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

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.


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.


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).


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?


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.


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.


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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