Category Archives: St. Maarten

Taste of the Islands: MUSSELS & CLAMS MARINARA

We asked Executive Chef Iwan Hokahin of pureocean at Divi Little Bay Beach Resort on St. Maarten to share one of his restaurant’s most popular recipes with us. He immediately pointed us to this method of preparing Mussels and Clams Marinara. “Our guests love this dish, and it’s one of my favorites too,” Chef Iwan says. “The Italian-inspired flavors, combined with our fresh seafood, are a real crowd-pleaser, especially when you’re sitting right on the beach.” Grazie, Chef Iwan!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MUSSELS & CLAMS MARINARA

2 lbs. clams (scrubbed clean)
2 lbs. mussels (scrubbed clean) Angelhair pasta
1 quart prepared marinara sauce Garlic (as much as you want) 1/4 cup parsley
1/2 cup clam juice
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Sautee garlic in olive oil in a large pot, until lightly browned. Add clam juice. When the mixture comes to a boil, add marinara sauce. Add clams and mussels, then cover pot and cook until the shells open (about 5-10 minutes).

Once all the shells have opened, and you’ve discarded any shells that stayed closed, pour the mixture over cooked pasta (or just dip garlic bread straight into the mixture). Add parsley, salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Tip from Chef Iwan: If a shell doesn’t open, don’t eat it! Throw it away! It’s very common to find a few unopened shells after cooking, but these are not safe to eat.

Island Adventurer: St. Maarten

Gourmands often call St. Maarten ”the culinary capital of the Caribbean.“ French and Dutch influences merge with Caribbean flavor to create a cuisine unlike any other. Chefs and foodies flock to the small island to taste the amazing variety to be had within its 34 square miles.

We sent Kara Phelps, the communications specialist for Divi Resorts, to Divi Little Bay Beach Resort to report back on St. Maarten’s unique food culture. Here’s what she found:

Hi there! St. Maarten is world-famous for its consistently high level of cuisine. Visiting the island without eating your way around it would be a grave mistake, if you ask me. If you have just a few hours to burn—or if you’re looking to add some excitement to a leisurely vacation—I recommend taking a culinary tour with Flavors of St. Martin Food Tours. They’re one of the best ways to experience the full range of what St. Maarten has to offer, since their signature 4.5-hour tour takes you through the French side as well as the Dutch side of the island.

We began our journey at the Amsterdam Cheese & Liquor Store in Philipsburg, a short taxi ride away from Divi Little Bay on the other side of Great Bay. The owners of the shop, two brothers from the Netherlands, treated our small group of five to a tasting of some of their finest cheeses. We sampled Gouda at various ages and paired it with a range of jellies and jams.

Then we piled into an air-conditioned bus with
our tour guide, Ankie, an outgoing local with an encyclopedic knowledge of the island and its food. She narrated our entire experience with warmth and a wry sense of humor.

In Philipsburg, we stopped at Antoine Restaurant— notable for being a French restaurant on the Dutch side of the island—and sampled classic French fare like escargots and vichyssoise. Then we walked a short distance to Ma Doudou Rum Shop and tasted St. Maarten’s famous guavaberry liqueur, an island staple. It’s the perfect addition to a sweet cocktail.

Soon it was time to get back in the bus and head
to the French side of the island. Ankie kept us entertained until we reached Grand Case, a beautiful town on the north shore. (One of the typical stops on the tour, the creperie Paradise View, was closed for the day.) We stopped near the famous “lolos” of Grand Case, a section of small beachfront shacks serving out-of-this-world food. We tasted island barbecue from a lolo called Sky’s the Limit, eating at picnic tables with the smell of smoked meat wafting through the air. For someone like myself with a great love for barbecue, it was a complete delight.

Another highlight of the tour was the Carousel Gelateria near Simpson Bay, back on the Dutch side of the island and finishing off the tour. The gelateria offers dozens of flavors of gelato from plain to exotic—including guavaberry. It also has, yes, a fully operational carousel. The owner of the gelateria, Diego from Italy, switched it on and we sat astride the colorful circus horses as we finished our gelato.

Island Adventurer

When you’re dreaming of a past vacation, the easiest way to relive it is to bring out a few mementos. Souvenirs can help you recall the good times and the great stories from your trip. The best souvenirs communicate something about the spirit and the personality of the place you visited. We gathered a few suggestions of great souvenirs you can bring home from the Caribbean. Each of these islands is home to at least one of the Divi Resorts—we hope you have an opportunity to check them all out!

Aruba Aloe (arubaaloe.com) is the oldest aloe company in the world. Founded in 1890, it’s also the only aloe company in the world that grows, harvests and manufactures its products right on-site. Its products are sold pretty much everywhere in Aruba. You can also visit the Aruba Aloe Museum & Factory Store.

 

Cadushy Distillery (www.cadushy.com), located in Rincon, is the only distillery on the island of Bonaire. It’s most well-known for Cadushy of Bonaire, a cactus liqueur with a cooling lime taste, the earliest entry in the distillery’s Island Liqueurs line. Sign up for a tasting and learn first-hand how the spirits are produced. Don’t forget to bring home a few bottles of your favorite flavors.

 

Earthworks Pottery (earthworks-pottery.com) is worth the short trip to the Edgehill Heights section of the St. Thomas parish. Everything at this workshop is authentically Caribbean, handcrafted by local artists. It offers a range of plates, bowls and vases, available as unique pieces or as part of beautiful sets. Earthworks is also happy to ship fragile items back home if you’re worried about their survival in your suitcase.

 

Although the wild-growing guavaberry can be found elsewhere in the Caribbean, locals speculate St. Maarten is the only place it truly thrives. It’s a central part of local folklore and traditional cuisine. The juice of these berries (no relation at all to guava) is mixed with rum and sugar and then aged to create guavaberry liqueur. Sample the sweet, light concoction and bring home a few beautiful bottles from Ma Doudou (www.rhummadoudou.com), a small shop just off Front Street in Philipsburg.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you visit St. Croix, you’ll notice many local women wearing a unique type of bracelet. The St. Croix Hook or the Crucian Hook (www.gotostcroix.com/st-croix-blog/show-love-crucian-bracelet/) is a band-style bracelet with a horseshoe-shaped clasp. This clasp (or “hook”) represents true love on St. Croix. These bracelets come in a wide variety of styles, and you can find them in most local jewelry shops.

Meet our featured President’s Elite Members, Robert & Sherri Anderson

Meet our featured President’s Elite members for this issue, Robert and Sherri Anderson of Maryland, USA.

We caught up with the Andersons on their latest trip to Divi Little Bay Beach Resort, where they graciously spoke to us about their vacation experiences, the reasons they love St. Maarten and their membership in the Divi Vacation Club.

“Before we purchased timeshare ownership, we used to cruise a lot around the Caribbean. Our goal was to visit as many islands as possible to find one place that we wanted to stay,” explains Mr. Anderson. “We use to cruise into St. Maarten’s port and see beautiful Little Bay and the resort situated on the peninsula. That’s what made us decide this was the place.”

“We don’t like high-rises or elevators,” Mrs. Anderson remarks. “We spend all day on the beach, so that was important to us. The water is always calm here, and the resort faces south, so the beach gets the sun all day long. The sunsets are spectacular.”

Once they settled on St. Maarten as their future vacation spot, the Andersons purchased one week of ownership in a one-bedroom unit at the end of March. Steadily, over the next 12 years, they added another week in March and two more weeks at the end of October. They’ve also expanded to two-bedroom units, as they love to bring along friends and family, and having the extra bedroom is very convenient.    

In March 2016, the Andersons converted their fixed weeks to Pure Points and became members of the Divi Vacation Club. “The main reason we decided to join the Club was to take advantage of the Loyalty Benefits,” explains Mr. Anderson. “We are getting to a point in our lives where we want more flexibility to stay in other locations in the Caribbean and around the world, and hopefully, in the very near future, take advantage of mid-week travel.”

The Andersons always travel on all-inclusive plans, so as President’s Elite members, they really like knowing that they get a “starter kit” of sodas, beer and water right from the beginning of their trip. They also enjoy the added benefit of early check-in and the extra VIP attention. The fact that their President’s Elite benefits transfer over to all Divi Club Destinations was also a draw as they made their decision to join the Club.

The Andersons have a found a unique way to use their membership. “We’ve always banked any unused weeks or Points over the years, so when our nieces and nephews have gotten married, we’ve given them the gift of a honeymoon,” explains Mrs. Anderson. “Recently, when our niece got married, we traded our Pure Points for their honeymoon in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.”

“Divi Little Bay is our second home. The staff are our extended family and friends. We know everyone so well, and it’s great to come back and see what’s changed in their lives, and catch up,” says Mr. Anderson. “Everyone knows us. We can relax and enjoy ourselves. The toughest part of vacationing used to be getting acclimated, but coming here, it’s like being home the moment we arrive, only we don’t have any chores!”

Divi Little Bay Beach Resort Donates Furniture to Forever Blessed Foundation

Divi Resorts’ Divi Little Bay Beach Resort on St. Maarten recently donated its remaining furniture and beds left over from Hurricane Irma to the Forever Blessed Giving Back Charity Foundation to help those in need.

“When our resort was hit by Hurricane Irma, we were able to salvage many appliances and furniture, some of which went to our Little Bay staff members in need,” said Marco Galaverna, Divi Resorts President & COO. “So when we heard that Forever Blessed Foundation was searching for furniture donations, we gladly stepped up to the plate, donating all remaining items that were no longer needed on the resort.”

Among the items donated to the foundation were beds, dressers, chairs and more. Organizers and recipients were all smiles as the items were loaded up and delivered to their new homes.

Started back in 2003 with the goal of giving back to those in need, the Forever Blessed Giving Back Charity Foundation was officially notarized last year. Organizers are in need of volunteers and such as clothing, non-perishable foods, school supplies, household items and furniture. Those interested in donating items locally or volunteering can reach the organization by calling (712) 523-8792.

Divi Resorts Ditches Straws to Reduce Pollution & Promote Eco-friendly Efforts

In an effort to reduce its carbon footprint, Divi Resorts is getting rid of plastic straws at all of its Caribbean resorts on Aruba, Barbados, Bonaire, St. Maarten & St. Croix, as part of its “Divi Green” initiative.

According to National Geographic, Americans use 500 million straws daily and 8 million tons of plastic trash flows into our world’s oceans every year. While plastic drinking straws are not the top contributor, these tiny tubes are unnecessary and have become a huge problem for the beautiful Caribbean islands and the creatures that call them home. Their size makes them one of the most insidious polluters because they entangle marine animals and are consumed by fish. Divi Resorts hopes to curb this pollution by removing straws from all of its resorts, effective immediately.

“Our goal is to take an active role in protecting and maintaining the beauty of our tropical islands and the creatures that call them home,” said Marco Galaverna, Divi Resorts President & COO. “We’ve always been focused on green initiatives, through our Divi Cares program, and searching for ways to improve our sustainability, so this is just another way we can do our part to help the environment.”

Divi Resorts has been embracing the green movement on its Caribbean islands for years, with initiatives such as water conservation, energy management and waste management programs created to save valuable resources, reducing energy usage and efficiently recycle waste. In addition, Divi Resorts staff participate in workshops and seminars conducted by environmental committees, local government organizations and non-governmental environmental organizations to increase awareness and spread the word about sustainable living. These programs have earned Divi Resorts many awards and recognitions including the Barbados Environmental and Sustainable Tourism Award.

“We’re proud to say we’re putting our best foot forward when it comes to ‘going green’ on our resorts,” said Galaverna.

Travelers looking to stay at Divi Resorts can find information on great Caribbean vacation deals at www.diviresorts.com and also enter to win a free Caribbean Summer Vacation (contest ends April 11, 2018).