoon farthest the direction of the prevailing winds. Blue Mall is moving upward with plenty of workers. There was a flurry of activity at Rainbow Beach Club, but the lack of construction worker cars parked all over the road suggests a lack of construction workers.   Cupecoy Yacht Club

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.


Hearts of Palm   Groceries: We had some leftover flatiron steak and a baked potato from our dinner at Bajatzu. They happily put it into a very nice takeout container and put that into a bag - rather nice service I think. We eventually sliced up the steak and the potato, and laid it on a bed of crisp romaine and hearts of palm (left) from the Grande Marché. It produced the rather nice looking salad on the right.

Alcohol: This isn't exactly about St Martin, but there's a lot of chardonnay to be had here, and here's some thoughts from the other Eric(h) in the NY Times. He and a few others tasted a lot of chardonnay and decided that: "Our No. 1, the 2006 Ashley’s from Fess Parker, was rich and full-bodied. Yet it was lively as well, giving shape and focus to the voluptuous flavors and keeping it refreshing. Our No. 2 wine, the 2007 Alma Rosa, was a very different style, crisp, subtle and refreshing like a good Mâconnais wine. It was one of the few bottles that came with a screw cap, and at $15 it was our best value."

  Salad with Hearts of Palm

Goat   Nature: The Haitian squatter on The Villages of Cupecoy has a small herd of goats roaming the property and occasionally wandering out of the "enclosure". At one point it was enclosed, but fences don't last long down here, so these critters come out to see if the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. In truth, there is little grass on our side of the fence, but their other desire is to claim the high ground and I have seen them on top of SUVs. They can climb rather well. The photo on the right shows five of the younger goats. Another one was born last week. It's about the size of a cat.   Goats

Traffic: Here's a shot of the work at Blue Mall. A concrete truck is feeding the putzmiester and it is pumping the concrete onto the floor of the second story. It all seems fine until you see the cones blocking off the road. The car in the foreground heading to Marigot is stopped to let the other car approach. The bus behind that car didn't think he could fit on the small amount of pavement allotted to traffic by the construction crew, so he's driving in the dirt. Add in all the construction worker's cars parked along the road and this turns into a mess whenever they pour.

On the bright side, the Dutch towed a lot of cars off Cannagieter Street In Pburg because they were blocking traffic and especially blocking bus stops. We complain about buses stopping anywhere they see a fare, but as cars fill up anything that looks like a parking spot, including bus stops, you can't really expect buses to pull over.

Crime: We certainly have seen many more gendarmes on the French side since they added 30 more to the local garrison. They were out clearing cars off the road in front of the lolos on Manday night as we went to dinner. We also saw some with stopped trucks near the old Belle Creole entrance and from the looks of the trucks, they should have been stopped. The Dutch side just got 23 new police vehicles. Good to see somebody buying cars in this economy, although I doubt they were American.


Gas: The Dutch side is still at 1.45 Naf/liter, about $3.20/gallon. The Texacos used to give a better exchange rate (1.8) but the ones I have been to have switched to 1.75 which is what the Shell stations used last time I checked. The Fax Info sheet has an ad for the GESS stations saying they are doing 1 to 1 on the dollar and selling gas for 0.75 per liter, about $2.90 per gallon. You save about 10% by going to the GESS stations in Sandy Ground, La Savane (outside of Grand Case), or in French Quarter.

Cherie' Cafes   Small island story: While dining at Moulin Fou, I glanced over at the awning above Cherie's Cafe and noted that it had a mechanism to furl the canvas roof, much like roller reefing on sailboats. These people are actually thinking ahead to the next storm, the theory being that rolling up the roof will keep them from having to go find it (or another one) after a hurricane. Isn't it great to have someone with foresight here taking charge of a situation and actually spending money now to alleviate problems later. That's what this island needs, a strong vision and preparedness for the future. I raised my glass to drink a toast to these far-sighted individuals when I noticed the spelling on the awning: Cherie' Cafes.


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 8 Mar the euro was at $1.264. Today it is at $1.291. That's actually a pretty big change, over 2%. Vanessa at California Restaurant confirms that they are still doing 1 to 1. Pirate Beach Bar's menu is in dollars, no conversion necessary. Momo at Ti Bouchon says his menu is in dollars also. We had a lunch at Kokomarina where the menu proclaims 1 to 1. There is now a sign up at Blue Martini claiming 1 to 1. Le France in Marigot's Marina Royale is doing 1 to 1 also. L'Auberge Gourmande is doing $1.2 to 1 . We'll let you know as we hear from more of them.

Auberge Gourmande
On Monday night we headed to an early dinner at Auberge Gourmande, opting for an inside table given the weather. We had arrived early (7PM) because we wanted to go to the Mount Gay party at Sesame after dinner and found the restaurant was almost empty. When we left, it was full, so things can't be all that bad. It also suggests that reservations should be considered, even on a Monday night.

Florence was offering a 2005 Savigny Les Beaune Premier Cru from Bouchard for a mere 59€ - great year, great producer - and as it turned out, a lovely wine. We built a meal around it, starting with the traditional Burgundian escargot with plenty of garlic and butter plus some good baguette slices to soak it all up.
For the main course, Martha chose the chicken breast stuffed with a blue cheese and morel mushroom sauce. It's a wonderful combination and the rich flavors of the morels work well with the Burgundy. I had the beef filet with a morel mushroom sauce. For dessert we shared the house specialty: the "No way around it" concerto of white chocolate mousse, hot baked fondant, and iced dark chocolate drizzled with hibiscus coulis sauce with espresso and a couple balloons of Armagnac.

Pascal arrived toward the end of dinner, dressed in a Blanc du Nil shirt from his store on Front Street. He seems a bit happier now that he has only one restaurant and shares his day job with his wife and a partner. He said the clothing store is doing quite well in its first year.

  Blanc du Nil

Filet mignon Chicken breast Concerto

Mount Gay Party
at the Sesame Café
After dinner we strolled over to the third annual Mount Gay Monday Party at Sesame Cafe. I confess this is not really a restaurant review as we had more than enough at Auberge Gourmande and did not sample the grill fare that included some lovely looking merguez. Sami (from the old Restaurant du Soleil) opened this simpler restaurant with a partner next to the police station on the entrance to restaurant row a few years ago. François from Philipsburg Liquors put this all together and was passing out Mount Gay cups and bandannas. Mr Skin and his band kept everybody jumping.
  Mount Gay
  Sami François Mr Skin band
  dancers dancer François cups and bandanas

Moulin Fou
On Tuesday evening we went to Moulin Fou in Maho using the valet service at the casino to solve our parking problems. I'll warn you that the website is written in Franglais and has no prices on the menu or wine list. The website also gave me several unwanted pop-ups, but you can find out how extensive the wine list is and see if you can find something you like on the menu, which shouldn't be hard as there are many good things to be had. We went on Tuesday as Cheri's is dark, sparing us the racket that passes for entertainment. Moulin Fou has just taken over the space next door and opened it as a Thai and sushi restaurant: Thai Fou. According to Sylvain from Select Wine Cellar who works here nights as the wine steward, the sushi is even better than Bamboo Bernies who took the sushi award from the Daily Herald this year (as usual). Moulin Fou got the award for Best French restaurant.
  Moulin Fou  
  The wine list really is large as Sylvain has stacked it with many of the wines from the shop. The last time we were in the shop, we shared a bottle of Chantal Lescure's 2005 Côte de Beaune. They make very good wine and 2005 was a great vintage. There are several wines from Lescure on the wine list and we choose the 2005 Pommard les Vaumuriens at $76. It was large, filling the mouth with a luscious smoothness. I thought about planning a meal around this, but as I looked at the menu, I realized that I had already tried the salad with roasted goat cheese, the foie gras with "his" mango chutney, and the Napoleon of goat cheese, tomatoes, and eggplant. You know you are in an authentic French restaurant when the foie gras comes with his mango chutney. Anyway, all these were good and would have been great with the wine, but I had done them, so sea scallops in a shell, "Bretagne" style ($15, below left). I didn't even ask, expecting that in Brittany, famous for cows, the preparation would be similar to a Mornay sauce containing cream and cheese - and it was, along with some chopped pepper and the quite nice gauze-covered lemon wedge. It was full-flavored, and despite being based on scallops, it had no trouble standing up to the fine Burgundy.

Martha chose the lightly seared, sesame-crusted tuna ($25, below center) and I again was confronted by a conundrum. I had beef filet the night before and previously dined here on the lamb filet mignon with goat cheese wrapped in filo dough and the pork filet. Both were good, but the combination of the tasty goat cheese and the crunch of the filo dough make that my favorite dish on this menu. Nonetheless, I branched out to try the organic chicken breast in a creamy mushroom sauce ($23, below right). Martha's tuna was very good, as one should expect from a sushi restaurant. It was on a bed of wakame seaweed and topped with a candied ginger vinaigrette that contained little ginger but lots of finely diced peppers and onions/shallots. It came with a squash purée wrapped in a zucchini slice, some ratatouille, and the standard upside-down bowl of rice. The chicken was quite good with plenty of mushrooms and came with mashed potatoes. The yellow fruit is a physalis, from the nightshade family, same as tomatoes and potatoes. We skipped desserts and had espressos that arrived with a bottle of chocolate-flavored rum.

Cheri's really does have a rather loud show featuring rather rotund men pretending to be women every night but Tuesday when they are dark. As the terrace at Moulin Fou overlooks the open air stage at Cheri's you can consider it a bonus with dinner or you could ask for a table inside the restaurant or go on Tuesday. Our bill arrived with charge of 15% for "SC + tax" bringing the total to $172.50, about the same as a similar dinner the night before in Grand Case. You will pay that much for food of this quality on either side of the island. It would be easy to switch to a less expensive wine, but note that we generally have one ap and two entrées, usually eschewing dessert, so your total bill might be the same even with a less expensive wine. If you are in the Simpson Bay area, you can't get much closer than Moulin Fou and valet parking is quite convenient.

  Scallops Tuna Chicken  

Dining with Deepti
Temptation Restaurant
On Monday we headed over to Dino Jagtiani's Temptation Restaurant at Atlantis Casino, making use of their free valet parking and climbed a few steps to their waterfall-shrouded outdoor dining area. Certainly the high-end restaurants at Atlantis (Gondola Restaurant, Montmartre Restaurant, Rare Steakhouse, and Temptation) are fitted out rather well, but the location does not allow any grand views. Dino has created this lovely outside space and we always make reservations here.
Osso bucco   We ordered water and looked over the lengthy, but well-arranged wine list, choosing a bottle of the 2006 Chateau St Jean Pinot Noir ($49). Dino, who trained at the CIA in NY, has one of the best American wine lists on the island. The California approach is to make a wine more accessible earlier, mostly by accenting the fruit, and this pinot certainly did so, causing cherries to pop into my mind on the first taste. Deepti arrived and ordered the raviolis ($20) to start while Martha and I split a very tasty crabcake (above right, $17). Our dinners were the Deepti chicken, short ribs on a puree of celery root and the red wine braised veal osso bucco (left, $39) with shiitake mushrooms and pine nut risotto, all quite nice with the pinot. The osso bucco was the best I have had in a while, a very large portion with wonderful flavors on top of some interesting tastes and textures in the polenta. We had a second bottle of wine and the strawberries with three dipping sauces ($12) for dessert. Service was superb throughout and our total was $256 before a well-deserved tip. Note that this is a bill for three, not the usual two.  

On Thursday we went to Marci's Mega Gym 2000) to celebrate Marci's twenty-fifth birthday. She has been having one these birthdays every year for some time now. The birthday party was in the early evening, and at first it seemed a bit strange to be sipping wine, nibbling cheese and crackers, and having a birthday cake from Atlantico Bakery while standing in health food section of the gym. After two glasses of merlot, it seemed perfectly reasonable. After a few more, we decided to go out for dinner and crossed the bridge to SkipJack's. Brad told us his war stories from the regatta. You have to believe that sailors would love a place like SkipJack's: lovely wooden interior, an open-air dining room on the lagoon, with nautical decor, and great seafood. Add in two after-race parties on Kim Sha Beach and the fact that the rough seas caused all races to start and end nearby, and it was pandemonium here.
Mahi plate
Mahi plate
As our fourth night out in a row, we skipped an ap, having a bottle of Mondavi's pinot noir ($39) with a grilled mahi plate and a blackened grouper plate. As always, you get a choice of starch (baked potato, curly fries, or rice) and a choice of sauce (créole, lemon butter, pineapple salsa, or spicy chimichurri). Martha had the pineapple salsa with her mahi and I added the spicy chimichurri to the blackened grouper. For good measure, the chef added some créole sauce to my grouper plate. With the salad included, this was more than enough food for us at a total of $93, more than half of which was our wine. There's a reason they were voted best seafood restaurant, actually several, the seafood is fresh, it's prepared well in a lovely dining room, and you get plenty of food at good prices. Grouper
Blackened Grouper

On Friday we went to Tropical Wave on Galion Beach. The weather wasn't great, rather blustery. We could look out toward St Barts and see major waves crashing on the reef, but Galion Beach was quite calm because of that reef. The slope of the sand into the water is also quite shallow. For these reasons Galion regulary is voted the best place to take kids on the island. Pat Turner at Tropical Wave rents kayaks, snorkling gear, paddleboats, and more. In addition there is float a short distance off the beach that always attracts a crowd. Check out the panoramic shot below for a view of the waves breaking on the reef with St Barts in the background. Note Tryst, the red trimaran missing its mast since an unfortunate outing in last year's regatta. Tropical Wave on Galion Beach
As our fifth day of dining out, we merely had a shrimp salad plate (left) and the curried mahi special (right). It really had just the slightest amount of curry, making it very interesting, but not hot. Both plates were about $15 and we added three beers, bringing the total in under $40, and a bit over when we added a tip. It's a lovely spot and the website has a coupon that gets a bargain on two chairs and an umbrella. It's a great place to loaf the afternoon away and they have repaved the the worst part of the entrance road!

Shrimp salad Panorama

Blue Martini
On Saturday we went to Blue Martini next to the parking lot in Grand Case. The free parking lot on the western side of the drainage canal is being reconstructed and currently is fenced off. As noted previously, Blue Martini is doing 1 to 1 and, consequently, were rather busy. The menu is laminated plastic and the same as the one we ordered from about a month ago, so switching to 1 to 1 saves about 30%. We ordered water and the same wine, Aleth Girardin's 2005 Bourgogne, great year, great winemaker, good wine at a good price. We started with salmon tartare, lots of salmon laced with capers and onions in a nice sauce (special, $15). Martha had a whole mahi, grilled with spinach (also a special, $25). In truth, I'm used to much larger mahi, such that a filet is served. Mercifully, this was a smaller mahi, but Martha still could only eat half of the fish, despite raving about the rather nice preparation. I had the prime rib (cote de boeuf) rare with mushrooms and lardons (essentially small bits of bacon) accompanied by french fries, a bit of salad, and a dollop of ratatouille ($28). The meat arrived rare, as requested, and while prime rib is not the tenderest cut, it was quite tasty.   Prime rib
Our total bill with water, espressos, and complimentary after-dinner rum came to $99. We took about half of each main course home with us and will have a wonderful lunch today. That's a pretty good price for dinner and a lunch. Pascal and Sylvie labored mightily to restore this derelict building and have turned it into a lovely set of dining rooms in the front with a garden and bar in the back. The garden serves snacks and tapas until closing at midnight, but you can order off the restaurant menu and dine outside as long as the restaurant is open (until 10:30PM). As we were leaving at 10PM Barbwire Band, a reggae group, was just warming up in the garden. The adverts claim they start at 9PM, but that is Caribbean Standard Time, at least one hour after reality, count on two for reggae.

News and Changes: The Heineken Regatta was great fun, though a bit smaller than last year. As in previous years a few of the bands that were part of the shows are staying a while longer and playing in various venues. Orange Grove, the opening act for the Wailers on the final night in Simpson Bay, played on Thursday evening at the Alley Hang Out, played at Sunset on Saturday, and we've been told they will be on Mullet Bay Beach later today!. After dinner at SkipJack's on Thursday, we headed over to Pineapple Pete's to see Ronny, only to find Jojo (right) on stage. He's a very good guitarist and does a lot more jazz than Ronny. While we were watching the show, Ronny came in and sat with us, saying that he had been overworked during the regatta with at least two shows per day at various venues, so he took tonight off and was supplying the sound equipment and managing the board for Orange Grove upstairs at the Alley.

The ongoing story at La Chapelle: First I thought it was closed, then I was told it was open only on weekends. Then I remembered that I was there on a weekend and it was still closed. Now I hear that it is a late-night weekend (after 10PM Thursday through Sunday) bar.


Many restaurants are doing something special for St Paddy's Day. Peg Leg Pub has an all you can eat buffet featuring, what else: boiled cabbage, boiled potatoes, and corned beef. For what it's worth St Patrick was a Welsh teenager at the beginning of the fifth century AD when he was captured by Irish marauders and sold into slavery in Ireland. He escaped after about six years and joined a monastery, eventually convincing many Irish to switch from Druid worship to Catholicism. Many people feel that the story about driving the snakes out of Ireland is apocryphal and really refers to his driving the pagans out of Ireland.

We drove up to Paradise View Restaurant after lunch on Friday to find it locked up tight.

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.

John Abbot is playing pop/rock at Sopranos in March.

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


Gunslinger's Steel Pan Band Tuesday Night in Grand Case: Grand Case is again having a Harmony Night on Tuesday. Restaurant Row will be blocked off and filled with street vendors, music, dancers, and parades. Here's some photos from previous years.

Friday Night in Orient Village: Once again Orient Village is bringing in a band and several vendors on Friday evening for a lively time in their square.

Band in the square at Orient

  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.

This doesn't have much to do with the island unless you want to stay in touch while you are here. Google bought GrandCentral in 2007 and has has just revamped it, calling it Google Voice. The link takes you to a NY Times review by David Pogue. Basically, you get one new phone number that makes all your phones (cell, business, home, etc) ring and you can answer any one of them. If you don't answer, you get one online answering machine to check. It's supposed to be free and ad-free, also. At present, it's open only to existing customers, but when they get the kinks worked out of the revamp, they will let in more customers.

It's hard to use the words Cap Juluca and bargain in the same sentence, but having just spent $20 million on renovating the resort, the new owners are now offering two nights for the price of one from March 14 - April 12, 2009. If you are coming late in the season and wish to experience awesome luxury at half price, consider a two day trip. Stuck at the beginning of a timeshare week, you may save a few bucks on airfare by avoiding Saturday. You'll certainly avoid the crowds at the airport. We stayed here about two years ago and wrote about it in our features section. It will cost about $70 each way for the ferry and a taxi (per couple). Fantastic late breakfasts that carried us thrugh to dinner were included in the room cost, but you'll spend a few bucks on dinner. Import duties are quite high in Anguilla so wine and food, almost all imported, costs more than on SXM.  

  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 vichyssoise 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! They just came out with the newer version and it's barely a quarter inch thick and weighs about 10 ounces. It has 16 shades of gray for the page background and reads well even in direct sunlight. Maybe it is the best thing to take to the beach? Here's a NY TImes review of the Kindle. 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
Diamonds International
Kakao Beach
Oizeau Rare
Paradise View
Pizza Galley
Pirate Beach Bar
Tai Chi
Select Wine Cellar
Endless Summer Beachwear
Radiant Gems

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.

Acropole Orient Villa is a mere five minute walk up from the beach regularly voted the best beach in the Caribbean by the readers of Caribbean Travel & Life. Imagine dining on this fabulous terrace. The pool is located on the lower level of the villa and shares the fabulous views of Pinel and Little Cay. It's subtly lighted for nighttime bathing. There are three bedrooms, each with its own bathroom.
  Dining Room at Acropole Paradise View Villa and Bungalows Home Page (Orient Beach, St Martin)