September’s Employee in the Spotlight

When you ask Edgar McQuilkin what’s important in his life, he replies: his wife, his boys and Divi.   He’s been working at Divi Little Bay Beach Resort for an astounding 42 years.  Wow! It’s fair to say he pretty much knows the place inside and out.

He joined Divi as a beach boy, and then went inside into the kitchen as a pastry chef before going behind the bar. He surely has a few stories to tell from all his years at Divi Little Bay.  Add to those the stories that his three sons can also tell, all of whom worked at Divi at one time or another, in one capacity or another.  Edgar’s most recent stint was as a bellman, that is up until 1992 when he was named night manager.

So, for fifteen years Divi has been Edgar’s nighttime.  And, his wife has been his daytime.  We don’t know exactly how long the two have been together, but we do know that that they are a very special couple.  According to Edgar, she provides his serenity and is a great traveling companion.  After a stressful night at Divi (Yes, it’s hard to believe that there ever could be one, but making Divi Little Bay Resort a paradise isn’t always easy), Edgar says he goes home, makes a drink and holds his wife.  For a romantic outing on his days off, he takes his wife to Orient Beach on the French side of the island.

And, for the ladies reading this, if that hasn’t convinced you that Edgar is a true romantic, when asked what he does on his days off, he replied, “a little housecleaning.”

If there are any other secrets he’s willing to divulge, it’s that his hobbies include cricket and Pinel Island for a little excursion with his wife, of course.  Pinel is a little gem of an island reachable by kayak or ferry from the marina on the French side.  Ferry service is provided seven days a week, leaving every half hour during the day.

He’s content for the moment to keeping a watchful eye on everything at Divi.  Perhaps, that’s given him time to contemplate some changes for himself and for Divi.  He’s got an idea to expand Divi by constructing a building atop a deck over the parking lot at Divi Little Bay.   Don’t be surprised if you hear that his next position at Divi is in the engineering department.

Divi Resorts is most proud to say that Edgar has served Divi guests for 42 years always with a big heart and a smile.

Aruba & Jazz; What Could Be Better?

Many of the songs made famous by George Benson seem like they were written for Aruba. “Breezin’,” his signature jazz guitar hit could be the national anthem. If you’re creating a playlist for your Aruba vacation, there’s plenty of George Benson to suit any vacation mood. No matter how good your headphones, seeing the master, the legend, the jazz icon in person – in Aruba is better.  Benson is headlining the Caribbean Sea Jazz Festival there, October 4th and 5th.

Benson’s fluid guitar work, masterful arrangements and velvet voice have created a string of timeless hits and made him a jazz favorite for over forty years. “Breezin’,” released in 1976 and a multiple Grammy winner, soared to the top of the charts.  All three:  pop, jazz and R&B. It is a standard on smooth jazz radio still.

Come to think of all the George Benson songs, I can’t imagine a better soundtrack for an Aruba honeymoon.  “Give Me the Night,” “Turn Your Love Around,” “Kisses in the Moonlight,” “Lady Love Me (One More Time).” If the spirit and the songs move you, there are wedding and honeymoon specials on the Divi Resorts website.

Divi Dutch and Divi Village Golf & Beach Resort put you closest to the George Benson concert venue on Saturday, October 5th.  Then, you can easily get breezin’ on back to the resort.  Or keep breezin’ on down the road to the Phoenix.

If you want a little musical preview of the Caribbean Sea Jazz Festival, you can listen to George.

Who’s Up For Some Beach Tennis?

It was so much fun, Divi decided to do it again!  This year, from November 12 through the 17th, there will be another big International beach tennis tournament in Aruba.  Called the Divi Resorts Aruba International Beach Tennis Event, it is already one of the most popular tournaments on the calendar of the ITF, the International Tennis Federation, which happens to be the same governing body of tennis, as most of us know it.  You might think beach tennis sounds a bit crazy, but this combination of tennis and volleyball is indeed an official sport and coming on strong all over the world.

There will be more than 1000 players serving, volleying, acing, spiking and diving in the sand of Eagle Beach come November.  The number of participants, a combination of professionals and amateurs, is an increase over last year’s event.  Players hail from Aruba, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Columbia, France, Germany, Italy, St. Martin, Martinique, Mexico, The Netherlands, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and the US.  The prize money is $25,000, another indicator that the sport is growing.

Beach Tennis Aruba, the local organizer of the event, promises a festival of fun.  As the host, Divi Resorts promises lots of excitement and special rates at three different Divi hotels:  Divi Aruba Phoenix Beach, Divi Village Golf & Beach Resort and Divi Dutch Village. All resorts are within walking distance of the event venue.

Beach tennis combines the fun and social nature of volleyball with the fast pace of tennis, according to Beach Tennis USA.  Check out their website for more background on the sport. By the way, Beach Tennis USA is working closely with the ITF to get beach tennis into the Olympics.   So, you might say you saw it first in Aruba.

Coral Spawning in Bonaire

Birds do it.  Bees do it.  Even educated fleas do it.  So goes the famous Cole Porter tune, “Let’s Do It.  Let’s Fall In Love.” The clever lyricist and composer of Broadway musicals back in the Twenties and Thirties also included many mentions of marine life in his 1928 hit, including “oysters down in Oyster Bay,” cold Cape Cod clams, jellyfish and even electric eels.  But he wrote nothing about coral.  But yes, coral do it.

And, sea urchins, sea stars, sea cucumbers, fire worms and other creatures of the sea off the coast of Bonaire.  And, on a pretty precise schedule, in fact.  The sea population around Bonaire positively explodes in August, September and October every year.

The national park foundation of Bonaire, known as STINAPA, not only posts the day of spawning for certain local species, it even predicts the hour. If you follow the coral spawning schedule  — and indeed many Bonaire divers do – the release of the schedule is cause for planning.  Dive trips to Bonaire in the fall months go beyond the normally fabulous to the absolutely extra special if they are timed to the coral spawning schedule.

This year, star coral will very likely be doing it between 9:40 and 10:40 at night on September 24th through the 26th.  Flower coral start their spawning September 25 through the 28th from 9:15 to midnight and again in October.  The experts in this say the timing is tied to the ninth full moon of the calendar year. Star coral and flower coral are joined in the ritual by sea urchins, sea stars, sponges, fire worms and Christmas tree worms at the same time in September and October, all in tune with the moon.

Must be something about that moonlight in Bonaire.

Divi Dive Bonaire, the on-site PADI dive center at Divi Flamingo Beach Resort leads dives during the spawning season.  Check the website for specials.

NOTE: See the Coral Spawn in Bonaire with Divi Flamingo

Once a year corals reproduce in a spectacular and synchronized event known as the coral spawn. For divers and snorkelers, witnessing this wonder of nature is a must-do and where better to do it than in the clear and tranquil waters of Bonaire? Boasting the best reefs of the Caribbean, Bonaire has a variety of spawning corals including the biggest players of the spawn, the mountainous star corals. Star corals, brain corals, flower corals and more spend most of the year preparing for the spawn and are often joined by sponges, worms and brittle stars in their annual reproductive event. Night diving and snorkeling in Bonaire is always an adventure with new things to discover, but the events you witness during the coral spawn will create memories to last a lifetime. This year the main spawning events are predicted to occur during September 24-27 and October 24-26. (To ensure that you get the most out of this experience) Divi Flamingo is offering coral spawning lectures on MONDAY September 23rd and October 22nd by marine biologist Caren Eckrich. These lectures are free to the public and will give divers and snorkelers an excellent understanding of the coral spawn, when to see it and what to look for. We hope to see you at Divi Flamingo Beach Resort for this year’s coral spawn.

Take a Hike…in St. Croix

Want to be the first person in the US to see the sunrise?   It’s easy – other than getting up early on a vacation day while on balmy, beautiful St. Croix.  But if you do, you will not only own the bragging rights, but you will experience the visual splendor of Point Udall, the easternmost point in the US.

From the magnificent promontory located on The East End of St. Croix, you will see miles of ocean, the Atlantic Ocean meeting up with the Caribbean Sea. Some visitors say you can even see the curvature of the earth from up there.

Once you arrive within the national park, a paved road takes you to a large Stonehenge-like monument that is actually a sundial.  Erected in 2000 and fittingly called the Millennial Monument, it marks the azimuth of the first US sunrise of the year.  The monument’s design hasn’t earned any accolades from Cruzans or visitors alike, but it’s the panoramic view that impresses here. Point Udall is open every day and there is no admission charge.

An informal and moderately difficult trail leads hikers down to the pristine beach below.  Take along a little snorkel gear and you will not be disappointed exploring the waters offshore.  Among the regularly scheduled activities at Divi Carina Bay Resort is a supervised hike every Sunday morning, leaving from the hotel lobby at 9 AM. The trip includes time for a little snorkeling around the point or just reveling in the volcanic rock formations and secluded beach. The cost of the guided hike is $15 per person and last about three hours.

On your way back up the hill, look for Castle Aura, an enormous Moorish-style mansion.  The distinctive structure is well known to guests of Divi Carina Bay, who can easily spy it from the pool deck.  It belongs to a Romanian born countess, who has long called St. Croix home, and is the most talked-about villa on the island. The legend and rumors are many, but facts are relatively few about the castle’s very secretive resident.

Now, here is a real fact:  There are actually two Point Udalls in the US; one marking the easternmost point, the other, the westernmost point, each one named for a different Udall.   Point Udall in St. Croix is named for Stewart Udall, Secretary of the Interior under both Presidents Kennedy and Johnson.   The other Point Udall in Guam is named for his brother, Morris, who served as a U.S. Representative from Arizona and ran for the Democratic nomination for President in 1976.

When Guam’s Congressional delegation proposed naming a Point Udall there, it said that if the legislation were approved, “America’s day would begin and end at a Point Udall.”   And, indeed now it does.

If you didn’t catch the sunrise this morning, unrise tomorrow in Christiansted will be around 6:07am. However,  just a few seconds earlier, if you’re out at Point Udall, you can say you saw the sun before anyone else in the US. Afterwards, head back to Divi Carina Bay for a mid-morning snooze or contemplate what the countess is doing today.

Divi Owners Charles and Marilyn Flynn

This month, we shine our Owner Spotlight on Divi Aruba Phoenix Beach Resort owners Charles and Marilyn Flynn.

Soon we will see the Flynn’s around Aruba. When they’re in residence on the island, they are out and about day and night, enjoying all that Aruba has to offer from jet skiing on the Caribbean Sea to world-class restaurants and golf.  It is no surprise they describe themselves as “up for anything.”

Every fall for the last six years, they have left Massachusetts and traveled to Divi Aruba Phoenix Beach Resort, their home away from home. Even though their stay is only two weeks, Charles and Marilyn make the most of 14 days.

They relax by sitting on the beach with their toes in the soft white sand reading a good book.   Their idea of a good time is playing golf at the Links at Divi Village and dining out.  They love the restaurants on Aruba, including Windows on Aruba and dining under the stars at Pure Ocean. Charles enjoys the romantic outings and dinners with his wife, but the smile on his wife’s face vacationing in Aruba is yet the most romantic thing he recalls.

When they’re on Aruba, they feel the warmth of the local people welcoming them back year after year.  Plus, they always feel very safe. They offer high praise for the efficiency and friendliness of the staff at the hotel and the cleanliness of the resort. Over at the Links at Divi, “The golf staff, plus everyone in the Pro Shop are the best,” Charles said.

Thank you, Charles and Marilyn for being loyal Divi Aruba Phoenix Beach Resort owners. We wish you many years of vacations in paradise.