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Everyone else gets a beach: government boycotts Embassy Suites by Hilton Aruba Resort

Everyone else gets a beach: government boycotts Embassy Suites by Hilton Aruba Resort

It seems like the management at the Department of Infrastructure and Planning (DIP) is constantly changing, but now there’s a multi-millionaire project that has been botched! The same director at DIP, engineer Haime Croes, granted permits to construct a tunnel to connect hotel to the beach in 2019, the company made a big investment for this, now they have been informed that they can no longer make this tunnel. This is while Divi Resort, neighbor to Embassy, did get a permit granted and is now asking for an extension as well.

What is missing?

While Embassy suites are finished and recently started receiving guest. However, the first plan of business, approved by the Aruban Government and revised by all departments such as DIP, always included the beach as part of the project. Consequently, all sales and promotion of the hotel internationally included the beach, but the reality is that there isn’t a beach there. It is not a question of taking away anything, but at the cost of Natura Developments, would build a beach area where lounge chairs, palapas and a beach bar offering towel rental services and food and beverage for the guests. For months already, all concerned departments and ministers for some unknown reason unanimously decided to boycott this project and putting this major investment at risk.

Cabinet Wever- Croes II is not reacting

It is not a question that Natura Development is a new investment for the island. They have developed various projects and this would have been their third project for the development of hospitality, however this is the biggest project they have ever undertaken. On top of this, the pandemic caused major delays, with the consequence of having to seek extra financing, making the final amount invested to surpass 120 million Aruban Florins. Any other investor would’ve abandoned the project, but this development group, with all the confidence in Aruba, opted to increase their exposure and show that they believe in this project. When they sought assistance from the government, asking for help because DIP has delayed the project, everyone ends up making false promises. It’s obvious that the prime minister, which is in charge of the management of infrastructure, deliberately chose to pass the buck to the director of DIP even while a judge questions her way of managing and making decisions.

Taking the case to court

Seeing it as, the project is falling behind with their current hotel guests due to the fact that a beach was promised and it was never delivered, Natura Development (plaintiff), decided on March 16th of this year to ask the courts to solve this matter. The hearing on this matter started on April 12th of this year. Here the legal counsel of the investment group that invested more than a 120 million Aruban Florins in our economy, got a chance to explain to the residing judge how they felt the current sitting government is treating the case poorly and most likely changed their position on this project. From receiving the necessary grants and permission and cooperation to build a luxury hotel, all of a sudden they have decided to do everything possible to stop them from getting their beach constructed by the same government in 2019.

What is the dispute?

It has been shown that the plaintiff asked for land of 18,144 square meters as a ground lease with the intention to construct a condominium property with 20 units with an annex with associated services and installation for a hotel. Confirming with the development plan that was approved by the Department of Public Infrastructure.

On the 8th of November 2018, the company presented a petition to occupy part of the lot in front of the hotel to build a beach area. They had asked for a permit for the construction of a beach that is needed for hotel guest and a subterranean tunnel for the safe crossing of the hotel guests to the beach area.

Flip-flop: DIP changes management style

Through two letter date 25th of October 2019, the director of DIP, notified the company that they are in agreement with the above-mentioned proposal to construct a beach on the parcel in question. The company was also informed that they are only permitted with any activity that is portable and that bathrooms for example had to be managed by DOW.

On the 19th of August 2022, presented a petition to start construction which would allow amplifying the beach area by putting sand. On the 4th of October, they received a letter stating the request has been withdrawn due to the fact that only the landowner in this case Land Aruba can submit this request.

The Court’s final verdict

What the plaintiffs are seeking is to start the construction of this beach as promised and granted, or for the government itself to start the construction of this beach within two weeks, so the company can fulfill its promise of a beach hotel to its guest. However, no temporary measures can be taken at the moment while the case is still in court.

The court will evaluate what the plaintiffs claims are before coming to a final decision. It must also be taken into consideration all the deciding factors before coming to a final conclusion, however it seems that the judge will not have any choice but to grant construction as originally planned. This does however require a big investigation into the plaintiffs claims, which will be handled in civil courts. Although it was asked to demand the government to start construction on the beach, it is referred to a measure that was done outside the appropriate channels which does not allow a decision to be made, therefore the petition was denied.

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