SOLD OUT. Indulge Aruba at the Ritz Carlton was sold out on Saturday night, drawing a large crowd of wine and food lovers. It was a first-time, first-class event, and the last minute change of location from the heat outdoors to the air-conditioned indoors, was brilliant. The resort’s ballroom was beautifully lined up with 24 decorated, and professionally lit, restaurant and wine stations. The price of admission was right and thus the response tremendous. I heard they had to turn people away after 7pm, because the place was full. Next time, get your tickets early, because this is going to be an annual affair. A big thank-you note for organizing the swanky evening goes to Executive Chef Stephen Toevs, PR & Communications Manager Myandra Croes, and their respective crews of Food & Beverage, PR and Marketing people. Some standouts included the Ritz Carlton restaurants, especially BLT Steak, offering melt-in-your-mouth short rib nibbles. Screaming Eagle had a line of repeats, because with just one bite of Chef Erwin Husken’s duck confit, you knew you wanted another. Chef Miguel Garcia offered Goat Stew and Tuna Tataki, from under his own impressive truss frame, with a super-sized Marriott logo digital display. Azia Restaurant & Lounge boasted a best-dressed team of sushi rollers, who found it hard to keep up with the demands of their fans. Papiamento Restaurant dished out generous portions of Keri Keri and Keshi Yena, what’s not to like? And Margarita Gourmet, snack makers, were popular for their out-of-this-world coconut ice cream. I almost didn’t recognize Sergio Silva, with the Bamboo band, bald-shaven, with a full, thick Mormon beard, singing and playing fabulous music. EPI culinary students, tourists and hotel executives, everyone had a great time.
RIU PALACE ANTILLAS FOUND ITS WAY TO OUR HEART. The local press received an invitation last week to visit the recently flagged Riu Palace Antillas, and was nicely received in the lobby with a flute of bubbly, by the charming Sales Manager Shari Sield, the super friendly and informed Regional Director Daniele Camponovo and the handsome Juan Blanco, the resort’s new General Manager. We then went on a tour of the main dining room, the showroom, the 17th floor ocean-front guestrooms, and the pool deck, and ended at the Rimini restaurant where we had an artfully displayed and gracefully served breakfast, to live piano music. The press and the Riu executives conducted a casual and engaging conversation, we learned a lot about the Riu family, their values and philosophy, and I personally regretted it wasn’t as comfortable and as easy from day one. Press members were invited to come back on their off day, for a full Riu Palace experience from 10am to 10pm. Cool, I can’t wait, I heard from Carolina Voullieme, Sales Director, Marriott Aruba Resort & Stellaris Casino, that she had a fun time when she stayed there for a day, just to check the competition out!
FUN MILES. Customer loyalty will be tested over the next few weeks with a tempting offer to switch pharmacies. I am sure you already know that Botica Di Servicio, with four friendly locations dangled the offer of 1,000 Fun Miles, for any new client who signs up in October, and those who already have a Fun Mile card, will also be rewarded for switching, with half of that number of points. Since I am already a member of Botica Eagle, and I already have a Fun Mile card, for the price of a small purchase, I was invited to participate in a raffle for a free stay at the Hilton Aruba Resort & Casino. One of my friends, a serious Fun Mile devotee, first heard about the amazing offer by e-mail and this is what she said: Now…this is GENIUS, goodbye former botica, you never did anything for me! The creative four affiliated pharmacies in Eagle, St. Cruz, Noord and Seroe Preto, are owned by the Aruba Growth Fund, with local investment from the APFA, WEB and Elmar pension funds. The company employs about 45 dedicated health-care professionals. Lennert Van Der Poel, the good-looking man at the helm, is excited about many special features they offer, such as a rich selection of European and American drug-store items, vitamins and supplements, candy, ample parking, and most importantly vigilant pharmacists monitoring drug combinations, and granting the public free blood-pressure and glucose testing. The continuous improvements in customer service, Lennert explains, result in immediate service, and an efficient prescription renewal system. I can attest to the fact that the personable employees of Botica Eagle have lovely bed-side manners.
RENT A CHEF IS EVERYWHERE. Two great parties catered by chef Bas Kuurstra reminded me to remind you, what a true maestro he is. The first one was a casual BBQ on the beach, organized by Stephanie and Kimberly Rooijakkers, of the Boardwalk Small Hotel, with finger foods, and traditional salads. The twin’s respective husbands, Joeri and Marcel, also deserve some credit for the enjoyable get-together. So basically, I don’t know how he does it, but while we enjoyed the golden sunset Bas whipped up dinner for 30. Then last weekend over a blood-red moon he catered a party at Merlot Residence, in honor of Debra Witteveen, and her clan, another group of 20, with vegan and vegetarian selections as well as carnivore delights. He comes, he sees, he conquers! Always pleasant, always passionate, and most importantly, the food is always perfect.
SAY I DO AT THE HILTON. The Hilton Aruba Resort & Casino did not just described its wedding set-ups, it showed them at the penthouse, the beach, the grass lawn, the pool deck, and the Grand Caribbean Ballroom, as all venues were fully decked, courtesy of different decorators, and wedding coordinators, for Wedding Open House, this weekend. Capable of handling from 2 to 1,000 guests, Lisa Dammerman and her colleagues, Shelodn Luidens, Lily Polsbroek and Nunette Maduro, welcomed brides-to-be in the lobby and took them on an escorted tour through the many options. Beautiful food stations were set up in the ballroom for a taste of the Hilton cuisine. New Food & Beverage manager Frances Ancilla comes to us from the Hilton El San Juan Resort in Puerto Rico, she is a 20-year Hilton veteran, and excited to be in Aruba, having heard all about it from the current general manager in Puerto Rico, the one and only Jeff Lesker. The Hilton here got a significant face-lift recently under General Manager Olivier Maumaire, a decorator at heart, who refreshed the public spaces himself, finding most incredible accents and décor piece at Flora Market, which totally revamped the look of the previously dark, now white and bright, lobby. And the Sunset Grille Restaurant, while not as popular as before, it really deserves our patronage. The steakhouse serves superb food, and the treetop, oceanfront view from the wrap-around terrace is breathtaking.
AZIA, WORTH A VISIT. I didn’t get to see the Asian Fusion restaurant & lounge interior during the Be Sexy, Be Trendy and Be Beautiful party recently, when the new place was introduced with a very well-attended party. We gathered in the patio perhaps a bit too long, Laurent Perrier champagne flowing like water, it was a humid, warm night, then when the doors finally opened the place was jam-packed and I decided to come back for a closer inspection on another day. That day was last Friday, and we enjoyed the ambiance, and the beautiful people, the décor, the gorgeous marble community table, the gleaming exhibition kitchen and the menu offerings. Congratulations, to the diligent Filomena Ferrara and her family members, on creating a big-city restaurant here, and for bringing marketing guru Lydia Langelaan back to the island. [email protected]