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Tourism Arrivals Up, Property Makeovers, New Airlifts and More

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten (Oct. 17, 2012) - The island of St. Maarten heats up this year with new and exciting things around the island.  With new airlifts, tourism arrivals up, hotel enhancements and special packages, the "Friendly Island" has more to offer visiting travelers.

Air Arrivals:

Travel to St. Maarten during the first half of 2012 has been on an upswing as compared to 2011.  Visitor and air arrivals have both increased 8.5%, creating a 56.6% growth in hotel occupancy during that time.  With an increase in tourists to the island, the overall destination has seen a growth during the first half of 2012.

Cruise Arrival: As St. Maarten has always been a popular destination for travelers who vacation on the island, it is becoming increasingly popular as a main port of call for cruise passengers.  St. Maarten's port has seen an increase of 9% during the first half of 2012 as compared to the first half of 2011.  Day trips to the island afford travelers the option to take in the beauty and duty-free shopping while seeing other Caribbean islands as well.

New Airlift: St. Maarten is proud to announce that as of Dec. 15, 2012 Delta Air Lines will be launching weekly direct service to the island from New York's John F. Kennedy (JFK) airport to Princess Juliana Airport (SXM).  The air service will occur every Saturday with a departing 9:05 am flight from New York which arrives in St. Maarten at 2:15 pm with returning flights every Saturday leaving St. Maarten at 3:15 pm arriving into New York at 6:05 pm.  The new route will provide convenient connections for both international and stateside travelers as well as offers added variety for northeast travelers.

Resort Enhancements: The Sonesta Maho Beach Resort & Casino is undergoing a $3 million refurbishment and enhancements to conclude in November 2013, resulting in a makeover as it becomes a true all-inclusive resort, where it joins its on-island sister property, the Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort & Casino.  General manager, Armando Pizzuti, spearheaded the rebranding effort to keep the property up-to-date and to maintain his "Sterling Service" in the hospitality industry.  What guests will enjoy at the new, all-inclusive property is full breakfast daily, lunch, dinner and snacks each day at a choice of four different restaurants; unlimited international and domestic premium beer and spirits, fruit drinks and soft drinks; no reservations required at the restaurants; all hotel taxes and service charges; a weekly beach party dinner; in-room mini fridge refreshed daily with soft drinks, bottled water (premier categories and higher select spirits and beer are available); $20 per person in match bets for adults at The Casino Royale; guest pass to the Sonesta Great Bay with complimentary use of the resort's facility and all-inclusive meals and drinks programs; daytime activities including water aerobics, pool toys, use of snorkeling equipments, tennis, ping pong, pool tables and more; nightly theme parties and live entertainment; use of the fitness center; nightly outdoor movies for kids and adults; and the Just Us Kids activity program for children.

Low season all-inclusive rates start at $413 per night, based on double occupancy, including all taxes.  For reservations, visit www.sonesta.com/mahobeach.

New Products, Packages and Developments: The Westin St. Maarten Dawn Beach Resort & Spa are enticing groups to head to the "Friendly Island" with the "Four Night Group Spectacular" package.  This offer lures companies, incentive groups, weddings and groups of at least 25 rooms to St. Maarten with a four-night package starting at $449 per person, based on double occupancy in oceanfront accommodations.  The offer includes hotel accommodations for four nights, complimentary breakfast buffet each morning, welcome or farewell reception and pirates buffet dinner featuring live Caribbean dancers and fire show.  This offer is valid on new reservations for travel April 7 - Oct. 31, 2013.  Additional nights are available from $88 per person, per night.  Resort fees and taxes are not included.

Also at the Westin St. Maarten, every Thursday, Friday and Saturday guests will enjoy "The Westin Sunset Party by the Beach" from 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm with live music from the island's hottest singers.

Coral Beach Club announces that as of Winter 2012 they are installing a common pool for guest's use.  Villa guests have enjoyed private pools, but for guests not staying in villas, a common pool will enhance the property by offering a place to take a dip after a long day in the St. Maarten sun.  Additional information on the property can be found at www.coralbeach-club.com.

For the aquatic thrill seekers, Aquamania Adventures has opened at Divi Little Bay Beach Resort.  Activities abound at Aquamania with parasailing, waiverunner rentals, deep sea fishing excursions, scuba and snorkeling trips, sunset sail and dinner cruises, day trips to neighboring islands and more.  For more information, visit www.stmaarten-activities.com.

In Case You Missed It...: St. Maarten was voted as one of the top 10 'Best Islands in the World" by US News.  The destination which boasts 37 beaches, more than 365 restaurants and a plethora of daytime and nighttime diversions for all, has something for every traveler making it a quintessential destination.

TripAdvisor.com named Maho Beach in St. Maarten the number one "Truly Unique Beach" in the world.  Due to the beach's proximity to Princess Juliana Airport, the location is one of the few places in the world where aircrafts can be viewed in their flight path just outside the runway.  Guests can enjoy cocktails and fare at Sunset Beach Bar which sits just at the end of the runway on the beach and take in the sights of the planes arriving and departing the airport.

HGTV's hit show "House Hunters On Vacation" recently filmed at various properties and locations around St. Maarten for a future episode on HGTV.  The episode featured two couples who were surprised with a vacation in St. Maarten.  The host of the show escorted the travelers to three villa rental properties where the two couples chose their favorite to enjoy for the duration of their trip.

For more information on St. Maarten, visit the official site of the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau at www.VacationStMaarten.com.