Sunday, January 10, 2010

St. Martin/St. Maarten, Trip report and some pics

My sister wrote a trip report for Travel Talk Online. She does a great job in describing the beaches, and places to eat and drink.

Clink HERE for the report.

I noticed all the construction on the Dutch side. I didn't think it was possible for that side of the island to become even more over-developed.

St. Martin was slammed recently in a big travel magazine saying that the island, especially the Dutch side, is losing it's character. The French side still has some open spaces. The French side also uses euros, has property taxes and zoning laws so that could be one reason we don't have all the fast food places, traffic and over development the Dutch side has. The French side is more expensive, bureaucratic and therefore less attractive to big developers.

St. Maarten/St. Martin was THE spot back when La Samanna first opened. Now St. Barths and Anguilla, two nearby islands, are attracting more of those visitors while St. Maarten gets the big cruise ships with their day trippers.

I worry for the future. Who wants to travel to an island and sit in traffic all day? Serious crimes, unheard of before, are being committed and the locals are furious about the immigration problem. Of course some of the complaints are more about intolerance toward people from other islands.

People concerned about the environment/conservation are starting to speak out. They want to make sure the island is not turned into one big slab of concrete.

I still get pissed every time I see Domino's pizza in the recently renovated airport.

I wonder how the bids for that space went down. Did any local people even get a chance to put in a bid? Domino's has crappy pizza and nothing to do with Caribbean food. If you are traveling to the Caribbean from America why would you even want to eat Domino's and I doubt all the European or Canadian tourists are dying for it.

St. Martin is a special place. There's a reason so many people have been going there every year for decades. People complain because they love the island and don't want to see it ruined.

St. Martin has many of the same issues as places like Venice or Florence. Tourism is a big part of the economy but in the process do you lose your soul or the thing that attracted tourists in the first place?

Friar's Bay Beach.

Le Gailon Beach, aka "the baby beach". The water is so blue, clear and calm.

More photos on my Flickr page.


glamah16 said...

Happy New Year. So glad you got a nice get away back "home". I hate the fact they islands are getting more more commercial , esp with the food. When I travel I don't want see a Domino's, because I sure dot eat that crap at home.
But the photos look lovely. Cant wait to see all your blessings this year.

Italianissima said...

Thank you so much for sharing your trip photos! It is so cold here that I am wearing my coat in my house! I have always wanted to go to St. Martin...warm, colorful and a place I can practice my I will have to make it a priority!
I am still kicking myself for not picking up and moving to the Caribbean when I had a chance - aka was young and single - maybe I will just have to retire there when my nest is empty!
Ciao, bellissima!

homebody at heart said...

Sorry, not on topic but OMG, Luca Toni at Roma! Hope he does well!

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Sorry, link didn't work, let me try again...

Read your comments about your concerns on my blog and on Michelle's FB page, I can so relate to what you're saying. I wrote on a similar subject a couple of years ago for blog action day - asking similar questions - you might like to take a read.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

When I was nine or so, we went to St. Maarten, and traveled into St. Martin for a meal that I remember even though I was a child (it wasn't an entirely fond remembrance, as there was much hill driving involved and then a three-hour lunch), but overall it was my favorite vacation of all time. The beauty and the immersion in two different languages other than English and interesting people we met.

I'm really sad to find more and more places losing their character. My old neighborhood in NYC lost its character back in the 80s.

Anonymous said...

A lot of people complain about the fact that NYC has lost its character...
I disagree: NYC has been improved, it's by far more beautiful, tidy and safer than what it used to be.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

glamah16 - Happy New Year to you too. It was nice to see my family. You won't believe how many fast food places their are on the Dutch side. Burger King, KFC etc.

Italianissma - you're welcome. Let us know if you make the trip!

homebody - ha. I'm very excited.

AV - thanks for the link. I will check it out.

jen - I don't even recognize the Lower East Side anymore. So different.

anon - yes it's great that crime is down. However, now the city is so expensive who can afford to live there? Something has been lost in all the gentrification and "mallefication" of NYC.

Anonymous said...

Could you please explain me why you canceled my comments?
Don't you like discussing?
I mean: I just asked you why you prefered the old New York rather than the "new" one...
I just asked you what you prefered between a filthy city covered by graffiti and a well-kept one...

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

anon - because you are rude. You keep making the same comments over and over again. We get hate Rome.

You even slam the city on my posts that having nothing to do with Rome.

Please learn some manners and blog etiquette. Until that happens, I will keep deleting your posts as they add no value to the conversation.

K.C. said...

When I got back from St. Martin/Maarten and Anguilla I felt the same way. I think it's a problem every island is facing or will soon face.
The developers always promise to create more jobs to get the contracts. Then they turn around and bring in people from other islands and other nations (in Anguilla they've brought in hundreds of East Indian workers. So yeah, they've created more jobs but they're not giving them to the people from island. And the workers they bring in live in appalling conditions. It makes me so angry. It's because the people elected are completely corrupt.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

k.c. - It is a shame. Really. At least at this point Anguilla has kept a lid on over development. The Dutch side of St. Maarten is a lost cause.

Abigail @ Sugar Apple said...

My husband worked on a project in Anguilla for a year and according to him Anguilla is trying its best to go the way of St. Martin/St. Maarten. Though it does seem that a lot of the development has been halted because of the downturn in the economy. So now there are lots of abandoned construction sites instead of new developments. Maybe they can turn the clock back.

The BVI government doesn't allow chain restaurants or stores so Tortola is blessedly free of them, much to the extreme disappointment of my tween daughter. Plenty of development though, the place is almost unrecognizable as the island I moved to 17 years ago.

Guess nowhere is immune.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Abigail - I hope that's not true. Anguilla is pretty special and I would hate to see it lose the thing that separates it from some of the larger islands.

Adalia said...

I grew up on the island of Antigua and the changes there ... make we want to cry. As I read your article about the crimes and the fast food, the same scenario exists on Antigua - I believe the infiltration is more toxic and has been there for a longer time.
I often times wonder, is this the price we pay for being "developed" and how do we find the thin line between being modernized and keeping our unique cultural identity?
Am I stuck in the past when I think of what once was - the serenity, the beauty,the sense of peace? So much has disappeared - from the butterflies to the local merchants, local foods etc. etc.
It's a a global concern and
a complex question "how to keep your cultural identity and participate in the global economy"

Continued success!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

adalia - Thank you!

You're right, it is a very complex question. Some of the development/progress is great... infrastructure, better health care, less of a "brain drain" but it all comes at a price.

I just got back from SXM and one of our relatives on the Dutch side was saying no locals could afford to buy land. He's on a hill with ocean views. The older locals are dying and their kids are selling to rich foreigners.