Hotels & Villas
Oyster Bay Beach Resort

Perched on a palm-dotted promontory and surrounded by Dawn Beach and Oyster Pond is St. Maarten's most private and distinctive hideaway - Oyster Bay Beach Resort. Like St. Maarten - a beautiful island that [ ... ]

Hotels & Villas
Belmond La Samanna Villas

One of the most distinguished addresses in the Caribbean, Belmond La Samanna Villas offer the ultimate in luxurious Caribbean accommodations and services. Residential in feel, but private and exclusive [ ... ]

Hotels & Villas
Porto Cupecoy

Perfectly situated on the Dutch/French border of internationally acclaimed Sint Maarten, Porto Cupecoy is redefining resort living with an inspiring style, an unassuming elegance, and a wealth of amenities [ ... ]

Lee's Roadside Grill

Lee’s Roadside Grill opened for the first time in 1997 and it has now grown into a thriving must visit open air restaurant. Located in Simpson Bay on the lagoon, Lee’s Roadside Grill offers a totally [ ... ]

L'Oursin Restaurant at Belmond La Samanna Resort

The elegance of Belmond La Samanna's rooms and suites is complemented by the tempting variety of its cuisine, an irresistible combination of French and Caribbean specialties enhanced by one of the most [ ... ]

The Infinity Restaurant

The finest, most delectable international cuisine is just steps away from your room at Infinity Restaurant, located across from our open courtyard. Ocean views, outdoor dining on our elegant terrace, [ ... ]

Caribbean Gems

CARIBBEAN GEMS, established in 1983 has been consistently voted as St. Maarten’s #1 jewelry store in an independent poll conducted by The Daily Herald. High quality merchandise, competitive pricing and [ ... ]

Dawn Beach

Dutch Side - Atlantic Ocean
This is a lovely white sandy crescent shaped beach with plenty of coral rocks and big ‘surfing’ waves. Remember, you’re now on the Atlantic Ocean with bigger and rougher [ ... ]

Orient Beach

French Side - Atlantic Ocean
Do you enjoy Monte Carlo, St. Tropez or Nice? If your answer is yes, you will love Orient Beach, THE most popular beach on the island. On the hillside, several hotels provide [ ... ]

The StMaarten/StMartin Connection

"…the SXM newsletter for savvy travelers!  
Connecting YOU with Paradise!"

Dear Friends of St. Maarten, 

This is the first Newsletter that I am writing since November 2014. It is dedicated to my wife, Barbara A. Nitti Fusco, who passed away on January 26, 2015, after a 28 month battle with pancreatic cancer. She was a wonderful person; a great wife; and, my best friend.

Over the years, Barbara may have helped you in booking a car rental, a hotel/villa reservation or just by answering your questions about an upcoming trip. But unfortunately most of you probably never met her. Legend tells us that the face of Helen of Troy launched a thousand ships. Barbara's beautiful blue eyes and radiant smile could surely have launched a regatta of yachts in the Caribbean.

Barbaras Newsletter Photo 012916
The above picture of Barbara was taken in 1987 at a great little restaurant in Plan Les Ouates, a wonderful little town, a stone's throw from the city of Geneva, Switzerland.

Due to Barbara's illness, I had not been to StMaarten/StMartin in more than three years. I have corrected that by spending November and part of December 2015 on island so that I could speak more informedly in my newsletters. There have been lots of changes since the Spring of 2012 and these are summarized in my "What's Happening in Paradise?" column.

Feel free to email me (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) any comments or questions. I would be pleased to hear from you and will try to reply within 24 hours.

Note: Barbara and I have been coming to StMaarten/StMartin for 38 years. Some years back we guestimated that we have been to the island more than 70 times. Now that I have finished writing this newsletter and particularly the "What's Happening In Paradise?" column, I realize that we have created wonderful memories in just about every location of this beautiful island. We were blessed!

Hope you enjoy our Newsletter.

Sam Fusco
President/Publisher | www.StMaarten.org 
Winner of the 2006/2007 St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association's Crystal Pineapple Award for Outstanding Tourism Journalism - Former Board Member of the St. Maarten/St. Martin American Marketing Association

Featured in this issue: 
1. Featured Villa: Petite Plage 5 | Sotheby's Int'l Realty
2. Special Feature: A Traveler's Testimonial by Allegra & Bob
3. Featured Activity: Happy Hours Tours by Adrianna & Dave
4. The Wine Cellar: Sweet Dreams by Jean Carol Hager-Rich
5. Featured Restaurant:  SkipJacks Restaurant
6. Sam's Selection: StMaarten/StMartin Images 
7. Sign Up to Win a Dream Vacation for Two  
8. Special Feature: Weddings In St. Maarten
9. Featured Hotel: Holland House Beach Hotel
10. Featured Car Rental: Leisure Car Rental
What's Happening in Paradise? 

Featured Villa

Villa Petite Plage 5

With an enviable location on the beautiful and tranquil beach of Petite Plage on French St. Martin’s northern coastline, this beautifully appointed home offers 5 +1 bedrooms and is within walking distance of the French side’s gourmet capital of Grand Case.

Petite Plage 5 Night R

This beautiful home’s principal feature is the oversized wrap- around pool and a central columned gazebo, perfect for al-fresco dining and lounging. The uninterrupted flow between the interior and exterior comes from large glass doors that slide seamlessly into the walls providing a vast living area and adjoining terrace with a stunning backdrop of sea and sky.

Petite Plage 5 Living R 3
Interior spaces include the indoor living/dining room, a separate air-conditioned media room with a large plasma TV and a superbly equipped gourmet kitchen with views out to the gazebo and pool area.

Petite Plage 5 Bedroom3 R 3

There are 5 air-conditioned master suites featuring king-size beds, large plasma TVs, walk-in closets and private bathrooms with showers (3 bedrooms also have bath tubs). There is also an air-conditioned bedroom studio with twin beds and adjoining bathroom; perfect for staff accommodation or young adults.

Petite Plage 5 aerial R

Further amenities at Petite Plage 5 include a beach front Jacuzzi and a large outdoor roof-top terrace.

The lovely white sandy beach of Petite Plage is just a few steps from the villa and the stunning ocean and sunset views are incomparable. The charming fishing village of Grand Case is within easy walking distance and offers some of St. Martin’s finest culinary delights.

The rates are the following for Petite Plage 5: 5 = Bedrooms.

High Season (December 15 - April 14) $29,700 / week
Low Season (April 15 - December 14) $19,800 / week
Christmas - Please enquire.


NameTitle 1

Contact information is as follows:
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website: www.stmartinsothebysrealty.com
Telephone: +590.590.51.02.85
Telephone USA: 213.805.0840

Special Feature 

A Traveler's Testimonial
Allegra & Bob 

We have been coming to Saint Martin (SXM) for a long time. We always come back because of the diversity; food, beaches, weather, people, and so much more! We have found that our favorite area to stay is Cupecoy, mainly for the location and amenities. It is close to our favorite beach (Mullett Bay) and it is easy to get to the "French" side for dinners (Bistro Nu), bakeries (Serafina), French products found at many gourmet shops and two great grocery stores: Super U and Carrefour (formerly Grand Marche). It is also easy to get to Simpson Bay for more shops, beaches, and restaurants BuildingsViewright on the picturesque Lagoon (Lee's Roadside Grill for whole snapper, Lal's for Indian, Al Pasha for Lebanese, to name a few).

Our recent condo rentals have been in a newer complex called Porto Cupecoy. This complex offers shops, restaurants (Mario Bistro, Rendezvous, to name a few), an art gallery and much more in the "Plaza". You can enjoy watching the beautiful boats (and yachts!) in the marina from your condo balcony or from the outdoor dining tables at the restaurants - views everywhere! There is also a Gourmet Marche, a smaller version of the Grand Marche...groceries only a footpath away from any condo! It also has a wonderful swimming pool where you can do laps or just walk in and wade as there are steps on one end and the other is at ground level, flat graded, entry.

We have met many friends "pool side"; renters and
owners and all fun to talk to and share "SXM" tidbits (and secrets!). There are tennis courts, a gym, and every Monday evening is a free "outdoor in the plaza" movie (and they are current). The complex has 24 hour security and electronic gates to get you to covered parking, the condo buildings and grounds, and the boat docks. Bill and Kathy are the Managers of this complex. They are very pleasant and proud to be the "caretakers" of Porto Cupecoy. In fact, everyone you encounter here are always pleasant and upbeat, why not...look at your surroundings, beauty at every corner!! We hope you look into this for your stay, you will not regret it!

Allegra & Bob

Publisher's Note:
We would like to make "A Traveler's Testimonial" a regular feature written by travelers vacationing  on the island. Your article can be about a hotel, a restaurant, water sports, even a short story with a happy ending is okay. We only accept positive reviews. The length of your article should be 400-600 words and you can include two photos if you wish. There is no compensation; but, you will receive a By-line credit. So i
f you have some writing skills and would like to participate, please email Sam Fusco at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (1) 973.835.0600.

Featured Activity

Happy Hour Tours!
Adrianna & Dave 

A little bit about Adrianna, Dave and Tequila too!

Adrianna and Dave moved to the island about 7 years ago but have been visiting since 2001. Coming from the corporate world we traded in our business suits and dress shoes for bathing suits and flip flops! Many people on the island rescue animals and just over 3 years ago Tequila became part of our family. St. Maarten has become our home; we enjoy our time on the island and want all our island visitors to have a great experience whether you are here for a day or staying for a month. We suggest that people not only discover both sides of the island but also experience the island by land and by sea; they offer a unique perspective of the island.

AdriannaDaveThe island is 37 square miles with a shared border; and you don’t even need a passport but the culture and experience is completely different. That is why we encourage people to discover the whole island. We have 37 beaches and all of them are unique in their own way but there is one thing in common, the beautiful Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. As well, you are a hop and skip and a jump to neighboring islands such as Saba, St. Barth’s, Anguilla, and St. Eustatius.  

We were once tourists and that is how we run our business, treat people the way you would wanted to be treated on vacation and they will keep coming back or stay forever, just like we did.

The island has a diverse culture and an amazing array of restaurants and culinary delights. This is why we have started our Culinary Tours (and we have some more that we are working on).  We have also started a Distillery Tour of Topper’s Rhum (we have several different options to suit day visitors or for those staying on the island); and, we also have Adventure Tours. 

Happy Hour Tours offers a number of tours directly as well as offering Concierge Services to help you plan your whole vacation from accommodation to car rentals and all your island activities and excursions. We have even helped a wedding party rent a guitar for their beachside party. We began this company because when we first experienced St. Maarten/St. Martin we could not find a one stop information company that met our needs and we had to arrange different activities ourselves. We are a one stop shop that understands what the tourists want and will go over and beyond to make sure they have a wonderful experience.   If we recommend a tour or excursion it is because we have done it ourselves; and have done our due diligence.

Our booth is conveniently located just outside the cruise port at Dock Maarten. Our local phone numbers are 1-721-520-4903/4932.
Ask us “How to Discover the Island.” Visit us at www.happyhoursxm.com.

The Wine Cellar

Sweet Dreams!
Jean Carol Hager-Rich

Just as a sparkling diamond gem begins as a lump of coal, wine diamonds are precious sweet wines and may have their beginnings as moldy grapes-but different grapes and different processes depending on Tradition.

Traditional sweet wines begin in Bordeaux as moldy grapes. Not just any mold -- "botrytis cinerea," the organism viticulturists lovingly called the "noble rot." It works its magic when the organism pierces the skin of the grape and pulls water and nutrients from the grape, leaving behind higher concentrations of sugars, fruit acids and minerals. Thus the grape's juice is more concentrated. This process is encouraged in Bordeaux to elevate the most famous and most valuable sweet wines, the Sauternes. Less well known, but equally enjoyable, and comparably a bargain, are the sweet wines called Pacherenc from the southwest of France. Similarly, Vouvray and Alsace areas of France develop sweet wines as do other countries: Germany, Italy, Australia and the TheWineShopUSA, all thanks to the noble rot. But it's quite fascinating how many different ways wine makers have devised to make wine to be, or go with, dessert.

Wine making in partnership with botrytis is a very risky and labor-intensive process. Because Mother Nature is fickle, this will not occur every year. The vineyard must be left with the grapes on the stems long after the normal harvests while the botrytis infection does its work, a process which becomes a verb in California wine-speak ("Botrysized wine"). The difference between garbage and ambrosia is whether nature provides a dry period after the wet one when the grapes are infected. During this time the wine makers and farmers pray that the rains won't come to dilute the juices and that the birds and other animals won't pick the ripening fruit before the harvesters can choose the fruit at exactly the right moment of sugar strength to take it to the wine cellar. Seasoned pickers go through the vines choosing the grapes, one-by-one, in the desired state of maturity and rot which the farmers have learned to recognize over centuries of experience, will yield wine with a deep yellow color and honeyed sweetness with an aroma of honeysuckle. Then, because the Botrytis also makes a substance that kills yeast and impairs fermentation, the wine makers may have to stay up all night nurturing the yeast to be sure that the alcoholic fermentation continues through to the wine product.

The Alsace region of France, and nearby in Germany make some sweet wines in a different way. They will leave certain grapes on the vine till the end of the harvest, taking a chance on other help from Mother Nature. These are the "late harvest" (vendange tardive in French) sweet wines in which the grapes have dehydrated, literally shriveled, during their length of time on the vine such that their sugar content is raised without the action of Botrytis. Another method is common in the Niagara region of the USA and Canada in which the ice crystals of early winter frosts perform the same function as the tendrils of the botrytis mold, puncturing the grapes' skins which allows dehydration of the grapes, and resulting in their sugars being concentrated. These are called "ice wines" in English; Eisweins in German. Finally the Italians make their sweet wine (amarone) from fruit dehydrated after the harvest. This is perhaps the way sweet wines were made in Biblical times. The grapes are allowed to dry like raisins on straw palettes, or special trays, and then fermented for many months to make a sweet wine from the dried fruit.

In Hungary and Eastern Europe, there is another technique used in production of the Tokai, the sweet wines of this region. The wine makers make a base wine of grapes that are not infected with the noble rot separately; grapes with high sugar content are made into a paste which is added to the base wine in proportions defined long ago by tradition and in measures corresponding to antique jars (puttonyos) to sweeten it.

Another process called "mutage" involves adding alcoholic spirits to the fermenting 'must.' These unctuous, sweet wines such as Banyuls and Rivesaltes are designated "vin doux naturel." This process is that more famous in production of Port in Portugal.

Other sweet wines are made in the Mediterranean coastal areas, Provence and the southern central and eastern coastal region of France by putting the red wines in large glass "demi-johns" which are buried in the ground, leaving the neck and top exposed, and they allow them to bake in the summer sun and ferment joyously. The wines from Mas Amiel are delicious with chocolates and chocolate desserts (when looking for these sweets request a Maury Mas Amiel for a real treat).

Sweet wines are not usually cloying because the acidity of the wine balances the sweetness. Once tasted, they leave the wine lover with a memory that never fades. A wine-lover's dreams of the night before Christmas will not be filled with bon-bons, rather with an anticipation of having these traditional sweet wines with their Christmas and New Year gourmet fare. Most gastronomic festivals in France will begin and end the year with a sweet wine to accompany one of the elements of their feast, most often the savory foie gras at the beginning, or as a "digestif" at the end with a sweet, or nut dish, or a rich, creamy cheese like a Roquefort that practically sings with a sweet wine. These wines are often called dessert wines, but that is a limited description. Yes, you can drink them for dessert, but they are also appreciated as an aperitif, to "open the palette." So they become the beginning or the ending and certainly will leave you with sweet dreams.

When in the West Indies, you can find great values in sweet wines from the lesser-appreciated areas of France like the south west, the Pacherenc wines of Alan Brumont who was named 'winemaker of the decade.' 

Contributor Jean Carol Hager-Rich, restaurateur, wine-expert, and well-known wedding planner has lived in St. Maarten for more than 20 years since she retired from cancer research. She explores her passion for wine, dining and people on both sides of the island. Questions? Contact Jean at 1.721.581.5152 or Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Featured Restaurant


SkipJack’s Seafood Grill, Bar & Fish Market was recently voted “Best Seafood Restaurant” and “Top Three Best for Lunch” by the readers of St. Maarten’s leading newspaper, The Daily Herald. 

Located on the Lagoon in Simpson Bay, almost across the street from the Royal Palm Resort, SkipJack’s offers a unique waterfront dining ambience with spectacular views of the world’s largest mega-yachts. We feature live” Maine and Caribbean lobsters and are known for our seafood, which is so fresh we have our own “Fish Market.” 

AerialView 535x360
Open for lunch and dinner, SkipJack’s daily specials complement a complete wine list, incredible appetizers, and homemade desserts. For the “landlubbers,” we have great steaks, ribs, chicken, and pasta dishes. 

althea tn servingOur meticulously finished woodwork and nautical themed décor is befitting to a seafood restaurant and market where every seat in the house has a waterfront view. But, what we are really all about is serving the freshest and best seafood on the Island. So, whether you come on foot or by car or tie your boat to our 100’ dock, we think you will be glad you gave us a visit. 

SkipJack’s Seafood Grill, Bar & Fish market was named after, and in honor of, a single mast. Two sail sloop that emerged on Maryland’s Eastern shore in the late 1800’s. This sloop, better known as a small “two sail bateau” with a V-hull, was named after the speedy, agile and powerful Skipjack Tuna. Over time it evolved into a larger, heartier vessel with a center board and shallow draft. Powerful in light winds, it had a reputation of speed and maneuverability.

Due to its moderate size, shallow draft, and agility, the Skipjack soon became thediners1 tn premier fishing vessel working the Chesapeake Bay.  It was able to make repeated "licks" or passes over oyster beds, lay out seines for schooling Menhaden and gill nets for Shad and Striped Bass.  In winter, fleets of Skipjacks would dredge Oysters from the Bay floor.  "Drudgin", as watermen called this process, was hard, cold, dirty, and sometimes dangerous work.

Today, Skipjacks are the last working fishing boats under sail in the United States.  And, even though there are only a handful of these left, many of the old hulls have been refurbished and rebuilt for recreational use.  In summer, it is not unusual to see these old classics under sail, proudly plying the same Chesapeake Bay waters as they once did so many years ago.  

In honor and remembrance of these fishing classics and the watermen who once worked them, SkipJack's Seafood Grill, Bar & Fish Market proudly bears their name.

SkipJack's Seafood Grill, Bar & Fish Market
Across from Royal Palm Hotel
Simpson Bay, St. Maarten
For reservations, telephone: 1.721.544.2313
Visit us at: www.skipjacks-sxm.com.

Sam's Selection

  St. Maarten/St. Martin Images

Heineken Regatta Starting Line -

Casino Royale Sonesta Maho Resort 
Scuba Fun Dive Training 
    Beach Plaza Hotel, Marigot

Sign Up to Win our July 2016

Dream Vacation for Two

   Subscribe to our Newsletter & You May Win
a 6 Day/5 Night Dream Vacation for Two
at Oyster Bay Beach Resort, St. Maarten
or NIZUC Resort & Spa, Cancun, Mexico
plus, A Day of Sailing on  Random Wind Charters

Featured Hotel 




Welcome to the Holland House Beach Hotel!

The Hotel is located on Great Bay beach and offers 54 guest rooms and suites. Beachside rooms offer magnificent views of the blue Caribbean, surrounding islands, and azure skies. All rooms have just been refurbished and redesigned by renowned architect Johannes Zingerlee and French Indies Design from St. Barths, bringing a European chic and Caribbean flair.

The Hotel is also in the middle of the duty-free shopping area of Philipsburg with shops such as Cartier and Little Switzerland, Colombian Emeralds and many electronic, clothing and local artifact shops. All 54 restyled guest rooms and suites will be a pleasant surprise for those looking for a perfect hotel with many work and play options. All rooms offer flat screen televisions and movie programming, the newest trend in hospitality TV, and luxurious bathroom amenities complement the wellness package.

The European Contemporary and modern Caribbean feel of the rooms provide guests with style and comfort. The Holland House Experience™ bedding has been uniquely designed, a comfort concept created by design and sleep specialists using individual coil spring mattresses and Think Plush pillow-top padding finished with crisp, white Egyptian cotton sheets, duvets and blankets for the ultimate in pampering, even at night.

The 4 Junior Suites are beautifully appointed. They're studio style provides a sleeping and living area. Located on the first floor, overlooking Great Bay, their extended terrace offers a fantastic view of the beach. With all the amenities of the Beach Front Deluxe, the Junior Suite offers superior comfort during your hotel stay.

Welcome to the Ocean Lounge for Fine Dining

The newly-renovated restaurant and bar at the Holland House is the Ocean Lounge Restaurant and Bar, which features a beautiful hardwood deck overlooking the ocean and the boardwalk where many locals go to relax at night, when the cool Caribbean breeze soothes away a day at work or a perfect day on the beach. Dedon outdoor furniture with plush cushions, combined with the service-minded staff, gives you that special VIP feeling.

Robert van Herpen and Chef Raymond Kaper, both from Holland, guarantee an enjoyable breakfast, tasty lunch or delightful dinner experience. Chef Raymond is young, energetic and ambitious; and, has worked in some of the finest top 100 restaurants in Holland, like Seinpost, and with famous chefs such as Rob Blauwboer and Chef Hans Snijders of Chateau Neercanne.

HHAtNight 528x397Chef Raymond works with local products from the Islands as well as fresh seafood and produce flown in twice weekly from Europe and the USA to create innovative and imaginative dishes. He leads a local team of young cooks and has set new standards and heights in casual dining on the Island. His counterparts on the waiters' side are the ever-smiling Jesse, who supervises breakfast and lunch, and the famous Paul Meiskens who oversees the dinner service and has already acquired a very loyal clientele. 

Note: In recent years, Barbara and I have had several spectacular meals at the Ocean Lounge Restaurant. One in particular went like this: After ordering two Black Labels on the rocks, we sat sipping our favorite scotch discussing forthcoming events while enjoying the beautiful view of the yachts in Great Bay.

After a while, our waiter brought us the Chef’s offering which was a creamy spicy tomato mousse served in a tall slender glass accompanied with a straw. One or two sips and the mousse caressed your palette with a lovely delightful taste on its way to your stomach. We really wanted more!

For appetizers, we enjoyed Gravlax, marinated and lightly smoked salmon with sour cream and toast, and Beef Carpaccio in lemon juice which were both delicious and easily either could be shared by two people. For our main course, we had Chilean Sea Bass served in an antiboise sauce with mini potatoes and fresh spinach, and Brill which is a white fish imported from Holland accompanied by a selection of vegetables.

For Dessert, we had the chef’s innovative rendition of French toast with Vanilla ice cream in the middle. It was truly unique. And, of course, the meal was accompanied by a lovely bottle of white Sancerre. By the way, Guido & Georgina, our servers, were attentive and friendly and along with Robert van Herpen, Manager of Food & Beverage, helped to make the evening memorable. For recommended reservations, call Robert at 1.721.542.2572 or 800.223.9815 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Parking for dinner is available from 7 PM till 12 midnight. It's across the street from the Hotel behind Joe's Jewelry. You enter the lot via Back Street and will see a parking assistant and a Holland House banner. Parking is free of charge and exclusive for diners at our Ocean Lounge Restaurant & Bar.

In addition, the friendly and attentive professional staff will assist you with your needs and answer any questions about the Hotel, arrange car rentals, excursions to other islands, and point you to intimate and romantic Caribbean restaurants. They will also be happy to assist you with important island information, reconfirming your flight and arranging a taxi service. Come visit us! We look forward to making your special day an outstanding one!

Holland House Beach Hotel,
Front Street #43, Philipsburg, St. Maarten
Please visit our website at: www.hhbh.com
Tel: 1.721.542.2572, Fax: 1.721.542.4673
For hotel reservations, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Special Feature 

Did you dream about your wedding since you were very little? Most kids do, from the time mummy read, "and Prince Charming slipped the glass slipper onto Cinderella's foot and they lived happily ever after..." We practice getting married by walking down the aisle as a flower girl or ring-bearer and see the joy of the radiant couple as they say "I Do" and tingle with the excitement of their family and friends sharing the moment.

Joy on your wedding day comes from the blessing of the love and commitment you share and looking forward to this beginning of your own family. Joy on the wedding day also comes from having a hassle-free wedding that brings your vision of your dream wedding to reality. You must realize your dream wedding and enjoy it too.

Hire a professional wedding planner. For the bride and groom, their wedding is a first-time event and hopefully a lifetime highlight. A professional wedding planner may arrange hundreds of weddings a year. So with her help you won't have to experiment on your big day. The wedding planner is your troubleshooter. She also will be sure the people she hires to serve you have proven quality and reliability, so you won't be looking out the back door waiting for a cake, or shedding tears because your bouquet doesn't match your dress.

A wedding should be your fantasy come true and a gala celebration. A bride's dream is nurtured as she integrates images from magazines, movies, weddings, and her imagination to come to a vision of her wedding day. All who love her and her wedding planner want the bride to realize her dream on this special day. So it was imagined, so it will be done.

A budget is very important. Be realistic when you set one so that you can live happily ever after and not start your new life with a financial burden. Discuss the budget with your wedding planner so she knows the limits. A professional wedding planner is your advocate. Speaking from experience, the wedding planner should be able through her experience and professionalism to optimize your budget and stretch it to cover the most important parts of your plan.

Set priorities as to what is the most important part of your vision. I recommend as a tool, the couple get a notebook to create a "dream book" to log in the elements they want for their wedding. You will use it to plan everything with your planner for how your taste and style will be incorporated. A professional planner will take care of processing the legal paperwork so your marriage will be correct and recognized worldwide. I guide my brides to the right location and time of day - our island provides dream seascapes for locations and everyone becomes radiant in the golden light of sunset.

List the elements for the fun and remembrance; beauty and fashion, flowers, toasting, food, music, reception, cake, and photography and/or videography. Pick a color, a theme for the decorations or a special bloom for your flowers. A wedding planner's expertise will allow you to realize your dream while keeping to your budget.

You will be planning your wedding for sometime and you can use that time to put into your dream book: everything from a picture you have from another wedding to magazine clippings and notes, a poem or song, so you don't forget. Use your imagination. The dream book will help your planner share your vision and bring it to reality.

While wedding planning software can assist you, a local wedding planner will insure what you can do with the local possibilities, can customize your wedding, and will make sure you don't forget doing things on time, but most importantly your planner will help you optimize your wedding in St. Maarten/St. Martin.

Set your priorities with the most important first, and the least, last, so your planner can help you cut if you must keep to your budget, without diminishing the glow of your wedding. You don't want to trim off a rose if your mom's name was Rose and you carry it for her. Take your first dance to your favorite song played by one of our great local entertainers in the arms of your loved one.

I recommend that you put a high priority on photography. After the bouquet is tossed and you've left your wedding party in a shower of petals, the photographs are what survive forever. You'll show them over and over again and use these to remember why you got married, re-savor your love and joy as time goes by. If you are blessed with children, photographs give them a chance to see you when your love was in early bloom and you made your commitment to each other. Somehow we can be re-inspired on an anniversary and experience our young love again when we look at those pictures. Now photo technology has brought us DVDs so we can also hear our emotion-filled voices as they pledge vows to each other. Yes the wedding day is the big day, but you can best relive your memories over and over through pictures, then shed those tears of joy again.

tog2Share also with your planner any unique ideas. One of my brides planned a starfish and shell theme for her cake superbly executed and she said, by the way, "My groom's favorite treats are champagne and chocolates." So I arranged for her to give her groom a wonderful champagne and a silver shell of chocolates that were hand and custom-made for her in shell shapes filled with aphrodisiac flavors to indulge in after the last dance. "If you can dream it, I can make it happen," is my motto as your wedding planner. I am very proud that my clients have nicknamed me their "Fairy Godmother," as they said I "must have waved a magic wand to make their dream wedding a reality."

If ever there were a picture-perfect place to get married, the island of St. Maarten is it. Blessed with some of the most breathtaking beaches anywhere in the world, St. Maarten also offers all the first-class amenities you could ever ask for:

1. World-class restaurants, ensuring that every meal can become a long-lasting, pleasant memory 
2. Fifth Avenue-class shopping in Marigot, and exquisite jewelry shopping on Front Street in Philipsburg 
3. Perfectly clear turquoise waters for some of the world's best snorkeling 
4. Modern airport with wide-body jet connections from many US gateways

Tying the knot in St. Maarten means enjoying all the benefits of a beautiful tropical wedding with none of the planning hassles. How so? Because Jean Rich, a Rhode Island native who has been living in St. Maarten for more than 20 years, handles all the details for you. As the Manager of the renowned BelMar Grill - Seafood - Wine Bar at Simpson Bay, Jean brings unsurpassed culinary experience to your wedding reception. As the planner/coordinator of literally dozens of tropical weddings over the last 15 years, she has fielded and successfully responded to all kinds of requests. No matter what flavor of tropical wedding you want, Jean Rich has the experience and creativity to make it happen.

For example, you could select from any of the following: Beach wedding. We do all the planning for a beautiful wedding right on the beach, under the palms, on a gorgeous Caribbean day. Get married at whatever time of day you like -- even right before a breathtaking Caribbean sunset. Gazebo wedding. How about a ceremony inside a beautiful gazebo, overlooking the beach? Our gazebo even has a pool nearby, so you and your guests can switch to bathing suits and cool off after your reception. Ocean wedding. Some of our clients prefer to be married at sea. We charter a sailboat or a yacht of virtually any size, and you get the wedding of your dreams right in the Caribbean Sea. Church, hall, or restaurant wedding. No matter what location you prefer, we'll plan it from start to finish. No problem!

It's easier than you think and less expensive. Why shouldn't you enjoy a wedding in paradise? Still have questions, then email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We'll relieve you of all the stress and worry; and, we'll make it happen for you!

Weddings In St. Maarten, Simpson Bay, St. Maarten 
Jean Carol Hager-Rich is a well known wedding planner 
who has lived on St. Maarten for more than 20 years.
For a discussion, please call Jean at 1.721.581.5152
Visit us: www.weddings-in-stmaarten.com or
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Featured Car Rental


Leisure Car Rental
Get Ready for a Blissful Journey!

Whether you are planning a vacation, or Business Trip to St. Maarten, you will most likely require car rental services. Look no further, Leisure Car Rental is the only choice when considering Excellent Service at a Fair Price! We offer a GrayHyundaivariety of vehicles from Economy Cars to Luxury SUVs

Forget about the 45 minute Shuttle ride through unending traffic to get your rental car. Book with us, and we will deliver your rental car to the Airport at no extra charge! That’s right. No Shuttle, no waiting, no hassles! Arriving on a late Flight? or have an early Departure time? Fear not, we are available 24hrs to serve you better!

For those of you who have never visited our Friendly Island, St. Maarten is a very small Island located in the Caribbean. The Island is only 37 square miles and consists of two unique countries: Dutch St. Maarten and French St. Martin. There are lots of things to do in St. Maarten depending on your personal preference. Among others, we are well known for Duty Free Shopping, watersports, sightseeing, nightlife, fine dining, and the list goes on and on!

Leisure Car Rental has been providing outstanding Customer Service for the RedToyotapast seven years. We are proud to boast a Customer Satisfaction rate of 99.9%. Over the years we have built a very solid client base, with a long list of repeat clients who depend on us year after year to provide their Car Rental Needs.

We constantly conduct surveys to determine ways of improving the level of Service we provide our valued clients. To date, we are the only Car Rental Agency on St. Maarten offering Zero Deductible Insurance Coverage. This is a truly worry free, peace of mind, walk away Insurance Coverage! Many customers choose to purchase this coverage when renting from us. One customer said ‘It feels good to know that there will be no additional expenses if anything happens to the rental car.’ Our ZD Coverage covers all loss and damage to the rental car, and to the third party. This coverage starts at $30-per day, and can be purchased when reserving your car on our website here: www.leisurecarrentalsxm.com/reserve-now.html.

Leisure car rentals ensure that the cars that we provide to our customers are well maintained and are kept in top condition. All of our cars are fairly new, with low miles. This is just one factor which keeps us ahead of the competition. We made it our policy not to keep a car in our fleet for more than three years. Remember to Like Us On Facebook, and see our most recent updates in your newsfeed. Be the first to see exclusive offers and Specials: www.facebook.com/lcarsxm.

JackieAward 416x313Leisure Car Rental was established in 2007, with one objective: To always go above and beyond the Call Of Duty to ensure Maximum Customer Satisfaction. We offer a wide range of Automobiles to meet all needs and budgets. So whether you're the extravagant type, or the more cautious thrifty shopper, we have an auto for you. We can undoubtedly guarantee the Best Value in the Industry!

After seven years of hard work, and dedication, we were truly humbled, and amazed that a member of our Staff, Jacqueline Joseph Fitzpatrick, was chosen as the 2013 Auto Rental News Professional of the Year! This prestigious award was presented by American Express. This makes us the only Award Winning Car Rental Agency in St. Maarten.

Leisure Car Rental St. Maarten

So, on your next visit to our beautiful Island, be sure to choose Leisure Car Rental, and experience our Amazing, Award Winning Service! For reservations, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., visit: www.leisurecarrentalsxm.com call: 1.721.581.8577 or Toll Free: 1.721.545.2359 Our reservation system is fairly fast and simple. Thank you! 


What's Happening in Paradise?

Sam Fusco 

During my November/December trip, I circled StMaarten/StMartin during several days seeking changes on the island. Much to my surprise, there were many changes, some for the good and some for the bad. First of all, Mullet Bay Beach is still packing in the crowds including local folks and tourists from all over the world. Over the years, this beach has grown in popularity. In general, the entire island looks absolutely wonderful.

One of the surprises was that Turtle Pier Restaurant is out of business. I was sorry to see this because I had shared many wonderful moments at this little restaurant especially when my friend, Al Wathey, managed it. Now, there are rental cars parked in the lot.

On the pleasant side, the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine is building several five story rental apartment buildings for their students. This will be a strong benefit for the students and probably a money-maker for the school. I guess you could call it a win-win.

Mario's Bistro has moved from his Sandy Ground/St. Martin location to the "high-rent district" on the Plaza at Porto Cupecoy. Being in the middle of an upscale-clientele should provide financial benefits. In addition, the Blue Mall is within walking distance. Mario, best wishes!

Speaking of the Blue Mall, the building is gorgeous, the interior shops are spectacular, and the views from the upper floors are incredible. I was there shortly after 12 noon on a weekday the beginning of November and
since the season is still weeks away, I was able to appreciate all the beauty serenely. The Blue Mall is indeed beautiful, so stop by and spend a few bucks.

La Belle Epoque in Marina Royale in Marigot is gone. So is The Village also on the Marina. Sadly La California Restaurant in Grand Case is also gone. It was a great little restaurant with delicious food and spectacular views of Anguilla, Creole Rock and the Bay of Grand Case.   

Caravanserai Beach Resort has a new name and new owners. It is now Alegria and it is beautiful. It has 73 rooms, two  swimming pools, a fitness club, WiFi, spectacular views from its hotel rooms and beach, and it's in the middle of everything, casinos, restaurants, nightclub, etc. In addition, Sunset Beach Bar is within walking distance.  

And, speaking of Sunset Beach Bar, I have never seen a beach bar more successful than this one. It is approximately 20 years old; has had 4 or 5 different owners; has expanded its size several times, and the crowds get bigger all the time. On a recent Sunday afternoon in November, there were about 500 people gathered around the bar/restaurant and  beach. Of course, most of the people were spread out on the beach/road waiting for the big planes to land 40 feet above their heads and feel the blast of the jet engines when they take off. This is the main attraction of Sunset Beach Bar.   

Now for some good news. On the Marina Royale in Marigot: Le Chanterclair is still there; so is Café de Paris; so is Desmo, the leather goods store; so is La France Restaurant; so is La Main a la Pâte; so is Brasserie de la Gare; Tropicana Restaurant is doing great; La Croissanteria is still knocking out the croissants; La Vie en Rose looked like it was doing well; Le Galion is okay; and, I had a excellent lunch with friends at Arhawak Restaurant on the waterfront.

In Marigot, I did not see any vacant retail shops, the restaurants had customers and businesses were preparing for the High Season. In Grand Case, the Lolos - namely Talk of the Town was jam packed with customers at lunch time. In Philipsburg, once again, I didn't see any vacant shops and the cruise ship travelers were out in force patronizing the shops on both sides of the street. Likewise, the Boardwalk was loaded with travelers doing what they do best - namely, spending money. The beaches and businesses on both sides of the island were ready for the High Season and I hope it has been good for all of them. 

By the way, a couple years ago when one of the government officials proposed building a bridge across the Lagoon to cut the travel time going from the Dutch side to the French side, I was totally against it and pretty concerned about the environment. In addition, I thought it would be an eye sore. Well, I was totally wrong. First of all, the bridge extends from the end of the airport runway and connects to the other side on the left side of Port de Plaisance Resort & Casino. It probably eliminates a 20 minute drive around that section of the island. The negative is that the bridge is one lane in each direction which is fine during most of the day; but, during the rush hour, 5 to 6pm, it is stop & go traffic for 15 minutes. That said, the bridge is an architectural masterpiece!!  

On a Personal Note: I was pretty busy during the Fall months of September and October 2015 to book my November/December visit to the island. So I was very happy  to be staying at some of my favorite places even though booking last minute, namely: 

Oyster Bay Beach Resort was able to put me up for 10 nights. Five of them were in a lovely room with a balcony overlooking the marina which was a pleasure watching sailboats and yachts coming in and out. For the second five nights, I had an equally beautiful room with a balcony overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It is mesmerizing falling asleep with waves caressing the shore beneath your windows. But, the most amazing thing to me was that everyday when I met a staff member of the resort - and there were many - they greeted me with "Hello" or "How are you today?" or another greeting with a smile. A happy attitude permeates the resort.

In between the 10 nights at OBBR, La Vista Resort was able to put me up for two nights in a large studio with a large balcony on an upper floor which had a great view. I know Andrea and Debbie who manage the resort for close to 20 years; and, it was a pleasure to see them once again.

Next, I stayed at Flamingo Resort for two weeks. Over the years, Barbara and I had spent many months in this resort mainly because we enjoyed the Pelican Key area so much. Once again, I had a large studio on an upper floor with great views of the beach, the Caribbean Sea, Saba and incredible sunsets. The resort recently remodeled their lobby and it looks great.

For my last week on the island, I stayed at Belmond La Samanna Resort. Barbara and I had our very first lunch at La Samanna 
with our best friends who introduced us to St. Maarten / St. Martin many decades ago and it was love at first sight.

During my stay at La Samanna, I was very pleased to see the smiling faces of the many friends that I made during these years. This was evidenced by the many hugs and kisses I received and by the hugs and kisses I gave.  

A couple years ago, the resort remodeled the restaurants, bar, lobby area, rest rooms and breakfast area. And, although I had pictures of the changes, I was not prepared for the phyiscal change. In a word, spectacular! On top of all that, Belmond La Samanna has a new Executive Chef. His name is Serge Gouloumès and he has two Michelin Stars. I had the pleasure of having dinner twice at Trellis which is La Samanna's signature restaurant. I happen to love rack of lamb which was on the menu. So I ordered it. All I can say is that it was the best that I have ever had anywhere in the world. Superb! Serge, thank you.

As always, my stay at Belmond La Samanna Resort was wonderful.

The StMaarten/StMartin Connection Newsletters are e-published bimonthly by Steeple Associates, Inc., Wanaque, NJ 07465. For Questions or Comments, telephone: 1.973.835.0600 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Publisher: Sam Fusco, Editorial Consultant: Marilyn Fusco, Contributor: Jean Carol Hager-Rich.