In Conversation with Hotelier Willie Chin

We last met at the Sonesta Aruba, twenty-five years ago, at some tourism related event, Willie was in charge of Sales & Marketing, and the host of the party. We continued our conversation yesterday at the Mill Resort, catching up on people, places and things, in no time.

As I recently found out, Willie is back on his home-island, overseeing the renovation of the 193-room resort destined to become a Marriott Courtyard.

His journey started in Aruba at the local high school, he then ventured into hospitality with a special interest in sales and marketing. A Puerto Rican beauty walked into his life, and snatched him away to live, raise a family and work at the Island of Enchantment, for almost two decades.

He didn’t completely stay away. He returned to Aruba annually to visit his parents, and on one of his last professional assignments as a regional executive for the Intercontinental hotel chain, he even got to poke around the Holiday Inn on Palm Beach, a member of IHG.

But, on a recent visit here for his father’s 90th birthday, he met up with the representatives of Interamerican Promo Hotels INC, including President and CEO Klaus Moser. The company runs about 14 hotels in Peru, Ecuador and Venezuela and was recently entrusted with the renovation and management of the Aruba Mill Resort property.

It was a good opportunity to come back, Willie explains, reunite with elderly parents and pick up where he left!

We went on a tour: About one third of the hotel is under renovation, while the pool deck with a new elegant design is already receiving enthusiastic sun worshipers. Willie reports they are renovating in phases and close off the areas under construction, not to disturb guests.

In the second phase, the restaurants and two bars will receive an extensive facelift including the lobby and the lobby store.

We visited the new, very tastefully decorated model room, in cool, muted Caribbean hues with blonde wood paneling, oversize TV, twin sinks in the bathroom, generous closet space, mini fridge and safe, among other upgraded features.

Remember the oversize Jacuzzi tubs mid-room? They are now oversize walk in showers with rainfall shower heads!

The resort, Willie explains, aims at 4-star amenities and services, with a nicely conceptualized food & beverage operation.

At a recent golf tournament as the partner of Erick Wente of Wente Vineyards, both agreed to be working with Arion Wine Company on some events, also welcoming other wine purveyors to showcase their brands at the restaurant which will feature a sushi and ceviche bar!        

On the way out, I got the good news that the derelict area in front of the resort with the genuine Dutch windmill at its heart was sold to a local investor with an interest in architecture. I am hopeful the new owners will convert the area into a classy food and entertainment hub. They already have Chef Annelot in residence, at the Delicious restaurant. That is a good start.

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April 13, 2018
Rona Coster