Cocktails with Carlos Cabrera

I already reported on the return of GM Carlos Cabrera in a previous column, when it was breaking news. This week at a small cocktail party under the stars, at the Hyatt Regency on the garden deck, a modest number of old and new friends gathered to celebrate the occasion.

Carlos Cabrera is back on the island as GM of the Hyatt Regency. He says his years in Aruba in the 90s were formative and enjoyable and having completed almost four-decades with the Hyatt Corporation, he wanted his last position prior to retirement to be joyful, hence Aruba, and the Hyatt Regency Resort.

Cabrera shared with his guests some entertaining anecdotes from the pas,t how on opening day it rained cats and dogs and the just-installed landscaping washed into the pool and the planned VIP reception had to move to the ballroom, and how the then Japanese-partner grabbed the microphone and announced the rain was a sign of prosperity for thirty years, and how right he was; and the time, his Harley Davidson got joy-ridden, and radio personality Ruben Garcia got on the air, reprimanding the kids whodunit, sending Cabrera to pick up his bike, almost intact, at an island neighborhood; and how together with Eduardo De Veer they humbly visited the powerful, almost omnipotent American Airlines VP, Peter Dolara,  Senior Vice President of Miami Caribbean & Latin America Operations, in order to secure air lift for the island.

Cabrera also said the company will be reinvesting greatly in the Aruba property over the next years, and that we should expect greatness because in his travels around the globe as Senior Vice President, Global All Inclusive Operations at Hyatt Hotels Corporation, he has seen and experienced many wonders some of which he plans to introduce in Aruba.

A slide presentation brought back memories of that time then, under construction, and a good number of the fresh new faces on the pictures, still look amazingly cute, still working for the resort after 27 years.

Geraldine Coutinho-Meyers, Associate Director of Sales & Events, helped welcome guests together with the executive team; Geraldine was the first employee hired by the Hyatt Regency, pre-opening.

The mood of the gathering was Cuban, serving mojitos to the music of sax player El Prove, and we all appreciated the lechon asado, some people whose name I won’t mention, broke their diets big time, snacking on the browned to a crisp, piglet skin.

FOOTNOTE: If you recall, the 1990 Luzon earthquake, in the Philippines, on July 16th. It destroyed one of the more prominent buildings in town, the Hyatt Terraces Hotel. It was an estimated 7.7 quake. Many of those well-trained Hyatt employees found their way to Aruba to work at the Hyatt Regency and La Cabana Beach Resort & Casino. Many of them are still here, and have prospered.

Incidentally I noticed, among voters in the 2017 elections, in the list of foreign-born Arubans with a Dutch nationality, I found zero Philippines-born voters. Our Philippine community sticks to its original nationality, and apparently doesn’t apply for the Dutch passport.

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October 19, 2017
Rona Coster