~ Article and photos contributed by S.R. ~
Dutch Cul de Sac/Emilio Wilson Estate – The transformation of St. Maarten’s highest hill, Sentry Hill, which also has Emilio Wilson Estate nestled on one side, has seen a slow but steady transformation in the past few months ever since Rain Forest Adventures (RFA) started their building activities in the area in preparation for the ski lift chair up the hill and other coming attractions.
The Emilio Wilson Estate, and Sentry Hill by extension, will have atleast 8 ski lift towers going up the hill in addition to chair receiving stations. These were placed recently with the help of a helicopter over a 3 week period, leaving many residents with little rest.
The access dirt road up the hill is about 4 to 5 meters wide and will see, as developers indicated an emergency evacuation route along side it in case the ski chair lift malfunctions.
The first ski lift receiving station sits right below the peak of Sentry Hill on the right side when looking up from Emilio Wilson Estate. Guests will have to disembark here and take another ski lift chair which entry point sits about 30 meters from the disembarking zone. This second ski lift station will lead guests to the highest peak of Sentry Hill.
Once disembarking the second ski chair lift, guests will need to find their way to the peak of Sentry Hill where RFA has yet to build the observatory deck(s).
The views are amazing but one can’t help but feel disappointed and saddened that Sentry Hill has undergone irreversible man made changes. Also one has to wonder what will happen to all the man made structures in the unfortunate event that RFA’s commercial venture seizes to exist due to financial hardship.
The zip line attraction, one of the steepest in the world, will be for those thrill seekers looking for a steep spike in adrenaline as it’s almost a vertical drop down.
Before starting operations, RFA stated their building activities would not affect more than 3% of Emilio Wilson Estate. That appears not be accurate as judging from the picture below, one can see the lower section of their building activities and see that 5 new buildings have been erected or are in the process of being built. One of which is a massive white rectangular building which supposedly will house the ski lift engine. The bus parking lot has not been paved yet which will impact the lower section of Emilio Wilson Estate even further.