Category Archives: Tourism News

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 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 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.

St. Maarten Tourist Bureau Hosts Workshop with TripAdvisor and Expedia for Island’s Tourism Private Sector

PHILIPSBURG — Globally recognized and leading Travel Booking Websites TripAdvisor and Expedia led a full-day workshop on global market trends attended by some of the Island’s travel and tourism private sector, in St. Maarten on August 27.

This event was organized by the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport, & Telecommunication TEATT and led by the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau. During the workshop the Travel Companies presented the latest market trends and new opportunities to position St. Maarten’s tourism products and services in North America.

Minister of TEATT the Honorable Stuart Johnson gave the opening remarks and welcomed the attendees. Johnson said on Sunday that these initiatives continue to yield significant fruit in attracting new visitors and securing the return of our longtime vacationers.

He said St. Maarten will take full advantage of opportunities to collaborate with its international partners on destination marketing initiatives “as we continue to position our island as the number one travel destination.”

The discussions and presentations were led by Carol Johnson, TripAdvisor’s Senior Destination Marketing Manager and Ana Medina, Expedia’s Business Development Manager for the Caribbean region. In addition to presenting the latest trends and new opportunities, Ms. Johnson and Ms. Medina also reviewed the campaigns that St. Maarten ran with their respective platforms in 2016, 2017, and 2019.

St. Maarten recently launched an extensive marketing campaign with TripAdvisor and Expedia in the USA that aims to get the message across to consumers that the island is open for business, show the diversity of the St. Maarten’s product offering, and drive bookings to the destination. The campaigns will run through December 31, 2019.

The U.S. is St. Maarten’s top source market. Between January and June of this year, St. Maarten welcomed 92,285 visitors from the U.S., a steady increase over the 67,533 Americans that visited the island during the same period in 2018, showing strong recovery from the hurricanes.

“We are committed to having both public and private sectors work closely together in marketing St. Maarten as a leading Caribbean destination and to helping the private sector find new opportunities to further develop the island’s tourism industry,” said St. Maarten’s Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic & Telecommunication, Stuart Johnson.

For her part, May-Ling Chun, St. Maarten’s Director of Tourism said: “We are working in close cooperation with all of our industry partners to ensure the strong and sustainable recovery of the tourism sector on the island and look forward to creating more opportunities for local partners to promote our island’s diverse tourism products.”

About St. Maarten Tourist Bureau: St. Maarten is the smallest island in the world to be shared by two nations – Kingdom of the Netherlands and France – creating a destination with European charm and Caribbean flair. Located at the northern end of the Lesser Antilles, the island’s 37 square miles has 37 breathtaking beaches and is home to many historical and family-oriented attractions. Direct air service is available to Princess Juliana International Airport from major U.S. and Canadian cities.

Ministry TEATT host Destination Marketing strategy meeting

PHILIPSBURG – Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation, and Telecommunication (TEATT), Honorable Stuart Johnson, met with key stakeholders on Wednesday august 14th at Sheer Restaurant for a Destination Marketing strategy meeting that was organized by the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau Marketing and Product Development team.

The interactive whole day session was to share and actively discuss St. Maarten’s Marketing and product development strategies and to conduct an exercise with the stakeholders for an open dialogue on how to work collectively to ensure increase in the visitors’ arrivals and to assure them a memorable experience with the overall product.

“The goal of the meeting was to identify areas where collaboration is needed between our private sector partners in the hospitality industry and the government of St. Maarten through the Ministry of TEATT,” said Johnson.

He said, “Through the efforts from his office over the past year, there have been improvements in the arrival numbers, but the reality is that we are still in need of returning to pre-Irma numbers.”

Johnson said collaborating on brand recognition for the destination as well as creating exciting offers for visitors when they come to the island will go a long way in improving the overall product offer to the travelling world. “There is no time to waste as we are in competition with other Caribbean destinations for visitor arrivals and we must rely on experts who have in the past proven to be pioneers in creating the value within our market that attracted visitors for so many years. “But we cannot forget to enlist the ideas of the younger people, especially considering the increased use of technology and social media in particular to generate attention and market destinations,” said Johnson.

The discussions included the review of recent data collected, the current visitors’ profile, targeted markets, the market current trends, and the way moving forward in our marketing efforts and the destination branding to assure a sustainable tourism product. An outline of the tourism and environmental awareness programs were shared and discussions were held on other product development topics.

“Public Private Partnership (PPP) is key to our destination success, with industry partners that are result driven, and who we have constant communication with to assure we are aligned and work towards a strong tourism product”. Says Director of Tourism May-Ling Chun.

Present was the cabinet and staff Bureau of the Ministry of TEATT, Small Properties Association, St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association, the St. Maarten Time Share Association, Chamber of Commerce, local social media influencers, St. Maarten Marine and Trade Association, United Tour Operators Foundation, The SXM Airport, Port of St. Maarten, and The STB Marketing and Product Development team.

Electric rental cars - a first for St. Maarten and the Dutch Caribbean

SIMPSON BAY — A major development literally on the road towards sustainable tourism in the Dutch Caribbean has been taken by offering hotel visitors and residents alike, the opportunity to rent electric cars. Known as EV’s, five of these vehicles have recently been introduced on St. Maarten by Commodore Suites at Market Garden Supermarket and port side, Marigot (French Side). Once fully charged, these four seater cars have a range of over 55 miles and work out at about half the cost normally paid by renters of gas propelled vehicles.

“This green initiative fits perfectly with our business aim of operating a boutique hotel on the basis of clean and renewable energy.” says Arnaldo Phelipa, hotel manager of Commodore Suites. “Many of our short-term customers, particularly crew members of visiting yachts, only want to rent a car for a matter of hours. At USD 10 per hour, renting an EV is a green, clean and mean bargain. The rental charge includes insurance cover so there are no extra fees and no fuel costs whatsoever. Our rental vehicles are
provided with batteries fully charged.”

Phelipa explains that the batteries of his Mitsubishi MiEV take only four hours to complete full charge. A distinctive EV charging station has been created on the carpark of Market Garden and alongside the port at Marigot. Charging normally takes place overnight. “A trip from say Simpson Bay to Philipsburg via Cay Hill needs only slight energy since the cars are self-charging on the downward slopes. Acceleration is not the same as a sporty cabriolet but their performance is not sluggish. Our EV’s run at a maximum speed of 60 miles an hour and offer a good ride since they are noiseless, quite roomy with smart interiors and plenty of window space to admire the island landscapes.”

Commodore Suites is the only hotel on the island to offer EV rentals. However, Phelipa expects other hotels on the island to follow the green trend. “In future, we shall power our rental cars from solar panels. We are already using solar panels to energize our illuminated signage and we have introduced energy efficient lighting in all of our 25 rooms.”

The hotel was opened in March 2016 and is located in Simpson Bay – above Market Garden on the corner of Welfare Road and Billy Folly Road leading to the Pelican Estate. It is proving popular as a short to medium stay and has fine views of the Simpson Bay Lagoon. All rooms are spacious, have a fitted kitchen and modern interiors. Room service menu is provided by the Double Dutch Cafe below in Market Garden.

Photo Caption:Mirna Hodge from Commodore Suites charges a rental EV at the new EV charging Station in front of Market Garden.

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.

STB opens booth at Regatta Village serving as information mecca for visitors and sailors

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – The Regatta Village for the 39th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta has officially opened and is currently welcoming sailors and visitors all over the world.

The Grand Opening of the Regatta Village sets the precedent for the coming days filled with world class racing and high-energy parties.

The center of most of the events are taking place at the Regatta Village by Port de Plasissance.

The St. Maarten Tourism Bureau (STB) as a Premier Sponsor of the 39th Edition of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, will be present with its own booth, which serves as the information mecca for all incoming visitors and sailors, about the destination.

The St. Maarten Tourism Bureau based on data collected from the previous year, 28% of St. Maarten Heineken Regatta attendees were first time visitors to the island.

The introduction of the Regatta Village, during last year’s St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, presented the Tourism Bureau a new opportunity of having a centralized information booth dedicated to participants, and a good potential moment to convert first time visitors into repeat visitors.

The Tourism Department is constantly trying to innovate and create possibilities for us to measure the effectiveness of events we support, and creating a center for networking of stakeholders all for the betterment of our Tourism product, says Interim Director of Tourism May-Ling Chun

The St. Maarten Tourism Booth @ the Regatta Village will be open until March 3rd from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM, with an information officer present to answer all destination questions and give visitors recommendations on places to dine, as well as things to do and see, while on island.

The booth will also serve as a good hub for local bloggers and media, whom are present to cover the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, to recharge and converse.

PHOTO CUTLINE: STB Interim Director of Tourism May-Ling Chun.

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, visit 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

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.

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 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: or visit the website

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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 or

How the Rainforest Adventure Park withstood Hurricane Irma

Rainforest - Sky Explorer 20171122 - HH

PHILIPSBURG – Hurricane Irma put the Rainforest Adventure Park to the test in September of last year but the project withstood the monster storm perfectly even though the wind speeds at the top of Sentry Hill must have been out of this world.

Irma hit St. Maarten with sustained wind speeds of 185 miles (298 kilometers) per hour with higher gusts reaching 225 miles (362  kilometers). Rainforest’s chief engineer John Dalton says that sustained wind speeds of 200 miles per hour were the minimum design specification for the cable lift that leads from Rockland Estate up to the top of Sentry Hill. “The design took higher wind gusts into consideration.  I believe that is approximately what we saw at the top of Sentry Hill so Irma took things right to the edge of the design envelope.”

That the installation survived Irma’s onslaught is not only due to its design; hurricane preparedness also played an important role. Dalton: “We removed all the chairs from the chairlifts and strapped them down, leaving the cables on the towers. We also dropped the zip line cables into the bush and tied them off so they could not get loose. We double barred the hurricane shutters on all the new buildings and put lots of weight on the loose containers.”

The preparation took an effort from employees and contractors that Dalton deeply appreciates. “Our employees and contractors showed up in force and worked very hard to protect all they had built. They deserve tremendous credit for being St. Maarten Strong. Irma showed what an awesome team we have at Rockland Estate.”

Dalton notes that the park was designed to withstand an event like Hurricane Irma. Nevertheless, he says: “We were quite relieved that there was not more damage as things went more or less as planned. The best move we made was to really clean up so there was a minimum of flying debris.”

The hurricane also put the company’s bottom line to the test. After the storm, cruise ships avoided St. Maarten for a while and that put a damper on the number of visitors to the attraction park. Local visitors partially saved the day: The attraction was built for tourists and locals alike and it is the high level of local visitation, even at our guilder=dollar local rate, that has allowed us to get a marginal foothold and keep our employees paid,” Dalton says. “However, as with most businesses, the effect of the hurricane has been negative. We have worked with our partners and lenders to adapt the structure of the project to the current realities of the market.”

Rainforest Adventures had so far proven to be a blessing for the local labor market. Dalton says that the company currently employs sixty people. “We expect the payroll to hopefully increase with business. There are only two foreign employees at the park who are top specialists in their fields.”

The search for a site and the discussions with the government go back to 2009. Rockland Estate quickly stood out, Dalton says. “We were so impressed with the amazing views fro the property, its historical and natural significance and the opportunity to bring a unique destination-defining attraction to St. Maarten that we focused a lot of our organization’s resources on pursuing what we feel is today one of the best attractions in the Caribbean.”

Dalton notes that Rainforest has developed a good working relationship with the government. “We collaborated closely with the government to define the project’s different components and share our planning program. Once they had a firm understanding of the challenges and benefits they took the decision to issue permits. The process took somewhat longer than expected but we are happy to have developed a good working relationship with the government and the community. It is our hope that this investment will serve as an example of the potential in St. Maarten and at the same time help refresh the local tourism product.”

For a more in-depth look at the technical challenges Dalton’s team had to overcome with the design and construction of the Rainforest Adventure park go to:

John Dalton at work - photo sky trac

Photo caption: Chief engineer John Dalton at work. Photo Top photo of Rainforest Adventures Skylift installation by Hilbert Haar.