IN PROTECTION OF FREE ENTERPRISE. The Aruba Hotel & Tourism Association, AHATA, published a press release in June, regarding its position on all-inclusives. We don’t need a law restricting the opening of new all-inclusives, AHATA said, what we need is a stimulus package to be put in place to assist the properties offering the so called European Plan — just room and optional F&B — become more sustainable, so that they are not all tempted to convert themselves into all-inclusives. But the Minister of Tourism opined, let’s just put down a law, and that should suffice. So, that’s how it stood last week, at a sharp divide, the hoteliers rejecting any form of market control, and the minister insisting on it. Fearful of voters’ upset, and upset himself at the hoteliers’ desire to let the market decide where it wants to go, and where it wants to stay, and how much it wants to pay for whatever it is buying, the Minister and the hoteliers arrived at a standoff. In layman terms, all-inclusives make more money for their corporate owners, less money for the island government and less money for local providers of service, who are the voters. European Plan hotels make less money for their corporate owners, more money for the island government and more money for local providers of services, i.e. voters. I am however sad to acknowledge that all-inclusives are popular with guests, who relish eating and drinking gluttonously, hence their booking preference. The wished-for stimulus package will create an awareness campaign to remind guests of the great advantages of staying at a European Plan hotel, and having the freedom to explore the island every day, eat at different spots, and roam free-spiritedly, paying as they go along, unregimented, trading the wrist band, for more fun choices. Yes, we need an awareness campaign to stimulate that, because all you see on TV are adz for all-inclusives made to look so awesome. As if it’s THE only way to go.
DEAD LAW CONJURED BACK TO LIFE. On a recent Immigration, Health Department and Police inspection at a popular restaurant, 8pm, peak dinner-time, the officials demanded to see the businesses’ Vrouwelijk Bediende Verguning, as well as the permit for music. Women Servers Permit, really?? Sounds discriminatory and bigoted. Why do local, Aruban women, require a special permit to work as restaurant servers? I decided to ask around. Many people had no clue a law like that existed, they never heard of it. Attorney Monique Ecury called it abusive. According to her the law is ancient, and can be enforced with the same ease as Overspel, the law forbidding adultery. Some old portions of our legal system require an overhaul, she said, and until then, should not be enforced, but if they are, it is abuse of authority. A Policeman friend suggested the law was there to make sure female servers are not working as prostitutes. With that particular paperwork they are given permission to serve customers but are restricted to the areas above the belt, because serving customers below the belt requires yet another kind of permission. Attorney Maura Brown was diligent and gave me a scanned copy of article 53.1 of the Vergunningsverordening/permit Ordinance that prohibits “women and children below 18 years” to serve (bedienen) in certain businesses, unless the Government approves such in writing. All hotels and restaurants, she explains, normally get these “vrouwelijke bedienden” permits, issued with the initial hotel/restaurant permit. According to her, the law was last updated in 2002. Then one of my friends offered a recent tweet suggesting the officials are also looking for inwonenede housekeepers, live-in maids, who are employed by certain unscrupulous bosses, working for almost nothing, then farmed out to work some more, for extra very little income, in outside businesses, in violation of their permit. Apparently, that is a notorious rip off. Back to the top: We applaud the authorities for undertaking inspection. Kudos to you. But why invade at peak dinner time? You ruin guests’ experience and scare them too.
TRANSITIONS. Karin Swiers, ATA Branding Specialist landed a great promotion, going back home to Marriott International in a regional marketing capacity, to apply her dedication, enthusiasm, and passion to that chain’s Caribbean and Central American resorts. She will be reunited with Keirsin Tjon Pian Gi, in the same department. Sanju Luidens Daryanani, her former boss at ATA says one thing is for sure, Karin is Aruba, it is in her heart and soul, and no matter what work she does on a regional level, Sanju is sure Aruba will remain Karin’s #1! On a similar note, Tamara Waldron relocated from the easy-going marketing and communications department at Aruba Ports Authority to the Marketing Department of Aruba Bank, joining Stephanie Camacho to run a super-busy and creative hub of activities. Annalisa Gesterkamp who has been working in the NYC since her graduation in the Netherlands, started recently as Branded Producer at Hearst Publications. She will be doing branded videos for the different magazines such as Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmo, Seventeen, and Esquire, which live on digital platforms. Her current promotion she says, delivers better money, an improved job description, and a much cooler office building in Manhattan. Patrick Melchior, now heads the DMMO, the Destination Management and Marketing Organization of the Aruba Tourism Authority, responsible for ‘product’ Aruba, transforming it from bla to wow, and delivering to customers on our advertising promises, reigning over Cruise, Product Development, Trade Relations, Events & Sponsorships. Ana Maria Ramirez, gave me a business card, she now owns Bally-Hoo, a branding and merchandising company, helping customers reach their branding potential, with Compra as one of her clients. Chef/Proprietor Peter Dorer reports that the new Truffles partnership between Chef Paul Zijlstra and F&B professional Marco v/d Linden did not work out. They found the bank unresponsive to their pleas and closed shop before I had the opportunity to try the restaurant out.
OLIVER RIDING RETURNS TO TIERRA DEL SOL. The recent ELEQT event at Tierra del Sol introduced a number of single malt whiskyes with difficult-to-pronounce names, in Gaelic. Nevertheless they were delicious when served over ice by the Romar Trading crew of master-mixers and paired with Chef Jim Rooseman’s hors d’oeuvres. The party under the stars was titled A Man’s World, and it was expertly coordinated by Mirla Passchier, Aruba’s ELEQT life-style specialist. I made a new friend at the party, Julian Tucker, Director of Rooms at the Hyatt Regency and I finally bumped into golf pro Oliver Riding, he’s back on the island after a few years in Acapulco, Mexico, where besides work he also experienced a life-changing event in the form of Tropical Storm Manuel, in 2013. The storm claimed 21 lives when the levy protecting their neighborhood broke, and water rose from zero to massive flooding, within a few seconds. Oliver, his wife Mylene Marques and assorted neighbors and friends were left stranded on an upper level of a building, and eventually were rescued, one by one, by kayak and seadoo, in uncontrollable rain. Two weeks later, they went back home to discover all was lost, covered with mud and muck. Oliver’s natural leadership came in handy in crisis, he also made some new lifelong friends, in moments of total distress. Oliver is back at Tierra del sol as the Troon Golf representative. The company provides management on luxury golf courses around the world, and Oliver will be working on restoring the golf course to its former glory days. Everyone working at Tierra del Sol from Executive Chef Jim Rooseman to Jorge Estrada, restaurant manager, and Cisco Quant in finance and management, all swear the vibe is excellent, and the mood optimistic. Apparently, after a challenging restructuring Tierra del Sol is upbeat again. And Sunday brunch is extremely popular, Jorge adds.
CHE BAR, RISES LIKE A PHOENIX. Reopening after the fire that consumed it, Che Bar is back, boasting a larger kitchen which will facilitate a wider menu selection. Stand by for the introduction of the Boludo Burger, which features a juicy meat patty with a whole chorizo on top, drenched in chimichurri sauce. As Argentine as it gets! The cute restaurant at Paseo Herencia will also be offering Argentine style pasta dishes, so stay tuned as many more items will be revealed when they get back into the groove. Most importantly, their very famous empanadas are now BAKED, as opposed to fried, just as delicious, but healthier!