January 2005 SXM Trip Report

SXM Trip report December 28 through January 11, 2005

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This trip was our annual trip to celebrate our anniversary and get some R&R after the busy holiday season of extra services and events. We have found that getting a dose of sunlight in January does wonders to help us both get through the New England winters, so while we may go to SXM some other times during the year, it will be a rare year that we miss our time in January.

 FF miles bought the tickets with US Air, thank God they were still flying! Points with RCI got us a deluxe studio at the Sapphire for 10 days and the last 4 days we booked in at the Divi. Mickey from Tropical Tropicana Car rental was willing to give us an even better special repeat customer rate than we got in November.  Life is good!

Prior to going we invited several friends to join us for a day sail on the Celine for a cruise around SXM.  We also emailed Craig Roberts at Pack Light for chairs and umbrella and with our previous simm from UTS that we got from Sharon Harris we were also set for our phone. At least this time we really knew what our number was and that was good because we certainly needed it. As is our habit, we froze up some some meats and cheeses for our carry on, buying coffee singles etc... .

We also planned for two parties while we were there. The first was the TTOL gathering at Bay Watch with Andy and Cheryl. Co-hosting with Bob and Marla, it was to take place on December 29th, the day after we arrived. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 people signed up in advance. The second was our favorite, the New Year's eve party at Papagayos at Club Orient. Now that we have attended the Halloween Party to compare it with it is hard to say which is more fun, but we haven't missed New Years Eve at Club O in the last 4 years so we just knew we had to be there.

Bags packed. It was off to Providence TF Green Airport at 4:00 in the morning for our early morning flight. Our daughter Margaret was brave enough to drive us over in the snow.

There And Back Again    Back to the Top

Flights were on US Air from Providence to Charlotte and then onto Princess Juliana Airport in SXM. We tried this routing our last trip in October and we liked it so much that we made all our connections for Charlotte again instead of Philadelphia. It was wonderful  in both directions! We had good flights, good seats, easy connections, good crews and pleasant seat mates.

Where We Stayed - The Sapphire    Back to Top

We stayed the first 10 days  at The Sapphire. We have gotten so spoiled staying there! We love the location, we love the space and we love the people who take care of us. Last but not least, we love our balcony looking at the Caribbean with the Jacuzzi, they just make for a nice way to end a perfect day in paradise. We were put in a deluxe studio on the third floor in Tower 3, right next door to where we stayed in October.

Check-in was a breeze.  The food there was great! We ate a couple of meals at the restaurant by the pool this trip and were pleasantly surprised at the quality and the quantity. Our last night there we ordered the 2 for 1 specialty pizzas. Each one was a feast and the second one certainly came in handy the next day.

Not much sand there this trip... So we walked over to Cupecoy for our time in the sun. We did see more topless use of the pool than ever before. There was a large contingent of families from France staying there during the holidays. Also saw more thongs in the pool area. Saw our first contingent of Wicked Weasels worn by a small group of French women who certainly enjoyed themselves walking around the pool area and turning a few heads.

Two minor complaints. The desk staff just could not seem to figure out our reservation. We booked into the resort twice with our points from RCI. They could not tell us if we needed to move from our unit right up to the very day we were supposed to move. It finally took the reservations manager to figure it all out. The second complaint was that the micro-wave quit working the last two days we were there. We reported it twice and again on the day we checked out. They did give us a late check out on our moving day to the Divi at Little Bay.




Where We Stayed - The Divi    Back to Top

Well I wish we could say something positive about The Divi at Little Bay. It had some lovely grounds! There I did find something!

The rest of the story was very, very disappointing.

The Check-in From Hell

Our story begins on check-in day. We called from the Sapphire and were told by the reservations staff at the Divi that our 1 bedroom unit would be ready at noon. We called the Front desk at the Sapphire and arranged for a late check-out, packed up our stuff and then walked over to Cupecoy for a morning in the sun. Walked back around 11:30, showered, moved our stuff to the car and checked out at 12:10. So far so good.

Drive over to The Divi was not bad. We took the back road from the round-about on the top of the hill and were there at 12:35. Walked into the Front Desk and there was a line of people waiting for the one staff person at the desk.  When she got to us she said that they did not have a 1 bedroom unit for us after all. Instead she said that all they had was a studio located in a building almost at the very end of the resort up by Fort Amsterdam. Then she said that the room was not going to be ready for 4-5 hours. I asked about a secure place to lock-up our belongings as we had an appointment with Deepti on Front Street at 3:00.  She said that they had no space left in the secure room, but we could leave our stuff behind the desk, pointing to a mountain of luggage that was piled off to the side, no security, no limit to who could go over and pick something up. I said no...  I got her to agree to call housekeeping and see if we could stash our belongings in the closet in our unit while they cleaned. That worked... 

So we loaded all our stuff on one of those little utility carts and followed Russell up the hill. He and I carried our diving gear, photo gear, food and bags up four flights of stairs... No elevators! After the 5th trip I was ready for a beer and a shower but that was not to be. The housekeeping staff was friendly and still hard at work so we went out onto the balcony overlooking the infinity pool and were so hungry that we had to do something. The pizza was there in a box from the evening before and we made short work of that while Maria of housekeeping was finishing up. We liked what we saw and except for the 10 minute walk back to where our car was parked we began to think that we could begin to like this place. Then the phone rang.

It was the front desk. They discovered that we could not stay in that unit after all as the owners of that unit were arriving the next morning. They did not want us to have to move twice in our 4 nights... So where were we going to be moved we asked? The person there could not tell us... They had no more studios, no one bedrooms and they were not sure they even had a room for the night! But we had to be out of that room and they would send Russell back up to get us right away.

1 hour later... still no Russell. Called Deepti and told her we were going to be late. In the meantime I carried all of our stuff from the room back down to the driveway so we could save time when Russell finally showed up. 8 trips later... he showed up as I was struggling down with the last bag.

Back to the Front Desk... They still had no place to put us and asked us to just wait while they checked in 3 new arrivals from the airport. At this point I was beyond my limit of patience. I walked back to our pile of stuff and sent in Regina... Good Cop- Bad Cop kind of idea. Somehow her tone of voice and frustration (2 1/2 hours in building) got through. In 10 minutes they had a room - one of the Casita's, no full kitchen, no private balcony... but at least it was a place we could stay the night.

Russell helped us up the path... we walked into the room from hell. There was trash everywhere, cigarette smoke was lingering in the air and everything you touched was covered with nicotine. First one, then two then three housecleaning staff appeared and left, each one shaking their heads and muttering under their breaths. Finally the head of housekeeping herself arrived and with the help of three staff members they commenced cleaning the room. We stashed our stuff in the closet and left to meet Deepti.

Time was 4:55. We had been trying to check in for 3+ hours and still they were not ready for us!

The rest of our stay at the Divi followed course. No hot water for a shower 2 mornings... No safe in the room, we had to walk down to the front desk for access to safe deposit type boxes near the desk .  The freezer in the fridge in the room thawed out totally frozen food. The fridge section was little better, our milk and yogurt spoiled in 2 days. The toaster did not work. No more than 2 plates. We had to do the dishes after each meal in order to have anything to eat off of for the next meal. The bed was two twin mattresses put on a a double frame with a split down the middle. The room did not finally clear of the smoke until the night before we checked out.

But the grounds of the Divi were beautiful! We also enjoyed an evening of drinks with a bartender by the infinity pool. Can not remember his name, but we spent a couple of hours learning about his time as a student on the island. Originally a resident of Anguilla he had been a bartender for a long time. Seen a lot of changes on the island and was very nice to talk with.

Flowers in the Divi Gardens outside our unit

Looking out our unit toward one of the pools

What they comically called a kitchen

The infamous electric cooler that thawed everything to room temperature, even stuff already frozen!

Looking from the terrace towards our Casita room

The bedroom

Morning sun on our unit

Walkway by the pool by our unit

Divi Beach

Divi Beach

The Divi Beach Bar from the pool by our unit

From the pool side near our Casita

Divi Gardens

Gizmo the parrot rules the boardwalk at the Divi Beach Bar

Cruise ship going out to sea at sunset on Divi Beach

Regina in the kitchen at the Divi

Sunset on Divi Beach

Cruise ships at the pier from the Divi parking lot


Our Transportation    Back to Top

Mickey from Tropical Tropicana Car Rental met us at the airport right on time. When we greeted him he said "I hope you don't mind, but the car you had reserved broke down, I have to give you a brand new one instead" Don't you just love this island! We drove over to the office filled out our paperwork with the lovely Shakira who also gave Regina some great tips for a place for a pedicure. We love Mickey and his staff!  If you want to check out his web page:

Mickey's Tropical Tropicana

Our Phone   

Since we already had our simm for the phone from  Sharon  Harris (queenofsxm2000@yahoo.com) she told us that this trip all we had to do to to hook-up our phone was stick it in and make a phone call to the UTS service folks and tell them we were back on the island. The phone worked without even making that call. So far so good!

Our actual use of the phone was a bit more disappointing.  Several days we could not make calls or receive calls while we were on the French side of the island. We had a signal but kept getting a system busy signal. When people tried to call us they got a busy signal too and since the voice mail was not functioning that left us out of touch for several days, it was very frustrating. I discovered that UTS customer service really only functions during working hours on weekdays and that if you call other times you just get a voice mail that nobody ever returned my phone calls. It took several calls to finally get them to activate the voice mail function. I am glad we did because that was really the only way we kept in touch with folks this trip. Since they kept getting the busy signal whenever they called us. We would return calls each time we got back to the Dutch side...

I know that people say "hey you are on vacation, forget about back home."  We just could not do that this trip. I had people back home in the hospital that I had to keep track of and we had some young adult children staying at our home fielding the phone calls and fending for themselves. We also had put together quite a schedule of meeting various friends for dinner, lunch and other activities and having a working phone was a key part of our plans to stay on top of things. I missed a day of scuba diving because of the failure of the phone to really work when I thought it was.

First Afternoon

After our arrival we checked into the Sapphire and headed over to Maho to do some food shopping. Stocked up on the essentials, like some wine and snacks and headed back to our unit to soak up some sun on the balcony while enjoying the Jacuzzi at sunset.

While sipping our wine on the balcony, Craig from Pack Light called us to say that he too had arrived back on the island from his Christmas holidays and that he would stop by  and drop off  our chairs and umbrella for the  2 weeks. $20.00/perweek. The chairs are certainly more comfortable than the Expressit chairs that we usually pack and it was certainly easier than carting around our huge duffle bag with chairs, umbrella and other beach stuff. The umbrella came with a nice carrying bag this time and we were certainly glad we got one this trip as we needed it. Contact Craig at: packlightsxm@hotmail.com or check out his web page at: http://www.sxm-services.com/packlight/


It had been a long day of travel and we were absolutely tired. It was an early night.

Dec 29th         Back to Top

We stopped at the Royale Bakery deli and bought a few goodies for the beach and then made our way over to Club Orient to meet our friends Pam and Wayne, Jack and Loretta, Nancy and Paul and of course to catch-up with Andy and Cheryl. It was the night of our big TTOL gathering at Bay Watch and we wanted to party!

The guest list was extensive this year.

Names                                                Post on TTOL

  • Bob and Marla                         BobandMarla

  • Pam and Wayne                       Pamway

  • David & Regina                        DavidB

  • Rick and Pam                           Scottie

  • Karen and Gary                        Kaw

  • Jack and Loretta                       BeachCouple

  • Leslie and Fred                         Fred9549

  • Paul and Cindy                         Paul S

  • Rich and Sandy                        Rich&SandyNC

  • Suzanne and Pat                       PMaddenIL

  • Jim & Julie                                WiscoJim

  • Kevin and Suzie                        KevSuz

  • Rob & Lauren                         

  • Butch and Kelly                        ButchnKelly

  • Jim and Jan                               JimfromBoston

  • Russ and Carol            

  • Dave & Dee

  • Beverly and Graham                

  • Tom + 3 more

  • Pam & Jim

  • Cecile and Jerry

  • Karen & Glenn

  • Al & Michele

  • Mel & Rob

  • Gaga and Dan

  • Ann & Tony

  • Ken & Kathy                           Ken&Kathy

  • Ronnie & Francesca

  • Ron & Linda

  • Paul and Svetlana

  • Kevin & Theresa

  • Jane & Will

  • Some of the young people who joined us for the party.

    The DJ at work

    Regina and Pam

    Wayne and Bob

    David & Cheryl


    The Baywatch Crew


    I think everyone plus about 30 more showed up! We missed our dear friends Brian and Eileen from England due to Brian's health issues but Beverly and Graham, who also know them well brought us up to date on how they were doing. Nancy and Paul brought along their daughters, Molly, Beth and Jenny. Mac brought his delightful family as well. I think that Jack and Loretta brought about 5 more couples from Club Orient as did Pam and Wayne. Butch and Kelly arrived late in the course of the party, they looked so tired we thought they might fall asleep right there on the beach.

    Jane the body artist did a great job and the DJ's music system was excellent. I think that Andy's selection of music back in October was more fun, but all in all it was a great night.




    Dec 30th         Back to Top

    Late start today. Stopped at the little shop in Sandy Ground for croissants and juice. Then off to Baie Rouge for the day.  It was wonderful day of sun and relaxation. The surf was spectacular today. It made getting into the water a bit difficult and one time Regina was totally swept off her feet by the strong waves and then tumbled over the rocks that were hiding in the shallow water. We both were much more careful after that.


    We went home early, enjoyed a nap and some time in the hot tub and then went off to the Lido for ribs. One of the best kept secrets of the island. Those ribs were so good and we also enjoyed the scalloped potatoes at Loretta and Jack's suggestion. They were all excellent.

    Dec 31st        Back to Top

    We got a very early start, packed-up stuff for the whole day, including our outfits for NYE and arrive at the beach for sunrise. Walked the beach and then returned to Bay Watch for breakfast with Andy.

    We discovered that the bookings for New Year's eve were going to be very tight at Papagayos. Walked with Loretta and Jack over to talk with Carlos. He made a reservation for us at Jack & Loretta's table. I think we were the last people to be allowed to make a reservation. We heard that many folks staying at the resort had delayed getting their reservations in and were disappointed to be told that there was no room for them. That included 3 owners who were staying for the holidays. We felt fortunate for the invitation.

    Relaxing day on the beach with our friends Nancy and Paul from Toronto. We invited them to join us for the Celine cruise that was going to take place a couple of days later and they said yes. Their kids Molly, Beth and Jenny were all leaving so Nancy and Paul were moving down from the villa they had rented up near Esmeralda and down to a deluxe mini-suite at Club Orient.

    Then it was time to get ready for the party. We walked down to the guard shack and took a shower, picked-up our outfits and walked to Jack & Loretta's unit for a couple of cocktails and to get changed before the buffet began. They took a picture out in back of the unit for us. We heard there about the extreme difficulties people were having getting reservations and how long-term visitors had been turned away... we even felt more fortunate that we had gotten to Carlos when we did.

    The buffet was EXCELLENT! A full 5 course meal with garnishes that delighted the eye as well as the pallet. Carlos and the staff worked very hard to provide a wonderful meal. Many of us did not know that they were serving the buffet in courses, so we pigged out on the various sea-food appetizers including some great king crab only to find them clearing the tables and resetting for another salad and then the main course. I had the salmon and the roast beef, Regina had lobster and some lamb. The lobster was a bit disappointing but the lamb was excellent. The desserts were also decadent and plentiful.

    Had a chance to spend some time with the new general manager of Club Orient this evening as well. Mac introduced me to him. We chatted and I was very impressed with some of his insights and comments. I was even more impressed after the evening was over when I saw him take aside the entire staff of the resort, give them a thank-you talk for how much they contributed to the resort and then gave them all some complimentary champagne. We saw some of the waitresses get dressed in some very beautiful and very sheer outfits as they headed off to some nightclubs in Marigot to dance away the night.

    The dancing was fun... Some of us were very disappointed that the entertainment was eliminated for the evening. We were even convinced that there were going to be no fireworks because we did not see the crew set any up during the afternoon. Spent some time catching up with Mac and some of his friends. 

    Then surprise! They had the fireworks after all. They were set-up underwater! We saw some we have never seen before and the finale was something to behold! One of the things we love about the fireworks in SXM is that they have very artistic, light streaming fireworks that we never see in fireworks displays in the US. It is a highlight of the trip and the light gold "French Ticklers" are always a crowd pleaser.

    The French Tickler Fireworks

    Before the evening was done our wonderful friends Kev, Suzie, and Butch and Kelly, came to join us. They brought with them Matt & Kat, Jim and Maria and Nancy and Paul from Michigan. They all joined us for drinks and dancing after sharing a barbecue at one of their units. It was a great way to bring  in the New Year with some new friends and old.

    Upon our return to The Sapphire I met a couple who had spent the day with us at Club Orient but who had not been able to get reservations. They had gone to a nightclub in Marigot instead and the woman smiled and said that the outfits there were just as revealing or more so than anything she had seen at Papagayos the year before.

    We tumbled into bed and snuggled for a delightful end of a delightful day.

    January 1        Back to Top

    We spent the day at Orient Beach, enjoyed the company of Kevin and Suzie, Butch and Kelly and got to know Matt & Katt and Jim and Maria a bit better. Ate breakfast of croissants and coffee from Orientique and enjoyed two happy hours before heading off to our unit at the Sapphire to have a soak in the Jacuzzi and watch the sunset. We ate in tonight, one of our many meals that we brought with us.


    January 2   - The Celine       Back to Top

    Back during our October trip we received an invitation from Sal and Susie from the BareCats to join them for a day sail on The Celine.  The BareCats is group who goes to SXM every year around Halloween and that is the time of year that the Tiko Tiko is usually still out on dry dock for maintenance. So they have arranged a clothing optional day sail with Neil Roebert and his crew on the Celine. The Celine has a mooring slip behind the Turtle Pier restaurant.  Well we went with the Barecats, met Neil and had a terrific time so we volunteered to arrange a trip ourselves for our friends.

    People begin to arrive at Turtle Pier

    Suzie & Katt

    Jim and Butch discuss a deep sea fishing trip they want to do.

    Discussing terms with the Captain

    Jim and Marie

    Rich and Sandy

    Paul and Nancy

    Sandy likes the boat, "Can I take it Home?"

    We start to board

    Leave your shoes at the door! <LOL>

    Kevin and Larry catch up with each other.

    The 2005 Celine Cruise

    In the back: Marie, Nancy, Matt, Katt, Paul, a touch of Regina, Sandy, Rich, Jim, Nancy, Suzie, Kevin and Butch.

    Sitting: John, Janice, Kelly, Larry and David

    We gathered at the pier at 7:30. Our group included: David & Regina, Larry and Janice, Butch n Kelly, Kevin and Suzie, John and Nancy, Paul and Nancy, Kat and Matt, Jim and Marie, Rich and Sandy. Most of the crew we have known for years on the island but John and Nancy, Jim and Marie and Katt & Matt were all new, joining us from Michigan at the invitation of Kevin and Suzie. It was quite a reunion for most of us and we enjoyed becoming reacquainted while we waited for Neil and the crew to load in the supplies and stow all our gear.

    We motored across the lagoon, departed via the French side bridge and then the fun began. Seas were a bit high, clouds came over and we also had  to run without some of Neil's crew, so Regina jumped in and became a galley maid. Rachel was not back on the island yet from her holidays home and Neil could not find a fresh croissant or bag of ice anywhere on the Dutch side due to the holiday weekend. So he sent off Johan to search for ice and started his way to Tintemarre with crewing help from his friend Bruce who was there for some R&R and TLC. Despite the high seas and rough sailing we had a delightful day of sun, conversation, snorkeling and of course the famous Tintemarre mud. This year we even convinced Bruce to try his first clothing optional mud bath. Wish we could show you all of the photos of all that fun!

    A highlight of the day was the incredible meal put on by Johan, Neil's son. Johan studied in one of the top culinary arts schools in South Africa and came to work on the Celine with his dad for the season. We were the beneficiaries of that arrangement. Seafood, ribs, grilled chicken, salads, dessert. Great wine and wonderful company.

    Johan prepares our meal

    The Feast

    Seas were still a bit rough on the return trip but one of the highlights of the day was returning across the lagoon at sunset. What a beautiful ending to a beautiful day.

    I can not say enough good things about our crew.  Johan is a delight and we had so much fun with him on the boat, on the island and especially on the trip back. Neil is a real professional with his boat and has a great sense of humor. I would recommend his boat and crew to anybody looking for a lovely day sail around the island. We have not yet tried a Pub crawl or Sunset Cruise, but you can be assured that they are both now on our list.


    Some more photos to share the day.

    Price Less


    After the cruise we arranged to meet Neil, Bruce and Johan at Buccaneer Beach Bar for a drink. Then the bridge traffic was so bad that the traffic was completely backed up to past Turtle Pier heading toward Simpson's Bay proper, so we all headed toward Sunset Beach Bar instead. It was a total ZOO. Waitress at the bar ignored our repeated requests for a drink, no place to sit, music so loud that you could not hear anybody. We ran into Gerard and Francine from LeGallion and we ran into Marcel from Le Pirate in Grand Case. It was such a disaster that we looked at the traffic and 1/2 the group decided to head back to Buccaneer. Regina & I just headed back to our place at the Sapphire, poured ourselves a glass of wine, snuggled in the Jacuzzi and watched the moon rise over Cupecoy Bay.

    January 3,2005        Back to Top

    We decided for a more laid back day after all the events of the previous day. Breakfast we had in. Then we ventured over to Baie Rouge for a simply delightful day with Kevin and Suzie and Larry and Janice. After snacking on our sandwich meats and cheeses we went back to the Sapphire for a late afternoon glass of wine, soaking in the Jacuzzi and then a nap.

    When we woke up from a delightful snuggle we got dressed up and headed into Grand Case for our anniversary dinner at La California. Our good friend, Terri, the owner was in Paris for some family business but we enjoyed our waitress Michelle and as always the fine food and wines.

    Grilled Brui Salade, Stuffed Grouper with Shrimp Stuffing was my dinner. Regina had a filet steak that was done just perfectly. Appetizers of Escargot. Desert was Creme Brulle for me and Captain's Delight for Regina (ice cream and cognac)

    Accompanied by a fine bottle of  Castelaine Champagne and a French Bordeaux that was very aromatic and quite tasty.


    January 4,2005        Back to Top

    Today was an Orient day. We agreed to meet with Katt and Matt and take them to Baywatch. So we had breakfast in our unit, bacon and eggs. Not doing too bad with our diets this trip, hopefully we can not go back with 10-15 extra SXM pounds like we normally do. <LOL>

    Got a late start, arrived at Orient Beach later than usual but took our naked stroll down the beach anyway. The cruise ship crowds were kind of fun to watch as we made our way down the beach.

    We had lunch with the whole crew at Bay Watch... Introduced Katt and Matt to Andy and Cheryl and after one bite of Andy's scallops they were hooked!

    Then we spent some lovely time with Adrian and Adriana. Introduced Jim to the left over costume pieces from Emily and Bob's Halloween outfits and then headed back to our unit for a nap, wine, soak and snuggle time and then off to Lee's for dinner.

    Butch n Cheryl

    Jim dodges the surprise


    Lee's was more than a lot of fun. The band was absolutely tremendous this year. They had a special guest artist on the steel drums that made them cook! (Thanks Kelly!)

    Regina and I were still feeling stuffed from the meal at Baywatch so we shared a couple of salads and then some Snapper. The rest of the evening was spent dancing the night away with great company and lots of fun. One couple from California was celebrating their honeymoon that night  and he sang her a solo.



    Butch and Jim

    Suzie and Marie

    Kevin and Matt

    Matt and Katt

    Jim and Marie

    Our dancing girls

    The Conga Line Starts here...


    After a number of hours of dancing, we drove back to The Sapphire and Regina and  I went out onto the balcony and poured ourselvess a glass of wine and soaked watching the moon on the waves. She went in and I stayed up and watched the stars come up after the moon set.


    It can not get any better than this... well maybe better but somebody had to take the picture.... <LOL>


    Wednesday January 5, 2005   A Day with Deepti and DK Gems      Back to Top

    Today was our shopping day. We know somebody has to keep the economy of the island going and Regina is more than happy to do her part! <LOL> We had breakfast in our unit. Stocked up with plenty of water and then set off to do some serious damage on Front Street, Rimas, Marigot market, the shops at Marina Royal and up and down Rue de Charles de Gaulle.

    First stop was of our favorite shops called Happy House on Front Street for some incredible sheer and lace dresses and outfits. The dress on the right that just wow's folks all the time at Papagayo functions we bought there, so we always go back to check to see what they have gotten in. We purchased the dress on the left for a wedding two years ago.

    Then we cruised across the street for DK Gems. Deepti was busy so we made an appointment to come back and went down the street to get our kids the tops, souvenirs and clothes that they like.


    We walked the new board walk and enjoyed a lunch at the Barefoot Cafe. Then it was off  to see Deepti.

    Deepti and DK Gems...

    What can we say. Butch calls it the most expensive place to get a beer in the whole of the Caribbean. <LOL> Deepti is charming and very knowledgeable and this year we spent literally hours of her time designing three custom settings and pieces.  While I had a couple of her complimentary Carib's, Regina, with Deepti's patient assistance had her engagement ring main sapphire reset into a designer setting from Jaffe in New York City.  The original engagement ring setting was turned into the base piece of a beautiful diamond pendant setting that Regina designed and Deepti executed with a flair. Last but not least, a custom platinum setting that Regina loved but just did not like the diamond, so she had the stone removed and replaced with a gorgeous rainbow topaz.  The pendant was ready in a couple of days, but the two rings needed to be shipped to specialty workshops in NYC for work that was just beyond some of the local jewelry smiths on the island.

    Only a couple of  things that were bad... we spent 4 times the amount budgeted for all of our shopping and we still had not ventured over to Marigot to look at the latest French designs. The other bad thing... well the second trip to the island for 2005 Regina is wearing on one of her fingers. Maybe someday  we will learn not to get a beer at DK Gems.

    After spending nearly a whole day on Front Street, we dashed off to Rima, then back home to drop some of the bags and then off to Marigot to get our chocolate at Jeff de Bruges as well as a couple of stops at one of the French designer outlets off the marina. The stop at DK had taken the wind out of our sails for any major purchases, although David saw a couple of wonderful dresses for Regina in one of the shops we just sighed and said maybe in the future. 

    We stumbled back to the Sapphire with David still in shock and decided to have a frugal night of eating in.  Sunset with wine in the Jacuzzi was particularly fun that night. Sparkles do have their benefits <LOL>. That night the sunset was incredibly beautiful.

    Most unique cruise ship we have ever seen. Regular cruise ship hull, but raises sails when they want. Definately was not a Windjammer.

    Sunset Cruisers went by.


    Thursday January 6, 2005         Rhino Ride Day        Back to Top

    We had arranged with Larry and Janice to meet them and their friends Mary Ann and Ron for a morning  Rhino Ride around the island. We met at Zee Best on Simpson's Bay, near GoodFella's and had breakfast. What a feast. Danny was there and served us with news of the island as well as some samples of his delightful croissants. Regina had a spinach quiche and David had Quiche Lorraine. Regina also downed a few cups of their delicious French coffee, something she looks forward to every year.

    The Rhino Ride was just down the main street a bit further and we parked across the street at the Casino.

    We arrive at the dock waiting for our guide

    Waiting with our friends for the ride to start


    After paying our fees, stowing our stuff and getting on life jackets we met our guide Jeff who gave us a quick orientation of what we were going to be doing for the morning. He gave us various hand signals to keep us safe and included a few funny ones, like pointing to his eyes and rolling his tongue, which meant that there were nudies on the beach. I don't think he believed me when I said that we were probably the folks he was pointing at over on Cupecoy the other day. It was only after he saw Regina's Wicked Weasel come into view when we went snorkeling over on Cay Baie that he said to me with a wink, "You know it might have been you there other day after all." <LOL>

    Using a great chart of the seas around St. Martin  Jeff explained that our trip was to be out the Dutch bridge, orientation single file dash over to Sunset Beach Bar. Then back to the Cay Baie, a bay in between Pelican Cay and Great Bay where there is a wreck to snorkel around. Then if we had time we would go back to Sunset Beach Bar and see some planes land.

    I was disappointed with the itinerary and told Jeff that. He said that the cruise ship lines reserve the other route to Happy Baie and Grand Case for their cruisers. In my opinion we spent far too much time going back and forth over the same territory. I would not go that route again. The water was too choppy to make much time and that precluded going around to Cupecoy. 

    We did all that Jeff talked about. On our way out the lagoon we went by what he called "Battleship Row". These were the many luxury "super yachts" that are now in the Simpson's Bay Yacht Club pier. We could not believe just how huge they are. On our shake down dash to SSBB and Maho Beach Ron and Mary Ann's boat was missing the drain plug and was too water logged to carry both of them, so Mary Ann had to climb off and go behind Jeff instead. He radioed into the headquarters and on our way back toward Simpsons Bay they met us and switched boats with one that had a plug.

    We did some snorkeling around Cay Baie. I used the underwater camera to take some photos of the wrecks.  Regina had covered up her Wicked Weasel suit with a half pareo back at the dock so nobody really knew that she was wearing a thong. When we got Cay Baie she whipped it off and I saw some very envious looks from some of the ladies and lots of admiring looks from the men.


    Here are the rest of the shots for the day.

    Larry and Janice ready to go

    Line up every one

    Battleship Row

    Jeff Rescues Mary Ann

    Off to watch the planes

    Here comes one now

    The cannons on the bottom of Cay Bay

    Part of the new wreck on Cay Bay

    Some sea life in Cay Bay


    We stopped in Maho for some supplies at the market.

    That afternoon we went to Cupecoy and had one of the best Cupecoy afternoons of the trip. Water was warm. Sun was hot.

    Back to the Sapphire, had pizza in the restaurant and it was delicious! Met with Eric, Jane, Josh and Jacob at dinner and had a delightful conversation with this lovely couple and their two children. While we were eating, there were two French women in thongs that were quite sheer frolicking topless in the pool. Again admiring looks from the men and what appeared to be jealous stares from the North American women. They were soon joined by an entire intergenerational French family of older women, teens and folks our age. Even the grand-mere was topless with her two granddaughters. It was a testimony to what a more relaxed attitude about body image and body comfort can do. I wonder if the lesson was wasted on the spectators around the pool. Later that night while I was arranging for a late check out, I saw the whole French family dressed to the 9's with some lovely outfits as they got ready to go out to Bliss for an evening of dancing.  

    Friday January 7, 2005         Moving Day        Back to Top

    Called the desk at Divi and they said we could check in around noon, we had a late check out at the Sapphire so the morning was ours. So we got on our pareos and walked over to Cupecoy. It was simply beyond words to describe. So beautiful and so relaxing. We soaked for hours. Did a photo shoot of my favorite model in the delightful morning sun before the beach got crowded. Then she tried to capture me at play in the waves. We were using the smaller digital camera and that limited the ability to really capture the light right, but I hope the photos convey just how special Cupecoy can be.

    David playing in the waves

    What Bliss!


    Met Fred and Leslie there and Leslie was going au-natural for the second time! Tried it on Cupecoy the day before and now, like the rest of us, she wondered why she had waited so long. Made plans with them to meet them for supper after our move.

    Following this was the nightmare of a move to The Divi. I won't go into that again... but I certainly hope they do better this year when we return.

    After we finally got checked in, we went to see Deepti. The necklace pendant turned out gorgeous, but the bale was just a bit too big so we asked her to have it reworked a bit smaller. Back to the Divi, changed and showered (if you can call that trickle a shower).

    Then it was off to meet Fred and Leslie with some other friends at le Piccolo at Zee Best. Silly David, he did not write down their names but one of the couples knew the parents of our close friend Tiffany Steinwert from Cincinatti. We had one of the best meals we had on the island this trip. All appetizers on the menu and they were done to perfection. I had a boneless rib salad and Regina had something with sea food.

    Fred n Leslie


    The rest of the crew were heading the other way, so Regina & I went to Sopranos for a couple of drinks and a dance or two. Then it was back to the Divi to crash. It was a good thing we were tired as the smoke still permeated the room and the bed had a split down the middle that made like the Grand Canyon in the middle of the night.

    Saturday January 8, 2005         Cupecoy all Day        Back to Top

    Breakfast on the porch in front of the unit at the Divi this morning. Took some of the photos from around the resort. Walked the resort all the way out to Fort Amsterdam, boy was it windy! The little digital camera jammed so no photos up there this trip. Bought some dish soap and some paper towels as the unit did not have any way for us to do the dishes. <Grr>

    With the wind at gale force on the point of Little Bay we decided to head to Cupecoy and boy were we glad we did. Butch and Kelly and Pam and Dave, Kevin and Suzie and even Paul and Nancy all eventually came and joined us on the western end of Cupecoy.

    We had to pickup the necklace so we arranged with Butch and Kelly to meet them at the Greenhouse for dinner. We parked by the Bobby's Marina and walked up to DK Gems and picked up the necklace and then walked the Boardwalk back to the Greenhouse. We had a terrific meal and loved the time with Butch and Kelly. We love their company and this was our first real chance to spend some time with them alone and really catch up. Kelly is an inspiration with her efforts on weight watchers. We arrived in time for happy hour, 1/2 price for appetizers and 2 for 1 drinks. So we ordered calamari and shrimp with double orders of drinks, we were happy!

    Raymond was our waiter and he suggested that we try the specialty of the house, the Creole seafood, so that was what David ordered. Regina had the coconut chicken with key lime pie for dessert and David had the BBC cheesecake. After dinner drinks all around were good too. Raymond suggested the Flying Dutchman a delightful mixture of Coffee, Kalua, Frangelica and Baileys. It was especially good.

    Sunday January 9, 2005         Lost Day       Back to Top

    Ate breakfast in. Rain most of the morning. Tried to connect with Kevin and Suzie to find out what was going on over at Orient. No answer... so we went and shopped a bit in the Italian Designer outlets... We saw a dress there I would have loved to get for Regina, but she was now being cost conscious and asked, "where would I wear it?"

    Beyond that, I can not remember a single thing of this day other than the fact that we eventually met up with Kevin and Suzie some time, some place and made plans to spend our last full day over at Orient the next day.

    We did go down to the beach at the Divi that night and took a dip and watched the sunset.

    Monday January 10, 2005         Last Full Day       Back to Top

    We traveled over to Orient early, using the back way around the salt pond and through Oyster Pond region. Checked out Les Balcon on our way and decided maybe to give them a try some time.

    Then it was croissants and coffee on the beach for breakfast after a delightful walk at sunrise.

    Connected with Dexter and Alice who arrived sometime in the previous couple of days. It was good to see them again. We made arrangements to park our car at their studio the next day so we could squeeze out as much beach time as possible.

    Did not write down what we did for dinner. But we went someplace with the whole gang of Larry and Janice, Kev & Suz, Butch n Kelly. I think we went to someplace along Simpsons Bay.

    Tuesday January 11, 2005         Good-byel Day       Back to Top

    Early checkout... Headed to Club Orient and walked our favorite beach hand in hand at sunrise. Had breakfast with Andy at Baywatch and ordered some ribs for an early lunch before we were going to head for the airport.

    Spent a lovely day with all our friends. Butch and Kelly showed up with a special something from Deepti. It was a nice chilled bottle of champagne as a thank you gift for our business and the fact that we sent in three other couples just in the last three days.

    So as the morning became afternoon, we broke open the champagne, got cups for all our friends and toasted St. Martin, good times and good friends. What a nice way to end a vacation!

    Off we went to Dexter's place, showered and left them an abundance of food. Left Kevin and Suzie our stash of vodka and went to the airport for the flight home.

    The transfer at the airport was smooth with Mickey and by the time I had done that Regina was already through the line and waiting for me by the departure tax window. Met some folks we knew from Club Orient in the departure lounge and then off we went for home.