Deborah de Weerd and Henk Steenbergen are celebrating the silver anniversary of Paradera Park Apartments an exclusive tropical escape set in the heart of Aruba, in Paradera.
Twenty-five years ago, a pair of visionary European vacationers decided to set up a modest apartment resort in a sea of cactus, boulders and divi trees, off the beaten path in Paradera.
At the time, 1993, most visitors stayed at the seaside hotels, and the vacation rental industry hasn’t been born yet. In fact, the island only had one or two apartment clusters but Deborah’s parents were undeterred – so now you know, Deborah’s parental unit, was the visionary European pair. They set up a charming ten-studio complex which they successfully ran for over a decade.
Paradera? Really? How do you get to Paradera?
Those were the days, before GPS, Waze and Google maps.
Then past the Millennium, the idea of selling the property popped up. Apparently, the de Weerd wanted their freedom back, and oscillated between their love of the island and their desire to travel. They shared their conflict with ‘The kids’ Deborah and Henk, here on vacation from their successful careers in the Netherlands and the seed was inadvertently planted.
Deborah explains that the plane ride back home was long and soul searching: How can we let Paradera Park go, they thought. It was like giving a baby away, they felt, and eventually came up with a plan to simply replace the senior pair, step into their shoes, move to Aruba and assume the ownership role of Paradera Park, full time.
Deborah, a designer by profession, and Henk, a technical man, knew little about hospitality, but were quick learners, and translated the boundless love they had for the property and for the island into a successful business, now in its twenty-fifth year, a full-service tropical oasis.
Overtime they expanded into a seventeen-room boutique style resort, and the garden, now famous for incredible blooms became a passionate pastime for both Deborah and Henk.
What is the secret to success, I asked: They both agree that personal service is the key, and keeping the traveler in mind is essential, making sure he/she experiences Aruba on a very deep level, and that the island gets under their skin.
As a privately owned and managed property they are proud to welcome back many return visitors each year, whether travelling for business or leisure, and gladly share their island knowledge to help them explore and enjoy the uniqueness of Aruba.
They insist on comfortable beds, superior linen, and updated modern bathrooms, Illy espresso machines, all utensils and appliances, though they explain, most guests enjoy having the option to cook, but rarely do!
With Henk in charge of maintenance and Deborah at the front desk, their total immersion is further amplified because they live on property, and are always available to make sure vacations at Paradera Park are relaxing and carefree.
Henk often tells the housekeepers, and the occasional service providers that he is running the Ritz Carlton in Paradera, and that the level of service expected is six stars.
Paradera? With time they reflect, has become their biggest selling point, away, authentic, quiet, birds and lizards, island living at its best.
From the website: Paradera Park is also home to the Loretti Design Studio, the contemporary jewelry & product designs are sold in the giftshop. In addition, you will find a unique collection of home products, fashion, design & art, designed by local artists.