Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor


Caribbean Travel Roundup Newsletter Presents:
St.Martin Information File

August 15, 1997
Paul Graveline, CTR Editor

ALSO AVAILABLE INFO FILES ON ARUBA AND JAMAICA at www.gobeach.com/ctr

The following information was extracted and edited from St. Martin comments appearing in the Caribbean Travel Roundup editions from 9/96 through 7/97.

Please remember that the comments in the CTR are those of the contributors and could not be independently confirmed by the CTR. In many cases they are of a highly subjective nature and your views may differ. Also remember that some of the material appearing in the CTR is copyrighted by the original author and cannot be used without their permission.

Full text versions of these CTR reviews can be obtained from www.gobeach.com/ctr/

Paul Graveline
Editor,
Caribbean Travel Roundup
ctreditor@aol.com



St. Martin File
970620 1700z

ACCOMMODATIONS

DIVI LITTLE BAY
The  check  in  at Divi was handled very professionally, and we were 
introduced  to  Pat  Hunt,  a  resort director and a helluva a great 
gal,  who  gave  us  a  layout of the property, events that would be 
going  on  during  the week for guests both at the resort and around 
the  island.  We  and our luggage were put on golf carts and we were 
taken  to our unit. Rental cars are not allowed to drive through the 
resort,  they  are parked at the entrance, and you walk to your unit 
or  jump  on  these little carts if they are available .A little bit 
about  Divi.  Its a beautifully landscaped and maintained time share 
resort  and  hotel. We had a studio apartment which was just perfect 
for  the  two  of  us. A huge living area which had a king size bed, 
sleeper  sofa,  dining  table  and  chairs,  large dresser, personal 
safe,  T.V.,  V.C.R.  phone  ,  etc.  A  small  completely furnished 
kitchen, with microwave and refrigerator, a huge bathroom with walk-
in  shower  and  also  a  large Jacuzzi tub. Our living area had two 
large  French  doors,  that  opened  out  on  to a small balcony and 
overlooked  Little Bay, with its azure blue water and green mountain 
in  the  backdrop,  just  a lovely sight at morning and evening. The 
resort  is  still  in the rebuilding process from the damage created 
by  Hurricane  Luis  two  years  ago.  The  time share area has been 
completely  redone  and  refurbished.  The  old hotel area was still 
closed  and  is  scheduled  for demolition in June of 1997. The area 
will  be  completely  rebuilt  with  a new restaurant, small casino, 
small  shopping  area, hairdressers etc. They are expecting to start 
construction  shortly.The  old  restaurant  was  destroyed, but they 
have   redone  the  pool  area  and  provided  an  outside  bar  and 
restaurant  co-located  right  by  the  pool, which really was quite 
nice,  as  you could look over the pool and Little Bay as you dined. 
The  breezes kept the insects away. They served breakfast, lunch and 
dinner   at  very  reasonable  prices,  which  were  well  prepared, 
presented  and  served.  Breakfasts...$3-$6  each;  lunch menu $6-10 
each  and  dinner $8 -$20 each. Much....much less then the rates for 
meals  in Philipsburg, Marigot or Gran Case. The management provided 
a  welcome  party  on  Sunday,  and a managers appreciation night on 
Thursday  with free drinks, light snacks and drawings for free meals 
and  other  gifts  on  both  occasions.  There was a happy hour each 
night  with  special  drinks  of  the  day  and  island  steel  drum 
entertainment  (singles  and  trios)  each  evening between 5-7 P.M. 
There  is  a  nice beach at Divi, beach chairs, umbrellas and towels 
are  provided. I was surprised to find that the snorkeling was good. 
Again  we  had  read  on  the net that there are no reefs around St. 
Maarten  and  snorkeling  would be terrible. The coral around Little 
Bay  is  in  very  bad  shape,  but there were plenty of fish of all 
colors,  sizes  to  make  the  snorkeling interesting, though not as 
good  as on some of the other islands.The Divi Little Bay resort had 
a  system  where all your bar & restaurant costs could be charged to 
your  room, so we settled that during our check-out, which was again 
very  professionally  handled  by  Divi staff and we were off to the 
airport. pb9707

GRANDE CASE BEACH CLUB 
We  stay  at Grande Case Beach Club in a studio with kitchen - newly 
re-done  as  a consequence of Hurricane Luis. This is a well run and 
friendly  place  on  the  beach  at the end of Grande Case. The long 
beach  in front of the main buildings has been washed away to a very 
narrow  strip, but widens out as you go toward the village. The main 
beach  activity  is  now  on  Petit  Plage  on the other side of the 
hotel.  The  restaurant  at  the  hotel is the Sunset Cafe (replaces 
Waves,   which   burned  several  years  ago)  but  except  for  the 
continental  breakfast  included,  we did not eat there and can make 
no  recommendation  about  the food in general. In driving to Grande 
Case,  we  noticed  that  a  lot  more signs have been put up giving 
directions,  which is helpful if you do not know your way around. We 
also  noticed  (you  can'  miss it) that Portofino restaurant at the 
entrance  to  Grande  Case now sports a monstrous and obtrusive sign 
that  I  sincerely  hope  isn't the harbinger of bad taste coming to 
this  part  of  the  island.  Signs  for  Carib beer are ubiquitous. 
rb9797

GREEN CAY VILLAS
GREEN  CAY  VILLAGE  Is  an  excellent place to stay, absolutely top 
notch,  private, private pool, new, clean, friendly folks, beautiful 
view,  near  beach  but  not  walking distance, full kitchen, stereo 
with  cassette and CD player, VCR, cable TV (didn't use either), BBQ 
pit,  maid  service.  June  rates  were $420 per night for 3 bedroom 
condo  ($140  per couple per night). Thanks to Fabienne and her crew 
for a great time! jj9707
What  can  I  say  about  GREEN CAY VILLAS other than it was love at 
first  sight!  Our villa had a breathtaking view encompassing all of 
Orient  and  Coconut Grove beaches. The large deck has a small built 
in  pool that we put to frequent use during our stay. The management 
even  provided  3  blow  up  rafts. The villa itself has 3 beautiful 
spacious  bedrooms with connected bathrooms and closets. It even has 
a  guest  bathroom  as  well. The kitchen was well furnished with an 
ice  dispensing refrigerator so necessary for filling those frequent 
requests  for  pina coladas. The living room has cable TV as well as 
a  CD/cassette/tuner  sound system. You also had 2 dining areas: one 
facing  the beach and one facing the garden area. Daily maid service 
was  both  efficient  and unobtrusive. First day supplies, a welcome 
bottle  of  wine  and  a complementary breakfast were also provided. 
All  in  all  a first class operation. At under $1000 per couple per 
week,  it  is  fairly  priced.  I  can give it no higher praise then 
this:  This  is  where  I  want to stay whenever I visit the island. 
bf9705

LA PLANTATION HOTEL REVIEW BY CAROL HILL 9703

This  is  our  report  from our stay at La Plantation from 2/1/97 to 
2/8/97.  This  report  deals  exclusively  with  the  hotel  and  is 
intended  for  those  who  might  be considering La Plantation for a 
stay.  Our trip report is under a separate subject as a trip report. 


This  was the third time we had stayed in SXM for a week, after many 
times  of  visiting SXM on cruise ships. As always, we stayed on the 
French  side close to Orient Beach. Previous stays were at Green Cay 
Village  and L'Hoste. La Plantation is a little cheaper than L'Hoste 
and  a  LOT  cheaper  than Green Cay--if you're renting Green Cay by 
yourself,  that  is.  We  booked  through  Jim Ruos (here on $P$) at 
Caribbean  Islands  Travel  Service,  as always. If you want to book 
any of the Orient Beach hotels, Jim's your man.

Plantation  is  located  on the hills above Orient Beach, roughly in 
the  area of Green Cay Village, if you know where that is. It is not 
directly  on  the  beach,  but you can walk down directly to Coki or 
Bikini  Beach,  if  you have a mind. It's not a bad walk, maybe 5-10 
minutes,  depending  on  which  unit  you  are  staying  in.  If you 
normally  head  to  the  beach  at Club Orient and are kind of lazy, 
like  me,  you  will drive to Club O. We timed the drive--taking our 
time--at  6  minutes  one  day.  There  is a pool and restaurant and 
small  boutique  at  the  reception  area. We were never at the pool 
during  the day, so don't know how much traffic there was there. The 
reception  desk  could  arrange  various  tours and water sports for 
you,  but  we  never  took  advantage of their services. We did note 
that  the  car rentals through the hotel were significantly more per 
week than what we paid through Jim Ruos. 

The  restaurant served breakfast, lunch and dinner. We ate breakfast 
there  a  couple  of  mornings but no other meals. Included with the 
cost  of  your  hotel  room  at  LaPlantation  is  their continental 
breakfast.  The  restaurant  is  pretty and the coffee and croissant 
are  good  and  it is free, so one can't be too picky, but it wasn't 
the greatest. 

Croissant  and  baguettes  were provided, along with apples, usually 
bananas,  (usually  SPOILED!)  pineapple, corn flakes and coffee and 
tea.  You  could  get a hot breakfast there, for around $7-$8 PP. We 
had  omelets one morning, which were pretty good. The restaurant was 
usually pretty busy for breakfast. 

There  are  17  units  at  Plantation,  most  of  which consist of 2 
studios  and  one suite within each building. We paid $178 per night 
for  the  suite  (with  two  people),  vs.$210 per night for the top 
floor  rooms for the same time frame for L'Hoste. When we had called 
for  reservations in August, #304 was already gone at L'Hoste and we 
had  been  wanting  to  try Plantation anyway, and were glad that we 
did.  At  Plantation,  the  studio  was  $149 per night, vs.$178 per 
night  for  the  suite.  We  felt that the extra few bucks were well 
worth  it.  If  Jim Ruos' figures are to be believed, cause I didn't 
measure  it  myself, with the suite you get approximately 750 square 
feet vs. 377 square feet for the studio. 

We  had  specified  when  we booked that we wanted the room with the 
best  available view and were assigned room number 630. We certainly 
had  nothing  to  complain  of  with  regard to the view, as we were 
situated  in  the  first  row  of  buildings  at Plantation, with no 
buildings  in  front  of  us, basically all the way to the water. We 
looked  straight out at Tintamar and off to our right in front of us 
was  L'Hoste  and  off to the left in front of us was Esmerelda. Our 
suite,  as  well  as  all  the  others,  was surrounded by beautiful 
flowering  plants.  The gardeners were always busy around the hotel, 
grooming  the plants and planting more flowers. Our unit, as did the 
others, had parking spaces for three cars. 

We  did not specify that we wanted the best available facilities for 
nudity  on  our  porch  and there was a road which had a really good 
view  onto  our porch. Because of the railing, though, Eric could be 
nude  and  it  would  have been hard for anyone to see even from the 
road.  There  were  a  couple  of units right on the hill above us--
namely,  numbers 860 and 870--which it looked as though no one could 
see  in  to  their  porch. However, this was because the flowers and 
plants  had all grown up around the porch and it's possible that you 
could  not see OUT very well either from there. If you want a studio 
unit  with  a  really good view, request number 832, which was right 
next  to us and had a wrap- around porch which looked out right over 
L'Hoste and had a beautiful view. 

OK,  let's  describe the suite in detail, starting at the patio. Our 
patio  faced Orient Bay, as I said, and was approximately 10-12 feet 
deep  and  30-35  feet  long.  We had a wicker dining table and four 
wicker  chairs  (2  with  pads).  We  could have wished for a chaise 
lounge  or  two,  but  there were none. Facing the ocean, there were 
two  single  and two center full glass doors. We kept the two single 
doors locked all the time. 

As  you  faced  the  ocean, off to the left was the L-shaped kitchen 
area,  which consisted of an apartment-sized refrigerator and stove, 
with  coffee  maker  and  toaster, with a tile-topped counter with 4 
bar  stools. Standard silverware was provided, including a corkscrew 
and  a  can  opener  (which  sort  of  worked!), paring knife, and 8 
plates,  4 cereal bowls, a wine carafe and coffee cups. Glasses were 
kind  of  light,  with  6 miscellaneous assorted water glasses and 4 
juice  glasses. There was one small and one large sauce pan, 2 small 
fry  pans,  a  medium  stew pot with lid and a small casserole dish. 
There  was  NO  ice  bucket, so we kept the ice cube tray filled and 
dumped  the  ice  into  the  plastic collander, which we kept in the 
freezer,  so  that  we  would  have  ice for our trips to the beach. 
There  was  dishwashing liquid and a dishtowel provided, but no food 
or  supplies  of any nature--salt and pepper, etc. If you want to do 
any  cooking here at all, you might bring or buy either paper towels 
or  napkins  and  some  paper  plates, as well as powdered cream and 
sugar  and  coffee  filters  for  those  coffee  hounds like us. The 
coffee  machine  technically  took the cone type filters but our Mr. 
Coffee-type  filters fit fine into the basket. The coffee maker made 
around 3 good sized cups. 

The  spacious main living area consisted of about 25 feet wide by 20 
feet  deep. The furniture was rattan but very comfortable. There was 
a  small  round  dining  table with 3 chairs, 2 sofas (one a sleeper 
sofa),  a  coffee  table  and two other side chairs and a TV. The TV 
featured  cable,  with HBO, CNN, and a couple of other channels. Two 
of  us  kind of almost rattled around in the space and it would have 
been  more than adequate for a couple and two children to share. The 
bathroom  had  a double sink with about 5 feet of mirrors. There was 
a  typical  French  shower  stall,  no  door. There was some storage 
under  the  sink, plus a large key-type safe. There were two hanging 
knobs  in  the  bathroom  and  a  110  shaver outlet ONLY. All other 
outlets  were  220 and there was NO hairdryer. Toilet paper and bath 
soap  were  provided, but NO shampoo or lotion. The bedroom could be 
closed  off from the main part of the unit and held a king-sized bed 
with  2  night stands, 1 small dresser with 2 drawers over 3, plus a 
closet  with  3 feet of hanging space and 4 shelves beside it. There 
was  much  more  than  adequate  storage  space for a week at Orient 
Beach! 

The  entire  unit  was  air-conditioned,  and  the  a/c worked well, 
although  it was supposedly automatically turned off from 10 A.M. to 
4  P.M. and sometimes you had to manually turn it back on. There was 
also  a  ceiling fan, if you preferred, but it was at the top of the 
cathedral  ceiling  and  provided  little  air  to the actual living 
space. 

Kind  of  an oddity that we noted was that all the doors locked with 
a  key--even  when  you  were  inside. You had to use the key to let 
yourself  OUT.  The  front door also did not automatically lock when 
you  left  and it took a little getting used to. There were signs on 
the  doors  for  the  patio  which stated that for security reasons, 
people  were  always  supposed to lock their doors at night, as well 
as  close  the  shutters.  We did always lock the doors, although we 
never bothered with the shutters. 

Maid  service  was OK, as we always had clean towels and the bed was 
always  made and she did the dishes which we left in the sink. If it 
wasn't  actually  IN  the sink, it didn't get washed though, and the 
crumbs  which  I  deliberately  left  on  the counter in the kitchen 
stayed  there  for  the course of the week until I couldn't stand it 
anymore and cleaned them up myself. 

Early  in  the  week we picked up a stray cat that spent most of his 
time  sleeping  in one of the chairs on our patio. By the end of the 
week,  he  was  always  waiting for me by the door when I walked out 
and  he  scarfed  up  his  share of hand-outs over the course of the 
week. 

One  thing  that  we  did  notice was that the place seemed a little 
quiet.  If  we  go  back  there again, we would probably bring along 
either  a  radio  or tape player so that we could have some music to 
listen  to.  The  stereo unit at Green Cay made our enjoyment of the 
place so much greater. 

Beach  towels  were  provided  at  the front desk and I would assume 
that  you  could  get fresh ones each day. We didn't bother but just 
let  our towels dry each day and re-used them. We had also brought a 
couple of towels from home, which I would do again. 

Would  I  return  to  La Plantation again? Absolutely! Was it a good 
value?  Absolutely.  As  I said at the beginning, during the winter, 
it  is technically a little cheaper for the suite at Plantation than 
the  top  floor rooms at L'Hoste. Rates during the summer at L'Hoste 
were  $150  per night for the 3rd floor rooms, times 6 nights. Rates 
for  May  to  September  1 at Plantation for the suite were $118 per 
night.  L'Hoste is right ON the beach, which has lots of advantages. 
With  Plantation,  you  can  get  a  larger  space, with almost full 
kitchen  facilities,  a  great  view and a separate bedroom for less 
money. You can't go wrong with either one. 

End of Carol Hill 9703 La Plantation review

Begin gd 9704
LE FLAMBOYANT REVIEW

All-inclusive  at  Le  Flamboyant  means 3 excellent elaborate meals 
daily  and  all the soft and/or hard drinks you can consume. You pay 
for  each  drink  with  coconut money which is provided to you at no 
charge.  They  can  make  almost  any standard cocktail or elaborate 
Caribbean  mixed  drink  you  can  imagine. Its a very well-equipped 
bar. 

The  main  restaurant is divided into the Grill and the Terrace. The 
Terrace  restaurant  houses the regular French dinner menu and the 3 
buffets  each  week;  Mexican, Creole, and Italian. Another night is 
lobster  night.  The  grill  next  door has a daily menu featuring a 
large  variety  of  grilled  meats  and  is available for lunch too. 
After  lunch  closes  at  2:30pm,  you  can order take away from the 
Grill chef until 4pm. No one goes hungry on the all-inclusive. 

Breakfast  is an elaborate buffet of fruits including pineapple, and 
papaya  and  juices,  coffee,  caf  au  lait, tea, milk, sodas, eggs 
individually  crafted  by  the  omelet  man, or ready-made scrambled 
with  bacon,  sausage,  toast,  chocolate and regular Danish, French 
breads,  and  a  hot  water  machine  where  you can make, as we did 
daily, 4 minute eggs. 

At  lunch  you could order simple hot dogs or burgers or lamb chops, 
veal  scallopini,  pork  chops, entrecote, chicken nuggets, or other 
items.  There  also  was a large salad bar, and wonderful deserts at 
every meal. 

At  lunch  and  dinner  unlimited  red or white wine and domestic or 
imported beer was offered. 

The  resort  it  self  is located on a lagoon and has a lovely white 
sand  beach.  There's  a  water  sports  center where you can obtain 
snorkel  gear,  use  a variety of pedal boats, sunfish sailboats, or 
wind  surfing  boats.  These are all included at no extra charge. If 
you  want,  you  can  rent  catamarans, speed boats , and other more 
elaborate equipment. 

There's  an  outdoor  Jacuzzi,  2  large swimming pools, and endless 
lounge  chairs  for  sunbathing  and you can swim in the lagoon too. 
The  hotel  provides a shuttle to a nearby beach if you prefer, to a 
shopping  mall, and to the French capital of Marigot two miles away. 
They also offer to their all-inclusive people, a free 3 hour around-
the-island  bus  tour.  There's  a  nightly  free shuttle bus to the 
Lightening  Casino for gamblers. This is on the Dutch side where all 
9 casinos on the island are located. The French don't allow it. 

End LE FLAMBOYANT REVIEW

MOUNT VERNON
  By  the time we arrived at the hotel and unpacked, all we could do 
was  to  have dinner at the hotel restaurant. The salad portion cost 
$11/pp,  entrée  is  $13/pp  and the complete 3-course dinner, which 
includes  dessert, cost $24. This was their standard price structure 
for  dinner  every evening. Dessert alone, salad & dessert or entrée 
&  dessert  options  were  not offered. The first night's dinner was 
very  good.  I  had grilled lamb chops, scalloped potatoes and green 
beans.  Greg  has  endive salad, snapper Creole and some pastries. I 
have  to  say  the  French  do  believe  in  using real butter... no 
margarine,  no  fat-free or reduced imitation of any kind. The hotel 
also  provided  a  daily complimentary breakfast buffet of scrambled 
eggs,  bacon,  sausage,  fresh  fruits, croissants, rolls, pastries, 
coffee  and  juices  as  part  of  the  package.  There was no lunch 
service  at the main restaurant but burgers & fries can be purchased 
at  the  grill  by  the  pool.The  next day we tried out the hotel's 
beach  and  the pool. Orient Bay had more waves and breezes than the 
last   time   we   were   there...  nothing  really  intolerable  or 
unpleasant.  Because  of  the  northwest  wind  and  water currents' 
direction,  Orient  Bay  north  end  was  the recipient of sea weed; 
mounds  of  it  would  accumulate  on the beach. Although the resort 
would  scoop  the  sea  weed into piles, it would be the next day or 
two  before  they would remove it. But the cool breeze was certainly 
a  welcomed delight. This was the first time I ever experienced such 
a  constant  cool  breeze  in the Caribbean. Every day and night the 
breeze  would  bring  such  relief  that  it  felt like there was no 
humidity.  Couple  of  nights,  we had pina coladas at the hotel bar 
that  overlooks  the  bay.  The  wonderful  drinks, cool breezes and 
incredibly  beautiful  views  are  what Caribbean vacations are made 
of.  Areas  away  from  the  coast are still hot and humid.The hotel 
presented  a  special  cocktail  party  &  dinner  by  the pool with 
entertainment.  They  provided free rum punch; alas, I was hoping it 
would  be pina coladas. The entertainment was a fire show around the 
pool. It reminded me more of the Polynesian-type fire show. hy9707


PELICAN RESORT AND CASINO
The  Pelican  is  a  nicely  appointed place with many pools and lit 
tennis  courts;  unfortunately  it is run down. Many appliances were 
broken  and  management,  while friendly did nothing to help.  There 
were  also  many   in  house  arguments between management and staff 
that  were  embarrassing  at the least and hard to ignore. The major 
problem  was  the  sudden  and   frequent lack of running water. The 
Pelican  is  a good location.  I only hope the owners will read this 
and pursue the issue. ts9609

Pelican  Beach, at the sprawling Pelican Resort complex, is slightly 
wider   than  before  Luis,  and  remains  very  popular.  The  most 
successful  timeshare  resort  in  the  world,  Pelican lost several 
roofs  to  Luis.  Its  recovery, chronicled by photography sometimes 
displayed  in  the lobby, was astonishing; it began accepting guests 
barely  two  months after the storm hit. (Beach chairs here are only 
for  Pelican  timeshare  owners.) The view of ocean sunsets here can 
be spectacular.(jb9610)

ST. TROPEZ HOTEL
We  spent the balance of the afternoon settling in at the St. Tropez 
Hotel  on  Orient Bay. If one wants to stay on Orient Beach, I can't 
imagine  a  better  location than this one, and in fact this was the 
same  place  we  stayed  during  our  first visit. Their rooms offer 
exactly  what  we wanted: a king-size bed, a sitting area with small 
couch  and chair, a small refrigerator with freezer that comfortably 
accommodated  2  ice trays, a hot pot for morning coffee (St. Tropez 
provides  packets of instant coffee, tea bags and sugar) and a good-
sized  balcony  with  a  view  of the ocean. The property also has a  
fresh-water  pool,  which  it  shares  with the L'Hoste Hotel, along 
with  a  small  restaurant/bar that, at least during the off-season, 
is  only  open  for  breakfast  and  occasional  cocktail hours. The 
restaurant  had  a lot of grills, however, so I assume they do lunch 
and  dinner during busier months. Overall, I think St. Tropez offers 
a  lot of room for the money and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it 
to  anyone, with the caveat that you'll really want to have a rental 
car  to  stay  there  (or  anywhere in Orient Bay, for that matter). 
js9707

SUMMIT HOTEL
Because  our  friends  couldn't  get in until Friday. A nice 
hotel,  very  clean  and  everyone  is friendly. Went for happy hour 
that  night,  we needed it. Friday our friends had rented a condo at 
the  Cupecoy  Beach  Club. So gypsys that we are we moved in on them 
on Friday. A real nice complex. sm9704

ST. MARTIN DINING

BAR  DE  LA MER on the harbor in Marigot. It is a lively outdoor (or 
inside  if  you  must)  cafe,  very  European  in atmosphere. We had 
grilled  shrimp and grilled lobster, both house specialties. The tab 
was  about 75.00 w/tip and a few drinks. If you love to watch people 
and mingle, this is a fun place. (HM9609)
BAR  DE  LA  MER  -  Another  new  place facing the market area in 
Marigot.  We  had  a  very forgettable 8 oz cheeseburger and snapper 
filet and the worse service of the trip. (bf9609)

BAVARIA.  I had the veinersnitsel (spelled wrong) and Jack had the 
bratwurst.  Both are great and we each had a few drinks with dinner. 
The cost $38, not bad for a great meal. sm9704
BAVARIA:   This  is  a  place  that doesn't get mentioned here very 
often,   but   is   one   that   has   very   good   food   and  the  
prices   are  quite   reasonable.   Since  the  hurricane  the place 
has  been  refunished.  Out   are   the   dark  (and  uncomfortable) 
benches  and  IN  are  tables  with pink  table  clothes  and  while  
chairs.   The   place   is  brighter  and  nicer  looking.  Both  Ed  
and   I   had   the  potato soup, which is absolutely  delicious.  I  
had  their  schnitzel  <sp?>  which is a huge piece of pork  and  is 
cooked  to  perfection.  It  comes  with  potatoes and salad. Ed had  
the   bratwurst   which caqme with potatoes and sauerkraut. The bill 
was  $38. AB9612

BIKINI BAR: 
Late  in  the  afternoon, we took a walk down the beach and ended up 
having  lunch  so  late it really was an early dinner. We stopped at 
Bikini  Beach  to  grab  just a tapa or two as a snack, but ended up 
ordering  much  more  than  that.  You  wouldn't expect a beachfront 
place  to  have such good food, but Bikini Beach's tapas could rival 
anything  we've  had  in  Spain, particularly the gazpacho soup. And 
when  I  say we ordered a lot of food, I mean it: the final bill was 
around $50. js9707

On  Orient  Beach. Great appetizer - coconut shrimp. Everything else 
quite  god,  but  hard to enjoy when cats and dogs are competing for 
your  table  scraps! Atmosphere better suited to day light and lunch 
time  menu  more  reasonable.  If  you  are  going to spend $100 for 
dinner,  go  to  Grand  Case.  Drop  by here for lunch! I'd kill for 
those coconut shrimp, however! mg9702

BOATHOUSE  -  Edie  and  I  shared French onion soup, chicken Caesar 
salad  and  chicken  terrace for $35. I always find the Boathouse to 
be  a  "safe"  choice. Very good food and reasonably priced. Love to 
watch  the storms come over the mountains into Simpson Bay. Seems to 
happen everytime we go there. (bf9609)

BRASSIERE   DE   LA   GARE   In  the  Royale  Marina.  It  was  very 
disappointing.  We  both  had  pasta  with  lobster  or shrimp and a 
cheese  and  tomato  based sauce. We selected the restaurant because 
it  had many more customers than any of the other restaurants on the 
Marina,  but  we  really didn't care for it. The bill was $43 w/tip. 
After  dinner, we went to the Casino at the Pelican and made a small 
contribution to the local economy. ev9704

CAFE  TOSCANO  at  the  Maho Beach Hotel was our only option for New 
Year's  Eve. It was awful. We usually do LaRosa but they were closed 
for  N.Y.  Eve  because  they  didn't want to disappoint the regular 
crowd  by  having to turn some away. If this was a solution, it made 
no  sense  to  us.  Anyway,  we  had  eaten pretty well on all other 
nights  so  one  bad  meal was acceptable under the circumstances. A 
few of us didn't feel too well the day after, however. hm9702

CAPTAIN  OLIVER'S  RESTAURANT  at  Oyster  Pond is not to be missed. 
Dine  at  water's  edge  just feet away from luxurious sailboats and 
yachts,  and enjoy the romantic ambiance day or night. You'll find a 
wide  selection  of  fine  French  cuisine here. (Reservations are a 
must, especially for choice seating near the water.)(jb9610)

CHERI'S  -  Discovered  they have great chicken salads for those few 
meals  when  I  tried to be good. AS always, a great place to people 
watch.  I  saw  a Japanese man wearing the same outlandish outfit as 
mine.  Although  neither  one  of  us spoke the other's language, we 
embraced  as  though we were old friends, We are all brothers united 
by a common bond: bad taste in clothes. (bf9609)

CHESTERFIELD'S  -  Another  first time restaurant located in Bobby's 
Marina.  Same  owners  as the Boathouse and very equivalent. Chicken 
Teriyaki,  chicken  with  pepper sauce and a bottle of wine were all 
good  for  $40.  We  dined  with  a fellow teacher of Edie's and her 
husband.  Earlier  in the year, we had planned to share this evening 
with  another  co-teacher  and  her  husband  also  but  she died of 
cancer,  2  weeks before the trip. The last thing she asked Edie was 
to  have  a  drink in her memory. We sadly paid our last respects to 
her.   Definitely  put  our  recent  house  fire  into  perspective. 
(bf9609)
CHESTERFIELD'S,   at   Bobby's   Marina  in  the  northern  part  of 
Philipsburg.  Open  for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Chesterfield's 
offers  reasonable  prices along with a panoramic view of the entire 
Philipsburg  waterfront.  You  can make reservations next door for a 
day-sail  to  nearby  St. Barth's. Come at night to enjoy the lively 
bar  and  great  food,  with an abundance of locally caught seafood. 
The grilled tuna is superb.(jb9610)

CLOUD  ROOM. Unfortunately, a tour bus had preceded us and they were 
out  of  all of their meat dishes. Darn! We did have Bolonaise and a 
Ceasar  Salad  which  were OK for $22. That evening, on the balcony, 
with  drinks  in  hand,  we desperately tried to come up with a "get 
rich  quick"  scheme  that  would  allow us to continue this life of 
opulence.bf9705
CLOUD   ROOM   -  Dinner  here  consisted  of  goulash  and  wierner 
schneitzer  for  $45.  Good  food and talk about a room with a view. 
Make sure Peter is cooking. (bf9609)

DALIVIO   Had  the veal chop and veal parm. Man were they both good. 
Tender  and  so  full of flavor!! Can't wait to go back there and do 
it  again. We tried Bar de la Mer in Marigot. The food was okay, but 
the  service  is  so  disorganized.  It was so hectic and as we were 
sitting  near  the  grill we saw how some orders come up and sit for 
at  least  10  minutes till the waiter fetches them and serves them. 
In  fact  I  ordered  the red snapper, Mindy the lobster and Tracy a 
pizza.  My  fish was sitting so long that when the waiter brought it 
over  I  sent it back and got a new one. There is a lot of action to 
see  while  sitting  at the sidewalk tables but we probably won't go 
back  there  just  yet. We went to Restaurant Taitu in Mount Vernon. 
We  had  been  there  in  July 1995 before Luis and enjoyed it so we 
were  happy  to know that they were back. We had a nice meal and the 
service  was  very good. We tried Tutta Pasta this trip and I'd rate 
it  a  6.5  out  of  10.  The service is pretty good and the food is 
good, but not great. ms9704
  DALIVIO'S,  not too bad, eh. Jack finally got his red snapper with 
linguine  and  I  had  the  Veal Piccata. We shared this huge Ceasar 
salad  and  a  bottle  of  wine  and then had a sambuca for an after 
dinner  drink.  Definitely  no  room for dessert. The whole meal was 
wonderful  and  the  view out to the harbor was pretty. The cost was 
$110  and  the  restaurant  will  be added to our list of favorites. 
sm9704
DALIVIO...  we  stayed away for about 4 years because of the owner's 
attitude  despite the great food we always had there. Now, Mr. Livio 
has  retired  and  the  restaurant  is  being  run by Antoine's son, 
Daniel.  What  a  difference  !!  The  food  is better than ever and 
Daniel  is  super gracious. We were there twice and had the fabulous 
Caesar  salad  and monster veal chops both times. (perfectly grilled 
loin  chops  with  NO  sauce, just great flavor). I can't say enough 
except  GO  !  Call  001-5995-22690. It's too bad that P'burg closes 
early  and one cannot browse the area pre-dinner as we do in Marigot 
Harbor.  It's  very safe but there's only casino action and some fun 
activities  at  Bobby's Marina (pretty far from DaLivio) if you want 
night-time  action in P'burg. Anyway, it's worth the effort just for 
DaLivio.  Mario's  and others will be covered in another report. I'm 
too  tired  to  think  and  just wanted to get started with the best 
first.hm9702

DON  CAMILLO,  in Marigot was a hectic X-mas eve experience. We were 
a  large  party  among  many  other  large  parties  and the kitchen 
couldn't  quite handle it. The food was good, once it arrived, and I 
would  have  preferred  going on an off night (which is tough during 
the holidays). hm9702
DON   CAMILLO:   We   went   here  by  default.   That  night  Ren & 
Stimpy  were  offering  a buffet only. It was  $12  pp  but  did not 
appeal  to  either  Ed  or  Frank so we go in the car  and  went  to  
Marigot.   Don   Camillo has been a place we enjoy and go  there  at  
least    once   each   trip.   Ed   had   his   favorite   appetizer  
Carpaccio.   He   also  had  angel  hair  pasta  with  alfredo sauce 
and   shrimps.   I   had  their  special  salad and their pasta with 
eggplant.   Frank   had   their   lasagna   and  Nina had one of the 
specials  (I  can't   quite  remember). The bill was $65 per couple. 
AB9612

DON   CARLOS:   Ed   and  I shared an order of their special nachos. 
They   were   yummy.  I  had a chimichanga dinner and Ed had grilled 
shrimp  in   garlic  sauce  which  was  served  with  mixed veggies. 
Everything was  good. $48 AB9612
DON  CARLOS.Another  must...the  best  crab  cakes  outside  of  St. 
Michael's  Maryland  were  at Don Carlos. Shennie, the owner, was so 
happy  to  see  us return (we were there in Dec.) that she made us a 
super  take-out  for hurricane dinner a few days after we had dinner 
there.  She  is  a  lovely  lady  who  happens  to  run an excellent 
restaurant. (HM9609)

FISH  POT: Grand Case, waterfront. Good, but over rated. Would eat @ 
L'Alabama  or  Heava  before going back here! Expensive, pretentious 
and  the  place  to  go, I guess. Reservations a must. I don't think 
I'd rush back. mg9702
THE  FISH  POT:  Another excellent restaurant. Onion Soup, Crudites, 
Snapper  Fillet, a really wonderful, huge pot of Boulliabaise. A few 
glasses of wine and no dessert. About $100.(SS9611)

FRENCH  BAKERIES.  There  is one in Marigot that has outside seating 
(no  name on it) where you pick out your breads and pastries and eat 
it  there.  Also found a bakery located beside a grocery on the road 
into  Marigot  where  we  picked up more goodies to be eaten back at 
the  hotel.  Why  can't  I  find  a  place in Ohio that makes crusty 
French  Bread  and  croissants - may have to open my own. All in all 
my  husband  and  I  were  pleasantly  surprised  at  how  warm  the 
islanders  were  and  did not see any evidence of crime. Most of the 
beaches  had  (local cops?) on the premises which was reassuring. We 
have  been  to  many of the Carib Islands and rate SXM as one of our 
favorites now. We had a great relaxing time. jr9704

GOOD  FELLAS  again.  It was good but a little bit more than Sambuca 
where  we  usually go first night. Jack had pasta with sausage and I 
had  fettucini  with  something in it but I can't remember. We had a 
couple of drinks and the bill was $55 tip included. sm9704

HIBISCUS:  Nouvelle  French  Cuisine  with  Caribbean  Spices.  Very 
interesting  and  very  different. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it 
didn't.   Worth   trying   and  when  it  was  good,  it  was  quite 
original.(SS9611)

HOA  MAI  located  in  the  French Cul De Sac area near where Mark's 
Place  used  to  be.  This French Indonesian restaurant was not only 
eloquent  inside  but produced the best meal of the trip. I had Pork 
in  curry  sauce  and  Edie  had  sauteed chicken with cashews. Both 
dishes  were  outstanding  for  $30.  I learned that this restaurant 
will  soon  be  moving  to Marigot and will be renamed "Macadam". It 
will  be  situated  somewhere  near  the  French  Can  Can. I highly 
recommend a trip to this place. You won't regret it! bf9705
HAO  MAI: It is almost with regret I tell you about Hao Mai, I would 
hate  it if we couldn't walk in there at will next visit! Hao Mai is 
in  Cul  de  Sac,  just  around the corner from the Mount Vernon. It 
specializes  in  Viet  Namese  and  Creole food. It is also the only 
place  we  found  where  you could have a completely satisfying meal 
for  under  $80! The owner, Hao Mai, is this ageless, charming, Viet 
Namese  woman  who  lavishes attention on you. Definitely a place to 
go,  even  if  the  location  is less than optimal . The hotel it is 
located  at is still closed and there isn't much else in Cul de Sac, 
But Hao Mai is worth the trip! ETC. mg9702

HEAVA:  Grand  Case, wrong side of the street. Tiny, antique filled, 
charming.  Food  was  almost  as  good as @ L'Alabama. Francophiles, 
made   little  effort  to  speak  English  (unusual,  by  the  way). 
Charming,  romantic  and  worth  every  penny.  We  walked  in,  but 
reservations  are  probably  a  good idea for dinner after 8. I'd go 
back here again. mg9702

HIGHWAY GROCERY
  For  those  of you who know how cheap I am, that is no mean trick. 
Highway  Grocery  -  I would be remiss if I didn't put in a plug for 
this  small  grocery  next  to Lynettes near the airport. This place 
sells  the  best  Johnny Cakes (baked not deep fried) on the island. 
Plain  or cheese filled. Baked daily by Claire, one of the sweetest, 
friendliest  locals  on  the island. Tell her what you want and when 
and  she'll  have  them  ready  for  you hot out of the oven. She'll 
throw  in  her life story for no extra charge and perhaps even throw 
in  a  complimentary  warm  baked  loaf of bread while she tells you 
about  St.  Martin  and its people. If SXM is more than just a place 
where  you vacation, stop in and say "Hi" to Claire. It is time well 
spent. (bf9609)

The  GRAND  CAFE  EUROPE  (I  think  that  was the name) across from 
Cheri's  but  upstairs  and  they were having their 5th anniversary. 
The  drinks  were  only  $2  and lots of free hors deuvers including 
mussels.  We  were  treated  to the band called Mothers Popcorn from 
Holland  who  were  on  tour(one  of  the  members told us they were 
thrown  off  St.  Bart's after a fight (he didn't want to talk about 
it)  but  they  were  great  and  we had quite an enjoyable evening. 
jr9704

IL  NETTUNO:  Unusual  in  that the cuisine was Italian (most of the 
other  places  are  French Cuisine) An excellent place with a dining 
room  overlooking  the ocean. Also the most expensive meal we had on 
SXM.  We had Grilled Portobello Mushrooms, Mussels Casino, Bracciole 
and  Penne  with  Seafood.  With  a  bottle of wine and no desert or 
drinks it ran us $110 before tip.(SS9611)

KONGA  CAFE  -  A very pleasant find. Located in the Cul De Sac area 
near  the  former "Mark's Place", we just had to try this restaurant 
after  a number of folks mentioned it on the beach. It literally has 
6  tables  in  a  person's  living room and porch. It also has great 
food  at  great prices! We had a New York Strip steak, fried bananas 
(God  they  were good!), veggie pie and a Hawaiian sandwich for $20. 
The   food   was  so  good  and  the  prices  were  so  low,  I  was 
embarrassed.(bf9609)

KONTIKI  -  Edie  and  I split a fruit plate for $14. Super meal! No 
way, one person could finish it. (bf9609)

L'ALABAMA:  Grand  Case,  on the wrong side of the street. Not water 
front,  but  who  cares!  Best meal we had on the island and several 
other  couples agreed. Pascal and Karin are the owners, and chef and 
hostess  respectively.  Reservations  necessary unless you get there 
before   7.  Am  enclosing  several  business  cards  -  that's  how 
impressed  we  were!!!  If you can get us a discount there next time 
we are in St. Martin, I would eat there 7 nights! mg9702
  L'ALABAMA.  Appetizers:  Sea  Bass  Rillette (mousse) w/grean bean 
salad,  Lobster  and Crab "Pie" w/raisins and raspberry vinegar. The 
Sea  Bass was excellent, but the Lobster and Crab pie was not a good 
choice  (it  was  a cake, not a pie and was very dry). Main Courses: 
Grouper  w/Banana  and  Honey  Raspberry sauce, and Shrimp w/ orange 
and  coconut  glaze  w/colorful  rice.  Both  dishes  were light and 
tropical.  We  would  rate  these dishes as very good. Dessert: Puff 
Pastry  w/lemon cream and pineapple in a raspberry sauce. This was a 
fine  choice.  We would not rate this restaurant as one of the best; 
however,  the  menu  is  so  different from others that it is a nice 
change of pace, and we would return. df9702
L'ALABAMA:  We ate here twice, because it was so good the first time 
we  absolutely  had  to  go  back.  The  first  time we had Scallops 
Madeleine,   a   soup   of  red  cabbage  with  bacon  and  Szechuan 
peppercorns,  Swordfish  Brochette,  and  Grilled Fillet of Pork. We 
had  a very nice bottle of wine, shared a desert of bananas with rum 
raisin  ice  cream,  coffee and an after dinner drink. Cost was just 
under $100.

  L'ASTROLABE  at  the  Esmeralda resort. I had coquille St. Jacques 
and  John  had  a  bouillabaisse  that  was so hearty, it could have 
easily  fed  four. The highlight of dessert was the lavendar sorbet, 
with  actual bits oflavendar flower in it. At $125 (before tip) this 
was  the  most  expensive meal we had, but if you enjoy really well-
prepared French cuisine, it's worth every dollar.js9707

  LA  AUBERGE  GOURMAND. Again, we were somewhat early and were able 
to  get basically the last table in the place without a reservation, 
as  the  place  filled  right  up within maybe 15 minutes of when we 
arrived.  Eric had scallops with broccoli in a white sauce and I had 
the  steak  in  a  pepper  sauce.  The  food  was  sizzling  hot and 
wonderful.  We  shared  a  creme  brulee  and  2  coffees. The bill, 
including  a  half  bottle  of  wine,  and  tip,  was  $72.  It  was 
wonderful.
L'AUBERGE  GOURMAND:  Very  good  food, very large portions. Chicken 
Livers  with  Bacon in Balsamic Vinegar, Fillet of Sole stuffed with 
vegetables  in  a Saffron Sauce, Grilled Mahi Mahi. About $70 before 
the tip.(SS9611)

LA  BELLE  EPOQUE.  We  each had great pizzas there. We had beer and 
wine  with  dinner  and  the  bill  was $36 and we even had leftover 
pizza for lunch. It was even better the second day. sm9704
LA  AUBERGE  GOURMAND and the one just before it, something Caraibes 
were  open  but  that's about it. Fish Pot and LeTastevin opened the 
first  of  October  and  Il  Nuttuno was re-opening the 9th. I THINK 
Rainbow  might  have  re-opened on the 1st also but not sure. We had 
two  great  meals  at  Auberge  Gourmand.  Paul  had  the  Beef with 
Roquefort  sauce  both times. I had the Beef with pepper (and I mean 
pepper)  sauce  the  first  time and the most fantastic Snapper with 
Lemon  and  Curry.  It  was  wonderful, the fish just melted in your 
mouth I had snapper (again!) at Da Livio's. Paul had Antipasto 
LA  CROSSANTERIE!!!!  Well,  maybe  I like it there a little bit too 
<g>.  Edie  opted  for  the  American  breakfast  while  I  dined on 
chocolate  croissants.  They were every bit as good as I remembered. 
I'd  also  like  to  put a plug in for their melon sized rolls. They 
were  absolutely  outstanding  on  several occasions that we stopped 
here.  We  like  to  eat them on the beach, with French cheese and a 
bottle of wine. No doubt about it, life is good! 

LAGUANA  across  from the airport is still great. It's quiet and the 
food  is  terrific. A nice meal is about $100.00 a couple with a few 
drinks....maybe  a  bit  higher.  Cheries  had some good burgers and 
Pasta  primavera...also  great Veal parm one night. Prices are still 
about  $7.00  to  $18.00. We enjoyed a meal at Ren and Stimpys. Very 
quiet  and  slow  if  you are in a rush. They had great pasta meals. 
Prices  were  around  $18.00. Think dinner ran about $75.00 a couple 
with  extra salads and a drink or two. We never did make Marios that 
most  people  still  raved about. A lot of people also said to go to 
Don Camillios which we never made. bc9705

LA  LAGUNA  was  another  excellent  meal.  I had delicious grouper, 
shared  Caesar  salad,  and "M" had shrimp fra diavalo over linguini 
which  is  his  favorite  at Laguna. The host is especially friendly 
and remembers his regulars with after dinner cordials. hm9702
L'LAGUNA:   We   decided   to  go to the Paradise Cafe, only to find 
out  it   was   closed   so  we  ended  up at Laguna. It was a great 
choice.  We  had  a   Caesar   salad.   Ed   had   angel  hair pasta 
alfredo  and  I  had  spaghetti   carbonara. The food was excellent. 
$58. AB9612
LAGUNA   -  Hard  to  believe  this  was  our  first  time  at  this 
restaurant.  We  met  Jeff  and  Sue  Kozek for chicken parmisan and 
lasagna  for $50. Great food and outstanding service.Paradise Cafe - 
Met  Hettie  and  Michael  here and we had 2 salads and French onion 
soup.  The  food  was  fine  but  despite  the place being dead, the 
service  was  also. Always nice to meet the folks we correspond with 
though.   Had a nice visit with Jeff and Sue but unfortunately never 
got to play Sue in tennis. (bf9609)

 LA ROSA TOO 
  We found La Rosa Too and it was splendid. Greg had the red snapper 
with  scalloped  potatoes and grilled zucchini. I had the orrechetti 
pasta  with  broccoli  rabes and shredded Italian sausage. It was so 
good  we  made  reservation for Friday night. There was a good crowd 
at Cheri's outdoor dining area with music and dancing.hy0707

  LA  RIVIERA  which  is  a block or two away from Touch of Gold. We 
each  had  a  Salad Nicoise (very good) and free drinks with coupons 
from  the  tourist  booths  on  Front  Street.  We really enjoy this 
restaurant  and  return  every  time we visit Front Street. The bill 
was $18 w/tip. ev9704

  LA  RIVIERA  which  is  a block or two away from Touch of Gold. We 
each  had  a  Salad Nicoise (very good) and free drinks with coupons 
from  the  tourist  booths  on  Front  Street.  We really enjoy this 
restaurant  and  return  every  time we visit Front Street. The bill 
was $18 w/tip. ev9704

LA  ROSA,  in  Maho,  near  our resort is always a favorite. We were 
there  twice, the first night of vacation and X-mas day. As usual, I 
enjoyed  veal dishes (veal parm & veal chop Regine). "M" enjoyed his 
spaghetti  Capricio  on  the first night and veal the next trip. The 
Caesar  salad is always good at La Rosa. The average price for 2 w/a 
couple  of  drinks and tip was about $70.00. That became a total for 
just  about  every  meal  we  had  and sometimes a little more if we 
shared an appetizer or dessert. hm9702
LA  ROSA, Too was a big bust. We have always gone there for the Veal 
Chop  Regine  but  this time is was not anywhere near their ordinary 
standard.  We really don't care for that restaurant that much but we 
always  loved  the  Veal  Chop so we would go there. Mine was mostly 
fat  and  there  was  no  taste  to the meal at all and it was stone 
cold.  We  had  a  couple  of  meals at Sambuca and they were pretty 
good.  It  was  very,  very hot in there though. But, thankfully, we 
sat by one of the doors to the back deck. (AS9611)

LE TASTEVIN
We  went  to  LE  TASTEVIN,  located  in Grand Case, for dinner. St. 
Martin/St.  Maartin is supposed to have more 5-star restaurants than 
any  other island in the Caribbean. Dinner had all the elements of a 
'chic-chic'  restaurant...  the  location  (by  the water), the food 
(beautifully  presented, excellent preparation and taste) and stuffy 
waiter  &  maitre'  d.  I  had  lamp chops and Greg had snapper then 
dessert  of  fresh  fruit & sorbet. The food was very good. The only 
problem  was  the mosquitoes. We had a table next to the waters with 
stone  rail/fence separating the dining area and the bushes/trees on 
the  beaches.  The  bushes was filled was mosquitoes. The mosquitoes 
and  lack of breeze was irritating enough to impact the enjoyment of 
the  dinner  and evening.hy0707LA TASTEVIN  We both had Caesar Salad 
and  Shrimp & Scallops in lobster sauce which were excellent. It was 
so  good  that we dipped the French bread into the sauce and cleaned 
our  plates.  We had coffee and Proffiteroles (like cream puffs with 
ice  cream  and  chocolate sauce, yummy). In addition, I struck up a 
conversation  with  the manager, Xavier, about the good reviews that 
the  restaurant  gets  on  the  Prodigy  BB,  so he provided us with 
complimentary  after dinner drinks. It was an excellent dinner, with 
wonderful service and the bill came to $110 w/tip.ev9704
LA  TASTEVIN   We  both  had  Caesar  Salad and Shrimp & Scallops in 
lobster  sauce  which  were excellent. It was so good that we dipped 
the  French  bread  into  the  sauce  and cleaned our plates. We had 
coffee  and  Proffiteroles  (like  cream  puffs  with  ice cream and 
chocolate  sauce,  yummy).  In  addition, I struck up a conversation 
with   the   manager,  Xavier,  about  the  good  reviews  that  the 
restaurant   gets  on  the  Prodigy  BB,  so  he  provided  us  with 
complimentary  after dinner drinks. It was an excellent dinner, with 
wonderful service and the bill came to $110 w/tip.ev9704
LE  TASTEVIN (we had reservations at Le Pressoir, but a party in the 
street  was  so  loud  that  we chose to come back on Wednesday. The 
manager  of  Le Pressoir was extremely gracious at our canceling the 
last  minute.)  Appetizers:  Snails  and  morels in puff pastry, and 
mussel  soup.  The  mussel  soup  was superb, but the snails in puff 
pastry  was  exquisite.  Main  course:  Mahi  mahi  in vanilla cream 
sauce,  and  Mahi  mahi in orange sauce. Both were perfect. Dessert: 
Creme  brulee.  Very  good  but slightly runny. The fruit and sorbet 
plate  that  we  noticed  our  next  door  neighbors  having  looked 
incredible.  Le  Tastevin  was  in  top  form. Even though we had no 
reservations, they treated us as honored guests. df9702

LA  VIE  EN  ROSE for breakfast. Breakfast was a continental buffet, 
with  meat  and  cheese, a selection of croissant, juice, coffee and 
fruit  salad for $19 including tip. I needed to do some shopping for 
my  secretaries,  so  I  checked  out  the  stalls  in the harbor in 
Marigot--along  with three busses of cruise ship passengers. I found 
a  couple  of lovely little prints for them and a larger one for me, 
and we had done our shopping for the week. ch9703

  LE  BISTRO  GOURMAND.  Jeffrey Miller recommended this one, and we 
were  anxious  to  see just how good they were. Appetizers: Caesar's 
Salad  and  Spring  Rolls  stuffed w/conch. Both were excellent, the 
spring  rolls being a decidedly wonderful surprise. Main course: Red 
snapper  w/sundried  tomato  sauce  (which  really  ended up being a 
mushroom  sauce), and Rack of Lamb in an herb sauce. Both were good-
sized  portions  and the quality was first rate. The vegetables were 
especially  wonderful here, w/stuffed zucchini, great sweet carrots, 
spinach  mousse,  and  w/the  rack  of lamb the best garlic potatoes 
I've  ever  tasted.  Dessert:  Chocolate Mousse Cake w/coffee sauce. 
This  was  excellent and turned out to be the best dessert we shared 
on  our trip. We would highly recommend this restaurant to all; even 
if it's out of your way don't pass it up! df9702

LES  COCOTIERS, on the Marigot Marina, next to Brassiere de la Gare, 
was  just  OK.  A  "bad"  lobster  was one reason not to return. The 
filet  was  fair.  The attitude of the staff left lots to be desired 
but  the  owner  tried to compensate with a bottle of Mumm's for the 
table.  There  were  12  of us; could have been part of the problem. 
hm9702
For  our  first dinner, we headed to Marigot and a Creole restaurant 
called  La  Creolienne. John and I both had conch soup that was very 
good.  For  his  entree,  he  had  a sort of surf-n-turf dish: filet 
mignon  with  coconut  shrimp.  I  had  chicken  columbo,  which was 
accompanied  by  7  or  8  tasty little Creole-style side dishes. We 
topped  it  all  off with our favorite island dessert: an assortment 
of  fruit  sorbets. Throw in a couple of rum punches apiece, and you 
get about $80 for the evening.js9707

  LECOTTAGE (closed for good) has moved to Chanteclair in the Marina 
Royale  area.  This  is a very small restaurant with both indoor and 
outdoor  seating.  Paul had a delicious Conch Stew for an appetizer, 
it  was chock full of conch and very, very good. We both had snapper 
with  garlic  mashed  potatoes.  A  great  meal and very reasonable, 
can't remember the price though. Good service also. (AS9611)

LE  CROISSANTERIE - Don't get me started. Pure and simple, I had the 
best  chocolate croissant of my life here on this trip. We both also 
had  a  Quiche  Lorraine  here for lunch one day which was also very 
good.  Edie  got  me  all  excited on the car drive when she said "I 
feel  like  a quiche" into my bad ear. Turned the car around and was 
heading  back to the condo at breakneck speed when she corrected me. 
Darn! (bf9609)

LE  MAIN  A  LA PATE was another pleasant surprise. While schlepping 
around  the  Marina Royale at Marigot (wondering how we could retire 
and  live  aboard  one  of  those  great  boats), we stopped at this 
French   restaurant  for  lunch.  I  ordered  something  called  the 
"Romance  Kabob"  which  consisted  of  marinated  scallops, shrimp, 
tomatoes,  and oranges - grilled and served with a scrumptious sauce 
with  a  mouth-watering  seafood risotto. It was all so unexpectedly 
delicious  that  I  couldn't  stop babbling about it! My 11-year old 
ordered  a trusty cheeseburger which he acclaimed to be the "best on 
the  island." With drinks our whole lunch cost $38. I imagine dinner 
would be just as outstanding. rm9702

LE  PRESSOIR.  This  is  an exceptional restaurant, the one we would 
choose  if  we  could  only  eat  at one restaurant on the island. I 
raved  about  this  restaurant  last year, and it's even better this 
year.  Located in Grand Case in the oldest house on SXM, Le Pressoir 
combines  absolutely  superb French cooking with exceptional service 
and  wonderful  ambiance.  We  had three dinners with wine for about 
$100. Go there. rm9702
Le  Pressoir.  Appetizers: Lobster Bisque and Foie Gras. The Lobster 
bisque  was  excellent,  and  the  Foie  Gras  superb. Main courses: 
Shellfish  in  Puff  Pastry  w/Columbo  spices (creamy, mildly spicy 
sauce),  and  Rolled  Salmon/Snapper/Shrimp  (rolled in phyllo dough 
and  baked,  topped  w/a  red  cream  sauce. Both dishes were highly 
unusual  and  perfectly  done.  Dessert: Homemade Nougat (ice cream) 
w/raspberry  sauce.  This  was  the  2nd  best dessert we had on the 
island.  This  restaurant  was  excellent  and deserves all the high 
regard   it   has  received  here.  The  service  was  friendly  and 
professional.  We  can't  wait  to  go  back  and  visit  this  fine 
restaurant. df9702

LE  RESIDENCE,  our  first  time  there.  Very nice. This is a fixed 
price  restaurant  and  you  picked one from different groups. I had 
the  country  salad  and  Jack had the escargot, both very good. The 
main  course  I  had  a sweet and sour shrimp (not what I thought it 
would  be  but  good)  and  Jack  had  the  lobster (very good). For 
dessert  Jack  had  the  grand  mariner  souffle and i had the crepe 
suzette,  both  delicious.  Cost with wine $108. Definitely a return 
visit. sm9704



LE  ST.  GERMAIN  -  Edie  and I had good crepes and the best French 
toast  I've  ever had here AND (drum roll....) its right next to the 
Croissanterie  so  I  just had to stop afterwards for one croissant. 
Oops,  honey  the  nice  French man thought I meant 4 croissants. Oh 
well,  we're  eat  them  eventually  (as  if), Selective hearing was 
rampant on this trip, it seems. (bf9609)

LE TAITU.
That  night,  we headed to what's probably my favorite restaurant in 
St.  Martin,  Le  Taitu.  This is a low-key place in Cul de Sac, not 
far  from  the  Mt. Vernon Hotel, that delivers a great value. Their 
cuisine  is mostly in the style of Basque, a region far to the south 
of  France,  and  is  heavily  influenced  with  tomatoes  and other 
vegetables.  John  had  a  tasty curried conch, one of their Creole-
style  dishes, and I had delicious, tender, moist chicken brochettes 
ala  Basquaise.  All  this,  plus  soup for appetizer, dessert (more 
sorbet)   and   drinks   for   $50!   Moreover,  the  restaurant  is 
architecturally  interesting, with the feel of a multi-level terrace 
in a garden. js9707

MARIO'S
  MARIO  is located near the blue bridge going to Nettle Baie; so it 
has  an  outdoor  dining patio next to the channel that opens out to 
the  bay.  There  was  a  wonderful  breeze,  excellent  service and 
recorded  piano music playing. Greg had snapper with  and I had lamp 
chops  with  couscou.  We  both  ordered the marbled cheesecake made 
with  white  chocolate  and  marscarpone  cheese.  The total tab was 
around  $84.00  with  tip. Since our table was next to the water, we 
saw  many  fishes  that  were swimming below the patio. They did not 
care  for  any  pieces  of  bread,  as  they were more interested in 
following  the order of the food chain... small fish was being eaten 
by  the  medium  fish,  the  medium  fish was being eaten by the big 
fish, etc. Mario is definitely worth trying. hy0707
MARIO'S.  No surprise there. We made reservations to go there on WED 
before  we  left New York. The meal was great and as we were leaving 
the   restaurant  we  mad  another  reservation  for  the  following 
Thursday.  This  is  why it really pays to stay for 2 weeks (G) Both 
meals  were  GREAT.  I  had  their gnocci (sp?) with 3 cheeses for a 
starter  and I must say that this is now one of my favorite all time 
dishes.  We went to L'Auberge Gourmand and Christine is as lovely as 
ever.  The  food  was  fine and we always have a good time there. We 
decided to try DaLavio due to the good mentions. ms9704
MARIO'S   Bistro   in  Sandy  Ground.  This  was  a  very  difficult 
reservation  to get as Mario's is the most popular restaurant on St. 
Martin   at   this  point.  Everything  was  wonderful  and  it  was 
definitely  our best meal. We had a table for two right on the water 
edge  of  the  restaurant.  I  started with a Caesar salad and Jerry 
started  with  mussels  in  a tomato and cheese sauce (it was a very 
large  portion  and  would have been a normal meal back home). Jerry 
then  had grilled Mahi Mahi with a seafood risotto. I had Roast Duck 
in  a  honey  garlic sauce with garlic mashed potatoes which was out 
of  this  world.  For  dessert,  we  shared a marble cheesecake with 
raspberry  sauce  painted on the plate. Everything looked too pretty 
to  eat  - it was presented very nicely. We both had coffee with the 
dessert.  With  wine,  the  bill was only $82 w/tip, and it was well 
worth  it.  We  had  a  nice  conversation with Martine and told her 
about  the  BB.  She  said that she wished people didn't talk up the 
restaurant.  She doesn't want them to be disappointed if they have a 
bad  meal.  Oh,  the  waiters  really  are  as  cute  as  Althea had 
mentioned.ev9704
MARIO'S  BISTRO  in  Sandy Ground is a favorite of SXM regulars. The 
food  this  time  was very good, well above average, but not "to die 
for"  as  we had experienced in the past (maybe it was just the dish 
I  had  -  scallops  -  that  was  the  exception to the rule?). Two 
waiters,  two  waitresses,  and  the  ever-present  Martine  (owner) 
provided  great  service.  The  place was packed. We spoke at length 
with  Martine, and she's really concerned that we Netizens are over-
hyping  Mario's.  She's  afraid  people's  expectations are too high 
when   they   arrive,   and   she  can't  possibly  meet  such  high 
expectations.  She  asked us to tell our Prodigy and AOL friends and 
others  on  the  Internet  that  she appreciates our enthusiasm, but 
asks  that  we not overdo the hype. "We are just a casual three star 
restaurant,  and  people  might  come  here expecting something much 
more fancy," she said. rm9702
MARIO'S  was  thoroughly  enjoyable.  We  were a party of 8 and were 
treated  very  well, service was attentive but not obtrusive and the 
food,  especially  the Filet Mignon "special" was out of this world. 
Each  time  we  go there we're too full for dessert. I had a bite of 
some  apple  thing  that  was  wonderful.  We  tried to make another 
reservation  for  later  in  the  vacation but the only option was a 
late seating the night before we were leaving. hm9702
MARIO'S   BISTRO   Appetizers:  Scallops  w/avocado  confit,  Caesar 
Salad,  Asparagus  w/camembert  cheese, and Snails in a terrine. The 
Asparagus  and  Snails  were  excellent; the Caesar salad very good, 
but  the  Scallops w/avocado was disappointing because all you could 
taste  was onion. (Second visit) Main course: 2 Ducks w/honey orange 
sauce  and  garlic  mashed  potatoes,  Veal piccata and Tuna on Crab 
rissoto.  The Duck was superb, but the garlic mashed potatoes lacked 
garlic  and had way too much butter. The Veal piccata was very good, 
and  the  Tuna on Crab Rissoto was excellent. Dessert: Sorbet plate; 
very  good  but  nothing  to write home about. What bothered us most 
about  this restaurant was the service; it was not befitting a first 
class  restaurant. We were rushed to order, and were left on our own 
for  the  rest  of  the evening. We literally had to call the waiter 
over  several times for additional water, etc. We would go back just 
because  the  duck  was so good, but this certainly does not rate as 
one of the top restaurants we visited. df9702
MARIO'S    BISTRO:We    did  have  reservations,  although  on  this 
particular   night   it   was   not   full.   I  think it was "Coral 
Shores  Night"  there   since   residents  of  the complex took up 4 
tables  that  night. Martine  was  our  server.  I  think  they kept 
those  adorable  French  guys away  from  our  table  because  while  
I   was   sitting  in the front of the  restaurant  waiting  for  Ed 
to  park  the  car  I was doing some drooling  and  they  got  tired  
of   mopping  up  the  floor  <g>.  Our meal was very  good.  Ed had 
carpaccio  (this  time  served with ham instead of beef). I  had  an  
asparagus   appetizer   that   was  OUT  OF  THIS  WORLD. For a main  
course   Ed   had  the  filet  topped with blue cheese and I had the 
rib   eye.   We  both got the garlic mashed potatoes and vegetables. 
We  shared   the   dessert  of the day which I can't describe but it 
was  to  die  for.   It had chocolate mousse on it. Our bill was $78 
and well worth it. AB9612
MARIO'S  BISTRO!!  That is the greatest place, not just the food but 
the  ambiance,  the  hostess, Martine, and the nice personable young 
men  that  are the waiters. We went there twice last spring and when 
we  got  back  this  time  the waiter remembered what kind of wine I 
drank!  Paul  and  I  went there alone the first week we were on the 
island.  I  had  the  grilled chicken and garlic mashed potatoes. It 
was  out  of  this  world!  Paul  had  a  tuna  dish that was great. 
(AS9611)
Mario's  remains  #1. We had 2 exceptional dinners there, one on the 
first  night of our trip and one 8 days later. The fish preparations 
were  the  best  of  any we tried; this was confirmed by friends who 
joined  us  on the second trip there. The prices were very fair, the 
food  was  of  top  quality,  and the setting made the evenings most 
enjoyable (HM9609)


Mark's  Place.  Originally  in Cul de Sac, he closed after hurricane 
Luis  but has now re-opened in a shopping center on Bush Road on the 
airport  side  of  Philipsburg.  Tha  atmosphere is much different - 
definitely  busier.  It  is  attractively  done with potted palms to 
screen  out  the parking lot, but it is now a "city" restaurant. The 
menu  is  much  the  same,  and  the food and prices just as good as 
before.  Appetizers entrees, glass of wine, coffee for 2, about $50. 
We  can  only speak for the Creole dishes, but the octopus and conch 
stews  are great. If you liked the old Mark's you should try the new 
one,  but  be  prepared for a different ambiance. Mark himself seems 
very happy with the new operation. rb9707

MARY'S  BOON.  We  went for the Veal Dijon night. It was served with 
rice,  green  beans,  quiche  and  this  sherbet  served in a orange 
peel(a  refreshing touch to a good meal). The price has gone up some 
but  we  had friends with us who had never been there so it was fun. 
Cost with drinks and a Bottle of wine $111. sm9704

MESSALINA
Messalina,  on  the  waterfront  in  Marigot.  This  is  a very good 
Italian  restaurant  (if  perhaps a little pricey) that seems to get 
overlooked when St. Martin's Italian eateries are
mentioned.  John  ordered  pasta with a porcini mushroom sauce and I 
had  an eggplant and pasta dish, plus we both had huge gourmet-style 
salads  as appetizers. Don't miss the tiramisu for dessert. We spent 
$125, and it's worth noting that the check here includes a
15% service charge.js9707

MR.  BUSBY'S  which was just okay. They don't know how to make I rum 
punch.  In  fact  I  had  some  in  my  Heinekin  bag and I gave the 
waitress  a  glass  to  show  her how it should taste. Lunch was $40 
there  for  some  fish,  ribs, cheeseburger and 2 drinks and a coke. 
The  beach  (other  end of Dawn Beach) by Busby's is nice...umbrella 
and  chair rentals available. The sand must be artificial because it 
was sooo soft. Like baby powder. ms9704

 
NEW  SURF  CLUB SOUTH that we would drive over there and see it. The 
have  done a great job!! It is nothing like the old place. I had the 
roasted  chicken  and also carppacio and Jack had a tuna steak. Both 
of  them  were good but I would have rathered a hamburger which they 
don't  serve  at night. I wonder if I can get them to deliver to the 
beach?<G The bill that night was $50.sm9704

PAPAGAYO   at   Orient  Beach  (KonTiki  was  reservations  only  on 
Sunday!).  Chicken  Breasts  w/peppers  and mushrooms on bagette and 
Lobster  Salad. Both were wonderful, with an especially large amount 
of  lobster  in  the salad; in fact, all our lunches here turned out 
to  be a very pleasant experience. The quality of this restaurant is 
far superior to the past. df9702

PASANGGRAHAN:   Ed  and  I  drove  into  town  to exchange a pair of 
earrings   and   decided   to   have  lunch  while we were there. We 
had  never eaten  here  before  and decided it was time to try it. I 
always  enjoy  eating   at   the  places  that  face  the  beach and 
the  water.  We  each  had the  lobster salad, which was quite good. 
The bill was $32 AB9612
Paanggrahann  -  We  had  a  fruit  plate  (good) and a meat lasagna 
(excellent)  for  dinner  for  $26  in this 1905 guesthouse on Front 
Street  in  Philipsburg.  The  view  of  the  ocean, overlooking the 
pretty  gardens,  along with the old fashioned, quaint atmosphere of 
the  guesthouse plus outstanding service made us add this restaurant 
to our "favorites" list. (bf9609)
PICIOLO  CAFE (ex Drew's Deli) The presentation and food quality was 
wonderful.  2 starters, 2 main courses, 2 desserts, 1 bottle of H2O, 
1  bottle of wine, 1 coke and 1 coffee was $57 (plus $10 tip). Their 
phone  is  87  32  47.  It's  very small so a reservation is a must. 
Highly recommended. ms9704

PIZZA   &   PASTA   TRATTORIA,  which  is  a  kick.  This  smallish, 
unpretentious  restaurant, which fills up early, is operated by Ilda 
Figarolo,  who  immediately  challenged  us  as we sat down: "Do you 
know  what  a  Trattoria  is?" Before we could inhale to answer, she 
charged  on,  "A  Trattoria  is like eating in someone's home! It is 
small,  it  is noisy, and you get a lot of food!" It wasn't actually 
all  that  noisy,  except  when Ilda got into an animated discussion 
with  an  employee in the kitchen, but the portions are huge, and be 
prepared  for  a  disdainful look from Ilda if you don't finish. (We 
took  home  two  doggie  bags  and yes, we got "the look.") We chose 
both   Melanzane   Parmigiani,  Eggplant  Parm  (we  opted  for  the 
vegetarian   sauce),   and   Spaghetti   Bolognese,  spaghetti  with 
meatballs,  which  was  so  delightful  it  reminded  me of "Carrie" 
Fargnoli,  a  friend  of  my parents who, when I was a kid, made her 
own  pasta  (long  before  it  was  chic)  and  the  most  delicious 
meatballs....  The salads, soups, and of course the thin-crust pizza 
are all top-notch.(jb9610)

PORTOFINO:  A wonderful place. A bar-restaurant offering inexpensive 
pizza,   pasta  and  Italian  dishes.  Nice  atmosphere  -  you  can 
comfortably  bring  kids.  A  big selection of very delicious Pizza. 
The  owner is very friendly and is into Music Videos. He has a whole 
collection  which  he  pipes  through  a large projection TV and the 
stereo.  Offered  us  a  choice from a directory he put together. We 
stayed  half  the night drinking beer and watching/ listening to Ray 
Charles,  Tina  Turner  and  the Neville Bros. Well worth the visit! 
(SS9611)

RAINBOW  :  Grand  Case, waterfront. Small, romantic and not too bad 
as  far  as  the  food  and  service  go.  Reservations necessary. I 
enjoyed  dinner because it was our last night, but the value for the 
dollar was lacking. mg9702

RANCHO  ARGENTINEAN GRILL. At any rate, I had Tenderloin Tip (good), 
fired  plantains  (OK)  and  Edie had grilled Salmon (excellent) for 
$38. The service was also good. bf9705 
RANCHO  ARGENTINIAN  GRILL  in  the Palapa Center in Simpson Bay was 
another  outstanding restaurant. The steaks here simply melt in your 
mouth  and  the service was attentive. There was a three-piece combo 
playing  calypso  music,  which  added nicely to the ambiance. Three 
steak  dinners  with wine and a couple of fine Tiramasu deserts cost 
just $71. We didn't need reservations. rm9702
RANCHO   ARGENTINE   STEAKHOUSE  (formerly La Palapa): I had a 10 oz 
rib   eye   and Ed had the medium filet. Both came with french fries 
(you  had   a   choice of fries or baked( and vegetables. The steaks 
were  done  just   as   ordered  and were really tasty. The bill was 
$38.  This  place  serves  till  around  11  PM  which is nice since 
there  are  times  that  we  just   don't  quite make it up from our 
afternoon nap any earlier <g>. AB9612

REN  AND  STUMPY  I like the place except I think the prices are way 
too  high  for  the quality of wine they serve. But overall, I think 
the  food and service are very good. We went to Bistro Nu in Marigot 
and  Jean  Claude  is  doing  a  splendid  job.  The  atmosphere  is 
wonderful...just  like  being  in the french countryside. Their food 
is  delicious  and  not overpriced. One place we went which does not 
get  any  press  here  is  Captain  Olivers. We usually go there for 
lunch  and had a really nice meal this time (as usual) Salad nicoise 
for  $6.95  and  a  cheeseburger  and  fries  for $7.99. Use your TI 
Gourmet  for  a  free  rum  punch,  look at the sea turtles, sharks, 
crocodiles,  tucans,  parrots,  monkeys  etc.  and you have a really 
nice time. ms9704
REN  AND  STUMPY'S.  A  great  restaurant  that not many people know 
about.  Jack  usually gets the snapper with Creole sauce but because 
of   the   rough  water  they  didn't  have  any.  Addie  the  owner 
recommended  the  mussels with spaghetti and I had the linguine with 
gorgonzola  cheese.  They  were both great!! We had a bottle of wine 
with  dinner  and  the bill was $61. Addie is local person and works 
very  hard at keeping the restaurant going. At Thanksgiving time she 
didn't  know  if  she was going to make it but she has. A good crowd 
both times we were there. sm9704
  REN  AND  STEMPY'S.  Jack  had  the  snapper  Creole and I had the 
tortellini  with a bottle of wine the cost $55. This restaurant is a 
quiet  hole  in  the wall place off the beaten track that serves the 
best  food  and  has  the  best  service.  You can actually see them 
cooking  in  the  kitchen. Addie the owner is very nice. Jack thinks 
the best snapper is served here. sm9704
REN  &  STIMPY'S.  Wow!  What  a  great  surprise!  This is a small, 
unassuming,  place  which,  according to their advertisement, is "on 
the  first  paved  road on the left after crossing the bridge on the 
way  to  the Airport." They serve Creole and Italian food, and every 
morsel  of  it  was  outstanding.  I mean really outstanding and the 
portions  were generous. We had three dinners and drinks for $61 and 
had  to take half the food home with us. We didn't have reservations 
and  the  place  was empty when we pulled up at about 7:30PM, but in 
just  15-20 minutes every seat in the place was full. Ren & Stimpy's 
is an exceptional value. rm9702
REN   &  STIMPY: We went back and this time made sure that there was 
no   buffet.  Addie said they were only going to do the buffet about 
once  a   month.   Ed   and   I   shared  one caesar salad. Ed had a 
pasta  dish with  gorgonzola  cheese  and  I  had  their  pasta with 
eggplant.  Both  were   great.   $37.  Indiana  Beach:  We  ate here 
because   on  this  particular   night   we   were   going  to  goto 
Yvette's.  Our car broke down in from of  the  LaVista and we called 
Naldo,  who  came  and gave us a jump and left  the  cables  in  our 
car  just  in  case.  We  decided  that we did not want  to  venture  
that  far  so  we opted for this place. The food was good. I  had  a  
mixed   salad,   which   had   pieces  of  star fruit on it...a nice  
touch.  I also had the ribs as my main course. Ed had gaspacho and a 
t- bone. The food was good but a bit pricey.AB9612
Ren  and  Stimpy's  -  Love  this  place! Slow service yes, but well 
worth  the  wait. The snapper was excellent once I had Aidee (owner) 
remove  the head which was staring at me. She introduced me to Mango 
Coladas  a  few trip ago and she has not lost the touch! She gave us 
and  Lee  and  Teri both 1996 SXM calendars and asked us to tell our 
friends  to  please visit the friendly island. We ran into Frank and 
Nina  eating  here  which  is  a  very  good  testimonial in itself. 
(bf9609)

RESTAURANT  DU  SOLEIL:  Very  nice place for lunch. Crepes, salads, 
etc,  over-  looking  the  ocean.  Salad  Nicoise  and  a Salad with 
Chicken   Livers   with  two  sodas  and  two  Heinekens  was  about 
$30.(SS9611)

RIC'S  PLACE  on the waterfront in downtown Philipsburg. An American 
sports  by  run  by  Texans  Kathy  and Ric, Ric's serves breakfast, 
lunch,  and  dinner,  all inexpensive, delicious, and filling. Check 
out  the  walls  and  ceiling,  where  you'll find banners and other 
mementos  from  scores  of  college  and  professional sports teams, 
while  you  sit  and watch sports on their big satellite TVs. Or sit 
by  the  water  at  check out the arriving cruise ships. (Come Super 
Bowl Sunday, this is the busiest place on the island.)(jb9610)

ROCK  &  ROLL  BAR: Much quieter but still lively. More French. Nice 
music  (a  lot  of Rolling Stones the night we were there). Food and 
Booze  outside and inside. Three big old Cadillacs outside converted 
into booths. A mix of French and American cuisine.(SS9611)
ROCKET  &  ROLL CAFE - A relatively new place in Grand Case that has 
that  Hard  Rock Cafe atmosphere. We met Tim and Norrie here and sat 
in  the  back seat of a purple Cadillac convertible (in the front of 
the  place!)  sipping  our  drinks. Definitely a good place to bring 
teens. I noticed many families here. (bf9609)

ROSEMARY'S WATERFRONT
For  lunch,  we  returned  to  a spot we had discovered on our first 
trip,  Rosemary's  Waterfront  Shack,  facing  the outdoor market in 
Marigot.  Rosemary  makes  traditional  creole  dishes,  and we each 
enjoyed  conch  creole  and  2  beverages apiece for well under $20, 
plus  we  got  to  hear Rosemary tell of her work as in extra in the 
film Speed 2.js9707
RUMBOAT:   We  had  never  tried  this  place  before  but were glad 
we   decided   to   try  it. We each had a cheeseburger and I had my 
all  time   favorite   dessert...profiteroles.  The  food  was  very  
good   and  not  expensive,  although I don't remember what the bill 
was as my notebook  was already packed. AB9612

SAMBUCCA,  as  we were still kind of tired and not real hungry. They 
had  apparently  just  seated  a huge group and said that they would 
not  be  able to seat us for maybe 45 minutes and we were not in the 
mood  to  wait.  We  went  to  the  Rancho Argentine Steak House for 
dinner  instead.  We  walked  in and were seated immediately. It was 
good,  with  good  service and a nice band playing background music, 
although  the  steak  was  not in the caliber of El Gaucho in Aruba, 
for  all  you  Aruba  fans.  Two steak dinners with a half carafe of 
wine was $42 plus tip. ch9703
SAMBUCA,  started  about  18  months  ago  by  American Steve Cross. 
Reopened  immediately after Luis departed, Sambuca served upwards of 
600  dinners  a  day  to Dutch marines and to islanders who said the 
place  was  "jumpin'"  right  after  the  storm.  Sambuca,  with its 
traditional  red and white checked tablecloths, has quickly become a 
favorite  here,  serving  many local people from all over the island 
as  well  as  many  tourists.  Sambuca  offers  a  great  variety of 
traditional Italian fare at back-home prices.(jb9610)

SARATOGA  was  not quite up to par. I had a boneless stuffed chicken 
breast  dish that looked beautiful but the flavors didn't work well. 
"M"  liked  his loin of pork. The atmosphere does compensate for any 
lack in the food, especially if you sit outside. hm9702
SARATOGA.  Appetizers: Carrot and ginger bisque w/citrus sour cream, 
Gazpacho  w/lobster (both were very good, but the gazpacho had but 3 
small  pieces  of  lobster, and at $12 it is too pricey for what you 
get).  Main  course:  Salmon  w/3  caviars  and shoestring potatoes, 
Salmon  w/onion  crust  and  corn salsa (both were fair; both dishes 
just  ended  up  tasting  greasy;  the  shoestring  potatoes were an 
especially  poor  choice  to  go w/the salmon). Dessert: we shared a 
Raspberry  Sorbet  w/fruit,  and  were  surprised  at  what  a small 
portion  it  was,  just  melon ball-sized sorbet. Far different from 
our  last  experience  at  Saratoga.  Overall  I'd  say we were very 
disappointed compared to our last experience. df9702

SEAFOOD   GALLERY:  We  had dinner with Frank & Nina and this is one 
of   their   favorites,   so  the  four of us, plus their cellphone, 
got  into   our   car  and  headed there. The meal was great! Ed had 
steamed  clams,   Frank   had   conch   fritters.   for  the  entree  
Frank  &  I  both had the  lobster  thermedore.  It  was  excellent. 
Ed  had  scallops  and Nina had  the stuffed shrimps. Everything was 
prepared to perfection. $65. AB9612

SEBASTIANO'S  in Grand Case We arrived early, maybe around 6:30. The 
place  was empty except for one other couple who had walked in right 
in  front  of  us.  They asked if we had reservations and we kind of 
laughed,  considering  the  place  was  empty.  We  said no, so they 
seated  us  on  the  upper tier of tables, away from the windows. It 
wasn't  quite  as nice as being next to the windows, but it's a nice 
restaurant  with  lovely background music and, after an initial slow 
start,  we  had  wonderful  service.  Eric had black ravioli stuffed 
with  lobster  and I had fettucine with ham and mushrooms. We shared 
one  tiramisu  and  had  2 coffees, plus a bottle of wine at $25 for 
the  bottle.  We  asked for water and were charged for that, which I 
was  kind  of  miffed  at,  but  I  will  get  over it. There was an 
entertainer  of  sorts who made the rounds of the tables, doing card 
and  coin  tricks,  which  added  to  a  lovely  evening.  We  had a 
wonderful   evening   but   thought  that  the  meal  was  a  little 
overpriced,  at  $91  total. Thursday night we rounded out the night 
with  an  exciting 15 minutes of winning at craps, which did a great 
deal to defray the losses for the week! ch9703

SPARTACO  was as good as ever and I love the romantic setting in the 
hills  overlooking  Maho  across the bay. We enjoyed sharing grilled 
eggplant  appetizer  and  rack  of  lamb  for  me,  grilled  lobster 
w/garlic sauce for "M". hm9702

SURF  CLUB SOUTH. We had breakfast at surf club south, which is in a 
new,  larger  location near the turnoff for Cul de Sac. I had French 
Toast  (cinnamon  flavor)  and  Jerry  had  a cheese omelet w/bacon. 
Everything  was  terrific. Andy was taking the orders, doing all the 
cooking,  and  taking  the cash. We really couldn't chat with him as 
it  was  busy  and  he was jack of all trades. With two coffees, the 
bill  came  to  $13 w/tip. We tried to go on Orient Beach but it was 
so  windy  once  again  that  we decided to go over and try the East 
Coast  beaches.  We  tried  Cupecoy. It was less windy but the beach 
was  very  crowded.  We  stayed a little while and then went to Long 
Bay,  which  is  just behind La Samana. There were fewer people, and 
we  had  a  quieter,  very  enjoyable  afternoon,  baking in the St. 
Martin sun. ev9704
SURF   CLUB  SOUTH:  We  stopped  here on Saturday for a late lunch. 
We   were  driving  around  the  island  and  thought  this would be 
a  good   place.  We  each  had  a burger, Ed had fries with his and 
I  had  onion  rings  (the best I've ever eaten). the food was great 
and  the  bill  was  $22.  Surf  Club  had  a  Halloween  party. Our 
friends  went  to  it  and  there  were  hundreds  of  people  there  
all   in   costume.  They had a  contest  for the best costume and a 
woman  dressed as a table (her head  was the centerpiece on a silver 
platter) won first prize. (AB9612)

SURF  CLUB  SOUTH  .  This  is quite THE place to be late on Sunday. 
They  have  live  bands  starting  in  late  afternoon and the crowd 
(which  probably  got  up  to  about  200 people) seems to lean more 
toward  locals than tourists. And if you're there early enough, they 
offer  free  Bloody  Marys  and  Mimosas  poolside.  (Yes, this is a 
bar/restaurant with its own swimming pool!) js9707
SURF  CLUB SOUTH was only opened Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Owner 
said  that  business has been very bad but he hoped it would pick up 
soon  and  would  be  opening the other days of the week. One of the 
daily  specials was ribs so I thought I would have it, they were out 
of  them. Paul had Fish & Chips and I got a hamburg with fries. That 
is  another  place  we  wish  we had not gone to. As I was eating my 
fries  I  pulled  out  a  big  long  black hair. Needless to say, my 
appetite went out the window! (AS9611)
SURF  CLUB SOUTH: This place is Wild. Live music on Sunday nights. I 
probably  would  have  loved it if I was still in my 20's but it was 
too  loud,  very  crowded and we had trouble getting served. We gave 
up and left.(SS9611)
  SURF  CLUB  SOUTH  - If you miss American food, culture and music, 
this  is  the place for you. Currently only open on the weekends for 
low  season.  The  onion  rings  were  particularly good, I thought. 
(bf9609)
SURF  CLUB  SOUTH  just east of the Grand Case airport on the French 
side  of  the  island.  Formerly located under a mammoth tree on the 
beach  in  Grand  Case, Surf Club South was forced to move when Luis 
literally  blew the bar away. This is probably the only place on the 
island  where  you  can  buy  real  American coffee (usually Maxwell 
House),  think  waffles  with  a  choice  of  several  thick syrups, 
stupendous   onion   rings,   old-fashioned  juicy  hamburgers,  and 
anything  you  want  to  drink  from  their bar, which at its former 
location  was  named  one  of  the ten best in the world by Newsweek 
International.  Hot?  Jump in their pool, right next to the bar. And 
don't  worry about the two big, bright-yellow outhouses right in the 
dining room -- they're just for decoration. (jb9610)

TROPICANA  -  Another  first  time  for  us.  Located in the Marigot 
Marina,  they  offer  a 3 course fixed price meal for $25. I had red 
snapper  in  the  cream  sauce and Edie went with the snapper/salmon 
combination.  Both  were very good. We dined with Tim and Norrie and 
I  attempted  to  drink  Tim  under  the  table with Diet Cokes. The 
contest  degraded  into  the  inevitable  trips  to  the rest rooms, 
however. (bf9609)
TURTLE  PIER. We ate lunch at Turtle Pier, located right across from 
the  Airport.  This  is  a  fun  place  to eat, especially for kids, 
because  the restaurant has a miniature zoo there. Monkeys, parrots, 
turtles  (of  course),  and gila monsters make for quite a show. The 
restaurant  area  is  built on a deck over the water, so kids seated 
along  the  edge can entertain themselves by tossing bread crumbs to 
the  fish lurking nearby. The food is good, service is adequate, and 
the  price  was  fair (about $35 for our three lunches with drinks). 
rm9702

TUTTA  PASTA.  This  is an Italian restaurant located at the Simpson 
Bay  Yacht  Club  complex.  Prices  for  each entree are a couple of 
bucks  higher  than  last year, but the prices are still reasonable. 
Unfortunately,  we  were disappointed in the quality of the food and 
service  this year; they are not as good as I wrote about last year. 
The  tomato  sauces  were  too  heavy  this time and the service was 
mediocre.  The  ambiance in the Tutta Pasta is nice though, and they 
still  attract  a  good  crowd.  We  spent $66 for three dinners and 
drinks. We probably wont go back. rm9702
Tutta  Pasta  -  We  went  to Tutta Pasta to celebrate Warren's (the 
owner)  birthday.  I  have  read some less than great reviews lately 
but   our   experience  again  was  good  Italian  pasta  dishes  at 
reasonable prices in a very relaxing, cordial atmosphere. (bf9609)
Tutta  Pasta  -  We  went  to Tutta Pasta to celebrate Warren's (the 
owner)  birthday.  I  have  read some less than great reviews lately 
but   our   experience  again  was  good  Italian  pasta  dishes  at 
reasonable prices in a very relaxing, cordial atmosphere. (bf9609)
TUTTA  PASTA,  operated  by  Angela  Fair, her husband/opera soloist 
Aldo  (whose  classical  Neapolitan  songs  and  arias  you'll  hear 
playing  softly  in  the  background),  and  Walter  Warren  of Sint 
Maarten.  Tutta  Pasta offers an incomparably rich collection of old 
(and  occasionally  new)  family  recipes,  many of them generations 
old.  One  of  the  oldest  is Spaghetti alla Mamma, with delicately 
thin  slices  of  zucchini fried in olive oil served over spaghetti, 
locatelli  cheese,  and  garnished  with  mint  leaves. We tried the 
baked  farfalle  with  salmon,  bowtie  pasta  with pink salmon in a 
"gentle"   cream  sauce  seasoned  with  dill.  We  also  tried  the 
Spaghetti  alla Sandra, which had fresh, tender mushrooms sautéed in 
imported  olive  oil with garlic and parsley in tomato sauce. All of 
the  pasta  -- nearly three dozen menu offerings -- is imported from 
Italy.  This  smallish, romantic restaurant offers great ambiance, a 
fine  view  of  Simpson  Bay,  and fine, authentic Italian food with 
generous portions. (jb9610)

WATERFRONT.  Italian.  Romantic.  Food  was  very  good.  Owner is a 
Washington  Red  Skins  fan,  so we had some fun with him before the 
Pats  game.  Waiters  are  awesome  and  the  selections are varied. 
People  we  met  like  to  go there for drinks and appetizers before 
heading off to dinner! mg9702

  YVETTES  located in Orlean. Pork, ribs, chicken combination for me 
and  Red  Snapper for Edie (both excellent), plantans, johnny cakes, 
and  rice  and  peas  for a very reasonable $28. For great authentic 
St.   Martin  cuisine,  off  the  beaten  track,  this  place  is  a 
must.bf9705 
YVETTE'S.  Appetizers: 2 Conch Yvette's, 2 Conch Soups. Both choices 
were   wonderful,  with  an  edge  going  to  Conch  Yvette's  (cold 
marinated  conch  in Island spices). Main course: 2 Yvette's Special 
Seafood  plates,  1 Conch Stew, 1 Shrimp w/tropical sauce. The conch 
stew  and  shrimp  dishes  were  the  best choices. What can you say 
about  this restaurant; it's wonderful and our next trip wouldn't be 
complete without a visit here. df9702Marine Hotel Simson Beach
Yvette's:   Again   on   this evening we were going out with Frank & 
Nina   and   their   cellphone.  We  had a terrific meal (as usual). 
Ed  had  the   conch  cocktail  and  the three of us had the lobster 
cocktail.  We  all  had  the  shrimp and lobster creole. That is the 
most  expensive  entree   on   the   menu and I mention that because 
most  of  the  meals are between  $9  and  $12 but this was $25, but 
well  worth  it.  The  night  we  were  in   there  the  service was 
exceptionally  slow  because  there  were  short of  staff  and  all  
the   tables   were   occupied.   I  did not mind the slow  service,  
after   all,   I'm   on vacation <g>. When we went to leave our  car  
would  not  start  AGAIN! Glad we had those jumper cables. There was  
another   couple   leaving and we asked if they would give us a jump 
and  they did. AB9612 
YVETTES  -  Still  the  best  authentic  ST.  Martin  cuisine on the 
island.  Chicken,  ribs, chops combo, snapper, johhny cakes and peas 
and  rice for $25. You can't beat the prices. She had to rebuild her 
house/restaurant  after  Luis and am sorry to say, the pretty murals 
covering the wall are now gone. (bf9609)

   "ZEE  BEST  BREAKFAST"  near  the  Marina,  run  by a couple from 
Montreal  which  had  the  greatest  croissants. When sitting at the 
typical  outside  table,  you  would  receive  a  basket  of  6 to 8 
different  croissants  and  would  pay  for  those  that you ate. We 
always  had  croissants,  coffee and juice. They also served a three 
egg ham & cheese omelet for $4.pb9707

DINING GENERAL
The  guys  at  Club Orient give you an index card with your name and 
the  dates on it that you carry to show you have paid for the chairs 
for  the  week. And they take credit cards. Great deal, so you don't 
have  to  worry  about  carrying  money  every  day. It also saves a 
little  bit  of  money  if you're planning on going to Orient almost 
every day. ch9703

BREAKFAST  or  CASUAL LUNCH RESTAURANTS In this category I place the 
Pelican   Resorts  CROCODILE  restaurant;  INDIANA  BEACH  (formerly 
Felix's)  down  the  hill  from  the Pelican; SURF CLUB SOUTH on the 
road  between  Grand  Case and Orient Beach; and SUNRISE CAFE at the 
Grand  Case  Beach  Hotel.  The  first  three  serve  American-style 
breakfast  fare  for  $5  or  less;  but  Sunrise  Cafe is by far my 
favorite  place  to eat breakfast. Situated on a deck over the water 
facing  Creole  Rock,  this  little  open  air  cafe has magnificent 
ambiance  -  precisely  the ambiance I imagined when I first decided 
to  come  to  the Caribbean. The waiters are from France, speak good 
English,  and  are  very attentive. This is a place where I languish 
over  coffee and croissants to watch the incredibly clear blue-green 
water  set  against  deep  blue  skies,  to  admire sailboats moving 
lazily  in  the  distance,  and  early morning swimmers enjoying the 
nearby  beach.  It's  one  of the scenes I daydream about long after 
the vacation is over. rm9702

---------------------------------
I  can't  say  enough  about the restaurants at Grand Case. The town 
has  the  reputation  of  having  the  best  concentration  of  fine 
eateries  in the Caribbean, and I wouldn't doubt it. While we didn't 
eat  in  all  the restaurants, we ate in a few and I'll list what we 
found.  ALL the restaurants had fabulous attentive staffs. The decor 
in  some was nicer than others, and some had views of the ocean, but 
all  in  all,  we didn't eat in even a mediocre place. All were very 
good to excellent. A few notes - 

1)  Very  few  of  the  restaurants have Air Conditioning. Most have 
ceiling  fans  and  are  open  to  the  tropical breezes, but on hot 
nights,  it was hot. Luckily no dress code of any kind was required. 
Shorts  and  t-shirts were acceptable, though we usually wore slacks 
and shirts.

2)  The "better" restaurants had "better" (higher) prices. Surprise. 
Average  price  for a fairly lavish meal (2 appetizers, 2 entrees, 2 
coffees,  one  dessert)  was  about $50-70. Add wine, drinks and tip 
and  the  price  went to $90 -120. We drank wine in the $20-30 price 
range. Prices for wine ran from about $15 to about $60 and higher.

3)  The  standard 15% service charge found in may French restaurants 
was  generally  NOT  included in many of the establishments at Grand 
Case.

4)  Most of the bill of fare was fish or seafood. There was always a 
beef  (usually  steak),  a pork, a chicken and sometimes a lamb dish 
on the menu, but seafood predominated.(SS9611)

DINNING GENERAL COMMENTS
Restaurants  abound,  but  always  call  ahead  because  some of the 
restaurants,  especially  in  the  Mullet Bay area, no longer exist.  
The  bouillabaisse  at  The Fishpot in Grand Case was a generous and 
delicious,  if  expensive.    The nighttime roads from Grand Case to 
Simpson  Bay  are  hilly,  curvy  and  unlit.  We found several good 
restaurants  on  the  Dutch  side:  Lynett's where on Tues. and Fri. 
you  can  see  King  Beau,   Turtle  Pier  for  Caribbean  food, and 
WONDERFUL  Le Perroquet on Airport Road facing Simpson Lagoon.   The 
French  chef explained his special orders and brought samples to our 
table.   He  assured us he could prepare anything we desired even if 
it  were  not  on   the  menu  as  long  as we had the time.  We had 
complimentary  champagne   when  we told him it was our anniversary.  
We  had  Greek salad, alligator in white sauce, stuffed veal in wine 
sauce  (hubby had the snapper), white wine with dinner and very good 
coffee  afterwards.   The  portions were too large  to have room for 
dessert. (ts9609)

Dessert?  Did  you  say  you're  ready?  There  are  dozens  of fine 
bakeries  here, but the one that catches us every time is the Casino 
Royale  Bakery  next to Cheri's Cafe. Your cardiologist may not like 
it,  but  the  Coconut  Cake  is  absolutely beyond description. Our 
advice:  skip dinner altogether one night and head here. There's Key 
Lime  Pie,  Apple  Tart,  Chocolate-Chocolate cake, and lots more to 
savor  before  you  walk a few feet away to watch that warm tropical 
moon shimmer over the warm Caribbean sea....(jb9610)

SHOPPING

THINGS TO DO / CABS /CASINOS / SHOPPING
ARAWAK POTTERY
On  the  way  back to Philipsburg from the butterfly farm we stopped 
off  at  the  Arawak  Pottery  where  the owner showed us around his 
facility  where  he  &  his  wife faithfully uphold the tradition of 
making  Arawak  indian  pottery.  They  have also re-created a small 
Arawak  village.  No  charge for this except if you want to purchase 
some  pottery  or  icons. They're really a nice couple and he shared 
some stories over a beer.pb9707


BUTTERFLY FARM 
BUTTERFLY  FARM - Well worth spending a little time in. Mornings are 
said  to  be  best -the butterflies are more active then. The $10.00 
admission  is  a  little  steep,  but it includes a pass for further 
visits  during  your stay if yoy want more photo ops. The guides are 
knowledgeable. rb9707

It's  run  by a British fellow with a terrific sense of humor. Along 
with  his  staff,  he  leads  an  informative  tour  that gives some 
laughs,  too.  They've created a screened-in garden with hundreds of 
butterflies  flitting  all  about.  There are a few small waterfalls 
inside  and pleasant new-age music plays in the background. You come 
out  of  there  feeling  like  you'll never have another care in the 
world, particularly after the rum punch that's included. js9707

Went  to  the  BUTTERFLY  FARM  just  south  of Orient Bay on the Le 
Galion  beach  one  morning,  admission  $10.  An interesting way to 
spend  an  hour or two. Get there at 9 A.M., when they open, and you 
can  watch  the butterflies emerging from their chrysalis and taking 
their   first  flight.  They  also  have  guided  tours  at  regular 
intervals  which are very informative. Once you buy a ticket you can 
come back for free during the rest of your vacation.pb9707
BUTTERFLY  FARM.  Not  in  a  million years did I expect a tour of a 
butterfly  farm  would  be  interesting,  but  it was fascinating. A 
guide  named  Laura (an expatriate from Canada) showed us around and 
made  the  whole  trip  very  interesting.  It even merited my son's 
approval!  A  ticket  that  was  good for our whole vacation for our 
whole family cost $20. rm9702

CREOLE  ROCK.  The  Grand  Case  Beach  Club runs two trips a day to 
Creole  Rock  (11AM  and  2PM),  which  is less than a mile from the 
hotel.  A  former French Navy diver named Philippe took my son and I 
in  a  small  Zodiac  boat out to the rock. Hurricane Luis destroyed 
most  of  the coral, so this is a far cry from its former glory, but 
again,  my  son  absolutely  loved  it. The trip cost $20 per person 
($25  if  you  need to rent snorkel gear) for about an hour. Veteran 
snorkelers  or  divers  wouldn't  enjoy  Creole  Rock in its current 
condition,  but  people  who  are  new  to  the sport would love it. 
rm9702

DRIVING  -  Roads are in excellent condition. many seem to have been 
widened,  and  even have lane markings. Far different from our first 
visit,  when  the road around the island was not completely paved. A 
road  with  a  white  line  down  the center loses its standing as a 
Caribbean  road by my definition. Traffic can be bad around Marigot, 
and  based  on  previous experience also on the Dutch side, although 
we  did  not go there much in the daytime. We did find a traffic jam 
on  Bush Road one evening, but the trips to and from the airport had 
less  traffic  than  anticipated. There are the usual risks of being 
caught  behind  a  truck  or  a tour bus. The latter can be numerous 
when  cruise  ships are in town. I counted six simultaneously in the 
parking  area  at  the  Cloud  Room  where  they stop for the scenic 
overlook  and the T-shirt shop. These were not mini-busses, but full 
size. rb9707

MARIGOT
MARIGOT  -  The  marina  area  is much the same as it has been. Many 
restaurants  and  shops,  but a few vacancies. We got the impression 
that  menu  prices are higher at the marina than at restaurants near 
the  waterfront.  The  waterfront  has been further "improved"; that 
is,  filed  in and developed. You used to be able to sit outside the 
Vie  en Rose and overlook a street and the ocean. Now you overlook a 
street,  a  large parking lot, T-shirt vendor stalls and if there is 
an  ocean,  you'll  have  a  hard  time seeing it. The new museum in 
Marigot  is  very  well  done  and  worth  a  visit.  It  shows  the 
prehistory  and  history  of  the  island,  and incorporates a small 
gallery  of local artists. rb9707In Marigot we climbed to the top of 
the  18th  century Fort Louis where you get a commanding view of the 
harbor  and  all  the  city. In town, filming of , Speed 2, had just 
ended  and  we watched as they tore down the elaborate sets. We also 
visited  the  Saint Martin Archeological Exhibition and Museum which 
has  some  ancient  Indian  pottery as well as stone and shell tools 
worked  by  the  first inhabitants of St. Martin. In town also are a 
large  number  of  elegant  boutiques  selling  top  quality silver, 
crystal,   china,   cashmeres,  etc.  at  supposedly  duty-free  and 
favorable prices. gd9704
MARIGOT  MARKET  is  a  little  smaller now because the film set for 
Speed2  took some space, but it's just as colorful, just as crowded, 
and  just  as  fun as always. My favorite stands are the spice stand 
and  the  French  painter's concession, but they're all fun. We were 
pretty  successful negotiating at most concessions, but there were a 
couple  that  wouldn't budge from their prices. I also happened upon 
a  funny  episode  in which a cab driver made the mistake of parking 
in  front of a very large woman's stand. She wanted one of the buses 
from  the  tour  ship  to  park  there,  so  she  was  screaming and 
gesturing  at  him  in a heavily Creole accented English to move his 
cab,  and he was yelling back at her in the same very loud voice. At 
one  point  she announced to the whole market that the cabbie was an 
"ignorant   a..hole",  to  which  he  hollered,  "You  can  call  me 
ignorant,  but  don't  call  me  an  a..hole!"  Seeing  that  he was 
fighting  a  losing  battle,  the  cabbie  started looking for help. 
Unfortunately,  I  was  right  there.  He turned to me and explained 
that  the REAL reason the woman was yelling at him was not his color 
(they  were both black), but "it's my education, 'mon". "But damn it 
'mon,"  he  said,  "she  and I went to school together so she has no 
right!"  I was trying to figure out the logic of that statement when 
a  beleaguered  looking  policeman (who seemed to fear the oversized 
woman  himself) finally hustled the maligned cab driver into his cab 
and  away  from  the  parking  spot. The woman in the concession had 
that  same smug look of satisfaction at having won the argument that 
men the world over recognize. rm9702

PARADISE  PEAK  is a little side trip not to be missed. I don't know 
which  is  more  exciting  -  the  trip  up and down the road or the 
incredible  view from the top. In any case, take an hour out of your 
day  to  go  up  to  Paradise  Peak  - it's worth it, and it's free. 
rm9702

PHILIPSBURG  - The first time we went to St. Martin, Philipsburg was 
a  hot,  busy, somewhat dilapidated place with the typical character 
of  a  Caribbean  town,  but you could find a place to park on Front 
Street.  It  then  became more built up, hotter (as larger buildings 
stopped  the breeze), more crowded (from more cruise ships) and less 
interesting.  There has been a lot of rebuilding in faux-Dutch style 
which  looks  nice but gives the impression of a theme park/shopping 
mall  combination.  We  avoid  Philipsburg  except for some favorite 
restaurants  at night, but noticed a lot of new businesses replacing 
the  old familiars and a great deal of neon. Most striking is a huge 
4-story  building  at  the  end  of Front Street where the old Sam's 
Restaurant  and  more  recently  Shiv Sagar used to be. The building 
itself  might  be  tolerable,  but  the hideous lighted sign for the 
casino inside is jarring. rb9707

PRICKLY  PEAR  is  an  island  off  the  coast  of  Anguilla  and is 
reportedly  the  best  snorkeling  trip left in the SXM area. My son 
and  I  signed  up  with about 35 other people for a snorkeling tour 
aboard  the  Lambada,  which is a 68 foot catamaran. We had a blast! 
The  Lambada  is spacious, comfortable, and smooth sailing. The sail 
to  the  island  takes  about  90  minutes. There is an open bar and 
snacks  on  board,  and  we  had a BBQ lunch on the beach at Prickly 
Pear  at  a  bar/restaurant  called "Johnno's" (this place was rated 
one  of the top 10 bars in the entire Caribbean by a national travel 
magazine,  the  name  of  which  escapes  me).  The coral is in good 
condition  and  there are plenty of fish. We snorkeled before lunch, 
relaxed  on  the  beach  after  lunch,  and then snorkeled once more 
before  leaving. The whole trip is a 9AM to 5PM deal which costs $65 
per  adult  (children  were less, but I forget how much). I strongly 
recommend  this  trip;  my  11-year old says it was the highlight of 
the whole vacation. rm9702

About  a  week  before  we left the states, we had telephoned Summer 
Set  to rent a jeep. They met us with the jeep at the airport and we 
did  the  paperwork  right  on the jeep's hood. Summer Set gets rave 
reviews  on  the  Prodigy  travel  boards, and we liked them when we 
used  them two years ago, but this year they foisted a real piece of 
junk  on  us. They disguised the fact that the removable roof had no 
anchoring  snaps  by  tucking  the ends of the plastic roof material 
into  the rear (tailgate) doorjamb. There were no windows mounted on 
the  sides  or  back,  but we figured they were under the seat (they 
weren't).  There  were  no  seat  belts in the back seat, the visors 
kept  dropping down, the radio barely pulled in a channel, etcetera, 
etcetera.  For  this the charge was $350 per week (jeeps are quite a 
bit  more  expensive  than  cars).  I  shouldn't have been in such a 
hurry  to  get  our  vacation  underway, so I take the blame for not 
being  more  careful  in  checking over the jeep before driving off. 
rm9702

CABS
Cabs  are  expensive  and  random.  A  cab  ride  to Grand Case - 10 
minutes  from  the  hotel - was $10 plus tip one way! Car rental was 
not  cheap,  but a week's rental was equivalent to 10 round trips to 
Grand  Case!  Roads are awful and the natives turn into maniacs when 
in  their  cars.  Speed  bumps  and pot holes rule. Gas is expensive 
(~$4/Gal),  but  the island isn't that big. We burned 1/2 a tank for 
about $24. mg9702

CASINOS
We  spent  Sunday  night,  as most nights, at the casino. There were 
supposedly  two  new  casinos  open down on Front Street, but we did 
not  get to P'burg at all this trip. We basically ended up splitting 
our  time  between the Pelican and Atlantis. We went into the Casino 
Royale  one  night  very briefly and decided that we couldn't afford 
to  play  there.  Blackjack,  Caribbean  Stud  and  Craps were all a 
minimum  bet  of $10, which we considered excessive. The Pelican had 
$.50  roulette (my favorite), so we spent quite a bit of time there. 
Atlantis  was  very  busy most nights, and we probably spent most of 
our  time  there. Atlantis was very good about bringing drinks, even 
bringing  me  drinks  if  I was only standing watching Eric while he 
was  playing.  They  also  brought  the drinks in glass glasses, not 
plastic  cups,  like  at  Pelican. Atlantis also offers a version of 
Caribbean  Stud called Second Chance. You could play it like regular 
Caribbean  Stud  if  you  wanted.  Or you could decide to try to buy 
another  card,  for  the  same amount of your ante. Eric played that 
game  quite  a bit. We found some match play coupons for Atlantis in 
one  of  the  entertainment  books,  but that was it as far as match 
play.  Over  the  course  of  the  week, we lost some money, but had 
quite a bit of entertainment also. ch9703

CRUISES
The  nude cruise from Club Orient was $80 PP. We had gone on another 
nude  cruise  the  last  time  we  had  gone  to SXM which was a lot 
cheaper,  at  $50 PP. The food was burgers at that time. Even though 
the  price  was  much more for this one, it was worth it. The cruise 
left  around  9:45  A.M.  and returned around 4:30 P.M. There was an 
open  bar  all  day and the crew began serving drinks almost as soon 
as  we  left  Orient.  BTW,  they  have  pressure  seasickness bands 
onboard,  if  one  feels  the  need  for them. The trip goes over to 
Tinatamar,  sailing  for  around  1  hour  to get there. Once on the 
beach,  umbrellas,  floats,  snorkeling  equipment  and  drinks were 
provided.  Lunch  was served on the boat around 1 P.M. and consisted 
of  your  choice of steak, chicken or mahi mahi plus baked potato or 
corn  on the cob, salad, cheesecake with raspberry sauce, champagne, 
white  and  red  wine,  after  dinner  liquors  and coffee. It was a 
wonderful  meal.  After the meal most of us were too lazy to head on 
back  over  to the island but lounged around on the boat for an hour 
or  so until we headed back toward Club O. There were about 9 people 
onboard  the cruise we took, which was about the maximum number they 
could  take,  along  with  Guillome  and Phillipe and the young lady 
whose  name escapes me at the moment, who comes along on the cruises 
these  days.  The  nude cruise is a good way to meet people, so it's 
good  idea  to  take  it  early in the week, if possible. Unlike the 
last  nude  cruise  we  took  when  it  poured rain while we were on 
Tintamar,  the  weather  this time was beautiful and we had a lovely 
time.  It  was  well worth the $80 per person. BTW, on the cruise we 
took, no one was staying at Club O. ch9703

SHOPPING

Touch  of  Gold.  I  was  anxious to upgrade my diamond bracelet and 
some  of my gold bracelets and necklaces. We knew that this would be 
an  important  part  of  our  trip,  so  we  had written to Heeru in 
advance  giving  her  some idea of what we were interested in. Heeru 
and  all of her staff recognized us immediately and were glad to see 
us  again.  They  were all very attentive to us and provided us with 
lots  of  drinks.  We looked over the latest updates to the Touch of 
Gold  inventory  while Heeru finished up with her customer. We found 
lots  of  new  designs  that  looked  interesting. Heeru joined us a 
short  time  later  and  the  serious  negotiations  and discussions 
began.  We made some preliminary selections and Heeru suggested that 
we  keep both of the necklaces that I liked so I could wear them for 
a  few  days  to  decide which one I liked. That was a terrific idea 
and  it  spoke  very  well of the reliability and trust displayed by 
this  establishment  and  is an indication of why we look forward to 
doing  business  with  Heeru and Touch of Gold. I also saw a diamond 
bracelet  that  I  fell  in  love  with immediately, so there was no 
complicated  decision  process  there.  I  was upgrading the diamond 
bracelet  that  I had purchased from Heeru two years before, and she 
credited  me with the full price that we had paid at that time. That 
upgrade  policy  that Heeru uses is one of the reasons that Touch of 
Gold  is  so  successful. Where else can you buy a diamond bracelet, 
wear  it  for  two  years and then get a full refund on the purchase 
price  when you upgrade to a larger size? Unbelievable! Heeru let me 
walk  out of the shop with the bracelet to wear the rest of the week 
without  paying  for any of the jewelry yet. We made arrangements to 
return over the weekend and left with all our jewelry. ev9704

---------------------------
from hm9702

I  am  apologizing  for  this  brief report because I didn't do much 
damage  this  trip. Touch of Gold was our first stop (naturally) and 
we  didn't  get  there  until  the  day  after  Xmas. We had a minor 
setback  because our luggage was "misplaced" and didn't arrive until 
23  hours  after we did. This caused me to be severely depressed and 
prevented  me  from  running  to see Heeru immediately upon arrival. 
<<GG>>  I  made  up for my lost time by grabbing pieces from the new 
collections  at  Touch of Gold before they were on display. They now 
carry  Susy-Mor,  beautiful 18k w/enamel items that were featured in 
the  Oct. issue of Town & Country magazine. I chose a ring from that 
group.  I also traded a diamond 2 tone ring from last year and got a 
new,  updated  and  larger one. This one has invisibly set, princess 
cut  stones.  The  VERY  latest design. Why bother to keep something 
that's  last year's design when I don't have to ? This is one reason 
I  love  Heeru  so  much. She is current with the latest in European 
fashion  and  very  liberal  in  trade  ins.  If  only she had a car 
dealership near home... 

I  also  bought  a beautiful 18k white gold chain from her. I needed 
it  for  a  pendant  and  was  glad  I  waited  to buy from her. The 
selection  of  white  gold  was  fabulous  there, none to compare at 
home.  That  was  it  from  T. of Gold this trip. I did look at many 
watches  at  as  many  stores  as  we  could  cover during our brief 
shopping  excursions. I've been lusting after a particular brand and 
finally  located  it  at  Carat  in P'burg. My 18 year-old Rolex has 
been  just  fine for all those years so I never really looked at any 
new  brands.  Several  years  ago I got a Phillipe Charriol watch in 
Marigot  and  still  enjoy that, also. The one I wanted this time is 
not  available  in the Phila. area and is called Pequignet. That was 
a  tough  purchase  at  Carat  because I had no idea what the retail 
would  be  at  home. I think we got a fair deal, however. I did know 
what  the  Paris retail price is. Whatever, it was better to buy the 
watch in SXM. We're not planning to be in Paris anytime soon! 

My  other meager purchase was a bag at MCM. The prices were OK there 
but  not the 40% off that Gucci used to have when they had stores on 
the  island.  I  looked at Desmo in Marigot; great stuff, not what I 
was looking for. That's it for now. 
end hm9702

Shopping:  Following  suggestions,  I  went  to J N Jewelers at Maho 
Plaza.  While  I   was  choosing what I want to buy, they offered me 
something  to  drink  (Beer, Coke or what you want) The selection is 
good  and  the  service   friendly and excellent. Finally I bought a 
bracelet  for me. I looked  for the bracelets in Philipsburg too and 
I  think the prices are  higher in the city. In any case the service 
at  J  N  Jewelers  is   excellent and better than in the city. They 
have  2 shops at Maho  Plaza and a third one at the Juliana airport. 
jd9612

Still  speaking  of  money,  shopping  was  OK.  SXM  is a duty free 
island,  but duty free these days is not like duty free was 25 years 
ago.  Maybe  because  we were coming from NYC where most electronics 
are  dirt  cheap  (relatively)  and  many other things (by the sheer 
competitiveness  of  the  market)  are  inexpensive,  we didn't find 
shopping  that  great. Perfume was cheap, Jack Daniels cost the same 
as  it  did  in NYC, but Absolut Vodka was a real steal at $4.50 for 
750  ml.  We bought some handicrafts and tee shirts (and two bottles 
of vodka) and that was about it.(SS9611)

To  my  extreme  disappointment, GUCCI has closed both stores on the 
island  and invite their customers to visit their stores in Antigua, 
Aruba,  etc.  This  leaves Fendi and MCM. The Desmo store in Marigot 
was  low  on  stock  but  still  has  quality  products.  Their  new 
merchandise  will  be  in  soon. I don't buy perfume or cosmetics on 
the  island  so  I  can't  quote prices. I think that if the new tax 
happens  on  the  Dutch  Side, many shoppers will run to Marigot for 
these items. (HM9609)

BEACHES

BAIE  ROUGE (our favorite) has lost some 8 to 10 feet (in height) of 
sand  and  the  part  by the water is almost all huge rocks. You can 
get  into  the  water in 2 or 3 sections where is still sand, but it 
looks  so different. And the maze the land owner installed to try to 
keep  the  beach  bars/chair guys out is terrible. We only hope that 
the  authorities  don't  have  to  get a stretcher in there to get a 
sick person out off the beach!!! ms9704
BAIE  ROUGE  is  my  favorite  beach.  The  surrounding  scenery  is 
beautiful  (in  addition  to  the  tops-optional  aspect). The beach 
itself  has  one section where the waves have a lot of action (which 
my  son absolutely loved) and the rest is fairly calm. There are two 
lo-lo's  on  the beach (Gus's Place and Chez Raymond) with a handful 
of  tables  with  umbrellas where you can get all kinds of alcoholic 
and  non-alcoholic  drinks,  barbecue,  and sandwiches. You can rent 
beach  chairs and umbrellas ($5 each), buy T-shirts and wrap-arounds 
from  local  "entrepreneurs",  and  even get a massage right on your 
lounger  (mine  was  30  minutes  of  heaven  for $20). Another nice 
feature  is  that  there is a security guard who watches the cars in 
the parking lot now. rm9702
BAIE  ROUGE. My son and I snorkeled around the cave at the north end 
of  Baie  Rouge,  but  the  wave action in that area on that day was 
enough  to  kick  up too much sand. Visibility was about zero, so we 
headed back to the beach rm9702rm9702

CUPECOY BEACH
CUPECOY  BEACH,  a  clothing  optional beach, although most of those 
there  went  for full nudity. Beach Chairs & Umbrellas rented for $5 
each,  cold soft drinks and beer were also available, and the fellas 
there  would  make  you  lunch  if  you  desired.  I  also found the 
snorkeling to be pretty good there. pb970
Cupecoy  comes  and  goes  almost on a daily basis. One day there is 
beach  in  front  of  Sapphire & Ocean club and the next it moves to 
the  far  (clothing  optional) end. In front of Frank & Nina's there 
was  only about a 5' strip of sand. We couldn't even lie out at that 
end  of  the beach. Frank and Nina have no chair and umbrella rental 
business  at  this  time. I feel for them. I also wonder if they are 
getting  tired  of their business. A couple of times we went over to 
their  place  to pick up some sandwiches which we were going to take 
with  us to some beach for lunch. At 11:45AM or 12:15PM they weren't 
even  there  yet!  I  guess 7 days a week is a lot for anybody. More 
next. ms9704
We  spent most of our days at Cupecoy but did venture over to Orient 
for  one  day. The wind and the sand was unreal!! This was the first 
we  have  been  over  there since the hurricane and were amazed with 
the  progress.  It  looks  beautiful!!  Now  if the wind would stop. 
Cupecoy  was  pretty good. It was down to the farthest beach but the 
other  ones  were  starting to come back. John the chair guy now has 
some  competition.  They even sell food there. John was happy to see 
all  of  his  regulars  back  and  was  quick  to tell you about the 
competition.  It  was  fun  watching  them  hustle for the business. 
From: sm9704
CUPECOY  is  in  great  shape  and is simply a beautiful spot. There 
were  quite  a  few  people  there,  about  75% of whom were nude or 
topless. rm9702
CUPECOY  is  actually  a string of beaches at the island's southwest 
corner.  Sandstone  cliffs  and  caves  are  the  backdrop  for this 
unusual  beach,  one  of  the world's most gorgeous. Its steep drop-
off,  which  changes shape frequently (as does the string of beaches 
itself),  makes Cupecoy waters hazardous for young children. Cupecoy 
is largely clothing optional.(jb9610)

GRAND  CASE  BEACH  CLUB  is  one  of  the  best kept secrets on the 
island,  in  my opinion. We stayed there two years ago and loved it, 
and  now  its  better than ever after being refurbished. But even if 
you  don't  stay  there,  you can use many of their facilities. They 
have  a  great  tops-optional beach at the north end of the hotel, a 
nice  casual  restaurant  right at the waterfront, waiters who serve 
drinks  to  the  sunbathers, a small store, clean public rest rooms, 
and  rental  equipment (chairs, umbrellas, floats, snorkeling gear). 
We really love that place. rm9702

LE  GALION  BEACH, also known as Embouchure or Coconut Grove, on the 
site  of  the  long-since  defunct  Le Galion Hotel, is the island's 
best  windsurfing  beach  and  is  ideal for children because of its 
shallow,  calm  waters  near  shore.  (Topless  with  some clothing-
optional use. Orient Beach is a seven-minute walk away.)(jb9610)
 

LONG  BEACH,  with  the  "rich  and  famous" hotel La Samanna at its 
southern  end,  rebuilt  itself  nicely  after  Luis and gives you a 
great spot for relaxing.(jb9610)

Maho  Beach,  at  the end of the runway of Princess Juliana airport, 
is  an  almost  equally attractive strand, as long as you don't mind 
the  a  747  approaching  the  airport  only about 50 feet over your 
head.(jb9610)

MULLET 
You  buy  a  sandwich  for  $2.00  and  they  throw  in  a chair and 
beer....beach  was clean and there were rest rooms and showers open. 
Copecoy  is  great at Copecoy beach club end. It is also fine around 
the  corner  from  Ocean  Club.  They  were selling beer and renting 
chairs  also...$5.00  plus  $2.00  a beer.....mostly nude this year. 
Orient  was  very  windy  and  not  crowed.  It  appears pretty much 
reorganized  and  most  things  are open and running. Maho beach was 
very  small and seemed to alter each day. There is a sunset bar down 
the  far  end  that  was  pretty.  Bar  offers  4  free  drinks  for 
topless....jello  shots  at  $1.00 Maho has new Harbor Pointe place, 
The  man  owned the Harbour Point on Cape Cod in Barnstable I think. 
Had  a  nice  barbecue  and  everything was really nice. Seems as if 
he'll  do  well  as  there  are  different things each night....nice 
place. bc9705
MULLET  BEACH,  the very popular strand at the Mullet Bay resort, is 
as  beautiful and as heavily used as always. Its big waves make it a 
favorite with local surfers.(jb9610)

ORIENT BEACH


The  north  end of ORIENT BAY is completely different from the south 
end  of  Orient  Bay.  Because  of  wind  directions,  the currents' 
condition  and  its  clothing  optional feature, south Orient Bay is 
very  popular  with  all  nationalities and all types of people. The 
cool  breeze  provided  a welcomed relief from the usual hot-n-humid 
under   the   sun  and  flat-as-glass  water  scenario.  Orient  Bay 
Naturalist  Resort,  which  is  not  completely  finished  with  its 
restoration,  is  significantly  different  from  the  old  resort's 
rustic  units.  The new studios, mini-suites and chalets have either 
white  or stained-wood exterior. And they have air-conditioning! The 
resort's new appearance is more inviting than the old units. hy0707
ORIENT  BEACH  was  at  its  best. The beach itself was in wonderful 
shape,  the  wind  conditions  were  the mildest I've ever seen, the 
concessions  were  all back in full swing, and the place was packed. 
rm9702

ORIENT  BEACH  was  very,  very  crowded  but  we did not stay there 
either.  There  was a few feet of seaweed leading into the water and 
there  is  hardly  free  sand space there what with the jet ski, and 
all  the  other  concessions.  We  drove in by Club Orient and where 
there  used  to be a fairly large packing lot is all pavillions now. 
Nothing  in  them as yet but they do take up the whole lot. There is 
very,  very  little  parking  there. Beach chairs with umbrellas are 
lined  up  in  a  row  that  reminded  me  of a cruise ship and deck 
chairs!  I  did  not see one nude person there, in fact there was NO 
toplessness  at  all.  I  guess they were all over at the Pelican as 
there was a lot of toplessness there. (AS9611)
ORIENT  BEACH,  the  largest and most popular on the island, saw all 
its  watersports facilities, restaurants, and beach bars washed away 
by  Luis -- but they're all back, better than ever. Club Orient, the 
world-renowned  naturist  resort, was blown apart by Luis, as if its 
log  chalets  were houses of cards hit by cinder blocks. The chalets 
are  being  quickly rebuilt, and the popular Papagayo restaurant has 
been  open, and busy, for months. Most of the little shops that were 
here  pre-Luis  are back, and new ones are being created as you read 
this.  The  beach is bustling even as the hammers bang away. (All of 
Orient  is  clothing  optional,  except for the restaurants and bars 
outside Club Orient.)(jb9610)

PELICAN  BEACH.  My  11-year  old  son snorkeled at Pelican Resort's 
little  beach  and  loved it. It's no great shakes for an adult, but 
my  son  had  a  ball  while  gaining  snorkeling  experience  in  a 
relatively safe spot. rm9702
PELICAN  BEACH, at the sprawling Pelican Resort complex, is slightly 
wider   than  before  Luis,  and  remains  very  popular.  The  most 
successful  timeshare  resort  in  the  world,  Pelican lost several 
roofs  to  Luis.  Its  recovery, chronicled by photography sometimes 
displayed  in  the lobby, was astonishing; it began accepting guests 
barely  two  months after the storm hit. (Beach chairs here are only 
for  Pelican  timeshare  owners.) The view of ocean sunsets here ARE 
spectacular.(jb9610)
PRUNE  BAY  is  another  great tops-optional beach. There aren't any 
food  services  here,  just  a beautiful stretch of sandy beach with 
mild  wave  action. This is a wonderful place to go to get away from 
crowds. rm9702
PRUNE  BEACH,  also  known  as  Plum  Bay,  is a gorgeous, intimate, 
crescent-shaped  strand  frequented  by  an eclectic crowd including 
occasional surfers, despite rocks among the breakers. (jb9610)

WATERSPORTS
Prices  for  watersports  were pretty high and the vendors would not 
negotiate.  Examples: jet skis at $45 per half hour, para-sailing at 
$45  for  a  15  minute  ride, small hobie cats at $50 per hour. But 
some  day  sailing  was  available  at around $60 per day, including 
lunch,  beach  umbrellas, booze etc. This was generally perceived as 
a good buy. See Guillaume at the Orient Bay Resort.jj9707

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