The Scent of an Island

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - April 12, 2015

By Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon
CJ Travel Editor

What does St Martin smell like? Pear, tomato, clementine and mango.

At least that’s how it smells to me. Because those are the scents I used to make my own island-inspired fragrance at Tijon, a perfumerie in St Martin.

Owned by John Berglund, a retired attorney from Minnesota, and his wife, Cyndi, the eight-year-old workshop is the only place in the Caribbean where you can make your own fragrance.


It all begins at the “scent organ,” where more than 300 essential, fragrance and synthetic oils are displayed in neat tiers of brown bottles. Don your lab coat; pick three (no easy feat); and then bring them back to your station in the lab where French songs fill the air as you combine them with your choice of base oil blends, distilled water and alcohol to make your personal perfume.

It’s a deeply creative and surprisingly sensuous experience that requires both focus and flexibility. But with millions of possible permutations, there’s no “wrong” way to do it, and it’s highly unlikely that anyone will ever have made the scent you eventually come up with. John stands by to advise on which types of fragrances pair well, but in the end it’s just up to you – and your nose.


In the 90-minute class (85 euros and the most popular of the three workshops Tijon offers) you’ll make three “accords” (a mixture of oils used to create perfume) and test them on your skin to decide which one will become the base of your signature eau de parfum. Once you’ve decided on the accord and made your perfume, you name it and Tijon keeps the formula on file so you can always reorder online.

More than 5,000 people have passed through the perfumery – “It’s the second most popular indoor activity on the island,” says John with a twinkle in his eye – and between 10 and 20 percent reorder their creations (which cost $45 and are shipped from Tijon’s LaJolla, California store).


I plan to do the same. But as we raise a glass to our morning’s labor (each class concludes in true French fashion with a glass of bubbly) I’m having doubts about calling my scent SarahDippity, an overly cute reference to my name and the serendipity that has brought me to this moment on St Martin, now printed on a sticker on the sleek glass bottle.


But life’s too short to stress over it. And by the time I get back home I realize: An island by any other name would smell just as sweet.

Popular Posts all-inclusive montego bay resort by marriott

Marriott Just Opened Its New All-Inclusive Resort in Montego Bay 

Marriott has continued its rapid expansion into the Caribbean all-inclusive space with the debut of its newest adults-only resort in Montego Bay: the new Hideaway at Royalton Blue Waters, An Autograph Collection All-Inclusive Resort.  The 352-room resort is part of […]

Yes, You Can Stay at an All-Inclusive Resort in St Thomas, USVI

the beach at the bolongo bay resort

The Bolongo Bay Beach Resort on St. Thomas may be the most popular all-inclusive resort you’ve never heard of. It’s not that the resort itself isn’t well-known: this family-run and managed, beach resort has been in business since 1974. But […]

The 15 Best Spa Resorts in the Caribbean

como parrot cay

Resort spas have become almost as common as fitness centers on amenity lists, but while it’s simple enough to carve out some space for a few treatment rooms, there are some spas that offer a true “experience” to go along […]

Related Posts a beach at the sea breeze in barbados

American Airlines Is Adding More Flights to Barbados, Anguilla 

American Airlines is planning another major expansion of service to the wider Caribbean next summer, with plans for a wave of new daily flights to destinations like Anguilla and Barbados.  It’s another reminder that the Caribbean has become a true […]

Frontier Airlines Just Restarted This Nonstop Flight to Cancun 

riu cancun

Another day, another Frontier Airlines flight to Cancun. The fast-growing carrier has restarted another nonstop route to the Mexican Caribbean hotspot, this time with daily nonstop service from Detroit.  Detroit-Cancun flights are now operating once every day, with intro fares […]

The Grand Cayman Marriott Is Getting New-Look Rooms (And Some With Bunk Beds)

people floating on seven mile beach

One of the Cayman Islands’ signature places to stay is getting an upgrade: the Grand Cayman Marriott Resort.  The Seven Mile Beach property has begun what it’s calling an “extensive renovation of rooms and suites,” according to a statement from […]


Sign up for Caribbean Journal's free newsletter for a daily dose of beaches, hotels, rum and the best Caribbean travel information on the net.

No. Thank You