Bati Bleki, February 25th, 2013

ARUBA ON A ROLL. Eagle Beach Aruba was rate #9 among Trip Advisor’s best 25 beaches in the world.  I am surprised they did not specifically name Bucuti Beach Resort & Tara Suites, quips the perhaps a tad presumptuous Ewald Biemans! Aruba has been on a roll, congratulations, he adds. I went on line to check, #1 is Rabbit Beach, in Lampedusa, Italy. I’d better place it on my bucket list.

NOW! DELIVERS WOW. The advertising agency NOW! directed by Johan Stoppels, organized an art auction at Que Pasa, with funds earmarked for Fundacion pa nos Comunidad.  The auctioneer, Patrick Melchiors did a first-class job – this guy has a Midas touch, turning one event after the next into gold! While art can be many things to many people, NOW clients were asked to illustrate a 30×40 canvas, and they delivered charming works, some more memorable than others. The auction raised about Awg 20,000 in total, selling works by Alex Nieuwmeijer, Joe Najar, Michelle Hooyboer-Winklaar, Anton Izaak, Dyane Vis and thirty others. Que Pasa’s second floor space was packed with cheering art fans. The Queen of Broadcasting, Erin Croes secured her purchase, a painting by Michelle Hooyboer- Winklaar, titled Cherry Blossoms. Erin fought back all attempts to out-bid her, and can now display the minister’s creation in her office. Jodi Tobman of the Salamander Group bought a strong Still Life With a Bottle of Wine by Alex Nieumeyer, while PR diva Maria Silva acquired Dunes, as see through the eyes of Joe Najaar. Decorative twin panels by cosmetologist Jeanine Meijer, sold on the blocks to Jacky Shuttle. The evening’s most expensive bid? A Sea View by Johan Stoppels himself, no wonder, he is a trained artist, shining bright like a diamond in a sea of diligent hobbyists. The crowd then settled into a loud and smoky evening of wine and food downstairs, some leaving the restaurant long past midnight.  Johan is of course very happy with the art project, we auctioned down to earth stuff, he says, but everyone made an effort!

DEJAS VU. The always-elusive and forever-in-a-rush Tom Avalone drove by my house and stopped with great fanfare to greet me. I am eternally happy to see him, we go back a long time. What do you do I asked, oh, he said, the Aruba Tourism Authority asked me to pitch in with a number of projects in NY, promoting Aruba, at travel shows, cooking and talking to crowds about the island. I thought to myself it was a great idea even if Tom just made it up to satisfy my questions. You know Tom, he is a dreamer.

OKEANOS SPA IS LOVLEY. The International Friends of Aruba, IFA, hosted a fun evening at Okeanos Spa just recently, with about twenty guys and gals in attendance, enjoying free flowing wines and crowd pleasing potluck snacks, between beauty treatments. The event was organized by Michelle Boset and Rosie Walisever on behalf of IFA and Juliet Bartijn on behalf of the spa, delivering a delightful experience, with guests lounging around, basking in the good karma and the comfortable surroundings!

DOG FOOD ANYBODY? I am a loyal client of the 4Pets Store, and I love all the good-looking kids and the colorful aunts and know-it-all moms, who work at the counter, dispensing advice about dog nutrition and grooming. But let’s face it, I would like to feed my gang premium kibble without having to take out a second mortgage on my house or sell my first-born.  So, when real-state maven Sven Ellerkamp revealed another source for premium dog food, from Horse & More store in Noord, carrying a Dutch brand called Hondedbrokken Cavom, which is a tad less expensive, I tried it. I went in the store. The place looks and smells like a stable, which is appealing in a way, like shopping at the farmer’s market. The 20kg bag I brought home  was well received. It sells for 35 Euro in the Netherlands, and Awg 102.50 in Aruba. My dogs liked the crunchy, bullet shaped nuggets, nevertheless none of my Dutch friends have even heard about the brand, neither did the vet!

SETAR ENTERTAINS. Our national communications provider entertained a record numbers of business people at the Westin packed ballroom on Tuesday. Their guest speaker, the dynamic and funny Simon Bailey, was an excellent performer and he drove home a valuable message about showing clients loves at all time, and continuously taking service up a notch, to the next level. The 9th annual business event was super-interesting, we listened and learned, and hoped that decision-makers at Setar did the same, and will consequently show us love more frequently and take their level of service up a notch, to the next level. Pa Bien Suzi Maduro and your crew, we had a blast!

CUSTOMER FIRST ARUBA. Shadey Bahali-Figaroa joined Canadian businessman Michael Mattalo in an interesting venture, creating the Customer First Services Caribbean NV. Michael is a long time Aruba resident, living at Tierra del Sol, sharing his time between the island and his home in Toronto, where he is the managing partner of the Fifth P – the Four Ps in Marketing are: price, product, promotion, and place, the fifth p being people. The Fifth P is a Customer Experience Agency that optimizes the human interactions that drive employee experience, customer experience, and sales effectiveness. The company partners with clients to design, implement, and measure solutions that lead to more sales, better service, and great experiences. The program has a proven track record in Canada and was adapted to fit Aruba’s needs with Shadey as the managing director. So far I hear positive remarks about their performance!

IF IN MIAMI. If you happen to be in Miami for business or pleasure, you must give Yardbird Southern Table a visit. It is one of the best restaurants on South Beach and it features food from the deep south of the US, soul-nurturing dishes we only heard about but never tasted. With 170 seats this place is hopping, the bar is full, three-deep, and the dining room packed. The décor is a mix of old and new, with a jar-chandelier and grandmother’s kitchen items from yesteryears. Yardbird serves poor-people’s food such as grandma’s fried chicken, crisp and tender, and just baked biscuits. The bacon is house-cured. All food is sourced in the Florida country-side, fresh and artisanal.  The retro bar stocks 75 kinds of bourbon and we loved the hand-crafted cocktails, all very different and delicious. Over the open kitchen there’s a sign: “There are two kinds of people in the world: those who love fried chicken and communists. “ Funny! Yardbird Southern Table & Bar is located at 1600 Lenox Avenue.