Bati Bleki December 24th

SOME OF THE HASSLES, DIM THE APPEAL OF AIR TRAVEL . Two of my friends booked a trip to Aruba in December, making the reservation as early as September. Since they were coming from Venezuela, they tried to fly Tiara Air, but could not get any air seats, so they naturally opted for DAE, Dutch Antillean Express, lol, the name is such a misrepresentation, because what the acronym really stands for is: Departure Always Extra-late. Or how about: Delivering Awful Experiences! My friends woke up in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, at 4am, drove to the airport and flew to Caracas. Then they had a 4-hour delay there. In Curacao, they survived a 9-hour delay and arrived in Aruba at 1am, after a 23 hour trip! Never anymore to the ABC islands they swore when they dropped in to see me, Sunday morning. Then following an amazing beach walk and coffee accompanied by a generous slice of Ling & Sons’ bakery Christmas loaf – with almond paste in the center – they sighed and said, it was all worth it!

THE APPLE STORE IS OPEN. The iStore is not like any other store. Usually Apple INC owns and operates the famous concept stores, stingy about handing out licenses to individuals from far-away places. But Milo Croes Jr. managed to convince the Apple INC officials that he is a worthy entrepreneur, and that by itself is a big deal, how he dared to dream and triumphed. Milo Jr. first opened a small store in Ponton last year, and managed to grow rapidly, to a mega store; successfully evolving from an Apple Authorized Reseller to an Apple Specialist and an Apple Authorized Service Provider. Take my word for it, it calls for a lot of guts and faith and stick-to-it-tive-ness to achieve all that while living in Aruba, 3,500 miles away from Silicon Valley. The opening of the new iStore was affected by Milo Croes Sr. the Father of Aruba’s Carnival looks a bit feeble, but acts very loving and warm, patting grandchildren on their heads and hugging and communicating freely. We value older people, Milo Jr. explained, as he watched Milo Sr. cut the ribbon. The black & white invitation to the event quoted Steve Jobs, who said:  Stay hungry. Stay foolish, in the famous Stanford University commencement speech in 2005, where he elaborated: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition…Stay hungry. Stay foolish. What he meant was stay young, take chances, don’t play it safe, be daring, don’t be afraid to be called a fool by others, follow you gut, and that is exactly what Milo Jr. did! Pa bien.

AHATA WANTS YOU. AHATA is embarking on a recruitment campaign and has hired Jessica Wolter to spearhead the search for new members. Over the past few years the Aruba Hotel & Tourism Association went from being the marketing arm of the private sector with a $4.2 million budget to being like most other Hotel and Tourism Association in the region, an organization that lobbies on behalf of its members and provides benefits for membership. Hence, Jessica Wolter, in her new role as Manager Membership Development and Business Information. She will be responsible to track down and sign up new members, taking the membership from two to three digits, in 2013. In anticipation, AHATA made the membership fees more reasonable and thus attractive to smaller businesses. So join as an allied member, and stay in the loop, be part of something! And if Jessica calls you, and you are a small business owner of 1 to 9 employees, says YES, as your AHATA membership fee is a mere AFL 500 (US$280.90) per annum.

LAGUNA REOPENS. Laguna restaurant, Radisson Aruba Resort Casino & Spa invited press members to experience its freshly renovated look on Thursday, over Prime Rib Royal, with the signature of Executive Chef Kien Fat Lie Kwie, clearly present in every delicious bite! The themed buffets served on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday include an impressive fresh salad bar, iced shrimp, Mediterranean antipasto, hot dishes, a great selection of sides, imported cheeses and home-made desserts, served in a refreshed dining room or on the terrace overlooking the famed tropical garden and lazy river. Thursday’s Prime Rib, and Yorkshire pudding – a tasty puff, pop-over – were hand-carved and served au Jus, with horseradish cream and béarnaise sauces, as options. Dynamic director of restaurants Sheldon Leuden and recently welcomed Director of Food & Beverage Mark Naber were on hand to greet over two dozen media personalities who gave the buffet raving reviews! Check out the Asian Adventure on Wednesday, the Seafood Festival on Friday, and It’s Grillin’ Time on Saturday. Consult the newspaper for the Christmas schedule: A Seafood Grill Extravaganza tonight, Christmas Brunch buffet on Tuesday, then Christmas Dinner Buffet in the evening of the 25th, and Boxing Day Brunch on Wednesday!

KAREN ANN PETERSON IS WED. Our very own gorgeous and outspoken beauty queen, Karen Ann Peterson got married this weekend on the island in a series of events starting at the Mira Solo Martini Bar on Thursday, and culminating with a spectacular sunset wedding on Renaissance Private Island on Friday. She now lived in Punta Cana, DR, owns her own multi-service company and true to her rebellious nature picked December 21st, as her wedding day to Cory St Clair. Apparently she read the Mayan calendar and did not believe a single word of the end-of-the-world prophecy!