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Re: La Belle Creole
Posted by: Tim (222.125.135.---)
Date: December 18, 2008 12:53AM

Dear All,
I stumbled across this site today and thought I would try to answer some of the queries. I have been a hotelier for most of my life and spent 3 years in St.Martin from 1985 to 1988 while I worked for Conrad International, the intl division of Hilton Hotels Corp of the US. Being somewhat of a history buff, I was quite interested in all of the old stories about the place....and the connection to the original "dreamer" behind the scheme there..Claude Phillipe of Waldorf Astoria fame (1950s&60s).

One of the posters in this thread mentions the Fortune magazine from the early 70s. I have a copy of that article, although somewhat worn. It gives many of the details of the early years. I put together a number of other pieces when I spent time with the original architect involved as he was asked to participate in the efforts to open the place in the mid to late 80s. I say open as it never opened in the late 60s as it was supposed to and sat idle (much like today) and partially unfinished through the 1970s and early 1980s.

I left in the month of August after the hotel opened (March 1, 1988) to continue my career with Hilton in the US. I returned with my wife in 1993 to enjoy our first trip back to the island. Sadly, I communicated with friends and old teammates in the fall of 1995 as Luis and Marilyn did their best to destroy the hotels of St. Martin / St.Maarten and other islands of the northeast Caribbean. A few years later, I visited the island again (early 1998) and walked the entire property...so sad to see all that had been renovated and corrected to fall back into its dormant state once again.

For several years after, I kept up with a friend who worked for the then owner. I understand this was a Canadian man who had wanted to reopen the hotel but balked at the many conditions set forth by the local government and local populace. She subsequently moved on and the last word I heard about the place was in mid 2000 when I spoke to Romeo Fleming, then a minister of tourism on the French side who said there were plans to reopen within the next year. Clearly, that hasn't happened.

For the past, I know much, for the present condition and future disposition of the place, I do not. I would try the Jones Lang Lasalle representative mentioned.

At bit of further trivia, I have in my home in South Carolina, an original hand-painted armoire and two leather "planter" chairs from the property. These were imported from Italy and Spain respectively in the late 1960s. I suspect the rest of the items like this are either still on site or spread far and wide across the island. I myself climbed through a warehouse in 90 degree heat looking for the matching set of doors for the armoire, which was given to me as well as the chairs as a wedding present by the then owner, a group of investors involved with Banque Paribas.

Being a hotelier, I have always dreamed of seeing this place alive again. It was indeed a pleasure to live there on site for a time during the construction and walk through the village in the moonlight as well as when we finally opened the place. I do agree it was not without it's faults. It could not keep up today with Anguilla and I believe it's time has come and gone. St. Martin is a challenging environment to operate in and I suspect that is why this place continues to deteriorate.

Feel free to send any questions and I'll try to answer.

With regards,

Tim Nauss, December 2008

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Re: La Belle Creole
Posted by: Tabba Khady (Moderator)
Date: December 18, 2008 07:20AM

Tim, thank yo so much. You posted a very refreshing, nice and constructive comment. It was very interesting and nice to read and I am sure many of the member on this board will take your offer about sending you questions.
The "legend" here within the local resident, is that the resort was built on an Arawack indian graves site and that is the reason the place is jinked and will never succeed... did you ever heard something like that during your years of involvement with La Belle Creole?

Kind Regards,
Philippe http://www.clicksmilies.com/s1106/travesmilies/flaggen1/smilie_flagge7.gif

[www.facebook.com]

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Re: La Belle Creole
Posted by: John (---.dyn.optonline.net)
Date: December 18, 2008 09:42AM

Thank you also Mr. Nauss for a refreshing and well written piece on this property. It is so sad to read this recap from someone who had firsthand knowledge of the property but at the same time, I feel you were lfortunate to have some good memories of the place as well as some souvenirs to cherish.

We were on the island just a week ago but never got the chance to seek out the property. Now I wish I had.

[www.vrbo.com]

Life is not a child's game of follow the Leader. Instead, life is more about finding one's own purpose in life....your life's plan, and then making a positive difference on earth.

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Re: La Belle Creole
Posted by: Bob Cleveland (---.dhcp.leds.al.charter.com)
Date: December 25, 2008 10:44PM

I do recall on our last visit to St. Maarten, speaking with a lady at the Holland House, whose parents lived in Oyster Bay. She'd come to dispose of the property, as I recall, as they had moved back to Great Britain. She'd lived there many years and said that one of the big attractions, which supplemented the possibly low normal hotel business, was the outstanding food at La Belle Creole. She said that the rise in fine dining restaurants in Grand Case had put some serious hurt on La Belle, and it was doubtful that it could ever be sustained on hotel business, as expensive and unusual as it had been.

I have no special knowledge beyond what she said, albeit I did go and prowl all around one day, snapping pictures. Awesome, if eerie. Extremely both, in fact.

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Re: La Belle Creole
Posted by: jimandi (206.74.246.---)
Date: December 26, 2008 12:01PM

Philippe, I find your post most interesting about the Arawak sacred ground. My children and I would spend many weekends there in the surrounding water trying to catch a Yellow Tang for our salt water tank. We would always end the day with strolls through La Belle Creole. When my daughter mentioned to one of her class mates what we did, her friend became very upset and stated that we should never go there. This child's Mother even came to our house to warn us not to go there. 'It be bad', is all she would say.

I have not thought about this until your post so now I feel I have to try to find the reason for this legend.

Best regards,
Sylvia

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Re: La Belle Creole
Posted by: Clem (---.ri.ri.cox.net)
Date: December 26, 2008 04:52PM

We have a condo in Nettle Bay Beach Club and have an excellent view of La Belle Creole. I have walked over to La Belle Creole several times in the past year. It is a very deserted and creepy place to go into. You do not know what might be living there. The weather has taken a toll on the property. I would think if anything did come of the property, the existing buildings would probably be torn down and start fresh. It is a beautiful location between the French Lowlands and Nettle Bay. Clem

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Re: La Belle Creole
Posted by: RT (208.72.42.---)
Date: December 29, 2008 12:49PM

Thought it was time to clear up all the confusion over La Belle Creole. We have owned La Belle Creole since June 04 and therefore can easily respond to previous posts. Regarding the Arawaks....the French Archaeological Department has done preliminary inspections of the property and have located two small areas they hope to dig and see if there are any remnants of the Arawaks,. The entire island of St. Martin is mapped for areas of Archaeological interest and this site has NO INTEREST to them but it now is a condition that they review all sites prior to any permits being issued...more to follow on that inspection. Yes, we orally worked with Jones Lang LaSalle to locate a hotel brand for our hotel project on this site but the con census in the hotel community is that St. Martin/France is too difficult and expensive. We are now investigating other routes to get this back as an operating hotel. The buildings although cosmetically damaged are all structurally sound. Even if roofs, windows,systems, etc. were in perfect shape they would have no value today...so the plan has them all stripped down to their shells and re-worked following to days hurricane standards but maintaining the charm. Questions????

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Re: La Belle Creole
Posted by: mikentara (---.152.54.241.Dial1.Atlanta1.Level3.net)
Date: December 29, 2008 01:39PM

Wow!
Thank you for posting.
We would wll like to be kept up to date on your progress.
Good luck in this endeavor.

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Re: La Belle Creole
Posted by: John (---.nwrknj.east.verizon.net)
Date: December 29, 2008 04:23PM

No questions...just happy that this interesting property may some day be restored. I would love to see it developed into what I can see in my mind's eye.

[www.vrbo.com]

Life is not a child's game of follow the Leader. Instead, life is more about finding one's own purpose in life....your life's plan, and then making a positive difference on earth.

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Re: La Belle Creole
Posted by: Barbara1 (Moderator)
Date: December 29, 2008 04:33PM

my question is of course one that probably can't be answered.
it is.... when?
when can we reasonably expect something to happen over there?

[barcann.livejournal.com]

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Re: La Belle Creole
Posted by: Tabba Khady (Moderator)
Date: December 29, 2008 05:39PM

Interesting that while reading RT post I asked myself the exact same question...checking my head sad smiley

Kind Regards,
Philippe http://www.clicksmilies.com/s1106/travesmilies/flaggen1/smilie_flagge7.gif

[www.facebook.com]

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Re: La Belle Creole
Posted by: Phil (142.46.8.---)
Date: December 29, 2008 06:07PM

This is a fascinating thread. My late wife and I stayed here in March 1995 and really enjoyed the ambience. At that time I remember Frommers and Fodors rating it second only to La Samanna as best on the island. Is it possible to walk through the grounds these days? I remember asking a cab driver about it when I visited SXM a couple of years ago and he said it was dangerous because of squatters. I would love to walk around and take a few photos.

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Re: La Belle Creole
Posted by: RT (208.72.42.---)
Date: December 29, 2008 06:23PM

Ultimately the timing depends upon the Commune...they move VERY slowly. There are NO squatters on the property but there is full time on site security. Graffiti writers/kids started a fire a year or so ago in the original reception building! nothing was done by the Commune although the Graffiti guys also signed their names!

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Re: La Belle Creole
Posted by: Tabba Khady (Moderator)
Date: December 30, 2008 07:34AM

RT
What does the Collectivite territoriale (former"Commune"winking smiley has to do exactly? Which part of the "project" is in their hands? How are they being involve in the "reconstruction" or "redeveloppement" of your property? I am getting confused...

Kind Regards,
Philippe http://www.clicksmilies.com/s1106/travesmilies/flaggen1/smilie_flagge7.gif

[www.facebook.com]

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Re: La Belle Creole
Posted by: RT (208.72.42.---)
Date: December 30, 2008 12:30PM

Don't be confused.......We have been working with the "Commune" for many months to solve two problems....First...the property is partly zoned to be a part of the project that was planned 25 years ago on the adjoining property. We are trying to have this re-zoned to have our entire parcel be the same zoning. The current zoning allows a water oriented development (think Venice)...with boats and canals.....not what we want. Also...two years ago a new restriction was put on all projects in France to allow the Government to fully investigate Archeology prior to any work. This includes under our old buildings. Problem here is that when the property is owned by a Corporation (as we are) the owner pays all costs with an open checkbook.We are trying to get this number with a top set. When we purchased the property we were assured by the "Commune" that as this land was not mapped as "of interest" by the Government we would have no exposure but now this problem could run into the millions of dollars. It also gives them the right to stop construction for indeterminate time to dig. No way to start a project with these open ended issues. Progress is good on these issues and we hope to have all handled soon after the new year.

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