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Inside St Maarten Airport’s New Duty-Free Shopping Hub

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - August 10, 2015

St Maarten’s airport shopping emporium

By Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon
CJ Travel Editor

When it comes to shopping in the Caribbean, I’m all about buying local, usually handmade art and craft from roadside vendors and independent boutiques.

Duty-free baubles and perfume from international brands? Not so much.

But if I was – and if you, like thousands of Caribbean visitors, crave such shopportunities ¬– I challenge you to find a better place to scratch that retail itch than the new shopping emporium at St Maarten’s Princess Juliana International Airport.

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Part of a renovated departures concourse that opened in June, the stylish space is impossible to miss: you have to walk right through the middle of it to go between A and C gates. Set up on either side of a wide curving walkway, it’s also impossible to resist, with a bank of fragrances and cosmetics flanking one side, and all manner of liquor, gourmet food, and cigarettes on the other.

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Sure, there are the usual Lancome perfumes, Clinique lipsticks and Clarins potions. But there’s also a small Kiehl’s boutique – the only one in the Caribbean – selling the line’s premium skincare and scents (Check out their Travel-Tested Solutions collection).

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And in how many other Caribbean airports will you find Dutch cheese alongside coffee from Guadeloupe; St. Martin sweet potato jam sharing shelf space with frogs’ legs terrine from France; or potted scallops steps away from an extensive collection of Davidoff (and other) cigars?

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It’s all part of the airport’s new mission to drive non-aviation revenue and get passengers to spend on more than just snacks and last-minute cheap souvenirs.

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And it’s enough to make even a die-hard duty-free avoider like me succumb. First to snapping selfie with the giant mirrored camel that “grazes” amid the store’s cigarette section.

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And then to snagging bottles of Anguilla’s Pyrat and Trinidad’s Angostura 1824 rum.

Because, like I said: I’m all about shopping local.

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