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35th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta - March 5 - 9, 2015

Source:  Dawn Langfield

I was blessed another year to be asked to cover the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.  It's simply not a difficult decision to make given the magic that overcomes the island of St. Maarten, infused with the soft breezes of the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, the excitement of those participating in one of the biggest regattas of the Caribbean plus the hot choices of live music entertainers that invade the beaches on the island.  The big headliner this year were icons, Kool & the Gang.

St. Maarten is an island full of natural beauty, cultural diversity and modern conveniences. The experience on this island of two cultures, French and Dutch, attracts people from all over the world because of it's multicultural charm and multilingual people, not to mention it's stunning beauty and tax-free, duty-free shopping!

My accommodation again this year was Horizon View which is located right on the boardwalk in Philipsburg, which is situated on the waters of Great Bay, akin to the Atlantic Ocean. It offers suites with a full kitchen, bedrooms and ocean view (below) at very affordable rates.  It is my 'go to' spot for affordable accommodation on the beach in Philipsburg, where there are shops, restaurants and entertainment within steps from the entrance into Horizon View!

The Boardwalk transforms on regatta Friday and is one of my favourite regatta parties as it lands on the doorstep of the Holland House in Philipsburg.  Don't forget that the boardwalk is parallel to the sea and serves as a breezy backdrop to the busy and festive night.  It is one night that practically the entire island comes out to enjoy all the Boardwalk has to offer.

Stages are built all along the boardwalk with easy access to eateries, vendors and of course, great live music!  I even met the Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs this year.


Saturday night of the regatta was Caribbean Jam Night and featured Toronto's Tessanne Chin and Youth Waves. 

Since her 2012 regatta performance her career has taken off, and in 2013 Tessanne was the winner of The Voice USA, blowing away the competition.  Her rendition of Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water", soared to #1 on the ITunes Overall Song chart, a first time for the show since its inception.


Tessanne just recently performed at the Redemption Live: Bob Marley's 70th Birthday celebration, in Kingston Jamaica.  When asked about her upcoming performance in St. Maarten she stated "I'm very excited to be back. I got such a warm response the last time I visited and I'm looking forward to making this visit even better."





The Heineken Regatta's grand finale was headlined by the Grammy Award winning music icons Kool & the Gang!  Kool just killed it during their long set with full band in place.  

The band was established in 1964, and over the years they bounced around with various names until they settled on their current name, Kool & the Gang.  They blend together funk, jazz and soul to deliver a unique sound that has carried them through decades of performances.  Their musical sound evolved and they released their debut album in 1969 self-titled Kool & the Gang, which eventually generated their first Billboard R&B charted single.


In total they have produce 25 Top Ten R&B Hits, 9 Top Ten Pop Hits, two Grammy Awards, seven American Music Awards and 31 gold and platinum records.  Their accomplishments are well-known, and they have performed nonstop for 35 years, longer than any other R&B group. 


Every year I think it is my favourite trip to St. Maarten  - whether it was the spirit of the people, unbelievable weather, the swift boats in the regatta, the fun-filled parties, the incredible food or all the live music on the beaches around the island, but the magic of this island has definitely cast its spell on me.

If you're smart, you will put it at the top of your travel destination list to visit during the 2016 St. Maarten Heineken Regatta!