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33rd St. Maarten Heineken Regatta - February 28 - March 3, 2013

Source:  Dawn Langfield

I was blessed another year to be asked to cover the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.  It's 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 were the Motown icons, The Commodores.

St. Maarten 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 Horizon View which is located right on the boardwalk in Philipsburg, which is situated on the waters of Great Bay, akin to the Atlantic Ocean. It offers suites with a full kitchen, bedrooms and ocean view (below) at very affordable rates.  It is my 'go to' spot for affordable accommodation on the beach in Philipsburg, where there are shops, restaurants and entertainment within steps from the entrance into Horizon View!

Of course, there's always time to see friends on the island!


My first night included going to a local hangout called Flanders.  Locals congregate outdoors for affordable drinks and BBQ and dance to the music provided by in-house DJs Happen So Massive.  It is usually the first stop for a long night of music, drinking, jokes and companionship.

Same night, we headed to Touch of Taste in Philipsburg for some grilled seafood, drinks, as well as a visit with owner Michel Peterson.  A game of dominos can break out at any time with folks stopping by all night, having a reputation for great food.  Good service, a cozy ambience and tunes kicking - all of which will have you enjoying this hot spot under the stars and moonlight of the superb weather of St. Maarten.  What more could you ask for?

Monday night I was taken to The Red Piano, a live music spot in Pelican Resort. The band "Church" was really great - I mean, really great.  Their drummer, Nikita, was amazing to watch - a real talent!  Good times with good friends!  


I daily went to visit at Holland House which offers some of the most gracious service on the island with Carmella (below) who tends the popular hotel bar.

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 sea and serves as a breezy backdrop to the busy and festive night.  It is one night that practically the entire island comes out to enjoy all the Boardwalk has to offer.

Stages are built all along the boardwalk with easy access to eateries, vendors and of course, great live music!


In my personal time, I was invited by my friend, Dawn, to visit Pinel Island, an island off the French tip of the island and accessible by ferry.  This small island elegantly features a few restaurants, gorgeous beach and a fantastic gift shop.  We ate lunch at Karibuni - amazing!  Then we visited the gift shop on our way to catch the last ferry of the day. 

Due to my haste in making a purchase and getting to the ferry, I left my blackberry at the gift shop.  In true St. Maarten hospitality, the owner's daughter found my blackberry, discovered a picture of my business card in my photos, noted the email and emailed me that she would hold it for me at the gift shop for me to pick up!  Are you kidding me??  I was obviously distraught at not having my blackberry but wasn't sure where I left it, and in returning to my hotel, there was the email.  Pictured below is myself and Tom of
Paradisio Gift Shop.  He would not even accept a reward for the effort of ensuring I received my blackberry in short order!  I love this island!!

My friend Dawn continued to give me an excellent tour of parts of the island that I had never previously seen. Next stop was Palm Beach Lounge on the northern end of the famous Orient Beach.  (http://www.palmbeachsxm.net/) You can spend the day sipping drinks underneath an umbrella and comfy chair, just steps away from the water. Full service restaurant and bar with a wide variety of drinks and food to choose from! That day featured events sponsored by Patron, including bungee jumping and a trampoline for the kids. The decor of Palm Beach Lounge was unique and memorable.

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. 

Gee Money (pictured below) hosted the Closing Party on Kim Sha Beach which begins with awarding the winners of the regatta.  The racing is over and the sailors are ready to party and celebrate, not to mention all those visiting the island and the locals. The energy of the evening is electric! The stage was fully of dancers, beautiful island women dressed in carnival garb and an entourage of Heineken girls (dressed in green) and Captain Morgan himself and his girls (dressed in red and black) who regularly tossed out Heineken regatta memorabilia to the massive crowd.


The Heineken Regatta's grand finale was headlined by the unsurpassed Motown group The Commodores.  The seasoned musicians and vocalists who are famous for hit songs "Night Shift" and "Slippery When Wet" brought down the house.

They performed the classics like Brick House", "Easy", "Three Times A Lady" and "Sail On".  Their sound might have not been as fine-tuned as with the days with Lionel Richie and at first, their Vegas style outfits seemed a little out of place on the beaches of Sha Beach in Simpson Bay, but they brought the old school vibe with high energy and won over the diverse and all ages audience. 


Every year I think it is my favourite trip 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 all the live music on the beaches around the island, but the magic of this island has definitely cast its spell on me.

If you're smart, you will put it at the top of your travel destination list to visit during the 2014 St. Maarten Heineken Regatta!