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Thread: Practical Matters

  1. #1
    KevinS is online now
    Senior Insider Joined: Jul 2003 Boston Posts: 19,627

    Practical Matters

    ATMs There are a number of ATMs on the island. Withdrawing money from your US bank account at an ATM is usually the cheapest way to buy Euros. Know your ATM pass code as a number, as there are usually no letters on French ATM keypads. If your bank has a relationship with one of the on-island banks then you can sometimes save on fees, which can be costly. Some banks and credit unions waive all foreign ATM fees. Check with your bank, as fees sometimes change over time.

    Mobile Numbers vs. Land lines All local phone numbers in St Barth are 10-digit numbers. Land lines begin with 0590. Mobile numbers begin with 0690. Local numbers used to be 6-digit numbers, generally beginning with 27. You’ll still see some numbers listed as 27 xx xx or 27x xxx. Assume that they are land lines and put a 0590 on the front when dialing. In France, the person making the call pays for calls to a mobile number, unlike in the US where both parties may pay. As a result, your villa phone may be blocked from dialing a 0690 number. This means that you can’t call either Le Yacht Club or your new island friend’s mobile from the villa without using a phone card.

    Making phone calls to SBH All St Barth phone numbers, both land line and mobile, are in the 590 country code. When dialing a SBH number from the US you drop the leading zero on the 10-digit local number and add 590. To call from the US dial 011 (for international,) 590 (SBH Country code), and the 10-digit number without the leading zero. The number for Wall House is listed on my restaurant list as 0590 27 71 83. To call Wall House from home I would pick up the phone and dial 011 590 590 27 71 83. From a mobile phone with international dialing capabilities you could substitute a + (generally by holding down the zero key) for the 011, and dial the same call as +590 590 27 71 83.

    Using Your Mobile Phone on-island In general, an ATT, Verizon (Global Ready only), T-Mobile, or Sprint (Advanced Worldmode only) phone will work if it supports the appropriate GSM bands and has global roaming activated. Expect calls to be very expensive, and check with your carrier in advance to determine the current rate. At the time that I’m writing this ATT charges $2.50 per minute for both incoming and outgoing calls ($2.00 or less with International Roaming Voice Rest of World), Verizon charges $2.89 per minute ($2.29 with Value Plan), T-Mobile charges $2.99 per minute ($0.20 per minute with Simple Choice or World Class International Roaming), and Sprint charges $2.99/minute.

    Making Phone calls from your villa For most people the cheapest way to phone home is to use a phone card. Buy a Bla Bla (Dauphin Telecom) at the gas staion. Instructions are on the back in multiple languages. Buy the cheapest Euro value that you can find (€5 or €10) unless you plan on making a LOT of calls. With a Bla Bla Card you would:

    To call the US or Canada:
    1) Enter the local access number (0809 139 139)
    2) Enter 2 for prompts in English
    3) Enter the 10-digit pin code under the scratch-off block on the back of your Bla Bla Card

    4) Dial the number just as you would dial a long distance number at home - 1-area code-number (For other countries substitute the appropriate country code for the 1.)

    To call a local mobile number:
    Follow the first 3 steps above and dial the 0690 number as 0690 xx xx xx

    Emergency Numbers These are the Emergency Numbers that I have in my cell phone, which works on the island:

    WIMCO SBH : 0590 51 07 51 (If you rent through an agency other than WIMCO substitute the number of your villa agency/manager.)
    Gendarmerie : 0590 27 11 70 (Dial 17 in an emergency)
    Fire Dept/Ambulance 0590 27 62 31 (Dial 18 in an emergency)
    Doctor On Call : 0590 90 13 13
    Premium IV : 0590 29 00 07 - I use Premium IV's services regularly, not just for emergencies.

    Post Office You can buy stamps and mail letters and postcards at the post office (La Poste) in Gustavia. Like most of the people in St Barth, the employees at La Poste may speak better English than you do French. You can try your less than perfect French (“Je veux acheter un timbre pour une carte postale au Canada” for example, if you want to buy a stamp for a post card to be mailed to Canada, or “Je veux acheter un timbre pour une lettre au les Etats Unis” if you want to buy a stamp for a letter to be mailed to the US.) or you can try English. Chances are you’ll end up with the correct postage. There is a second smaller post office in Lorient.

    Buying Gas There are two gas stations on St Barth, the gas station at the airport and the gas station in Lorient. I’ve always used the airport gas station. The hours are Monday - Saturday 8:00AM - 12:00PM and 2:30PM - 7:00PM (the one in Lorient allegedly reopens at 1:30PM), and the station is closed all day on Sundays, all day on holidays, and possibly on Thursday afternoons. Unleaded Gas, which most cars take, is Sans Plombe (Without Lead) in French. Diesel is the same in French and English. It's a bad thing to put Sans Plombe into a vehicle that runs on Diesel. Pump first, pay inside with cash or credit card afterwards. If you’re flying out on Sunday then remember to fill the tank on Saturday, and expect a line at the gas station. It helps to know where the filler cap is and how to unlock it or open the cover BEFORE you get to the gas station...

    Buying Gas After Hours You will see locals buying gas 24-hours per day. To do so you need a credit card with an imbedded chip and a PIN code. US credit cards that do not have an imbedded chip will not work. US credit cards that have a chip but no PIN are rumored to sometimes work, but your mileage may vary. US and Canadian credit cards that have a chip and a pin will work. Your only hope if you’re in a bind is to find a friendly local who will let you pay him/her in cash for the use of their credit card. My advice is to generously tip upwards - and in Euros.
    Last edited by JB; 06-13-2014 at 10:52 AM.

  2. #2
    andynap is online now
    SBH Insider Joined: Oct 2002 Philadelphia Posts: 43,617

    Re: Newbie Info du Jour

    Excellent tips. Thanks Kev- good week of tips.


    Andy

  3. #3
    Voosh is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jan 2007 Detroit Posts: 13,136

    Re: Newbie Info du Jour

    IMHO, keep this one with you on the next trip to SBH.

    A phone card is a great backup when cell or Web connections get lost in space. Most card providers have a local access number. Sometimes you can't beat POTS (plain old telephone system.)
    Yeah, Yeah - IMHO

  4. #4
    stbartslover is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Feb 2003 Ann Arbor, MI---Flamands Posts: 2,577

    Re: Newbie Info du Jour

    Excellent information Kevin.
    Sign under our villa phone w/numbers:
    Villa Manager.
    Police/Gendarmerie.
    Doctor on Call.
    Ambulance.

    Unfortunately, over the years, the last two have been summoned on several occasions---with very favorable outcomes.
    Interesting note re: blocking 0690. As a villa owner it's more expensive to maintain this service which varies from Guest to Guest---unlike standard.
    Many (particularly younger folks) on St. Barth, like the US, now forgo land lines in favor of cell serivce --- so I've found it essential, but...yikes: more "exposure to the Euro"... as it's known in business circles these days.
    Jeff
    Flamands Blue
    www.stbartsvilla.com

  5. #5
    KevinS is online now
    Senior Insider Joined: Jul 2003 Boston Posts: 19,627

    Re: Newbie Info du Jour

    Thanks Jeff. I've added the Docotor On Call number to my original post.

  6. #6
    Voosh is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jan 2007 Detroit Posts: 13,136

    Re: Newbie Info du Jour

    Personal commentary (oops.)

    You can have the cops, the TSA, the FBI, ... Unfortunately, they are a necessary evil. If everyone just followed the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would unto you) there would be no need for lots of this crap.

    You will always need firefighters, coast guard and medics. My heroes.
    Yeah, Yeah - IMHO

  7. #7
    jhaney is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Apr 2005 Dallas, Texas Posts: 205

    Re: Newbie Info du Jour

    One additional note. If you have a rental car and need gas on Sunday go to the rental agency at the airport...it may cost more but at least you can get gas.
    Counting the days

  8. #8
    PBnJ is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Mar 2005 St Barth Posts: 2,504

    Re: Newbie Info du Jour

    [quote]


    Using Your Mobile Phone on-island In general, an ATT or T-Mobile phone will work if it is GSM, tri-band or quad-band, and has global roaming activated. Expect calls to be very expensive, and check with ATT or T-Mobile in advance to determine the current rate. At the time that I
    I don't have a solution but I admire the problem.

  9. #9
    GramChop is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jul 2007 Austin, Texas Posts: 17,025

    Re: Newbie Info du Jour

    most excellent information, kevinS.

    i have printed it out and the information now resides in my "SBH JULY 2008" folder!

    merci beaucoup!
    The waves of the sea bring me back to me.

  10. #10
    JEK is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Jan 2004 In the ether . . . Posts: 51,674
    Last edited by JEK; 04-07-2014 at 10:13 PM. Reason: Updated by Kevin 04/07/14
    The Marius 100th Birthday Party -- June 5, 2023

  11. #11
    tim is offline
    Moderator Joined: Jun 2003 Vélo, Virginia Posts: 16,823
    Thanks for the excellent information, good for newbies and old hands alike
    The best moderation is the least moderation.

  12. #12
    bkeats is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jul 2010 Nuevo York Posts: 600
    I am keeping this in my favorites folder.

  13. #13
    lps is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Mar 2005 Connecticut Posts: 84
    Thanks for updating this Kevin. Very kind of you to provide all this practical info for the newbies and we oldies! Will save so I don't have to ask again next year:)

  14. #14
    amyb is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Apr 2008 Glen Cove,L. I., NY Posts: 25,409


    Kevin Rocks!
    Remember Yesterday, Dream About Tomorrow, But Live Today.

  15. #15
    NHDiane is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Aug 2003 New Hampshire Posts: 6,937
    Can someone tell me how to add a thread to a favorites folder for easy access??
    Emma Peel: I suppose Mother warned you about women like me?
    John Steed: Until now, I didn't know there were women like you.

  16. #16
    bkeats is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jul 2010 Nuevo York Posts: 600
    Quote Originally Posted by NHDiane View Post
    Can someone tell me how to add a thread to a favorites folder for easy access??
    Are you looking to add this as a favorite in a internet browser?

    If so, are you using Microsoft IE (internet explorer) or another browser like Chrome or Firefox?

  17. #17
    phil62 is online now
    SBH Insider Joined: Feb 2005 Glen Cove, NY Posts: 6,064
    I would add just one thing to Kevin's outstanding info. Don't be afraid to use Skype while on Island. It's a great way to stay in touch with kids and grandkids, but it's also a very inexpensive alternative when you need to make or change airline reservations, contact credit card or banking services or anything else where you may be on the phone for long periods. You will need to put some money into your Skype account [$10 will probably last you a year at 2.5 cents/minute], and it's also a good idea to enter your cellphone number into your profile so that friends or family with caller ID will recognize you. The best news is that there is no charge for 800 numbers, so that 45 minute call to your airline costs you nothing. I have done this repeatedly with no spotty or dropped calls. Obviously you will need a decent WIFI connection, but most villas and hotels today are fine in that area.

    Phil

  18. #18
    andynap is online now
    SBH Insider Joined: Oct 2002 Philadelphia Posts: 43,617
    Quote Originally Posted by NHDiane View Post
    Can someone tell me how to add a thread to a favorites folder for easy access??
    Highlight the URL Copy it and paste it to your folder


    Andy

  19. #19
    JEK is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Jan 2004 In the ether . . . Posts: 51,674
    On your Mac - Add Bookmark
    The Marius 100th Birthday Party -- June 5, 2023

  20. #20
    NHDiane is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Aug 2003 New Hampshire Posts: 6,937
    Sorry, I didn't make my question very clear... I was referring to here on the forum. Is there a place to put all the info here that I want to save in a folder?
    Emma Peel: I suppose Mother warned you about women like me?
    John Steed: Until now, I didn't know there were women like you.

  21. #21
    KevinS is online now
    Senior Insider Joined: Jul 2003 Boston Posts: 19,627
    I was successful in using a Bank of America chip-and-sign credit card to buy gas yesterday, so some chip-and-sign cards do work. I was not prompted for a PIN. YMMV.

  22. #22
    JEK is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Jan 2004 In the ether . . . Posts: 51,674
    Better keep that card and that bank :)
    The Marius 100th Birthday Party -- June 5, 2023

  23. #23
    KevinS is online now
    Senior Insider Joined: Jul 2003 Boston Posts: 19,627
    Citibank AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard DOES NOT work at the airport gas station after hours. This is a chip-and-sign card, not a chip-and-pin card.

  24. #24
    phil62 is online now
    SBH Insider Joined: Feb 2005 Glen Cove, NY Posts: 6,064
    I found that out awhile ago. The only card I carry that works is the new Diners Club. BTW, I had occasion to use their Primary Auto Insurance coverage a few months ago and was very satisfied with the way the claim was handled. Full coverage with zero deductible, and virtually everything done on line.

    Phil

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