A fond farewell to retiring Bucuti Associates
It is with profound gratefulness and a rush of amazing memories that I share with you my thoughts about a dedicated, hardworking group of some of our Bucuti & Tara team members, affectionally known as Bucuti Associates. I’ve had the fortune of working with some of these fine ladies and gentlemen since the opening day of our resort in 1987. Each of these members has helped build Bucuti & Tara into a world-class resort. Now, as they retire, they are starting a new, well-deserved chapter of their lives.
I thank all of them for the joy and dedication, and for giving their all every single day for our guests and for all of us in our quest for excellence. They can retire with pride that they contributed to something very special which had a profound effect on the happiness of so many of our guests from around the world. They made our guests’ lives better just as they made all of our lives better.
I share some of my fondest memories of each of them, and their own parting words with you...
Mayra started as a young room attendant in the fall of 1987 when Bucuti first opened. Since then she has married and raised a wonderful family while also forming lifelong relationships at the resort with her colleagues and many guests.
“Over the years I have come to know many guests, some have become friends to me. They would share stories about themselves and their family members, and I would make sure to set up their room exactly how they liked it so they would be pleasantly surprised upon check in. I have so many happy memories. One of my favorite guests would be present at the punch clock when I would arrive at work to say good morning and to thank me. The kindness of our guests was a beautiful reward.”
Mayra had a sincere, authentic way of knowing and caring for our guests and so many responded to this genuine hospitality. You cannot teach a person to care, this comes from the heart. She listened with interest and concern and guests always knew she was looking out for them. Mayra requested we acknowledge some of her special guests: Dr. Paul & Betty Madie of Washington, Mr. Richard and Mrs. Debbie Christopherson of Wisconsin, Mr. Bill and Patricia Trainer of Boston, Mr. David and Bernice Esquire from Canada, Mr. Frank and Rene Germana of New York, Mr. John and Wonna Nici and to let them know she will miss them. She wishes we were able to list so many more and wants you to know she is thinking about all of you.
Mayra looks forward to spending time with her family and in her beautiful garden. We congratulate Mayra on her retirement with gratitude and best wishes.
Even before I opened Bucuti Beach Resort, Anchie has been by my side since 1979, in my past management roles, fulfilling whatever jobs needed to be done. Anchie worked in the front and the back of the house in food and beverage and housekeeping. She was always up to any challenge. Anchie is like a ray of sunshine. She wears a broad, sincere smile wherever she goes and won the hearts of all she served.
“I was so happy to work in a resort that would always be full and the restaurant very busy, packed! We would hustle and all hands would be on deck for the busy times. As a supervisor, I would clear tables and help out with the dishes, as well. Everyone pitched in to make sure the guests had a great experience. I can remember as far back as when we switched over from manual checks to the computer. Now we have to laugh at the thought of manual checks, but in those days, it was very innovative and our resort was always at the forefront of innovation. Another fun project I worked on was to hand make the welcome back signs personalized for our guests’ arrivals: Welcome Back, Happy Honeymoon, etc. I can say I made them with love and excitement. We all wanted every guest to have the honeymoon or anniversary celebration of a lifetime. I like to crochet in my free time and I enjoyed making a little crocheted coin bag or picture frame to give to guests who became friends as a token of appreciation. Having worked with Mr. Biemans for such a long time, we saw the highs and lows in the industry, but Bucuti & Tara always came back strong no matter what challenge the world threw at us. We used all of it, like the current pandemic as a learning experience and worked to come back stronger.”
In her retirement, Anchie plans to start some home projects she will now have time for and enjoy spending more time with her pet dogs, cats and parrot. She also plans to continue her crocheting.
Thank you Anchie for so many years of hard work, bringing your bright and sunshiny personality to all of us and our guests every day.
Fiona de Graaf
Fiona and I also worked together prior to the opening of Bucuti and she was the one I was able to count on for the tough jobs, which she did with the utmost dedication. When I think of Fiona, I also think of Filomena Kelly, her supervisor, because those two were a team and a force of nature. Together they could move mountains. I remember Fiona transforming our Bucuti construction site to a sparkling, beautiful resort as we rushed for opening day and it was an exciting time, we all remember with pride. Fiona, too, was one who could flex to whatever job needed to be done and I remember one shift Fiona would be serving in the restaurant and the next as a room attendant. She had a meticulous way about her work.
“I learned teamwork early on at Bucuti. Whether it was housekeeping or the laundry, we would all help each other to finish on time and be able to spend time with the family as well. I appreciated the strong bond and sense of family amongst all the co-workers. As Bucuti grew with the addition of Tara, I started to work in the public areas. I used to wake up at 3 a.m. to catch the bus at 4:30 a.m. to make sure I would be on time. I take pride that my attendance and punctuality has always been impeccable. I have to admit there were times that I was not the easiest person to work with. When the housekeeping manager, Deborah Dintelman would give me feedback for improvement, I did not like it. As I matured in my attitude and work ethic, I would say to myself ‘it is time to wake up and smell the coffee.’ Looking back, I am now very proud of the way I have grown and developed personally and professionally over the years at Bucuti and I am grateful for what Bucuti has done for me. I have fond memories also created by the repeat guests, for example, Mr. Joe Laneve used to visit us way back. Every time they come to Aruba they stay at Bucuti and that is mostly once or twice a year. Guests like Mr. Laneve are not clients, they are family.”
Fiona loves to dance, especially during Carnaval! She anticipates she will enjoy more music and care for all of her plants in her retirement. She is looking forward to sleeping in, too.
Thank you, Fiona, for being fierce and strong, and bringing your dependability and excellence to your work. We are so grateful. We wish you much happiness in your retirement.
Quiet, confident, statuesque, and perfection are all words that describe Bernice Dennis who started working with us in 1992. Bernice was a talented and detail-oriented room attendant and her service was impeccable. Throughout the years we have received quality awards and accolades in housekeeping and Bernice set the bar very high with the tremendous quality of her work. She was often tasked with training new housekeepers so we could maintain the consistent excellent service.
Bernice also enjoyed her many repeat guests who requested the section of rooms she was assigned to, which allows them to renew their friendships year after year.
Never one to enjoy the spotlight, she would stealthily and quietly work her magic each day at the wonder of her co-workers: “Bernice is a humble person. I always admired Bernice’s energy and ability to clean with the flexibility and movement of a teenager. Bernice would scrub under beds and cabinets in each and every room with dedication to perfection. In all the years I’ve worked with Bernice I never heard a word of complaint. She would clean to the envy of the younger generations and never expressed an ache or pain. She was an example to all of us to follow”
We are grateful to Bernice for being the outstanding and lead contributor to our stellar housekeeping department for so many dedicated years. We wish her a wonderful retirement filled with rest, relaxation and the joy of her family and friends.
Cecilia Fox began working with us in 2012 before our current Elements restaurant was transformed from The Pirates Nest. Working from a kitchen within a large pirate’s ship could be a challenge and under our beloved Chef Kurt Hoffman, his team, including Cecilia were champions of creating an amazing culinary experience in cramped quarters. The team worked miracles there. Cecilia showed interest in learning about cooking and cuisine and Chef Hoffmann taught her in-between dish duty until she was ready to work in the kitchen full time. Cecilia worked hard and developed her skills beautifully and was invaluable as one of our kitchen chefs. Later, Cecilia lived through the tragedy we all suffered with her mentor, Chef Kurt Hoffman's sudden and unexpected passing and she took it hard.
“It was difficult to overcome our Chef suddenly passing away. We needed to go on and move forward. We tried picking up where we left off and did our best to keep the operations running as if he was still there. I am most proud of my accomplishments over the years and the growth throughout my career at The Pirates Nest and Elements Restaurant. I am proud that Kurt saw potential in me and was willing to teach me and give me the opportunities that he did.”
In this new phase of her life Cecilia looks forward to being busy doing more of what she loves to do. “I spend time with my husband. I cook, take care of the garden and our dogs. On a weekly basis I walk, go to prayer group, YMCA for seniors and I phone with my grandchildren in St. Vincent. I must say it has been a pleasure working at Bucuti and for Mr. Biemans. I wish him and Bucuti well.”
The feeling is mutual Cecilia, we wish you well, you will be missed and our gratitude for all that you have so beautifully given our guests and your fellow associates throughout your career.
Luis Willems started working with our resort in our maintenance department in 2012. Under some talented chief engineers, Luis learned a lot and became an all-around technician. Luis so valuable with creative solutions to all kinds of challenges. In 2018, Luis was honored as a very well deserving Employee of the Year with a vote by his managers and peers. Colleague Monique Zaandam at the time wrote: “As part of a launch of the wellness week for the associates, the staff cafeteria got a whole makeover, incorporating more greenery and natural elements for decor. Luis came up with solutions when making a mural of refurbished wood and indigenous plants. He was also instrumental in installing the new decor items and he did this with a lot of passion and initiative.”
Luis explains: “When I started here at Bucuti, the property looked very different from now. The restaurant was The Pirates Nest and the fitness area was an open-air gazebo. I came in with some knowledge in certain areas and Chief Engineer Wilfred Kelly took me under his wing and shared his knowledge with me. ‘Kelly’ as we all called him, knew every crack in every corner, how and where every cable would run, and knew when there was a problem of any sort. He tried to give me all the information he could to make me most equipped for when a problem arises. I learned a lot at Bucuti. Mr. Kelly mentored me and made me an all-around technician. Guests have always loved the resort and we have earned more and more repeat guests since I started with the company. Bucuti is also known for always innovating, renovating and updating the property. We needed to stay up with the times. Not only for the guests but also for the employees it was a nice place to be. We have always worked well as a team and I have learned a lot at Bucuti. I am proud I have worked with a manager who demanded a lot of me in the past. They have molded me to become what I am and know today. I am very grateful to have worked here. I wish all the associates the best in their work and life.”
Luis, you made a difference for all of us and put your heart into your work. Thank you for keeping everything together for us and for always being here when we needed you most. We all depended upon you in the important engineering department and you did not let us down.
In retirement, Luis will start with some total relaxation and then turn his attention to at-home maintenance work. He does look forward to spending more time with his family and to spending quality time with his daughter who will soon visit from Holland. Also considered his children are his seven dogs who he looks forward to playing with more often now.
With eternal gratitude,