Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor

Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 103
March 1, 2000

Last Update 27 Feb 00

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After  checking  CTR  and   other  internet  sites  for  a  desirable 
vacation  in the Caribbean we decided on Sandals Halcyon in St. Lucia 
and  for  the  most part were not disappointed. The week we went down 
(Dec.12-19/99)  they  were not anywhere near full occupancy so we got 
spoilt  by  all  the  attention  that  was given to us by a wonderful 
staff  who  really seemed motivated and enjoyed their jobs.Take note: 
swimming  and scuba diving were hampered by the ocean which was still 
unusually  rough  (beware  the  Jellyfish-I  got  bitten)  because of 
recent hurricanes although the island escaped relatively unscathed.

We  had  a Premium Gardenview room which we were very satisfied with. 
Throughout,  the  property  is  very well maintained with some of the 
Oceanview  rooms  undergoing   renovation  at the time we were there. 
The  Oceanview  rooms  are  a lot more money for the view but all the 
rooms at the resort all looked to be of the same size.

Advertised   as  a  'romantic  couples  only'  resort,  don't  expect 
anything  close  to Couples or Hedonism. This place was like a summer 
camp  and  you'd better keep your clothes on...very inconvenient when 
it's  hot  and the sun is shining.  I don't know the reason for their 
prudishness,  but  we  felt like we were being treated like children. 
Anyways  for  every  letdown  there  is  a  surprise  which  was  the 
excellent  food  we  enjoyed  at the Bayside (breakfast/lunch/dinner) 
and  the  Pier  restaurant  (dinners). Some evenings we took the free 
shuttle  to  Sandals  St.  Lucia  on the other side of Castries (a 15 
minute  ride)  and  were  absolutely  bowled  over  by  the excellent 
cuisine  to  be  had  at  La Toc and Pitons. The bus ride back to the 
Halcyon  was  always  a  pleasure  as  one  goes  through Castries- a 
typical  Caribbean  port  city  where a large majority of St. Lucians 

Sandals  St. Lucia  is a much bigger resort so we were always glad to 
return  to  the  Halcyon  as it had a more relaxed, homey feel  about 
it.  To best describe the difference between the two resorts: Sandals 
St.  Lucia  is the suit and evening gown set whereas Halcyon is khaki 
pants and cotton dresses.

About  the  island  itself,  it is very lush and relatively unspoiled 
and  other  than  the inevitable street hawkers that seem to come out 
of  nowhere  to  try and sell you something we found St.Lucians to be 
very  friendly  and  proud of their island. The beaches were somewhat 
of  a  disappointment  so  we  settled  instead on touring around and 
taking  in the lushness and wonderful ocean views  this island has to 
offer.   The  cab  drivers  were  polite  and  their vehicles are all 
fairly  new.  Our  cab  driver,  Andy (Andy's Taxi Service cell #484-
6736/pager  #  481-3888) was excellent at maneuvering around the many 
hairpin  turns  on  the island and he made our sightseeing excursions 
extremely  enjoyable.   It  is  not  advisable  to  try and drive the 
island  yourself  as  the  roads are increasingly congested with cars 
and  you  will  spend  part  of your vacation stuck in traffic...just 
like  home!  Walking  is  also a risky activity as while the roads on 
the  island have been upgraded, they have not built sidewalks in many 
places  so  once again, a cab is the safest way of getting from point 
A to B.

There  is  an  overall  feeling  on the island that staying at an all 
inclusive  is  taking money away from local businesses however if you 
go  for  a week or so I feel a lot of time would be spent just trying 
to  find decent restaurants which we weren't prepared to do. Remember 
that  St.  Lucia  is  not as commercial  as some of the other islands 
and  there  are  no Pizza Huts or Dunkin'Donuts here which is part of 
the appeal of coming to this island  in the first place.

One  word  to  Canadians about choosing an airline: this trip we flew 
down  on  Skyservice  and came back on Canada 3000. I would recommend 
both  airlines  as  their  planes  are much newer than most competing 
carriers,  so  the  risk  of  being  delayed by "mechanical problems" 
should  be  less  likely.  Hewanorra  airport  is extremely clean and 
modern  and  it  reflects  the rest of the island which I found to be 
well  run  and  organized.  The  only thing is it is about 90 minutes 
away from most of  the major resorts (except Club Med I believe).

Another  thing  I have found out about traveling is that the Internet 
is  probably  the  most  reliable  source of information to be had on 
choosing  a  destination  and  up  to  date  conditions  on  weather, 
beaches,   safety,  etc.  Do  not  rely  on  your  travel  agent  for 
information  on  an island if you don't want to be disappointed. This 
especially  applies  to  beach  conditions  as  some (Cupecoy in Sint 
Maarten  for  example)  beaches  have  either been reduced in size or 
wiped out altogether by recent changes in the weather.

Check  out  St.  Lucia  for a genuine Caribbean experience  that does 
not have the pitfalls of the more commercial islands



My  wife  Pam  and  I  left for Saint Martin on January 1, 2000 for a 
fantastic  two-week  vacation. This was our sixth year vacationing in 
Saint  Martin  during  January.  My  personal  web  site has the full 
version  of  this  travelogue,  with  pictures  and hyperlinks; go to 

As  usual,  this  year's  travelogue covers the weather, rental cars, 
beaches,  restaurants,  and  miscellaneous topics. I'll start with my 
"favorite  finds"  on  this  vacation,  which  I  hope will make your 
vacation  even  better.  There  are  lots of great things about Saint 
Martin  that  I  don't cover each year - but you can find information 
about  those things on my web site in my travelogues from 1995, 1996, 
1997, 1998, and 1999. 

This Year's Favorite Finds

East Caribbean Cellular (ECC)
Bring  your cellular phone! I've had this tip on my Saint Martin Tips 
page  for  a  long  while,  but  this is the first chance I've had to 
actually try them out. They're great!

ECC  sets  up  your  cellular  phone  so that it works locally. Visit 
their  web  site,  stop  by  their  office  on  Richardson  Street in 
Philipsburg,  or  just  dial "0" when you get to Saint Martin. Here's 
an  introductory  paragraph  from the flyer they gave us when we used 
their service:
There  is  no registration for daily roamers. To register for "credit 
card  roaming"  service, dial "0" on your cellphone to register (7 am 
to  midnight).  Charges  must be billed to a credit card (Mastercard, 
Visa,  Discover,  or American Express) and a detailed invoice will be 
mailed  to  your  home address. There is a $3 daily fee only for days 
of actual usage. 

We  absolutely loved this service. Calls to the United States cost us 
$2.00  per  minute instead of the $3.20/minute charged by our resort. 
Incoming  calls  from  the States were only $0.60/minute! Local calls 
were  $0.75/minute.  You only pay the $3 roaming fee once a day - and 
only if you use the phone that day. Connections were crystal clear.

Dona Bryhiel - Artiste
Dona  Bryhiel  is  the  artist  who  painted  the cover shown on this 
year's  Ti  Gourmet. She has exhibited in Paris, New York, Stuttgart, 
Madrid,  Sienna, Tokyo... We went to her shop in Oyster Bay on a road 
that  "goats  wouldn't  take," according to my wife. Follow the signs 
to  Captain  Oliver's  and  then  continue about a mile past the good 
captain's  turnoff to find Dona's gallery. A new road is being built, 
but  until  then, even the lousy road is well worth the trip. You can 
buy her original oil paintings, watercolors, pastels, lithographs, T-
shirts, postcards, and other souvenirs.

Dona  is  a very sweet, engaging person. She speaks excellent English 
and  she  loves  to  chat  with  her  customers as she walks with you 
through  her  gallery.  We bought several paintings, including a copy 
of  her  "logo,"  pictured  on the left. The subject of that painting 
was a Puerto Rican woman living in Saint Martin.

Dona  has  a  web  site,  but  it  won't be set up properly until the 
spring    of    2000.    Meanwhile,    you   can   e-mail   Dona   at  Her  telephone  number  in  Saint 
Martin is: (590) 87 43 93.

Supermarche Match

I  have  always  recommended  that  folks  go  to  one  of  the large 
supermarkets  on  the  Dutch  side  to  fill  their refrigerators and 
cabinets,   but   this   time  Pam  and  I  tried  two  French  Match 
supermarkets   that  we  think  are  much  better  than  their  Dutch 
The  one  in  Marigot  in  Howell's Center (on the main road near the 
school)  was  a riot. The night we went there was a small band with a 
female  singer  doing  Mustang  Sally! The parking is a challenge but 
the  atmosphere,  selection,  and  freshness  of  the food makes this 
place  a  winner.  Another Match supermarket is located in Marigot on 
the  main  road  near the marina. Pam and I recommend that you forget 
the  Dutch  side  supermarkets  if  you  can  get to the French Match 
groceries - much better.

Richard's Crepes Cafe 
This  little  gem  of a cafe, described in the restaurants section is 
hidden  away  in  Royal Village II in Simpson Bay. They are open from 
7am to 7pm and I bet if you go there you'll love it.

Magic Spice

Now  I'm  sharing  a  secret with you that I discovered several years 
ago.  At  the  Marigot  Market  find  the spice vendor you see in the 
picture  and  buy  some  'Magic  Spice'.  He  wouldn't  identify  the 
ingredients  for  me  ("That's why it's called Magic Spice."), but we 
put  Magic  Spice  into  a  family recipe called "Dad's Superburgers" 
and,  I'm  tellin' ya, you can't make enough of these darn hamburgers 
to  keep everybody happy! They are delicious, and the ingredient that 
makes  them  so special is Magic Spice. You can buy a ice cream-sized 
scoop for $2 (we picked up 10 scoops!).


Thirteen  of  14  days  were  gorgeous  at  least half of the day and 
usually  all  day;  the  remaining  day was too overcast to go to the 
beach.  It's always partly cloudy in Saint Martin, thank God, and the 
breeze  has  been  consistently  greater  than it was before the 1999 
hurricanes.  It seemed to us that the worst part of the weather often 
occurred  between  8am-9am,  and  then the clouds and rain would move 
out. The weather overall was heavenly.


We  used  Adventure  Car  Rental  (011-43688) this year and were very 
satisfied  with  their  service.  You can reserve a vehicle via their 
web  site,  but  be sure to do so at least several days in advance (I 
waited  for  the  last minute and because their server was down for a 
couple  of  days my reservation didn't get processed). Regardless, we 
rented  a  brand new Suzuki Grand Vitara Jeep that had been delivered 
to  Adventure only the week before. It was gorgeous - a bit pricey at 
$360  per  week  during high season compared to the $270/week we paid 
last  year  at  Empress  for a much older jeep. Adventure was quoting 
$70/day  for  new  Wrangler  jeeps (which I used for one day), but we 
liked  the  Grand Vitara much better. We felt that the new jeep added 
so  much  enjoyment  to  our  vacation  that  it  was worth the extra 

Use  that  rental  vehicle  to head for Marigot Market. Best days are 
Saturdays and Wednesdays.
Adventure  has  a  booth  at  the airport and their free shuttle will 
take  you  to and from the airport. Sara (from England) or one of the 
other  very  friendly people at Adventure will take good care of you, 
and their dog Mocha will expect a scratch behind the ears!



Orient  was  in  great shape and the place was jumping on the days we 
were  there.  We  hung  out  (so to speak) at the Orient Beach Club's 
area  of  the  beach.  It  was  great.  Adding to the enjoyment was a 
golden  blonde,  topless  young  lovely named Tatyana (from Belgium), 
who  serves  food and drink up and down that part of the beach during 
the  high  season.  She  is just as sweet and polite as she is pretty 
and she did a speedy job of bringing our food and drink orders. 


The  1999  hurricanes  caused  some  changes  at this beach but it is 
still  wonderful.  Standing  at  the  top of the hill overlooking the 
beach,  you'll  think  at  first  glance that the beachfront consists 
almost  entirely  of large boulders. You'll find, however, that there 
are  several  sandy entrances to the water among the boulders and the 
beach  itself  is  still  gorgeous. I was there on a Sunday and there 
were  dozens  of  people  there, mostly French and American, I think. 
The  two  lo-lo's  (Gus' Place and Raymond's) are still going strong, 
the  price  for  a  bottle  of  beer  is still $2, and menus at these 
restaurants are getting more and more sophisticated.
This  is  a nice family beach. Tops Optional. Oh, and the parking lot 
has been expanded. 


Prune Bay was simply exquisite. Perfect. 

I  know...  I  rave  about  this  beach  every  year.  This is the Le 
Pressoir  of  beaches.  Like the restaurant Le Pressoir, it is not to 
be  missed.  Mostly  French  and  American, and more people this year 
than  in  years past (maybe they read my travelogues?!). There are no 
facilities  and  no  concessions.  It  is a gorgeous beach with great 
swimming   conditions.  An  excellent  place  for  the  family.  Tops 
As  I  mentioned last year, Prune Bay is hard to get to because there 
are  no  signs after the one on the main road; but at least this year 
the  road  has  been  regraded  so  that  it's  not  just a string of 
potholes.  These directions are better (quicker) than the ones I gave 
you last year.
"Use  your  map  to  get  to  the Prune Bay "exit" from the main road 
(between  Baie  Rouge  and Long Bay). There's a sign at the exit road 
and  now  there's  also a guardhouse that operates between 6:00pm and 
6:00am  each day. When you see the sign and/or guard house, leave the 
main road.
1Take  the  left fork in the road for one mile, at which point you'll 
see  a  cement  wall on the right side that is about eight feet tall. 
The  wall is weird - just two small sections that intersect with each 
other  to form a wedge. The wall is at an intersection with Rue Dufy. 
Turn right onto Rue Dufy.
2Take  your first left and follow it all the way. The beach is at the 
end of this winding road.

Stop  someplace  to  get  food and drink before you go to Prune Bay - 
there  are no facilities there. You might consider also bringing your 
own umbrella, because there isn't much shade.


There  are  three  beach restaurants at Friars Bay: Kali's Beach Bar, 
Cranberry  Cafe,  and  Friar's Bay Beach Cafe. They are all good, but 
we  prefer  Friar's Bay Beach Cafe, which is an experience in itself. 
I  would  recommend  - strongly - that you head for the area in front 
of Friars Bay Beach Cafe (FBBC). 

As  I  said  last  year,  the  beach  is  excellent and there is good 
snorkeling  at  both  ends  of  the  beach. The beach is in excellent 
shape  after  the 1999 hurricanes. The lounge chairs and umbrellas in 
front  of the FBBC are free if you eat at the FBBC...and I assure you 
that  the  food  there is excellent. They have an extensive menu with 
very reasonable prices. And the music...just as eclectic as ever!
One  reason  that  this  beach is so much fun is because of the broad 
mix  of  people  who go there: French, Italians, Latin Americans, and 
folks  from  the  USA.  It's  a  nice family place. Tops Optional ... 


What  a  romantic  spot! Happy Bay was in great shape and was just as 
deserted  as  in  years  past.  Most  folks don't want to take the 20 
minute  hike  over  the hill from Friar's Bay to get to Happy Bay, so 
it  is common to have only one or two couples on the entire beach. To 
find Happy Bay:
0First,  go to Friar's Bay...park your vehicle...and then walk to the 
path up the hill that starts right behind the Cranberry Cafe. 
1When  you  get  to a point where the path splits, you can go left to 
follow  the  longer,  more  interesting path (which also passes a few 
very  small  coves  that  are full of sea shells); or you can bear to 
the  right.  The  path gets hard to see in the tall grass, but follow 
your instincts - you can't get lost. 
2On  both  paths  you'll  step  over a small rock wall that is topped 
with  a trampled down string of barbed wire. On the right path you'll 
see   some  houses  that  are  being  rebuilt  after  Hurricane  Luis 
destroyed  them...just  follow the path that passes the houses to the 
ocean. In either case the walk takes about 15-20 minutes. 

There still are no facilities (so stop somewhere before going).


Biggest  disappointment  of  the  vacation  this  year!  This  was my 
favorite  beach  last year but the 1999 hurricanes really made a mess 
of  Cupecoy.  Sand erosion left boulders at the water's edge and what 
little  beach  is  left  is mostly ugly; the treeline suffered severe 
damage  from  erosion;  the  concession was destroyed (but the locals 
still  set  up  a  small  lo-lo  on the beach). I'm talking about the 
beach  furthest  from  the  Sapphire resort. It's mostly a naturalist 
beach, but there are plenty of people who wear their bathing suits. 

This  was  funny.  A  couple  of  timeshare  hawkers named Pascal and 
Sandra  (from  France)  -  the most enthusiastic, likeable shysters I 
ever  met  -  gave  us  a scratch-off card in the parking lot next to 
Sapphire  Beach  Club.  Sure  enough, we won "a valuable prize" ("Oh! 
Oh!  C'est  impossible!")  and qualified for a timeshare presentation 
at the Sapphire...which we didn't do.)
A  small  number of people still go to Cupecoy and you could check it 
out  to  see  if  it's  okay  for  you. But don't rent your chair and 
umbrella until you actually see the condition of the beach.


I'll  just  repeat  what  I said in last year's travelogue. Nothing's 
Real  beach  aficionados  probably  wonder  why  I mention this beach 
every  year,  but  I'm  tellin'  'ya,  this  is a good little beach - 
especially  if you have little kids. The Pelican provides free lounge 
chairs  and umbrellas, a very nice beach protected by rock jetties on 
both  sides, and two beach bars - the thatched one serves up the best 
barbecued  burgers I've had on the island. And of course you have all 
the other amenities of the Pelican Resort right there. 


My  descriptions of restaurants, cafes, and bars are in no particular 
order   this   year.  You'll  find  my  favorite  restaurant  on  the 
island...a  place  where  topless  women drink for informal 
cafe   that   serves   gourmet   food...(they're  not  all  the  same 
place) on.

Pizza-Pasta  Italian Trattoria (behind Cheri's at Maho Bay) Wow! What 
a  good  place  for  a  simple dinner of delicious food. An informal, 
cash-only  restaurant,  we  ate  there twice, each time for less than 
$40   (including   drinks).   The   Penne   Bologna   was  especially 
outstanding.  And  Pam  says they serve the best fresh-brewed ice tea 
on  the  island.  Selena (born in Italy, raised in Africa) and Marcia 
(from Jamaica) provided superlative, friendly service. This is a kid-
friendly  restaurant that provides crayons to the kids (the resulting 
artwork adorns the walls). Get there early or make a reservation. 

Ren  &  Stimpy's (or Berry's Island Grill) in Simpson Bay We're still 
in  denial.  We loved the old Ren & Stimpy's on the Pizza Hut road in 
Simpson  Bay, so we went to see if maybe Ren & Stimpy's had reopened; 
instead  we  found  a  restaurant  named  Berry's  Island  Grill. The 
waitress  said  that Ren & Stimpy's went out of business and that now 
the original owners have the place. 
When  we  asked  for  a  menu, the friendly waitress warned that they 
don't  have  any of the things listed on the menu. Berry's is a local 
seafood  shack  now,  specializing  mostly  in  swordfish, mahi-mahi, 
snapper,  and  so  on.  The waitress then tapped her breasts and said 
that  they also have chicken breasts. This was clearly a neighborhood 
lo-lo  that  didn't  cater to tourists, so we finished our drinks and 
moved on. 

Ric's  Place  (Philipsburg)We  had  a couple of western omelettes for 
$5.50  each  for  breakfast one day. The food is good, the service is 
excellent, and the view from the deck is great. 

Lynette's  (Simpson  Bay) We usually eat at Lynette's once each trip. 
We  had appetizers of spinach salad and crab cakes, which were so-so. 
I  love  the  lobster  creole,  which is to die for, and Pam said the 
baby  back  ribs  were  excellent. Prices are reduced from last year: 
the  lobster  creole  was  $25 instead of $30; the ribs were $12. The 
ambiance  is  very  nice  (though  you  wouldn't  guess that from the 
outside),  the  quality of the food is great, and the service is very 
Lynette's  (like  many restaurants in St Martin) has a 15% surcharge, 
which  you will see on the check but not on the credit card slip. Add 
more  tip  if you want - just remember when you're signing the credit 
card slip that it already includes 15%.

Turtle  Pier  (Simpson  Bay) We love Turtle Pier - unfortunately, the 
whole  time  we  were  there it was closed to repair damage caused by 
the  hurricanes.  It  will be open by the time you go. As I said last 
year:  The  kids  will  love  all the birds and animals that line the 
walkway  into  the  restaurant.  Be  sure to take a seat right at the 
water if you bring kids - they'll love to toss bread to the fish.
Turtle  Pier  serves  an  outstanding breakfast with plenty of coffee 
refills.  Lunches  are  also  dependably  delicious  -  everything is 
flavorful,  fairly  portioned,  and reasonably priced. For example, a 
lunch  of hamburger and onion rings costs $6.50. All that and you get 
a great view too.

Le Fregate (On the waterfront in Marigot)

The  food and desserts at Le Fregate were outstanding and the service 
was  excellent.  We  both  had an outstanding beef tenderloin covered 
with  duck  liver,  a couple of desserts (the tiramsu was excellent), 
and  drinks  for $82. The ambiance was relaxing. We thought the place 
was comparatively pricey, but worth a trip.

Paradise  View  Restaurant  (on  the  main road to Orient Beach) This 
place  is  quite an experience. There is a mini-market lined up along 
the  walk  to  the  restaurant, which itself is a very nice, informal 
place  that serves lunch and dinner. The clothes prices in the market 
were  very  reasonable. The restaurant has tables inside and out, and 
provides a fantastic view of Orient Bay.
A  hamburger  or  cheeseburger  with 2 side dishes cost $10 (a little 
high),  but  the  food  that Sinclair cooks is great and Paulette and 
Claudette  give  good,  friendly service. They're really nice people. 
It's  a  fun  place  and  worth  at least one stop on your vacation - 
bring your camera!

Sunset  Beach  Bar (Maho) As you know from last year's travelogue, we 
really  enjoy  this  place. It is getting quite a following and stays 
pretty  busy  all  day. Famous for its sign that says, "topless women 
drink  for  free,"  the Sunset Beach Bar has picnic tables on a large 
deck  overlooking Maho Bay and Juliana Airport. It is a lot of fun to 
watch  the  huge  jets  and  small  commuter  flights  taking off and 
landing.  The  WinAir  commuter  planes' landing are the best...those 
pilots  pay no attention to the proper approach and glide path...they 
just  come  winging  in from all angles, line up on the runway at the 
last  possible  minute,  and  touch  down as close as possible to the 
start of the runway. They're a riot. 

The  steak  sandwiches  were  delicious  but  the  meat is sliced too 
thickly  so  they are too difficult to eat. Try the hamburgers, which 
are  supposed  to  be  the  best on the island (see newspaper extract 

According  to  a  feature  called "Paper Plate Dining" in the January 
6th  issue  of  the  Daily  Herald,  here are three "restaurants that 
serve  excellent  food  for  under $20 a couple": 0Sunset Beach Bar - 
"...without  question  the best hamburger on the island..." 1Gerard's 
Pizza  Stand  at  the Bateau Lavoir in Marigot 2Texas Pit Barbecue in 
Cole Bay

Michael's  Cafe  (Grand  Case) Michael's Cafe took a beating from the 
1999  hurricanes,  but  it's  still  open  and  just as good as ever. 
Michael  and Marilyn Petone (in the picture) are a couple of American 
expatriates  from  Harvard,  Massachusetts who opened a cafe in Grand 
Case  during  the  summer of 1997. You can read more about them in my 
1998  and  1999  travelogues. Give yourself a treat by stopping in to 
enjoy  delicious  food  and  great  conversation  about  life  on the 
This  time around we stopped for lunch and grabbed a couple of Cheese 
Pepper  Steak  submarines  with  fries  and  cole  slaw  ($8  each) - 
delicious!  Michael  and  Marilyn serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 
We've  tried  all  three  and have always enjoyed the fine quality of 
food  at prices quite a bit lower than the fancy restaurants in Grand 
Case.  In  fact,  our son Joey gives Michael's Cafe his now famous 5-
Star  Joey Rating for the best breakfast on the island. Tell 'em Joey 
sent  you  and  Michael  and  Marilyn  will  know  exactly who you're 
talking about!

Friar's  Bay  Beach  CafeThis is the epitome of a great beach cafe. I 
ordered  a  really delicious Creole Plate (1/2 lobster, stuffed crab, 
stuffed  'something  else'),  all  of  which was served on a plate of 
lettuce,  tomatoes,  and  onions.  Pam  had  a burger and fries. With 
three  beers and two cokes added, our bill came to $43. And you can't 
beat the view (ain't talkin' about the seascape here, folks).

L'Alabama  (Grand  Case)It's  no  secret that L'Alabama is one of the 
truly  great  restaurants  in  a  village of truly great restaurants. 
Pascal  and  Karin  own  the place and will chat with you during your 
visit  at this very comfortable restaurant. They've had L'Alabama for 
nine  years  and named the place after a Greek restaurant of the same 
name  where Pascal and Karin met 11 years ago - "tres romantique," as 
Karin  said. Karin is from Austria and Pascal is from France ... what 
a nice couple.
For  appetizers  we  had  shrimp and conch ravioli (to die for) and a 
good  garden salad with house vinaigrette; for the main course we had 
pork  tenderloin with cinammon and carmelized apple sauce served on a 
bed  of  mashed potatoes (which sounds like a strange combination but 
tasted  wonderful),  sea  scallops  and  shrimp  sauteed in something 
(very  good); and for dessert we each had a crepe stuffed with almond 
custard   and   fruits   with   an   almond   and   cholcolate  sauce 
(outstanding).  With  a couple of glasses and coffee our bill came to 
The  service  here  could  not  possibly have been any better. What a 
great place to dine. Get reservations. 

Le  Pressoir  Pam  and  I  continue  to  believe  this  is  the  best 
restaurant  we've  ever  visited  in  Saint  Martin. Definitely get a 
reservation.  Our  dinner  consisted  of  swordfish, an exceptionally 
good  vegetable  pasta,  a  couple  of delicious appetizers and a $27 
bottle of wine; minus the wine, the bill was $68.

As  I've said before, this restaruant is located in one of the oldest 
homes  on  the  island.  The food is consistently outstanding and the 
service  is great. For the first time, however, I noticed the service 
would  have been more relaxed if they had one additional waiter. They 
are  simply  too busy for the maitre d' and two waiters to handle the 
load without rushing.
This  is still, in my humble opinion, the one restaurant to eat in if 
you can eat at only one. 

Richard's  Crepes  Cafe  (Simpson  Bay)  What  a  find!  This cafe is 
located  in  the  Royal Village II plaza next to Adventure Car Rental 
and  across  the  street  from  the  Lightning  Casino.  This  simple 
waterfront  cafe  serves  an  astounding  variety  of  sandwiches and 
crepes.  I suggest that you don't mess with the eggs and sandwiches - 
they're  good,  but  you  can  get those anywhere. Go for the crepes. 
You've  simply got to order "The Parisienne" crepe - it contains ham, 
mushrooms,  bechamel  sauce,  and  cheese.  Oh my gawd. Also, try the 
Garlic  and  Basil  Potatoes  -  they're  outta  this  world.  Funny, 
Richard's  wife  apologized  because  the  potatoes arrived after the 
rest  of our food ... seems that Richard peels and cooks the potatoes 
at the time you order, which takes time. Not bad!
The  Parisienne  crepe,  eggs & bacon, breakfast salad, two orders of 
those  great  potatoes,  a couple of coffees, and a beer came to $27. 
We  ate  there  twice  on this trip - the second time was just before 
dropping  off  the  rental vehicle at Adventure Car Rental right next 
door.  It was easy to get an outside table where we could keep an eye 
on  our  luggage-loaded vehicle while we ate. Then we dropped off the 
vehicle and headed for the airport.

Sebastiano's  Italian  Restaurant  (Grand  Case)We've been driving by 
Sebastiano's  for  years  and  finally  decided  to  drop in for what 
turned  out  to be one of the very best dinners we had on the island. 
We  used  the valet parking (pull off the road across the street from 
Sebastiano's  and  an  attendant  will  park  your  car  for you) and 
enjoyed  a  nice  art exhibition being held by the island artist Dago 
in the entryway.

Food,  service  and  ambiance  at  Sebastiano's  were  outstanding  - 
couldn't  have  been better. This was one of the friendliest bunch of 
waiters  we encountered. The appetizers were all scrumptious, as were 
the  main  courses of gnocchi and veal parmesian. Add in a few drinks 
and some coffee, and our bill came to $92. 

Le  Charolais  (Simpson Bay)I hate to say we "found" a place that was 
in  plain  sight  all  this time, but we always drove by Le Charolais 
(across  the street from Lightening Casino) without giving it a try - 
until  we  decided  late one evening that we were starving and didn't 
have  reservations  anywhere. We pulled into this unpretentious open-
air  restaurant and found the food and service to be simply excellent 
-  the  owner  even  visited  the table to be sure everything was all 
right (it was).
I  ordered an Argentinean T-Bone steak with Le Charolais's Peppercorn 
Sauce  ($25)  and  Pam  had  a  Farmer's  Salad ($8) that she's still 
talking  about.  We  didn't  try  the  desserts, but they had quite a 
selection.  They  also  had an extensive wine list. It's real easy to 
understand  why  Le  Charolais  received  a  culinary  award  from Ti 
Gourmet - everything was great.
Le  Charolais  is  an  outstanding  alternative  to  Rancho Argentina 
(where   the  food  is  more  expensive  and  the  service  often  is 
horrible).  Our  whole bill (drinks included) at Le Charolais came to 

Mario's  Bistro  (Sandy  Ground)  This is the toughest reservation in 
Saint  Martin. The first available opening we could get was one whole 
week  from  the  day  we  were making it! This is the only restaurant 
that  you  should probably call from the States for a reservation (if 
you're  going  to  Saint Martin only for one week). Mario and Martine 
own  the  place.  Mario  is the chef who oversees the sous-chefs, and 
Martine  is  the  gracious  hostess.  They  are both very personable, 
likable people who do a terrific job. 

Despite  all  the  accolades,  we have mixed feelings about the food. 
For  appetizers I had wontons stuffed with shrimp served in a soy and 
sesame  sauce  that  was simply out of this world, and Pam had a good 
garden  salad. Pam's main course was 'Dual Chicken" and mine was tuna 
fish  topped with a blue cheese mix, both of which were good, but not 
great. The chocolate mousse dessert, however, was outstanding. 

The  service  was  impeccable  -  even better than in years past. And 
Martine  is such a great hostess, frequently stopping to chat and see 
how  you're  doing.  She's  so nice. Our total bill, drinks included, 
came to $91.

Les  13  Travaux  d'Hercule (Anse Marcel/Cul de Sac) The menu at this 
roadside   lo-lo   mentions   the  12  traditional  labors  of  Greek 
mythology's  Hercules,  but  names  the  restaurant  after  the owner 
Hercules' 13th labor... his son, Sergio.

The   advertisement   for   this   place  described  it  as  a  "lolo 
inoubliable"  (an  unforgettable  lolo), so we went there one day for 
lunch.  At  first  we  were  unimpressed  with  the service, but then 
realized  that Edelyne (the wife) was doing all the waiting on tables 
and  cooking  while  Hercules was at the market. As soon as he roared 
up  on  his  motorcycle the service improved greatly. This turned out 
to be a real nice place to go!

I  ordered  an  appetizer called 'Creole Dishies' - it consisted of a 
1/2  lobster,  stuffed crab, and lots of other delicious stuff that I 
can't  name.  It  was  absolutely  great. I can't believe Edylyne was 
cooking  this stuff while waiting on two tables of customers. Pam had 
a  good  fresh  garden salad as an appetizer, and for the main course 
we  both  ordered  baby  back  ribs, which were very tasty. The whole 
meal, including a beer and a soda, cost $30. 

La  Croissanterie  (Marigot  Marina)This is an open-air restaurant in 
the  Marigot  Marina  where we had brunch one day. The food was good, 
the  service  was  outstanding, and the ambiance was very relaxing. I 
had  a  ham-egg-cheese  crepe  and  Pam  had  an  American  breakfast 
(omelette,  bacon,  potatoes).  The  whole  brunch, with drinks, cost 

The  crepes here do not come close to Richard's Crepe Cafe in Simpson 
Bay,  but it's a fine place to eat nonetheless. Funny, this place was 
jammed   with   customers   while  the  restaurant  next  to  it  (St 
Germain's?) was virtually empty.

Indiana  Beach  Restaurant  (Simpson  Bay) This used to be one of our 
favorite  restaurants  for breakfast, but they quit serving breakfast 
last  year.  We  tried  a  late  night supper this time, but the menu 
seemed,  shall  we  say, uninspired. We finally opted for a couple of 
hamburger  plates  called  "Italian  New  Wave  Burger." At $13 each, 
these  burgers  were  grossly  overpriced  (but we were starved). Our 
total  bill  came  to  $39,  which  included drinks and a 15% service 
charge that they include automatically.

If  you  decide  to  eat at Indiana Beach but don't want to use their 
valet  parking  service,  simply  turn into the vacant lot across the 
street  from  The  Globe  restaurant  on the main road and park right 
behind  the  Indiana  Beach  restaurant  (which  is  where  the valet 
attendant will park your vehicle anyway).

Don  Carlos  (Simpson  Bay) Nothing fancy here. We received good food 
and  service  from  a  waitress  who  looks just like Phylicia Rashad 
(sp?)  (the  wife on the Bill Cosby TV show). One interesting feature 
of  this  restaurant  is  that diners get 20 minutes of free Internet 
access  at  their  computer,  which  seems  like  a  good way to keep 
restless  kids busy while waiting for the food. We spent $30.00 for a 
taco plate, a fajita plate, and drinks. 

Miscellaneous Notes
Paradise Peak

What  an  incredible view, no matter how many times you've seen it.We 
made  the  trek  to  the  top of Paradise Peak, but found the topmost 
section  of road to be washed out so badly that we feared tipping the 
jeep  if  we  tried to continue the last 100 yards or so. No problem; 
just park your vehicle and walk that last 100 yards.

The  view at the left is not the great view you get from the top, but 
it  sure  was  a  pretty  shot  on the way back down. The sign of the 
pistol  at  the  right is on the front wall of an expensive residence 
on the road to Paradise Peak.

Dolphin  Casino  The  Dolphin  is  nice  new  casino  located  at the 
Caravanserai  resort  near  the  Sunset  Beach Bar. I must say that I 
never  saw  a  Blackjack  dealer  hit  21 or Blackjack as often as my 
dealer  did  ...  let's just say that Pam adn I contributed enough to 
the  island's  economy  that we didn't need to visit the new Princess 
Casino at Port de Plaisance.

Marigot  Market  We  went  to the market a couple of times because it 
was  better  than  ever.  For the last couple of years I've picked up 
nice  outfits  from  a  French  lady named Nicole. She is a bundle of 
energy,  speaking  French  and  English  at the same time - sometimes 
slipping  into English with French customers and French with English-
speaking  customers before she catches herself. She's a riot. Be sure 
to find her and tell her you saw her picture on the Internet.

That's it for this year, Folks! Have a great time in St Martin!

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