Author Archives: Terrance Rey

Terrance Rey
About Terrance Rey
Terrance Rey is owner and managing director of Let’s Travel, Travel Anywhere and AirStMaarten. Terrance Rey has 22 years experience in the travel business as a travel agent, tour operator, charter broker and as an internet travel entrepreneur. You can email Terrance Rey directly via terrance@anykeyservices.com with any questions you may have relating to St. Maarten/St. Martin.

Celebrity homeporting now a reality for Port St. Maarten

PORT ST. MAARTEN – Mega cruise ships homeporting in St. Maarten is now a reality. On Saturday, June 5, 2021, cruise lines can opt to start their cruise voyages around the Caribbean from the island of St. Maarten. The first major cruise line to do so is Celebrity Cruises.

Homeporting for mega cruise ships St. Maarten has been in the planning for many years. On a number of occasions in the past, a push was made to start with homeporting. However, for a myriad of reasons it was never started. Security at the port was one of the major hurdles that had to be tackled. Only smaller cruise vessels have been able to do homeporting out of St. Maarten. Nevertheless, Port St. Maarten, together with the Ministry of Tourism (TEATT) and Celebrity Cruises, finally made homeporting from St. Maarten for major cruise lines a reality.

On Saturday, June 5, 2021, the Celebrity Millennium set sail from St. Maarten with some 2000 cruise passengers. These passengers arrived at SXM Airport on a new American Airlines air service from out of Dallas. The Princess Juliana International Airport saw the first cruise passengers for the local homeporting arriving on a total of 19 flights with 2147 passengers.

According to a statement issued by SXM Airport on their Facebook page, the Arrival Hall area has been specially upgraded to accommodate the increased demand for the season. The newly relocated setup of both the VSA COVID-19 screening and Immigration booths were rearranged for the capacity increase.

On Wednesday, June 2, 2021, Port St. Maarten issued a press release announcing that the team at Port St. Maarten and all relevant service providers at the Cruise Facilities were ready to welcome Celebrity Millennium guests “as they embrace the magic of the destination on Saturday, June 5, the day the vessel sets sail for a seven-night cruise itinerary in the Caribbean.”

“June 5 marks the official launch of Celebrity Cruises Celebrity Millennium homeporting operations out of Port St. Maarten. Port St. Maarten has recently re-invested into the Homeport Terminal moving from a temporary facility to a hybrid structure with strengthened concrete walls, therefore allowing the terminal to be rebuilt within a shorter period of time (down from one month to one week) after the threat of a hurricane has passed leading to a swift rebound once the destination is back up to par.” according to the press release.

“The updated terminal is air-conditioned and offers state of the art amenities based on industry standards within a 1500 square meter structure; there are 12 check-in counters and a luggage screening machine; bar and restaurant serving drinks and snacks on sale for passengers; VIP section with seating for 50-80 passengers; complimentary Wi-Fi; facilities for the disabled; and much more.”

“There is also parking for 60 vehicles and three touring car options; line up zone for taxis, with direct access to the main entrance from Homeporting Terminal; a spacious lobby area with 600 seats for passengers, information screens; ceiling fans; high-end transport trolley/train; and toilet facilities.”

Port St. Maarten Management is issuing a call to action to local artists who have been painting appealing murals throughout the country to do the same across the port thereby showcasing once again their talents to thousands of cruise passengers in the coming months and years.

Port St. Maarten Management would like to thank all those who have been involved in preparing to welcome the guests of Celebrity Millennium. “There was a lot of planning, support and collaboration between many in order to see this to fruition.  We say thank you to everybody who assisted, and we are now looking forward to a successful cruise homeporting operation during the coming weeks,” Port St. Maarten Management said on Wednesday.

Port St. Maarten Management added that Celebrity Millennium would be the largest homeporting vessel to date to carry out operations at the country’s main seaport, the Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise and Cargo Facility in Point Blanche.

The Port St. Maarten Team has had numerous deliberations with a number of stakeholders over the past months in preparing for cruise resumption and the realities in the first phases. 

Princess Juliana International Airport is the aviation gateway to the country, and their role in preparing for the Celebrity Millennium guests was essential in making sure the logistics for this homeporting operation are in place from one port of entry to the next.

The homeporting operations will generate spin-off business activity in the tropical paradise for restaurants, tour operators, taxis, car rental companies, and many other varied small and medium-sized business operations and entrepreneurs, that will lead to a considerable amount of money being pumped into the economy during the eight-week homeporting operation out of Port St. Maarten.

PHOTO CUTLINE: Celebrity Millennium at Port St. Maarten.

On Friday, June 4, 2021, the Minister of TEATT, the honorable Ludmilla De Weever issued the following statement in regards to the launch of the largest homeporting operation that the destination has ever seen. The minister explained that the operation will commence on Saturday, June 5, at the Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise and Cargo Facilities in Point Blanche when Celebrity Cruise Lines 2200-passenger capacity Celebrity Millennium departs for a one-week cruise out of Port St. Maarten.

Celebrity Millennium will be a landmark at Port St. Maarten every week as the vessel picks up and drops off passengers for the next eight-plus weeks generating a considerable amount of economic activity for the destination over this extended period due to this deployment.

On Saturday morning there will be the Homeporting Inauguration ceremony to kick off this historical first for the country.

Speeches will be given by a number of dignitaries, namely the Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications (Ministry TEATT), Director of Tourism, a representative from Port St. Maarten, a representative of the Cruise Line, and the Prime Minister.

“The homeporting of cruise ships out of St. Maarten is an integral part of the country’s efforts in collaboration with Port St. Maarten and the Princess Juliana International Airport in promoting fly-cruise from the country.

“The continual development of homeporting marks another significant milestone in our destinations longstanding and valuable relationship with the cruise industry.

“St. Maarten is well-positioned to further develop more fly-cruise deployments, serving as a hub for the region in the North-Eastern Caribbean. We will continue to work diligently with our partners both local and abroad in building sustainable growth and provide further opportunities for our cruise and hospitality workers,” Minister of TEATT Ludmila de Weever said on Friday.

The country will be getting a lot of exposure during this momentous occasion from the international media as well as social media influencers during the inaugural homeporting launch.

Media organizations include CBS News, The New York Times, ABC News, Cruise Critic, Travel Agent Magazine, The Cruise Guy, In the Loop Travel, The Points Guy, and Travel Age West.

The country can expect a wealth of media coverage in its primary travel market of the United States, further contributing to the awareness of Maagical St. Maarten and further enticing travelers to choose the island as a vacation hotspot this summer and the upcoming winter season.

The homeporting of the Royal Caribbean Group (RCG) vessel is at the forefront of building St. Maarten’s presence for large-scale homeporting operations for the foreseeable future.

St. Maarten is already a premier cruise destination in the North Eastern Caribbean which has evolved over the past decades.

The island will continue to be a leading pacesetter in the cruise industry offering and delivering memorable destination experiences as the resumption of cruising kicks off.

Photo caption: The above photo and the top of the Celebrity Millennium docked at Port St. Maarten on Saturday, June 5, 2021, for the start of the homeporting operation has been provided with the compliments of Fly4U.

Video caption: Promo video for the Celebrity Cruises from St. Maarten.

Port St. Maarten Caters to Close to 1.1 Million Cruise Passengers in First Seven Months of 2019

PORT ST. MAARTEN – The destination received between January and July 2019 close to 1.1 million cruise passengers (1,099,893) via 373 cruise vessel calls. In the first quarter January to March, more than 650,000 cruise passengers visited the island via 264 cruise vessel calls.

Port St. Maarten Management is very pleased with the results so far for 2019 and is looking forward to the destination catering to more than 1.5 million cruise passengers by year-end barring any interruptions in cruise calls between September and December due to inclement weather.

Destination St. Maarten has maintained its competitive edge through continual research and development and strategic planning and the key partnerships with the cruise industry, stakeholders and leading players.

The cruise passenger destination experience score of 9.3 out of 10 is testament to the hard work and dedication from partners in the hospitality industry on St. Maarten which has resulted in a welcomed increase in positive reviews from cruise passengers.

Back in July destination St. Maarten came in #2 in CruiseCritic.com Cruiser’s Choice 2019 Awards as a Top-Rated Eastern Caribbean, Bahamas & Bermuda Destination out of five destinations.

Other top five destinations were King’s Wharf Bermuda #1, Grand Turk #3, St. Kitts #4 and St. Croix #5.

The Cruise Critic Annual Cruisers’ Choice Destination Awards, names the world’s top cruise destinations, based entirely on consumer ratings submitted with reviews on CruiseCritic.com. The awards name the top cruise destinations across 15 regions worldwide.

Back in May Port St. Maarten was chosen as the “Best Cruise Port” in the Caribbean Journal (CJ) Travelers’ Choice Awards 2019.  The Caribbean Journal is the world’s largest website covering Caribbean travel.

The 2019 edition of the Caribbean Journal Travelers’ Choice Awards celebrates the best in Caribbean travel as chosen by their loyal readers.  According to CJ, thousands of Caribbean Journal subscribers voted in this year’s Awards, selecting from a highly competitive field of nominees by CJ’s editorial staff.

In January Port St. Maarten received the ‘PAMAC Award Caribbean for Everyone’ during the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Platinum Associate Membership Advisory Council Cruise Summit (PAMAC).

PHOTO CUTLINE: Port St. Maarten.

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About Port St. Maarten

Port St. Maarten comprises of 13 companies responsible for most of the country’s maritime activities.  The operations at Port St. Maarten can be summarized into four pillars of Cruise, Cargo, Yachting and Real Estate.  The Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise & Cargo Facilities catered to over 2 million cruise passengers in 2014, and has since 2010 been receiving more than 1.5 million annually.  The cargo facilities have led to a steady growth in containerized business making the island a hub for the North Eastern Caribbean where it concerns transshipment services.  The port caters to the Giga yachts and vessels providing berthing and fueling services to this sector.  Port St. Maarten also owns and manages a wide range of commercial real estate across the country.

Port St. Maarten is a modern, well equipped and secure port facility that is operated and managed by a dedicated professional staff.

What does it mean to wake up in paradise?

Civil engineer and chairman of the Social Economic Council, also known as the SER, the Sociaal Economische Raad, on St. Maarten, Damien Richardson writes in a commentary that when Adam woke up that first day in paradise, as his eyes, hears, nose, and all of his body senses began to be activated; that must have been an unbelievable experience.

Damien Richardson writes that he is sure that once Adam saw the birds flying and enjoying the sky’s breeze, he would have wanted to become a pilot. Yet, most of the people of the Caribbean don’t realize that they are in paradise, until they leave and come back or listen as others describe the exceptional radiance, kind people, and levels of relaxation that the Caribbean provide.

The world celebrates the Caribbean as one of the must visit vacation locations. Today we can make an estimate that over 60 percent or more of the Caribbean citizens who leave the Caribbean do not return. The literacy level of the Caribbean people is at an average of 80 percent based on the UNESCO ratings, however, that number can be evaluated by some as being a bit too high seeing that there are no way to truly measure all of the Caribbean islands’ literacy levels, and as a principled fact the majority of the people of the Caribbean would love to return home to the Caribbean but lack a proper motivation to do so. When Adam realized that the Caribbean was 70 percent reliant on airlift and that it was going to cost him a whole lot of apples to fly between the islands, he decided to relax on the veranda instead. As a region the Caribbean is a victim of multiple centuries of natural disasters, colonial practices, strategic NGO involvements, multinational and corporate international banking and oil industry approaches that have not had any true or lasting benefit for the Caribbean people. Once we consider the expressions of Caribbean regional international aid and the lack of true regional preparedness strategies and any valid structured planning and support for the return of our Caribbean diaspora; it therefore, seems finally necessary to no longer simply give word play to our joint regional and local disaster and social preparedness.

Adam had to first realize that he was alive; after that it was important to understand what and why he was made to be alive. Now that we know that we are a Caribbean people what will be our next steps forward how will we begin our journey into the future together. Some questions that can come to mind as we forge an alternative positive future are the following. Why must we continue living in a Caribbean context with mediocre airlift and inactive protection from key natural disasters? Why must we continue to live without a clue of what our next generation will inherit as a legacy? How many more geniuses are we going to trigger and set assail in the seas of our many international harbors of knowledge and development? It is time to draw in the net. We as a people are faced with a seemingly big challenge, yet we are all graced with the necessary tools to all help uncover the great masterpiece that is called the Caribbean – islands working together with each their own intrinsic qualities and character facilitating a unique blend of social expressions as they work towards a series of common goals.

Continue reading ir Damien Richardson column online here as he delves deeper into what it means waking up in paradise.

Smart island paradise in the space age of the 21st century

I like out of the box thinking. When that kind of thinking includes the keywords smart city, paradise island, St. Maarten and outer space, my mind is immediately on high alert. Then I know the writers are boldly going where no man has gone before. No man from St. Maarten that is.

Communications and PR specialist, Roddy Heyliger, writes in a commentary that the Government of St. Maarten continues to face financial challenges due to the damages caused by Irma and Maria almost two-years ago. As the rebuilding effort continues and hotels continue to come back online, as a country we need to step outside the box and explore other economic and revenue generating opportunities in order to become a smart island, he writes.

Roddy Heyliger goes on to explain in his column that the Smart City concept is a common term used due to increase urbanization, scarce resources and development pressures. Countries need to turn to smart innovations in order to make their cities more livable in order to accommodate growth. Building a smart city is the order of the day as according to the United Nations, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2050.

Today, more than ever, Roddy Heyliger explains, we need to plan in a more strategic manner and look beyond rather than continuing to look within at the current business model. The current tourism-oriented economy will continue, and we must further enhance and develop it in a sustainable manner. The hotel infrastructure continues to rebuild back better. We have two new hotels (eg. Planet Hollywood) that are planned and will add additional hotel rooms to the current room inventory.

Some hotel properties won’t ever be rebuilt (eg. Summit Resort Hotel) while others are pending decision-making on rebuilding (eg. Westin at Dawn Beach). In the meantime, life goes on, but financial challenges within the public sector continue to create headaches for policymakers and financial independence of any nation is the ultimate goal.

Hence, economic diversification is the key and should be pursued now more than ever. Our country needs strategies that leads to sustainable economic growth, an expanded vibrant business sector, good job opportunities for St. Maarteners and a higher quality of life for all.

There are economic areas that the country should explore and pursue such as international business services/insurance-risk industries; a ship and aircraft registry; fintech/block chain technology; e-commerce/technology sector among others. Why can’t we pursue with private sector partners business solutions and scale them globally from St. Maarten?

Roddy Heyliger advises in his column that steps need to be taken today to establish a diversified business ecosystem leading to an economically and financially sustainable smart nation by 2030 that will be able to deal with the various global changes – including climate change.

For example, he writes, St. Maarten should explore the possibility of acquiring a Geostationary Orbital Slot for Satellites via the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) – it’s like renting real estate in the sky. Outer space, for the telecommunication sector is becoming more accessible to more actors in existing and emerging new industries.

Bermuda, an island nation similar in size in population compared to St. Maarten, has four satellite orbital slots – an area where satellites operate – which were allocated by the ITU to that island nation back in 1983. One slot hosted its first satellite in 2013.

A country of course needs the necessary legislative regulations such as a space law – in line with the Outer Space Treaty – in order to capitalize on satellite space slots, and the St. Maarten House of Parliament has a key role to play. The State of the Satellite Industry Report 2019 said the global space economy was worth more than 360 billion dollars in 2018 – a satellite industry that is worth more than 277 billion dollars with telecommunications being the biggest sector – and is forecast to become a trillion-dollar industry by 2040. The island of Jamaica is also working on developing a slot for commercialization.

The development of a Geostationary Orbital Slot for Satellites also has applications for aviation and shipping sectors – aircraft and shipping registry – through the use of surveillance or reconnaissance satellites.

Why not establish the ‘St. Maarten Space and Satellite Policy Advisory Group’ Roddy Heyliger asks, which can lead to the establishment of the ‘St. Maarten Space and Satellite Authority’ that would chart, manage and capitalize on the opportunities that exist in this area whereby country St. Maarten becomes a part of emerging space economies which translates into economic diversification and financial independence?

SXM Festival returns with globally leading music event and support for charity causes

ST. MAARTEN/ST. MARTIN – Today SXM Festival, the Caribbean’s premiere electronic music festival, has revealed a discounted local Caraibes ticket for the event’s March 13-17 return to beautiful Saint Martin / Sint Maarten. Set within the iconic beaches, nightclubs and spectacular villas of the island, SXM Festival will once again bring global attendees and locals together for a week of world-class musical programming and cultural immersion.

SXM Festival has deep roots in the local community and is committed to the prosperity of St Martineers and the preservation of the island’s sensitive natural ecosystem. The festival also hopes to continue to bring a new generation of affluent world travelers to contribute to the local economy and help the island rise again after the effects of the 2017 hurricanes.

The 2019 event will once again bring its global family to The Friendly Island, where they will take up residence in the multitude of hotels and Villa lodgings, eat and drink at local businesses and enjoy the various festival venues staffed by locals. This influx of tourism will be matched by the event’s dedication to sustainability demonstrated through its banning of single use plastic at bars, beach and venue cleanups throughout the event, recycling initiatives and planting of thousands of trees to rehabilitate the island post-hurricane. SXM Festival will also continue its use of public transportation throughout the show to minimize pollution and road congestion.

The festival is created by and for its host location, offering its global community an experience enriched by Caribbean culture and artists. It is through such synergy that Caribbean musicians like Allan P, Ivan de la Ganesherie, Jason Myro and more share the stage with some of the world’s biggest electronic music icons – a true coming together of creative heritage. Similarly, Caribbean cuisine will be on full display at the festival’s various venues and local vendors are brought on to give attendees a complete look into the magic of one of the Caribbean’s most celebrated islands.

The event welcomes performances by global electronic music superstars like Ricardo Villalobos, flagbearer of Neapolitan techno Marco Carola, international techno sensation Nicole Moudaber, techno-titan John Acquaviva, psychedelic warrior Rebolledo, Get Physical label bosses M.A.N.D.Y, Visionquest’s Shaun Reeves, one of modern rave’s most celebrated acts Blond:ish, and Swiss icon Sonja Moonear alongside local Caribbean DJs and producers like Allan P, Ivan de la Ganesherie, Jason Myro and Saint Martin’s own Master Gee.

It remains the festival’s integration with Saint Martin/Sint Maarten’s range of beautiful venues that makes it a truly magical week for locals and visitors alike. The SXM journey flows between secluded beach parties at the Happy Bay mainstage, into intimate soirées at Loterie Farms and the Sandyline Villa, through to late night club triumphs at Refuge and Lotus, and of course sunrise celebrations beachfront at Karakter.

The SXM Festival experience is known for its sense of immersion and adventure, guiding attendees through a journey of artistic wonder and cultural connectivity. Each venue is adorned with organic production elements that appear as though to grow from the very island environment in which the event is hosted. Following the devastation of hurricane IRMA, the aesthetic curation has been reimagined to incorporate the debris created by the storm in order to minimize the importing of materials. By using recycled and reclaimed wood sourced from the area, the event continues its legacy of producing stages and art in harmony with the local habitat.

Rainforest Adventures rockland estate, St. Maarten Nominated for the 2018 Seatrade Cruise Award for Innovative Shorex of the Year

PHILIPSBURG, ST. MAARTEN (August 22, 2018) – Rainforest Adventures is pleased to announce that Rockland Estate St. Maarten’s The Flying Dutchman has been chosen as a finalist for the 2018 Seatrade Cruise Award for “Innovative Shorex of the Year.” A line up of independent judges will select the winners who will be announced at Seatrade Cruise Med 2018 on September 19, 2018, at Pátio da Galé, Lisbon, Portugal.

“Just like The Flying Dutchman, we have had quite a challenging and thrilling ‘ride’ to get to this gratifying moment,” says Scott Swietanski, General Manager of Rockland Estate. “This nomination would not have been possible without the support of our amazing staff, the wonderful people of St. Maarten and the government all coming together to rebuild after Hurricane Irma.”

The “Innovative Shorex of the Year” award recognizes a company or individual who has created, sourced or introduced an innovative shore excursion over the past 12 months.  The Flying Dutchman, the steepest zipline in the world and the main attraction at Rockland Estate, has guaranteed thrill-seekers the ride of a lifetime as they’re dropped 1,050 feet in elevation from the top of Sentry Hill over a 2,800-foot span. Even guests who are afraid of heights credit the kind and knowledgeable staff for a fun, fantastic experience, both at the start of the ride and with “wobbly legs” at the end.

Innovative Shorex Finalist 2018

For more information and bookings email sales.sxm@rainforestadventure.com, visit www.rainforestadventure.com/st-maarten or call toll-free from North America at +1.866.SKYTRAM (1.886.759.8726). Follow us @rainforestadventuresxm on Facebook and Instagram. Rainforest Adventures Rockland Estate St. Maarten has received the 2018 USA Today Travel 10Best Readers’ Choice Award as one of the Best Caribbean Attractions and is nominated for the 2018 Seatrade Cruise Award for Innovative Shorex of the Year.

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About Rainforest Adventures

Each year over 400,000 visitors experience Rainforest Adventures eco-parks located in Costa Rica, St. Lucia, Panama, Jamaica and St. Maarten. In addition to more than 22 years of experience, in construction and operations of eco-parks, Rainforest Adventures owns and conserves 2,700 acres of rainforest, home to more than 1,000 species of birds and 2,000 kinds of exotic plants. With over 400 employees, it also offers sustainability programs for visitors and local schoolchildren designed for the protection and conservation of the environment. For more information visit www.rainforestadventure.com.

About Seatrade Cruise Awards

Seatrade Cruise Awards forms part of the series of global Seatrade events, websites and publications that covers every aspect of the cruise and maritime industries, bringing together key people to encourage innovation and to produce powerful learning, networking and promotional platforms. Founded in 1970, the Seatrade brand is part of the events portfolio for the world’s second largest media and event organizer, UBM.

https://www.seatradecruiseevents.com/awards/seatrade-cruise-awards-2018-finalists

Topper's Rhum celebrates International Rhum Day

PHILIPSBURG, SINT MAARTEN – AUGUST 16, 2018 – Topper’s Rhum Distillery celebrates international rum day in a big way by hosting Everything St. Maarten / St. Martin JMB Website Supporters Summer 2018 Island Party. The well-attended cocktail party was filled with great music, food, fun and of course rhum!

This party was all about the rhum (French spelling of “rum”). Guests were greeted at the door with a welcome drink called “Rhum for Your Life” which was Topper’s entry into the post Irma Category 5 Cocktail Competition. Guest were invited to sample all of six Toppers’ commercial rhums as well as some of their 60 specialty rhums which are only available at the distillery such as Nelson’s Blood, Jalapeño Lime, Dutch Drop, Dark Chocolate, Bonfire, Passion Fruit and Soursop to name a few. Guests were given mini-tours of the distillery by tour manager “Crazy Dave” Herbert, and a discount certificate toward their full-scale distillery tour.

The food was catered by Topper’s Restaurant & Bar. Chef Kimar prepared ribs, chicken kebabs, fish skewers and crudités which guest had fun dipping in their choice of six delicious and unique rhum infused sauces some of which are available for sale at the distillery.

The Topper’s family also made a heartwarming toast to Renee Adams-Pereira who was a dear friend and worked for the distillery. Renee sadly lost her battle to cancer just the night before.

Topper’s Rhum, a truly locally made product, is a world-class premium rhum that is handmade, bottled, and packaged with precision right here in Cole Bay, St. Maarten. Topper’s Rhum uses only all natural premium ingredients and no preservatives. They are committed to producing the world’s best tasting rhum and flavored rhum spirits using the highest standards of quality. They are re-inventing rhum by continually innovating and delivering unique products to their customers worldwide. The company is very environmentally conscientious and well known for their signature reusable swing-top bottles. This official St. Maarten rhum is the only spirit distilled and exported from St. Maarten. They currently export to 6 countries and over 21 states in the USA and are the official rhum of the Dutch Army. By constantly expanding overseas, they are also notably promoting St. Maarten internationally. In addition, the products are sold online to almost anywhere in the world. Topper’s Rhum has been awarded 24 medals given by the most prominent rum tasting contests in the world and recently won USA Today’s 10Best Caribbean Rum Distillery award.

Topper’s Rhum Distillery is one of the top unique places to visit on St. Maarten, according to the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau. They are open from 9:00am – 4:00pm Monday – Friday and 9:00am – 12:00pm on Saturdays for free rhum tasting and shopping.

Tours are available for $20 at 10:00am and 4:00pm Monday – Saturday by calling +1-721-520-0008 or booking online at www.toppersrhumtours.com and Sundays are available by appointment only.

For more information about the Topper’s Rhum Distillery please contact the Topper’s Rhum Press Officer at: press@toppersrhum.com or visit the website www.toppersrhumtours.com

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 About the Topper’s Rhum: Topper’s Rhum, established in St. Maarten in March 2008, is committed to producing the world’s best tasting rhum and flavored rhum spirits using the highest standards of quality. Topper’s Rhum Distillery was established in Cole Bay in November 2012. We strive to continually innovate and deliver cutting edge products to our customers worldwide and are experts in delivering unprecedented customer service. For more information, visit our website at www.toppersrhum.com or www.toppersrhumtours.com

St. Maarten's tourism product in a post-Irma era - 7 parts series

From the start of St. Maarten’s decision to become a tourism destination we have focused our efforts on recreational tourism. Basically on our “sea, sun, sand” product. Being the smallest land mass divided between two countries helps. And we’re also duty free. These features and having coined the name “The Friendly Island” has attracted millions of travelers to our shores over the years.

But in this day and age, Caribbean destinations must diversify their product in order to remain relevant. St. Maarten is no different.

In a post-Irma era, what will St. Maarten’s tourism product become?

The coming days we will answer that question in 6 parts. This is the intro. In part two (2), we will look at how hurricane Irma can possibly be a blessing in disguise for St. Maarten.

Angry Waves at Belair

Photo caption: Angry waves beating down on the beach of Belair. If we don’t change ourselves, adapt and innovate our tourism product, nature will force us to. Photo by Milton Pieters.

Part 2

With the above question in mind, hurricane Irma can possibly be looked at as a blessing in disguise. The devastation caused by Irma has sent the island a few steps back but we, of course, are looking to come back 100 times better than before. You may be asking, where’s the silver lining? Businesses have closed and people have left and buildings were destroyed. Nonetheless, this gives St. Maarten the chance at a fresh start. It gives the island a chance at providing our visitors, and the locals, a different view of our 37 sq. mile beauty. Thinking post Irma allows us the chance to invest our time into cultural tourism and/or sports tourism.

Damaged Cupecoy area

Photo caption: With the slogan let’s build back better, not only is the resilience of the St. Maarten people put to the test after the damages caused by hurricane Irma, but also the creativity and the innovative spirit of the people and its entrepreneurs will be significantly tested. Photo by Milton Pieters.

In part 3 we will look at ways of expanding our tourism product with culture.

Part 3

St. Maarten, like every other Caribbean island, is rich with history. However, this history is not taught and shared enough, with locals and foreigners alike, and this needs to change. And what better a time to venture down a new path than when the island is in need of rebranding? When we need something to believe in and build on. The exploration of cultural tourism allows teaching natives, as well as visitors, about what St. Maarten’s been through and has to offer.

Fort Louis overlooking Marigot waterfront

Photo caption: This photo is a mixture of culture, history and nature, showing that in a post-Irma environment, we have to focus on sustainable integration of these elements in a balanced manner if everything is work properly and consistently. St. Maarten as a tourist destination cannot survive if we do not focus on sustaining all these elements together. Photo by HIlbert Haar.

Part 4

The island currently has a new head of the Culture department and a temporary government in place. What better a time for new ideas and new programs to be enacted to build up the cultural strength of the people? The Great Salt Pond, The Simpson Bay Lagoon, The St. Martin Book Fair, St. Maarten Carnival, among so many other great things can be properly introduced and taught to the people of St. Maarten. The people then in turn become the natural ambassadors of the island and the treasures it holds. What is most fascinating about cultural tourism is its ability to benefit a destination in two ways. It allows for the host population to better know their land and hold an unwavering pride in what they have. Also, it gives the opportunity to teach those that visit just what differentiates the destination from every other destination that they come across.

Clara Reyes and students fully engaged

Photo caption: The new head of the Culture Department, Clara Reyes, fully engaging students at the St. Maarten Academy pre-St. Maarten’s Day in November 2017.

In part 5 we will look at other tourism options available to us.

Part 5

Sports tourism is another option. The opportunity for St. Maarten to become the sports hub of our surrounding islands would be easily attainable. For example, Video X Games (VXG), an e-sports competition held a few years ago, showed us that the region is ready and willing for a reason to visit the Sunshine City. After the success of VXG a few other islands have attempted to pick up where they left off. Fortunately for us, none were able to gain the popularity that VXG brought. With the right management and sponsorship St. Maarten can easily pick up where VXG left off. Other options in sports tourism are marathons, bicycle racing and swimming. The Sunset Triple Mini Triathlon is a perfect example of what is possible in this area as well.

Sunset Beach Triathlon - 20180318 MP

Photo caption: Triathletes running to the plunge in the waves on Maho Beach during the Sunset Triple Mini Triathlon held on Sunday, March 18th, 2018. Photo by Milton Pieters.

In part 6 we wrap up this series with our conclusion.

Why Americans Like To Buy Property in The Caribbean?

Merely mentioning the word Caribbean brings up images of a tropical paradise in the minds of most Americans. Except for those living in southern California, Florida, and Texas, most Americans have a strong desire to one day be able to buy a second home or a vacation home in the Caribbean. There are many reasons behind this desire but the prominent one is a chance to live a carefree life on an island where they can enjoy warm and sunny weather conditions all round the year.

Interestingly, the Caribbean begins just 50 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. But this proximity is of advantage to only those who live in Miami or other parts of Florida. It takes just a few hours for you to reach the Bahamas, Jamaica or Puerto Rico in the Caribbean. Noteworthy is that Puerto Rico is one of the Caribbean island that is a part of the United States.

Allure of a relaxed and carefree lifestyle

Coming back to the main question of what motivates Americans to opt for a home in the Caribbean, it is mainly the desire to get away from the stressful life of the U.S. cities. You go to the Caribbean on a vacation only with no worries of work. This is the perception most Americans have in their minds.

Possibility to live a more affordable life

There can be no two opinions about the fact that the mad rush of Americans to buy properties in the Caribbean has pushed the prices upwards. If you buy a property on popular Caribbean islands like the Bahamas, Aruba, Jamaica and St. Barths, you may find that prices have become exorbitant there. But the Caribbean is much bigger than most people assume they are. You can still find a place in the Caribbean to fulfill your dream of a life full of sun and sand that is quite affordable. One such destination is St. Maarten, a Dutch island that is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

More money in your pocket

One reason why many Americans dream of buying a property in the Caribbean and living there is because of them being tax havens. In most of these islands there is no capital gains tax. If you sell your property in the future, you are not required to pay any capital gains taxes to the local government, and this is a big advantage in the eyes of many Americans.

For the retirees or those approaching retirement, the perks of a laid back lifestyle coupled with gorgeous settings are too big to drop the idea of buying a property in the Caribbean.

Cooper House from beach

Princess Juliana International SXM Airport Reopens after Hurricanes

NEW YORK, NY (October 9, 2017) – After damages sustained during Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Jose in September 2017, the Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) in Dutch St. Maarten will reopen to commercial flights on October 10, 2017. SXM is a critical airport for much of the Caribbean, and its return to active service will bring much-needed aid and tourism back to St. Maarten as well as neighboring islands.

Delta Airlines, Seaborne, Pawa Dominicana, Insel Air, and Winair will resume service at SXM on Oct. 10. Seaborne will be code sharing with American Airlines, JetBlue, and Delta. Additional airlines will announce their service in the coming days.

“While damages to our airport are extensive, we are incredibly pleased with the progress made to repair it,” said Director of Tourism Rolando Brison. “St. Maarten is both a friendly island and a resilient one, and we are excited to share our island with the world once again.”

SXM Airport roof repairThe airport will reopen in a phased approach. Employees of SXM Airport and volunteers have worked tirelessly, their dedication resulting in the reopening of the airport’s two smaller terminals. The main terminal is currently under repair, and its reopening anticipated mid-2018.

“My friends, trust in the process,” said Minister of Tourism Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher in an official statement. “Adversity gives birth to opportunity and struggle builds character: St. Maarten will rise again, better and stronger. ”

Additional information about the airport and tourism recovery efforts will be released as soon as it becomes available.