Bati Bleki Buzz Weekly Recap, September 2nd, 2018

Caribbean Linked, one giant leap for art in Aruba

As part of its ongoing program, Atelier ‘89 invited a number of regional artists to live and work here over a period of two weeks, and last Saturday, their internship in Aruba concluded with a happening on the main street and an exhibition, unfolding on the creative ground of Aruba’s Academia di Bellas Artes, Atelier ’89.

Under the direction of the tireless Elvis Lopez, this multi-tiered event took off, and miraculously accomplished something, prompting me again to ask: How does he do it?!

The final happening on the main street was especially fun. The brass-band occupied the upper deck of the tram, and traveled down the tracks while playing Carnival music. It stopped at the area between the Aruba Trading Company and Mango, where we all enjoyed flutes of Champagne and some wild dancing. Thank you, Arion Wine Company.

Every day should be like that on the main street. We should have a brass band traveling up and down that street every day.

So, what made Caribbean Linked so special this time, you’re asking?

The MinEdu was present, and promised to incorporate art in school curriculum. He promised the same exact thing on the previous evening at the ANA expo opening.

And that is huge.

Elvis has been trying for years to get an endorsement that art is important and a cultural do-or-die, and here it was, I heard it with my own ears.


What also changed was the level of support Caribbean Liked received. This time around, the winds of change delivered a greater number of partners and I will go thru the list because I personally want to tell them that we appreciate whatever big or small donation they spared to make sure the muses continue to sing on the island and that humanities, all aspects of human society and culture, are sustained.

Thank you, Partners: Fresh Milk magazine, for new, rare, unconventional, and the well received in Fashion, Art, Music, and Design; ARC – Art recognition culture, a contemporary magazine for Caribbean Visual Art & Culture, Mondrian Fund, the Tourism Product Enhancement Fund, Bank Giro Loterij Fonds, Aruba Tourism Authority, DOW, Elite, Setar, UNOCA, Garage Centraal & Aruba Band.

Also, about FIFTY smaller sponsors.  

The expo featured works by regional and local artists and was curated by visiting experts.

I appreciated the Tourists Melting into the sidewalk in big blotches of plastic, a funny collaborative work by Franz Caba and Kristen Chen.

The spectacular La Linea En la Memoria, mural painting by Irvin Aguilar, and the Rancho stilt walkers!

More public recognition, a government endorsement: That’s one small step for Elvis, and one giant leap for art in Aruba.

Proposal for a Museum of Contemporary Art

On Friday at the opening of the art exhibition at the National Archive, a modest crowd of art lovers waited patiently outside and while we were waiting for the door to open we were treated to a good story.

Apparently, a European art collector, a distinguished gentleman with white hair, Jan Mol, has been coming to Aruba for many years and has gotten involved with the Eterno Foundation.

Remember that name??

I do. It was an art gallery in town, managed by three aspiring artists Osaira Muyale, Renwick Heronimo and Giolina Henriquez. Our collector was impressed with their work and started supporting their endeavors, as they were swimming upstream, in Aruba of 1995.

Fast forward 20 years of friendship.

A few years ago, Mol offered to gift his own art collection, his privately-owned contemporary stash of paintings, photographs, collages and sculptures to ARUBA as the corner stone of a National Contemporary Art Museum.

We were tasked with finding the suitable building, and he had interesting stuff to hang on the walls.

Then five years went by and nothing happened. The collection was collecting dust at ANA. I don’t even want to ask how many e-mails he sent, and how many calls he made, to question, to find out, what’s the delay, what’s the obstacle.

Finally, last Friday in a modified ANA, the Proposal by Fundacion Gast opened, and Jan Mol was in the audience, he looked pleased. He was there with curator Gijs Stork, who pushed and shoved and made it happen, with Angelo Tromp pulling strings in the back.

They set up ANA to look like an under-construction exhibition hall, very effectively.

The collection reflects the eclectic taste of its owner, and it features five locals, and many good regional and international artists.

I loved the smallest work best, a portrait of a howling, sweating man by Elise Tak, very powerful.

Alicia Framis presented a series of photographs, an intrusive look into the life of a couple, she is a Spanish artist who lives in Amsterdam

Our own Darwin Winklaar presented an installation where he was washing his hands off his own sins, a very somber and religious contemplation on the subject of mother/son relationship.

Merijn Bolink’s investigation into the structure of a heart, resonated in a similar heart investigation by Natusha Croes.

Efrem Angela, an experimental photographer, was supported by a dozen of his aunties, they worship the ground he walks on.

Emmanuel Botalatala is an African artist with a universal political and social message, very well understood in Aruba. I would like to meet him one day.

Striking photography by Chelsea Peterson in color, and Michel Francois, in b/w.

I couldn’t look at the work of Yael Davids, she sewed finger nails together. It is the first work you see as you enter, I guess that’s how Jan Mol felt all that time, with his pile of individual objects unintentionally creating a collection for Aruba, buried in the dark.

But it is out in the open now.

Worth a visit during office hours; here until January; we’d better start looking for a building.

Aruba hosts the Caribbean’s largest Vow Renewal ceremony

The big I DO took place on August 22, 2018 for the second year in a row. The Aruba Tourism Authority dubbed it Vow Renewal 2.0, and it was held on the World’s #4 Beach, spectacular Eagle Beach.

Couples from all over the globe made it to the island to renew their I Dos and participate in the fun affair, which coincided with Romance Awareness Month on the One Happy Island. 

Reverend Andy Osborne conducted the official ceremony, he had some wonderful things to say to his audience, text compiled and edited by his lovely wife, Michelle. The afterparty included Carnival dancers and a traditional Hora Loca celebration with the Bamboo band.

Participants enjoyed the complimentary ceremony with champagne, hors d’oeuvres and transportation to and from the event. 

Some of the couples were newlyweds, some were married for decades including two lovebirds who had spent the last 61 years together!

Ambiance and décor were inspired by real destination weddings in Aruba, Let’s Aruba did a great job, so did wedding planner Lissy Lampe, whose company Ceremonies & Celebrations in Aruba, was part of the organizing team. Couples were encouraged to embrace their inner bride and groom on the occasion and dress in white with pops of Caribbean color.

The ceremony started at 6pm, in time for a spectacular sunset with all cell phones and cameras overloading Eagle Beach’s WIFI capabilities.

The Aruba Tourism Authority reports a bigger-than-last-year event with over 200 couples, including some LGBT couples, in addition to a number of starry-eyed locals who just walked in, and joined the festivities.

Gandelman, Official Jeweler of the #ARUBAIDO

All couples renewing their vows at the Caribbean biggest renewal ceremony got an elegant blue goodie bag from Gandelman. It contained a raffle ticket for matching His & Hers Cartier bracelets. Hers was 18k yellow, pink and white gold Trinity rings on a silk cord, and His was white gold and ceramic Trinity rings on silk cord. The winners, a young honeymoon couple from Chicago who got married three days prior, were elated to present their starred winning ticket to Jonna Gandelman and collect their prize, right there on the beach, posing for a photo opportunity in front of the stage with their iconic Cartier bags.

All couples participating in the ceremony also received a voucher in their goodie bags which entitled them to a gift with purchase at Gandelman. Established in 1931, Gandelman is renowned for exclusive fine watches, jewelry and accessories, all at Caribbean duty-free prices. Built on a solid family business, Gandelman represents what is the finest in the field of luxury shopping, brands such as Rolex, Patek Philippe, Cartier, David Yurman, Bulgari, Carrera y Carrera, Carla Amorim, Ana Morris, Pesavento, Lisa Nik, Tudor, Victorinox, jewelry and watches.

Raiz calls for an urgent moratorium on resort/hotel/condo construction

I know for a fact that the Aruba Hotel & Tourism Association has asked GOA for a list of pending projects questioning how many more hotel rooms are in the pipeline. What was promised? What was approved?

There is no such list.

On Aug 28th Raiz, a relatively new political party, published an interesting overview of projects being developed, which I decided to reproduce for you in my column.

According to Raiz, following a survey in 2016, 87% of the locals, expressed their concern over the island’s exponential growth and did not support it.

If all reported projects materialize, Aruba will require 24,000 more people by 2020, yet lamentably, besides approving building permits there is no visionary infrastructure plan to accommodate the water & electric consumption, trash disposal needs, educational opportunities, housing or medical care for that new inevitable mass of immigrants.

And while the public continues to voice concerns, and sees no reason to expand the economy via construction of more rooms, GOA ignores the distress signals and new projects keep entering the already clogged pipeline.


An Embassy Suites on the border of Eagle Beach below Divi Phoenix, 330 hotel rooms, to open 2021.

Hyatt Place Hotel at the airport, 116 hotel rooms, to open 2019.

Tierra del Sol, reportedly has a life-saving deal with Iberostar for 400 hotel rooms, with construction starting late 2018, to open early 2022.

ACQUA condominium the longest building project on earth, with 209 units, to open 2019, while the second phase with 400/500 more rooms is planned to open in 2022. The property will operate as a 4 or 5-star franchise, EP, brand unannounced.

Marriott Residence Inn, in the Bubali Caribe Complex, 220 hotel rooms, in 2 phased. Phase I with 150 hotel rooms, phase 2 with 70 hotel rooms, starting in 2019. According to developer Palm Aruba, the property is set to open 2022.

The conversion of the Holiday Inn will be the following: 400 hotel rooms branded as Panama Jack, ready in 2019 after a 9-month reno period. Then an addition of 644 new hotel rooms is planned out of which 424 will open in 2022, and 220 in 2025.

The article by Raiz states that the two existing towers will be flagged as Hyatt Zilara All Inclusive, and that IHG, the current operator will retain 215 hotel rooms in a boutique format branded as a Klimpton Hotel.

Eagle Grand Beach Hotel, 240 hotel rooms starting 2019. Developer Palm Aruba intends to open mid-2022.

Grand Harbor Resort & Water Park on Eagle Beach, 400 hotel rooms starting in 2022. Also developed by Palm Aruba, ready in 2025.

Possible 900 all-inclusive rooms at Seroe Colorado, under the AM Hotels flag, no date yet, the first phase is said to include 500 hotel rooms probably open in 2023.

The Marriott had asked for a permit to change the land designation in the area south of the Riu Palace Antillas, and proposed to build a 310-hotel room St. Regis there to open 2022.

Timeshare/Condo Resorts

Divi Phoenix Beach Resort is planning 135 more suites, ready mid 2021

Condo Azure, south of Blue Residence, counts 106 units to open 2019.

The neighboring Las Olas tower, 49 condos, in 2019.

Le Vent, behind Paradise Beach Resort, 40 condos, plus 5 townhouses, opening next year.

O Condominiums is building 43 units, also on Eagle Beach, possibly opening in 2019.

Grand Bubali Condos, 76 units, including a Residence Inn, to open 2022, by developer Palm Aruba.

Amsterdam Manor, 90 condominiums, to open in 4 phases: January 2020, 24 units; January 2021, 21 units; January 2022, 24 units, and finally January 2023, 21 units.

Wanglo Suites, in front of Super food, North of the Tropicana Resort. Details.

According to Raiz, in April 2018, GOA indicated that 3,500 to 7,000 rooms are in the pipeline, approved by the previous government. The approvals include hotels, condos, timeshare resorts and apartments.

Looking at the immediate numbers it is safe to say that Aruba will have more than 3,200 new hotel rooms by 2023, meaning that we will require 17,000 new workers, at those newly created work places.

Traditional politicians feel they require construction to show tangible economic growth — to help get them reelected – but Raiz states that Aruba is running out of space, and unless you build in designated green area, there is no more room for such an irresponsible, rampant expansion.

Raiz points the exponential growth out and draws the attention to corruption opportunities, where money changes hands under the table and where permits are granted by-passing proper channels and procedures.

Raiz is asking, how is it possible that a developer gets to build a project without proper business registrations and legal permits?

Are projects on the island “slipping through fingers?”

The article concludes with a call for an immediate MORATORIUM.  

(This list is incomplete because overview information is not available)


Deloitte Business Event Reflects on the Future of Work

Do you want the good news or the bad news?

Good news first?

There will be plenty of work but disruption lies ahead, we will have to share the workplace with robots, but have no fear, Deloitte is here.

Deloitte hosted two business events this week, a tax seminar at the Renaissance Convention Center, Aug. 28th, with the MinPres as keynote speaker, and followed it by a business mixer on Aug. 31st, at Tierra del Sol.  

The MinPres revealed five new sustainable strategies, designed to help diversify our economy, she discussed two, tourism among them, and reported the MinFEC will outline the rest. We can’t wait to hear.

Over the past 6 years I believe, since we were introduced, I try to steal a few words with Deloitte’s business partner Julian Lopez Ramirez, during the annual event, which has been held at Tierra del Sol, for obvious reason. You know, MVR is among the not-so-new owners of the property.

Our subject of conversation never varies. We always talk about the necessity to move from direct to indirect taxes, and this year I have to say Julian was very forceful, he assured me GOA will make more money if it finally moves in that direction, because there will be a bigger tax paying audience, not just the two of us, our tourists will be participating as well, and the current extensive menu of taxes will shrink.

Julian also talked about compliance. While most big accounting firms lose or give up their God-given certifications, Deloitte maintains its, at the cost of large investments. Very large.  

I checked the website, they do a lot in that area: Deloitte’s governance, risk and compliance (GRC) services help clients tackle the broad issues of corporate governance, enterprise risk management, and effective corporate compliance, while offering specialized assistance in key areas such as financial reporting, tax, information technology, human capital, anti-fraud, dispute consulting, and financial advisory services. We can help organizations identify, remediate, monitor, exploit and manage enterprise risks in addition to coordinating the utilization of people, process and technology to improve GRC effectiveness and help manage costs.

So, if you are a branded international company in need of audit services Deloitte is the only game in town because all others suffered/will suffer disruption.

I was also pleased they read my column, I heard quotes from a number of players, who liked this or disliked that, and Ashiq Nanhekhan gave me his card to give to my GF whose CMB bank account got hacked, and so far, no justice! I deal with this everyday he said, Cyber Risk is his specialty, I might not be able to help but I can shed some light.


Happy Press Day

This columnist is taking a day off in honor of Press day.

In fact, why not take a few weeks off writing, I will still be posting items of interest on FB, but otherwise I will be taking a break.

When Karin Swiers suggested three years ago, Nov. 1st, 2015, to transition my once a week column to a daily 8am buzz on line, I did not know that this thing will take my life over, the way it did.

And I love it.

We are here to create opportunities for ourselves, this is our job, we should also be open enough to recognize good advice.

The column starts writing itself in my head, then it edits itself in my sleep, I suppose, then in the morning, during my walk, I mull it over, and when I get home all I have to do is sit in my lovely office, with any number of dogs around for inspiration, and I hammer it out on the keyboard, with just two fingers.

At that time, I am already rushed, hence typos, I am hereby apologizing to all readers who get offended by typos. My work is imperfect, but I deliver a column almost every day, so you gotta forgive a glitch or two, and if you can’t, would you volunteer as my proof reader?

One last thing: Fireworks went off in my head when I heard the dump is indeed closed and that ECOTECH/ECOGAS signed a six-month agreement with GOA, to process our trash. Yes, effective a few days ago, our trash gets sorted. Not just dumped. Then compressed and baled. Serlimar has the honor of burying the eco-friendly remains.

How did I find out? A friendly hotelier reported his resort’s tipping fees just tripled, went from Awg 60 to Awg 180 overnight.

He explained that from now on all businesses with compactors and large trash containers, will carry this significant increase, in fact subsidizing residential trash collection, set at a very low and reasonable Awg 25.

Listen: Someone has to pay for trash removal and processing. The former MinInfra can cry all he wants, he is ridiculous. We finally went from barbaric dumping to civilized processing, this is a positive development.

And thank you hoteliers and AAA for carrying the financial burden, this is your contribution to our community and we are grateful for that.   


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September 02, 2018
Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster