Courtesy of All At Sea - The Caribbean's Waterfront Magazine www.allatsea.net
By the beginning of February, most of our friends were asking us the same question: “Why aren’t you going to St. Maarten for the regatta?” We began to wonder … Why weren’t we going to the regatta? After some discussion and a mad scramble to make last-minute travel arrangements, we were in! We would stay from Thursday morning through Monday evening. We didn’t want to miss a thing.
THURSDAY. Our LIAT flight landed in St. Maarten around 10:00 a.m. We dropped our bags at our St. Martin hotel and walked into the marina district of Marigot. After some shopping, we had a wonderful lunch at a French restaurant on the boardwalk.
While wandering through town, our friends had pointed out their favorite wine shop. The proprietor invited us to the wine tasting that he was hosting that afternoon. Never ones to turn down free premium wine, we assured him that we would love to attend. The wine was delicious enough to buy.
Tired from all of our shopping and exploring – and maybe the wine – we went back to our hotel for a dip in the pool and a nap before dinner. We needed to rest up for the evening’s regatta festivities - partying was turning out to be more exhausting that we realized!
At 10:00 p.m., our group was ready to rock. Once in the car, we realized that although we knew that the party was at Port de Plaisance, we had no idea where that was. Undaunted by our lack of information, we set out. Fortunately, it was close by. We parked in their spacious lot, took sight bearings on a five-spreader yacht to starboard and a large white van ahead, and plunged into the celebration.
Port de Plaisance was a wonderful venue for the regatta party. The resort has a huge paved open area – complete with fountain, restaurant, casino and palm trees to dance under. The whole place was jumping to the music of Elf in Hell. Beer tents were everywhere, and the Heineken girls were handing out party favors as fast as they could.
It was a great night – everywhere we looked people were dancing, eating and catching up with friends they had not seen for a while. At midnight, when we turned into pumpkins and headed for the car, more revelers were arriving and the band Iguana Soup was entertaining the crowd.
FRIDAY. The day was bright and clear, but almost no wind was blowing. While our racing friends had scrambled out of bed very early, we had enjoyed a leisurely breakfast by the pool. By noon, we were flaked out on a beach, where we watched the race fleet coast by.
Having wisely conserved our energy all day, we decided to drive straight to the second night’s regatta bash. Once again, we had no idea where we were going. The guard at the commercial and cargo entrance to the marina told us we had made only one wrong turn. We followed his directions to the party!
Lined with shops, restaurants and small hotels, the boardwalk at Philipsburg is perfect for a huge gathering. The stores and restaurants were open and ready to welcome patrons. We strolled along the boardwalk, watching everyone set up, greeting friends and enjoying the sunset. Racers and partiers arrived early - by the time the parade started, we could barely see it!
By 7:30 p.m., the boardwalk was packed and rocking! We decided to head back to our hotel, clean up and have a quiet supper in Marigot with our cruising friends who had come up from Bonaire. All that lounging on the beach – and shopping – had just worn us out.
Thank you note: Friends lost their camera on the boardwalk that night. Just before press time, they called to say it was found at the Greenhouse and that the camera would be mailed to them.
SATURDAY. Once again, racers left early. We slept late, and then explored the open-air market in Marigot, where we ran into more friends from St. Thomas. The whole group decided to hit the beach at Grand Case after we had finished shopping.
Once at Grand Case, we settled at a great beach bar/restaurant. We whiled away the afternoon eating, drinking, sunning, swimming and hunting for beach glass. Our most energetic activities were playing a rousing game of dominoes (I won) and expressing sympathy for the racing fleet as we watched them ghost by – they had another day of very little wind.
After an early picnic supper at our hotel, we walked into Marigot for the third big bash of the weekend. That morning’s open-air market had been transformed into party central, complete with bandstand, beer booths and official Heineken Regatta-gear sellers. Most of the restaurants were open, though some had been turned into heavily screened VIP-only rooms.
We collected Heineken hats, flags and key chains from the Heineken girls. Those of us in full party mode worked our way toward the bandstand. We managed to get all the way up to the barricades, where we danced and sang with Youth Wave until they finished their set around 11:30 p.m. Hundreds of people – a mix of young, old, racers, locals, visitors, everyone – had arrived while we had been dancing! We enjoyed a late supper and then danced our way back to our hotel well after midnight.
SUNDAY. Our group began Sunday with crepes for breakfast – delicious! Recovery from Saturday’s party was at Friar’s Beach. Because we intended to dance well into the night at the grand finale in Simpson Bay, we conserved our energy well into the afternoon. Our decision was to have dinner with friends and then head to the festivities rather late. That was a mistake.
We set out for Kim Sha Beach (no, we didn’t know where that was, either) around 10:00 p.m. We weren’t concerned about getting lost – all we had to do was follow everyone else on the island. After spending 30 minutes in barely moving traffic – and realizing that we had another 45 minutes to go – we turned and went back to our hotel. We missed it all, including Jimmy Cliff and the fireworks.
Despite missing the last party of the regatta, we had a wonderful time all weekend. As partiers instead of racers, we experienced the best of the weekend – beach bumming and shopping by day … merrymaking by night. Heineken and the people of St. Maarten/St. Martin know how to throw a great party. Next year we won’t miss a thing!
The Promogirl’s Perspective
My experience over the last three years being a promo girl has been a very positive learning experience. In my experience, the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is one of the biggest parties of the year in St. Maarten / St. Martin. The Regatta represents a time to have serious fun.
I remember the day that my employer called me and said: “Ruth, you are now a Heineken girl!”. I was so excited that day. For the first St. Maarten Heineken Regatta I did we even got to dance! It was amazing dancing in front of all these people. I met Shaggy and took many pictures with him! Even though walking through the crowd was hard work I still enjoyed doing it, and I always had a smile on my face!
For my first Regatta I was the one giving out the prizes to the sailors, I truly enjoyed it. Plus it was great because you could easily tell that the sailors were having so much fun! Although my main objective is to promote Heineken and Heineken Premium Light, I always have a great fun being a promo girl. I truly enjoy working together with the other girls and because of this I got a lot of new friends! I am really looking forward to the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta 2013!