St Maarten/St Martin
4 February 2018 Newsletter

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Contests | Restaurants | Bargains and Happenings


Cupecoy sunset

Weather: The previous ten days started with high winds, gusts to 30mph, sustained at about 23mph versus normal trade winds of about 12 to 13mph. The high temperatures were 80 to 81F and the lows were 72 to 74F. Six days were sunny or mostly sunny with four partly cloudy days.

The next ten days will have a low of 74 to 76F, a high of 80 to 82F, and essentially no precipitation. It will be windy with steady 20mph trade winds.

Travel:At present Jet Blue is flying from JFK nonstop to SXM, leaving at 8:30 in the morning. United is not flying from Newark to SXM. I cannot find any flights from Albany (an hour and a half drive from our house) to JFK. This leads to at least three legs and usually four legs to get to SXM from ALB. Most journeys require an overnight someplace. The expense and logistics get even worse when you add a cat. At present we have no reservations and I doubt we will until United resurrects their EWR-SXM nonstop.

Newsletter: WendyK has been sending me some info, especially info about the lowlands where she lives. I'll try to put together an abbreviated newsletter every other week.

Good news: Shortly after the last newsletter, sand was coming back to Shore Pointe with LOTS at the point of water entry, where there is usually a ledge and some boulders to navigate. WendyK participated in the her second ever Lemon Drops ceremony (and the second of this season) in mid January!

Not so Good News: The Herald reports that French side has come out with Plan de Prevention des Risques (PPR) based on the recent rather lively hurricane activity. It should come as no surprise that Sandy Ground, Baie Nettle, Orient Bay and French Quarter have had the largest additions to their flood plain.

Hotels: WendyK reports that the Royal Islander in Maho appears to be closed. Across the street, La Terrasse has the first floor in operation but the pool is empty.

The Atrium seems to have survived rather well as it was solidly built and on high ground. I've heard a few good comments from people with reservations or recent visits. The owners are a bit perplexed by the immediate charge for repairs.

The beachfront building at the Horny Toad Guesthouse is gone. That's a bit strange as the buildings on either side of the Toad are OK. This is being blames on small patches of cyclonic activity. The Toad is rebuilding and the long time guests are circulating photos like the one on the right looking over an almost empty beach with Saba lost in the marine haze on the horizon. Charlie Webb took many Toad photos.

Amaury and Thibault from Bistrot Caraïbes say that their studios on Orient Beach are in operation.

Activities: Passaat sank in the lagoon and could not be resurrected. Mirian and Pieter have a new boat that is going through sea trials. Watch their website for up to the minute updates.

As far as I know Celine Too and Random Wind also went down. On the French side, Zuzu and Alain lost their catamaran.

Billy Bones Boat Charters is still in operation.

Rental Cars: Michael at Unity Car Rental is in operation and has cars for you.

Moti at Soualiga Car Rental and his family are OK, but all his cars are damaged.

Diane at Leisure Car Rental tells me that they are up and running hard to get your business.

Next Level Cars said that they have closed for the month of January 2018 because things are so slow. They will reopen on Feb 1. The rates offered will not be high season rates. We will continue the same low season rates all year for 2018. We still offer the return and senior driver discounts.

Shanyra at Starlite Car Rental says they are open but business is horrible and they lost a lot of vehicles.

Alcohol: Sylvain at Select Wine Cellar plenty of fine wine, especially Burgundies. He hosts fantastic tastings at your home or at his table in the rare wine room. Moulin Fou is open seven days per week and Sylvain is the wine steward on weekends.

Deb at Alpha Healthcare Services was back to full operation on 1 February. See her for Oxygen Concentrators, Scooters and Wheelchairs (even beach wheelchairs). She's got lots more, just click the link to see it all.

green logo Nature: On the right is a ghost crab casting a large shadow as it defended its turf on the Horny Toad's section of Simpson Bay Beach.

Street lights: The Herald reported that 80% of the street lights in St Maarten were damaged by Irma. Doesn't say much for the engineering department someplace.

Small Island story: This is usually reserved for a bit of snark that reveals the small-mindedness of our tiny rock. There is another part of being small that makes people come together and do the right thing, possibly even more than the right thing. It was reported in the Herald that that there was a leak in the septic system for the Atrium. They brought in some heavy equipment and fixed the problem, but didn't stop there. They contacted Port de Plaisance, owners of the adjacent land that had become an illegal dump and asked for permission to remove the trash. Someplace in that mess was the remains of the original Simpson Bay bridge.


I haven't awarded contest prizes since late June. I know four of these prizes are gone with the wind (or waves) and will not be there to give you a prize. Until this is all sorted out, new prizes will not be awarded.

Current Contest: None is currently scheduled
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

Credit Cards and Exchange Rate

On 14 Jan the Euro was at 1.220. Today it's at 1.249. That's up about 2.4% over the last two weeks.

With the Euro still high 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.


I've heard from Sonya at L'Escargot Restaurant that they are open for lunch and dinner. That's a repeat of a previous newsletter, but this one has a link that works.

Pizza Galley and the Dock Bar were blown away. JP and Lorna are taking a bit of time to decide on their next move.

Amaury and Thibault at Bistrot Caraïbes are in good shape and open for business.

Christian, chef/owner of Altro Italian Bistro at Porto Cupecoy reports little damage there and not much damage at their Sapphire Villa. Altro has been open for over a month and is well worth a visit even if all of the island restaurants were in operation.

Rancho del Sol survived on the top of its hill, plenty of wind and rain but no storm surge. They are in operation.

Pascal and Donna at Piazza Pascal report that they are open.

A long chat with Pascal from Auberge Gourmande in Grand Case revealed that the recently produced PPR (see weather above) will be used to determine how strict the building code will be for a given property. Pascal is part owner of Tastevin and Ocean 82 on the water side of the street. They will probably have the strictest code, but that code has not been produced yet. Thus, no action on Tastevin and Ocean 82. Like most restaurants in Grand Case, the owner of the restaurant does not own the building. The owner of the building housing Auberge had no insurance. Pascal would gladly get it back in operation but that is another hoop to jump through as the French government strictly controls the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants.

Cottage, Spiga, Piazza Pascal, La Villa, and Bistrot Caraïbes are now open in Grand Case.

Sol é Luna

WendyK and a her friend Marie Jose went to Sol é Luna for lunch. They feature a 24€ formule. We started with a cote de Provence rosé (32€) and l'eau gaseuse (5€). I had pulpe (octopus) and MJ had crab with avocado for the ap. We both had tartare de boeuf with squash as the main course. Dessert was a lovely red fruit compote and pistachio ice cream. They were very busy, and either had no damage or recovered quickly.

Bar Code

WendyK and another friend went to Bar Code in Cupecoy, near the AUC medical school. There isn't much view and the tables aren't spacious, but the food is good. On the left is a chunky tuna tartare with Asian and on the right is a mahi burger. Note the nice crispy fries and salad with the tuna. The burger comes with some nice condiments and the same crispy fries.

Mario Bistrot

Wendy K says: I went went to dinner with MJ last Saturday at Mario Bistrot. I had tuna tartare (again) and Marie Jose and I split this joue de boeuf, a special. We drank a bottle of Sancerre rouge and flat water. Marie Jose started with the gravlax appetizer, which I've had a couple of times, so I can confirm that it is delicious. The joue de boeuf was wonderful! Sorry, no photos, but its a nice place with great food.

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.


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


Erich S. Kranz
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