St Maarten Is Leading a Caribbean Tourism Comeback

st maarten roxxyThere's a new dynamism in St Maarten, thanks to new outlets like Roxxy Beach, above.
By

By Alexander Britell

It’s one of the most sought-after corners of the Caribbean — that famous triangle of Caribbean hotspots: St Maarten, St Barth and Anguilla.

And just two years after Hurricane Irma, the trio of destinations is in the midst of a significant tourism renaissance, in large part due to its hub: St Maarten.

St Maarten has been leading the way, posting tremendous tourism growth of more than 100 percent in the last year, an essential comeback for the wider area thanks to St Maarten’s crucial role as a regional transit hub — centered on its Princess Juliana International Airport.

St Maarten’s numbers represent what is easily the fastest growth rate in the wider Caribbean region, a strong statement even in a year when a number of destinations are posting solid rates of arrival growth. (The resurgence has been accompanied by a similar comeback on the cruise side).

st maarten caribbean

The El Zafiro resort in St Maarten.

Visitors are finding a new energy in St Maarten, from new beach bars like the world-class Roxxy in Simpson Bay to Sonesta’s marvelously restored Maho and Ocean Point resorts, relaunched favorites like the Oyster Bay Beach Resort — and even new hotels on the way like The Morgan, which is targeting an opening date at the end of this year.

And it’s a comeback that has now been spilling over to its neighbors, including Anguilla.

Indeed, St Maarten is the chief port of entry for visitors to Anguilla, which is almost exclusively reached by public ferry or charter boat from St Maarten (although Caribbean luxury carrier Tradewind Aviation offers service from San Juan to Anguilla as well)

st maarten caribbean tourism tradewind

Tradewind’s Caribbean network includes Anguilla with a focus on the peak tourist season.

Anguilla’s tourist board this week reported a total of 55,916 stayover visitor arrivals from January through June, which represented a 16.75 percent over the same period before Hurricane Irma in 2017.

Going further back, this year’s totals represent a 26.03 percent increase over the same period in 2016.

“We are delighted to see the results of the intense work we have put into the marketing and promotion of Anguilla,” said Anguilla’s Tourism Secretary, Cardigan Connor. “We are grateful for the combined efforts of both our public and private sector partners, in producing the desired results. With events such as our recent Summer Festival, and the upcoming Anguilla Cup, we are confident that we will continue to attract and grow the number of visitors to our wonderful island.”

nevaeh st maarten caribbean

The Nevaeh villa in Anguilla.

In a statement, officials told Caribbean Journal that the increase meant Anguilla was “well on its way to achieve its goal of a 20 percent increase in stayover arrivals for the fiscal year 2019.”

The resurgence has come from Anguilla’s robust hotel sector, led by properties like the Four Seasons Anguilla and Cap Juluca (the latter of which reopened at the beginning of this year), and its from historically strong (and growing) villa sector, home to one of the Caribbean’s most impressive collections of ultra-luxe villas like the popular Nevaeh and a longtime visitor favorite, Tequila Sunrise.

Anguilla will soon be home to another new hotel, the boutique Tranquility Beach resort, set to debut for the festive season in December.

But it all comes back to St Maarten, whose resurgence has been crucial for much of the wider region, including smaller destinations like Statia and Saba as well.

For more, visit St Maarten.

— CJ