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SXM Trip Report 11/27 - 12/05/09
Posted by: pat (99.129.101.---)
Date: December 06, 2009 04:30PM

What a wonderful time we had.

Great flights – AA 667 and 660 – on time or early each way. Landing in SXM this trip was different, to say the least. Our pilot made two attempts before finally getting us on the ground on the third time around, and the second one we were literally a third of the way down the runway in landing mode when he pulled up and did his second fly over. That was an experience I hope NOT to have too often. Other than that, there is a definite advantage to those seats up front – we were the third or fourth people off the plane and likewise, through immigration and out into that glorious sunshine.

Regarding carry-ons, for those who wondered last month, yes, they were checking and enforcing the carry-on rules and sizes on both ends, and yes again – they did seem to be a little more lenient with Business and First Class ticket holders.

Once in the airport parking lot, Lesley/Kennys Car Rental was right there with his typically good service to speed us on our way to another great stay at The Towers and a lovely trip in its entirety.

The changes to the road around the airport seemed to help the traffic flow a bit but, IMO, it’s still often congested – just not as bad as it used to be. And the rotaries are everywhere these days and they seem to help the over-all traffic flow, but trust me on this, nothing can help the mess the bridge openings create. We were very fortunate that we only got tied up in traffic one night – Sunday of all nights, but we did give up our grocery shopping at LGM because of the back-up on the day we arrived. No problem, shopped at Food Express at Maho and it was fine – we found everything we were looking for and didn’t break the bank doing so. They accept credit cards there along with travelers checks for anyone who might want to know.

What can one say about St. Maarten that hasn’t been said a gazillion times already? We had great weather – a few brief rain showers at night – the ocean water was as warm as bath water and the pool was almost as nice. We ate great food and enjoyed wonderful days at the beach and felt so honored to enjoy the company of some really nice people while there. We finally met GaKaye and David along with Laura and Roger, PJ along with finally meeting both Elaine and Vicki and Rick and also meeting Todd and MJ and Katie and got to see Annie, SandyandBill, Sharon, Ray and Bob and Dot again along with a host of others whose names escape me at the moment.

We were introduced to Karakters Beach this trip and I can only add to what’s previously been said, “it’s all that and more.” The beach was impeccably clean, the food was great and well beyond the typical beach fare one might expect (translate that to read - no ribs!!), the service was awesome and the owners just couldn’t have been any nicer. Their puppy, Meep, is the very best kind of beach company – quiet, unassuming and the sweetest little guy you could hope to meet. And surprisingly enough, I felt the prices were very reasonable for the quality of food and service. Look out Friars Bay Beach Café – you’ve been replaced by a new, closer and easier to get to venue – and priced in US dollars, to boot. And Mullet Bay Beach should take note - this beach was, and I know I'm repeating myself, impeccably clean.

Many thanks to Todd and MJ for hosting their evening here and introducing us to this new (to us) spot on the beach. The party, btw, was lots of fun and it was great meeting so many new faces and being reacquainted with some old ones. So again, sincere thanks, Todd, MJ, and Katie, for a lovely evening of toes in sand and drinks in hand.

And then there was the party of parties – thanks so much Vicki and Rick and Elaine for sharing your homes and your hospitality. I think I can safely speak for all of us who were honored to be there – it truly was a wonderful evening. How nice to be able to renew old friendships and meet so many St. Maarten ‘notables’ for the first time. You ladies really outdid yourselves and I know everyone had a great time. And for those who’ve never had the pleasure of visiting The Rainbow, the apartments are lovely. It was an awesome experience to witness the sunset from this location and to see, firsthand, the vantage point from which Elaine creates so many of the wonderful photos she so kindly shares with us all.

Other than these two events, the rest of our trip was pretty low-keyed. We had breakfast one morning at Barefoot Terrace on our way to doing some serious Christmas shopping at Caribbean Gems and then on to the Butterfly Farm for some souveniers. Most days we breakfasted while we enjoyed the view from our own terrace along with freshly delivered Carl & Sons pastries and baguettes and coffee and then off to the beach or the pool. I can’t believe how really lazy and laid-back we were on this trip. I actually managed to read four books while there along with everything else we squeezed in.

We lunched out a few times: Buccanier Beach Bar the day we arrived, Rosie’s on Mullet Beach and Karakters on Simpson Bay Beach and the rest of the time we either skipped it completely or made sandwiches from fresh baguettes and we even lunched in our room once or twice on left-overs from the night before. It really was pretty low-keyed stuff.

We dined at Antoines twice – awesome meals and service, as always; Uncle Harry’s one evening and my grandson was so right – they really do have a great tasting grilled steak - perhaps not as tender as some places but a flavor that is out of this world; Bajatzu, which is always a definite treat for refined dining in a very up-scale island location; and then there was Lee’s – and I can safely say, the lobsters were once again out of this world as was the company – thank you Barbara and Dee for the pleasure of your company, and also for sharing your incredible gardens with us since we’ve been trying to get there for what seems like forever and we finally did it!!

And alas, as is always the case, good things must come to an end.

We arose on Saturday morning to beautiful sun-filled skies and shimmering calm waters only to be smacked back to reality with the realization that this was “going home” day and there was packing to be done and all the good-byes to be said. Departed SXM on time and arrived early back at JFK to be hit with another dose of reality – the dreaded “S” word. Well, it was raining and blowing in NY but the further north you headed towards CT, the more the snow came down. Nothing serious, mind you, but a major contrast to what we’d enjoyed all week long.

And because of this snow, one final reality hit me - when one travels to warm climates in the cold winter months, one really ought to pack warm socks and shoes for coming home. Next time I will for sure.

A great week and a great trip. Could it get any better? Well, perhaps if we were still there…..but I’ve set my trip counter already and we will be soon enough.


smiling smileysmiling smiley

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 12/06/2009 05:26PM by pat.

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Re: SXM Trip Report 11/27 - 12/05/09
Posted by: Barbara1 (Moderator)
Date: December 06, 2009 05:06PM

I was just thinking about you and whether you hit snow when you got home.
I guess you did. LOL
and here you are now, writing a trip report already.
you don't waste time, do you? smiling smiley
thanks for the report.
as always,well written.
and as always, you and John had a good time which is what it's all about.
It was such fun to spend some time with you both.
come back soon, ya hear? smiling smiley


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Re: SXM Trip Report 11/27 - 12/05/09
Posted by: pat (
Date: December 06, 2009 05:45PM


The reason I did it so quickly was because I didn't take notes, and if I didn't commit it to print immediately, I'd forget most of what we did. LOL!!

It really was a very pleasant sojourn and now, it's back to reality and the world we really live in.



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Re: SXM Trip Report 11/27 - 12/05/09
Posted by: annie (
Date: December 06, 2009 06:16PM

Pat, a great report! It was wonderful seeing you and John had been too long. I agree with you on Elaine's and Vicki's party (along with Rick), it was a fantastic time and so nice to see old friends again and to meet new. Hope to see you again in April.


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Re: SXM Trip Report 11/27 - 12/05/09
Posted by: BIGDENX (
Date: December 06, 2009 06:59PM

Hey Pat!

Wonderful accounting of your happy to hear you discovered KARAKTER on Simpson Bay Beach. The staff of KARAKTER and Mary's Boon pay close attention to the trash problem and are always picking up around there.

Food Express in MAHO continues to do their best in providing selection. I actually bought Tequila there last month at a better price than a lot of other places in Simpson Bay. A decent selection of coffee as well, including the elusive ILLY brand. Still frequent the breakfast buffet for a $5.00 fill up!

Again, happy you had a good trip. When you spend a lot of time with friends and acquaintances the time evaporates and the worries and woes of coupons, bargains, crime, weather, etc. totally disappear. Like you, I sure appreciate mine!

All the best for the Holidays....


P.S. How did the AA folks explain the 2 "go arounds" ? One missed is rare...two usually cause for a write up !

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/06/2009 07:04PM by BIGDENX.

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Re: SXM Trip Report 11/27 - 12/05/09
Posted by: pat (
Date: December 06, 2009 07:29PM

Hi, Dennis,

Agree on all counts. Time is too short to worry about coupons and traffic and crime and weather. If your number comes up it comes up and who can control the weather or the traffic? Only one power that I know of but it's sure out of my control.

I wish the people at Rosie's would take a lesson from the people at Karakters and MB. We had a little discussion with management at The Towers as to why we weren't spending all our days on Mullet as has been our habit in the past and we suggested to them it's just gotten too dirty and littered, and to our surprise, we found out that they regularly send their people (our people?) over to clean it up and Lo, it's just as bad again. It was sure never like this back in the days of Mullet Bay Resort and Casino, although I don't know if you go back that far.

Anyhow, re the missed landings, the first time around the pilot said, "Sorry,folks, we just missed our approach." I can accept that - stuff happens, right? The second time, shortly after the fact, someone up there came on the mike and said, "Sorry folks, we didn't have clearance to land!" Yeah, right and I have a bridge to no where to sell, too. Dennis, unlike you, my only flying knowledge is based pn the trips we've been blessed to take, but nobody gets that low and close to the ground that far down the runway without clearance to be there. We could feel the downward thrust (or whatever it's called) and we could almost count the glasses on the bar at SSBAG when we flew by it and then the pilot started to pull up again. I mean, how many times did he think we wanted to see the cruiseship pier? Anyhow, all's well that ends well and I'm glad it ultimately ended with all 200 plus or minus of us safe and secure on the ground, but I have to tell you, it was not a good feeling while still in the air, and it was the talk of the island while we were there amongst those who say it or had heard about it. We were in Row 3 and there was a gal sitting on the aisle seat across from me and we both had the same thought - if he doesn't make this third attempt we're toast and headed for SJU 'cause I don't think they'd ever try for four attempts. Is the landing in SXM that tough? In 35 plus years and near to twice that many trips, always always on a 757 these days, and we've never had this kind of an experience before.

So Merry Christmas to you and yours as well and here's to the next trip and trip report.



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Re: SXM Trip Report 11/27 - 12/05/09
Posted by: BIGDENX (
Date: December 06, 2009 08:23PM

Hey Pat!

Only explanation of the go arounds COULD be....other traffic was on final in a line up and would have to be turned around as it takes about 2 to 3 minutes to slow down, taxi to a turning point and then backtrack to the apron along the active runway. Rather than make the other traffic hold the controllers MAY have told AA to abort and go to the end of the approach lineup.....they may have missed their slot. If it took up to 10 minutes before approach # 3 this COULD have been the scenario,...OR they just could have landed too fast and too high....again...


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Re: SXM Trip Report 11/27 - 12/05/09
Posted by: pat (
Date: December 06, 2009 10:25PM

Methinks it was the latter!!

But when all is said and done, the landing was exciting and certainly started our trip off with a bang.....and from that point forward,it just kept getting better with every day and every adventure.



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Re: SXM Trip Report 11/27 - 12/05/09
Posted by: cunyprof (
Date: December 07, 2009 09:22PM

Yeah we were on that flight too, row 18. A couple of us were speculating that the pilot may have noticed a technical problem with the landing gear and didn't want to alarm the passengers. It doesn't seem possible that he actually misjudged it not once but twice. As you said, SXM is not that hard a landing!

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Re: SXM Trip Report 11/27 - 12/05/09
Posted by: roadrunner (
Date: December 08, 2009 09:45AM

Yeah Pat

You say that you could count the glasses on the bar at SSBAG,I could see fish in the ocean.

Something went wrong with the landing and they are not saying anything about it.


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Re: SXM Trip Report 11/27 - 12/05/09
Posted by: pat (
Date: December 08, 2009 06:06PM


Were you on the same flight? It certainly wasn't the typical approach that we've become accustomed to over all our SXM years and that's for sure!!



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Re: SXM Trip Report 11/27 - 12/05/09
Posted by: Michele and Terry (
Date: December 13, 2009 06:38PM

Hey pat

Nice report. It was wonderful seeing you again. We agree, Karakters is a great new find, and we'll be heading back there again in March when we take the boys down. Mullet is still my favourite, but Rosie's has to do something about the garbage. And if we could just stop people from putting out their cigarettes in the beach sand..

Hopefully your flight home was somewhat less exciting than the one you arrived on - although nothing beats our February diversion to Margarita Island!

We did come home to the dreaded snow. Nothing here for the two weeks that we were on island, it started on our drive home from the airport and has continued for 10 days straight - major highways shut down, 3 snow days in a row for the local schools, we even closed our office on Friday.

Talk to you soon

Michele and Terry

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Re: SXM Trip Report 11/27 - 12/05/09
Posted by: Suzanne Madden (
Date: December 15, 2009 05:58PM

We were on Mullet Bay Beach last Sunday. Nobody picks up their trash when they leave. I could not believe the beach with bottles, etc. Maybe we should make up little signs that say: Please put your trash in the containers. I mean everone should take care of their own trash. What a shame!


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Re: SXM Trip Report 11/27 - 12/05/09
Posted by: ANON (
Date: December 16, 2009 02:23PM

Its to bad when you gotta tell people to clean up after themselves. You expect it from little kids but not from grown ups who should know better. And as for the forprofit conerns on this beach if they cant keep there area clean they should be forced off of it. And I like the place mentioned but not the garbage and flies and mess they made there.

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