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St. Maarten / St. Martin Facts
St. Maarten’s official currency, the Antillean Guilder is pegged to the US Dollar at $1.00 to 1.78 Antillean guilders (NAF). St. Martin’s official currency is the Euro. Many retailers and restaurants will advertise discounted exchange rates to the US Dollar. US Dollars are accepted virtually everywhere.
The economy of St. Maarten is almost entirely based on tourism. According to surveys, almost 90% of all employment on the island is directly or indirectly related to tourism. Aside from tourism, some of the other forms of major economic activity on the island are trade and financial services with other neighboring islands. St. Maarten has one of the highest per-capita incomes in all of the Caribbean.
St. Maarten produces very little consumable goods and products. The government of the island is looking for new and better ways of diversifying the economy, especially with any industry that would uphold the main economic activity and would not harm tourism. The government of St. Maarten is presently involved with zoning plans that will restrict an area of the island only for the manufacturing and light industry and another areas for heavy industry. Once this takes place, efforts will be made to attract other industries.
The newly renovated Princess Juliana Airport is the 2nd busiest in the Caribbean with multiple flights to and from neighboring islands, almost daily flights to a dozen US cities, Paris and Amsterdam and excellent FBO services. Simpson Bay Lagoon is the largest inland lagoon & harbor in the Caribbean and has become home port for many of the largest luxury mega yachts in the world. Provisioning for private aircraft and yachts is a booming business. And St. Maarten’s latest upgrades to the Cruise Ship Piers and Front Street make it a "must call" port in the Caribbean.
Grand Case Airport – officially known as L’Esperance is smaller than Princess Juliana Airport and is serviced by commuter airlines such as Air Antilles (to Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe), Air Caraibes (to Fort de France, Martinque and Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe) and Saint Barth Commuter. Ferry service to neighboring islands is available at the Marigot Harbour as well as locations on the Dutch side.
Call This Island Paradise your Home?
Known for years as the Caribbean's most exciting vacation destinations, the island has now been discovered by upscale real estate buyers and investors and is fast developing into one of the world's most prestigious locations to own a residence. In fact an ever increasing number of Europeans and Americans are choosing to make this Caribbean island their home. Drawn by its relaxed Caribbean attitude and sophisticated European lifestyle, who wouldn’t want to own a piece of land on this paradise?
Real Estate Values
Resales of single family homes and upscale condominiums in both the Dutch and the French Lowlands are increasing consistently – often a property purchased only a couple of years ago turns out to be a wise investment.
Dutch Side/French Side
Development on the French side Lowlands is governed by restrictive covenants and has retained much wildlife and natural beauty. Development in the Dutch side Lowlands is booming with luxurious ocean front villas, a Mediterranean style ‘village’ and an International Mall. Both sides of the island depend on each other, but nowhere on the island is it possible to enjoy the breathtakingly beautiful nature of the island and at the same time have moments access to the non-stop entertainment, dining, shopping and international flair of this two Sovereign nation.
St. Maarten/St. Martin is the smallest island in the world to be shared by two sovereign powers and it has been that way since 1648 when France and the Netherlands signed a partition treaty. However, over the years people of many different nationalities have made their home on the island and have influenced its development. Many languages can be heard but English is almost universal. Nevertheless, there is a distinctly different “feel” to each side of the island, which makes for added interest and a one of a kind charm.
Because St. Martin has become the culinary capital of the Caribbean there is no shortage of excellent restaurants and food choices at markets and upscale grocery stores plus an excellent selection of wines from most wine producing regions of the world.
With daily flights from France, Holland and the USA – and with perishable food cargo often taking priority - there is an astounding array of wonderful European and American foods available on the island. In addition St. Maarten/St. Martin is home to many of the finest restaurants in the Caribbean.
France and the Netherlands have shared this haven of sand, sea and sun peacefully for more than three centuries.
The Dutch call it Sint Maarten and on the French side the signs say Saint Martin. Not that there is a particularly obvious separation. You can drive, or walk, over a border untended and unmarked except for a sign of welcome to one country or the other.