St Maarten/St Martin
9 April 2017 Newsletter

Other newsletters
Contests | Restaurants | Bargains and Happenings


Cupecoy sunset

Weather: Last Sunday was the beginning of a great week, clear, warm, no breeze, and flat water, although the marine haze did thicken a bit. Saba is behind the boats in the shot on the right. It's easier to see it in the enlarged version. On Monday the Caribbean was as calm as a bathtub with few clouds but plenty of haze. Tuesday was also calm with Saba and Statia appearing in the haze. You'll note that it was so clear that I could photograph houses on Saba. (below left). Below center is what I love about being here in our unit. That is the view from our kitchen and my desk. The last photo was at a very clear moment. The weather pano below was taken from our Caribbean balcony and shows Mercedes heading out for her day sail.

Today's forecast shows mediocre week. There will be two clear days, two days with chances of rain, and three partly cloudy days with 10-20% chance of rain amounting to 1.1 inches. The temperatures are pretty solid: today and most others 82, remainder at 83 for the high and 76 or 77 for the low for the next week.

Here's the detailed forecast from Weather Underground and here's one from the Weather Channel. Sunset tonight will be at 6:27 PM providing 12 hours and 27 minutes of sunshine. In 2017 the full moons will be 11 Apr (soon!), 10 May, 9 Jun, 8 Jul, 7 Aug, 6 Sep, 5 Oct, 4 Nov, and 3 Dec.

Bay Rouge SXM-Beaches: Bay Rouge is named for the pinkish cast of its sand. It's a pretty beach with the Falaise des Ouiseaux (Bird Cliffs) to the west and David's Grotto on the east. The photo on the left from 2016 looks along the beach from the entrance next to the two beach bars over to the cliffs on the west. There is about a mile of mostly sandy beach off to the west of the entrance. The other photo shows the rocks that start the formation that encloses the grotto. It's still there but falling down, and so are Gus's and Raymond's beach bars. Bay Rouge East
Sapphire Beach Club: Early last week the A/C for buildings one and two failed. It needed replacement and the replacement was taking up a parking spot next to the existing setup. The new unit is more efficient and smaller. The old unit was removed and a new support for the smaller unit was built from poured concrete. It took 24 hours to set, at which point the crane put the a/c unit in place. It had to be connected. That took a bit longer than expected. Sapphire was offering units in building three to those who wanted to move, but we have floor through ventilation and everyone had A/C on Saturday.

On the left is Mercedes going out for a day sail, center is Passaat catching the last rays of the sun on a sunset cruise, and on the right is Random Wind enjoying the trip back to harbor after a tough day of snorkeling, Tarzan swinging, swimming, sunbathing, and dining. Someone is riding the bow sprit and that looks like some choppy water.

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. At present, there are several 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.

SXM-Hotels: The photo on the left was is Bob Baron's Baywatch Villa. It has three bedrooms and three baths and a pool. He's also a real estate agent, so if you want to buy something down here, he's the man to see.

SXM-Activities: Dimar Labega is an experienced fitness instructor. He's willing to work at your place, in the great outdoors, or at the Port de Plaisance gym.

Rental Cars: This week's gas report is brought to you by Triple A Car Rentals. I have known Alain Arnell of Triple A Car Rentals for about 20 years. He has always been a straight shooter and there are TTOL comments to back this up. A few years ago he moved to a larger lot and put up a new office on Beacon Hill near the western end of the runway. He's got a good fleet of cars and keeps them working well. Cars, however, do not always cooperate, so its good to know that he gets high marks for quickly sorting out any problem that may arise.

Dutch side gas prices have been higher for almost all of the 26 years I have been on the island. Multiply €/liter by 3.8 to get €/gallon. Multiply that by the exchange rate to get $/gallon. Thus, it's about $3.75 per gallon. Dutch side prices have been higher for almost all of the 26 years I have been on the island.

Brand Location Price 1 to 1
Cadisco Nettle Bay 0.91€/lno
Cadisco Sandy Ground 0.91€/lyes
Cadisco Orient 0.93€/lyes
Delta Sandy Ground 0.89€/lyes
Delta Savane 0.92€/lno
Delta Qtr d'Orlean 0.93€/l?
Blue Galis Bay 1.01€/l?
Artsen Agrement 1.02€/l?

Travel: Last week I mentioned that there was no Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunication and without a Minister there are no new initiatives and nobody pushing any existing ones through the system. On Tuesday the Herald said that Melissa Arrindell-Doncher will be sworn in at 11:00AM.

SXM Shopping: In the tourist world most things are made elsewhere, usually China. Where does China get its tourist junk from? One thing that is made here is perfume at Tijon perfumery in Grand Case. You know it is made here because you make it yourself with their expert help.
green logo Nature: On the right are two baby doves. Their feathers are not as smooth as the parents. They are now out on their own and mom is working on a new clutch.

Our office is well over 100% solar-powered. In fact, in seven years of operation our solar panels have produced over half the electrical needs for the house, my work shop, and a large animal barn. Our hosting company servers are about 130% wind-powered.

Small Island story: Two orcas, aka killer whales, were slaughtered in from of a whale-watching cruise in St Vincent.


As you can request five prizes on one entry form, you could win a bargain on entertainment and dinner! That would be five prizes to one person.

Winners for contest that closed on 4 April 2017
Lagoon Pub Crawl - two for one ticket - Jim Kelly
Skipjack's - $50 off a dinner for two - Bruce Kinneberg
DK Gems - $150 off a $500 purchase - no entries
Random Wind - $40 gift certificate - Jim Kelly
Select Wine Cellar - Wine tasting and a bottle of wine - Jim Kelly
Piazza Pascal - $50 off dinner for two - Sandy Molloy
Pizza Galley - $25 off on a dinner for two - Jim Kelly
Ti Coin Créole - $30 off on a dinner for two - Jim Kelly

Current Contest: now until 25 June 2017
Lagoon Pub Crawl - two for one ticket
Skipjack's - $50 off a dinner for two
DK Gems - $150 off a $500 purchase
Random Wind - $40 gift certificate
Select Wine Cellar - Wine tasting and a bottle of wine
Piazza Pascal - $50 off dinner for two
Pizza Galley - $25 off on a dinner for two
Ti Coin Créole - $30 off on a dinner for two

Future Contests:
25 June to 1 October 2017 | 1 October to 24 December 2017
same cast of characters as current contest


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 dinners and activities. I really check and a while ago Sulay entered 33 times for one contest, instead of increasing her chance of winning, she decreased it to zero as I deleted all of them. She did account for about a third of the entries for that contest.

Here's some comments from a past winner:

We met with Sylvain at Select Wine Cellar, enjoyed the tasting, and opted for the Belin Champagne for the free bottle. It was very good. I will try and find this at home to drink again. He was a very nice host. ... I enjoyed entering the contest and look forward to future entries. Over 16 days we only had only one 4 minute rain shower; otherwise the weather was beautiful. We tried the Hideaway Restaurant at La Vista. It was very good as were the other places we dined.

Credit Cards and Exchange Rate

On 02 Apr the Euro was at 1.066, yesterday it was at 1.065, and today it is at 1.059. That's down 0.65% in a week, back to the level in late February.

With the Euro weakening against the dollar, restaurants doing 1 to 1 become less interesting. It behooves those of us with dollars to check the exchange rate offered by restaurants. For several years French side restaurants have been offering better than market exchange rates, especially for cash. However, if a French side restaurant offers a bad exchange rate, ask for your credit card to be charged in Euros. Assuming you followed my advice below and got a card that has no charge for foreign transactions you will get the wholesale rate on the exchange.

L'Escapade Restaurant, Piazza Pascal, and La Villa, in Grand Case are offering 1 to 1 for cash. Nearby Ti Bouchon, Tropical Wave and Rancho del Sol are offering 1 to 1. We also got it at Le Galion in Marina Royale, but there was no sign proclaiming this as the policy. The waiter, an old friend from Il Nettuno, offered it to us as he presented the bill. Super U is offering 1 to 1.05 for cash. Note this is generally only for cash payments using US greenbacks and is subject to change.

There was an article in the NY Times about credit cards and travel benefits. Check it out here.

You should not be paying a currency transaction charge as there are many credit cards that don't have this onerous charge. My United Mileage Plus Explorer/Chase card no longer charges it and gets my first bag checked free for all United tickets purchased on the card.

We now use the Capital One Quicksilver Visa Signature Card that gives us 1.5% cash back - no fooling around with miles. They do not charge an exchange fee on foreign transactions and they do provide rental car insurance. This has been our primary card as airline miles are not as valuable or as easy to use as they used to be.

We always notify our card companies of our travel. Chase and Quicksilver actually accept this info on-line, making it much easier than working through the hell of telephone answering systems.

There are discussions on Credit card Forum and Daily Markets that may help you decide what card is best for you. The first one has a review of the new Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. It gives you 2 points for travel related purchases and then allows you to take 20% off when purchasing your rewards through their Ultimate Rewards portal. It's tempting.


La Table d'Antoine
On Sunday evening we went to dinner at La Table d'Antoine in Orient Village. We had 7:00 reservations so we had an outdoor table waiting for us. I have seen Antoine turn several customers away, so think about reservations, especially on party nights (Wednesday and Friday). We started with fizzy water and two flutes of champagne as we looked over the menu. A very nice bit of roll arrived with a small tub of AOC Buerre d'Isigny (below left). The small menu certainly has some interesting dishes, but we found our main courses on the specials board. Our ap came from the menu and was several slices of gravlax with a horseradish cream sauce and a toasted baguette. The champagne was lovely with the gravlax.

Martha had some sea scallops with two sides of her choice (salad and rice). I had a very tasty, but not very photogenic, veal stew. My two sides were mashed potatoes and zucchini. I picked the Chateau de Beaune from Bouchard and we loved it. Then again, that was the wine served at our wedding, although it was the 1985 vintage in magnums in 1998. Our dinner came to $202, but the wine was expensive and flutes of champagne are not cheap.

Altro Italian Bistro
We went to Altro Italian Bistro in Porto Cupecoy with Sylvain from Select Wine Cellar on Tuesday. It was a lovely warm evening with a guitar playing softly at the virtually empty Rendez-Vous Lounge next door. Sylvain ordered the vitello tonnato. I ordered the baby artichokes with panko fried mozzarella ($17). Our personal wine steward ordered a bottle of Quincy, a Sauvignon Blanc from the eastern Loire ($29). It was pretty good as an aperitif and went well with my artichokes.
The tonnato sauce for the veal, on the left, is based on tonno or tuna. Freshly sliced veal goes into the sauce and is topped with arugula and caper berries. My artichokes, on the right, had mozzarella bits dipped in panko crust and fried.
Martha ordered the cioppino, an Italian approach to fish stew, modified with ingredients available in Californa by Italian immigrants who missed the home country. It's a special, made more famous by Christian's version at Sol e Luna. Sylvain had the ravioli grande, a large ravioli with veal, sweetbreads, shiitake mushrooms, and foie gras ($28). I've had this before and felt the need to branch out, so I tried the crispy half duck with pasta, grapes, and a Chianti reduction sauce. ($34) Needless to say it went well with the Rosso di Montelcino.

Johann at Rancho del Sol has sent me his list of daily specials for April. They are another fine choice for lunch, probably one of the best at 12 Euros every weekday. Every Wednesday they feature braised beef ribs at $12. They are closed on Saturday and feature an even better special on Sundays at $17.50.

News and Changes: We frequently post some dining photos to Facebook. Less frequently we post activities and other things related to SXM or food. If you're interested, I trust you know what to do.
If you are looking to purchase gift certificates for island restaurants, check out L'Escargot Restaurant, Piazza Pascal, and La Villa. Treat your friends at your favorite restaurant!
Here is the current list of the ARCHA members contributing to the security and clean-up of Grand Case. They would appreciate your continued support of their efforts. A blue oval sticker is displayed at businesses that participate in this much-needed endeavor.

Hotels and Residences:
Grand Case Beach Club
Le Petit Hotel
Bleu Emeraude
Auberge Gourmande
Bistrot Caraïbes
Piazza Pascal
Le Pressoir
Le Tastevin
La Villa
Ocean 82
Calmos Cafe
Blue Martini
Le Soleil
Le Cottage
Tijon Perfumery
La boutique D'Anaise
La Boutique D'anaise
Cotton Club SXM
La Boheme
Sexy Fruits
Simple Elegance


Coupons: Below are links to the SXM-Info clients who have coupons on their websites.

Endless Summer Beachwear
Kakao Beach
Pizza Galley
Select Wine Cellar
Table d'Antoine
Tropical Wave

SXM-Info has chosen SkyMed to arrange medical transportation services. We hope you never need it, but when air evacuation flights cost $30,000 or more, it's good to have. Check out their offerings.


Erich S. Kranz
Click here to subscribe or unsubscribe
Our privacy policy