Bati Bleki, October 14th, 2013

HOTEL DEALS. You know hotel deals are fragile and compounded by all sorts of overwhelming happenstance challenges, so it ain’t  over until the fat lady sings. And she didn’t utter a single peeps this week, which means that the much-talked-about Riu Hotels deal buying out the Westin Resort & Casino in Aruba, is off the table, nixed and buried. And what I heard was a done deal, the purchase of the Radisson Blu Resort Marina & Spa in St. Martin by Riu Resorts is also kaput. I was concerned there for a minute, if you buy one, in St Martin, will you also attempt to buy the other, in Aruba, after all it is to the right of your already existing property, and it’s looking so pretty, but so far no smoke, no fire. The current owners of the Westin, Wells Fargo bank, will continue to look for buyers, one solid local company as you know is in the running, and we will continue to pray for the best: Please Lord, send us a non-all-inclusive, hospitality giant that will continue to provide employment for all!  In the wake of the hoopla, the general manager of the  Westin Resort & Casino is reportedly moving on. Having led the resort by agreeable-consensus for the past 8 years, he is rumored to have had a philosophical disagreement with the corporate world, something that in my world or yours,  would not even matter, but as I said hotel deals are fragile and compounded by all sorts of overwhelming happenstance challenges, and anyone who undertake a hospitality career in the higher elevations, should be prepared to deal with the capricious nature of the job.

REINVENTING THE GROUP BUSINESS. Super-woman Wichita Villacres blew into town this week, with the mission of getting her company Eco Destination Management Services of Aruba ready for the opening of the Ritz Carlton, in November, and their much-anticipated arrival on the group business scene in February. Wichita was brain storming with her crew, conceptualizing new party themes and event locations, to blow the reportedly discerning and finicky Ritz clients away, not literally, just to totally impress them with fabulous meetings, incentives, exhibitions and conferences. She visited the West Deck, and envisioned a VIP group, dined and wined in the intimate and spectacular setting of the new bar and grill by Anabella, Robby and Roanne Peterson, which by the way was heaving, full, pata pata, even visited by the government formador Mike Eman and his lady-love a few days ago. They dined under twinkling lights, right on the beach, bao palo!

FABULOUS CEVICHE & WATERMELON MARTINIS. Do yourself a favor and seize one afternoon for a couple of Watermelon Martinis, hic, yes, with fresh watermenon, and a genuine Peruvian Tuna ceviche, chased by some celebrity sushi rolls at Carpe Diem, you will have a great time. We tried the Pink Panther roll and  a Nicki Minaj roll, made by chef Orlando, and they were awesome – creamy, crunchy, sweet and zingy, all at once!  The place is so gorgeous, and the setting, one of a kind. Go ahead, pretend you are a tourist for the day and live a little.

LAST SUNDAY. In retrospect, I should have attended the Hero Challenge 2013, by Crossfit Aruba. I saw the pictures in the paper and I am sure I would have enjoyed all that muscle and sweat and Testosterones. Instead I opted for Oxytocin, the love hormone, by attending the Criollo Dog Show at Villa Floralina. The winner, a slender and mid-size, three-colored mutt, elegantly handled by Lisette Loonstra Eman who is herself a timeless beauty, impressed the judges by its demure, obedient behavior. Lisette’s story was very touching as she found her beloved dog in a discarded trash bag, which she opened, finding the pup and nursing him back to health and a trophy, that of Aruba’s top Criollo dog! As we all know, love is its own reward, and that duo – dog and handler – was impressive.

DREAMFLIGHT IS SURPRISING. Visiting Flora Market on Saturday was a fun experience, as the Dreamflight Christmas Decor Show was unexpectedly spectacular. Unexpectedly because I just went to get a thing or two, and when I met the princess and the prince under the magic mushrooms, I understood it was a special occasion with Etty Toppenberg serenading from the upper elevation, and a fairy godmother walking around handing out Tootsie Roll candy, which has been sticky and popular since 1896. The orchid collection is spellbinding. The up-side-down neon colored Christmas tree is definitely a conversation piece!

ARNIE GELBSTEIN LEFT US FOR A BETTER PLACE. A member of the Jewish community, Arnie Gelbstein passed away recently, and left his family and friends in the US to mourn his sudden loss. Also in Aruba, long time friends David Cybul and family members, will dearly miss him. Arnie had a bigger than life personality who loved life and in spite of his doctors’ diabetic warnings about the danger of this, that and the other, went on living like a rock star, ignoring signs and predictions. He died in his sleep, unexpectedly, abandoning his domino playing buddies, and the La Vista Sunday brunch crew where he was a regular, alternating between the Marriott Aruba Resort and Benihana’s for lunch Sundays, besides many other places he visited from Cunucu Chicken in San Nicholas to Domino’s pizza – Arnie was an equal opportunity diner. If the name sounds familiar it should: Arnie’s father was 50% of the legendary partnership that gave Aruba’s Nassaustraat Store #1 in the old days. The building was demolished a few years ago, when too many pigeons took it over, becoming a parking lot. Above all, Arnie was an encyclopedia and a reference book combined, about who’s who in Aruba and will be missed for his profound understanding and support of this island. RC@visitaruba.com