85 F
Cruz Bay
Saturday, December 9, 2023


The first Baume & Mercier-designed Internet café in the world was presented to residents of St. Thomas Thursday night at a "Grand Opening Celebration" on the second floor of Little Switzerland's Main Street store.
The café is the brainchild of Patrick Heron, Little Switzerland's general merchandise manager, and Stephane Barraque, general manager of Baume & Mercier's Caribbean operations. Baume & Mercier is a Geneva-based, high-end watchmaking company.
Heron said retail space on the second floor is not very valuable on Main Street, so, "We thought, what do our customers want? A clean bathroom (which in this case is marble), a place to rest, somewhere they can get their e-mail."
Barraque agreed. "When people are making a decision to buy a $100,000 watch, you don't want to rush them," he said. "Let them come up here, have a drink, relax and think it over."
The design, which Barraque said was patterned after a salon held in Geneva, has glass-paneled flooring, changing-color fiber optics in the ceiling and modern, comfortable-looking furniture lining the walls. The 1,250-square-foot space housed the elegant William and Daniel's restaurant from 1986 to 1989.
A bank of five computers sits against one wall, connected to wireless Internet access. Customers can go on-line, check their e-mail or peruse the Baume & Mercier web site.
In order to access the Internet, Barraque said, users will be asked to answer 10 questions about watch buying. "We want to find out what our customers are looking for in a watch," he said.
Answering the questions will also make the users eligible to win a watch.
When asked why, of all the places in the world, Baume & Mercier chose to open the first of these cafés on St. Thomas, he said, "We calculated that 1.5 million people pass in front of this store every year."
Heron said his motivation was that Main Street had "nothing like this, where people could relax, get away from the noise" and crowds on the street.
Customers are not the only ones who will use the café, which also serves beer, wine and bottled water, "at reasonable prices," according to Heron.
He said, some people who work on Main Street have already visited the café during a break in the workday to check their e-mail.
To learn more about Baume & Mercier, click here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.