Occidental Grand Aruba becomes Barceló Aruba

We were invited by Demmi’s Rivas, Director of Sales, Occidental Grand Aruba for an event Friday afternoon 4pm, to witness the brand change, as the resort becomes Barceló Aruba.

I remember it as the Americana in the 80s, then it became Allegro, the Occidental, the Occidental Grand and sometime last year it changed hands again quietly, the previous GM departed, the new one arrived, all without fanfare.

So I was looking for an opportunity to meet the new players, at Friday afternoon’s cocktail party, because as an all-inclusive the resort keeps to itself, and has little to do with the local community. The brand change occasion would have been a good networking opportunity, to meet Rivas and the rest of crew, mingle, and chit-chat.

But the hotel saw it differently. When I arrived fashionably late at 4:30, I was graciously escorted to the dark ballroom set up with rows of theater-style chairs, we endures some lecturing, a few promotional videos describing the friendliness and elegance of the chain, then the beauty and the comfort of its Aruban property.

Just before 5pm, the Barceló resort GM, seated on stage among a long row of dignitaries, got up to address the audience, formally, butchering the often mispronounced last name of our cherished CEO of the Aruba Tourism Authority, which was the signal for me to depart.

I heard they later had a ballroom cocktail party – we noticed the circle of gleam-in-the-dark chafing dishes bordering the room where the hors d’oeuvres were getting warm and soggy. I didn’t meet anyone. We didn’t see the property.

About Barceló: With between 100 to 140 hotels, depending which webpage you consult, and over 38,000 rooms on 4 continents, the company also operates 505 travel agencies.

“Originally founded as a small family-owned company in Palma de Mallorca in 1931, the Barceló Group and its Hotels & Resorts Division have grown along three generations to achieve its current portfolio”.

It is interesting to note that the Barceló Group and the RIU Hotels & Resorts group, are fierce competitors in Aruba, and both enjoy success on the island. They both started as family owned hospitality businesses in Palma de Mallorca. RIU Hotels & Resorts in 1953, by the Riu family, and it is still family owned, by third generation family members.


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November 26, 2016
Rona Coster