Mer­cury Beach: Spring Break of the Caribbean

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Michele Hack­shaw

For the past four years Mer­cury Beach has been one of the most an­tic­i­pated events of the sum­mer hosted in Saint Lu­cia. Each year the nau­ti­cal event suc­ceeds in its mis­sion to pro­vide a mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ence to at­ten­dees, and it con­tin­ues to grow, gain­ing ex­po­sure and at­tract­ing a big­ger and more di­verse crowd.

As many would know, Mer­cury Beach is an up­mar­ket event with its pri­mary ob­jec­tive fo­cused on pro­vid­ing a unique beach ex­pe­ri­ence to Saint Lu­cians and vis­i­tors. The tar­get mar­kets for or­ga­niz­ers in­clude French ter­ri­to­ries like Mar­tinique, Guade­loupe and Saint Maarten.

And it isn’t just a party they’re pro­mot­ing; the event in­cludes gourmet cui­sine, pre­mium drinks, and ex­cep­tional en­ter­tain­ment which in­cludes the hottest DJs, pri­mar­ily of French ori­gin, and re­gional acts.

Mer­cury Beach has grown im­mensely since its in­cep­tion back in 2014. It was first held on the first beach of Pi­geon Is­land Na­tional Park, and most cer­tainly proved suc­cess­ful, which called for a big­ger venue just out­side the Na­tional Park that has been the home for the fes­tiv­ity for the last two years. Last year, the event pulled 7,000 vis­i­tors and scored over 600 ves­sels: speed­boats and cata­ma­rans, not just from Mar­tinique and Guadaloupe but also from Bar­ba­dos, Trinidad, Puerto Rico, Africa, France and Canada. Or­ga­niz­ers are con­fi­dent that it is suc­ceed­ing to gen­er­ate more of a buzz around Saint Lu­cia with the tag line, ‘Spring Break of the Caribbean’, and they have the documentation to prove just how much the event has helped the econ­omy.

“Last year the di­rect eco­nomic im­pact stood at EC $12.1 mil­lion,” Cuthbert Di­dier, Lo­cal Part­ner of Mer­cury Beach told the “A full im­pact study was done by the Min­istry of Tourism and re­viewed by the Min­istry of Fi­nance.”

Go­ing back to its ini­ti­a­tion, Mer­cury Beach didn’t ex­actly gain the best re­views due to what Di­dier de­scribes as “the hyp­o­crit­i­cal Saint Lu­cian pub­lic”. He felt that Mer­cury was seen then as “a blasé, highly sex­u­alised event” which he said was not the case. Since then the ta­bles have turned dra­mat­i­cally. The event has gained rave re­views as more peo­ple em­brace the con­cept. Price-wise, tick­ets (for this year par­tic­u­larly) cost EC $260 and in­clude two par­ties. Mer­cury Beach will be pro­mot­ing Gros Islet Fri­day Night Street Party on 11th Au­gust as a pre­cur­sory event and, af­ter Gros Islet, a pre-party for ticket hold­ers at Pi­geon Is­land. The main event will be held on Satur­day, 12th Au­gust.

Di­dier thinks the event is more than worth its price tag, as the cost means or­ga­niz­ers are able to main­tain the de­sired stan­dard, roll out the nec­es­sary safety fea­tures, and con­trol the qual­ity of the event. “Pri­mar­ily we want to give peo­ple great qual­ity in a safe en­vi­ron­ment; and hope­fully they will be will­ing to pay for it,” he said. Due to the big­ger venue the event now re­quires more in­fra­struc­ture, which also comes with hefty cost. Due to the lack of na­tional sponsorship, so far or­ga­niz­ers have not suc­ceeded to off­set those prices.

“We’ve tried to get peo­ple on board but peo­ple see it as they’re go­ing to come any­way; they’re go­ing to take our prod­uct any­way,” Di­dier said. “Su­per­mar­kets will be filled, ho­tels will be filled, which is a very sad po­si­tion to take.”

How­ever, Di­dier said Mer­cury Beach was for­tu­nate to have been the re­cip­i­ent of many qual­ity spon­sor­ships from com­pa­nies in­clud­ing Heineken, Peter and Com­pany, and the Saint Lu­cia Events Com­pany. “We’re work­ing very hard with the Saint Lu­cia Ho­tel and Tourism As­so­ci­a­tion (SLHTA) and hope­fully they’ll come through this year,” Di­dier said. “We’re also work­ing with a num­ber of key brand spon­sors through­out Mar­tinique, and it shows just how much com­mit­ment there is for the event, from Mar­tinique. These com­pa­nies are part­ner­ing with us to try and have mar­ket pen­e­tra­tion in Saint Lu­cia.”

This year, Mer­cury Beach will again be filled with sur­prises. The ma­jor give-away for ticket hold­ers will be part of a raf­fle, which will re­sult in one lucky per­son walk­ing away with a 26ft speed­boat fully equipped with Mer­cury en­gines. Per­sons must be at the event and present when the raf­fle takes place in or­der to win.

Or­ga­niz­ers have ev­ery in­ten­tion of keep­ing the good vibes flow­ing all the way to the give-away, with a host of per­for­mances that they’re mostly keep­ing quiet about for now. Di­dier did re­veal two names how­ever: Ja­maica’s Kon­shens and Busy Sig­nal. Dur­ing this week’s in­ter­view, Di­dier also high­lighted one of the most im­por­tant things to or­ga­niz­ers, which was keep­ing the num­bers up, and thus stim­u­lat­ing the econ­omy. So far he says ticket sales in Mar­tinique have been boom­ing. As for Saint Lu­cia, tick­ets will be on sale from this week­end at SIXT Car Rental in the IGY Rod­ney Bay Ma­rina.

As we rounded up the in­ter­view, Di­dier as­sured us that or­ga­niz­ers were just as de­ter­mined as they’ve al­ways been to clean up the beach af­ter their event, as a way of en­sur­ing the venue con­tin­ued to be pre­served for years to come. He en­cour­ages other pro­mot­ers to do the same.

“If you use the re­source, you should clean it,” he said. “Prior to Mer­cury Beach last year, the Mer­cury team cleared 32 huge bags of garbage. The beach was just left in a dis­gust­ing man­ner.”

As for the scan­dalous biki­nis and (nearly!) bare bodies of­ten spot­ted at the event, Di­dier ex­pressed: “The French love their life and their body. Us Caribbean peo­ple should be happy in our own skin, and learn to re­ally en­joy our­selves, not in a vul­gar or dis­re­spect­ful man­ner.”

Mer­cury Beach will be held in ex­actly two weeks, and Di­dier en­cour­ages Saint Lu­cians to come out in sup­port!

Cuthbert Di­dier, Lo­cal Part­ner of Mer­cury Beach.

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