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Several Questions

Travel & news discussion about this half French, half Dutch island

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Several Questions

Postby KathyMN » Fri Sep 19, 2008 2:35 pm

OK... second try at this. I did a big post, and for some reason it didn't "take". So, here we go again. I'll try and start a new thread.
We're (2 couples plus our 18 y/o son) heading to St. Maarten for Christmas week. (only 92 days, but who's counting?). I've got a bunch of questions, and will sincerely appreciate any input or advice.
1. This time we will be staying in Philipsburg, at the SeaPalace. What's going to be open on Christmas Day? Boxing Day? Will we be likely to find any restaurants open? Does anyone have a suggestion about a good place for Christmas dinner?
2. Where's the best place to buy groceries near town? Since there will be 5 of us this time, I'm sure we'll be doing some cooking "in", especially for breakfasts and lunches.
3. We were in St. Maarten in March, and stayed near Simpson Beach. It was our first time, and we spent most of our time just getting familiar with the island. So... what are the "not to be missed" places/ activities that we should get on our agenda this time?
4. We were disappointed w/ the snorkeling last time (even the boat trip we took to a little island). (Consider that we are kind of snorkeling snobs...from our trips to St. John.) I see one boat charter advertised from town (Captain Alan), that goes to 3 places on a 1/2 day trip. Just how good is the snorkeling? He's got good reviews...is it worth $70pp?
5. What's the approx. taxi fare from the airport to town? We're still debating about renting a car for the whole week... or just for a few days.
6. Any feedback about Sea Palace?
Guess that's about all I can remember for now. Again, I greatly appreciate any input.
KathyMN
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KathyMN
 
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Limited info

Postby gdaddy » Tue Sep 23, 2008 9:42 pm

We've been to St Maarten four times now and are booked for February (150 days, but who's counting!).

We stay near Simpson Bay, away from Philipsburg, so I can't help much with that. The snorkeling seems to be murky in the winter down there. It's much better over on Anguilla. Definitely worth the day trip from Marigot on the 20 minute ferry ride. We've rented cars from any of the guys on the pier without trouble. Now we spend one night over there while in St Maarten. Driving is on the left and US dollars are used.

Our favorite SXM beach is the north end of Friars Bay Beach, near the Friars Bay Beach Cafe (Euros, cash only). Fine French food and Caribbean beaching -- what a great combo.

I would definitely query tripadvisor.com for the information you seek.

Good luck
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Postby Anthony » Wed Sep 24, 2008 3:39 pm

gdaddy thanks for you response. While we love TripAdvisor and they are a valuable partner, we would also like to see our forums become a viable alternative again. I appreciate your answer to this question - all we need is some more willing folks for this thing to get going again.
Anthony for Caribbean-On-Line
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Sounds like a plea of desperation

Postby gdaddy » Fri Sep 26, 2008 3:08 pm

Folks don't need to help you or your site, Anthony. You are running a business, not a charity. You need to provide enough value to us if you want to stay in business.

We will participate based on value to us. Your site places the needs of advertisers ahead of users, that is probably why participation is so low.

Tripadvisor is just more fun, informative and professional -- and they have heavy advertising, too. It is just done better.

You have a link for Tripadvisor.com on your site, yet they do not have one for yours. It's bad business to compete against your "partners".

Good luck and count me out of caribbean-on-line.com.
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Re: Sounds like a plea of desperation

Postby Anthony » Fri Sep 26, 2008 6:16 pm

gdaddy wrote:Folks don't need to help you or your site, Anthony. You are running a business, not a charity. You need to provide enough value to us if you want to stay in business.

We will participate based on value to us. Your site places the needs of advertisers ahead of users, that is probably why participation is so low.

Tripadvisor is just more fun, informative and professional -- and they have heavy advertising, too. It is just done better.

You have a link for Tripadvisor.com on your site, yet they do not have one for yours. It's bad business to compete against your "partners".

Good luck and count me out of caribbean-on-line.com.


I appreciate your frank response. I don't quite understand it all however. I don't know what you base "Your site places the needs of advertisers ahead of users" on. We don't have as much or as intrusive advertising as TripAdvisor. And - they do have links to us - especially to our maps, which were and still are the heart of our site. We send them traffic, and they send us traffic. We also offer travel sales through our affiliation with Expedia (which owns TripAdvisor). So I think we do okay for each other.

And yes - they do a heck of job on that site. They were a team of MIT computer scientists with millions in venture cap money who sold out for 40 million dollars. And now they are now part of a giant corporation and the whole purpose of their site is to funnel business to their corporate parents, Expedia, Hotels.com, etc. Most people don't even realize this.

I am basically one guy! We started our site (13 years ago) because we thought the premise of the web and the Internet of having people be connected and sharing information was a great idea. Not to get rich.

Our forums were once the busiest place for this kind of information on the web - that is why the founder of TripAdvisor came to me several years ago - to place the ads you still see. That is why they started forums and reviews, years after we had them, because they saw on sites like ours they could work. You may not even recall that in the beginning TripAdvisor basically was a screen scraping site - they would come to sites like Caribbean-On-Line and mine our content to fill their pages up. They took the things we were doing, scaled them up and went national. Great for them - I still think there is room for sites like ours.

I really don't want to get into a pissing match and a business philosophy argument with you - but we still think we offer value as a place that people can come to and share honest opinions - and one that is an alternative to corporate sites like TripAvisor. Still, the real value is in the user - we can only provide the tools. Frankly I don't see why my thanking you for leaving a response on our site even solicited this kind of response from you.

My apologies if you found that offensive. Good luck in your travels on the web and in the Caribbean.

Regards,
Anthony for Caribbean-On-Line
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Re: Several Questions

Postby WetFeetTheNovel » Sat Oct 25, 2008 7:43 am

KathyMN wrote:OK...
We're (2 couples plus our 18 y/o son) heading to St. Maarten for Christmas week. (only 92 days, but who's counting?). I've got a bunch of questions, and will sincerely appreciate any input or advice.
1. This time we will be staying in Philipsburg, at the Sea Palace. What's going to be open on Christmas Day? Boxing Day? Will we be likely to find any restaurants open? Does anyone have a suggestion about a good place for Christmas dinner?
2. Where's the best place to buy groceries near town? Since there will be 5 of us this time, I'm sure we'll be doing some cooking "in", especially for breakfasts and lunches.
3. ... what are the "not to be missed" places/ activities

KathyMN


Hi Kathy, We have lived in SXM for over 6 years and also visited as tourists...you will find that Christmas and Boxing Day Holidays are taken seriously by locals. The Government usually requires businesses in retail to shut. But most restaurants and bars will be open. There will be ads in the paper just before advertising Christmas feasts. While your hotel is located on the beginning of Front Street (one way)which is not as glamorous as some areas you will see the rejuvenation of Great Bay, the Boardwalk, and the charm of old buildings.
Take a taxi from the airport and ask for a stop at Grand Marche for groceries. Explore downtown for a day or two, then arrange for a rental car. The 12 Metre race is a fun day with Dennis Conners' Stars and Stripes winning boat from the Americas Cup. Snorkling does not match St.John but Orient Beach is not to be missed. Great food choices, European flair, and a beach that is long and beautiful.
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