Bti Bleki Weekly Recap, May 8th, 2016

Crisis management in Aruba, tfu tfu tfu! May nothing ever happen!

The island’s government office for Crisis Management recently gave the local business community a talk regarding what they can expect from the government in times of crisis and what the government is expecting the business community to do, when/if disaster strikes. Tfu tfu tfu! May nothing ever happen, in the spirit of hope for the best, prepare for the worst!

It was a two-hour presentation, and it did highlight the fact that the island is extremely well-situated as far as Caribbean storms are concerned, and extremely lucky in all other ways.

Seminar-goers were reassured by Nico Arts, Acting Director, and Rino Hermans, Team Member, that proper Emergency Planning is undertaken by the Aruban government, Crisis Management Office, together with the response agencies to ensure that the local communities are assisted and supported.

So basically the government wanted to tell the business community to wake up and write a plan, develop and implement policies that will help in crisis with effective disaster response to guarantee the overall safety of the life and health of the population and the island’s transient hotel guests.

A five step strategy was suggested, pretty basic stuff, it sounded obvious, but difficult to focus on, when the sun is shining and the birds are chirping. It went the following: Understand your organization, write an emergency plan, share your plan, test your plan, and maintain your plan. Tada. Repeat.

While they sat at the Alhambra Ballroom in air-conditioning, sipping coffee and noshing on chocolate chip cookies, the hotels were asked to prepare for an entire menu of natural calamities such as Hurricane, Tsunami, Flooding or Storm Surge, Fire, Earthquake, Power Outage, Interruption of Potable Water Supply, Outbreak of Disease, and mostly write and maintain a sound Business Continuity Plan.

Nico & Rino also showed some slides tripping down history lane: How in February 1942, the burning oil from the Pedernales and the Oranjestad, rolled along the surface of the water, where the tankers have been hit by the first two torpedoes fired in combat by the U-156, a German submarine. That was a man-made disaster, handled well by the Lago Oil Refinery emergency response people, at the time.

I would not remember Hurricane Hazel, in 1954, nor Hurricane Janet, in 1955, but I heard about them dumping water mercilessly on the Northern Caribbean Islands. Apparently, they also left an impression here. I remember Hurricane Lenny well, in 1999, whose tail of tail produced high winds and rough surf, and Hurricane Ivan in September of 2004, who was far away north, but still managed to piss on our heads, and Hurricane Emily in 2005, she just dumped water in the far distance and went to Mexico. Felix was the closest, 78km north of the island, in September of 2007, but he was more interested in Jamaican than in Aruba. Thank you Felix. I remember washing my dogs in honor of Lenny, Ivan, Emily and Felix, just in case they had to huddle in bed with me; I wanted them to be freshly shampooed! We bought some bottled waters and flashlight batteries, and that was the extent of our preparations, at the time.

I wrote a funny column at the time, at least I thought it was funny, about listening to the radio all night, and the announcer for lack of other words, repeating the word Duro, a dozen times, in a desperate effort to describe how hard it was raining.

Nico & Rino also said that hypothetically speaking, tfu, tfu, tfu, the Haiti disaster in 2010, in Aruban terms would go the following:

HAITI, Population: 10 million; Dead: 200.000; Injured: 300.000; Homeless: 1.5 million.

Aruba in a similar scenario, Population: 100.000, Dead: 2000, Injured: 3000, Homeless: 15.000

I don’t know what possessed me to talk about this, apologies to you, but in reality we should prepare. A bit!!

Off Season Blues: Good for the Consumer, OR Advertising Pays!

We noticed an ad in the newspaper advertising the 7th anniversary of Papillon Restaurant in June, telling us that the restaurant is celebrating the occasion with a 7-course carte blanche dinner menu for the merciful price of $70 per person. Each course comes with a perfectly paired glass of wine. So imagine, during April, May & June, the 7-course dinner will be offered with weekly changing menu items. And while we were on the subject of Papillon Restaurant, we went to their FB page, and were reminded that Yes, they’re in: “White gold,” famed fresh, Dutch asparagus is available in a variety of dishes, April 14th to June 14th.

Friends who already went, report the asparagus, buried in dirt to prevent it from becoming green, is simply delicious, served Dutch style, Hollandaise, or modestly, Flemish style, Flamande, with other pairings such as Black Angus Beef or pan fried Halibut, skin on. What did I tell you? It pays to advertise because we made a reservation for a group of friends, for May 21st.  The name of the restaurant has nothing to do with the little dog with feathery ears, nor the formal bowtie. It is named after the famous French convict Henri Charriere, who was locked up on Devil’s island, and escaped riding a bunch of tied up coconuts, in the 40s. The story was made into a famous movie, and the cuisine of the restaurant ties European dishes to Caribbean flavors, hence the name.  [email protected].

That same paper, business must be good for the Aruba Today, advertised the Sunset Grille, at the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino, with a Wednesday Surf & Turf special, a great deal at $49.95 per person including onion soup with gratinated provolone cheese, or a house salad with grilled romaine lettuce, fresh spinach, local mushrooms, red onions and Parmigiano cheese, drizzled with mustard vinaigrette and crushed pepper; then a Surf & Turfmarrying 100 % Certified American Black Angus  tenderloin and jumbo garlic shrimp,  sautéed onions and garlic mashed potatoes with a cilantro avocado chimichuri and red wine sauce; followed by a trio dessert sampler with mango cheese cake, raspberry sorbet & chocolate cake. The restaurant recently received a contemporary makeover, which coincided with the arrival of its new Executive Chef, the recently recruited Gerard Coste. We love and appreciate Gerard, the French-born culinary wizard who made Aruba his home, and the kitchen of the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino the place where he practices his creativity and good taste. The new décor at the Sunset Grille is themed around fine wine and focuses on genuine reclaimed wooden wine boxes of both rare and popular selections from wine-producing countries around the globe. The stylish wine boxes created by the wineries to store and protect their precious cargo all carry unique logos and careful notations where the wine was produced. Many of these logos are masterpieces of traditional design, endorsed by royalty and cherished as historical documents.

Bottom line: The dinner experience at the Sunset Grille is now greatly enhanced by the new color scheme and the elegant furnishings, capturing the imagination of visiting and local wine and food lovers. It’s a very good offer at $49.95. Tel.: 586 6555, ext 6612

Same newspaper, the Ritz Carlton Aruba is advertising new Sunset Dinner Menus for $55 per person, at BLT Steak with a selection of different appetizers, main courses, sides and desserts, for an early 6:00pm to 6:45pm seating. I couldn’t find a FB page for the restaurant, nor a website, so I called and received the regular menu by e-mail, which I knew; I have been there before, wow. Very delicious and worth the trip to Malmok, just don’t stuff yourself with the amazing bread right away, stir far away from the signature warm popovers. You should know that BLT Steak’s parent company, ESquared Hospitality, also runs a BLT in Miami and New York. The Aruba branch enjoys a raw bar, choice steaks, a great wine list, and a great view. Signature dessert items include warm crêpe soufflé or peanut butter chocolate mousse! Tel.: 527 2222

The off season blues: Good for the newspapers, good for the consumer, and it pays to advertise, because I read every word and wrote a column!


I think the last two times I vacationed in Bonaire, the government collapsed, I don’t know what I do to cause that political hoopla, but I must be doing something wrong. Besides politics, we did everything right.

We arrived on Insel air from Aruba via Curacao, on time. Wish they’d reinstate their direct flights! The taxi driver, a Russian woman by the name of Katja told us the story of her life while driving us from the Flamingo Airport to our hotel. It was a good story involving a Russian woman on vacation, falling in love with an irresistible Bonairian.

We stayed at the Divi Flamingo in one of the oceanfront rooms with a to-live-for-view, and dozens of crabs, sea gulls, sand pipers and fish, just outside our terrace, as our neighbors. On our first afternoon we took a dip in the ocean and a Campari & soda for sunset happy-hour, at the hotel’s Pure Ocean Bar. Dinner at Cuba Campagnie followed. It was a charming place, in the heart of Kralendijk, right next to Wilhelmina park. Cuba Campagnie is a chef owned restau with a great atmosphere and lovely food. It used to be a convent in the old days. The adjacent church is still active on Sundays.

Basically, we ate, drank, read, slept, and walked the promenade a bit, but generally avoided all strenuous activity! Bonaire is like that. It inspires me to do absolutely nothing.

Among the great places we visited, At Sea, a husband and wife owned terrace eatery, that’s perfect in many ways, from service to location to taste and presentation. As promised, At Sea, faces the sea, but just a few steps up the street a wrongly-motivated developer put a multiple story building, the South Pier Mall, on the ocean side. They would have had to call At Sea, At Building. But luckily, as I explained, the view was spared, the mall stopped short, a few steps up the street.  We also lunched at It Rains Fishes Bar & Restaurant on the gorgeous veranda overlooking the bay and Klein Bonaire. There seems to be no danger of a developer plopping a building there.

A morning coffee at Cappuccino, an annex of Karel’s Bar, was followed by some vino at a new wine bar, the Barrel, normally overlooking the harbor but the day we visited, the view was completely blocked by sea containers. We visited to support the new venture, but we want our money back, ‘cause there was no sunset view as advertised!

Barrel Wine Bar South Pier Mall, Kaya C.E.B Helmund 6

The highlight of our visit in Bonaire was a day spent on the pool deck of a private home at SABADECO, within Santa Barbra, Development Company, our hosts were very gracious, and leisurely lunch on Sunday is always a good idea among friends.

In the evening we went to Empire Cinema, an open air theater with plastic chairs, a large screen, with state of the art sound. We watched the new Jungle Book in 3D, at this bare necessity movie facility. The owner’s wife cooked us spicy Thai food dinner, just before the movie started!

Kaya Katwijk 6, Hato, next to MCB Bank. Tel: 599 777-1122 Facebook: EMPIRE CINEMA


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May 08, 2016
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Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
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Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster