Bati Bleki Buzz, Weekly Recap November 3rd, 2019

ATECH, where tech, innovation, and creativity meet to form the future

This is what you should expect: 2 days – 15+ speakers – 9 workshops – 8 startups – 1 startup pitch competition winner PLUS endless connections that last a lifetime.

ATECH is back, October 30 – 31, 2019 at the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino. If you recall last year with the Morris Lapidus grand ballroom under renovations ATECH strategically downsized and relocated to an alternative location. This year it’s back in an extended format, with all favorite features repeating plus some new ones.

The 5th edition brought to us by Tristan Every and Rudy Croes and their collaborators features 5 panel discussions with a mix of international speakers and local talent.

Taking on Creativity, Collaboration & Technology: Our very own Zena Neme, Craft & Lola, a homegrown entrepreneur, will be on the panel. Another panel discussion titled from One Happy Island to One Innovative Island, will showcase dynamic experts on how to become a leading innovative island, what can drive innovation here and how we can create a new future by implementing innovation.

Sign me up!

Also among speakers I notice Davina Mansur, yes, homegrown, a corporate lawyer in NY and also from Aruba, Michael Tchong, Founder of Ubercool, trend Forecaster and repeat conference guest. Both would be fantastic to hear from. Distinctly-mustached Creative Director Egmar Irausquin and self-deprecating humorist Rosabelle Chuchu Illes, also an artist, writer and performer, join the list of featured personalities.

One of the best segments, the Startup Demo Pitch competition, for a $10.000 purse will pitch 8 startups against each other.

Participating in the ATECH Startup Pitch Competition an apparel & fashion startup from California, a Social Enterprise, Energy & Cleantech, Home, Recycling, Social Issues & Industry Analysis startup from Mexico, a Hospitality, and Data Analytics startup from Canada, a Renewable Energy, Fine Art, Luxury Real Estate, Eco-Tourism & Sustainable Architecture startup from Puerto Rico, an Education, Entertainment & Children startup from Noord Aruba, and Yiu Di Tera Tours & Transfer, from San Nicolas. I hope to catch all 8 presentations, they all sound futuristic and intriguing.

The ATECH General Badge, last Best rate is $175 including both days, and is expected to attract 350 participants.

This year’s conference falls under the umbrella of Island Takeover, with concerts, events, parties and a world class technology conference. Aruba has much to be proud of. Remember, the organization offers an attractive ATECH + Island Takeover VIP Badge.

Generous sponsors include: ATA, Setar, Unoca, Island Takeover, Immerse Aruba Innovation Week, Futura a GOA initiative with Varelie Croes, F6S, Telearuba, The Mill Resort & Suites, CR38TE, E, Mi Kier Traha, and workspace.

Program: Wednesday, Oct 30th, registration from 11:30am; conference starts at 1pm, with a TECH EXPO, and the start of the Pitch Competition. Then Thursday, Oct 31st is a full day 9am to 5pm, registration opens at 8am. 

Mixology Magic at the 5rd Annual Bartenders’ Brawl

The fifth annual Bartenders’ Brawl was held on October 25th in conjunction with the Aruba Tourism’s Eat Local Restaurant Month. The event, originally created by Island Temptations, was hosted and produced by the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino, and held on Festival Plaza at the Renaissance Marketplace. The chic event showcased seven of Aruba’s top bartenders impressing a sold-out crowd with their original craft cocktail creations.

Aruba’s local spirit distributors were the essential collaborators to make this event happen—supplying all the liquor and necessary ingredients to produce these exciting libations for attendees of the event to enjoy. Renaissance’s culinary team fueled guests with savory noshes like roast beef sliders, mini vegetarian tacos, BBQ glazed beef ribs, and a tempting dessert trolley, while local deejay extraordinaire Jason, provided an upbeat, retro audial backdrop to the festivities.

This year, the People’s Choice cocktail, was selected by a panel of Instagram influencers from the USA Nathalie Migliarini, and Kimberly King with Enrique Balestrini, from Aruba; a panel of professional judges selected the Judge’s Choice, Chef proprietor Urvin Croes, White Modern Cuisine, General Manager, Divi Resorts, Ferry Zievinger, and teacher in EPB’s culinary program Orlin Geerman.

All bartenders were challenged with the inclusion of one locally grown/made ingredient into their creations.

Receiving the most points and earning the Instagram influencers’ award, Elephant in the Room, an Ophir Gin-based cocktail by Bartender Carlos Perez, of Azia Restaurant, representing Pepia Est. Among local cocktail ingredients Aloe juice and a homemade cardamom syrup.

Second place winner by the Instagram Influencers was Jamaican Spritz, an Appelton Estate Rum-based, forced carbonated cocktail by Bartender Nathan Schwengle of the Apotheek, representing Aruba Trading Company. Among interesting ingredient, a local remedy, Stroop di Calbas and lime.

Third Place winner, Bumxotic, a Bumbu Rum-based cocktail by Bartender Emilia Lopez Henriquez, of the Ritz Carlton’s Casa Nonna restaurant, representing Divino NV. Among local cocktail ingredients the fiery Madame Janette Pica di Papaya, lime, basil, mango and passion fruit puree.

The professional judges’ favorite, and first place winner, was the Jamaican Spritz, an Appelton Estate Rum-based, forced carbonated, cocktail by Bartender Nathan Schwengle of the Apotheek, representing Aruba Trading Company, with the local Stroop di Calbas remedy, and Lime. All judges complimented the level of difficulty overcome, by balancing the bitterish taste of the gourd.

In second place, Tropical Guava & Berry, a spicy Ron Tropical-based cocktail, by Bartender Merly Cardenas, Renaissance Blue Bar, representing Aruba Trading Company. Among local ingredients, a rare Caribbean medicinal berry, made into a syrup, spiced with cloves.  

In third place the Elephant in the Room, the Ophir Gin-based cocktail by Bartender Carlos Perez, of Azia Restaurant, representing Pepia Est. Among local cocktail ingredients Aloe juice and a homemade cardamom syrup.

Other craft cocktails included Magnolia, a Don Valente Handcrafted Tequila-based cocktail by Bartender Michael Gomez, of the Apotheek, representing J&G Trading. Among local ingredients dried and pressed Hibiscus flowers, lime and Moringa flowers.

Ginger, a Bacardi Ginger-based cocktail by Bartender Danny Kock, of Moomba Beach Bar representing Tropical Bottling. Among local ingredients the island’s popular Coco Rico soda pop, Pica Di Papaya, lime and rosemary.

Caribbean Heat, a Diplomatico Planta Rum-based cocktail by Bartender John Fredwill Vivas from Craft, representing La Cava. Among ingredients passion fruit purée and homemade orange liquor with basil.

Patia La Mia, a Fair Quinoa Vodka-based cocktail by Bartender Janice Martinus, of Hoya Lush cafe, representing Manrique Capriles. Among ingredients, local homemade kiwi & habanero syrup.

The team at Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino under the leadership of Food & Beverage Director Diego Lemasson, and Island Temptations were proud to provide a venue for Aruba’s talented bartenders to showcase their creativeness and further elevate the island’s growing craft cocktail scene.  Cheers to all the bartenders and distributors that helped make this a dynamic evening!

Influencer judges:

Nathalie Migliarini of Beautiful Booze invited by ATA & RenAruba

Kimberly King @kimberlyj_king, a culinary & travel fanatic partnered with RenAruba

Enrique Balestrini @evbalestrini, from Aruba

Local professional judges:

Chef proprietor Urvin Croes, White Modern Cuisine, Ferry Zievinger, General Manager, Divi Resorts, and Orlin Geerman, director of EPB’s culinary program.

Thank you members of the USA media who covered the event for Eat Local month:

Keith Langston –

Allison Tibaldi-CNN Travel (Freelancer)

Davina Sutton-

Jen Smith-

Morgan Mandriota- Betches (Freelancer)

Rebecca Michelle Glasser-Baker –

Zeno Reps: Mila Ortiz and Casey Hamilton

Thanks to ATA Rep: Amayra Boekhoudt

Special thanks to local panel of guests

Event page is active on social,

Lucio Maduro & Javier Geerman win Tito’s Putts for Paws Golf fundraising tournament, benefiting Sgt Pepper Friends animal rescue Foundation, at Divi Links.

Divino Aruba, importers of Tito’s Handmade Vodka initiated the “Putts for Paws” Charity Golf Tournament, on October 26th at Divi Links, benefiting Sgt Peppers Friends Aruba animal rescue foundation, in view of October being the “Animal Month.”

Generous supporters made the event, by sponsoring tournament holes, participating in the auction and providing attractive door prizes for participants.

The nicely-organized 18-hole, 2-man scramble tournament followed by lunch and award-ceremony at Windows on Aruba, was attended by 64 golfers, Sgt Pepper Friends volunteers and a number of local vets and animal advocates.

1st place: Lucio Maduro / Javier Geerman, received 2 roundtrip tickets to Amsterdam, 3 hotel-nights, and 2 rounds of golf, courtesy of Divino NV

2nd place: Harold Hagens / Vijay Luidens, received 2 Tito’s Golf bag

Closest to pin, on hole 3, Lucio Maduro

Longest Drive Gents: Cisco Quandt

Longest Drive Ladies: Marrit Gorter

2nd place equal: Juan Boache /Orlando Luzardo

Hole in one sponsor: Irausquin, and Mercedes Benz A-Class. The car was offered, but never won!

Hole sponsors included: Crown, Garage Centraal, Grant Thornton, Compra and Purina dog food, Caribbean Mercantile Bank, Bonbini Cargo, Benu Caribbean, Digicel, Aruba Investment Bank, Atlas, Guardian Group, BonBini Cargo, ASD, Glitz Casino & AAA Reina Beatrix Airport.

Contributed to Raffle: Marriott Aruba Resort & Stellaris Casino, The Salamander Group, Aruba Aloe, Fusion restaurant, Amsterdam Manor and Screaming Eagle Restaurant. 

Contributed to the auction: Casablanca Jewelers, Matthews Restaurant, The Ritz Carlton, Windows on Aruba, the Flying Fishbone, Indulgence by the Sea Spa, the Ritz Carlton Spa, Pure Indulgence Spa, Renaissance Fresco’s restaurant, the Sunset Grill, Riu Atlantis Restaurant, Riu Antillas, De Palm Tours and De Palm Island, Casa Nonna restaurant, artist Eliza Lejuez, La Cabana Beach Resort & Casino, Divi Village, Divi Phoenix, The Jolly Pirates, and Gallery L’America, which donated two painting and a generous Awg 1,000 donation, mid-lunch

Best feature: The parade of ADOPT ME Sgt Pepper dogs, who posed for photo opportunities at the shotgun start. 

What other people think about us

I always think that if locals would care less about what other locals think about them, we will be living in a better, happier world.

But I guess in tourism, it is important to find out what other people think about us, and that is why yesterday, a small but engaged crowd congregated into a meeting room at the Ritz Carlton to hear the results of a competition research initiated by ATA.

We found out:

What Europeans with a penchant for exotic travel, mostly Florida and Mexico, thought about us BEFORE visiting here.


What they thought about us AFTER experiencing the island first-hand.

Good news. We enjoy wide name-recognition, 99%, immediately after Hawaii and before the Bahamas; Aruba is right up there as far as its appeal for future travel, and most people reported that when considering travel Aruba is #2 on the list after Hawaii, and we scored as the #1 destination for consideration of travel in the NEAR future.  

It gets much better with Europeans who have been here, and while they ordinarily value culture and unique experiences when travelling, this is NOT the case for Aruba.

In their perception, Aruba is a good place for adults, a place where they can relax and not stress out, where they can make lasting memories with my family or friends

Why is that important to know?

So we can tweak our message to them. They value a beach vacations above all, and we can give them the best. Marketing shopping, family-vacations, Carnival, casino, or adventure-tours to Europeans is not a great strategy.

So, I feel we are back where we started. Or maybe we never left, we ARE a sea, sand and sun destination, and if you throw in some good food, friendly locals, accommodations that meet their standards and a general happy vibe, they are happy, they love it.


Aruba is not associated with the ease of getting here, and not associated with value-for money.

So we have our work cut out for us: Improving air connections, and marketing to European demographics with deeper pockets.     

Once Europeans visit Aruba, their five top findings? It’s a happy place; It’s a destination I would recommend to friends, family and co-workers; the locals are friendly; the weather never gets in the way of a good time, and this is a place one must see at least once, in a lifetime.

We’re blessed.  

And the WINNER is, from Aruba, Playhouse Entertainment

The 5th edition of ATECH brought to us by Tristan Every and Rudy Croes, and the team @CR38te, concluded yesterday with the announcement of the winners of the Startup Pitch Competition.

Participating this year, and reaching the finals, an Apparel & Fashion startup from California, a Renewable Energy startup from Puerto Rico, and a Children’s Education & Entertainment startup from Noord Aruba,

The winners, Playground Entertainment, an adorable husband and wife team with Jessica Posner and Marald Van Montfoort, captured the judges’ attention and the public’s imagination.

Their story makes sense and is relevant and relatable.

Their two kids demonstrated considerable English language skills, thanks to YouTube, and less than perfect knowledge of Papiamento.

The fix?

An animated YouTube channel, modelled after Kids TV, with cute animated videos, teaching kids how to count in Papiamento, tell colors, shapes, and visit with Shon McDonald in his cunucu, of course, Old McDonald and his farm, translated.

If you think the videos are cute, wait until you see the books.

The protagonist of the series in an animated spider with a high-pitched voice by the name of Nini, and if you ask Marald why a spider, he will tell you it just felt right.

And if you ask Marald what is the range of vocabulary taught by Nini, he’ll tell you he doesn’t know, but what they had just felt right.

So Jessica wrote the text and Marald handled the tech aspect, and as a result of their dedicated collaboration, which was one of the conference’s themes, their kids’ Papiamento improved greatly.

In their interactive startup competition pitch Marald and Nini explained there are 26,305 Papiamento speaking kids in the four Dutch Caribbean islands, between the ages of 0 to 5, and they are the target audience.

Nini, was recently introduced in the local library and parents swooped in on the local book stores, and bought a few hundred books, and the TV channel garnered a respectable number of subscriptions, without any formal marketing efforts.

The higher purpose: There are 3,423 registered languages at risk of disappearing, thus Nini the spider has her work cut out for her.

While the ATECH conference was winding down, I watched Jessica & Marald waiting in the back of the room for the competition results, they were among finalists, he had his chin on her head, as she was gathered in his arms, they were tense, they had been working for a number of months, and hoped for the best.

They won. $10.000 towards the promotion of their innovative project.

Congratulations, love birds, Miffy the rabbit is so yesterday. Long live Nini the Spider.

Life is full of unexpected things

I came to a stop in the corner of notsobusystraat prepared to take a left into busierstraat when a white non-descript car overshoot his right-turn and skidded slowly into my car’s door. Bump. Creak.

I was driving home a bit after 10pm last night determined to eventually make it into concert-city by 12:30am, my estimated time for the UB40 performance.

UB40, Unemployment Benefits form #40, what the lads had to fill in order to collect their unemployment checks at the onset of their careers in the late 70s.

Their music helped shape the 80s, especially in our beach community, and some critics say that they must attribute their longevity, 40 years, to the genre they picked, Reggae, airhead music that remained cool through the years, its popularity uneclipsed.

Everyone takes a beach vacation, every once in a while, and Reggae goes good with beer and sunshine.

Back to the grinding metal. I groaned, displeased. Then the gentleman driving backed up from the collision spot, and disappeared.

The following two drivers stopped. One made sure I memorized the fleeing car’s number plate, and the other called 911 then 165.

Rona, put on your hazard lights, they advised, by name, 165 will be here shortly. Then off they went. To the concert.

Perhaps 30 minutes later the 165-agent arrived with flashing lights and processed my story efficiently, taking pictures from all possible angles, filling out forms, recording my testimony, sitting in his nicely air-conditioned-office-van while waiting for the Police.

The hit & run phenomenon said the 165-agent, is on the rise, and about two months ago a law went into effect that allows the men-in-blue to knock on the escapee-driver’s door, and in the absence of insurance or a valid driver’s license, or in the presence of alcohol, haul him to jail for the night. Period.

Our Policemen, in a yellow-jacket, was also the picture of efficiency, and before he left to knock on the door of my escapee-driver, he told the 165-agent to listen to Pica 96.5% on Magic FM, from 11 to 12noon, on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. I am a fan, he said, and refrained from making any comments about my date of birth.

Good man. We still live in a small community.      

I am off to see the wizards at Garage Centraal, on Monday.

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November 03, 2019
Rona Coster