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Trip Report Feb 16 -23 2022 #276853
03/01/2022 02:06 PM
03/01/2022 02:06 PM
Joined: Mar 2018
Posts: 25
Michigan
Clifford Offline OP
Traveler
Clifford  Offline OP
Traveler
Joined: Mar 2018
Posts: 25
Michigan
Celebrating 10 years since our first trip in 2012 we stayed mostly on the French side from Feb 16 to 23rd. We missed going in 2017 and last year.
We uploaded our vaccine/booster record to EHAS on a Sunday for our Wednesday flight. Got our confirmation in 5 to 50 minutes later even though it was near 6pm St Martin time. I printed the EHAS approval letters.
Tuesday morning when I went to check-in online with American Airlines I was told to add the VeriFly app to my phone. Surprise! You have to upload your Vaccine/booster doc to VeriFly as well as answering a bunch of check box questions and add a picture. They could have told us long before check-in. The toughest part of the app was selecting "Trip to Sint Maarten" since Search would not find "St", "Saint" "Martin" or "Maarten". Scanning the QR codes did not work either. I had to wait for a "Manual" upload and confirmation. That took several hours, then it would allow me to check-in.
When we got to the baggage counter in Detroit they wanted to see the Verifly with green check boxes and we were good to go. It was about a quarter mile walk through Miami Airport between connecting planes. A brisk walk with less than an hour between flights.
It was worth the trouble to walk down the ramp onto the tarmac at SXM in the afternoon sun.
Our flight was ahead of a couple other arrivals so our show the passport and get the EHAS papers stamped was fast. Waited about an hour for the baggage. Drove the rental car to Residence Adam et Eve inside the gates at Orient. TT and VV are new at RAE from St Tropez. They seemed to always be available. Making breakfast or dinner or answering questions in the time between. Alain and Caroline are on the island but occupied with other interests. They keep their cruise boat off Club O beach with a big sign offering cruises.
RAE required our proof of vaccination/booster.
In addition to complying with government regulations we also had some fun times. We were so happy to see friends back on the island from past years. Collective knowledge. Met new people and hope to see them again in the future.
Club O beach is running out of the famous yellow umbrellas. They are getting a little ragged. Another item on order but not going to show up in a hurray. I counted 120 umbrellas. There are now blue umbrellas for those not renting chairs. Six dollars. There are also a lot more people sitting in the free two-thirds of the beach. Many just walk in spend an hour and walk back towards the Village. I estimated about 500 people use the Club O beach each day. North of that was not as crowded as Feb 2020.
A new large black pipe is being laid under the beach starting from the north. It has made it as far as La Playa. I don't know but suspect it is a sewer pipe. The treatment plant is behind the carbets just north of Club O beach. Still nothing happening at the wrecked chalets. Maybe when the utilities arrive something will happen. The new Club Orient will not have their own utilities.
In a lazy stupor, I estimated we could go to a different fine restaurant every day for a month. We come for a week so we never go to all the restaurants we desire.
Our first dinner was at Telegraph. Beach bar by day and fine restaurant at night. I had the triggerfish which was four fillets. OK. Is there a trend away from the beautiful presentations and small amounts of food? At L'Atelier we got the beautiful and long description of the menu that made us want everything. Tough choices. I had the duck. It was very good. They specialize in wagyu beef from Japan, Paraguay, the USA and Australia and you can get pounds of it placed on your table. The lust for beef had been planted and the next night at Le Piment I ordered the grilled sirloin with fois gras. It was about a pound. I ate about a third and finished the rest over breakfast and lunch the next two days.
Moving over from Orient Village to Grand Case, we went to La Villa. The owners also run Orange Fever on Orient Beach. The couple with us had lunch at Orange Fever and then dinner at La Villa. Some of the staff transition to La Villa in the evening. They recognized our friends as repeat customers are treated us warmly. We had to stop the flow of rum while we could still walk. If you have a reservation at La Villa stop your car out front, walk in and hand them your keys. They will park it for you.
The next night we went to Le Bistronome. It is across the street from the public parking lot. It is like a wooden native house. Quaint and romantic. Maybe seats 25. They brought out champagne with a raspberry as we were seating. We sat by the door so we saw our car in the lit lot all the time. The food was French with a touch more Creole. We loved it and when you walk up the steps you pass the kitchen.
Our last night on the island was dinner at Ocean 82. Our reservation on wifi calling was made thru the USA number.
We arrived just after sunset. I don't think there is a bad seat in the house, even the bar. A beautiful view of the twinkling lights of Anguilla, the bobbing sailboats in Grand Case harbor and people walking the beach at night. The beach is lit. I wouldn't walk any other beach on the island after dark.
Had the lobster bisque. It was plentiful and good.
So much food, so little time. We like long beach walks to work off the calories. We also climbed Pic Paradis from Lottery Farm. Two years ago we had lunch around the swimming pool after our climb. This year the restaurant seating is the old bar on the second floor. Every time we go there it is different. Now the pool has a privacy fence and there is a big new children's play area. The zip-lining thru the jungle is still an attraction.
"Watch out for that tree!"
My wife hadn't scuba dived for two years. Most of the dive boats on the island now have irregular schedules. At Aquamania at Simpson Bay Resort they dive every morning and offer beginner and recertification in the afternoon. Got 3 tanks in over an afternoon and the next morning.
We were required to prove Covid negative with an antigen test the day before returning to the US. Our resort arranged for a nurse to do the testing. Simple. $40 each. A certificate all in French but boldly saying "Negatif". The nurse sent a separate email with the certificates in PDF format which made uploading to the Verifly app easier.
American Airlines required the Verifly app on my phone to board. You have to delete your "Trip to Sint Maarten" and add "Trip to USA". Also I had to manually upload our Negatif certificates and answer several other forms mostly with just sliders for "Yes". The next morning I awoke to find Verify was all green check-marks.
Farewell to Paradise!
At SXM Airport a long line at 1 pm to drop off luggage at AA and get boarding passes. AA had 6 agents. Soon after getting in line we were asked for Verifly, showed our green check-marks and were sent past a sea of people filling out forms on each others backs. We waited a long time for a group of divers or fishermen to check a number of enormous industrial sized bags. Took a half-hour.
Then Passport Control. Then TSA scan. All told about 1 hour and 15 minutes. This was the non-busy day of Wednesday. Unfortunately my boarding pass had the dreaded SSSS on the lower corner. My wife drew that last trip. This time my turn. A thorough frisking and search thru my carry-on bag at the gate while boarding.
In spite of a few annoyances a marvelous trip to St Martin was ending with memories of warm sunshine and warm friendships. Can't wait to return.
Now it gets ugly.
We landed in Miami with a little over 2 hours between flights. We had a quarter mile sprint to get to Passport Control where I waited in line for an hour. There is no longer filling out the form on the plane or at kiosks when you land. The immigration officers are fast and friendly but there are not enough. They take your picture. Problem was there were about 3/4 of the lanes open. My wife and I applied for Global Entry last November. She had her interview just after Christmas. Mine is in May. Even though my wife breezed thru Immigration with Global Entry she was still forced to wait for our checked bag, declare and go thru TSA again to get to our connection. I waited 45 minutes for TSA. Yes, other people were getting pretty testy.
I got to the gate just in time to be told "Your flight has been canceled. Go to the Rebook area." We probably would have waited in line for three hours to talk to somebody. I had gotten a revised trip on my AA app. Fly out of MIA in 26 hours, land in CLT after midnite on Friday and take off for Detroit before 6 am. I had an all-nighter at CLT before and wasn't going to do that again. A whole day in Miami Beach would have been OK but my wife had a critical patient to see Friday morning. With no seating and my phone going dead I booked a flight on another airline for Thursday afternoon and a cheap motel in Miami for the nite. The next morning we made two calls to AA without much of an explanation. Waiting time for their callbacks was 2 and 2 1/2 hours.
We feel we reduced the grief by just stepping back from a bad situation and handling it ourselves. Six hundred bucks worth.
The US government and American Airlines have a lot of work to make travel better.
We got back to Detroit Thursday afternoon before a snow storm and our AA checked baggage had got to Detroit before us.



Last edited by Clifford; 03/01/2022 05:32 PM.
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Re: Trip Report Feb 16 -23 2022 [Re: Clifford] #276855
03/01/2022 02:23 PM
03/01/2022 02:23 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 83,149
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
Traveler
Carol_Hill  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 83,149
Central Florida!
Thanks for the report.

Le Bistronome almost sounds like what used to be Calmos?? If not, has anything happened in that spot yet?

Verifly just seems like a PITA to me. Not worth it.

That trip home sounds pretty darn bad. So glad I never have to connect through Miami. It's bad enough to fly in and out of there.

Any pictures??



Carol Hill
Re: Trip Report Feb 16 -23 2022 [Re: Carol_Hill] #276858
03/01/2022 02:47 PM
03/01/2022 02:47 PM
Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 1,665
United States of America
bdeeley Offline
Traveler
bdeeley  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 1,665
United States of America
I think you missed the point about "Verifly", by being able to show it on his phone, with the green check mark, they were able to bypass everyone that was inline filling out their attestation forms and showing their paperwork. The line after that, where they waited for the fishermen, was to see an agent at the counter.

Originally Posted by Clifford
Soon after getting in line we were asked for Verifly, showed our green check-marks and were sent past a sea of people filling out forms on each others backs. We waited a long time for a group of divers or fishermen to check a number of enormous industrial sized bags. Took a half-hour.





Be Happy! Simply because you deserve to be. 😁
Re: Trip Report Feb 16 -23 2022 [Re: Carol_Hill] #276859
03/01/2022 02:50 PM
03/01/2022 02:50 PM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 18,950
Auburn, WA
SXMScubaman Offline
Traveler
SXMScubaman  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 18,950
Auburn, WA
"Verifly just seems like a PITA to me. Not worth it."
Not for us either. If they ask me for it I'll just say don't have a phone. This whole teck sh*t is getting to be too much.

Re: Trip Report Feb 16 -23 2022 [Re: Clifford] #276862
03/01/2022 04:27 PM
03/01/2022 04:27 PM
Joined: Mar 2018
Posts: 25
Michigan
Clifford Offline OP
Traveler
Clifford  Offline OP
Traveler
Joined: Mar 2018
Posts: 25
Michigan
Verifly was a PITA but so is carrying around a quarter inch stack of papers which I also did. At least with Verifly relatively unskilled people could look at my phone and see the green check marks and let me thru. The problem I have with Verifly was AA didn't let me know about it until check-in like 12 hours before boarding. Then there were no instructions on how to use it.

Re: Trip Report Feb 16 -23 2022 [Re: Clifford] #276864
03/01/2022 04:37 PM
03/01/2022 04:37 PM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 18,950
Auburn, WA
SXMScubaman Offline
Traveler
SXMScubaman  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 18,950
Auburn, WA
It's still a choice to use it or is it manditory?

Re: Trip Report Feb 16 -23 2022 [Re: Clifford] #276868
03/01/2022 04:54 PM
03/01/2022 04:54 PM
Joined: Mar 2018
Posts: 25
Michigan
Clifford Offline OP
Traveler
Clifford  Offline OP
Traveler
Joined: Mar 2018
Posts: 25
Michigan
Wouldn't let me get a boarding pass without it. If you are at the airport you can get it but I like to get mine the day before. Don't know what would have happened on the way there but the crowd around the document checker on the way back didn't look very good.

Re: Trip Report Feb 16 -23 2022 [Re: Clifford] #276870
03/01/2022 05:17 PM
03/01/2022 05:17 PM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 18,950
Auburn, WA
SXMScubaman Offline
Traveler
SXMScubaman  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 18,950
Auburn, WA
OK. Thanks. Good that it's optional.

Re: Trip Report Feb 16 -23 2022 [Re: Clifford] #276882
03/01/2022 07:54 PM
03/01/2022 07:54 PM
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 14,658
Brookfield, CT.
pat Offline
Traveler
pat  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 14,658
Brookfield, CT.
Thank you for taking the time to do this very detailed report and share it with all of us yet to be there.


Respectfully,

pat



"Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat
them."
Re: Trip Report Feb 16 -23 2022 [Re: Clifford] #276897
03/01/2022 09:04 PM
03/01/2022 09:04 PM
Joined: Feb 2011
Posts: 229
Virginia Beach, VA USA
B
barryvabeach Offline
Traveler
barryvabeach  Offline
Traveler
B
Joined: Feb 2011
Posts: 229
Virginia Beach, VA USA
Thanks for the report. We find the wait staff at La Villa to be extremely friendly, and great food. You didn't mention dessert at Oceans82 - hope you had either the lemon or the apple, the dessert chef is out of this world.

Re: Trip Report Feb 16 -23 2022 [Re: Clifford] #276924
03/02/2022 08:44 AM
03/02/2022 08:44 AM
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 791
East Texas
Jaybird Offline
Traveler
Jaybird  Offline
Traveler
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 791
East Texas
The "Trip to St. Martin" was not available on Verifly in October when we last visited so there was no early check in on the flight from the US. It all had to be done at the gate. This is a welcome addition. At that time the app only had the "Trip to the USA" for the return flight. We are headed back next month. I agree that it is a PITA but if it will help us avoid long lines I will use it.

Re: Trip Report Feb 16 -23 2022 [Re: Clifford] #277101
03/04/2022 11:09 AM
03/04/2022 11:09 AM
Joined: May 2021
Posts: 138
LI, NY
R
RM5 LI Offline
Traveler
RM5 LI  Offline
Traveler
R
Joined: May 2021
Posts: 138
LI, NY
Glad you had a lovely time. Thanks for sharing.

Re: Trip Report Feb 16 -23 2022 [Re: Clifford] #277109
03/04/2022 11:49 AM
03/04/2022 11:49 AM
Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 339
S
StMartinFan Offline
Traveler
StMartinFan  Offline
Traveler
S
Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 339
Thanks for sharing your experiences. LaVilla's staff seem like some of the nicest we've had on the island.


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