What thirty-four years can do

The Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino observed a number of anniversaries last week, namely 34 years since it was flagged The Golden Tulip Aruba, with Dick Nijhof as its General Manager.

You might remember that the Grande Dame of Palm Beach, known as the Carib since 1959, was picked up by the Golden Tulip hotel chain in the 80s. That Dutch owned hospitality brand, founded in the 60s, first opened properties in the Netherlands, then spread around the world.

When it came to Aruba it hired local professionals, who stuck around, through the long-term Radisson branding, and the Hilton take over, five years ago.

“We call ourselves Charter Members,” says Glenn Farro, director of HR at the resort, 19 of us are still working here, proud to have been recruited 34 years ago.

From a historical perspective it was an amazingly-opportune moment. The refinery just closed in San Nicolas, the economy of the island was in the dumps, educated locals were packing their bags to move to the Netherlands, and the Golden Tulip Aruba was signing people up.

That by itself was noteworthy, because it signaled the beginning of Aruba’s full time commitment to tourism. Indeed, the industry made an astonishing quantum leap that year, taking all those who climbed aboard on a remarkable, life-changing ride.

Glenn shares he was hired on October 22nd, 1986, as Food & Beverage Cashier. Through hard work he climbed up the ladder, making short stops on the Supervisor and Manager rungs. He became director in 2009, handling human resources for the property. His best achievement? Besides getting an excellent education, his son just hoisted the Aruban flag on top of Mount Kilimanjaro, 5,895 ft., having ascended to the top of Africa’s highest point, a world heritage site.

I asked a few other Charter Members about their long term careers and what they thought about hospitality, the opportunities it affords, and their accomplishments.

Director of Housekeeper Bibi Rampersaud Ohab, joined the company on October 25th, 1986. She came from the Holiday Inn with work experience and was hired as Senior Supervisor.  Famous for her ability to bridge differences and handle multi-cultural, multi-lingual staffers, Bibi stayed in the housekeeping department throughout her career.

Her three children, she explains, are all college graduated, adults with successfully-launched careers. She is a grandmother of 6, who thanks God for her good health. “I was focused on my kids,” she states, “I wanted to make sure they get what they need.” She made a conscious decision to opt for a stable work experience, not a roller-coaster career, and feels gratified for having accomplished her mission.

Retirement, I asked? I love the hotel, she laughs, besides, every time my retirement question surfaces, it gets tabled for next year.

Marvinia Richardon was hired October 22nd, 1986, and started working as Food & Beverage Cashier. She is today an Event Coordinator, an extremely busy and demanding job in the pre-covid days. She has two boys, she says, 26 & 38, who enjoyed all the perks a steady income job afforded mom and her cubs.

Rugia Silie is the resort’s #1 employee and takes great pride at being the senior, hired August 1st, 1986, as Administrative Assistant in the Food & Beverage department, with a short stint as Wedding Coordinator sometime down the road. Rugia is the F&B department at the Hilton. Her son, Johnathan Werleman, practically raised at that department, went on to become a rising hospitality star. You guessed, a manager in the Food & Beverage department, of the Hilton.    

Frank Erasmus was hired two days after Glenn, on October 24th, 1986, as Food & Beverage cashier, he is today the Assistant Director of Housekeeping, groomed to succeed legendary director, Bibi.

Frank reports starting a teaching career in the mid-80s then changing his mind about his choice and opting for hospitality. “I never looked back,” he says, “my entry salary was Awg 28 per day, but I just love this hotel and the challenges it presents every day. Min-pandemic we took back the care of our public spaces, and we meet the challenges of the New Norms with resilience, built over 34 years!

Glenn, Bibi, Marvinia, Rugia & Frank, individuals with a higher-purpose, making guests happy, owners proud, improving their own life, and pushing the island forwards.


Share on:

November 04, 2020
Rona Coster