Full trip report to follow but I just wanted to give an update on Blossoms and the Westin, as many are asking about this.
The Westin is completely closed with nothing open but Blossoms. They are working on the pool area and ripping apart everything there. I certainly hope they will save the trees that have grown so tall but one never knows these days! It is extremely noisy and dusty by that area and I am not sure how the people sitting at the Riu beach and pool are enjoying the construction.
We found out, quite by accident, that Blossoms was still open. Happily, we went to enjoy the Japanese food but were shocked when we arrived to an almost empty restaurant, what a contrast to the usual hustle and bustle of this place. We spent a considerable amount of time talking to the owner and this is what we found out. Blossoms has eight years left on their lease, which was more than any other of the stores so the Riu decided not to buy out his lease. EVERY other business was bought out by the Riu but Blossoms. They want him to close on his own so they won't have to pay him out and he says that he can't afford to stay with no business. They had just put up some signs (one on the street and one on the side of the building) and I suggested that they need to put ads in the local tourist newspapers saying they are still open for business. He said that the Riu wants them to take down the big sign on the building...of course so no one will know that he is there and then he can vacate faster. He says that the situation with what the Riu has done to him is in the hands of the lawyers now. So very sad!!
I was also told by a "reliable" source, that the Riu is the only hotel on the island that does not belong to the ATA and does not sell Balashi beer on their property. Local people are very upset and angry with the Riu and want the government to do something. In the past when hotels closed the workers knew that when the hotel reopened they would have their jobs back. Unfortunately, this is not the case with the Westin employees.
It will be interesting to see how this all turns out!
I wish BLOSSOMS well. They are a terrific restaurant.
You mentioned that RIU is a not a member of the ATA (aruba tourism authority).
You may have misunderstood or were given the incorrect info.
I do not know if RIU has joine the AHATA
Here is the AHATA website. http://www.ahata.com/AboutUs/WhoWeAr...sionGoals.aspx
the AHATA works with the ATA and vice versa. they are 2 separate entities.
on page 4 of the career page, the RIU is advertising for a couple of job openings.
if the RIU were not an AHATA member, they would not be posting on that site.
I stand corrected from my "reliable" source!! However, the situation with the employees is an awful mess. I have heard from so many local people about this. Some took packages but that won't last too long and some are suing.