Tips and Facts


getting there

ARE YOU READY FOR A VACATION IN ST MARTIN?

BELOW ARE LOADS OF DETAILS THAT YOU'LL WANT TO KNOW IN ORDER TO HELP MAKE FOR A SMOOTH VACATION EXPERIENCE. MAIN TOPICS INCLUDE:

 


It's always nice to pack light, but there are a few things we don't want you to forget. Due to the possibility of lost luggage we recommend that you carry-on important items whenever possible

- Current Passport REQUIRED for all guests from the US and Canada (guests from other countries should check with their airline or consulate)
- A printout of your email invoice confirming full payment and this Tips & Facts webpage.
- Harness, lycra, vest or shorty wetsuit, booties, gloves.
- Sunglasses and chums, a visor or hat.
- High SPF (25+) waterproof sunscreen lotion (oil makes board slippery)
- PFD and/or helmet (if desired)
- Sweater or a light jacket / windbreaker just in case.
- Slacks for dining out in restaurants (No shorts in some restaurants)
- Extra spending money (see "Currency/credit cards" below)
- Paperback books for flights and evenings (Our staff appreciates current newspapers / magazines - especially windsport related!)
- Ball-point pen, helpful for any airport forms, customs declarations, etc.)
- Ear Plugs, a good idea if you are a light sleeper and if you're practicing those forward loops!
- Aspirin or Ibuprofen for muscle aches 
- Medical tape for tired hands.

What we have:

Available for sale are Vela St Martin T-shirts and a limited selection of gloves, hats, caps, booties, harnesses, sunglasses, sunscreen, lycra tops and shorts.

Location:

Our facility is located at the mid-right of Orient Beach, between Kontiki and Kakao restaurant (between all the blue and red umbrellas). Orient Bay village, with hotels and shops is only 150 meters from the center.

Language:

English is spoken fluently by all hotel employees, restaurants and our Center staff. Local from the French side speak French, creole and English. On the Dutch side, English id mostly spoken. Locals also speak dutch and Spanish.

Weather:

St Martin enjoys an average year round temperature of 80 degrees and mostly sunny days. Rainfall is minimal on this dry island. A rash guard is enough (especially to protect from the sun). At night a light jacket or sweater may be appropriate in the air conditioned restaurants.

Water:

St Martin's tap water comes from a modern desalinization plant and is very safe to drink.

Currency/credit cards:

Euros are the official currency but US Dollars are very happily accepted. There are ATM's on Marigot and Grand Case but none on Orient Beach). Vela St Martin takes credit cards (Visa or MasterCard ONLY: sorry no American Express!) for any additional goods and services (lessons, equipment rental) you may want to purchase on-site. Lessons and equipment rental may be paid by credit card. Credit cards are accepted by many establishments on the island. Don't forget to contact your credit card company and bank to let them know you will be using your cards out of the country: this will help you to avoid the banks from declining a charge or blocking your account due to anti-fraud protection measures.

Electrical voltage:

220 volt.  European-style outlets with two-prings. Plan to bring along an adapter / converter from home, though you may can find these for sale at the local grocery store in Orient Beach. Your hotel may have a few available to borrow as well, though it would not be wise to count on this 100%.

Email / Phone Services:

All hotels have telephones in the rooms and public pay-phones using a calling card are readily available. Internet access is available as an additional service at all of the properties which we offer. You can make credit card and collect calls from your room or charge it to your room. The center offers free WiFi access for Vela guests.

Meals:

There are plenty of restaurants in the near vicinity to choose from. Nearly all types of cuisine are available from 5-star European dining to Pizza, St Martin has it all. Don't miss fine dining in Grand Case restaurants. Check with the staff at your hotel and the Vela center to find out which spots to try, and which to avoid.

Other Activities available:

There are plenty of water activities to keep you busy: sea kayaking, hobie cat, jet ski, surfing, snorkeling, stand up paddle. Also horse back riding, Butterfly farm, sailing excursions to Tintamare island or Anguilla, and St Barth. Ask our guest service team for information.

Tipping:

A service charge will most likely be added to your restaurant bill. This does not go to the waiter and it is normal to leave a tip for the waiter as well. Gratuities of are appreciated for good service by all other service-industry employees, including the team at Vela St Martin!

Emergencies:

Should an emergency necessitate an early return home, we will do all we can to get refunds for you. Standard hotel cancellation fees usually exceed any unused balance, but hotels are quite often understanding of emergencies. To assist us in this you must get written verification of check-out date from your hotel front desk and also from the center staff. 

Airport Arrival:

You'll fly into St Martin's Juliana International Airport (SXM). When you arrive at the airport you will go through immigration and pick up any checked luggage in baggage claim. 

Taxis / Transfers:

We suggest that you use taxi service to reach your hotel. Taxi drivers are very familiar with the location of all properties. It takes about 35 minutes and costs about $40-$50 per taxi to the hotels along Orient Bay.

Public buses are available (stop outside of town) with only $2 to go to Marigot or Philipbsburg. Car rental is the best way to visit the island though one day is enough to visit loads of spots on the island. In winter time, the traffic is pretty busy, so it's better to enjoy Orient Bay activities. You can rent cars right from your hotel or the center for about $30-$40 per day.

Hotel Check-In:

The normal check-in time is at 3:00PM for all properties, although we can request early check-in if available. Vouchers are not required for check-in. Simply arrive at the front desk and give the agent the last name of the person who made the reservation. If there are any questions, please show them the email invoice that you should print and take with you. NOTE: If you are arriving after 9:00 PM, you must call us with your arrival information immediately and no later than one week prior to arrival at 800-223-5443 / 541-387-0431 (unless you have already given us this information). The hotel's front desk may be closed after 9:00 pm unless Vela is able to notify them of your late arrival.

Hotel Check-Out:

Check out time is 12 noon for all properties. Make certain to go over your final bill carefully. Personal charges such as bar tabs, laundry, telephone calls, and such are your responsibility. DO NOT let the hotel charge you any tax or service fees on accommodations prepaid by Vela. We always prepay tax and service charges for you. Should an emergency necessitate an early return home, we will do all we can to get refunds for you. Standard hotel cancellation fees usually exceed any unused balance, but hotels are quite often understanding of emergencies. To assist us in this you must get written verification of check-out date from your hotel front desk and also from the windsurf staff. Important note: If you have an early flight, make arrangements for a taxi to the airport the day before your departure and leave plenty of time to get to the airport. If you are leaving on a late flight, sometimes there is a courtesy room available for storing luggage and taking a shower.

Getting To Vela St Martin:

Our facility is located on the mid right of Orient Beach (next to the beachfront Kakao restaurant and bar), which is withing a short walking distance from all of the hotels and villas in Orient Beach. If you are staying on another part of the island, your tell your taxi driver will know to go to the Kakao restaurant in Orient Beach.

Checking In To Get Started:

Our staff will be anticipating your arrival and will plan to greet you at our beachfront equipment center. You can find our staff members at the equipment area wearing T-shirts that say "Vela" or "Staff". Give any team member your name and they will set you up with an orientation. A credit card (sorry, no Amex) is required for safety deposit and for setting up your account at the center.

Windsurf Equipment:

Vela St Martin is equipped with the latest in high performance gear featuring NeilPryde sails and rigs, JP Australia, and. Sails include the very latest Combat, Fusion, and Hornet models. The new JP-Australia line includes the Freestyle Wave PRO, All Ride, Magic Ride PRO, X-Cite Ride Plus, Supersport Pro, and Super Light-Wind, as well as several windSUP models and a variety of beginner boards. Please help us maintain the high quality of our fleet by handling with care. All rigs with adjustable harness lines. Harnesses also available at the center and included with your pre-booked rental.

Kitesurf Equipment: 

Vela St Martin is powered by the latest Cabrinha equipment with a wide variety of twin-tip and directional surfboards to choose from, plus most sizes of the popular kite models including Switchblade, Drifter, FX, and Contra. Rental is possible only for kiters who can demonstrate at least 30 hours riding in complete autonomy or who have been cleared by one of the instructors after taking lessons. Boat-guided assistance is also available with our up-wind taxi service. If you are not sure if you are ready to get out on your own yet, or if you'd simply like to have a guide to gain "local knowledge" of the kiting area before hand, consider signing up for some lesson time instead.

Getting On The Water:

Equipment is available for check out beginning at 9:30 am and must be returned by 5:00 pm. Every day you windsurf, you must sign out yourself and the equipment that you are using. This enables us to keep track of our equipment and know that our guests have returned safely. All procedures and safety concerns will be explained during the orientation. Please note that equipment fee is per person and not transferable.

Pre-booked Beginner Rental:

If you are pre-booked on the Vela discounted Beginner Program, you will have use of our novice equipment and receive one beginner lesson that covers first day basic sailing skills. Additional beginner lessons covering Beach Starts and Harness Use are available and encouraged. (If you are not pre-booked on the discounted Beginner Program, you may purchase Beginner lessons on-site and rent equipment as desired).

Getting Your Gear:

You will be given an orientation session before checking out your equipment. All guests must use the equipment sign-out / sign-in sheet located at the equipment area to check out equipment. If you want to change your board or rig during the day, simply return the first board or sail to the rack and use the sign in on the sheet, then sign out again, indicating your new board and/or rig choice on the sign-out sheet. All this will be covered in your "Center Orientation" on your first day sailing with us.

Sailing Conditions and Safety:

Beautiful, warm, crystal-blue and clear water with several hundred yards of sandy bottom. Flat water in the lagoon on the right of the center, choppy conditions in front and swell outside for bump & jump playground. Also, don't hesitate to stop on Pinel island and Green Cay island, the ride is safe and the waters are crystal clear. The wind will also be stronger outside of the bay. The bay is 3 km wide and the wind is side-onshore.

Rig Adjustments:

Each of the different types of sails available for check out have been rigged in a manner best suited for that particular sail. If you would like to make adjustments to the rig, we ask that you first get a short orientation to that particular sail from one of our staff. You will be responsible for any incorrect handling of the rig that damages the sail.

Damage to equipment:

You will be asked to leave a credit card as deposit when you take out equipment. Once you sign out a board and sail, it is your responsibility to return it in the same condition! To minimize the possibility of damage, please choose equipment that suits your ability level and conditions, and handle equipment carefully when launching and coming in to shore. Items that need replacing such as fins, sails or mast will be charged at cost plus 10% for parts and labor. For items that can be repaired, standard charges will apply. This must be paid directly to the center in full upon return of the damaged equipment. You may choose to purchase gear damage insurance locally at the Vela St Martin center once you arrive.ur return.

On-Site / Walk-Up Rentals:

If you have not paid for equipment as part of your vacation, note that rentals will only be available after the staff is satisfied that all pre-paid guests have had their first choice. Complete board and rig rentals only. Rates are subject to change. Again, we cannot guarantee equipment availability unless you pre-book with Vela with advance reservations.

Vela Wind Warranty:

Unless you have reserved an ALL YOU CAN DO rental, in the event that there are 4 or more days of non-sailable wind using any of our equipment, you may request a NO-WIND CLAIM FORM that will allow you credit towards a future trip to any Vela destination. Note that you may receive higher credits if you return to the same center. You must get this form before you leave the center. The center also propose replacement activities in case of no wind: hobie cat, sailing, stand up paddle, surfing, sea kayak. Please, check with the school manager to change your windsurf or kite rental for a multi-activity package.

Winddsurf Lesson Program:

All instructors are highly trained each with years of teaching experience. Lessons ranging from first-time beginners to advanced sailing are available on a daily basis. Choose from either BEGINNER courses where you will learn the basics: balance, sailing position, How to tack, How to change direction, and How to come back to the starting point. Advancing students can take INTERMEDIATE courses where you will take your sailing to the next level: how to sail upwind, how to use the harness, how to beach start, how to waterstart, and how to jibe in light winds. Lessons can either be booked in advance at a discounted rate (please inquire with us before your trip begins!)or on-site upon arrival at slightly higher walk-up pricing.

Kiteboarding Lessons: 

Vela St Martin school offers boat-guided lessons for all ability levels and excels at getting beginners up and riding in the fantastic clear-water conditions St Martin has to offer. We typically only offer Private Lessons for dedicated one-on-one coaching to make the most out of your time with your instructor.

Complete Beginner: 

Starting with the basics you will spend the 1st session with a 1 hour on-land (steering, turning, and flying of the kite, learning the "power window" using the harness to hold the kite power, line management, and preparation for the Body Drag. Your 2nd lesson is gets started with setting up the kite, learning all safety features, learning control of a full size 4-line kite on the water, re-launching the kite, then the "Body Drag" learning how to pull yourself through the water with the power of the kite. Finally, and understanding and practice of how to power / depower the kite. For the 3rd lesson you will have a review of the Body Drag, then learn control of the kite with one hand so you can get the board under your feet. By the end of the lesson the goal is to learn kite positioning for "Water Starting" and taking your first attempt to get up and ride!

Continuing Student: 

Once you have learned the basics you may need some more time on the water. If so, our instructors are ready to get you back out to become an independent kiter! Learn with confidence during each 2 hour boat-assisted lesson with radio-helmet instruction will help you to take a lot of practice runs without worrying about needing to stay up-wind.

Foilboarding Lessons: 

Available for experienced kiters (strapless riding suggested) who would like to master the skills necessary to get up and over the water! After each 1.5 hour session you should be able to get lift on the foil and begin making your first cruises. Welcome to the world of foiling!

If you have already booked lessons please make sure to check-in at Vela St Martin the day before your lesson. We always recommend booking lessons in advance to ensure your spot on the schedule. Contact us if you need to reserve some time at Vela St Martin.


BEFORE RETURNING HOME

Make sure to say goodbye to our staff before you go. Check to see if you have left anything at the center or if you have taken care of your final tab for additional services you may have purchased. If you have had some bad luck in the wind department, make sure to get you No Wind Claim Form before you go, and we hope that you have still had a great vacation overall in spite of Mother Nature!

 

READY TO GO? ARE YOU SURE? PLEASE LET US KNOW IF YOU HAVE ANY ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS BEFORE YOU DEPART. HAVE A GREAT TRIP AND DON'T FORGET TO WRITE!

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