"…the SXM newsletter for experienced travelers!
Connecting YOU with Paradise!"
Dear Friends of St. Maarten,
From everything I've heard from speaking with Managers/Owners in the business community on St. Maarten/St. Martin, the 2013-2014 Winter Season (December 15th to April 15th) "Was great, excellent, one of the best, or very good" depending on who I spoke with. No one told me they had a bad season or that business wasn't good. That's refreshing because like the rest of the countries on this planet, the island is tied to the World's economy and as many of you remember, the recession that began in 2008 was pretty devastating to millions of people in numerous countries.
That said, I'm very happy to report that for the last few years, our little piece of paradise has been doing extremely well. As you probably already know, the tourism numbers for the island are up again. On some days, there just isn't enough room in Great Bay to park all the gigantic cruise ships that visit the island. Here's some stats: During January, 112 ships visited the island and in February 86 ships. This was during the Winter Season. Thirty ships are scheduled to arrive in May and 25 ships in June, which is part of the Spring or Slow Season. In all, more than 2,000,000 tourists visit the island each year by ship and another one million plus visit by planes arriving from many countries of the world.
To handle this avalanche of visitors, new hotels are in the planning stages, new condos, villas and apartments are being built and as I write this newsletter new restaurants and other businesses are opening to ensure that visitors from abroad will go home with wonderful memories. On top of all this, I know that the Dutch and French Tourism staffs are hoping that in the months to come YOU will be among those visitors to the island making your own beautiful memories.
Don't wait! Start planning your trip today!
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. Poem: Oh, Sweet St. Martin Land by Laura Richardson
2. Featured Villa: Belmond La Samanna Villas
3. Featured Shop: Sint Maarten Guavaberry Company
4. Featured Restaurant: Rare & Temptation
5. Sign Up to Win a Dream Vacation for Two
6. Featured Hotel: The Westin St. Maarten Dawn Beach, Resort & Spa
7. Sam's Selection: StMaarten/StMartin Images
8. Featured Activity: Belmond La Samanna Weddings
9. Featured Article: Marigot, The French Capital by Laura Richardson
10. Complimentary FREE Gift Certificates
11. What's Happening in Paradise?
“Spring Cedars in La Savane” an original “Plein Air” oil by Sir Roland Richardson, St. Martin
Oh, Sweet St. Martin Land
Oh, Sweet St. Martin Land,
whose slopes and curves
recline to bathe in sun,
and valleys glow in
verdant shades of velvet grass,
that breathe with fresh cool breeze,
and lift the quiet dawn as day’s begun,
as turquoise rolls in endless laps,
her constant churn like smooth sea glass,
Oh, Sweet St. Martin Isle,
with pearl white sands and
porous limestone cliffs,
that mark the treasured lands
of people past,
a rainbow world, with hidden caves
and stone-carved petroglyphs,
where wood-laid galleons toured
by ancient sail and mast,
Oh, Sweet St. Martin Home,
Here, love bound me,
sewn perfect to her seam,
and smoothed the rippled
spirit of my past,
as if a stone was thrown
into a stream, and landing still,
its pattern flowed in burgeoning rings,
born of a fertile dream.
Oh, Sweet Martin Land.
Painting by Roland Rechardson; Poem by Laura Richardson
Laura and Sir Roland Richardson would be delighted to hear from you!
Visit their beautiful gallery at:
Roland Richardson Gallery Museum
#6 rue de la Republique Marigot, St. Martin
Where Fine Art, History and Nature Abound!
Magic Jack, Tel: 1.443.982.0683 - Website: www.rolandrichardson.com
© Copyright Laura and Roland Richardson 2014
------------__The Villas at Belmond La Samanna
------------------ Opportunities to Rent a Belmond La Samanna Home
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 in nature, the Villas exude simple elegance and exquisite design. Each Villa features more than 4,600 square feet of exclusive living space, private wraparound infinity pools, breathtaking Caribbean ocean views and master bedrooms with alcoves and oversized private terraces. Whites, blues and corals shimmer against white granite. And off in the distance, a setting sun is the evening's entertainment. Our Villas have three or four bedrooms and can be rented for as long or as short a time as you wish.
Elevated high atop a rocky bluff, Saba Island rises in the distance, while La Samanna's Baie Longue beach rests down below. The gentle cove is known the island over for its mesmerizing marine life. It's not unusual to see dive boats frequent the calm waters, giving first-time divers easy access. The Caribbean sea glows and undulates with a steady tide.
Next door, one of the Caribbean's most legendary resorts holds reign -- Belmond La Samanna. As guests of the La Samanna Villas, each is afforded the same privileges as those staying at La Samanna. Swimming pools, yoga, sailing, snorkeling, professional Peter Burwash International (PBI) and more round out the on-property activities. Of course, a dedicated Concierge is on call 24/7 to arrange any off-property pursuits.
The Villas are perfectly situated to make the most out of the Caribbean island of St. Martin, with just a short trip to the capital of French St. Martin, Marigot with its gingerbread houses, sidewalk bistros and Caribbean vegetable markets.
On an island known for its gastronomical exploits, the Executive chef at La Samanna does not disappoint. The day begins with buffet breakfast to rival the finest on the mainland. Fresh fruits, homemade French pastries and gourmet coffee delight guests. During the day, The Beach Bar and Grill Terrace serve up lunch. While at night, Trellis Restaurant celebrates French-Caribbean fare and La Cave--the region's most talked about wine cellar--entertains with more than 12,000 bottles.
La Samanna Spa offers seven treatment rooms, including five indoor/outdoor treatment suites--each with a private Zen garden and outdoor shower. From a detoxifying body wrap to a classic deep tissue massage, the Spa has a full range of services focusing on extravagance, rejuvenation and wellness using natural elements.
We can customize any of our treatments to fit your special needs. And, at your request, we will gladly and discreetly extend sound advice for integrating a healthier lifestyle for you to take back home. The La Samanna Spa team hopes that our talent, dedication and hospitality will help make your stay at La Samanna Villas the ultimate vacation.
Exclusive only to the Villas, several amenities are designed to lavish guests for the perfect stay. They include: Concierge service; a dedicated host at your service to drive you around the resort; champagne and fresh flowers on arrival; twice daily housekeeping service; daily breakfast; and basic stock of water, soft drinks, beers and tea and coffee.
For additional charges, La Samanna Villas offer everything from VIP airport transfers and private 43-foot Italian yacht charter to a full-time maid and private chef.
Welcome to paradise at Belmond La Samanna Villas in the Caribbean, a secluded haven for luxury, elegance and superb cuisine. To rent with us simply call our dedicated concierge on 1.800.780.4028.
For reservations or information, telephone 1.800.780.4028 or 011.590.590.87.64.00.
Please visit: www.lasamanna.com/web/omar/villa_rentals.jsp
The History of Guavaberry
Guavaberry, the Legend
Guavaberry is the legendary folk liqueur of Sint Maarten/St. Martin. It was first made here centuries ago in private homes. People made what they needed for family and friends. It became an integral part of local culture and tradition. Guavaberry is our national liqueur. It is a cherished symbol of the olden days. There are folk songs and stories about it.
It is made from fine oak aged rum, cane sugar and wild Sint Maarten Guavaberries. The fruit is found high in the warm hills in the center of the island. They are rare. They are not at all like guavas. The aged liqueur has a woody, fruity, spicy bitter-sweet flavor all of its own. The name “Guavaberry” is of Caribbean Amer-Indian origin.
History, Botany, Folklore
It is a quirk of nature, a blessing we say. Yes, you can find Guavaberry trees scattered throughout the wide Caribbean basin. Yes, they are found in the Philippines and Hawaiian Islands and indeed you can handle dusty old samples of brittle Guavaberry branches (Eugenia or Myrciaria Floribunda) in the herbariums of the large natural history museums in Europe.
But there is only one known tree growing on the U.S. mainland, in a State Park in Florida where it is known as a “Rumberry.” There are trees in the US Virgin Islands and in the BVI where the same old time romantic folkloric traditions exist, but it is likely that there are more Guavaberry trees on Sint Maarten/St. Martin than anywhere else on earth.
The Guavaberry fruit has never been cultivated and with the exception of a recent revival on St. Maarten/St. Martin, it was more popular 100 years ago than it is today. The fruit could lie rotting on the trees to be enjoyed only by birds. The trees are irregular in size and shape. Some trees are full and bushy (10 feet high and wide) while others are tall and thin (60+ feet high).
They blossom with tiny delicate pink and white flowers. The flowers and the berries are attached directly to the branches without stems. The ripe berries are spherical from 9-14 mm (c. ½ inch) in diameter with a thin grape-like skin. There is a large irregular round seed or stone which is surrounded by a thin layer of translucent, juicy, and pungent, bitter-sweet flesh.
All the berries are pale green when unripe but when they ripen, about half the trees bear bright orange colored fruit while the other half bears very dark red/black fruit. There is a very slight difference in taste between the orange and the black fruits, discernible only by an elite few, they say. The Guavaberry is considered by botanists as a curiosity.
First cousin to clove and eucalyptus, the trees are hard to grow, the fruit is difficult to harvest and there is little flesh on the Guavaberry. The trees bear fruit at completely different times each year and often, on Sint Maarten/St. Martin, there is not crop at all. In an eight hour day, a healthy person would have difficulty in picking and filling a five gallon basket with the tiny fruits.
We read that 100 years ago the Guavaberry was used to make fresh juice, jams, and tarts and cakes in the N.E. Caribbean and in Cuba and that in the late 1800s some Guavaberry wine or rum was exported from the Danish Virgin Islands (now the USVI) to Denmark. Aside from these references, until recently, no one found a way to turn the fruit into commerce.
To the indigenous Sint Maartener, Guavaberry conjures up warm and treasured memories of the good old days. There are folk-songs and stories about it. Guavaberry is an integral and distinguishing feature of local culture, heritage and tradition, a point of pride, a symbol of Sint Maarten/St. Martin, a living link to the past.
In the old days on Sint Maarten/St. Martin, Guavaberry was known as the drink of Christmas. In the 1950s, the population of Sint Maarten/St. Martin was at its lowest ebb, with only 1,600 people living on the Dutch side. In those days Guavaberry was an essential part of the annual Christmas festivities and people would go from door to door singing – “Good Morning, Good Morning, I come for me Guavaberry…” The host or hostess of each house would take the precious bottle from the cabinet and pour a little tot for the serenaders. These activities are most precious to those who remember them and they equate Guavaberry with everything that was unique and special and quiet about the island only one generation ago.
Below is the recipe for a Guavaberry Colada. Try it, you’ll find it tasty and refreshing.
Guavaberry Colada ingredients:
2oz. Sint Maarten Guavaberry
1oz. Coconut Cream
3oz. Pineapple Juice of Pieces
How to Mix the Drink:
Put ice in blender, add Sint Maarten Guavaberry, cream of Coconut, pineapple pieces or juice. Blend well. Garnish with pineapple, toasted coconut and fresh nutmeg. Share with family or friends.
Sint Maarten Guavaberry Company
8-10 Frontstreet, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten
From the USA tel: 1.721.542.2965 Fax: 1.721.542.4598
TEMPTATION & Rare
Bar and Restaurants
Let yourself be led into Temptation...
The dual nationality island of St. Maarten / St. Martin has come to be known as the culinary capital of the Caribbean attracting thousands of visitors annually and seducing them with its unique blend of European and Caribbean gustatory delights. Two flag-bearing restaurants, Temptation & Rare, have become household names amongst the resident and visiting community under the masterful culinary talents of award winning chef and owner Dino Jagtiani.
Temptation invites you to explore a fascinating array of "Nouveau Caribbean Cuisine" served against a backdrop of flowering water features and inspired décor from around the globe all elegantly wrapped in melodious piano music. "On Behalf of my team, I take this opportunity to welcome you to Temptation. Please allow yourself to capture the essence of the sounds, sights, aromas, and flavors all working in synergy to awaken your senses," Dino Jagtiani.
Rare is the only steak house in St. Maarten where you will find top quality USDA prime, dry aged steaks - from 12 oz fillet mignon to 28 oz porterhouse - a must for those power eating moguls who want to capture the essence of the divine bovine. Those who "dare to be rare" will enjoy breaking tradition with Dino's creative take on the sauces and sides such as, truffled mac 'n' cheese, chili-garlic fries, Vidalia onion rings with rhubarb ketchup and wasabi hollandaise. Seafood lovers and vegetarians need not feel left out as Rare serves fresh Maine lobster, stone crab claws, and features a bread and antipasto bar that pumps out piping hot, baked-to-order, clay-oven flat breads. These are served with a variety of dips such as hummus, pesto and tapenade. Finally for all you lounge lizards, celebrated local designer Craig Span has yet again conceived and created the perfect backdrop for Rare'supscale, mature after dinner lounge… Enjoy rare and priceless moments at this gem in the Atlantis World Casino complex.
Born and raised in St. Maarten, Dino Jagtiani knew from a very young age that he was destined for a life in cooking. In his early days, before the Food Network, he enjoyed watching legendary cooking shows like Julia Child, Great Chefs, and Pasquale's Kitchen on PBS T.V. At seven, he cooked his first full meal from start to finish - spaghetti and meatballs for his family.
Dino's love, and passion for food eventually led him to the Culinary Institute of America, where in 1994 he became the first St. Maarten born son to ever graduate from the world renowned culinary school. He accepted a position at the then Sheraton Port de Plaisance as a line cook and worked his way up to Chef de Partie learning as he went the many lessons of managing a kitchen in the Caribbean.
In 1995, after Hurricane Luis hit the island and closed the hotel, Dino went back to the CIA and completed his Bachelor's Degree. A rare opportunity to do a stage at the famed L'Espinasse at the St. Regis Hotel in New York with Chef Grey Kunz ended after 10 minutes when Dino showed up to work with a dirty apron. But, it was his experience working under Chef Mark Harris at the 5 Star Le Meridien Waldorf in London that he says, "This is where I really learned to cook."
In 2002, Dino returned to St. Maarten to pursue his life-long dream of opening his own restaurant and Temptation was born. In its first few years, Temptation sky-rocketed to the top of the island's dynamic dining scene, winning "Restaurant of the Year" by the Gault Millau Guide three years in a row 2006, 2007 and 2008 while scoring 16 points by the same Gault Millau Guide. (Side note: There is no restaurant in Europe that has 16 points from Gault Millau and doesn't also have at least 1 Michelin star. Aka 16 points from Gault Millau is the equivalent of 1 Michelin star.)
In February 2005, Bon Appetit Magazine called Temptation "One of the Top 10 New Restaurans in the Caribbean." Dino has also been featured in National Geographic Traveller, Caribbean Travel and Life, Islands, American Way, and Hemispheres Magazines, as well as The Miami Herald, and Washington Times newspapers. Other awards include 2 time Gold Medal Winner at the Taste of Caribbean competition in Miami, Florida 2005-2006.
In 2005, Rare Steakhouse followed, and became the 1st Steakhouse in the Caribbean to offer Dry Aged CAB PRIME Steaks. The most recent feather in the cap for Dino was being selected by Certified Angus Beef LLC to participate as a chef for their 30th Anniversary celebrations at the James Beard House in New York. Dino was chosen from over 7,500 licensed CAB partners around the world, and is the only chef residing outside the United States who participated at the Great Steak Celebration.
Through his culinary exploration and creative approach, Dino coined the phrase "Nouveau Caribbean" and has labeled his cuisine "Freestyle." His cooking is a truthful reflection of the man behind the stove - inventive, adventurous and fun! When Dino is not busy seducing palates, he enjoys tennis, baseball, the gym, and spending time flipping the pages of many food magazines whilst dreaming up his next creation.
This creative twist on the American staple comes from one of St. Maarten's own rising stars - chef and owner of both Temptation & Rare, Dino Jagtiani. This explosive, talented young philosopher and artist is once again taking the St. Maarten dining scene to a new height. Expect nothing but the best from Temptation and Rare!
Dare to be Rare!
Temptation & Rare - Explore a fascinating array of "Nouveau Caribbean Cuisine."
For reservations, tel: Temptation at 1.721.545.2254 or Rare at: 1.721.545.5714.
Sign Up to Win our June 2014 Dream Vacation for Two
Subscribe to our Newsletter & you may
Win a 6 Day/5 Night Dream Vacation for Two
at La Samanna Resort & Spa, St. Martin
or Oyster Bay Beach Resort, St. Maarten
plus, A Day of Sailing on a Random Wind Charter
A Unique Caribbean Escape!
The Westin Dawn Beach Resort & Spa, St. Maarten is an island treasure featuring 310 luxurious appointed guest rooms and 15 suites, each with french doors leading to a balcony with an ocean or island view. The Westin St. Maarten is located on one of St. Maarten's most beautiful beaches. While visiting, pamper yourself in our Hibiscus spa, explore local beaches on the island, some of St. Maarten's best scuba diving spots, or catch a local ferry for a day trip to the islands of St. Bart and Anguilla.
A Unique Caribbean Escape
Nestled into a lush hillside and fronted by beautiful Dawn Beach famed for its glorious sunrises, this gem seduces guests with a serene Caribbean atmosphere that yields countless recreational opportunities both in the water and on land. The island is renowned for its exotic European influence. Escape to St. Maarten and feel thousands of miles away! Come and experience all St. Maarten has to offer. This St. Maarten Resort is the perfect retreat, for couples, family gatherings, a destination wedding, and so much more.
Our Vegas-style casino offers a variety of games to satisfy anyone and everyone. Roll the dice and try your luck, challenge the black-jack dealer, or hit the slots. It's all you wished Las Vegas could be, just steps away. The Westin Dawn Beach Resort & Spa, St. Maarten is a paradise like no other. Come and see what we are all about and let us be your perfect getaway!
Enjoy The Westin Dawn Beach Resort & Spa, St.Maarten's Special Offers!
Features & Activities
Personal touches and thoughtful services: Renew your total health and wellness. The hotel features 2 restaurants, lobby bar, poolside deli and swim-up bar, a full service European style Hibiscus spa, casino, plus state of the art fitness center, retail shops and a beachfront watersports shop.
Hotel Amenities Overview
Our concierge is available throughout your stay with us to assist you with dinner reservations, golf, special gift orders and any questions that you may have about St. Maarten/St. Martin. Concierge can also assist with babysitting services and enroll children ages 4-12 in our Kids Club program.
High Speed Internet Access
High speed internet available for a fee. We offer both wired and wireless internet access in all of our guestrooms.
WaterSports - Blue Bubbles
Blue Bubbles is located on property at the Westin Dawn Beach Resort and Spa, St. Maarten for all of your water sports needs. Blue Bubbles rents snorkeling gear, pool floats, kayaks and other non-motorized watersport gear to make your day at the beach a true adventure.
Caribbean Concierge Services
Caribbean Concierge Services can assist in booking a variety of island tours and adventures. Our in-house activities coordinators, Caribbean Concierge Services, can arrange all sorts of island activities, including scuba diving, ATV tours, shopping excursions, catamaran tours, horseback riding and private boat charters.
Nourish Your Body & Mind
St. Maarten's lush landscape provides the perfect background for our pampering amenities, from sauna and whirlpools to luxurious treatments designed to pamper you. Enjoy peace of mind and let yourself go with one of our massages. Nourish your body and mind. Treat yourself to a magnificent view of the turquoise ocean waters. Soak up the sun on a white-sand beach. Enjoy fine dining, world-class shopping and the trendy nightlife. Embark on the road to complete rejuvenation at Hibiscus Spa at The Westin Dawn Beach Resort & Spa, St. Maarten.
The Westin Dawn Beach Resort & Spa, St. Maarten,
Dawn Beach, St. Maarten
For reservations, please tel: 1.721.543.6700 or fax: 1.721.543.6004
------------ St. Maarten/St. Martin Images
------------ La Samanna's Beach -------------------- La Samanna Villa
------- Marigot Mall & Fort Louis ------------------- Marigot & Marina
---------Radisson Pool ---------------------------- Westin's Pool & Ocean View
A Dream Wedding For Every Couple at Belmond La Samanna!
There's More Than One Way To Tie The Knot At La Samanna!
A wedding should be a seamlessly perfect day that unites two personalities and celebrates the life they are about to share. With this in mind, Belmond La Samanna - a world-class luxury resort hotel located on the French side of St. Martin - invites all types of couples to plan the wedding of their dreams at one of the resort's exclusive venues. Whether one has always dreamed of saying their vows while sinking bare feet into the white sand, overbooking the ocean from a cliffside perch or amidst lush courtyard vegetation, La Samanna has the ideal location to ensure every couple experiences the wedding of a lifetime.
La Samanna's Special Event Manager will guide couples in choosing the perfect location for their ceremony, based on group size and requirements. The hotel offers unique locations ranging from the beach or gardens to the pool terrace or the breathtaking La Samanna Villas, where a customized reception and celebration can be held. For rehearsal dinners, couples can book Trellis Restaurant for gourmet, world-class cuisine or for smaller groups, La Cave, the resort's magical wine cellar.
For the "Casual Chic" couple… Beach!
Baie Longue, La Samanna's private beach, is famous for its unforgettable sunsets, ivory sand and clear water that stretches into the horizon. What better place to tie the knot than one where couples can dig their toes into the soft sand while expressing their love among the sounds of gentle Caribbean waves?
For the "Exclusively Romantic" couple… Beachfront Garden!
This charming venue is surrounded by lush bougainvillea with a unique ocean backdrop. Offering a quiet romantic setting makes it the perfect location to exchange vows and pronounce endless love for another.
For the "Serenely Suave" couple... Pool Terrace!
With stunning panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea, the Pool Terrace is the ideal location for a beautifully serene wedding, reception and dinner. Accommodating up to 100 people, couples don't have to limit the guest list.
For the "Passionate" couple… La Samanna Villas!
Located on a bluff with stunning, panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea and Baie Longue, the Villas at La Samanna offer sumptuous accommodations and unparalleled service for a passion-filled wedding. Featuring over 4,600 square feet of exclusive villa space with private wraparound infinity pools, the La Samanna villas provide couples and their guests with the most perfect location for an all night celebration.
La Samanna is a world-class luxury resort in St. Martin, French West Indies. Cloaked in lush foliage and colorful splashes of flowers, the resort is residential in nature, appealing to a discriminating, international clientele seeking seclusion, relaxation, fine dining and attentive personalized service. The resort is legendary for its extensive wine cellar and cuisine with provisions flown in from France daily. Equally renowned is the La Samanna Spa with its indoor/outdoor tropical garden treatment rooms and Pilates studio. With 83 deluxe suites, located on 55 acres of breathtaking beachfront, Belmond La Samanna evokes a French spirit with a Caribbean soul.
To start planning your once-in-a-lifetime wedding,
contact Jennifer Moeggenberg at 212.764.8225
Please visit us at: www.lasamanna.com
MARIGOT, The French Capital
On March 23, 1648, the Treaty of Concordia established the terms of peaceful co-existence between the French and Dutch settlements of St. Martin/St. Maarten, with the French colonizers maintaining the Northern two-thirds, facing Anguilla, and the Dutch, the southern third.
The village of Marigot appeared towards 1689 on the initiative of a few merchants who used the bay to load their ships with agricultural produce on the French side. Originally, the area was a marsh surrounded by mangroves where one could get many crabs, even in the streets. The town was baptized Marigot, from the word "maricage" meaning ponds and marshes in Old French.
Experiencing rapid growth the first half of the 18th century due to the introduction of sugar cane plantations, the little village became capital to different governors succeeding each other to develop and organize the colony. Batteries of canons and modest fortification guarded access to the port until 1789 when Fort Louis was built.
Fort Louis remains the largest historic and only military monument in St. Martin. The plans were sent over directly from Versailles at the order of the ill-fated French King Louis XVI, who soon lost his head in the French Revolution.
By the early 1800's there were 35 to 37 sugar cane plantations on each side of the island, worked by slaves brought from Africa. In 1848, slavery was abolished in the French Caribbean islands, and the sugar industry quickly waned, with the close of the last St. Martin plantation in 1915. The economy of the island from the early 20th century to the mid-1950's was very poor.
Life was simple in the absence of electricity, telephone and cars. Nature dominated. Even currency was not readily negotiated among these colonists. Trade and sharing linked families, where Christian doctrine influenced all of their lives in their effort to survive and grow. The Marigot Church up old "Church Hill," now rue de l'Eglise, has been a central force in the French community for over 150 years.
One beautiful woman, now in her seventies, remembers the extraordinary spirit that united all. Her father's legacy includes many of the historic Creole homes in Marigot, Grand Case, French Quarter and Philipsburg. Because of his construction business, a cistern of grand proportions was built to secure water for the mixture of the island's first cement in the early 1920's, which he dug in the heart of Marigot by the now Palais de Justice, adjacent to their seaside home. In the worst of droughts, even this would run dangerously low, while many families had already lost their water reserves, and Marigot's community well had run dry.
She recalls, as a young child over sixty years ago, when she witnessed her mother's sharing from the giant cistern of their business, its water level greatly diminished.
She was afraid that they would have no water for their own family of ten children. Her mother quieted her when another mother arrived asking for water and she shared in the heat of the day. That very evening, the night skies opened and rain fell in bucketsful...
The next morning her mother took her by the hand to visit their water supply. "Imagine," her mother taught, "how I would feel today, if I had sent our friend away without water yesterday?" This is the spirit of faith and hope that kept this city alive.
While the 1920's were roaring in the United States, there were no planes for leisure travel. Air flight was just taking wing. It wasn't until the 1950's, after World War II, that St. Martin began to receive visitors by air.
Michelette (Mimi) Fleming remembers her first trip to St. Martin in October 1957 when she arrived from New York with her fiance, Elie Fleming, to visit his homeland. She remembers a dirt airstrip with a little house as the airport, and stayed with her best friend and future Maid of Honor at Little Bay, the island's first modern hotel which hosted Queen Juliana of the Netherlands on her royal visits.
Mimi was 26 years old, working in Wall Street as an interpreter for American Express, when she met Elie Fleming, an honored guest at a concert organized in a popular French club in Manhattan. Son-heir of major property owners on French St. Martin, Elie was also Mayor of Marigot, having succeeded his brother Louis Constant Fleming after his death over ten years earlier.
Elie persuaded Mimi to break her engagement with another man and marry him. Upon his return to St. Martin, he wrote to her every day. Since there was no telephone on the French side, he had to travel to Philipsburg to place a rare call, and soon hooked up with one of the first American homeowners, and tycoon, who nightly contacted Mimi for Elie on his secret ham-radio.
By the time Mimi arrived in 1958 as Elie's bride, he kept his promise by having the first phone installed on his family's estate, Loterie Farm. Mimi recalls the beauty of the garden with its glorious profusion of color. It was a whole new world for her. She remembers hosting Americans at Loterie Farm who were just arriving to the island. Private planes brought the elite, families of the Fortune 500, including the Fawcetts, Douglas's, and celebrities like Benny Goodman, Harry Belefonte, and Jasper Johns who also made their home here.
The waterfront became active with bistros and fine restaurants, small, elegant shops, enticed by the duty-free trade of jewels, fine china, crystal and tobacco. Fashion etiquette was at a high, when women dressed up for lunch and dinner. Parisian designs fancifully arrived and were sought.
The population on the French side jumped from 8,000 in 1980 to 30,000 in 2000 and is now estimated at 37,000.
The filling in of part of the bay enabled an extension of Marigot in the late 1970's, creating a larger city with a marina. In the 1980's, the restoration of Fort Louis was undertaken by a small group of civic leaders; cutting through the rough terrain of cactus grown over the centuries. Even the original canons were air-lifted from all over the island by gendarme helicopters and reunited safely overlooking Marigot's harbor. Daily it beckons the curious to climb the mount and every night it glows majestically above the harbor.
A similar spirit is driving the restoration of many of the historic Creole homes that can be found concentrated along rue de la Republique, known simply as "The Big Street" for many centuries. Families like the Richardson's, Petites, Flemings and Beauperthuys , whose ancestors were some of the first to arrive on these shores, are fueling the surge to protect and maintain the island's patrimony, whose city of Marigot, now in the 21st century, represents one of the most famous capitals in the French West Indies.
Several frequent visitors shared their favorite things to do in Marigot. Their notes recall "strolling down rue de la Republique and stopping for a chocolate at the French chocolatier, Jeff de Bruges; looking at the beautiful Impressionist paintings at the Roland Richardson gallery across the way; photographing the gorgeous French gardens behind the historic houses and ambling up the hill to see Fort Louis.
Also wonderful on the weekends is strolling through the open air spice and vegetable market and stopping for an espresso along the side streets to rest one's feet."
One family wrote, "We love Marigot for its charm, its Caribbean and European influence. The boutiques offer a variety of high end and moderate merchandise. Our favorite stores are Max Mara, Carre Blanc and Christofle. One of our favorite restaurants, Le Chanteclaire, is located on the marina."
On a personal note, twelve years ago, when I was invited to the lovely corner bistro on Marigot's harbor, famous for it fine cuisine and animated seating, I discovered in more ways than imaginable, La Vie en Rose.
This is a story without end. Marigot is a blend of past and present magic that is waiting to be experienced by all visitors to the island of St. Martin, and should not be missed by any.
Many thanks to Cynthie Richardson, Mimi Fleming, Roland Richardson, the "Sur les Traces des Arawaks" Museum in Marigot, the French Office of Tourism, Linda Wellstein, Liz Lynch, Liliana Arrigoni, Randy Jones and Gina Baharani for their special contributions.
International travel and tourism took another thirty years to evolve, until 1985 when the French law of defiscalization gave tax incentives for French citizens and businesses to invest in the islands of the French West Indies, thus making investment more profitable.
Article by Laura Richardson
Laura and Sir Roland Richardson would be delighted to hear from you!
Visit their beautiful gallery at:
Roland Richardson Gallery Museum
#6 rue de la Republique Marigot, St. Martin
Where Fine Art, History and Nature Abound!
Magic Jack, Tel: 1.443.982.0683 - Website: www.rolandrichardson.com
© Copyright Laura and Roland Richardson 2014
Complimentary (FREE) Gift Certificates from Island Businesses
Going to the island? Looking to save money?
Click www.stmaarten.org/free-gift-certificates to view our list of Certificates!
Choose the Certificates you wish to use on island; then, email us your choices!
Your First & Last Name;
Your Email Address;
Your Travel Dates; and
The Name of the Hotel, Condo or Villa where you are staying on island.
We will Email the Certificates to you within 48 hours.
What's Happening in Paradise?
by Sam Fusco
St. Maarten Culinary Tours - With our new, and delicious way of experiencing the local districts of St Maarten/ St Martin, you're able to explore mouthwatering dishes and exciting cuisine, local culture and people - giving the “Culinary Capital of the Caribbean” tag line new meaning. With over 365 restaurants on St Maarten/ St Martin and each offering their very own unique menu and ambiance, St Maarten/ St Martin is one of the most exciting culinary destinations in the world!
We are the pioneers of culinary tours on St Maarten/ St Martin and we’re ready to share our tours with both adventurous and selective eaters everywhere. Having eaten our way around the island we’ve carefully chosen only the best places in local districts we offer our food tours so you can sample the most savory dishes and learn about the culture and inspiration behind the food served here.
Join our entertaining guides on our daytime and evening tours and taste the growing diversity of the local food scene with samples ranging from tasteful selects of Seafood and traditional ethnic dishes to delectable handmade chocolates and rhum tastings. Have a true culinary adventure with one of our food tours and take home a divine taste of the island you won’t soon forget. Persons interested in booking their tours can visit http://stmaartenculinarytours.com/food-tours/. Tours start at $59 per person. Private tour options and concierge services are available for groups and interested parties. StMaartenCulinaryTours.com - The Only Way to Taste Your Way Around St Maarten/St Martin!
Leisure Car Rental was nominated in the 2014 World Travel Awards. We are up for the title of 'Caribbean's Leading Independent Car Rental Company'. Leisure is up against some stiff competition from Puerto Rico, Jamaica etc. We are the only St. Maarten Car Rental Agency nominated, so a vote for us is definitely a vote for St. Maarten / St. Maarten. We are asking for everyone's support to put our Friendly Island on the Map once again. Please use the following link to vote. You will be required to register, confirm your email address, then cast your vote. Thank you everyone for your vote!! http://www.worldtravelawards.com/vote-for-leisure-car-rental-st-maarten-2014
Princess Beatrix Set To Open Kingdom Youth Parliament
Princess Beatrix will open the Kingdom Youth Parliament in St. Maarten on Tuesday, May 20. During her four-day stay on the island, Her Royal Highness will also visit the Belvedere Community Centre, the Nature Foundation and the Simpson Bay Lagoon. Princess Beatrix will give a short address at the opening ceremony of the Kingdom Youth Parliament (KYP). She will attend some parts of the KYP which takes place from May 20 to 22. She will speak with some members of the ﬁve participating teams from Aruba, Curaçao, St. Maarten, the Netherlands and the Caribbean Netherlands.
The former Queen will also attend the handing over ceremony of the history booklet “Unity in Diversity – 200 Years Kingdom, the Netherlands and the six Caribbean islands in years.” Chairlady of the National Committee 200 Years Kingdom Ank Bijleveld-Schouten will hand over the ﬁrst copies to a group of students of the St. Maarten Academy on Wednesday, May 21. During her stay to St. Maarten, Princess Beatrix will make use of the opportunity to visit two organisations of which she is the patroness, the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) and the United Nations Children Fund UNICEF.
SHTA Announces Publishing Alliance with North South Net, a Custom Content Company Specializing in Print, Digital and Mobile Media Platforms
Philipsburg, St. Maarten, April 28, 2014 –The St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA), the largest business representative on the island, has announced today that it has entered into a new publishing partnership with North South Net (NSN), a custom publishing company specializing in print, digital and mobile platforms.
North South Net will produce and distribute Visit St. Maarten, an in-room travel guide to our island. Visit St. Maarten will be exclusively distributed in all SHTA member hotels, guesthouses, and villas. Additionally, there will be individual stand-alone publications of the Dining and Shopping sections of Visit St. Maarten and a fold-out map featuring publication advertisers and SHTA members.
“We are delighted to be working with North South Net. Their staff brings a great deal of creativity, experience and local knowledge to this project,” said Karen Hana, Executive Director for the SHTA. “More importantly, one of the most compelling aspects of the SHTA/NSN relationship is the print, digital, mobile and broadcast added value programs created for SHTA. The SHTA will receive significant exposure in US cold weather markets including opportunities for SHTA members and publication advertisers to participate in contests and promotions. In addition, NSN will be redesigning and adding significant content to the SHTA’s website, www.VisitStMaarten.com. The website will be updated on a regular basis, will include a digital version of the publication and will be promoted through all added value components. North South Net has developed a program that includes multiple touchpoints for consumers in reaching millions of potential visitors. This is a significant contribution to exposing St. Maarten as a destination through a wide variety of media channels.”
NSN has a team of individuals with years of experience in the travel and tourism industry. They have worked in advertising, marketing, public relations, promotions as well as digital and social media and, as a result, have developed programs that reach consumers in a variety of very targeted and effective ways. The print and radio exposure coupled with the online and mobile presence will clearly have a tremendous impact on creating awareness of the St. Maarten product resulting in additional visitors to the island through a powerful and custom tailored integrated marketing and communications program.
North South Net’s highly experienced team has produced hundreds of guides, planners, brochures, magazines, websites and mobile apps for a wide variety of travel and tourism clients.
Annual Sea Turtle Nesting Underway
Nature Foundation reminds the community the sea turtle nesting season has commenced here. The foundation urges restaurants and beach bars along the major nesting beaches to refrain or limit the use of beach bonﬁres and artiﬁcial lighting, which can seriously reduce the survival rate of sea turtles. Each year, between March and November, female sea turtles return to lay their eggs on the major nesting beaches of Simpson Bay, Guana Bay and Gibbs Bay. The Green Sea Turtle and the largest sea turtle species, the Leatherback, are known to nest on the country’s beaches. Nature Foundation actively manages the sea turtle population here, particularly during the nesting season. The foundation conducts various activities related to nesting females, including beach surveys, nest excavations, tagging activities and nest success research.
The foundation also relies heavily on volunteers to assist it in its sea turtle activities and welcomes any volunteers who would be interested in working with sea turtles. Beach communities, in particular, are in the best position to help ensure that females nest safely, that nests are left undisturbed and that hatchlings make it safely to the sea. The foundation asks that people not drive on the nesting beaches and that they walk their dogs on leashes. Sea turtles have existed for well over 180 million years, even before the dinosaurs. St. Maarten is one of the few places in the region that has a nesting population of sea turtles, so we should do all that we can to protect their nesting areas, said the foundation. Sea turtle population numbers have plummeted to dangerously low numbers throughout the past century due to human impacts, bringing many species close to extinction and causing them to be listed as critically endangered. To reverse this trend, all sea turtle species are now protected by international laws and treaties as well as local laws.
Nationals Of Four Countries To Get Improved Access To St. Maarten
Nationals of Colombia, China, India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), who hold a multi-entry visa for the United States, Canada or The Schengen countries, will not require a speciﬁc St. Maarten visa to visit the country, thanks to some changes to the visa requirement regulation. The Cabinet of the Prime Minister, in a press statement issued last week, stated that new visa regulations are in line with international and Dutch Kingdom standards and will beneﬁt the country’s economy, in particular the tourism sector.
St. Maarten’s position in the Caribbean, and its more American and Canadian inﬂuence rather than European, called for the visa policy to be in line with the international tourism of the United States. The changes were made in a kingdom partners meeting on Visa Policy and Border Control on January 8. Recent talks between Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams and the Consul General of China for St. Maarten explored the possibility for cooperation to encourage tourists from China to visit St. Maarten, such as those who may be in transit to the United States. China is predicted to be the top tourist market for the United States by 2018, with more than one million visitors to the US last year, spending an average of US$7,000 each.
Note: Several Articles Courtesy of Caribbean Gems Newsletters
Correspondents: Laura Richardson and Sir Roland Richardson.