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St Maarten/St Martin
30 April 2017 Newsletter

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Contests | Restaurants | Bargains and Happenings

ISLAND NEWS

Cupecoy sunset

Weather: The previous week seems similar to the forecast for the coming week. Four of the next eight days will be clear. There will be one rainy day and three chances of rain. That sounds good, but they say there will be almost an inch of rain on those four days. The high temperatures will be 82 or 81 and the overnight lows will drop all the way down to 75 or 76.

Here's the detailed forecast from Weather Underground and here's one from the Weather Channel. Sunset tonight will be at 6:27 PM providing 12 hours and 48 minutes of sunshine. In 2017 the full moons will be 10 May, 9 Jun, 8 Jul, 7 Aug, 6 Sep, 5 Oct, 4 Nov, and 3 Dec.

Below is a pano taken from the waterfront road near the cemetery in Marigot. Below that is a sunset shot in Grand Case taken by Vikki Whitley on 14 April. By this time of the year, the sun has moved north past Molly Smith Point and is setting into the water, which makes for plenty of green flashes.

SXM-Beaches: Here is a view from the top of Red Rock looking southeast over Pinel Island, Little Cay, and Orient Bay and on to St Barts. Orient
Beach Reading: The Chemist by Stephanie Meyer (15 Kindle, $11 paperback) - From Amazon: In this gripping page-turner, an ex-agent on the run from her former employers must take one more case to clear her name and save her life. She used to work for the U.S. government, but very few people ever knew that. An expert in her field, she was one of the darkest secrets of an agency so clandestine it doesn't even have a name. And when they decided she was a liability, they came for her without warning. Now, she rarely stays in the same place or uses the same name for long. They've killed the only other person she trusted, but something she knows still poses a threat. They want her dead, and soon. When her former handler offers her a way out, she realizes it's her only chance to erase the giant target on her back. But it means taking one last job for her ex-employers. To her horror, the information she acquires only makes her situation more dangerous. Resolving to meet the threat head on, she prepares for the toughest fight of her life, but finds herself falling for a man who can only complicate her likelihood of survival. As she sees her choices being rapidly whittled down, she must apply her unique talents in ways she never dreamed of. In this tautly plotted novel, Meyer creates a fierce and fascinating new heroine with a very specialized skill set. And she shows once again why she's one of the world's bestselling authors. Martha borrowed it from our NY library and is listening to an audio CD.
Sapphire Beach Club: I managed to rent my unit at Sapphire to a med student for eight months starting on 25 April. We left St Maarten on 12 April and I even managed to rent five days out of the 13 day gap! The vacationers are back in the US and were quite happy and the med student is now in the condo. No news is good news, so I assume that the progress made by Jan Borsje and his team is continuing.

On the right is Mercedes going out for a day sail, that's also her below left. She seemed to be sailing straight for our Caribbean balcony. Below center is a nighttime shot of the pool taken from our balcony.

For those of you who wish to sell or rent their week or unit, we have opened up the Sapphire Beach Club website for that purpose. We charge $25 per year. If you wish to rent or sell your unit, send us some text (and $25 to esk@sxm-info.com via Paypal). If you wish to rent or buy a unit without high middleman fees, check out the website. At present, there are several sales and/or rentals available directly from owners. Given a 25 to 35% standard rental commission, there should be some bargains in eliminating the middleman and dealing direct.

SXM-Activities: Sad to report that Reve Marine closed this season, but Billy Bones Boatcharters is still in operation with half or full day excursions featuring snorkeling and secluded beaches. They also do private day charters. Check them out!
SXM-Hotels: L'Esperance Hotel is just outside downtown Pburg. They have a lovely pool and the rooms have recently been updated. They have air-conditioning, cable TV, in-room safes, full kitchens, private balconies, and free Wifi. It's a great place to stay, even if if you only want a couple extra days to use both weekends of a timeshare week. Their rates are good, but you need to call (or email) for them.

Crime: The Daily Herald reports that the Pburg branch of the RBC bank was robbed by a man wielding a note that stated that he had explosive device on him. He had no mask or disguise and was caught on many surveillance cameras, so he probably should spend his money quickly.

SXM Shopping: If you need any health care items on the island, you will find Alpha Healthcare Services convenient and helpful. They are located near the Dutch hospital with plenty of free parking.

green logo Nature: On the right is a squadron of pelicans. Actually, pelicans come is pods.

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

Small Island story: The dump is on fire again. The Daily Herald has a video.


SXM-INFO'S CONTESTS


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

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

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

 

Read our rules, visit the websites of these sponsors, find their contest codes, and enter them on our entry form. One of the rules is that you should enter each contest only once. You can enter five of the drawings on one entry. Thus, you could win a rather nice vacation at a considerable savings by combining dinners and activities. I really check and a while ago Sulay entered 33 times for one contest, instead of increasing her chance of winning, she decreased it to zero as I deleted all of them. She did account for about a third of the entries for that contest.

Here's some comments from a past winner:

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


Credit Cards and Exchange Rate


On 09 Apr the Euro was at 1.059. Today its at 1.090. That's up 2.9% in three weeks, back to the level in late February.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


RESTAURANTS


Auberge Gourmande
On one of our last evenings on the island we another great dinner at Auberge Gourmande in Grand Case. As always, we were offered a flute of champagne as we were seated. We ordered the 2013 Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru (right). Our appetizer was a trio of fish including salmon ravioli, smoked salmon, and salmon ceviche (below left). The bold flavors in the ap went well with the Burgundy. Martha had an appetizer as her main course: vol au vent (fish in a bit of puff pastry, below center). I had a chicken breast with a morel sauce. You'll notice that I had five small vegetable creations with my dinner. Both dinners went well with our Burgundy. The food and service here are excellent. The wine list is even better.

Kakao Beach Bar
We had reserved a table for two for lunch and were offered a front row table on the beach. The view was quite nice, as the pano below shows. We got some water and a Cotes du Rhone from Perrin ($25). Martha had a seafood gratin that came with a bit of greenery. I had a lovely steak in a mushroom sauce with creamy potatoes with a hint of horse radish. The total was about $80, not bad for a lovely time at one of the best beaches in the world. This is our favorite lunch spot on Orient Beach.

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

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


BARGAINS AND HAPPENINGS


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

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

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

 

Regards,
Erich S. Kranz
www.SXM-Info.com
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