Bati Bleki Buzz Weekly Recap, September 1st, 2019

Farewell to Airport CEO

James Fazio, whose official title is Chief Executive Officer, Aruba Airport Authority N.V., Aeropuerto Internacional Reina Beatrix, will be leaving us effective Sept 1st, after five years here.

He will be taking on a new role with Royal Schiphol Group’s International Team, based in New York, but is hoping to be invited back for the opening of Gateway 2030, the Expansion Project of Aruba Airport Authority N.V., phase 1, mid 2022.

He will also be involved with Sint Maarten, Princess Juliana International Airport, which suffered extensive damage when Hurricane Irma struck the island in September, 2017, with winds of a hundred and eighty-two miles per hour, which ripped off sections of the roof of the then new terminal.

I talked to him recently about his time in Aruba.

He loved his job here, he said, because it was an opportunity to make a difference and he is leaving the airport in a better shape than he found it, with the exciting Gateway 2030 project, well underway.

Having worked with three different three minister of tourism Fazio reports they all allowed him space and respected the very involved and complex systems in place at the airport. And because he kept them in the loop, well informed and updated, there have never been any issues, in five years.

Fazio as you can see is a diplomat. But the proof is in the pudding, he survived without any serious glitches, that I recall, and improved the airport’s revenue considerably from 90 million a year to 140, with aeronautical and non-aeronautical charges, and the airport departure tax, a steady flow of k’ching.

OK, money talks, albeit with a limited vocabulary.

Fazio is grateful to his team, for rising to the occasion and improving the airport’s performance, making it more efficient and above all passenger friendly.

The most dramatic improvement will come with the new construction. Gateway 2030, a 500 million expansion of the airport is being financed by the Aruba Bank, CMB, APFA, RBC, and some pension funds. The airport is in good financial shape and if during construction it will tighten its own belt, watch the budget and maintain efficiency, debt will be paid off in 15 years and Aruba will gain a world class gateway, including three additional contact gates, two extra bus gates, a broader selection of retail, food and beverage outlets, and much more.

Why is US customs so sparse, I asked, were all agents whisked off to Mexico?
Fazio gave me a diplomatic answer about an existing personnel supplying treaty, and about finding balance in collaboration, stressing the relationships are very good, and mostly assuming the blame because the airport in its present footprint outgrew its own efficiency, and thus on busy days, it cannot function optimally, but the team get 100% for pushing.         

Ok, back to NY to grandchildren, the fun part, and commute and weather…. thank you for all you’ve done for One Happy Island.

Ken ta Basha Abou? 50 Aña di Farandula di sra. Faritah Luidens

Celebrating 50 years in entertainment with a mega-concert, Aruba’s most loved comedienne/actress/singer Faritah Luidens.

Faritah reports her mother wanted her to pick a money-making profession and stay away from music and entertainment but grandma knew better, she realized Faritah’s heart belonged to the stage and travelled with her secretly to Colombia at age 17 to cut a 45 rpm single record, the one with the large central hole, with two innocent love-songs in Spanish on it.

She will be singing these oldies but goldies on stage on September 22nd, at Cas Di Cultua, and I am predicting a full house, because Faritah and her alter-ego Tica Basha Bao, are icons of popular culture in Aruba.

Visitors have a hard time understanding the phenomenon of Tica, a loud woman in mismatched clothes, wearing a rumpled hat, wrapped in a hot pink feather boa, mouthing like a world-expert to the TV camera, for the past 22 years.

She looks both outlandishly brave and pathetic, with that huge sparkle in her eyes. She is our Court-Jester, or the equivalent to the Fool in medieval and Renaissance theater, she tells the truth.

Camera man Norman Thijsen and sister Marjory Vermeer share copy-rights on Tica. They encouraged Faritah to give voice to commentary on local affairs. Marjory has always been a straight-forward critic, and Faritah, through Tica, got to speak her mind, too, humorously.

Aruba is a polite and restrained society, and only in costume everything goes.

Tica, explains Faritah, is a typical country-side local with a 6-grade education. She is unmarried, she doesn’t drive, no license obviously, she has no bank account. She is opinionated and gossipy, yet her most endearing quality is her tolerance, as she accepts rules and authority, and sweetly and subversively speaks out against the unfair. She makes the case FOR and AGAINST any injustice in just one take. She flipflops, starting somewhere with the official version and ends airing her personal critical views.  

But Faritah is more than just a comedienne. She has contributed to theater on the island for the past 5 decades, and has been the co-host of Telearuba’s Nos Mainta, morning show, for seven years.

This woman is a born performer. She started as a singer, and evolved into a TV personality, popular in Aruba and Curacao, a staple, a household name.

Plans for the future? Sell out the show, and deliver pure entertainment to a loving audience of local fans on Sept 22, 2019. Then complete a documentary about Surinam, then go back to TV, possibly Curacao.

All this Faritah explains, would not have been possible without her son, Jason Croes. Yes, she raised a #1 fan and his drive and creativity fuel her activities, he can read my mind, she says, and is a joy to work with.

Smart, fun woman. He husband thinks so, her sister thinks so, her son does too.      

Hyatt Place Aruba Airport Opening Soon

I visited. This will be a serious player. It is beautifully designed and appointed, at a large investment.

Airport? You ask.

Well, it is a fact that I have never heard of an unsuccessful airport hotel.

The impressive, modern, iron gray building is home to 202 stylish hotel rooms and an entire business wing with spa, two car rental agencies, an assortment of retail including a market, practically an indoor mall. There is ample parking in the back.

Life unfolds on the third floor where the front desk operates discreetly along with the breakfast room, a restaurant, an indoor bar and an outdoor bar, overlooking the pool.

Raise your gaze, and you’re looking at the gentle, green rolling hills of Arikok national park in the distance. I could easily see that pool deck used for wedding and special events.

The hotel offers 24/7 dining in its outlets, boasts a well-equipped gym, a business center, meeting rooms, and a medium size modular ballroom.

Remember it’s a select-service hotel, not a full-service-resort, it doesn’t do everything for everybody, but with a staff of 39 it does a lot.

I once stayed at a Hyatt Park in Miami. Frankly it had a similar feel, modern, clean, efficient, comfy. In the morning I was amazed at the number of people in the breakfast room. No wonder, it’s included and nicely presented.

I never eat breakfast. But if free and included, count me in for a tasty bite.

General Manager Marta Raven reports she decided to simply apply for the job of GM when it got posted, encouraged by her colleagues at the Hyatt Regency. And while she did not think she would beat the competition, she did. She owned all qualifications. She outshone the four last candidates and earned the position, having working for many years in the sales and marketing department of the Hyatt Regency.

As we were travelling by elevator to the third floor I recognized familiar faces. Quite a few of Marta’s colleagues from the Hyatt Regency are now working at Hyatt Place, the chef, the maintenance manager, some operations people, they have Hyatt DNA in their blood and are now saving time on the commute, they joked.

Marta shares the hotel interviewed extensively, more than 300 candidates, many of them gainfully employed, but wishing to relocate closer to home.

I asked myself where the potential guests come from, and realized that the location within a stroll from the arrival and departure gates, is very attractive to corporate clients doing business on the island and to our timeshare owners wanting to tag two or three more days to their week on the island.

Opening date? Soon. Around November 15th, 2019. They are applying the finishing touches now, and then tada…. Hyatt Place is ready to put you to sleep in total tranquility, and energize you with double reward points and reasonable rates.

Red Nose Alert

The Clown Doctors Introduced their new website this week, check below, the organization is energized with the presence of a new coordinator, Anneloes Loesje Poelmann, a Dutch-born vacation rental / real estate agent, who scours the beaches collecting trash as a hobby, on her day off.

Yes, a person like that exists.

She loves dogs, kids, birds and bees, and she is the new president-in-the-making of the Clown Doctors organization, the person being groomed by Peter Balliere as his successor.

Almost twenty-years ago Belgian-born restaurateur Peter Balliere founded the Clown Doctors in Aruba. I became the godmother of the organization and Ruben Garcia, the godfather.

The not-for-profit entertained ailing children in the hospital and visited the elderly in the old people’s homes, bringing laughter and human contact to the frail. The clowns also visited children with special needs and the handicapped in government institutions.

In its hay days, the organization moved a great number of clowns around the Hospital, Bibito Pin, Marie-Stella, and Casa Cuna, relying on public donations to keep the initiative alive.

The Clown Doctors are no circus clown they are contact clowns, big difference, they don’t barge in noisily to interrupt and disrupt, but rather filter in and adapt to the mood and their client’s state-of-mind, slowly and gently, cheering them up, for the big reward, a smile.

Peter made sure his crew was well-trained to identify sensitive situations by the Belgian Clown Doctors who frequently conducted trainings and personnel exchanges.

Alas, when Peter moved back to Belgium to start a family, the organization kept going, but lost a bit of steam after a while.

Until this summer.

New chief, new website, new energy, with a bundle of ideas at the helm, Loesje.

And we’re looking for new clowns: If you love kids, and empathize with them, know something about child psychology and have some free time, you are our man/woman.

The Clown Doctors work in their adopted stage-personae, and perform under a stage-name, with a costume they pick, mismatched, oversize, or much too small, as their individual attribute. What they have in common is the red nose.

They get paid a bit for their time, and the gasoline in their cars, and there is a great sense of satisfaction that comes with holding the hands of a lonely, institutionalized elderly, or singing along with a hospitalized kid.

Save the Date for the 5th edition of the Bartenders’ Brawl, October 25th, 2019

Renaissance Aruba in collaboration with Island Temptations Magazine and will host this year’s bartenders’ brawl; nine competitors are ready to battle on Friday, October 25th, during the 5rd annual Bartenders’ Brawl.

The participating bartenders, each one representing a local spirit distributor will be battling for the Iron Bartender title. The event being held at the Renaissance Festival Plaza will see local bartenders create an original craft cocktail, each. Guests of the event will vote for their favorite potion and the bartender receiving the most votes will take home the title and trophy!

This year’s competition also counts on a professional jury, meaning the competition will have two trophies; one for the most popular bartender and the other for the bartender picked by the professional judges, as the champion!

Renaissance Aruba culinary team will prepare a variety of hors d’ oeuvres which will be offered during the evening and will complement the trendy cocktails. Tickets are $55 including, 9 craft cocktails and bites- available at the navigator’s desk at Renaissance Aruba, from October 12th, 2019.

Participating local spirit distributors, some of them will feature two competitors: Pepia Est., Aruba Trading Company, TEC ARUBA, Tropical Bottling, La Cava, Divino NV and Manrique Capriles, invite you to enjoy an evening under the stars with your friends over music, cocktails and food.

Check out the event page:

Competitors will appear on the Pica 95.5% show on Magic 96.5FM, to promote their participation.

BAZ-RRR GALLERIA & BRASSERIE, presents Laureen Eman

Artist Laureen Eman inaugurated a solo exhibition of Saturday at BAZ-RRR, in the presence of family members, fans and friends. The Baz-RRR walls are now graced with her latest works, two floors of colorful and charming frames and medallions. While already an established abstract colorist Laureen started working with floetrol, a latex paint additive, and resin and just fell in love with the results. Every piece is unique and gives her a great desire to create more, leaving the viewer with the desire to buy one.

They are reasonably priced, and depict CREATION, nature, the ocean, the planets, plant-life and our seasons.

BAZ-RRR is a unique concept in Oranjestad. It aims to create a new experience that unites the community, aspiring to become a business with a Purpose as a Catalyst of Positivism, Philanthropy, Artistry and Sustainability. 

The Gallery walls regularly host local art. By creating this gallery space BAZ-RRR is contributing to the Art & Cultural life of Aruba. Past local artist-exhibition included Aruba’s Muchi’Mondi Luna & The Wolff, Armando Goedgedrag, Elvis Tromp, Levy Geerman, Damilice Mansur, Vanessa Paulina, Ronchi de Cuba and now also Laureen Eman.  

A great addition to this concept is the brasserie menu, which is a plant-based fusion of vegan and meat-lover options. Open from 10am to 8pm at Plaza Margherita at the head of the main square in town

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September 01, 2019
Rona Coster