Bati Bleki July 22nd, 2013

CHECK OUT TRIP ADVISOR. I was asked by a pair of visiting friends to recommend some of the best restaurants on Aruba to them, so I went to Trip Advisor, to see what the ratings are saying. #1: 2Fool & a Bull, with 307 reviews. I can see that happening, as about one-dozen guests come in for dinner, connect one-on-one with Paul Faas, then go home and write a positive review.  #2: Carte Blanche. I can see that happening too. For the same reasons as #1. About one dozen guests come in for dinner and totally connect with the chef and the sommelier, then they go home and write 347 positive reviews! But guess who the #3 restaurant is?! Never in a million years. You will never guess. I didn’t even know this place existed, and when I went to check it out, it looked like a totally dusty and abandoned bodeguita. G&G Pizza in Savaneta. Apparently, Chef Gabriel Ayala,who used to cook for the Old Man and the Sea when the it just opened operates a takeout at Club Arian Bed & Breakfast in Savaneta, where he managed to get 83 top-rated reviews from guests, which placed his hole-in-the-wall  on Trip Advisor ahead of amazing favorites such as Windows on Aruba, #6, Ruth Chris, #28, or Screaming Eagle #30. By the way, chef Ayala says he is building a dining room, right as we speak. To round up the list of top-rated restaurants on the island, Gostoso #4, pa bien Jose, you must have a great marketing director, Scott’s Brats, #5, you know, the cute sausage stand on the beach at Playa Linda, and Costa Riba,#6, in Lago Heights! Life is indeed full of fun surprises.

DIGICEL ENTERTAINS MEDIA AT PRESS CONFERENCE. Press members visited the Digicel branch in Tanki Leendert this week on the occasion of the company’s 10th anniversary here. General Manager Remko van der Veldt, and Marketing Executive Elaine Singh made a short but sweet presentation, followed by surprise gifts and delicious snacks. Elaine is a great public speaker, she also favors and wears stylish shoes!  And Remco has a friendly and outgoing personality, both befitting the company’s business profile. After a total of 12 years of operations in the Caribbean, Central America and the Facific, Digicel is blessed by almost 13 million clients and its business performance continues to post steady growth in 30 markets worldwide.

CAREER MOVES. I just wrote in glowing terms about Bettina Daal, and her relationship to the Holiday Inn Sunspree. Surprise, the enterprising lady made a move and she is now the Managing Director of Scarlet, which provides international calling services and high-speed Internet services to corporate and residential customers in Aruba, Curacao and St. Maarten. The company operates a state-of-the art wireless broadband networks using its international fiber optic network. Bettina’s mission is to grow the company’s market share, and sell its services. Sounds like a perfect fit!

OPENING THIS WEEK. Cliff Starke is starting a flea-market called The Local Market, across the Valero Gas Station on the boulevard. Open Monday through Friday as a tourist destination, then the interesting part on Saturdays, Cliff will be introducing a Farmers Market with fresh produce, baked goods, and homemade foods and products. On Sundays the format will be similar to the one which was successful in the good-old-days at the Drive Inn Movie Theater, where people came with their second-hand goods for a Garage Sale event, selling their old stuff to bargain-hunters, or bartering it against other finds. All you have to do, is show up, pay a small fee, get two tables and some shade, and you’re in business.

EQ3 OFFERS OUTDOOR FURNITURE. I was just introduced to Tropitone furniture, available on the island at EQ3. It is basically patio furniture from the USA, and it has a friendly look and comfortable feel. You will however love the Living Green Exotic Furniture from Cuaraco, very rustic pieces made of recycled wood by artistic carpenter/designer  Eugene Maduro, some painted over and over again, then sand-papered and varnished. The effect is great, since you see the history of each plank on its surface. EQ3 store manager Rene van der Mijde is proud of those two outdoor furniture lines. Tropitone he says, is high quality outdoor stuff, which can already be found at the Hyatt Regency, the Aruba Marriott, and the Radisson Aruba Resort Casino & Spa. It was never available for retail here, until now, when EQ3 turns exclusive dealer. The Living Green Exotic Furniture, delivers one-of-a-kind conversation pieces.  The first gorgeous cabinet has already been sold to Papiamento restaurant!

CUSTOMS FULL SPEED AHEAD. I imagine that there is a new group of just-graduated customs agents at the airport, otherwise it is difficult to explain how going through incoming customs takes over an hour, and includes the screening of Walmart and Target receipts. I understand your desire to go through Best Buys and BrandsMart USA invoices pertaining the purchase of electronics, but it is hardly worth your while to inspect our Marshalls purchases. Let’s face it, Aruban go shopping when on vacation, and it is unrealistic to stick to the Awg 400 duty-free allowance, from 20 years ago. Please revise it.

A BUSINESS WITH NO SIGN, IS A SIGN OF NO BUSINESS. For those in need of fresh signage for their business, we now have a few good options:  I visited Laila de Cuba in her Medstar office on Schotlandstraat, just above the Sign*A*Rama workshop. What started as a marketing and advertising company for the family of Caribbean Overseas companies spun into a small empire where Laila can come up with the marketing campaign in her second-floor office and execute all visuals and displays, on the ground floor. It’s a franchise, she explains, we just set it up, then we went to Sign*A*Rama university and learned how to also produce and install all promotional materials. The company welcomes clients from the outside, and reports being very busy. Personally, I am a frequent client at Portfolio Copy & Media Center, and I can tell you they are amazing as far as personal service. Additionally, in their new digs at Seroe Blanco #20, they have more capabilities than before at Sun Plaza. Brian Marchena runs a tight ship, and everybody working at Portfolio including Brian’s beautiful wife Jimena Molina, and their son Mati who supervises the action on Saturday, and Nouhri and Cheyenne — is personable and eager to please, in areas of graphic design, digital and offset printing, document finishing, banners, billboards, stickers, posters, you name it.