Envelopes stamped with an image of the Voiles de Saint Barth will be available at the Race Village on the quay in Gustavia and at the Office of Tourism on the quay in Gustavia beginning on April 8.
The Carl Gustaf Hotel in Gustavia will be closed from the end of April until November 15.
On Wednesday, April 7, Le Bistro hosted Happy Hour from 3:00 pm until 9:00 pm (buy one, get one free), with free pizza at the bar starting at 7:00 pm. I don't know if this will be a regular event, but it's the first time I've see Happy Hour (as we know it) advertised. When you find a deal on St Barth, take advantage of it!
Twenty-five crews will depart the port of Concarneau, France on April 18 in the start of the 10th edition of the Transat Ag2r. Boats are expected to begin arriving in St Barth sometime around mid-May.
The new Nature Reserve kiosk is now open in Gustavia on the quay Monday through Saturday, 8:30 am until 12:30 pm. Stop by and buy bags and t-shirts saying "Nature Reserve St Barth."
The grocery store Match will be closed on February 28, March 1 and March 2 as its replacement, Marche-U, prepares to open on March 3.
A "Welcome and Information" booth in now in operation in the Arrivals Hall at the airport with someone present to answer questions Monday through Friday, from 3:00 pm-6:00 pm.
A scenic overlook is being made at the top of the hill in Grand Fond as you come from Lorient. This will provide a safe place for cars and taxis to pull over so that you can take pictures of the breathtaking view without blocking traffic and possibly causing an accident.
The Tamarin restaurant in Saline will be holding its annual sale on March 28. This is a huge sale of clothing, accessories, furniture and more and draws people from around the island
Ornithologist Gilles Leblond will be giving a talk on the "The Sea Birds of St. Barth" on Friday, February 19 at 6:00 pm at the weather station in Gustavia.
The chess club is very active on St. Barth thanks to organizer and skilled player Jeff Follner. An upcoming youth tournament will be held on February 21 at the school in Lorient. The Championship St. Barth Trophy CFN/Amex will take place from May 14 to May 16 at the Hotel Guanahani and Spa in Grand Cul de Sac. To register, call 590 690 55 12 14.
WestJet Airlines currently offers non-stop seasonal service three times a week from Toronto to St Maarten. After April 29, they will begin offering year-round flights once a week, on Sundays, with additional flights during the high season.
AirportConnect Kiosks As any of you who have traveled to St. Barth know, the normal route is to fly to St Maarten and either take a small plane or a boat to St. Barth. Princess Juliana International Airport will soon have self-service check-in kiosks to improve the process of checking in passengers and customer service.
Another Sale to Raise Money for Haiti By popular request, the Rotary Club, the Lion's Club and the Red Cross are organizing another sale to raise money for Haiti on Saturday, January 30 from 9:00 am until 6:00 pm on the quay in Gustavia. Local store owners will be selling mostly clothing and shoes at enviable prices. If you're on the island, you can probably find some good deals and contribute to a worthy cause at the same time.
Earlier this year, hurricane Omar destroyed the wooden boardwalk along the harbor in Gustavia. Now, after four months of work, the new stone-surfaced boardwalk is complete. The goal was to have this completed in time for the high season. I know that many women will appreciate how much easier it is to walk on the new boardwalk while wearing heels than on the wooden boardwalk, which could be treacherous if a heel got caught between the boards!
One year later than originally thought, the new building at the hospital in Gustavia opened its doors on December 5. At a cost of around 3.5 million euros, the new two-level building houses the pharmacy and other technical offices on the ground level and 18 beds on the second level. The second phase is scheduled to begin in February, 2010, and will focus on updating the original portion of the hospital. When completed it will house a general-purpose room, administrative offices and a meeting room.
St. Barth is currently experiencing an epidemic of dengue fever, which is transmitted by mosquitoes. Although the Collectivity has initiated a program of spraying for the pesky critters, there are several measures you can take to protect yourself. Use mosquito repellant religiously - this is the time to forego your possible dislike of repellants. A natural repellant is citronella oil, which is sold at the pharmacies. It might not smell great, but it does keep the mosquitos away. And, maybe it's like garlic - if you're both using it, you may not smell it! Also, pick up an electric "tennis racket" at any number of stores and use it to swat the mosquitoes. You'll generally find them the worse early in the morning and in the evening. Another trick is to avoid wearing black. Mosquitos are attracted to black since it provides camouflage for them. Following the proper precautions should keep you safe.
As part of the World Polio Day initiative, the St. Barth Rotary Club has placed a collection box marked "END POLIO NOW" in the boarding lounge at the airport where passengers may leave donations. Since 1985, the International Rotary Club has donated more than $650 million to help eradicate polio by vaccinating more than two billion children in 122 countries. Think of your donation as a small departure tax and help this worthy cause.
On November 9, the Territorial Council voted to create "blue zone" parking to help ease traffic and parking in the center of Gustavia, and to prevent people who work in Gustavia from leaving their car parked all day in prime parking areas. The "blue zone" will be identified by signs and will include parking on the streets along the waterfront and from the pharmacy to the entry of Gustavia. How does it work? Drivers will be allowed to park for free for one and a half hours between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm from Monday through Saturday when using a parking disk. After 6:00 pm and on Sundays and holidays, parking is free for as long as desired. Two thousand disks are available through the Collectivity and at car rental agencies.
When you're in Gustavia, you can't miss the huge anchor near the end of the harbor. Several months ago, hurricane Omar visited St. Barth and the resulting high seas and winds destroyed the boardwalk along the harbor and weakened the stability of the anchor. Now that the replacement of the boardwalk is drawing to a close, the Collectivity will turn its attention to stabilizing this 10-ton anchor.
You may well wonder about the origins and history of this anchor. In 1981, a tugboat was towing a barge from St Thomas to St. Barth when the tugboat's rope caught on something at the entry to the harbor. Mr. Romon Beal dived overboard, wearing goggles, and found a great length of rusted chain that was connected to this immense anchor. Apparently, the tugboat somehow latched onto the anchor in St Thomas and had towed it all the way to St. Barth. Researching the inscription "Liverpool... Wood... London" with the British Ministry of the Navy, Mr. Beal learned that this model of anchor was used during the years 1700 to 1825 and may have belonged to a man-of-war. How interesting that its final resting place is on the small island of St. Barth.
It seems that St. Barth is always improving the island's infrastructure. One of the lastest projects is the construction of a hospital for the dependent elderly (EPHAD). The first phase of clearing the land has begun and will continue through December. The construction site is adjacent to the existing Hospital de Bruyn in Gustavia and will be directly connected to the building. Thirty beds will be available, including a few rooms for couples and three or four beds for patients with Alzheimer's. The hospital will also include community services, such as a hairdresser, a kitchen where families can prepare food for holidays and other special occasions and a dining room with projection facilities. The projected cost of the hospital, which is expected to be completed in three years, is 5.5 million euros, 2.1 million which will come from France and the remaining 3.4 million from the Collectivity.
Several months ago, Veronique Vander Noot, an artist in St. Barth, proposed making signs from ceramic tiles for each of the beaches on St. Barth to reflect the natural beauty of each beach and to provide information for tourists. The Collectivity accepted the proposal and financed the project. A total of 16 signs are now in place. Each sign portrays the view seen from the beach and also encompasses an element that defines that particular beach.
Entre-Deux recently opened in Gustavia in the location of the former La Gamelle, which after closing became the site of the restaurant Central Park, which recently closed. This latest restaurant is owned and run by Jackson and Sinclair Questel. Many of you might know Jackson as the former bartender at Le Bete a Z'ailes (or BAZ). You won't see Entre-Deux from the street as it is located behind the store Totem.
Rebirth of La Saladerie? Rumor has it that Thiery and Patrick, of the former Saladerie, were working on the building that housed the now-closed Jao restaurant on La Pointe in Gustavia and are expected to open a new restaurant there the end of June: Harbour Saladerie. La Saladerie was their former restaurant, which was located just steps away.
The road to Grand Fond, via the road in Lorient, is being completely redone and is closed until the end of the summer or early fall. To get to that side of the island, you'll need to take the road through Marigot and Grand Cul de Sac.
The St. Barth Sprout Farm has recently opened. They will be supplying wheatgrass, sprouts and micro-greens. Although they are not listing their location, you can call them at 06 90 59 30 09.
The National Syndicate of Pilots for Air Caraibes has announced that the pilots are planning to be on strike every weekend from June 20 until September 7. They are striking in hopes of gaining more respect for time to relax between flights, paid vacation, improvement in working conditions, and new rules for calculating salaries. Air Caraibes is one of the airlines that flies between St Maarten and St. Barth. Others to contact are WinAir (www.fly-winair.com) and St. Barth Commuter (www.stbarthcommuter.com).
Even the humpback whales seem to prefer the waters of St. Barth! The whales migrate here to give birth, and the marine park is getting calls three to four times a week reporting whale sightings. If you happen to be on a boat when you spot the whales, it is safest to travel alongside them maintaining a parallel course at least 100 meters away. Approaching them from the back or front is threatening, and they will do what is necessary to protect their young. Enjoy the opportunity if you are so lucky and respect their habitat and space.
Tropik FM, a relatively new radio station on St. Barth has recently expanded its program. Digicel Caribbean Hot 30 is a collection of the 30 most-played songs by the DJs of the Caribbean. This collection of songs will be played on Friday evenings from 7:00 to 10:00 and will be emceed in English by DJ Jon Doe. Fans of reggae have a lot to look forward to. Every Saturday from 1:00 to 3:00, you can listen to reggae, raga (a sub-genre of dancehall music or reggae in which the instrumentation primarily consists of electronic music), dancehall music and dub (music derived from reggae in Jamaica in which existing songs are remixed to consist primarily of instrumental music emphasizing the drum and bass frequencies). On Sundays from 1:00 to 3:00, Tropik FM will play the traditional music from long ago. To enjoy this music, visit their web site at www.tropikfm.com. They broadcast on frequency 97.5.
As many of you may know, St. Barth has quite a large Portuguese population. Last May, they created a folklore troupe that currently meets every Saturday to learn and rehearse traditional dances dating from 1900 to 1910. The troupe first performed during Swedish Week last November. They are reviving many traditional dances from the northern region of Minho that have disappeared as well as learning other traditional dances of Portugal. Their linen costumes are made by hand in Portugal. All of the dances are accompanied by traditional Portuguese instruments such as the accordion, the tambourine, the guitar, castanets, the triangle and a small Portuguese guitar called the Cavaquinho. Expect to see more performances in the future.
St. Barth's initiatives in environment-friendly endeavors always surprise and please me. The new glass crusher has been in operation for the last two weeks and crushes an average of 2.5 tons of glass each day! The crushed glass will be used by the Collectivity in roadbeds and construction. Previously, all the glass collected weekly by the Collectivity was sent by boat to Bordeaux, France and later to St Martin. Having a glass crusher on the island reduces the amount of carbon dioxide released in the atmosphere that was caused by shipping the glass off island. Kudos to the Collectivity!
Nathalie Esperabe, a 15-year resident of the island, has just published a 200-page book of photographs of St. Barth titled "St. Barth & Its Wonders: A Tour of the Island." The book includes photographs by some of the best photographers on the island as well as watercolors by Raphaelle Hayot and poetic excerpts by the author. The book is available for 29 euros at La Case aux Livres, Pati de St. Barth, the bookshop in the Oasis shopping center in Lorient, Barnes bookstores, the Linde Gallery, Match grocery store in St Jean, the tourist office, and several hotels and boutiques.
Need a little motivation to exercise? L'Hôtel Carl Gustaf recently added a new Spa and Fitness center and is now offering monthly memberships for one to three months from 175 euros/month. Membership includes unlimited access to the fitness center and their Espace Hydro (Jacuzzi, pool and showers with essential oils), skin-care products by Carita and Decleor, exclusive offers at the Carl Gustaf Lounge and the Victoria's restaurant, and a welcome gift. For details, send an email to email@example.com or call 05 90 29 70 00.
Last year, after gaining some autonomy from France and becoming a COM, St. Barth faced the task of generating money to compensate for the decrease in the amount that was previously budgeted by France for the island. One such endeavor was the requirement that every registered vehicle sport a "vignette" on the windshield. Despite the charming name, this is just a sticker. Last year the Collectivity made $1.3 million on the sale of about 8000 vignettes, which are good for one year. This year, they expect to sell about 10,000 due to the increase in the number of registered vehicles on the island during 2008. Vignettes went on sale on January 9 at the Treasury office in Gustavia and at an office set up in the parking lot by the stadium in St Jean. Owners have until March 31 to purchase a vignette for 2009. The price for a normal passenger car is 100 euros and increases for taxi vans and trucks.
For whatever reason, the consumption of electricity on the island decreased an average of 4.2% during 2008. After many years of a steady increase in the use of electricity, EDF, the local electric company, added extra generators last year. However, with the recent availability of electric cars on the island, we'll have to see if this trend continues. The director of EDF has asked owners of electric cars to charge the batteries after 8:30 pm, if possible, and to avoid charging them between 6:00 pm and 8:30 pm, the hours when the most electricity is use.
Registration is now open for the 7th edition of the Short Story Contest, which is organized by the association Saint B'Art. A couple of changes were made for this year's contest. If the topic continues to be up to the author to choose, the short story must start with the sentence "One forgets quickly, often too quickly..." The second change concerns the awarding of the prizes. Any previous winner who enters this year's contest can only win an honorary mention. To participate, you must fill out an application, which can be found in Le Journal or at bookshops. Judging will take place in March, and the prizes will be announced and awarded on April 26 during the Book Festival. The first-prize winner will receive a laptop. Other prizes will be various gifts provided by local merchants.
The Yacht Club, located on La Pointe in Gustavia, is celebrating its fifth anniversary with several changes. First, the interior has been redesigned to look more like a lounge. Gone is the all-white decor. It's been redone in black with yellow and red pillows and candles. Second, They are now hosting live music Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 pm until 12:30 am. Superhero, a trio from New York who plays classic rock, launched the advent of live music. After 12:30 am, the DJs take over. Keep in mind that there is an informal dress code here: men cannot wear shorts and the dress is "casual chic."
In the early morning hours of October 16, Hurricane Omar passed north of St. Barth and delivered 130 mph winds and extremely strong seas. Fortunately, the winds only lasted two to three hours, and most of the damage was due to the strong seas on the south side of the island. The beaches at Saline, Gouverneur, Gustavia, Public, Corossol and Colombier all lost quite a bit of sand and gained some large rocks. Several restaurants in Gustavia along the harbor were damaged but were able to reopen with the week thanks to all the hard work by the owners, staff and volunteers. Mayor Bruno Magras has asked for recognition of a state of natural catastrophe to assist businesses in obtaining insurance coverage. However, in typical St. Barth fashion, the cleanup has proceeded at a record pace.
Although St. Barth is quite often a dry island, if you keep your eyes open, you can find many local fruits and nuts growing wild around the island. A few examples are almonds, tamarind, sea grapes, cherries, little apples, corossol (or soursop), little apples and passionfruit. And, of course, the quenette. The quenette resembles a small, oval lime and grows on trees ranging from 18 to 30 feet. The yellowish-pink pulp, whose taste has been compared to a litchi, surrounds a very large pit. The tree is native to Colombia and Venezuela and appeared in the Antilles at the beginning of the 19th century. The fruit is often used in jams and syrups to flavor rum. But on a hot day, there's nothing like stumbling across a quenette tree and just popping open the thin skin and enjoying the tasty fruit.
(Editor's Note: On other English-speaking islands, this fruit is called the "genip".)
Crazy Shop/Crazy Photo, in the La Savanne shopping center in St Jean, has announced that they are closing as of August 30.
Marine Services has closed its West Indies Dive operation as of July 22 due to loss of profits and competition from newer and larger boats. They are still open for boat rentals, charter trips and snorkeling.
Au Port, the restaurant in Gustavia across from La Poste and above the bakery, has operated on the island for 30 years. Olivier Ebner, who purchased the restaurant from its original owners a couple of years ago, closed the restaurant on June 21 due to the economic situation and returned to his native France. We can only hope that he'll return next year to reopen this island tradition.
As of August 4, Les Bananiers restaurant in Colombier is no longer open for lunch. The restaurant is open every evening for dinner, except for Sundays, at 6:00 pm.
The program 21 Most Sexy Beaches, shown recently on the Travel channel, reported St Jean Beach as #8 in the world! It's always been one of my favorites!
O'Corner, the restaurant in Gustavia, recently announced that it would soon be closing. Now, rumors have it that it will open soon with an Italian menu and a new owner who also has restaurants in the Los Angeles area.
Another rumor has it that the Tropical Hotel has been purchased by the new owners of the Hotel Niilaaia, which is being built on the former site of the St. Barth Beach Hotel in Grand Cul de Sac.
A new currency exchange business, Change Point, has opened in Gustavia below the Sunset Hotel. They are open Monday through Saturday from 7:45 am to 12:30 pm and 3:30 pm to 6:30 pm. Can St. Barth really support two currency exchange businesses just down the street from one another?
From July 22 until September 26, the road between the tennis courts in St Jean and the municipal pool will be closed to traffic as they are (finally!) paving this section of the road.
Beginning in September, the road down to beautiful Gouverneur Beach will be completely redone! They have already completed the first portion, but after that, hang on to your seats! Potholes and broken road abound. This will be a welcome relief to everyone as this is one of the most spectacular and accessible beaches on the island.
One of the most frequent complaints registered with the police in St. Barth is the level of the noise from construction, bars and discotheques. However, many complaints go unanswered due to the inability to measure the noise level. Recently, the territorial police and the gendarmes (the French police) have received three sonometers and will be able to quantify the noise level and take appropriate action. Depending on the time of day, the frequency and the level of noise, those responsible can be charged between 68 to 450 euros. If the offense is described as "sound aggression," the perpetrator could go to prison for up to one year and be charged with a fine of 15,000 euros. St. Barth already has several restrictions in place. For example, the use of tools or apparatuses that make too much noise cannot be used between 6:00 pm and 7:00 am Monday through Saturday, between noon and 2:00 pm Monday through Friday, and between noon and 6:00 pm on Saturdays and all day on Sundays.
As a result of St. Barth becoming an Overseas Collectivity, all newly registered cars will have the new St. Barth license plates, which will include the letters SBH. The standard plate will consiSt. of one to three digits, followed by a space, followed by one to three letters and the letters SBH. Personalized plates are also now allowed and can consiSt. of up to ten letters with no spaces. The standard registration costs 25 euros and personalized plates will coSt. 50 euros. It will be fun to see the personalized plates that appear on the island!
La Palace in Gustavia will be closed from June 7 through the end of July.
La Poste in Gustavia is operating under summer hours until September. They are open from 7:30 am until 12:45 pm every day except for Wednesdays and Saturdays, when they close at noon.
The Strand Supper Club in Gustavia is offering free champagne to ladies every Thursday from 11:00 pm until 1:00 am.
La Pomme ("apple" in French), an authorized reseller of Macintosh computers, has opened on Rue Courbet in Gustavia. They are open from 9:30 to 1:00 pm and from 3:30 pm to 7:30 pm. For more information, call them at 0690 41 21 30.
Wish you'd written down the phone number for a restaurant, hotel, doctor or a favorite boutique before you left? Now, the St. Barth phone book is on-line at www.directory-saintbarth.com. It's easy to use and you can search by profession or name. There's even a tab for an inverse search - you enter the phone number and the business or person's name is returned. This is a real help if you want to make reservations at your favorite restaurants before leaving for the island.
Get ready for a big night of soccer! On Wednesday, June 4, the Caribbean Soccer Stars will be in St. Barth on their second annual tour to take on some local St. Barth soccer players at the Stadium in St Jean. The competition starts at 6:00 pm and admission is free. Among the all-stars is Mamadou Niang, the highest scorer for Marseilles during the 2007/2008 championship season; Souleymane Diawara, a defender for the Bordeaux Girondins; Jeremie Janot, goalie for the "Greens" of Saint-Etienne; and Anthony Le Tallec, attacking midfielder for Le Mans. The all-stars will play in St Martin on Sunday, June 1 and then make their way to St. Barth. The tour is organized by Marty Toure of Wavecom. Information on all the players can be found at www.caraibesfoot.com.
Normally, Pitea Day, held in mid-August, was the celebration to commemorate the twinning of St. Barth and Pieta, Sweden. However, starting this year, St. Barth will dedicate a full week in November to celebrate the ongoing friendship between St. Barth and Sweden and the island's Swedish past and to introduce the populace of St. Barth to today's Sweden. The events will start on the Sunday before the annual running of the Gustavialoppet marathon, which will close the week's activities. According to Yves Greaux, who is vice-president of the territorial council and is responsible for cultural affairs, "2008 marks a triple date: the first Swedish Week in Saint Barth; the 30 years of twin cities Pitea and Saint Barth, and the 130th anniversary of the retrocession of the island to France. It is important to give this first edition a real visibility, to give it a solid base to become an annual event." As such, the vice-president has asked for projects to be submitted to the Tourist Office before August 15. The event will take place November 16-23 and is being organized by the non-profit associations ASBAS and Skaellskapet (The Friends of Saint Barth Association of Stockholm).
Le Bouchon Now Has Rotisserie Chickens To Go Le Bouchon restaurant in Lorient is now offering rotisserie chickens for take-out from Thursday to Sunday starting at 11:30 am. Kazz n' Blues No More? Kazz n' Blues opened in Grand Cul de Sac in the location of the previous Cocoloba several months ago. Rumor now has it that they will be closing in June. Something else is sure to open there as it is an ideal location for a restaurant. Stay tuned. More Sushi To Go La Mandala restaurant in Gustavia is now offering sushi for take-out. They have quite an extensive menu, offering Sushi Nigiri for 6 to 8 euros for two pieces, Maki-Sushi Rolls from 8 to 15 euros for eight pieces and two pieces of Sashimi for an average of 8 euros.
On April 30, the new radiology suite at the De Bruyn Hospital was inaugurated. The new radiology equipment was purchased with a donation of 154,000 euros from FEMUR (Foundation for Emergency Medical Equipment in St. Barth) and 50,000 euros from the Kovner Foundation in the U.S. According to Pierre Nuty, the director of the hospital, plans are in place to have a full radiology center by 2010. Additional equipment will include a scanner that costs 400,000 euros. FEMUR will try to raise as much money as possible to help achieve that goal.
From Yachting World, the Transat AG2R is over (since last week), and the team we mentioned earlier had a particularly tough finish :
"Even farther back (last place if one ignores four boats which were not polled at press time) are Phil Sharp and David Krizek on Atlantik FT, whose fall from third place has been brutal:
"Well the last couple of days have been mentally very tough for David and I as we have been stranded in ghostly light winds watching literally the whole of the rest of the fleet sail past us to the south. We have been trying to push south, along with Goupe Celeos, who went on a more extreme southerly diversion, which paid off to their advantage."
Antoine Questel, who will be 24 in September, has made waves in international windsurfing competitions over the last couple of years. Now, Jimmy Buffet has decided to sponsor him. Questel ranks among the top French windsurfers and has been part of the Funboard team at Pole France for the past three years. During the first round of the French Funboard championships, held April 5-10 in southern France, he came in third. There are two more rounds to go. He is currently competing in the Euro-Cup Mondial du Vent, which attracts the top windsurfers and kite surfers in the world. Questel is also sponsored by the Collectivity of St. Barth, Eden Rock Hotel and Sooruz, a surf and skate apparel company. For more information on this talented young man, visit www.centrehautniveaufunboard.com or www.sailingnews.tv.
Since January 1, 2008, St Barth has collected almost 3.5 million euros between the new business tax, the vehicle tax and the accommodations tax. The business tax has earned the Collectivity 925,120 euros. Each business on the island must pay 300 euros plus 100 euros per employee up to a maximum of 5000 euros. The vehicle tax, called a vignette for the sticker that must be placed on the windshield, varies depending on the size of the vehicle. A total of 7154 owners have already paid, bringing in almost 1 million euros. The newly instituted accommodation tax of 5% per daily rental fee of villas and hotels has brought in almost 1.5 million euros. The Collectivity projected 2.5 million euros for the year for the accommodation tax, so this sounds like a good start, but they are afraid that it may fall short by the end of the year.
The new Collectivity has hit the ground running as far as municipal improvements are concerned. The projects are many and welcome. Lots of work to improve the roads and several building projects are underway.
Flamands will never look the same - just better. The main road is being totally repaved and slightly widened. Any water pipes that were above ground are being put underground. Once the road is finished, plans are in place to add a sidewalk from the pétanque court all the way to the Hotel St Barth Isle de France.
Repaving of the road will begin soon between Radio St Barth in Colombier and the intersection in Corossol just past Au Regal. In addition, all the electrical wires will be put underground. This will definitely be a visual improvement and a welcome improvement in the case of hurricanes. There's nothing worse than being closed up in a villa or hotel with no electricity and no air-conditioning!
Have you ever noticed a lot of water in the roads around the pond in St Jean? The breaks in the water pipes are being repaired and the road will soon be repaved as well. In addition, at long last, they will be paving the road between the municipal pool and the archery field.
Access to one of the most popular beaches will soon be easier. If you've been to St Barth recently, you've probably enjoyed the first half of the road down to Gouverneur beach. It's been widened and repaved and is a pleasure to drive on. However, after that, the road quickly deteriorates into a mass of broken pavement and potholes. The Collectivity will begin work on the remainder of the road in September and will also put all water pipes underground.
The church hall in the Catholic church in Gustavia is under total renovation and should be completed by mid-May when it will be used for performances of the St Barth Festival of Theater, which takes place May 16-25. Air-conditioning is being added, as well as theatrical lighting fixtures and controls for sound and lighting. Phase two of the project includes enlarging the area as only 150 people can currently be seated.
And, finally, the new clubhouse for the municipal tennis courts in St Jean should be completed by mid-summer.
These are ambitious undertakings that will be enjoyed by everyone!
Newport, RI (April 4, 2008) The 13th Annual St Barths Bucket was once again blessed with perfect sailing weather which provided some of the most spectacular sailing on the most spectacular yachts in the most spectacular sailing neighborhood. With a consistent 15-22 knot trade wind, the fleet was fully powered up and the racing was startlingly close. Some of the finishes were described by participants as "closer than Farr 40 finishes"! This was previously unheard of in the superyacht world and this year's St Barths Bucket was declared the "best ever".
The ninth edition of the Transat AG2R will begin on April 20 when the boats will set sail from France to St Barth, where they will arrive about three weeks later. Those of you who are supporting the St Barth entry, Concarneau-St Barth, can buy a T-shirt in the colors of their mascot team at Loulou's Marina in Gustavia.
FEMUR, the St Barth's Foundation for Emergency Medical Equipment, was founded by a group of French, American and native St Barth residents 25 years ago with the purpose to raise money to purchase equipment for the local hospital. Each year the Hospital Director provides a list of items needed to improve service and care. Over the years, FEMUR has made great headway. Four years ago, they raised 140,000 euros to build a new Dialysis Center. In 2007, they raised 240,000 euros for a new Radiation Center, which should be opening any day. Their current, and largest, project is to raise 600,000 euros to purchase a CT scanner to be installed in the new Radiation Center. Each week injured or sick residents or tourists must be evacuated to St Martin for scans.
Seven years ago, FEMUR established an American 501 C Charitable Foundation so that contributions from Americans to the hospital are tax deductible under IRS rules. If you would like to contribute to this worthy cause, make your check out to St. Barth Medical Equipment Foundation and mail it to SBMEF, c/o Mr. Lawrence O'Donnell, 32 South Church Street, West Chester, PA 19382.
Be the first on your block to know the latest fashion and lifestyle trends in the tropics. Every December, Nikki Style releases their annual guide to St Barth. Five thousand copies, available in French and English, will be distributed at Nikki Beach in St Jean and other establishments on the island. If you want to reserve a copy, the deadline is November 15, 2008.
Electric cars manufactured by Miles are starting to arrive! In 2007, Miles, a company based in Santa Monica, California, was recognized as "the electric car company of the year." Three small models are currently being imported, ranging in price from $19,500 to $24,500: the ZX40, the ZX40S and the ZX40AD. These cars can go about 50 miles at their top speed of 40 mph before it's necessary to recharge the battery, which takes from four to six hours. The six batteries have an expected life span of four years or 30,000 miles and can be replaced for $350. (With the current exchange rate between the euro and the US dollar, this is a bargain!) Currently, because of the lack of an engine rating, these cars are not subject to the tax on vehicles instituted in St Barth at the start of 2008. That will most likely occur, but perhaps the COM will encourage these environmentally friendly cars by charging a lower annual tax.
The year 2008 has already brought many changes to St Barth as it assumes its new political status of an Overseas Collectivity (COM). One of these changes has been the institution of an accommodation tax of 5% on all seasonal rentals: hotels, villas, apartments, etc. The goal of this tax is to raise money to meet the budget of the COM since funding from France has greatly decreased. For the month of January, the COM has collected 580,000 €. However, President Bruno Magras is concerned that individuals who rent their villas directly to clients without the assistance of a villa rental agency may not be reporting these rentals, and, hence, not paying the required tax. Members of the COM are currently doing research in an attempt to identify any such cases. As President Magras states, "We need these taxes in order to meet the budget for the COM. It is in the interest of everybody on the island, since the more we can collect, the less risk there is of creating new taxes."
All new vehicles registered on St Barth as of March 3, 2008 will have newly designed license plates. These license plates are a result of St Barth's evolution to a French Overseas Collectivity and will be specific to St Barth with the letters SBH, rather than the FR on the existing French plates. The Territorial Council also discussed the possibility of allowing personalized license plates, but this is yet to be decided. That would be another way to raise money for the Collectivity, assuming one would have to pay extra. Additional information is available in French on the COM's website: www.comstbarth.fr and a special email has been set up for questions: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Oasis grocery store in Lorient has started food and beverage delivery. You give them your shopping list and they'll deliver. Email email@example.com or call at 06 90 71 89 02 for more information.
The Rotary Club is holding a "yard sale" at a villa in Camaruche from Monday, March 3 to Saturday, March 8 between 10:00 am and 6:00 pm. Camaruche is the area past Lorient just before you get to the turn for Vitet. To help find the way, the road will be marked with signs displaying the logo of the Rotary Club. Proceeds will be used to purchase defibrillators in collaboration with the Red Cross and the Collectivity. For more information, contact the Rotary Club at 05 90 27 73 38.
Looks like they are raising money for Senator Obama on St. Barts:
The St. Bart's Cocktail Fundraiser (Fundraising)
Pleas join Richard Branson and Lucy Salenger and the Members of St. Barts for Barack Obama for The St. Bart's Cocktail Fundraiser,Wednesday, February 27 from 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM at Eddy's Restaurant, Rue du Centaire, Gustavia, St. Barthelemy, French West Indies.
Marvin Zonis, Professor, International Political Economy and Leadership, University of Chicago, Graduate School of Business, will speak on "Leadership and Barack Obama"
American Citizens and Green Card Holders may contribute by check or internet. Suggested Donation Payable to Obama for America: $100, $250, $500
All are Welcome
Martine Lainé has exhibited her paintings several times in St Barth. However, her current exhibit features patchwork quilts, which she has been creating for the past 27 years. She organized the first exhibit of patchwork in Guadeloupe and began teaching her craft there. She has participated in many competitions: the finals of the International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas in 1996; the International Patchwork Competition Chartres; the International Quilt Festival of Tokyo in 2003; and a competition at the lace museum in Retournac, France. Martine will be exhibiting her quilts, as well as some paintings never before exhibited, from February 22 through March 2 at the Météo France, near the lighthouse above Gustavia.
The dollar's demise is affecting travel all over the globe in different ways according to this article, which includes a mention of how the Hotel Carl Gustaf is dealing with it:
"The high-end Hotel Carl Gustaf on St. Barts, for example, is guaranteeing winter rates for travel through April 19 in dollars. While the listed rates begin at 1,100 euros, or $1,672 at $1.52 to the euro, the hotel is offering rates beginning at $1,300 a room a night with a three-night minimum to travelers who ask for the U.S. dollar rate."
France's telecoms regulator, ARCEP has announced plans to award 3G licenses in the French Overseas départements and collectivities. The affected areas are: Martinique, Guadeloupe, Guyana, the cities of Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthélemy, Réunion, Mayotte and Saint-Pierre and Miquelon. Because of their new status as territorial units since 9th July 2007, Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthélemy are considered separately from Guadeloupe.
EXCLUSIVE TO SAINT BARTHELEMY, SATURDAY 23RD OF FEBRUARY 2008 UNIQUE SHOWING OF JB BAGS AND PRE-LAUNCH OF BOOK GUSTAVIA BY JENNY STENING
Swedish Design Centre of Saint Barthelemy is pleased to announce this special vernissage on the 23rd of February between 4-8pm.
G U S T A V I A
S a i n t B a r t h e l e m y
Promenade architectural historique • Architectural historic walk • Arkitekturhistorisk promenad
Jenny Stening will personally come to the island with an exclusive pre-print
version of her firstbook about the Swedish buildings in Gustavia. In addition you will be able to enjoy an extended show of her current collection of JB design bags featured exclusively at Swedish Design Center.
Starting at 5:00 am on Monday, December 17, about thirty fishermen blocked entry to the port of Gustavia with their boats to protest the high price of gas. The blockade prevented cargo ships, cruise ships and the ferry between St Barth and St Martin from entering or leaving the port. The airport was also shut down for a few hours in the afternoon. President Bruno Magras visited the port at 8:00 am and told the fishermen that he would discuss the issue after they opened the port. After an unsuccessful attempt at negotiation at the port, some of the fisherman went to the airport around 10:30 am and blocked the entrance to the departure lounge and the check-in counters. At 1:30 pm, President Magras agreed to organize a meeting with the Executive Council, which took place at 3:00 pm. The port was reopened a little after 5:00 pm, at the conclusion of the meeting, results of which are not yet known.
St. Barth was once under Swedish rule, and that history is still present in many forms, such as architecture, street names and celebrations such as Pitea Day. Now, that presence is represented in the Swedish Design Centre, which recently opened in St. Jean. The boutique showcases a unique collection of contemporary and classic objects of Swedish design, heritage and origin designed by established and up-and-coming designers. You'll find jewelry, glassware, furniture, home accessories and other items. The boutique is located in the Les Amandiers mall on the Route de Saline, across from Le Glacier. They are open Monday-Saturday from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm and 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm. If you visit their web site at http://www.swedishdesigncentre.com, you can view a list of their guest designers along with short bios and subscribe to their newsletter.
With the holiday celebrations in full swing, be careful of drinking and driving. The penalties are stiff. Recently, an American citizen was stopped for an alcohol test while driving a rental car. She tested positive with 0.50 mg of alcohol per liter of air exhaled. The penalty? She was asked to pay the fine of 800 euros and to leave the island if she didn't want to go before a judge. That's one fast way to ruin your vacation! Under French law, the legal level of alcohol in the blood is 0.5 grams per liter of blood. If you have up to 0.8 grams, you risk a fine of 135 euros. Higher than that level, if there hasn't been an accident, you must pay a fine immediately. If there has been an accident, you must go before the judge. The sentence for drunk driving can be up to two years in prison and up to 4500 euros in fines. Think before you drink!
A diver's paradise, "Peaceful Fish", has been anchored in Gustavia for about a week, with plans to stay there until February. You can't miss it: there's a 35-ton crane on its back deck! Originally a provisioning ship for oil platforms at sea, the ship was completely renovated in 2006 and has six cabins. But, comfortable sleeping quarters is far from the main purpose of this ship. It carries a 37' speed boat, a 34' fishing boat, a 50' dive boat, six jet skis, two Harley-Davidson motorcycles, many knee and wake boards, and the latest high-tech, high-performance diving equipment, including a decompression chamber, diving gear for at least 20 people, and equipment to mix nitrogen, oxygen and helium for extremely long or deep dives.
Any locals have more info on what the gossip pages are reporting:
"But spies on St. Barts, the ship's home port, say that a strike called there yesterday was causing havoc for wealthy vacationers. A source on the island said, "There is a huge fuel strike. The local fishermen are blocking all boats, including fuel tankers, from getting to or from the island. No one can come to St. Barts or leave. All the boats are lined up in the harbor with nowhere to go."
On January 1, 2008, the postal code of Saint Barth will change. The new postal code will start with "977", but the remaining two numbers are still unknown. This change is a result of the recent vote for Saint Barth to become an Overseas Collectivity, autonomous from the administration of Guadeloupe. Now's the time to buy those T-shirts and other momentos with the original 97133 postal code.
By day, A.J.O.E., in Lorient, offers tennis courts. But several evenings, it turns into an outdoor cinema (this is also the locale of the St Barth Film Festival). A.J.O.E. has been working to improve its capabilities for showing movies. Over the last three years, they have increased the projection area (the back wall) to 75 m2. Last year they added a new Dolby stereo sound system as well as new speakers and have decided to ban smoking as of December 1. For the past two years, they have presented a film every 15 days. The largest remaining obstacle is the selection of films, which the association does not completely control. For the most part, they are subject to the choices of Cinésogar, which is the single distributor of films in the French West Indies. Often, they do not know which film they are getting in advance - sometimes not until the reels actually arrive. Despite their lack of control, many popular films have been presented. So, for a change of pace, how about an outdoor, fresh-air movie on a Friday night?
The stadium complex in St Jean already has facilities for soccer, rugby, archery, judo, tae kwon do and volleyball. Soon, you can add tennis to that already impressive list of activities. The Collectivity has been hard at work building four tennis courts with latticework to stop those stray balls and lighting. In addition, they have provided another court to be used for training purposes. The courts are scheduled to open in mid-December and will be open to everyone. On Friday, the Collectivity signed a five-year renewable contract with the Saint-Barth Tennis Club, an association that was created especially for this event and is chaired by Dany Brin, a founder of A.J.O.E., the tennis association in Lorient. The contract includes the provision of free equipment and maintenance of the courts. Future plans include a club house.
The work of Jeanne Susplugas, who was born in Montpelier, France, will be exhibited at b.art Gallery in Gustavia and at the Tom Beach Hotel in St Jean until December 15. Having grown up in a family of pharmacists and having been seriously poisoned, the theme of "Borderline", the name of the exhibit, is based on the role of medicine in our daily lives. This exhibit uses videos, photographs and drawings to ask the questions: Alluring or dangerous? Necessary or dependent? The work of Jeanne Susplugas travels throughout the world and is particularly represented in New York in the Florence Lynch Gallery, in Tokyo in the Mizuma Art Gallery and in Brussels in the Charles de Jonghe Gallery.
The work of artist Emmanuelle Podgaietsky, from Guadeloupe, will be on display at Portal 34 in Gustavia from November 30 starting at 6:30 pm until December 6. You can visit the artist's web site at www.emmanuelle-galerie.com
If you've ever walked the goat path from Flamands to Colombier beach, you know that it can be a bit challenging at times. Improvements have begun. Thus far, they have carved steps into the rock at the cave-like area as well as steps in another rocky area. The path is also quite overgrown at the moment, and men are out there with chain saws to clear the passage.
For better or for worse, the long-rumored restricted parking in Gustavia is scheduled to become a reality at the beginning of 2008. The objective is to prevent people from leaving their cars in the same spot all day. In certain restricted zones, the maximum amount of time that you will be able to park is 1 ½ hours. This time limit will apply to parking along the harbor from the pharmacy to the restaurant La Route des Boucaniers. While parking will initially be free, parking meters may be installed in the future; the necessary equipment was ordered on October 29. The Collectivity will conduct an information campaign before initiating the restricted parking to educate the local residents of the change. One hope is that people will start car-pooling and that some system of public transportation will emerge. The 1 ½-hour limit will be in effect during peak hours during weekdays. The restriction will not be enforced from noon to 2:00 pm, after 5:00 pm or on weekends. Exceeding the 1 ½-hour limit will cost you 11 euros. Initially, a parking disk will be given to all residents and will be present in all rental cars. This disk will note the arrival and departure time of all cars that are parked in the restricted areas during the restricted time periods. We'll have to wait a bit to see how this is actually implemented.
The St Barts Music Festival 2008 runs for two weeks this year, from January 11 through January 23, 2008. Advanced tickets to performances are not necessary, just come to the island and pay at the door - the old-fashioned way!
Since 1984, St. Barts has hosted a performing arts festival unlike any other in the world. Each year during January St Barts offers more than a dozen nights of the finest live music and dance performances in an informal, island setting.
Audiences are treated to intimate concerts by some of the world's most prominent classical, opera, ballet, and jazz stars. These performers have the level of artistry that one would normally have to attend Carnegie Hall in New York or the Opera Garnier in Paris to experience. Imagine hearing them with the added advantage of island breezes and the fragrance of flowering hibiscus.
The Territorial Council was scheduled to meet on October 30 to vote on the contents of a 42-page document containing 100 articles of proposed law, which if approved, would become effective January 1, 2008. At the forefront of everyone's concerns is, of course, the future of taxation on St Barth.
Have you ever wondered how the postal workers can possibly remember where everyone lives in order to deliver their mail?! Letters are addressed with the name of the person and the town where they live. Giving and following directions can be just as confusing. Turn right by the yellow mailbox at the top of the hill just over the little bridge and right past the goats on the left. The Collectivity has adopted a plan to assign numbers to the houses and buildings on St Barth and will begin with the buildings in Gustavia. 1140 numbers have been allocated for all of the houses and commercial buildings in town. To maintain a sense of uniformity, the Collectivity has budgeted between 30,000 and 40,000 euros to fabricate stainless steel signs for the street numbers. The hope is that the numbers will be in place in Gustavia by the end of the year. After having gone through the process to assign house numbers in Gustavia, assigning house numbers throughout the island should go faster. Colombier and Flamands will be the next two areas to be assigned house numbers.
The Saint B'Art Association is organizing its sixth annual painting competition. The theme, as always, remains St Barthélémy: landscapes, scenery or people and all media is allowable. The paintings must be available at the beginning of December in order to be exhibited on December 8. As with last year, the winning painting will be used as a stamp on 10,000 pre-stamped envelopes. For more information, please call Véronique Vander Noot at 06 90 39 92 74 or Jean-Pierre Ballagny at 06 90 83 84 00.
The Golden Rock Regatta will make a stop in St. Barts:
After leaving St. Martin on the first day of racing, the first port of call is Gustavia, St. Barths, the culinary capital of the Caribbean. Rather than plan a function, organizers have opted to give the sailors the opportunity to explore the many restaurants for themselves.
A reader of this site is looking for a house sitting situation or apartment swap:
Interested in winter swap (my Manhattan apt.) or house sitting at the beach in St Barth this winter on or after 12/31/07 for 7 to 12 weeks. Clean bright studio apartment in Chelsea neighborhood, 2 short floors up. West 19th Street near 7th Ave. (Google the zip
code 10011) Neighbors include Janet Jackson, Ethan Hawke and Anderson Cooper! Apt. fits 2 nicely - not more than 4. Fully furnished... High speed internet DSL/Cable/TV/Telephone, microwave, 2 huge windows, light wood floors, etc. The area has a starbucks on every corner, plenty of dining, Chelsea Piers, yacht club, the Village, Lincoln Center, Ballet and opera. Bergdorf Goodman, Apple store open 24/7, Saks, Bloomingdales, Macys, Carnegie Hall, Subways on every other corner, NBC Ctudios, CNN Tours, St Pats, Grand Central Shops, Ice skating in Rock or Bryant Park. Buses to Atlantic city, Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun, bus to skiing in Vermiont, Montreal. Please contact Greg at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a place on the beach you would like to swap or need house sitting. I have a small dog, trained 6 yrs old pure bred.
The Caribbean radio station, Radio Transat, features mainly French and English language pop music. On St Barts tune into 95.5 FM - 100.3 FM, (and 106.1 FM on St. Martin). For their streaming live radio over the internet, go to the Radio Transat website and click on the "Winamp" link. It's not your traditional island music, but it will certainly get you in the French mood...Bonne écoute!
The bronze statue of the Arawak was erected on August 20 at La Tourmente, the circle at the top of the hill in St Jean that leads to Gustavia, Colombier or Flamands. In 2004, St Barth invited all residents to submit ideas for some type of artwork to grace this spot. In June, 2005, the winner was selected from among 53 submissions. And the winner was a 1.7-meter bronze sculpture of an Arawak Indian, the original inhabitants of St Barth. At the base of the sculpture are an iguana and a pelican - two symbols of the island. The Arawak holds a spear in his right hand and is blowing a conch shell with his left hand. A popular St Barth forum is having a "Name the Arawak" contest, and one suggestion is an Arawak word: "kas-se-qua" meaning "Chief of the Hill or Tribe." What could be more perfect?
In addition to De Mémoire d'Anciens, which premiered at the St Barth Film Festival in April 2007, and the new DVD Saint Barthélémy: Cap Paradis by Pierre Brouwers, word of another DVD about St Barth has surfaced: L'Ile Amicale - Den Vanliga On. This DVD is actually a home movie taken by a Swedish baron who visited St Barth in the winter of 1951-1952. There is no verbal audio, only background music, but the scenery from 55 years ago will show you a different island. The DVD can be purchased at Nils Dufau's shop, which is a standalone building next to the gas station in St Jean.
A pirogue, similar to a canoe, has been used since the arrival of the first St Barths. However, this traditional canoe was at risk of disappearing. Fortunately, the Unesco club is involved in the building of a true St Barth pirogue, following the traditional methods. The pirogue is 18 feet long and is made from the trunk of a gommier tree that arrived from Dominica last April 26. The gommier is native to St Barth, but most were destroyed by Hurricane Luis in 1995. The pirogue is awaiting its last coat of paint and will be inaugurated on August 15. It will be on display, but will also be put into the water for events such as the arrival of the Transat Ag2r, the summer beach festivals and regattas, to name a few.
Premium IV, whose office is located in St Jean, provides VIP concierge services including assistance with arrival and departure, yacht and villa provisioning and special events. They have contracted over 120 companies to provide the best products and services available.
Now, in addition to their already broad array of services, they are offering assistance with planning a wedding and/or honeymoon on beautiful St Barth. Assistance is available with catering, decorations, fireworks, flowers, musicians, photographers, transportation, hotels, lighting, and more. For a complete list of their wedding planning services, including required legal documentation, visit their web site at http://www.premiumiv.com or call them at 011 590 590 290 007. (Please note that 011 is required when calling from the United States.) Since Premium IV's very amiable management comes from Canada, Britain and France, you'll be able to communicate easily in English or French. Bon mariage!
June 23 marked the last weekend of operation for Cocoloba and La Gloriette in Grand Cul de Sac before closing for renovations. Although they'll be greatly missed, the bonus is that they are selling everything before the work begins: tables, chairs, kitchen supplies, dishes, etc. This is a great opportunity to pick up items at a good price.
Le Shuttle has temporarily suspended its services since June 21 due to concerns about the regulation of the service and issues of free competition. The service will resume after a professional group meets to discuss these issues and a supervisory administration is formed as guarantors. Those who have already purchased tickets can be reimbursed at Le Shuttle's office in St Jean every Friday between 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.
You know summer has arrived in St Barth when the roadwork begins in earnest! Road repairs and improvements began in Gustavia on June 5 and are expected to last for about one month. The commune takes advantage of this lower tourist season to repair the roads, maintain the water pipes, bury the electric and telephone lines, improve sanitary conditions and lay fiber optic cable. So, be prepared for traffic jams and allow yourself a little more time than normal!
On July 1, 2007, St Barth will elect the first president and Territorial Council of the Overseas Collectivity of Saint Barthélémy, which is part of the French Republic. Bruno Magras, mayor of St Barth for the past 12 years, recently announced his candidacy for this position on Radio Saint Barth. The new president and the Territorial Council will govern St Barth for the next five years. The Mayor wrote a formal letter to the population, stating the following main points of his platform.
First, he summarized the current state of affairs:
• A population of 8,200, with more than 12,000 in high season
• A building boom with more than 250 permits requested and approximately 120 allowed (I assume this is per year...)
• Unrestrained speculation due to large influx of foreign investment
• Property priced beyond the means of young people
• A saturated industrial zone faced with growing needs
• Traffic congestion because of an increasing number of cars being brought onto the island
• Overloaded public equipment and services
The Mayor went on to present five fundamental actions necessary to maintain the reputation and quality of life of St Barth.
• Protect the environment
• Control development
• Guarantee safety for persons and property
• Provide professional training for young people
• Create stable employment with adequate salaries
On the subject of taxes, Mr. Magras somewhat joked that the primary role of the new government was not to invent all kinds of new taxes. While not specifically addressing the future of taxation, he did say, "The truth is that the fiscal pressure will also be in response to the quality of public services required by the population and the ability of the government to control unnecessary expenditures."
It's a mystery. Last Sunday evening, a man jumped from the Voyager when it was about 15 feet from the dock and swam the rest of the way. No one knows why he did it, but is it that hard to understand?! I'd guess that after a long, arduous day of traveling, he saw St Barth within his reach and just couldn't wait any longer!
Elaine Davidson, a former Brazilian nurse, recently visited St Barth, where she did NOT blend into the crowd! In 2001, Davidson made it into the Guinness Book of Records as the most pierced woman in the world with 720 piercings, 192 of which were on her face. Today, she has a total of 3902 tattoos and body piercings, for a total weight of over six pounds. Davidson, who holds a black belt in judo, now lives in Edinburgh, Scotland where she is a fortune-teller and owner of the boutique Tropical Rainbow. I hope the man who has the body-piercing and tattoo store in St Jean had an opportunity to meet her!
From May 30 to June 3, the Guanahani Resort & Spa will host an event to award the first literary prize given in the name of this luxury hotel located on Grand Cul de Sac. Although Marc Thezé, the director of the hotel, created the prize, the name "Guanahani Literary Prize" comes from the book Je vous aime by French author Catherine Siguret, which was published in November 2006. The plot involves a Parisian woman and a successful writer and contains a scene set during the awarding of the Guanahani Literary Prize. When Thezé read the book, he decided to make the fictional prize a reality. The winner of the award will be chosen by a jury of celebrities from the world of French literature and media. The jury will meet at the Guanahani to select the best romance novel out of five pre-selected French novels published this year. The winner, whose identity will be revealed on June 3, will receive an all-inclusive week at the hotel for two, complete with airline tickets.
InfoValue Computing, Inc. (InfoValue), along with its partner Concierge Express and its regional subsidiary Sun Media Network of Simpson Bay Yacht Club in St Maarten, has just completed the first installation of a digital video-on-demand (VOD) system on St Barth. The system, InfoValue SuiteTV, was installed at the luxurious, beachfront Emeraude Plage Hotel in St Jean and offers VOD, an information portal and Internet access over the television in all of the hotel's suites, tropical bungalows and villas. Hotel guests can access VOD content interactively on their 32" HDTVs, view local attractions and hotel amenities via the information portal and take advantage of high-speed Internet access provided by the save HDTV screen with a wireless keyboard input. But, let's hope the guests don't forget that the best video-on-demand is just steps from their room - in full, living color!
A lot of people sailing the Caribbean have started blogs and post something new whenever they make port. There is some interesting stuff out there - here is one example:
"It was yet another great sail to St. Barthelemy (better known as St. Barts) and we anchored outside of Gustavia harbor (N17 54.045 W62 51.375) with enough time for a grocery shopping trip before dinner. When we were here with the catamaran, we were moored nicely within the harbor, we were surprised with the amount of rolling going on outside of the harbor, so on Tuesday after a pastry run, we headed a few miles north to the beautiful anchorage at Anse du Columbier and picked up a mooring at (N17 55.520 W62 52.260). It is really neat to be anchored right in the city of Gustavia, but Reinhart and I really prefer the setting of Columbier with its isolated beach and crystal clear dark turquoise water; and with a decent dinghy engine, you can motor into Gustavia anytime you want a more metropolitan existence. There was plenty to do with swimming, snorkeling, and a hiking trail to the town of Flamands on the north side of the island, and we ended up spending two nights moored securely in the bay while the winds kicked-up outside."
On Sunday, April 29, Le Centre Nautique of St Barth organized an around-the-island race for catamarans and windsurfers. They departed from St Jean Bay at 10:00 am, with an estimated arrival time of 12:30 pm to 1:00 pm. A barbecue, bar, music by BRH (Blues, Rock and Harmony) and the awarding of prizes awaited their return. The current record for windsurfers is 1 hour 14 minutes by Ricardi Maricel from St Martin and 1 hour 52 minutes for catamarans, set by Jeff Lédée and Vincent Jordil of St Barth. The weather couldn't have been more accommodating with blue, sunny skies and a strong wind.
The sound of the blowing of lambis (conch shells) announced the arrival of Le Francis Garnier in Flamands last week. Everyone wondered, "Why is this military ship right on the beach?!" It turned out that the naval ship, based in Martinique, was on a mission to find accessible beaches in St Barth in case the island suffers a natural catastrophe, such as an earthquake or a hurricane, that destroys the docks in Gustavia and Public and forces the airport to close. The goal was to find beaches that the flat-bottomed boat could access in order to unload men, equipment and supplies necessary for a rescue operation. The two beaches deemed the most accessible are Flamands and Shell Beach in Gustavia. With a maximum speed of 13 knots per hour, it would take the better part of a morning for the ship to reach St Barth The lambis sounded again as they departed, and the ship's crew responded with the ship's horn and a message with it's signal light.
I guess if you like cutting edge TV and need the Internet while on St. Barts, Emeraude Plage is the new place to be:
DMN Newswire--2007-4-30--InfoValue Computing, Inc. (InfoValue), an expert in providing innovative, high-performance video-streaming platforms and solutions, today announced its first installation on the Caribbean island of St. Barths at the luxury beachside Emeraude Plage Hotel. InfoValue's class-leading InfoValue SuiteTV&tm; solution offers video-on-demand (VOD), an information portal, and Internet over the television in all of the hotel's suites, villas, and tropical bungalows...
"The InfoValue SuiteTV system installed here means we can provide the highest standards in digital entertainment, hotel information, and Internet access over the television - to match the exceptional quality of our accommodation," said Genevieve Nouy, proprietor of the Emeraude Plage. "We have created a unique luxury resort here, and it's a pleasure to offer our guests the most advanced digital facilities in the region."
Guests at the Emeraude Plage will use InfoValue SuiteTV's features to access IP-based VOD content interactively on their 32-inch HDTVs and benefit from functionality such as pausing, rewinding, fast-forwarding, and bookmarking both Hollywood and foreign content. Hotel amenities and local attractions are available through the information portal, and high-speed Internet access is also provided via the same screen with a wireless keyboard input.
April 23 Conference on the Flora and Fauna of St Barth at the Capitainerie on the quai in Gustavia at 6:00 pm.
April 22, May 20 Future races of the traditional sailboats for the 2007 season
April 29 Race around the island for catamarans and kite-surfers. Organized by Le Centre Nautique of St Barth. Departs from St Jean Bay at 10:00 am. Barbecue, bar and music by BRH (Blues, Rock and Harmony) on the beach beginning at noon.
Carême is the period from the beginning of Lent (the day after Mardi Gras) to Easter. Consequently, mi-carême marks the middle of this period and is often celebrated with a small Carnaval-like parade. Mi-carêmers will parade through the streets of Gustavia on March 15 dressed in red and black. The custom started during the Middle Ages when the common people in France were permitted a one-day respite from the constraints of Lent to enjoy themselves. They went from house to house disguised from head to toe while their host tried to guess their identity. When the game was over, they removed their masks and were offered treats.
March 8 was the final day of the silent auction hosted by the Hotel François Plantation of the bronze sculpture of a Bonobo monkey. Bids began at 20,000 €, or $25,000, and the sculpture was sold to a German industrialist for 30,000 euros. 16,000 euros will go to the Jane Goodall Institute to aid in its mission of saving large primates from extinction. The remaining amount will be given to the sculptor, Florence Jacqueson.
St Barth seems to attract artists and art lovers. With at least 13 art galleries on the island, art appreciation rivals gastronomy. Below is a sampling of the many exhibitions:
From March 9 to March 15, Porta 34 in Gustavia displayed the work of the renowned marquetry expert Jean-Pierre Straub who creates beautiful scenes form exotic hardwoods and Douglas Hazelton the gifted copper sculptor who creates lifelike sculptures of fish, turtles and seabirds.
Jean-Pierre Straub spent his apprenticeship in his family's workshop and has perfected his art over 30 years. Using over 50 different types of wood, his intricate scenes offer a broad spectrum of colors and contrasting grains.
Pearls have a long history of folklore from the Greek belief that wearing pearls promotes marital bliss to the Hindu belief that they increase memory and help control anger. But, on a more scientific note, recent research has shown that mother-of-pearl has regenerative properties for human skin and bone tissue. As such, the product is in demand by the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry.
The Lions Club of St Barth organized a night of bingo on Saturday, March 10 on the quay in Gustavia to benefit its international campaign SightFirst II. The goal of SightFirst II is to raise $150 million by June 2008 to eliminate avoidable and reversible blindness. Due to the success of SightFirst I, a similar campaign launched in 1990, close to 100 million people received improved eye care, blindness was prevented in almost 24 million people, 250 eye-care centers were created worldwide, and more than 68,000 people received training focusing on care of the eyes. Despite this impressive accomplishment, the World Health Organization estimates that the number of people affected by blindness could increase from 37 million to 74 million by 2020. The St Barth's Lions Club exceeded their goal of $5000 Saturday night when they collected $8963 from all those bingo fanatics!
Just recently the French Parliament voted to declare St Barth an Overseas Collectivity rather than being considered a town of Guadeloupe and, hence, under the administrative control of Guadeloupe. For weeks, the island has been abuzz with talk about what changes this new political status will bring to residents and non-residents, especially as concerns taxes. St Barth has been given broad fiscal and legislative control over many areas, including:
regulation of prices
zoning, construction and management of public property
roads, transportation, maritime affairs, and management of sea ports
Municipal officials have decided to acquire a glass-crushing machine for 75,000 euros to deal with the 800 tons of glass collected each year. Originally, recycled glass was shipped to France twice a year. Last year, St Martin purchased a glass-crushing machine, which St Barth made use of. Shortly, however, the glass will be crushed directly on the island, and much of the resulting product will be used as filler in certain construction projects.
Construction of four tennis courts is underway in the sports complex in St. Jean. The tennis courts are being built adjacent to the archery range and are projected to be completed by the end of June.
Public access to several beaches will be improved. Among these is the path from Flamands to Colombier as rain has eroded several parts of the narrow trail, making hiking a bit hazardous.
Ever wonder about the quality of the air you breathe in St Barth? Gwad'Air, a French association recognized by the Minister of Ecology, has installed a trailer on St Barth to measure the quantity of pollutants in the air. The trailer will remain in front of City Hall in Gustavia for three weeks, after which it will move near the fire station in St Jean. This mobile station takes measurements every ten seconds to record the level of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and ozone. The measurements will be repeated during the more humid months of summer when clouds of Sahara dust pass over St Barth. In addition to the trailer, Gwad'Air has also placed 50 tubes on poles along the roads, which will stay in place for 15 days. The information recorded by the tubes will primarily be the levels of nitric oxide gases emitted by cars and boats. Surprisingly, and unfortunately, the North winds of winter bring quite a bit of ozone produced by cars in the United States and Canada to the islands in the Antilles.
On February 1st, France began implementing the first stages of its ban on smoking in public places. This stage bans smoking in public places such as businesses, schools, health facilities, airports, sports stadiums, concert halls, and museums. Beginning January 2008, smoking will also be banned in cafés, restaurants, casinos and discotheques. Smokers who ignore the law will be fined €68, while establishments that don't enforce the law will be fined €135. Since St Barth is subject to French law, we can expect to see the same enforcement here.
Island chefs create February/April dining extravaganzas to prove once again (should anyone doubt) St. Barts is Caribbean's culinary capital.
Newport, RI (PRWEB) February 18, 2007 -- St. Barts is the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean, as anyone who has been there knows.
Now an association of this French West Indies island's restaurateurs wants to put its own seal of approval on this nomenclature by hosting Gastronomy Week Caribéenne Feb. 19-26 followed by an April 13 and 14 highly exclusive, back-to-back dining extravaganza.
Wimco, the leading luxury villa rental company for St Barts villas, is enthusiastically supporting these events that will showcase the island's best chefs and their signature dishes.
Census takers have been busy visiting every house on the island, except
those used strictly as rental villas, asking all residents to complete two
forms. The first form consists of 25 questions to obtain such information as
the age, birthplace, nationality, place of residence five years earlier, and
career. The second form contains 15 questions about the characteristics of
each home. Residents who live on boats were asked to pass by the office of
the Harbor Master on January 18 and 19, where a temporary census-taking
office was set up. The last census was held in 1999, at which time 6852
people resided on St Barth. For comparison, in 1990 there were 5038
residents and 3059 residents in 1982.
Created in 1977, the mission of the Jane Goodall Institute is to save large
primates from extinction. The Bonobo monkey is the species closest to
humans: 98.4% of the genetic codes in their DNA are also present in the DNA
of humans. In 1980, their population was estimated to be 100,000; today, it
is a mere 5000. To aid the Jane Goodall Institute, Robert Eden, owner of the
Hotel François Plantation in Colombier, is holding a silent auction of a
limited-edition bronze statue of a Bonobo monkey that was sculpted by
Florence Jacquesson. Painter, sculptor and photographer, Jacquesson has
received numerous awards for her work. All proceeds will be donated to the
Jane Goodall Institute. Bids begin at €20,000,or $25,000. A participation
form is available at the hotel. The auction ends on March 8.
In December 2005, the French National Assembly passed a law to prohibit the use of plastic grocery bags by 2010. For months, all of the island grocery stores have been selling green fabric bags for one euro - a true bargain as these bags are handy for almost everything! To date, almost 10,000 of these bags have been sold. Now, the ASB grocery stores have gone one step further to encourage people to make use of these environmentally friendly bags. They no longer offer the standard plastic grocery bags for free - if you don't have your own bags, each plastic bag will cost you 0.10 centimes. That's not expensive, but you'd be surprised at the number of people carrying armfuls of unbagged groceries to their cars!
As of last year, the nonprofit organization SubProtect has provided ashtrays for use on the beaches. They have installed empty soda cans at the entrances to many of the beaches to encourage smokers not to toss their cigarette butts on the beach. Their plan is to install these "Ashtrays on the Beach" at 14 of the island's 22 beaches.
It's final! Last week the French House of Deputies voted in favor of St Barth becoming an Overseas Collectivity, which means that the island will now be administratively independent of Guadeloupe and will have senatorial representation in the French Parliament. The first change announced is that French citizens who have resided on St Barth for fewer than five years will be subject to French taxation. No doubt it will take some time to implement the new political structure and plans for the future.
Because many private developers have made proposals to build on the site of Fort Karl, the municipality requested in 2002 that the site be placed under control of the Littoral Conservancy. This historic site currently belongs to the French Ministry of Defense. Early this month, a delegation from the Littoral Conservancy came to St Barth to announce that the agreement was signed to place Fort Karl under the protection of the Conservancy. The official transfer will take place in early 2007.
Judging for the fifth annual painting competition, co-sponsored by Saint B'Art and the post office, was held Thursday, January 4 at the art gallery Porta 34 in Gustavia. The theme this year was "Paint Saint Barth." Antoine Heckly (left) won first prize out of the 25 paintings submitted. Not only did he win 1000 euros, but also the honor of having his painting reproduced as a stamp on 10,000 pre-stamped envelopes that will be for sale at the three post offices on the island in Gustavia, St. Jean and Lorient. Second- and third-prize winners won 700 euros and 500 euros, respectively. The paintings were auctioned after the awards ceremony, but, sad to say, only one was sold.
At midnight on New Year's Eve, a spectacular display of fireworks lit up the skies over Gustavia, providing a stunning backdrop for the numerous mega-yachts docked in the harbor, all of whom sounded their horns to welcome in 2007.
St Barth seemed to be the destination of choice for the rich and famous to celebrate New Year's Eve this year. Among others seen around the island were Kurt Russell, Goldie Hawn, Uma Thurmann, Sharon Stone, Dr. Phil, Steve Martin, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael Douglas, Jon Bon Jovi, Enrique Iglesias, Denzel Washington and Mickey Rourke. And, of course, a St Barth favorite: Jimmy Buffet. As usual, he graciously performed one evening at Bêtes de L'Azailes and twice at the restaurant La Plage on the beach of St. Jean. And, as always, with a big smile on his face!
On November 28, two high-tech American businessmen visited St Barth in their equally high-tech yachts within the same hour. Larry Ellison's Rising Sun, at 454 feet, and Tom Perkins' newly completed Maltese Falcon, a sailing yacht of 289 feet, were both in the bay of Corossol. As the harbor of Gustavia can only accommodate yachts up to 60 meters (197 feet), the yachts were forced to rest at sea.
Designed by an Italian company and built in a shipyard in Turkey, the Maltese Falcon made its first sail on the Bosphorus Sea on June 7, 2006. The three unrigged, rotating carbon-fiber masts each supports five independent square sails that can be synchronized for angle and wind by controls from the deck. Her accommodations can be changed from four to six stateroom suites. Talk about sleek!
The infamous discotheque "The Feeling" in Lurin has been ordered to close its doors by the Court of Appeals in Basse-Terre, Gauadeloupe. An eviction notice is posted on the doors and the gratings are sealed to forbid entrance to the establishment.
The commune of St. Barts has announced its intentions to build a theatrical hall next to the Catholic Church in Gustavia. The original proposal was to use the existing space. However, Bruno Magras, mayor of St. Barts, prefers that the commune purchase the existing room and construct a larger building. Discussions with Monseigneur Cabo, the bishop of the diocese, are currently underway.
The lottery is alive and well in St Barth. For 10 euros, you can purchase a lottery ticket with multiple chances of winning the big one. Tickets are for sale at Libraire Barnes in St Jean next to the Superette and at two shops in Gustavia, one on the road to the left of Le Select and the other (another Libraire Barnes) one block behind the road along the harbor between Gustavia and La Pointe.
Saturday, November 11, Armistice Day, the association Rhum et Gingembre hosted a night of festivity on the quay in Gustavia. The local band Les Falcos provided great music for dancing, and a huge, beautiful sailing yacht provided a striking backdrop. Food and drink was available, and quay was full of people dancing and socializing. It just doesn't get any better!
The roundabout, or La Tourmente (the circle at the top of the hill in St. Jean), still lacks the sculpture of the Arawak Indian blowing a conch shell - the selection of the design competition that was won by Guillaume Blanchard. The inauguration that was originally planned for August 2006 has been postponed until June 2007 because the metal craftsman in St. Martin who was commissioned to fabricate the sculpture has disappeared! As a result, the project has been reassigned to the Barthélémy Foundry in Crest, La Drome, Provence. The project will take 10 months to complete, after which the sculpture will be transported by boat to St Barts - a voyage of one month. But, at long last, the Arawak will reclaim his rightful position.
Once again, the association Saint B'Art is sponsoring a contest of paintings. This year's theme is the landscape or faces of St. Barts using the media of your choice. The paintings will be displayed on the quay December 8 and 9, and a jury of 10 will choose the first, second, and third prize winners. The painting that wins first place will be printed on 10,000 pre-stamped envelopes, and the artist will be awarded 1000 €. The second-prize winner will receive 600 €, with 400 € going to the artist who captures third prize. The paintings will be displayed at Porte 34 (previously Baghdad Gallery) from December 29 through Janaury 5, 2007. The exposition will conclude on January 4, 2007 with an auction of the artwork. If you're planning to be on the island during this time, it's a great opportunity to purchase paintings by local artists.
Le Bête &aagrave; Z'Ailes or BAZ (www.bazbar.com), a sushi restaurant and bar located directly on the harbor in Gustavia, hosts bands from the U.S. each year. Typically, each band plays at the restaurant for one month. This is a great place to catch some good music while enjoying a beautiful view of the harbor. The music starts at 9:00 pm and there is no cover charge. Visit the websites (below the fold) for more information and sound clips.
French law for the French West Indies requires that communes with at least 10,000 inhabitants conduct a census every five years. Before starting the 2007 headcount, St Barth is conducting an exhaustive count of the number of lodgings in each house or apartment complex. This task has been undertaken by two people working with the help of maps and photographs provided by the National Geographic Institute (l'Institut Géographique National). It is hoped that this phase will be completed by mid-October. The results of the 2007 census will not be made public until 2008, with some statistics not becoming available until January, 2009.
Here is a preliminary calendar of events for 2007:
1 New Year's Day
8 Three Kings Day - "Galettes des Rois" Epiphany cake served at all fêtes
26 St Barth Music Festival - Jazz, Chamber, Classical Music and dance. Gustavia and Lorient churches. Continues through February 7th.
Everyone descended to Lorient on Friday, October 6, and Saturday, October 7, to view the blockbuster film Pirates of the Caribbean. The line started at the A.J.O.E. tennis courts and extended far past JoJo's grocery store as people anticipated an evening of adventure and popcorn. Unfortunately, many were disappointed as probably at least 100 people were turned away - there just wasn't anymore space! The good news was that they decided to show the film again on Saturday night. The line started forming 45 minutes before the 8:00 pm showing by those determined not to miss it a second time!
As reported in the June 30 issue of St Barth News Bytes, an organization called "Friends of SBH" was formed to collect and distribute money to worthy causes on St. Barth. The St. Barth Fire and Rescue Service was designated to be the first recipient, and the goal was to raise $5000 to acquire needed equipment as identified by the Fire Chief. Less than three months later, this philanthropic group has exceeded their goal and donated close to $8000 worth of equipment to the selfless firemen of St Barth!! For the first time, there is now sufficient lifesaving equipment to fully equip their two ambulances.
Three digital blood pressure gauges
One mannequin for CPR training
Three resuscitators with oxygen supplies
One automatic external defibrillator
For an island that works very hard to ensure that tourists have a good experience, it's heartwarming to see non-native residents give something back.
On April 10, 2006, an agreement was signed by the electricity providers of St. Maarten, St. Martin, St. Barth and Anguilla to connect the four different electricity systems that exist on the three islands. After a feasibility study, they signed a Joint Development Agreement with plans to begin the work in 2007 and to put the program in service in June 2008.
The peak of the dengue fever epidemic has been reached. Since the beginning of the year, 112 people on St. Barth have caught dengue fever, with 46 of those cases occurring between mid-July and mid-August. However, the number of reported cases during the last three weeks has decreased. The island has been sprayed rigorously with malathion in an attempt to kill the virus-carrying mosquitoes. But, because the mosquito Aedes Aegypti is still present and each rainfall increases its chances of multiplication, measures to curtail its proliferation should still be taken.
Flash Nautique, Les Nouvelles de la Mer dans les Iles du Nord, (news of the sea for the northern Antilles) published its second issue on July 6. This two-sided, one-page publication is devoted to nautical news in the region and includes such information as the hours for the raising and lowering of the bridges from the sea to the lagoons in St. Maarten and St. Martin, emergency numbers in St. Maarten and St. Martin and useful information regarding the port of Gustavia. It also publishes ads for boats that are for sale, cruising information, and other ads of interest to boaters (such as insurance, boat rental agencies and boat yards in the region). You can visit their web site at www.saintbarth.blogspot.com.
And, finally, finishing out the week will be the festival of Gustavia, August 18 through August 20. Again, there will be tournaments of basketball, belote, pétanque, dominoes, and fishing, along with a regatta of the traditional wooden sailboats and a regatta of Laser and Optimist sailboats. Music and dancing on the quai will occur nightly. And, don't worry - there's more to come! August 24 is Saint Barthélémy Day with more festivities throughout the day and night in Gustvia, followed by Saint Louis Feast Day on August 25 in the lovely, quaint, seaside village of Corossol.
Right on the heels of the festival at Lorient was the festival that was held in Public on August 14 and 15 to celebrate Pitea Day. Pitea Day is a public holiday commemorating the special relationship between St. Barth and Pitea, Sweden, which was established in 1977 as the sister city of St. Barth. Most of the activities occurred on August 15, starting with a fishing tournament at 5:00 a.m. The fishing boats returned to the dock at Public between 1:00 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. loaded with wahoo, dorade (mahi-mahi) and the winning 48-kg tuna shown in the photo. The other tournaments included pétanque and dominoes. A BBQ on the beach offered many local specialties including stuffed crab, ragout of cabri (goat), chicken Colombo and accras (codfish fritters) as well as grilled chicken and ribs.
Posted on August 24, 2006 4:24 PM| Permanent Link: Pitea Day
The two-day festival of Lorient, held August 12 and 13, kicked off a week of festivals. Saturday was the day for the tournaments: ping pong, belote (a French card game) and pétanque. On Sunday, after mass at the Catholic church, balloons were released on the beach, followed by numerous games, a regatta and the arrival of the fishing boats. The drawing of the raffle tickets was held Sunday night, with first prize being a new car. Both nights concluded with music and dancing on the tennis courts of A.J.O.E.
The festivities Saturday, July 29 and Sunday, July 30, were held both in Colombier and Flamands. In years past, the entire festival took place on the beach in Flamands. However, for the past two years, A.S.C.C.O. has hosted the majority of the activities on its grounds in Colombier. A belote competition kicked off Saturday's activities at 9:00 AM, followed by various games for children and adults, food and drink, a petanque competition on the court in Flamands, and traditional theater pieces in patois followed by a dance presentation. The festival closed Saturday night with music and dancing. On Sunday, a regatta of the traditional sailboats of St. Barts arrived at the beach of Flamands around 11:30 am. (Lack of more photos due to a knee injury...)
The dog days of summer always bring their own activity to the island. Road repairs are in full swing everywhere and many boutiques and other businesses are closing or opening in preparation for November when the majority of tourists will once again begin to descend. Afrik'Art and What's Up in Gustavia and Indigo in St. Jean are holding total liquidation sales before closing their doors. The hotel Le Manoir de Marie in Lorient is also selling everything before closing: furniture, paintings, rugs, dishes, glassware and more. These are excellent opportunities to pick up merchandise at dirt-cheap prices. A new fitness center called atmosphere has opened in the former diggings of FormaForm in Gustavia across from the restaurant La Saladerie. The building houses a Fitness Studio on the first floor with memberships available for 1 month, 3 months, 6 months or 12 months, while the second floor is home to a Pilates Studio. Le Piment in St. Jean has been slightly remodeled and is now open from 8:00 AM until midnight, offering breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as snacks and tapas.
On July 11, Air Antilles Express began offering three direct flights a day from St. Barts to Pointe &aagrave; Pitre, Guadeloupe for 169 € round-trip. The flights will depart in the morning, at noon and in the evening and will accommodate 19 passengers aboard a Twin Otter de Havilland DHC-6 plane. For complete details, visit www.airantilles.com.
Workers of the licensed Shell dealer at Juliana Airport in St Maarten staged a "go-slow" this past Saturday for about one and a half hours during the height of the busiest weekend hours. The workers were upset about not being paid on time and stopped fueling aircraft. Apparently, First Caribbean Bank didn't process the workers' salaries until late Saturday morning rather than on Friday, as usual. Workers finally received their checks early Saturday evening. As a result of the "go-slow", Air France, arriving from Paris, diverted to Gaudeloupe to wait and refuel, if necessary. The plane finally landed in St Maarten three hours late. Three American Airlines flights (to Miami, JFK, and San Juan) were also delayed.
Since 1948, Saint Barth has been considered one of 32 towns in Guadeloupe. If the proposed law is approved by the French Parliament, Saint Barth will become an Overseas Collectivity, which will give the island much more autonomy over local taxes, urban planning and overall decision-making power that until now has been governed by the French Parliament. It is hoped that this law will be reviewed and passed in early 2007.
After three years, Boubou's Music Festival returns! It all began in 2001 when Boubou and his friend and performing artist Yannick Noah first thought of hosting a music festival in Saint Barth. Boubou, who lives in Saint Barth, is the owner of the restaurants Do Brazil on Shell Beach and La Mandala in Gustavia. His friend Yannick often visits the island. Years ago, Yannick and his band, the Zam Zam, performed frequently in various locales on the island, often inviting local musicians to play along with them. Boubou thought about inviting other musicians to do the same. And, thus, the festival was born! They successfully staged a festival in 2001, 2002 and 2003. So, we've waited three years for the next one. This year's festival takes places from August 9 through August 20 at the Hotel Christopher in Point Milou. Access will be by shuttle bus or by foot for those who live or are staying nearby. The hotel is selling packages for three phases of the festival: Backstage Time (8/1 - 8/8), which includes the time of festival setup and preparations from 7 am to 6 pm; Live Time (8/9 - 8/15 or 8/15-8/21), during which music rehearsals and live concerts will take place between 3 pm and 4 am; and After Show Time (8/21-8/29), during which the festival sets will be torn down from 7 am to 6 pm. Some packages include a car and a pass for two people to the festival.
Amigo, the GSM network from Dauphin Telecom, is now the third cell phone company providing coverage for St Barth, with prices claiming to be as much as 60% less than some of the competition. Amigo also provides coverage in Saint Martin, Saba and Saint Eustatius.
Recently, a municipal service was created to deal with the issue of water treatment. A primary goal is to examine all drainage systems on the island: when a building is designed and when it is built as well as all systems currently in use in existing homes. The new service will inspect all building permits to ensure that the drainage system conforms to the standards specified in the law passed in France in 1996. This law basically requires pre-treatment of used water and treatment of drains with bacteria that eat organic material before the water steeps into the ground. When the actual building begins, a representative of the municipal service will visit the building sites to ensure that the drainage systems are compliant with the plans put forth in the building permit. Homes built before 1996 are exempt from examination as long as their drainage systems aren't causing a problem. However, if the house is renovated, new drainage systems must comply. All homes built after 1996 must be examined. Given this large task, examinations will begin with houses near swimming areas and near the protected areas of the marine reserves.
As always, things are changing on St. Barth. The Crazy Shop next to Match in St. Jean is closing. Raffia and Les Pieds dans L'Eau in St. Jean have already closed and one larger store is under construction in their place. Just across the street is a new "mini-mall" with space for seven boutiques. The restaurant BBQ in Gustavia is being renovated literally from the ground up. The gym Forma Form in Gustavia is constructing a much larger building (with parking!!) in Lurin. La Boucherie Traditionelle (a butcher shop) with hormone-free meats has opened in St. Jean across from Eden Roc. And, next to the new butcher shop is an organic and natural food store called Epicerie Bio.
This year's Newport-Bermuda Race will include the sailboat Van Ki Pass, whose crew will predominantly consist of St. Barth sailors. The biennial Newport-Bermuda Race sets sail from Newport, Rhode Island, on June 17, marking its 100th anniversary. Van Ki Pass, Creole for Passing Wind, is a 65' wood/epoxy custom-built race boat that has been chartered by Liza Baldwin, a native of Newport who spent the winter in St. Barth sailing almost daily and becoming a member of the Saint Barth Yacht Club. The sailboat will be captained by Randy West and the 14-person crew will include at least eight St Barth natives and long-time residents. Baldwin will also be a member of the crew. The entire crew will be in Newport two weeks before the start of the race to participate in a weekend sailing regatta and to prepare for the race to Bermuda. West has participated in the Newport-Bermuda Race four times, winning once and coming in second another time. You can be sure that many people from St. Barth will be eagerly awaiting the outcome of this year's race!
The fifth annual St Barth Theater Festival opened on May 5, right on the heels of the St Barth Film Festival. The festival is organized by the local nonprofit organization SB Artists, who performed two adaptations by the organization's artistic director. The remaining three productions presented this year were performed by invited guests - four women, each of whom performed in a work she has written. The festival opened with comedienne Marianne Sergent in Bon Caps, a play dedicated to sailors and the sea - very appropriate timing given the arrival of the Transact Ag2r. Another production, La Vieille Au Bois Dormant presented by Clemence Massart, premiered at the Avignon Off-Festival and is based on old French songs. The final show, Cabaret Metisse, was performed by two actresses from the company Aloe Theatre, which was created in Guadeloupe in 2004. In this show, Magali Solignat and Benedicte Budan gave a humorous portrayal of how the news affects our daily lives. The entire text of this production is taken from real newspaper articles, and a section of the show is created anew each evening.
"The island of St. Barths is producing more and more top sailors. In 2005 Markku Harmala led the St. Barths contingent into third place and no doubt believes that gold could be theirs this time. This is a feeling shared by the regatta organizers who suggest that St. Barths are a team to watch."
Digicel is an emerging company that has been spreading across the Caribbean region like volcano dust from Montserrat for the last five years (we have written a lot about them in our Caribbean Telecom News pages). There almost isn't an island that they don't provide cell phone service on. Usually they get a license and start their own network, but they just bought Bouygues Telecom Caraïbe, who provide service on St. Barths as well as Martinique, Guadeloupe and French Guiana.
Also at the hotel La Plage this week, was a trio called The Gypsys, the latest brainstorm of Papaguyo. If you've been on the island during the past five years, chances are good that you've had the pleasure of hearing him play with one of his many groups. Papaguyo is the former drummer of the band Sly and the Family Stone and is currently in the process of creating "a new vibe" for a new CD. He has been playing at La Plage with acoustic guitarist John Fritz and Michael Kott on electric cello (although, it too, sounds acoustic). Today, in addition to playing drums, Papaguyo is experimenting with all types of percussion instruments, from chopsticks to rain sticks. And, of course, if there's music and local St Barth's men in the same venue, you can be sure they're contributing to the percussive sounds as well.
Jimmy Buffet has again graced us with his music and sense of humor. He has been here quite often since Christmas, and you can often spot his seaplane at the airport and his modest yacht in the harbor at Gustavia. And, since he recently purchased a home in Gustavia, we can only hope that he plans to be here even more frequently. Last year, he played for three hours nonstop at Bete a Z'ailes with his Coral Reefer band. No cover charge; no advertising - you just had to be connected to the "coconut line" or lucky. This last time he was at the La Plage hotel in St. Jean enjoying dinner and a quiet evening with his family and friends. Even so, he was kind enough to play three songs. He sang one song about the bar that he used to have on the cliffs in Lorient - a place where he said he saw the worst behavior in his life. The locals loved it as they well remember this spot.
Many have been wondering what's behind the screening at the old Le Filao hotel next to Eden Roc. The Eden Roc has bought into the timeshare concept - Eden Roc Owners Society. They are offering the opportunity to purchase a villa for four to five weeks per year for the next 75 years. Weeks can be sold at any time or bequeathed to another person. One week, which will never change, will be during high season. You can change the other weeks each year, if desired. The five villas range in size from 736 square feet to 2117 square feet and from one bedroom to three bedrooms. The villas have been built of stone and hardwood and each is fully equipped and has a pool or a plunge pool. Services offered include housekeeping twice a day, 24-hour room service, concierge service, dry cleaning and laundry service, dedicated air-conditioned storage for personal possessions you wish to leave behind and organization of special events. Prices start at 286,000 euros. Eros is the Greek god of love and sexual desire and was also worshipped as a fertility god. Caveat emptor!
St Barts is home to the widest variety of marine birds in the West Indies. All of the 13 species that nest in the Antilles can be found on this small island. The three nesting areas are the small islets surrounding the island, the salt pond at Saline and the cliffs. The islets are home to the majority of the marine birds. The salt pond at Saline is home to the Least Tern. With only 1500 couples left in the Caribbean, this marine bird is threatened with extinction and is found only in the Gulf of Mexico and the Antilles. The White-tailed Tropicbird, the Brown Noddy, the Bridled Tern and the Petrel nest along the cliffs, especially those along Grand Fond. The biggest threats to these birds are land development and the increase of rats on the island.
Today, many people are enjoying their morning cup of coffee or a glass of wine later in the day at a number of restaurants while working on their laptops thanks to the arrival of WiFi (wireless Internet access). WiFi users have been seen at Do Brasil, Le Select, Le Square, Kiki e Mo, L'Oasis shopping center, Villa Creole, Maya's To Go, Le Flamboyant Tennis Club and Le Repaire. Rumor is that there is a proposal to install WiFi throughout Gustavia.
It's been too good to be true! But, beginning in March, all vehicles older than four years will have to pass a mandatory car inspection at a cost of 60 to 70 euros. The inspection must be done every two years for personal vehicles and every year for commercial vehicles. Failure to pass will invoke a 135 euro fine and possible retention of the owner's carte grise (equivalent to the car's title in the U.S.) If the car fails inspection, the owner has two months to make repairs and try again. Any car that has not passed inspection cannot be sold because a new title will not be issued to the prospective buyer. The first inspection station is scheduled to open in early March in Lorient. With an estimated 8000 cars on this small island, it may take a while to get things under control. Let's just hope they aren't checking for rust!