Three Rivers Real Estate gets green light, to continue construction

On February 2022, one of the Seroe Colorado neighbors won the suspension of the Secrets Resort construction permit, on the basis of a view-obstruction claim.

One of the steel skeletons was already at least three floors high. Facing away from the refinery.

Construction of the complex came to a standstill.

This week permission to proceed was granted.

Lawyers Croes, Wever & Ruiz, managed to get the project off the rocks, with the personal intervention of MinPres.

By now we all understand that the verdict was convenient for owner GM, Grupo Martinon, that is currently building more than 7,000 rooms in the Caribbean and on the Canary-islands.

The hiatus gave the group a chance to work on other perhaps more urgent projects and as they recover their cash flow, post-pandemic, they will probably pick up their safety helmets again in 2023 to complete the major, ambitious, 900 rooms property, flagged under AMResorts as Secrets, a brand member of the Apple Leisure Group collection, cousin to Apple Vacations, Fun Jet, Travel Impressions and more, all owned by the mother company, Hyatt. You heard me right, Hyatt.

Hyatt wanted for many years to get into the upscale all-inclusive business in the Caribbean and found its niche by acquiring the Apple Leisure Group, owners of AMR, AMResorts, with brands such as Breathless, Dreams and Secrets. Who comes up with those names? Sunscapes too, which you might be familiar with from Curacao.

The project at Seroe Colorado was once approved as Bahia Principe, under a famous minister of tourism, now at the heart of a criminal investigation, currently in jail. Then, pre-elections, there was talk about the refinery reopening, and Bahia Principe bowed out. Who wants to vacation under the shadow of an active refinery?

The project was again approved under the former-former Minister of Infrastructure, now a member of parliament, at the heart of a criminal investigation. The commercial terrain was granted by the power of his signature, then transfers to a local group of developers. I hear the Dama de Rosa was involved in the transaction, as the minister’s go-between, but that is not confirmed.

The local developers were getting ready to move on architectural design and financial planning when the atmosphere changed. In walks another Minister of Infrastructure, also at the heart of a criminal investigation, again the one currently in jail, and he wanted to see a partnership between the locals and some international counterparts.

He expected collaboration, he wanted all partners to get along.

You guessed. The locals naturally withdrew and the international partners, Three Rivers Real Estate NV, were advised to start building before the elections.

Before anyone changes his/her mind.

I wrote about it in February of 2019, when NoticiaCla announced that a 900-room hotel, casino, restaurants, pools, etc. is heading into Seroe Colorado – constructed in two phases, first 600 room all-inclusive and 2 years later a 300 room European Plan (i.e. non-inclusive) hotel.

At the time, ABC, Aruba Bird Conservation was very alarmed because the “Environmental Impact Assessment Baby Beach Hotel,” came from an anonymous source, from an unidentified company, conveniently declaring that “the future activities will have no influence on the environment or the ecology. Due to the fact that the surrounding landscape is a barren desert-like landscape it is not probable that activities from the hotel will overflow to the surrounding area.”

When tracked down, Three Rivers Real Estate NV, doing business as Center Point Real Estate, could be reached at a trust office, with three little old ladies at Intima Aruba NV on Watapanastraat 7. We thought it was a good way of hiding the developers’ identity.

Today we know who they are, and they are reputable entities.

In May 2020, the project got the final permit and started building.

San Nicolas Business Association has welcomed it warmly.

Environmentalists say the south coast of Seroe Colorado is to become a Ramsar area, part of the Parke Marino Aruba. Ramsar is an inter-governamental treaty for conservation of wetlands, which will be critically threatened by development, yet it was approved by the Common Court of Justice.

The local developers who somehow got shoed off the original project, or squeezed away, applied for an option for a 40-room boutique hotel on Nanki Beach, a 30-million investment, to open in about three years.


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May 17, 2022
Rona Coster