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Coconut Telefax: 07/02/18

Coconut Telefax logo - Rona Coster Aruba

Moulin Rouge Gala At the Marriott

The Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino recently hosted a Moulin Rouge Gala, showcasing the property’s capabilities to a local audience of industry clients. Every year, ahead of the holiday season, the resort pulls out all the stops to wine, dine and entertain important decision-makers in the business community. This year it was champagne and iced lobster from a buffet heaving with the best fresh seafood on the planet and signature chef-prepared entrées—carved, sliced, tossed, and rolled—a la minute.

The room was set up by Perfect Team Event Planners, transformed into a Bohemian Parisian Cabaret, with glamorous party-goers in Belle Epoque gowns and dresses, festooned with feathers, fringes, and sequins. Elite Production was entrusted with the clubby sound and the jazzy lights. One of the island’s best bands, Tsunami, kept guests on the dance floor all night, with DJ Nutzbeatz performing in between sets. The skimpily dressed, risqué Moulin Rouge dancers invaded the dance floor at midnight.

Moulin Rouge at Aruba Marriot

Resplendent in a slinky black gown beaded with iridescent rhinestones, Carolina Voullieme, director of sales & marketing, explained that the party was designed to entertain and delight—no message, no agenda, just a frivolous occasion, determined to offer a good time.

Moulin Rouge at Aruba Marriott
Moulin Rouge at Aruba Marriott


Fundraising for the Aruba Red Cross

Besides being a successful developer/hotelier, Jurgen Van Schaijk is very active with the Red Cross Aruba and made excellent efforts to sell tickets for its fundraising garden party, which took place recently at the Surfside Marina.

It was a sold-out event, well-attended by the island’s movers and shakers, nicely decorated by Flora Market, the Santa Rosa agricultural station, and a number of generous liquor purveyors.

The band, Blue Boulevard, was first class, playing in the somewhat-removed pavilion, offering party-goers the opportunity to network and talk in the garden. So, they did. They could hear each other, and the dance floor remained empty at least until I left, but who knows, perhaps they danced later in the night, at the end of all the conversation, when the buzz kicked in.

Red Cross Aruba fundraising event
Red Cross Aruba fundraising event
Mauchi Smoothies at Red Cross Aruba fundraising event

The governor of Aruba, His Excellency Alfonso Boekhoudt, graced the party with his presence. The Red Cross Aruba is one of his favorite organizations, and he is a staunch supporter of its activities. He talked from the heart, he told me. He made no formal speech, but outlined the organization’s contributions to our community.

What I learned: The Red Cross supports 150 migrant refugees/asylum-seekers at a local shelter. The previous day, the first Red Cross baby was born by cesarean. True to its charter, the organization takes care of people who have nothing besides their Red Cross affiliation. I also learned that in collaboration with AZV, the Red Cross is opening a hospice in Savaneta, a friendly place to spend the last weeks/days of life, instead of in an expensive, cold hospital bed.


The Changing of the Guards

Barcelo Aruba helped the Aruba Hotel & Tourism Association (AHATA) say farewell to Jim Hepple and welcome Tisa LaSorte as the new CEO and president at AHATA.

Jim, with 45 years of experience in the tourism industry and 35 years of working in various Caribbean destinations, including St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Curacao, the Bahamas, and Aruba, will be a valuable player at University of Aruba, where he is currently an assistant professor in the Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

His PhD will help the university kick-start the local Master of Business Administration program, which is much needed here in light of the via dolorosa imposed on local companies, which forces them to import needed talent and pursue impossible-to-get work permits.

AHATA event at Barcelo Aruba

Tisa, the incoming leader, has been a favorite candidate for the job for more than one year, but nothing comes easy—it took some convincing that the perfect man for the job is a woman. Besides, she was content and passionate about her job at Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort, and as I said, it took some convincing.

She will have a zero learning curve because she is a child of the industry and knows the local personalities well, including all their idiosyncrasies. She’s fluent in the language of local politics, and as the bearer of the torch for the Henriquez family, she will work tirelessly on behalf of Aruba, proud to walk in the footsteps of her father, a tourism pioneer.

At the meeting, Jim dazzled the forum with his brilliant, concise report on the activities of AHATA in the past year and posed for a souvenir snapshot with Tom Calame, the outgoing president of the board. A fancy Mont Blanc bag exchanged hands; I suspect it is an iconic writing instrument befitting a university professor.

I heard that Jim will also consult for local companies, putting his analytical mind to good use in the private sector.

Barcelo Aruba orchestrated an impeccable event, graciously guiding arriving AHATA members to the ballroom and welcoming them with a champagne cocktail. After the meeting, Barcelo presented an elegant reception, including live entertainment, a buffet of hot and cold hors d’oeuvres, a delectable selection of main courses, a sushi action station, and dessert.

We could get used to that level of hospitality, easily.


Sunset Grille and Castello Banfi Wines Entertain Local Foodies

The culinary brigade of the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino, under the expert guidance of Executive Chef Matt Boland, presented a delightful 4-course dinner, carefully paired with the award-winning wines of Castello Banfi Winery, at Sunset Grille this past weekend.

Castello Banfi Wines at Sunset Grille Aruba
Castello Banfi Wines at Sunset Grille Aruba

Family-owned Castello Banfi is dedicated to the pursuit of excellence through research and continuous improvement, explained special guest Rodolfo Maralli, the winery’s sales & marketing director. Maralli and Banfi’s export director for the Caribbean, certified wine specialist Raymond Rivera, complemented the food with tasting notes and commentary about the wines produced in the territory of Montalcino and beyond, including Strevi and Piedmont.

Dinner took off with a delicate home-cured dilled salmon with caviar and crème fraiche, served with the sparkling Banfi Brut, and went on to feature Caribbean roasted pumpkin soup, with a bacon-wrapped scallop in the center. The flavorful soup was paired with crisp and fruity Banfi Fontanelle Chardonnay.

Sunset Grille Aruba
Sunset Grille Aruba

The main course, a generous rack of lamb persillade, with parslied walnuts and gorgonzola in a cabernet sauce with pommes dauphinoise, went well with Banfi Brunello di Montalcino. The wine has been voted “Best in Class Italian” at the Winemaker Challenge many years in a row.

For the grand finale, a unique Caribbean trifle delivered layer upon layer of sweet black rice, mango, and coconut, escorted by a flute of the elegant Rosa Regale, a red sparkling wine.

Romar Trading, distributor of Banfi wines in Aruba, cohosted the evening with wine artist Clive Faustin, who worked together with Chef Matt Boland on the creation of the menu. Faustin reported that Castello Banfi is the first winery in the world to be awarded international recognition for exceptional environmental, ethical, and social responsibility, and is an international leader in customer satisfaction.

The wine-pairing dinner delivered a marvelous evening, taking diners on a delectable tasting voyage of the most famous wines by Castello Banfi, paired with a truly festive, expertly presented 4-course menu. Aruba’s foodies were pleased to revisit Sunset Grille and reconnect with its fine culinary tradition.


Interval International Hosts Major Events on Aruba

The upcoming Interval Info-Exchange Seminar will be taking place on September 25, 2018, at the Hyatt Regency Aruba. This one-day complimentary event is a tremendous opportunity for general managers, reservation managers, sales/marketing executives, and other employees who interact with Interval International and timeshare owners to learn about all of Interval’s products, support programs, and services.

Hyatt Regency Aruba

The content-rich event, featuring international speakers, will help ensure that Aruba’s resorts are maximizing the partnership with Interval. Some beneficial industry updates and insights will be presented, and Interval strongly encourages Aruba’s timeshare resorts to take advantage and register as many employees as they can spare for the day.

At the same exact time, the Shared Ownership Investment Conference will unfold September 25-27, also at the Hyatt Regency Aruba. This will be the 20th annual Shared Ownership Investment Conference in the region where it all started. Going back in time, the first event was held in Barbados, followed by Puerto Rico, before expanding and moving to Orlando and then Miami. Interval is very excited to be hosting its first investment conference in Aruba. The event is designed primarily to educate new entrants or potential entrants to the business about the shared ownership industry. However, there is a great deal of content catering to established resorts. This would be an event for GMs, developers, and above, who should consider attending.