32nd St. Maarten
Heineken Regatta - March 1 - 4, 2012
Source: Dawn Langfield
I was blessed another year to be asked to cover the
St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.
simply not a difficult
decision to make given the magic that overcomes the island of
St. Maarten, infused with the soft breezes of the Caribbean Sea
and Atlantic Ocean, the excitement of those participating in one
of the biggest regattas of the Caribbean plus the hot choices of
live music entertainers that invade the beaches on the island.
The big headliner this year was the reggae icon,
is an island full of natural beauty, cultural diversity and modern
conveniences. The experience on this
island of two cultures, French and Dutch, attracts people from all over the
world because of it's multicultural charm and multilingual people, not to
mention it's stunning beauty and tax-free, duty-free shopping!
My accommodation this year was the
Holland House which is
one of the IT places to be during the regatta season as
it is perched right on the boardwalk on Philipsburg, which is
situated on the waters of Great Bay, akin to the Atlantic Ocean. It
offers some of the most gracious service on
the island with Carmella tending the popular hotel bar and
Vernon tending to your every whim at the private beach.
My first night included going to a club called
Prive. An indoor lounge
with an open terrace offers stunning views of the vibrant
Simpson Bay strip and lagoon. With an experienced bartender
serving the patrons, the bulk of the crowd was gathered around
two tall Hookahs for a
taste from the varied menu of options.
Then we made a visit to
Soggy Dollar where one of
the first regatta parties was taking place. Full of
partiers, sailors participating in the regatta and those just in
St. Maarten to party; the vibe was casual with an 'anything
Of particular note that I don't believe I've mentioned before is
the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta parties are free and open to
Friday, March 2nd started with dinner at the busy Greenhouse
featured yummy crab legs and lots of them. The
Boardwalk transforms on regatta Friday and is one of
my favourite regatta parties as it lands on the doorstep of the
Holland House in Philipsburg. Don't forget that the boardwalk is parallel to the ocean and
serves as a breezy backdrop to the busy and festive night.
This is a party
that is as long as the boardwalk (one mile) with one main stage
(a scaled down version this year) and lots of games, food, DJs,
and general festivity. The hub of the party is held at
Holland House - party central.
Performing on the boardwalk that night was Tessanne Chin
and her sister Tammar Anika Chin,
popularly known as Tami
Chynn. While sisters, they have
both had a varied career and it was a rare opportunity to see
them perform together.
Tami’s hits floating the
airwaves are “Hyperventilating”, “Over and Over Again” and her
Top 10 hit “Frozen” with R&B Superstar
Akon. Tessanne has
hits “Hideaway”, “Broken Melody” and “Loving You” and she has
won the hearts of numerous music critics.
Sunday, March 4th started eaaaaarly at 9:00 am at the Sint
Martin Yacht Club for a press conference with
Beres Hammond. While
waiting for Mr. Hammond to arrive, I had the chance to check out
some of the massive yachts in St. Maarten as well as some of the
boats heading into Sunday's competition.
who, while gracious, quietly grumbled at the early hour at the
start as well. His demeanour is something that I would call 'a
cool dude'. He's eloquent, funny, humble and that is always
refreshing with someone with such a successful career as his.
John Leone was a gracious host for the interview session and
quite obviously an avid fan as well. They shared a few humorous
stories of Beres' career.
My first order of business was to tell Mr. Hammond a warm hello
from all his Canadian fans.
His face lit up as he asked, "Where in Canada?". When I
answered "Toronto", he smiled, laughed and said "Ahhhhh Jamaican
town" in his rich Jamaican accent. He was asked a few times
about his set list for that evening and he said that he never
creates a set list, that he has to vibe with the audience first
and takes it from there. His performance was scheduled for that
evening at Kim Sha Beach.
As usual, the crowd at Kim Sha Beach on Sunday evening was
electric with excitement as the skilled DJ filled the outdoors
with great mixes as annual host,
Gee Money, worked the crowd with his magic. The
stage was fully of dancers, beautiful island women dressed in
carnival garb and an entourage dressed in Capt. Morgan costumes
who regularly tossed out Heineken regatta memorabilia.
Soca music star Terry Seales
teamed up with St Maarten’s Shadow Man as the opening act on
Sunday night. Terry
is now focusing on reinventing himself and making a change.
Currently he is working on some charity program's to promote
positivity within our society but that set aside, 2012 will be
the year of the Entertainer.
Shadow Man tags his
genre as ‘Contemporary Caribbean’. He believes music should move
from the explicitly sexual content that currently dominates the
scene to more positive themes that tell clean positive stories.
His biggest album to date “Me & My Music” features a combination
of 11 of his hottest jams.
What can I say about the presence that
Beres Hammond brought to
the closing party? He is a seasoned veteran of the stage and
more specifically, of knowing his audience. While the crowd was
growing anxious waiting for him to reach the stage, they greeted
him with great enthusiasm and cheers. He first sauntered on to
the stage and within minutes was jumping and springing across
the stage thrilling his audience. His band is equally as
seasoned as, like I mentioned above, he doesn't prepare a set
list, so they simply wait for a note or nod or gesture from him
and smoothly transition into the next song.
Beres performed some of his older hits
as well as newer in that soulful voice
which has been dubbed
romantic lovers rock. The audience
swayed, sang and danced the night away
into the wee hours as Beres performed a
long set, over 90 mins. long. Not bad
for the iconic artist whose career has
spanned over 30 years!
Believe me there is nothing like
listening to Beres' soulful reggae on a
beach with thousands of people who are
simply having a good time.
The following day brought another glorious sunny and breezy day
so I took an island tour by jeep that allowed me to see so many
more rich and lush parts of the island. And yes, that included
the Nude Beach at Orient Bay, where no cameras were permitted.
We ate sushi at Kontiki right on the beach looking on to the
ocean. A great day!
That night I went with friends to
Le Shore which is in
Grand Case on the French
side of the island. Grand Case is this little boutique niche
that is full of a bohemian vibe. Le Shore by day is a restaurant
and beach club. At night it transforms into a nightclub with
cocktails (served by bartenders who juggle bottles aka the movie
"Cocktails" and also light the bar on fire). Music streams from
some of the top island bands and DJ's while
go-go dancers seduce patrons on platforms that are also on fire.
Even the drinks in buckets come aflame.
I think that this was one of my favourite trips to
St. Maarten - whether it
was the spirit of the people, unbelievable weather, the swift
boats in the regatta, the fun-filled parties, the incredible
food or the soulful reggae tunes of Beres Hammond on the beach,
but the magic of this island has definitely cast its spell on
If you're smart, you will put it at the top of your travel
destination list to visit during the
2013 St. Maarten Heineken Regatta!