Sometimes I think back to a short time before the 1995 Hurricane Luis hovered over Sint Maarten for those thirty-six immeasurable hours and I have to roll my closed eyes back in my nodding head and sigh,”What a waste.” An exposed and windy place is this point of land. No, it looks more like a jagged little island. It is connected to the ironshore coast, but the razor sharp edges of each foothold prevent any temptation to test a pair of Keds. The waves that suck under the hollows on the extreme verticals to the open sea leave the bellowing of the humpback’s long deserved breath. This is a rugged and exposed place. It does not invoke comfort. It is also the touchdown point of the island’s international airport.
When the bohemians found paradise, the Dutch side of this Sint Maarten/ St. Martin tiny island prospered. Small comfortable enclaves sprang up in the secluded nooks and bays. Not fancy, but club-like, these refuges built a following of word-of-mouth guests, who could not think of any alternative. Caravanseri began as this and continued to thrive through the nineteen eighties tourist boom while keeping the intimate character- a home in the tropics.
This brings me to the Pirate of Sint Maarten.
As my little de Havilland Twin-Otter aircraft hovered yards from touch down on the beach front landing strip, waving below was J.J. and the gang outside the villa at Caravanseri. It was a long day on the island of Saba and my throat was begging for more than those steel cylinders carrying that beautiful air all during a scuba day at 100 feet below on Saba’s ocean gardens. At Caravanseri I knew my destination: the open air octogonal restaurant; the Bar, manned by Moncel and the “Pirate”. Fifteen mintutes later, having been hosed down with the villa’s outdoor shower and with a fresh linen shirt, I was ready to roll. Moncel was ready. Two glasses in hand, and a grin on his face, he began to perform his magic.
1/2 OZ GALIANO
1/2 OZ B AND B LIQUOR
1/2 OZ CONTREAU LIQUOR
1 OZ VODKA
2 TBLSPOONS CREAM
2 TBLSPOONS COCOCREAM
SHAKE ON ICE, SERVE IN A REAL TALL GLASS.
That year it was all gone ; just a nice piece of barren land with great waves crashing over those jagged rocks. All blown away; villa, octogonal bar, Moncel? (hope not); everything! But you know, we still have the Pirate, though, we can leave Hurricane Luis for another two hundred years. Enjoy.
UPDATED from October 1999
The hotel was rebuilt under the name Millennium, only to be devastated once more by the 1998 storm: George. After three months of repairs, it opened to be renamed Caravanseri with 75 rooms and a repaired restaurant on the cliff. Sadly a freak October 1999 storm again destroyed this hotel, shutting it down completely. Thank you Mother Nature!
UPDATE-September 2012 season A time-sharing hotel of several stories and re-named Caravanseri is on the location. The octogonal restaurant is back in the islands. Where’s Moncel?