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Saint Martin/Sint Maarten – The Friendly Island

St. Maarten Great Bay Beach Philipsburg

SXM Strong (and stronger)

The Friendly Island of Saint Martin/Sint Maarten has certainly put up with a lot recently. In 2017, it was hit by one of the worst hurricanes in history. Hurricane Irma brought down the tourist industry – which makes up over 80% of the countries GDP – and gave resorts a hard time, having to scramble to open and make key repairs in time for the tourist season. Nevertheless, the Friendly Island prevailed and the island was able to slowly pick itself up.

St. Maarten Philipsburg streets
St. Maarten Philipsburg streets

The French side was hit hard. Having less tourism meant that it took longer for resorts and people to rebuild. As insurance companies folded under the weight of the disaster, many resort owners, restaurants and small businesses found the pressure too much to take. By 2019, the Friendly Island was more or less back to the starting point. Phillipsburg made a recovery. Then, came the infamous year 2020.

“The island is making it’s long awaited return”

St. Martin Fiers' Bay Beach
St. Martin Friars’ Bay Beach

To say that Saint Martin/Sint Maarten was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic would be an understatement. Given the countries reliance on tourism, the outlook seemed bleak. As the lock downs went from being “two weeks to flatten the curve” to “this looks like it will take longer than anticipated”, resorts and businesses once again had to sit tight. With the 2021 season gone, it was really hard for people on the island. Businesses shut down and money was tight. However, it seemed that fortune smiled on the friendly island.

After pulling through the hard times, it seems that the island is beginning to make a return. A long awaited one. Speaking with the locals and visiting the island and seeing things first hand, its great to see that the island has not lost its friendliness. It is fair to say that Saint-Martin remains the “friendly island”. Of course, things have changed on the island and things will never be like they were before, but that also gives the opportunity to make something new. To forge a new path for the friendly island.

St. Martin Surfing Orient Bay
St. Martin Surfing Orient Bay

The island has certainly proved itself to be resilient, without a doubt. It seems as though the brighter days are just around the corner. It’s great to see open shops, full restaurants and beaches with tourists once again. The sense of optimism and good hope is certainly there on the friendly island. Saint Martin/Sint Maarten has the chance to reinvent itself, and they have gone for it. The new Saint Martin/Sint Maarten is a destination like no other, and yet it seems like the fun is only beginning – but don’t take my word for it.

Experience all that the “Friendly Island” has to offer.

Getting there;

Flights;

WestJet and Air Canada both fly to Saint Martin from Toronto Pearson Int’l Airport

American Airlines, Jet Blue and Delta also fly from the US

Hotels;

High End: La Sonesta, La Samana, Holland House

Medium: Secrets, Simpson Bay, Belair Beach Hotel

Budget: Joshua Rose, Alicia’s Inn

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