The Aruba Carib is 59 years today

The opening ceremony of the new resort on Palm beach unfolded on July 18, 1959, island Governor Speekenbrink gave a short speech, we have a picture of the ribbon cutting in the archive.

Carl Wolff was selected as the first General Manager of the Aruba Caribbean. Clifford Jones and Jake Kozloff, both well-known in international gambling circles, were contracted to operate the casino. They brought the best entertainers of that time to perform in the “Klompen Klub”, among them Xavier Cugat, Harry Belafonte, Jack Benny and Liberace.

During the hotel soft opening period, the 120-member Washington Symphony Orchestra came to perform in Aruba for two days, all expenses paid by the U.S. government.

Then official opening took place on July 18, 1959. It was a national happening during which Juan Enrique Irausquin cut the ribbon, followed by a show by Hildegarde, accompanied by the orchestra of Eduardo Chavez, a folkloric show, and the piano of Padu Lampe.

Hank Meyer in Miami Beach was a top PR man of the time, handling many celebrities; he was the one to open an office in New York to help promote the hotel.

Also, the hotel company Executive House, from Chicago, used its network and contacts to jump start tourism here in a big way.

They made a deal with Kellogg’s and at one time the picture of the Aruba Caribbean was on the famous cereal box, also giving away free stays.

Celebrity entertainers attracted tourists to come here, including Elizabeth Taylor, Eddy Fisher, Jack Benny, Arthur Godfrey, Xavier Cugat, Abbe Lane, Harry Belafonte, Jan Peerce, Liberace, Natalie Wood, Bob Hope, Roger Moore and Tony Martin.

The new resort attracted conventions and meetings previously foreign to the island.

When you consider that in those days, there were no large government guarantees for the development of resorts, and when you note that the government set up a corporation and financed the project by involving local and foreign investors and with loans from Holland, you realize how visionary the construction project of the Aruba Carib was.

Of course, later our government guaranteed huge bank loans for private investors to finance their hotel projects, which got us in hot – Italian – water, but then it all worked out.

The Aruba Carib, now the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino carries the mission of Aruban hospitality excellence on.

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July 18, 2018
Rona Coster