Development on Eagle Beach

Some concerned owners of Oceania Residence wanted to see me just recently sharing their misgivings about the development of a mega resort next door, on the plot of land previously known as the SANDS.

Apparently, the adjacent failed Morgan’s Island water-park was also purchased by that same developer, The Palm Aruba Group, see below for information about them, and the combined area is big enough for a mega resort.

According to their story, under the leadership of the Victor Acosta, the junky water park equipment was dismantled and sold down the river, then Palm Aruba Group annexed the land, filed in construction plans with GOA and started  talking to Princess Resort about operating a 600 room hotel.

(GOA, Government of Aruba)

The Oceania Residence owners, long time repeat guests to the island, are sounding the alarm this week, stating that Eagle Beach is in danger of overdevelopment, with an all-inclusive coming into the space between La Quinta and Oceania Residence.

The Oceania Residence owners explained they are not opposed to development, they would like to see something rise on the adjacent land, a condo, 100 to 125 units perhaps, occupied at 40% over the year, with solid quiet owners who mind their own business, come and go as they please.

Three stories please, no six, nor eight.

So I sent the following message around to hoteliers and developers in the area:  Dear developer, I wanted to hear your feedback about the concerns that Oceania members shared with me about what’s coming up in the adjacent area, where Sands/Morgan Island was built, they are saying a 600 room all-inclusive resort is in the pipeline. True, not true?! Let me know

Answers:

Rona, we can talk off the record because what happens there affects all of us, if they are allowed to build 6 to 8 floors, we would be interested as well. The project by the developers of Palm Aruba Condos, is in conversation with Princess Hotels but GOA, has not approved it yet. We feel that an all inclusive resort on Eagle Beach goes against ATA’s strategy and will not be good for the area. We also do not understand why Otmar Oduber’s notorious all-inclusive law/regulation, was not enacted, although it was approved by Parliament, a while ago.

Rona, I have two reactions: One: GOA said no more hotels, so not to worry. The other reaction: We should worry because this development would be the end of Eagle Beach. There is mention of a development of 600 rooms with the water park as their back-of-the-house. Let’s pray this does not happen. Mention was that part of this development would be all-inclusive.

Info from Nov. 2014:

ABOUT PALMARUBA GROUP.

Partners Antonio Onorato, Agostino Onorato, Guido Riccio, Juan Jose Fernandez and Victor Acosta, spearhead the investment in two companies: Corporacion Palm Beach 17A V.B.A. and Inversiones Palm Beach.

Antonio Onoratto and Agostino Onoratto are members of well known families with numerous businesses in Venezuela, of Italian descent. One of the businesses is Grupo Colorado which consists of Frigorifico Industrial Los Andes, with more than 40 years of experience, it is the largest cattle breeding farm in Venezuela.

Victor Acosta is the Executive Director of the project development group and is in charge of the operation of all real estate projects. Victor Acosta has over 20 years’ experience in real estate. He has  brought to successful conclusion major key projects in Aruba such as the Oceania Residence, Aruba Palma Real, Ponton Plaza, Calbas Plaza, Montana Plaza, Palm Beach Plaza, Casa del Mar and many more.

From another column, written a while ago:

This question “why we are doing this” was recently answered by economist Arjen Alberts whom has dedicated an extensive study towards economic development in Aruba and St. Maarten with the question how well have we prospered from tourism? His conclusion was published in an article that headlined in Amigo di Aruba, and that in a nutshell said: ”The fact that each year more tourists are coming to Aruba does not signify that the prosperity is on the rise”. To the contrary, the average prosperity has been the same during the last 25 years. Our GDP rises each year but that does not mean that the prosperity is on the rise as well according to Alberts. His shocking conclusions are that Aruba has not prospered in tourism these past 25 years. When our GDP grew so did our population and it was mostly foreign labor who went on to fill in vacancies created by new hotel development. The cake as he explains indeed got bigger but so did the cutting of the cake in lots more pieces. According to Alberts it is even possible that our prosperity will be reduced in the future, or will stay the same. The bottle neck according to him is the lack of space. The island is filing up. We ran hard but did not advance. The only solution according to the economist who lives in St. Maarten is to focus on the experience of the tourists. Attract fewer tourists, who spend more.

That brings us to the question: Where is the famous moratorium? Albert’s conclusions do not seem like rocket science and I would vote for a politician who announces it is not about the numbers and the awards, but about Quality of Life. And I would welcome the opposition that would chill, and actually oppose the urge to break more records, focusing instead on quality and better spending.

As an island we lack a product that is fully satisfying to our affluent customers, and with all this new development in the pipe line, Aruba will soon be host to 150,000 inhabitants with an infrastructure that cannot handle this densely populated situation. The solution: a moratorium or a move to another island. With elections this year moving to another island may not be such a bad option after all.