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Island News

St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, March 2 - 5, 2017

regattaThe St. Maarten Heineken Regatta will celebrate its 37th edition from March 2 – 5, 2017. This world renowned sailing event offers four days of World Class Racing, with trade winds coming from the North East, an average temperature of 25°C and crystal clear waters. This truly international event had a staggering 37 different countries represented during the 2016 Regatta. Courses will take participants along coastal races, as well as around the island, presenting the beautiful beaches, rock formations and other scenery. On shore participants and visitors will be able to enjoy the culture, cuisine and music from both the Dutch and French side.

Everyone can participate in the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta and the level of racing has reached great heights and has met the levels of international racing standards in both monohull, as well as multihull racing. The competitive cruising class is also well represented, with participants who enjoy a more leisurely race. Furthermore, approximately 70 participating boats are chartered by individuals or companies and sail in our bareboat division. This year Rik Wesslund’s El Ocaso took home the overall prize after winning from a competitive fleet.

With a title sponsor like Heineken, which has been a part of the Regatta since the inception, the onshore events are always something to look forward to. With party locations all over the island this is a great opportunity to see the fantastic nightlife the island has to offer.

The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta has a great track record in providing great artists and an atmosphere to die for every night of the regatta. With artists such as Wyclef Jean, Shaggy, Kool and the Gang, The Commodores and Red Foo and the Party Rock Crew revelers can party away with a cold Heineken in hand and sand between their toes.

With over 35 years of experience the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta has established a standard that cannot be beat, but which can only get better. Organizers are working year round to ensure that the next 35 years will continue to bring St. Maarten, her beaches, culture, food and fun to the entire world through the sport of sailing. Sailor or non-sailor, the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is an event that you have to cross off your bucket list!

Of course, this Regatta wouldn’t exist without the support of many sponsors! Please take a look at our sponsors.

Interesting facts:

  • The Regatta is run by the St. Maarten Yacht Club Regatta Foundation
  • The Event was founded in 1980 and began with 12 entries
  • The Event attracts around 2500 sailors and approximately 1000 supporting people to the island
  • Heineken became a major sponsor in 1983 and has remained as title sponsor since then.
  • In 2008 the largest entry field was recorded at 289 boats.
  • Over 70 boats are charter boats that race in the Bareboat fleet and around half of those come from Holland.

St. Maarten Heineken Regatta makes significant steps to reduce the environmental impact of the event

heinekenregattaThe 37th edition of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta confirms their participation in the Clean Regatta program from conservation organization Sailors for the Sea. The event has been a Clean Regatta member for many years and strives to minimize the impact the event has on the environment. The island of St. Maarten and its surrounding waters will benefit from several new measures put into place by the organizing authority. In addition to individual efforts by the regatta, they are also collaborating with local environmental organizations to maximize the efforts.

“The most significant step to helping keep both St. Maarten and the environment clean is the ban on all Styrofoam use for all official venue vendors during the regatta. This simple step will significantly reduce the amount of non-biodegradable waste that will end up in the local landfill. We will continue to ban straws at the venues, something which we have been doing for a number of years now. The party locations will also have bins to collect recycling and party goers who turn in a filled garbage bag will be rewarded with a free Heineken for their efforts. Recycling bins will also be placed at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club and at the Police dock in Simpson Bay. In order to keep the area clean, the bins will be picked up twice a day.” stated Nila Hoogenboezem, Regatta Coordinator for International Liquors & Tobacco.

Regatta Director Michelle van der Werff also spoke about the efforts being made by the Sint Maarten Yacht Club to help reduce the events environmental footprint. “In addition to steps that we have been making for years, such as paperless registration and the impressive beach clean-up we organized a few weeks ago, we are now working with the non-profit organization EPIC, Environmental Protection in the Caribbean, to offer a septic pump out service for competitors. This service will be available for a reduced price and competitors can schedule an appointment for a pump out at a time convenient for the competitor. We hope that through this initiative we can reduce the number of boats that pumps out into the ocean, and more specifically those who pump out near our shores. EPIC will also coordinate a ‘Green Team’ comprised of local students who will be present at the events.” stated Van der Werff.

The event’s well known Sol water taxi service will also be up and running during the racing days, allowing the sailors to ’carpool’ on the water. The general public is encouraged to join together and carpool to and from the party venues so that traffic congestion is reduced while at the same time reducing the carbon footprint of the party goers. “Together we can all make a huge difference to the island’s environment, and as an organization, we take this very seriously and hope to be able to inspire the public to recycle right alongside us during the regatta. Obtaining a Clean Regatta certification is important to the event, and by implementing small changes we hope to also make an impact on the island, the youth and the visitors attending the event. Together we can help keep St. Maarten clean.” Said Van der Werff.

Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort recognized by partner Expedia


Expedia, a leading owner and operator of international global online travel brands, named Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino and Spa the 2016 Top Partner of the Year in recognition of outstanding performance and partnership in St. Maarten.

“We are thrilled to have Expedia acknowledge Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort for outstanding hospitality and this esteemed award will be shared with our staff, recognising their dedication and hard work,” stated Director of Business Development Eliska Hesova.

The annual Expedia partner appreciation event was held in The Bahamas on January 30, Sonesta team members were there to receive the award, including Hesova; Revenue Director Karlijn Van Eck; Director of Sales Kevin Matier, President Saro Spadaro and Chief Executive Officer Jerry Weinberg.

Westin first Marriott Brand on St. Maarten

The Westin Dawn Beach Resort Spa St Maarten Infinity Pool

Babitbay Beach Development, owners of The Westin St. Maarten Dawn Beach Resort and Spa, have alerted Marriott Reward Members they can transfer their points to an existing or newly opened Starwood Preferred Guest membership and redeem their points at what is now the first Marriott property on St. Maarten.

The resort, part of Marriott International Inc. following last year’s acquisition of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc., is the only Marriott product on St. Maarten. The 341-room resort is one of the largest upscale resorts on the island and offers a spa, fitness room, on-site casino, nearly 20,000 sq. ft. of function space, retail shops, an infinity pool, water sports and three oceanfront restaurants.

News courtesy of Caribbean Gems

Resorts optimistic over 2017 bookings

ConferenceCenter GrandBallroomThere was a general sense of optimism from St.  Maarten/St. Martin hotels represented at  Caribbean Travel Marketplace held this  week in Atlantis, Paradise Island, in the Bahamas. 

The “upbeatness” stemmed from gold meetings with existing tour operators that sell the vacations to the destination and new players on the scene.Ricardo Perez, General Manager of Oyster Bay Beach Resort, said response to his property and the destination has been very positive both with existing partners and new players. He has made significant inroads with a new tour operator from Argentina that sells quite a number of packages to St. Barths.

Having Oyster Bay Beach Resort work with this tour operator will be a huge plus, said Perez. “They are already passing through Oyster Bay, so it makes sense for me to look into stay at my resort either before or after a trip to St. Barths,” he said.

Jorge Diaz-Granados, marketing director at Princess Heights, reported a “slower time” on the Marketplace floor due to less scheduled appointments. He and his team persevered by drumming up their own business. The slow appointments were tagged to possible preference given to bigger markets and destinations by tour operators. Both St. Maarten Tourist Bureau and St. Martin Tourism Office along with several resorts promoted the upcoming St. Maarten/ St. Martin Annual Regional Tradeshow (SMART) slated for June.

Tourism Office attends Travel & Cruise Show

stmartintoursimlogo Representatives from St. Martin Tourism Office and Le Beach Hotel recently attended the 4th edition of the Guadeloupe Travel and Cruise Show organized by Penchard Voyages. The event was held at the World Trade Center in Jarry.

During four days, more than 5,000 visitors came to meet the 40 exhibitors distributed over 3000 m2 of space to discover or rediscover Caribbean travel ideas. It was also an opportunity to reserve attractive packages, such as the ones offered by the Penchard Agency for Christmas and New Year’s Eve in St. Martin. Tourism office representatives spent their time guiding and advising future tourists by promoting all the activities the island has to offer. Visitors coming and going at the St. Martin booth were greeted by a local festive musical ambiance and the new video campaign launched by the tourism office in September 2015, “Smile at life.”

The image of St. Martin is projected as a paradise where it is easy to be entertained, to go shopping and to enjoy wonderful traditional dishes, the tourism office noted in its release. When it comes to shopping, however, the Guadeloupians indicated that prices charged on the island on the whole are not as attractive as before.The Tourism Office’s Grégoire Dumel, Head of the Local and Regional market, said there were less visitors this year compared to last year.

“This was due to the date selected in December,” he explained. “We discussed with the organisers to have this show held in November like it used to be in the first editions. The event is even more important since cruising heavily impacts the popular destinations in the Caribbean which are St. Maarten, the Dominican Republic and Martinique. Because of this, the tourism office will continue its efforts in this key sector of the tourism economy.”