The Following is a report from Oyster Bay Beach Resort on Hurricane Gonzalo.
Hurricane Gonzalo /OBBR update #2. Conditions as of Thursday Oct. 16:
On Monday, October 15th, Hurricane Gonzalo, a Category 2 storm, passed over St. Maarten and did considerable damage to the Island and to the Resort. Since the last report we have done a thorough damage assessment and it shows that while we suffered wide spread effects of the storm, we feel confident that we can quickly clean up and restore the resort to the same beautiful and well-kept condition it was in before the storm.
The management is most grateful for the bravery, help, dedication and patience of all those staying at the resort during the storm. Many new friendships and bonds between staff and guests were formed during and after the storm.
The resort is open and continues to spring to life along with the rest of the Oyster Pond area and the Island as well. The resort is able to accommodate reserved guests in comfortable units. The rooms might show some wear and water damage. We will be repairing the damage starting immediately. Water and electricity has been fully restored to the Resort, the Oyster Pond area and most of the Island. Even though we are receiving water from the government water company we are still, out of an abundance of caution, asking guests to use the water for bathing only and not for drinking. We’re supplying free bottled water to all guests. We hope to be able to recommend drinking the government-supplied water sometime in the next several days. There is still a small possibility of water interruptions as the water company makes repairs to its damaged water lines. The Resort does have a reservoir that can supply water in that event, but its capacity is limited. We don’t expect guests to be inconvenienced but depending on repairs to the government distribution system, water interruptions are possible.
The air conditioning system has suffered some damage that we are working to repair. During the next several weeks however, we can only cover about 60%-70% of our units with working air conditioning. All units have working ceiling fans that provide cooling. Depending on the occupancy and type of suite demand, we can accommodate most, if not all guests, in an air-conditioned unit, however; we cannot guarantee that all units will have functioning air conditioning for the entire stay or for every room. We have skilled personnel on staff doing the work to repair the air conditioning system. Full air conditioning should be brought on line progressively in the coming weeks so the situation will be alleviated.
The pool did not suffer structural damage. It did accumulate debris. We have emptied the pool and are scrubbing it and refilling it. We hope to have it available no later than Monday, October 20. For safety reasons the pool deck has been closed off during the cleaning and refilling activities.
Dawn beach is open and clear. Our beach extension (“Joan’s Beach”), just past Busby’s is looking great. We have had a seasonal problem with the difficult accumulation of Sargasso seaweed but for the time being the storm has cleared it away. We expect the seasonal change in the North Atlantic to cause a decline in the Sargasso weed as it has in the past. Other beaches are reported clear and our Thursday beach bash at Orient Beach was a smashing success.
All other resort amenities are available including; Indulgence Spa, Shipwreck Shop, the Gym, The Oyster Bay Marina and the water sports activities provided by Capt. Alan. The sea is calm and Capt. Alan is back on his regular schedule.
Infinity restaurant is open on its regular schedule and menu as is the Infinity Bar. Beau Beau’s is expected to reopen this Saturday.
The restaurants in the area have all reopened including, Busby’s, Big Fish, Canoa, Daniel’s By The Sea and Mama’s Pizza.
The Island suffered damage to roads, infrastructure and housing. The residents are steadfastly repairing their homes and restoring their Island. The roads are clear but the scenery shows that the people of St. Maarten were greatly impacted by Gonzalo. We will all help each other to restore the Island to its full beauty and comfort. While the storm was serious, except for the one tragic death, it seems that the Island came through a powerful storm rather well. Much of its unseen, buried infrastructure investment and higher building standards paid-off and we are able to write that we are open for business.
As indicated in our last update, OBBR will be happy to rebook any guest for a time in the future when full services are restored or refund any deposit that it received from guest who wants to cancel. The refund offer is good only until Sunday at midnight, October 19. After that date our usual cancellation policy will be in effect. We will be happy to facilitate the placement of owners and reserved Interval International guests at other Interval International resorts or rebook their reservation for a time in the future when it is assured that all services will be at 100%.
We thank you for your patience and understanding.
The Management and Staff of Oyster Bay Beach Resort
Updated October 5, 2014
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13 Hotels Get TripAdvisor Certificate Of Excellence
TripAdvisor’s Certiﬁcate of Excellence has been awarded to no less than thirteen of St. Maarten’s tourist accommodations for 2014, showing that they demonstrate “hospitality excellence and represent the upper echelon of businesses listed on TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site.” World-wide honorees are limited to those that consistently achieve outstanding traveler reviews.
The following properties Have received the certiﬁcate: The Horny Toad Guesthouse, The Villas at Simpson Bay Resort & Marina, The Atrium Resort & Spa, La Vista Resort, Turquoise Shell Inn, Holland House Beach Hotel, The Azure Hotel, Oyster Bay Beach Resort, Pasanggrahan Royal Guesthouse, Royal Islander Club La Plage, Royal Palm Beach Resort, The Summit Resort Hotel and Princess Heights Luxury Boutique Condo Hotel. The last two Hotels announced receiving the certiﬁcate for the fourth year in a row. Honorees received a congratulatory letter, a printed certiﬁcate, a window sticker, as well as a badge on their TripAdvisor webpage and access to a custom-made widget.
Princess Juliana International Airport is celebrating its 70th Anniversary this year. In addition, Regina LaBega, the former Tourism Director, is celebrating her one year anniversary as Managing Director of the Princess Juliana International Airport operating company (PJIAE). Congratulations to Ms LaBega and her staff for a job well done.
Oyster Bay Beach Resort Awarded 2014 TripAdvisor Certificate Of Excellence for Third Consecutive Year
The resort is recognised as a “Top Performing Resort” as reviewed by travelers on the world’s largest travel site.
For the third consecutive year, Oyster Bay Beach Resort (OBBR) has received a “TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence” award. The accolade, which honors hospitality excellence, is given only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveller reviews on TripAdvisor, and is extended to qualifying businesses worldwide. Establishments awarded the Certificate of Excellence are located worldwide and represent the upper echelon of businesses listed on the website.
When selecting Certificate of Excellence winners, TripAdvisor uses a formula to determine the honorees, taking into account reviews and ratings. Businesses must maintain an overall TripAdvisor rating of at least four out of five, a high response volume and recent reviews. Additional criteria include a business’ tenure and popularity ranking on the website.
“Winning the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for three straight years is a true source of pride for the entire team at Oyster Bay Beach Resort. We would like to thank all of our owners and guests who took the time to complete a review on TripAdvisor,” said OBBR General Manager Ricardo Perez. “There is no greater seal of approval than being recognized by our customers. With the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence based on customer reviews, the accolade is a remarkable vote of confidence in our resort and our continued commitment to excellence.
Perez added the multimillion ongoing renovations and refurbishments of the resort have played a key role in exceeding their guests’ expectations. For example, the resort recently completed the new Oyster Bay Marina located on Oyster Pond, just off the lobby of OBBR. The Marina features 38 condominium boat slips. Entry to the marina is opened to owners, renters and their guests or visitors from the resort who are participating in activities hosted from the Marina. The Oyster Bay Marina includes first-class amenities such as a resident harbour master, solid concrete construction, access to Wi-Fi, showers, restrooms, individually metered water and electricity, a private gated entrance with 24-hour security, rental programme and services. For more information about OBBR, call 1-866-978-0212 (1-721-543-6040 locally), email
or visit www.OBBR.com.
Leisure Car Rental was nominated in the 2014 World Travel Awards. We are up for the title of 'Caribbean's Leading Independent Car Rental Company'. Leisure is up against some stiff competition from Puerto Rico, Jamaica etc. We are the only St. Maarten Car Rental Agency nominated, so a vote for us, is definitely a vote for St. Maarten / St. Maarten. We are asking for everyone's support to put our Friendly Island on the Map once again. Please use the following link to vote. You will be required to register, confirm your email address, then vote. www.worldtravelawards.com/vote-for-leisure-car-rental-st-maarten-2014. Thank you for your vote!
Princess Beatrix Set To Open Kingdom Youth Parliament
Princess Beatrix will open the Kingdom Youth Parliament in St. Maarten on Tuesday, May 20. During her four-day stay on the island, Her Royal Highness will also visit the Belvedere Community Centre, the Nature Foundation and the Simpson Bay Lagoon. Princess Beatrix will give a short address at the opening ceremony of the Kingdom Youth Parliament (KYP). She will attend some parts of the KYP which takes place from May 20 to 22. She will speak with some members of the ﬁve participating teams from Aruba, Curaçao, St. Maarten, the Netherlands and the Caribbean Netherlands.
The former Queen will also attend the handing over ceremony of the history booklet “Unity in Diversity – 200 Years Kingdom, the Netherlands and the six Caribbean islands in years.” Chairlady of the National Committee 200 Years Kingdom Ank Bijleveld-Schouten will hand over the ﬁrst copies to a group of students of the St. Maarten Academy on Wednesday, May 21. During her stay to St. Maarten, Princes Beatrix Will make use of the opportunity to visit two organisations of which she is the patroness, the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) and the United Nations Children Fund UNICEF.
SHTA Announces Publishing Alliance with North South Net, a Custom Content Company Specializing in Print, Digital and Mobile Media Platforms
The St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA), the largest business representative on the island, has announced today that it has entered into a new publishing partnership with North South Net (NSN), a custom publishing company specializing in print, digital and mobile platforms.
North South Net will produce and distribute Visit St. Maarten, an in-room travel guide to our island. Visit St. Maarten will be exclusively distributed in all SHTA member hotels, guesthouses, and villas. Additionally, there will be individual stand-alone publications of the Dining and Shopping sections of Visit St. Maarten and a fold-out map featuring publication advertisers and SHTA members.
“We are delighted to be working with North South Net. Their staff brings a great deal of creativity, experience and local knowledge to this project”, said Karen Hana, Executive Director for the SHTA.” “More importantly, one of the most compelling aspects of the SHTA/NSN relationship is the print, digital, mobile and broadcast added value programs created for SHTA.” “The SHTA will receive significant exposure in US cold weather markets including opportunities for SHTA members and publication advertisers to participate in contests and promotions.” “In addition, NSN will be redesigning and adding significant content to the SHTA’s website, www.VisitStMaarten.com. The website will be updated on a regular basis, will include a digital version of the publication and will be promoted through all added value components.” “North South Net has developed a program that includes multiple touchpoints for consumers in reaching millions of potential visitors.” This is a significant contribution to exposing St. Maarten as a destination through a wide variety of media channels.”
NSN has a team of individuals with years of experience in the travel and tourism industry. They have worked in advertising, marketing, public relations, promotions as well as digital and social media and, as a result, have developed programs that reach consumers in a variety of very targeted and effective ways. The print and radio exposure coupled with the online and mobile presence will clearly have a tremendous impact on creating awareness of the St. Maarten product resulting in additional visitors to the island through a powerful and custom tailored integrated marketing and communications program.
North South Net’s highly experienced team has produced hundreds of guides, planners, brochures, magazines, websites and mobile apps for a wide variety of travel and tourism clients.
Annual Sea Turtle Nesting Underway
Nature Foundation reminds the community the sea turtle nesting season has commenced here. The foundation urges restaurants and beach bars along the major nesting beaches to refrain or limit the use of beach bonﬁres and artiﬁcial lighting, which can seriously reduce the survival rate of sea turtles. Each year, between March and November, female sea turtles return to lay their eggs on the major nesting beaches of Simpson Bay, Guana Bay and Gibbs Bay. The Green Sea Turtle and the largest sea turtle species, the Leatherback, are known to nest on the country’s beaches. Nature Foundation actively manages the sea turtle population here, particularly during the nesting season. The foundation conducts various activities related to nesting females, including beach surveys, nest excavations, tagging activities and nest success research.
The foundation also relies heavily on volunteers to assist it in its sea turtle activities and welcomes any volunteers who would be interested in working with sea turtles. Beach communities, in particular, are in the best position to help ensure that females nest safely, that nests are left undisturbed and that hatchlings make it safely to the sea. The foundation asks that people not drive on the nesting beaches and that they walk their dogs on leashes. Sea turtles have existed for well over 180 million years, even before the dinosaurs. St. Maarten is one of the few places in the region that has a nesting population of sea turtles, so we should do all that we can to protect their nesting areas, said the foundation. Sea turtle population numbers have plummeted to dangerously low numbers throughout the past century due to human impacts, bringing many species close to extinction and causing them to be listed as critically endangered. To reverse this trend, all sea turtle species are now protected by international laws and treaties as well as local laws.
Nationals Of Four Countries To Get Improved Access To St. Maarten
Nationals of Colombia, China, India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), who hold a multi-entry visa for the United States, Canada or The Schengen countries will not require a speciﬁc St. Maarten visa to visit the country, thanks to some changes to the visa requirement regulation. The Cabinet of the Prime Minister, in a press statement issued last week, stated that new visa regulations are in line with international and Dutch Kingdom standards and will beneﬁt the country’s economy, in particular the tourism sector.
St. Maarten’s position in the Caribbean and its more American and Canadian inﬂuence, rather than European, called for the visa policy to be in line with the international tourism of the United States. The changes were made in a kingdom partners meeting on Visa Policy and Border Control on January 8. Recent talks between Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams and the Consul General of China for St. Maarten explored the possibility for cooperation to encourage tourists from China to visit St. Maarten, such as those who may be in transit to the United States. China is predicted to be the top tourist market for the United States by 2018, with more than one million visitors to the US last year, spending an average of US$7,000 each.
The St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association (SHTA), the largest business representative on the island, recently revamped its auction website in addition to the re-launch of their industry website www.shta.com. Since its inception, the auction site has offered great value for money to its members and the general public. The site offers a wide range of items such as hotel stays, dinners, activities, shopping certificates, airline tickets, jewelry and other attractive items, all at discounted prices. Persons visiting the site can bid on the items which will be awarded to the highest bidder upon completion of the bidding period. StMaartenAuction.com has been very well received and is being accessed both by future visitors to the island and residents alike, all looking for a great deal.
SHTA initially developed the auction site to drive tourism to the destination by featuring one discounted hotel stay per month in St. Maarten. Throughout the years the website has expanded to accommodate more and more items simultaneously. In addition to the opportunity of bidding on very attractive items, it offers SHTA members a great opportunity to advertise their products and services, receiving ample exposure on the site and direct traffic to their own website.
Check out the auction site at www.stmaartenauction.com. The site can also be seen on the St. Maarten Auction Facebook page at www.facebook.com/stmaartenauction. Winners can pay and collect their items at the SHTA office on the Pondfill road, open Monday – Friday 8am to 5pm. For additional information on the auction site, items and the SHTA visit www.shta.com or email
or telephone + 1 721 542-0108.
Note: Several Articles Courtesy of Caribbean Gems Newsletters