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SXM info
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Island Spice
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Joined: 22 Jun 2008
Posts: 1361
Location: Humacao | Palmas Del Mar | Puerto Rico

PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2012 5:37 pm    Post subject: SXM info Reply with quote

Hi all, having just spent about a week in Phillipsburg, I wanted to provide a little feedback about local establishments...

Chesterfield's - still a fabulous restaurant right on the water. It's about a 10 - 15 minute walk from Sagitta. The food is great - try the lobster bisque if you can. Dad really loved the peel and eat shrimp. The only negative was the service, at least while we were there. Our first dinner service was OK, the second was absolutely dreadful. My parents also went for lunch but I don't think they ran into any problems. Free wifi, no password required.

The Greenhouse - it's another five minutes or so from Chesterfield's. We had dinner there - it was OK, nothing special. The happy hour was good - two for one drinks. I heard feedback that one of the bartenders was quite rude to one of the crew members, but the staff we spoke to seemed really happy for IWJ to be there. Free wifi, password is smile.

12 Metre Yacht Club - this is just beyond the bridge over the dinghy dock. The Greenhouse is on one side of the bridge, and 12 Metre is on the other side. This is where the America's Cup sailing challenge excursion is based. I think the restaurant is separately managed from the excursion. We loved the restaurant and staff. The food is typical pub fare with some island cuisine thrown in. The calamari is exceptional. The burger is really good, and they have great onion rings. At happy hour they have $1 local beers and well drinks, if I recall correctly. Free wifi, password is heineken. My parents and I spent a fair bit of time here - it's just beyond the chaos of the cruise crowd, but steps from where the dinghy will let you off. They bought us several rounds of drinks, which was very kind.

Along the beach there's a new boardwalk, and every inch of the beach seems to be covered by rented beach chairs. While we were there, anywhere from 2 - 5 cruise ships were in port. The day with 5 included Oasis. (The mega ship, not Captain Julian's yacht.) With 10-15,000 additional people on the island, it was not the most enjoyable experience.

The crew may run launches from ship to shore - if so, they will drop you at the dinghy dock I mentioned above. It's not really a dock, but there is a small metal ladder you will have to climb to shore. There are a number of little shops right there, but many more towards the Greenhouse and the boardwalk. The ship and Chesterfield's is the other direction. Across the street from the dinghy dock is a small grocery store. (I didn't go in.)

Where Sagitta is docked, we're at the end of the cruise ship terminal closest to the beach. We're somewhat separated from the other mega ships, but the trolleys carrying passengers will sometimes cut through our pier, heading towards a local water taxi service the ships use. You can buy a one-way fare for $5, or unlimited back and forth passage for $7. The taxi will pick up/drop off from directly in front of 12 Metre, but also a location around the middle of the beach. Might be an option if the ship's launch is not running and you don't want to walk.

The cruise ship terminal has a lot of shops, a few are worth checking out if you can handle all of the cruise ship passengers. Security at the gate does ask for ID - don't leave the ship without it. There's a bar sort of near the entrance that has a bunch of frozen drink machines for $7. We tried the Rum Runner - apparently the rum ran out before we arrived. (Weak drink.) The bartender was very rude and in a hurry, even though we were the only ones at the bar. There's another bar called Sharky's - 2 beers for $5. Both bars had obnoxiously loud music. Inside the cruise ship terminal building is a little convenience store - I didn't go in but mom said they had beers, water, chocolate - the essentials. Speaking of chocolate, there's a Belgian Chocolate store towards the gate that is awesome.

You might want to mention you're with Sagitta at the various shops and bars at the terminal and near the dinghy dock. Mom got a discount at a cruise ship terminal shop when they found out she wasn't on one of the big ships. Laurie may also have deals worked out - never hurts to ask.

FYI, the "December Winds" had kicked in when we left. On my last night I went to dinner with Lauri and Steve at 12 Metre - it was actually cool outside. We could wear our hair down, which is an unusual treat while down island! :)

Hope that helps. Cheers!
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caribdreamer
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Joined: 24 Nov 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2012 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Cindy, great information! Makes me wish I had a trip planned all the more!!
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Sandra
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2012 8:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

:thanks for the great info Cindy. Hope I can find this come June.
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caribbeangirl
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Joined: 03 Sep 2008
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2012 7:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What is the best location to ask a cab to bring us to?
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winefrog
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Joined: 24 Nov 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 2:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hotels???? Any recommendations? I'm probably one of the few who has never been to SMX and I don't have a clue (pretty normal for me) as to where to stay for a few days prior to sailing. French side or Dutch side??
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Sandra
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 3:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tis a hard choice. We always stayed on the Dutch side when sailing WJBC but have since stayed a couple of times at Orient Bay at La Plantation and absolutely loved it - beach, restaurants, bars, small village, etc. We rented a car so we could go into Phillipsburg and all around the island.
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voyager
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

winter in Saint Maarten or Sant Martin or...


http://www.wunderground.com/global/stations/78866.html

Cool winter

Great Bay webcam on this site!!! photo

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Jotum
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 9:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have been to SXM a couple times to stay on the island and once with the Poly. We always felt that the Dutch side was pretty busy with big hotels and casinos near the airport and lots of tourist shops packed with cruise ship tourists in Phillipsburg. (But some neat places there and close to the dock for getting on the ship)

On the other hand we rented a car and stayed on the French side and found it had many much nicer variety of beaches...some mostly deserted. We stayed twice up in Grand Case which was a cute little town with great restaurants - Stayed at the Grand Case Beach Resort which was nice the first time, but the second time after a hurricane it had run down. Now it seems pretty pricey and the pictures didn't look like it had improved a lot.

I will post evaluations after our trip in January, but we are staying at L'Hoste prior to sailing and at Esmeralda afterwards. Both are right by Orient Beach which is in a nice cove but tends to be more crowded than others on the French side - however a good number of nice beach restaurants and a few small shops. For the Esmeralda the 800 number for them is actually a group in Arizona with 2 sister companies (St Martin Reservation Center and Owner Direct Rental Club). They were really helpful and represent a number of places on both sides of the island. They sent a nice follow-up packet with info about the island and places to stay, etc. They also have a contact with a car rental company which I used and got a 20% discount in addition to the reasonable rates because of the reference from ODRC.

Will let you know how this all turns out.
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Bermuda Onion
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Joined: 30 May 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 10:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm starting to plan our sail on Sagitta in 2013 (probably late May). Getting from Bermuda to St. Maarten is something I have never planned before (I can get to Grenada with my eyes shut!). We can fly from Bermuda to Miami arriving Miami 10.30am most days. Can anyone let me know if the Miami-St. Maarten flight is the best way to do this? American Airlines I assume?

We have the added difficulty (well the actual trip is not a difficulty the flight planning will be!) of leaving St. Maarten after the Sagitta cruise and joining some friends on their boat in the Bahamas (probably the Abacos). I'm assuming we will have to go back to Miami then on to Nassau then to Marsh Harbour in the Abacos. This is giving me a headache!

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Sandra
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 12:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We are flying from VA to St. Martin via Charlotte, NC on USAir. Better price, better times.
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winefrog
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 1:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Sandra hug and Jotum
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Saucy Secretary O The Sea
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Location: a little town in central Florida

PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Liz posted the following on Flotilla, and it seems appropriate for our readers that it be on the Shanty as well:

The Tamarind Hotel in Pointe Blanche just confirmed that they will give IWJ guests a 10% discount off their normal year round rates (regular rates are $95-$135, including taxes). The very brief summary is that the plus side is the price; the down side is that the closest restaurant is Chesterfields, which is about a ten minute walk. All the rooms have kitchenettes, though, and it's a five minute walk to the cruise ship terminal.

Dpawl has stayed there more than once and can give all the details!


I posted the following additional information and some pix:
Will and I have stayed at Tamarind Hotel on a number of occasions, most recently after our week on Sagitta's first shakedown cruise. Because of the price and location, Tamarind is my first choice when staying in St Maarten; it is economical and relatively convenient to Phillipsburg. For anyone who has priced accommodations in St Maarten, Tamarind is one of the better deals around, especially with a 10% discount! I would rather spend my vacation $$ on nice restaurants, tours, diving and/or rental car.

For anyone familiar with the Allamanda in Grenada, this would be the St Maarten equivalent. Each room is actually more like a suite, with a separate bedroom, small well-stocked kitchen area (toaster, coffee pot, microwave, apartment fridge and stove and all necessary utensils) and sitting room/dining area and either a small balcony or porch depending on if you are first or 2nd floor. I've attached a few interior pix to give you an idea of a "standard room" (this is unit 12B). Near the office is a laundry room with coin op machines, in case you need to do a bit of wash before heading home.

At a "strolling pace", it is approximately a 5 minute walk to the cruise terminal, another 6-10 minutes to Chesterfields. The surrounding neighborhood is well kept and tidy, mixed residential and commercial. Traffic is relatively light. The pool area is clean and inviting; a great place to relax after a day of exploring. Many of the Tamarind guests are European and they come to stay for a week or 2 at a time. Tamarind's staff are, without exception, friendly and engaging and willing to answer questions or help you any way they can.

If one is considering staying more than just a night, across the street from the Greenhouse is a fairly well-stocked grocery store where you can pick up breakfast items to start your day or the makings of a picnic lunch and snacks.

There is an issue with the neighboring property to the west (ie. looking toward the cruise ship terminal) in that they raise roosters! Roosters crow ... a lot ... and at all hours. Unfortunately, while the government of St Maarten does not allow cock fighting, it has deemed the birds to be part of this neighbor's income and the birds cannot be evicted. That said, recent upgrades to the hotel have included new windows which (based on my recent stay in 12-B) have reduced the annoyance factor considerably. When in doubt, mention the roosters and request a room on the East or North side of the property. The staff will do their best to accommodate you.

In making reservations, I always contact the hotel directly by email, and never rely on those "availability search engines" which inevitably show "no vacancy" even if there is.

If anyone has any questions about the Tamarind, please feel free to post or send me a message.
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Saucy Secretary O The Sea
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 7:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A couple more pix, the bathroom and one of the courtyard (pool is off camera to the right) taken from our balcony

Saucy
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Tim
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 10:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks fantastic! Will they rent for one night?
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Saucy Secretary O The Sea
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tim wrote:
Looks fantastic! Will they rent for one night?


Yes they will.

Saucy
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