EC: What inspired you to live in Curaçao and how did you adjust to the new lifestyle?
Nine years ago, when I’d just completed my degree at the International Hotel Management School in Holland, a friend asked me to join him in Curaçao for about a year or so to set up a logistics company, and that’s when my life on this island started. A new country and a new challenge sparked my interest, and surprisingly Curaçao had more to offer than I’d expected.
To be honest, I’ve never really adjusted to the island’s lifestyle. I kept the same expectations for myself, and focused on my hobbies and on my goals in life. I believe the many languages that I speak and my interest in people with different backgrounds, gave me the opportunity to connect with them. I love to work and be around people. I found that it is very important to be able to put myself in someone else’s shoes in order to understand situations, find solutions and create opportunity for an amazing and enriched lifestyle on this island that has so much to offer.
I spent fourteen years in the luxury hotel hospitality business where the guests were often demanding, sometimes rude and always expecting the impossible. This wasn’t good for my soul. In 2005 I took a trip to South Africa that opened my eyes to whole new world.
I did some community work in the townships and realized I’d rather shift my focus to helping people with specific needs so they can enjoy a better standard of life. Just when I was thinking of taking a course in psychology or specializing in HRM Management with a focus on training and motivating people, I was approached to finalize the concept and open the hotel Dolphin Suites.
The Dolphin Suites hotel serves families of children with special needs who participate in the Dolphin Assisted Therapy Program at Curaçao. They offer these families comprehensive support a safe home and the highest level of professional services so they can get the maximum results out of the therapy program.
I focus on making Curaçao a travel destination that is both accessible and familiar to people with special needs, a mandate that is both highly challenging and extremely rewarding.
I am currently developing several projects that will combine hospitality services and therapy treatments to people with different diagnoses there needing different types of personalized and effective treatments.
This combination is an opportunity to keep working within what we call “therapeutic tourism”. Since April 2013, I am a board member of CHATA (Curacao Hospitality and Tourism Association) for me it is a very passionate mission.
My own passions are making and listening to music; I love singing and even had the chance to sing with a few bands here on the island. I have been practicing karate for over 23 years and picked up practicing yoga which I will soon teach as well. I actually finished the teaching course at the beginning of this year. One day, I’d like to train others!