THE RITZ-CARLTON IS COMING. International travel websites were buzzing this week with the news that the Ritz-Carlton is coming earlier than thought. The new resort in Aruba was supposed to open in 2014, but recently Marriott International and Ritz-Carlton have released the news that Aruba’s first 5-star resort will open on November 2nd, in time for the winter high season with General Manager Roberto Grisi at the helm. Grisi is currently in Caracas as the General Manager/Country Manager at JW Marriott, in Venezuela. His new property in Aruba boasts 320 oceanfront guest rooms with 55 suites among them. For truly fancy travelers a 35 room Ritz-Carlton Club level with concierge services will be available. The sprawling complex features a large spa with 15 treatment rooms, two pools, a 24-hour casino, four restaurants, and the largest meeting spaces in Aruba. The resort here will be the 7th Ritz-Carlton in the Caribbean following the opening of similar properties in Jamaica, the Cayman Island, Mexico, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The history of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company starts with The Ritz-Carlton, in Boston, where the standards of service, dining and facilities were set, now serving as a benchmark for all Ritz-Carlton hotels and resorts worldwide. The chain’s founder, celebrated hotelier Cesar Ritz, was often referred to as the “king of hoteliers and hotelier to kings.” It was his philosophy of service and innovations that helped redefine the luxury hotel experience setting what is today called the Gold Standard of hospitality. True to the corporate Motto: We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen, the resort in Aruba will practice un-wavering commitment to service, and will require perhaps 500 highly-trained, cream-of-the-crop employees, prepared to rise to the challenge of the above mentioned, difficult to attain gold standard. I understand that the chain is conducting global searches for talent, looking for educated Arubans in the US and in the Netherlands, in an effort to recruit them and repatriate them to work here. You should go to the Ritz-Carlton corporate web site, it’s a fascinating read!
OFF-SEASON BLUES. Father’s Day is usually the last hoorah of a number of local businesses who manage to survive in the high season, but as traffic subsides in the off season, they run out of gas and sadly expire. One bar on early-retirement is a favorite establishment in Noord, JC Sports Bar & Grill, a partnership of a popular bartender and Tom Mendes, a long time Aruba resident. I finally managed to go for a JC Mojito, the day before they closed. I guess you could say my timing was off. Anyway, the JC partnership is praying for a fast injection of cash in the form of a new investor, to resuscitate their business, hopefully sooner than later. At the South Beach Centre both Da Vinci Ristorante Italiano, and Wok Away, are reportedly making room for a large new delightfully tacky and unrefined Hooter’s. In honor of the Hooter Girls, the South Beach Lounge is also moving further up the sidewalk. We understand that general improvements will be taking place to try breathing fresh energy into the mall, which struggles to reach synergy and a good mix of tenants.
THE SELF-PROCLAIMED AND SELF SERVING BEST OF ARUBA™ AWARDS. I recently ran into the ever-charming and ever-calculating Yenny Dominguez who is launching ARUBA’S OFFICIAL BUSINESS AWARDS these days. Basically the enterprising sales lady – she was after all trained by the Marriott Vacation Club – started a program in which everyone is asked to pay for their so-called business excellence award, there is no legitimate competition or a set of standards to meet. If you have the spare $6,000 in your pocket you may place the plastic sticker BEST Real Estate or Best Cuisine on your door; you will also be invited to party at Tierra del Sol, at the end of April. If you don’t have the money, tough luck, even if you’re running an excellent establishment, you’re out! When people can buy the-best-of-this or best-of-other titles, and there is no due process, no jury, no judges, no Gold Standards to uphold, you can safely say that the program was designed to solely support its managing director. In the real world, Best Student, or for example Best Movie titles have to be earned, not bought! It’s a good idea of course, when introduced by the Chamber of Commerce, it’s a scam when the title in empty, and all you have to do is write a check!
ARU-FUN ON FACEBOOK. A group of graphic designers with time on their hands – they must also be very young, judging from the content – started Aru Fun on Facebook a silly but harmless page on which they post three humorous, pictorial updates every day! Last week they crossed the 1.000 likes line, which is impressive in light of being a non-profit, non political entity, celebrating just 4 virtual months in existence. Check them out on Facebook for a daily chuckle!
THE NEXT BIG THING IN TELECOMMUNICATION. We met Terence Lacle at Taste of Belgium, he explained he is busy with the introduction of a submarine cable system, which would allow the island more communication capacity, most importantly it will offer a redundant network, one which grants extra capacity in case certain components of the existing network fail. Having a redundant network is just like having a spare tire in your car and it would make the government’s dream of serving as a bridge to South America possible. Right now, Terence remarks, Aruba is a 3rd world country, behind Curacao and Bonaire as far as Tele-Communications. We might as well start raising carrier pigeons.
FRESH FISH, BACK TO BASICS. So where can you get a delicious piece of fresh fish, caught this morning, served for lunch? I enjoyed just that at Hadicurari, at Fisherman’s Pier, where the Peruvian Ceviche and the Grilled Mahi Mahi were perfect, with an anemic and watery Creole sauce, on the side, but who cares, the fish was divine, and while the espresso had no crema crown, it tasted good! At Aqua Grille the Red Snapper brushed with lemon-herb vinaigrette and mango salsa on the side was most enjoyable, and I polished off whatever else came along with it, I don’t even remember what it was, except that my plate went back to the kitchen licked clean! Incidentally, the mud-pie dessert was worth all the calories! [email protected]