Bati Bleki, Weekly Recap, October 30th, 2016

The Party in San Nicholas: The Pursuit of Policy Contrary to Public Interest

I decided not to be a party-pooper and go to the RDA’s opening bash. FYI, RDA means Refinery Di Aruba. The party with 8 bands, including the Queen of Bacchanal, Destra, at the Carnival Village in San Nicholas also featured a raffle for free gasoline vouchers and fireworks.

We arrived early around 9pm, parking no problem, the audience was sparse, Tsunami was in charge of the entertainment. So we swayed to the beat, wriggled our butts to the rhythm, had Bami Goreng, a bunch of Indonesian noodles with Chicken, a potato croquet, and a sausage on a stick. We washed it down with water in consideration of the local Police:  No driving back to Oranjestad under the influence.

At 9:45pm there were fireworks, boom – boom, followed by the music of Le Groove, with a long interval in between filled with name announcements of the people who won gasoline vouchers.

By 11pm, I couldn’t contain the joy any longer, and climbed back into the car to return home.

As we were leaving the Carnival Village – which turned out to be a great venue – a huge wave of people started coming in. I betcha that by the time the QOB got on stage, the place was packed.

As the fireworks were painting the beautiful night sky, one of my girlfriends remarked: Watch our money go up in flames. I love it on New Year’s Eve when it’s MY money that I am burning, but tonight it just our money, transformed into smoke. And the other girlfriend next to her added: Watch how your taxes go up, because we’re spending, this is an expensive exercise.

Yes, it was. They spent money like water, on a beautiful stage, festooned with the Aruba star, and the entertainment including an international star.

The crowd was very young made up of teens, I noticed some of the SN Oldie-Goldies, but otherwise, the place was filled with kids. It was definitely not a national celebration. The town’s folks came out for a free party, and that’s all.

I felt a general air of gloom hanging over Carnival Village the result of “The Pursuit of Policy Contrary to Public Interest.”

The MinPres did one of his “Salmon Runs,” starting at the stage he worked his way upstream, against the direction of the crowd, hugging, shaking, patting, and accepting congratulations, and then he was gone. He pressed the flesh and disappeared.

Bosman on refinery:

I’m worried, the whole transaction is absolutely not transparent and there is clear financial risk. I’m also surprised about the gas pipeline from Venezuela to Aruba, to be constructed as part of the modernization and so called “greening” of the refinery. Budgeted at $ 380 million. Who will pay for it? Additionally, the $300 million minimum guarantee offered to CITGO by Aruba.  I think it’s irresponsible, I can’t understand. There is so much uncertainty.

The State of Cyber Security in the Dutch Caribbean

Have you ever been curious how we rate as an island as far as Cyber Security. I am interested in the subject, having been already once the victim of bank fraud, and that is why on Wednesday October 26th, 2016, I will be joining the experts from Deloitte a at the ATIA building, on Gallegostraat #6, in Oranjestad, at 10am when they benchmark the maturity of Cyber Security in Aruba.

In  today’s  digital  economy, where our money is virtual, and a password is the only barrier between us and pennilessness,  we  are  being  challenged  to  think  beyond fancy phones and clever applications, to embrace the idea that we have to arm ourselves against marauder, predators and evil empires.

I am definitely interested to know what companies are doing against thieves in the Dutch Caribbean.

Apparently, Deloitte, Dutch Caribbean Risk Advisory has performed the Dutch Caribbean Cyber Security Study 2016, in order to investigate trends and the current maturity of Cyber Security practices here. They will be sharing what they found; the current successful local cyber security trends, and discusses how companies are protecting themselves against modern day cyber criminals.

The Deloitte survey is ongoing, and local heads of companies are invited to participate, and contribute by answering a brief selection of questions anonymously.

The program on Wednesday starts at 10:00am, and includes:

10:15 – 10:35 Riding the Wave of Tech Trends – Cyber Warriors at work – Roy Jansen

10:35 – 11:00 Deloitte Cyber Security Study 2016 – Pauline Loeff

11:00 – 11:20 Questions

11:20 – 11:30 Closing

11:30 – 12:00   Coffee and snacks

Speaker Roy Jansen is Senior Manager Risk Advisory at Deloitte Dutch Caribbean.  His military

background  combined  with  a  profound  knowledge  of  governance,  cyber  risk  and security practices are a  sound foundation to support clients in protecting their most valuable business assets.

Pauline Loeff is  a  Senior  Consultant  at  Deloitte  Risk  Advisory  with  a  background  in Governance,  Risk  and  Compliance  specifically  IT  related.  In  her  role  as  the  project leader  on  the  ‘The  State  of  Cyber  Security  in  the  Dutch  Caribbean’  she  will  be presenting the results of the study.

Attendance at this event is by invitation only. Participation is free of charge. Please confirm your

Participation by sending an email to Mr. Ashiq Nanhekhan via: [email protected]

Please confirm your attendance before October 19th, 2016.

Looking back at Sun Development & Casa del Mar, edited from the resort’s 30th anniversary newsletter

Sun Development Company was a dynamic enterprise owned and operated by Aruban entrepreneurs, architects and engineers.  Right from the start, the company’s goal was to create interval ownership resorts on Aruba.  On April 1st 1977, SD opened the Aruba Beach Club, the island’s first timeshare resort and the 8th resort ever listed in the RCI portfolio worldwide. The success of the Aruba Beach Club led to another project, even more ambitious, the Playa Linda Beach Resort, a multi-level luxury timeshare in the high rise hotel area, where the first phase became available in 1983. Casa del Mar followed in quick succession, in 1986, and Costa Linda Beach Resort concluded the run in 1991.

Using the latest in construction techniques, SD completed phase I of CDM in record time. The resort distinguished itself from its sister properties, by offering more spacious two bedroom suites. The decision to go big paid off, as the first phase sold out even before the building was completed.

While I knew that in 1987 SD expanded its local interests beyond just hotels, I did not know that the company also acquired the famous floating Bali Restaurant, as well as a substantial interest in S.E.L. Maduro & Sons, one of the most prestigious travel-oriented companies on Aruba.  In 1989, SD opened the iconic La Trattoria el Faro Blanco, perched on the hilltop adjacent to the California Lighthouse, with spectacular island views. SD also developed Sun  Plaza  Shopping  and Office  Center, a commercial mall in Eagle which served as its headquarters. Last but not least, the jewel of the crown, Tierra  del  Sol Golf  Course, Resort & later Spa, created Aruba’s first planned residential community. All said, SD’s investment in Aruba at the time, exceeded $170 million.

SD often referred to owners at their various resorts as the Sun People, regardless of what resort they stayed, everyone was part of the Sun family. The company cleverly created a highly exclusive  club  of  loyal  owners,  who  to  this  day  keep  coming back to Aruba, contributing to the local economy.

True to its origins, SD trusted in the talent of Arubans, at every company level, locals made up a large part of management, accounting and department staff.  All managers were trained by prominent U.S. resort experts, building on, and further developing the genuine, natural warmth of the Arubans. The entrepreneurs  at the helm, Raymond  Maduro,  Dan  Oduber  and  Tito  Muyale,  all believed  the  success  of  their  business may be traced to the friendliness and ease with which the Arubans communicated with visitors at their resorts.

The company’s four core beliefs, exemplified the mutual dependence of employer/employee, working on behalf of the Aruban community as SD developed tourist and leisure oriented projects, assured that its obligations to customers were fulfilled, while encouraging employees in their careers and self-development, and at the same time operating profitably.

Although the company has since folded, the properties and business models created have continued to have a tremendous impact on Aruba and the local economy. Many of the owners who bought their lifetime ownerships in the 1980s, still come to the island with their families or have handed their timeshare down to the next generation, to the kids who grew up loving the island, bringing their own kids here to experience the evolution of Aruba and its people.

SD embarked on a journey during a time when no one really thought Aruba  needed tourism  and  30  years  later,  tourism  has become the largest economic pillar, of which timeshare is a vital contributor, all thanks to the vision and the passion of the young  professionals who saw the potential here.

As for CDM, its history is intrinsically linked to the Aruba Beach Club Resort, and to the island itself.

In the 1970s, the concept of hotels, especially timeshare resorts, was novel and experimental. Aruba at the time had some modest guest houses, and efficient small motels. Hotels were seen as too big and luxurious for such a small island.

The  sentiment  among  locals  was  that  Aruba  didn’t  need  a tourism  industry,  since it enjoyed the presence of a very  successful  oil  refinery, which supported the Aruban economy, well.

The group of young Aruban entrepreneurs who started SD were almost clairvoyant in that respect, setting up a tourism industry with an eye on the future.

Timeshare was introduced here in 1974, at the ABC, and developers had to jump through a great number of hoops to realize their dream.

But the fearless trio, Raymond  Maduro,  Dan  Oduber  and  Tito  Muyale  were  undeterred  and  in  1977,  when they opened ABC  the years of struggle paid off.  And then without resting on their laurels, they went off to build Playa Linda Beach Resort.

SD was an important player during the crisis years, when Lago’s oil refinery closed on March 31st 1985. The shutdown of the refinery led to unemployment, and SD became a major employer with the construction of CDM.

CDS was announced earlier in April of 1984, as a 130 room extension of ABC, but then the decision was made to create an independent resort whose first stone was laid in June of 1984, just months before the closing of the refinery.

On October 4th 1986, phase I of CDM was ready, welcoming 150 employees back into the work force. Aruba’s tourism was taking off and SD sold out its inventory fast; then on July 17th 1987, it announced the second phase, which readied in January 1989, with many existing ABC members buying or upgrading units at CDM.

At a construction progress news conference on August 12th, 1988, the construction of the final third phase of CDM was made public, called the Ambassador wing, inaugurated on December 22nd, 1989, with the official Grand Opening performed by Phillip Glazier, a member at CDM.

During the Grand opening ceremony, Aruba’s Prime Minister Nelson Oduber presented a plaque to Raymond Maduro, recognizing SD for its important contributions to the Aruban Tourism Industry.

The Ambassador wing added 40 beautiful one bedroom, one bathroom suites to the complex, complete with its own swimming pool and spacious pool deck. This year in December, the Ambassador wing will be celebrating its 27th anniversary.

On its 30th anniversary, CDM boasts 147 well-appointed units, and although it may be considered a smaller resort, the accommodations are anything but small. The suites themselves are large and luxurious enough to comfortably sleep families of four to six people.

Most guests feel that the Ambassador wing offers a more tranquil experience while the Presidential wing on the beach delivers a more fast-paced vacation. Both live up to their promise, to help create unforgettable experiences on the island of Aruba.

Today CDM is undertaking several projects which will streamline guest services. It is also exploring various green initiatives to reduce its global footprint.  One of such projects includes a website portal, which will allow members to view and pay maintenance fees online, view the annual convocation and vote online, list units for sale or rental, as well as buy or rent additional weeks.

The resort continues finding ways to help the environment by minimizing the use of paper, installing more eco-friendly lighting fixtures, reducing energy consumption and actively encourage recycling. The resort has also replaced grass and plants with indigenous plants and cactus, which require less water to cut down on the use of one of the islands most precious resources.

And talking about progress, the resort travelled from #16 to #7 on and has been upgraded from a Select Resort to the highest ranking, Premier Resort, in the Interval International worldwide ranking. CDM has become an established timeshare property over the course of the last 30 years with an impressive sold out percentage, 98%, and a loyal owner base.

Looking  ahead  to the  future,  the  next  five years  look  extremely  bright  for  CDM, as it is committed to  upgrade  and  improvement of services; the goal is to continue the past 30-year prosperity,  well  into  the  future.

In  conjunction  with  an  interior designer, CDM is currently in the process of developing a conceptual design  scheme  to  blend  the  public  areas  with  guest  units  and bring back the warm tropical feel which attracted members to Aruba in the first place. Renovations are expected to conclude over the next few years. It is the goal of CDM to continue to evolve in the hope that future owner-generations will continue to see the resort as their home away from home.

While CDM has been through good times and turbulent times over three decades, the sun rises every day, and so does the resort and its congenial, caring staff, rising to the challenge to serve their guests the best they can.

The Aruba Challenge score sheet

I polled quite a few people they all thought it was a great idea, to diversity the island’s calendar of activities with a world-class sporting event. This year’s inaugural half-triathlon enjoyed the participation of 303 pro and amateur athletes, competing in a variety of events, covering a total distance of 70.3km.

I met organizer Bas De Groot, event director, at the Christmas preview event at Tulip Restaurant, he handed me a business card with a local telephone and address.

Generally speaking, his people did a good job on pre-production. They posterized the entrance to town with spectacular banners, so that the date became etched in our mental calendars, October 23rd, 2016.

Then on October 22nd, I found a polite letter in my mail box, announcing the closure of the boulevard and the ban on driving in the area. I didn’t mind, it was Sunday, and I was staying put.

On the designated day at 4am, two men were conducting a loud Dutch conversation under my window in Malmok. As I walked out the terrace they were undeterred, as far as they were concerned it was time for us to wake up and cheer the race on.

They dropped Rocky, the volunteer, on my street. I found out later he was a ukulele teacher, in a local after-school enrichment program. He proceeded to tie pink ribbons blocking garage doors up and down the neighborhood. Some of the ribbons are still there.

Then the fancy bicycles started whizzing by, navigated by skinny men and women, in tight spandex, and futuristic helmets. They were chased by even fancier paparazzi motorcycles, the ones with the raised back-seats, where an in-your-face-photographer with a giant camera lives.

This went on for a couple of hours, with Rocky motioning them where not to go. Mid morning I invited him home. How can you drop a grown man in the street for eight hours and expect him to pee in the bushes?

Anyway, I offered a bathroom, and coffee. As it turned out the ukulele is a Cuarta, and his real name was Aaron, but everyone called him Rocky.

Rocky was collected at around 1pm, by bus, and later Armin Solognier sent me the list of winners. He was on the parking lot of the Hyatt Regency at the conclusion of the race and told me about the top finishers, Per Bittner, 4:03:18, and Yvonne van Vlerken 4:27:03 who happen to be a couple in real life.

If they the race takes place again in 2017, it would mean the athlete were satisfied with the arrangements, hotel guests however, were inconvenienced. One of my friends wrote to me: How about that stupid planning yesterday for the Aruba Challenge, let’s close off all the roads to the high rise area and not care about workers and guest!!! What a mess!!! I got as far as Wendy’s and was told by a Police officer that the road will open at 1pm.There was no info given to us about the parking lot being closed at our hotel. People should weigh the pros and cons of having an event like that in the hotel area.

Another serious challenge was the expo organized at the Hyatt Regency parking lot. Exhibitors paid BIG BUCKS to be included to showcase their food-, cosmetic-, banking products, and it remained a ghost town. Exhibitors spent a fortune to dress up heir booths and nothing happened! Organizers did not communicate to the masses that an expo will be available and consequently no one went. Take a look at the pictures on my FB page, the place remained empty until the conclusion of the race!

Mark your calendars:

DATE: October 22, 2017

CITY: Oranjestad, Aruba

RACES: Half-Triathlon | Half-Triathlon Relay | Sprint Triathlon | Sprint Triathlon – Relay

REGISTRATION: Opens October 23, 2016 | Closes October 1, 2017

Read the official press release:

Apple di Oro last night

I popped my head into the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino ballroom last night. The place was elegantly set for the Apple Di Oro, the Golden Apple, an annual award ceremony rewarding the island’s best teachers in various categories.

The MinEdu reports that last year there were about 50 award nominees, and this year that number increased to over 100, as the golden apple is now an established program, and part of the annual October month of education celebration.

I have to say that I enjoyed the occasion, I was a high school teacher once, for six happy years, and I totally agree that “Good teachers are remembered for a lifetime.”

The three awards I witnessed last night were truly significant, in the “School Special Project,” category. The first apple was awarded for incorporating technology in the classroom and the winning teacher reported fundraising in collaboration with kids and parents to raise the cash required for ipads and an Apple TV, and how scores reflected a higher rate of student engagement.

The second apple awarded went to a foundation, created by the Colegio Arubano teachers, who set aside a percentage of their own salary each month, to save to support students of lesser means. The winning teachers’ team described their efforts to identify and sustain students in need and declared that at Colegio all students are equally important and that social issues should never hold students back. The room erupted in applause.

The third award, a clever, low tech plan, involved adopting a grandmother. The elementary school kids, adopted an elderly person from their community, and maintain a close relationship with their adorable, Dutch speaking senior, with a mane of white hair and gentle demeanor, who comes to school regularly to cheer them on, a program with multiple benefits for the community and for all individuals involves.

From my perspective, it was really nice to see that Going the Extra Mile, is appreciated, and systematically acknowledged, because education is obviously designed to feed the mind, and I found that the Apple di Oro award winning projects lovingly feed the soul.

Congratulations to all award winners, later in the evening Teacher of the Year and a Lifetime Achievement Awards was granted. It was a long, emotional and rewarding evening!

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October 30, 2016
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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
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster