Skål International Puerto Rico News

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Message from the Editor

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September 2018

Sizzling September

Our September informal “doing business among friends” networking event, preceded by a Skål Puerto Rico board meeting, was held recently at Eter Rooftop & Lounge atop Ciqala Luxury Suites in Miramar. Members and guests were dazzled by the panoramic view and the wonderful procession of extraordinary finger foods and wines. Members who previewed the all luxury suites in the hotel were impressed by the quality of the rooms and appointments—and the pleasant, professional and well-trained staff. Ciqala is a project of Osvaldo Rivera, a former Skalleague and a good friend of the club. Some 18 members and guests were in attendance and the opinion was unanimous: the place sizzles, the event was a great success.

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Skålleagues at Eter in Miramar 

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 Amazing August

On Aug. 14, five of our members visited San Jorge Children’s Hospital (the hospital only allowed five) to deliver gifts that were donated by the Jacksonville, Philadelphia and New Jersey/Atlantic City Skål clubs. 

Then members and guests gathered at the highly rated Mario Pagán Restaurant in Condado for a luncheon meeting. For years, Skal Puerto Rico has met almost every month for dinner, but one of the adjustments we had to make is to have fewer that the usual 11 dinner meetings, have some of the meetings receptions without dinner and others luncheon meetings.

 Joyful July

In normal times, Skal International Puerto Rico does not meet in July, but these are not normal times! As the island’s tourism industry recovers from the devastation of Hurricane María, our club has had to make many adjustments. But we still want to see each other, enjoy Skal amicale—and help each other develop our businesses and business contacts.

Combate Beach

So this July a group of us traveled across the island to the Combate Beach area of Cabo Rojo for a weekend of dining, sunning, and family fun. It was not a scheduled event—really just an inspiration that Robert Rodríguez instigated at the May board meeting. Former Skalleague (and VP) Angel Luis Marrero had acquired and renovated Luichy’s, a guesthouse and restaurant right on the beach. Robert called him with the idea of an outing and Angel immediately set aside a weekend for us. In a heartbeat all the rooms were booked (on a first come, first served basis).

June 2018

After a long hiatus—almost nine months, Skålnoticias came back on line. Hurricane Maria, the storm of the century, hit Puerto Rico hard on September 20, 2017, but it did not dampen the spirits of our Skål club! Virtually all of our businesses and properties were seriously damaged, but most are coming back and soon will be better than ever. That is the spirit of Skål Puerto Rico! We are grateful to the board members of Skål USA who asked me to create a GoFundMe campaign that resulted in $4,000 in donations from US clubs and individuals. The proceeds helped us stay afloat, pay memberships, insurance and other obligations. 

While Skålnoticias was absent—I personally had no power and no internet for nearly seven months and couldn’t get online—Skål members were busy but managed to get together nearly every single month. There was no meeting in September, of course, but in October the group met for dinner at Saki, in the partially-operating San Juan Intercontinental in Isla Verde. In November it was dinner next door at Ruth's Chris Steak House and in December a Christmas event at SI Puerto Rico’s secretary Charlotte Ware’s home.

By January the group was ready for an outing to Hacienda Munoz coffee plantation in San Lorenzo and in February returned to the restored Intercontinental for a dinner meeting. In March and April—to conserve funds—informal receptions were held at Arena Live and Club Nautico. A dinner meeting was held at Cantina Laredo and an intimate sunset reception in June on the rooftop of the beautiful new AC Marriott in Condado, followed by the group huddling in the wine cellar for a happy evening of Skål amicale. (Since my wife and I had to leave the island for five months, June was the first meeting I was able to attend since August 2017).

So, you see, through storm and stress, Puerto Rico’s Skalleagues seek each other, help each other and share happiness, good health, friendship and—in spite of catastrophic hurricanes—long life!

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An happy evening of Skål Amicale in the wine cellar at the AC Marriott San Juan.

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Skalleagues and Guests at Hacienda Munoz during the January 2018 Outing

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Skal Congresses Report

Submitted by Ronald Flores, Representing Skål Puerto Rico Nationally and Internationally

Skål is an organization that operates on a local scale (Skål Puerto Rico), national and regional scale (Skål USA, NAASC--North America) and internationally. 

Over the nearly sixty years Skål International Puerto Rico has been active, our club has had representation at most national and international events, and we have had officers on regional boards.

Starting in 2006, when Joanne Ferguson-Twiste was our president, I began representing the club at off island events at the request of the president or the board. By custom, the president is the club’s voting delegate to off island events, followed by the SIUSA Rep. If neither can attend, the board then selects a rep from the BOD. If no BOD member can attend, a senior member may attend. It is important that the rep is familiar with Skål bylaws and traditions.

On approval by the board, the club, when possible, assists in covering a part of the cost of participation for its official representative (currently up to $3,000 for international events and $2,000 for national events). The representative pays the remainder and all of the costs of an accompanying person, if any. All Skålleagues are invited to and encouraged to participate in all congresses at their own expense.

I have attended 10 World Congresses (Thailand 2006, Turkey, 2007, Taiwan 2008, Hungary 2009, Australia 2010, South Korea 2012, New England, Canada Cruise 2013, Mexico City 2014, Paris 2014 (for the 80th Skål Anniversary), Torremolinas, Spain 2015, and Hyderabad, India 2017). Then president Willie Chin was our rep in Finland in 2011 and past president Robert Rodriguez was our official rep in 2013. We had no rep in Monaco in 2016 and currently have no one slated to attend this year’s Congress in Mombasa, Kenya. Next year, in September 2019, the congress will be on the new Royal Caribbean megaship departing from Miami on a seven-day cruise congress in the Caribbean and hopefully, we will have a delegation there! All information about Congresses is posted on Skal.org.

Skål USA and NAASC (North America Alliance of Skål Clubs) also hold annual meetings and I have been able to attend several. Among them are Bermuda 2012, Rivera Maya, Mexico 2015, Boise, Idaho, 2016, and Little Rock Arkansas NCM, also 2016. We had no rep at Toronto, Canada in 2017 nor at Playa Mujeres, Mexico this year. Next year the regional meeting will be in Hawaii. It should be noted that we are assessed $500 for annual regional meetings we do not attend. Clubs receive $500 credit for one rep attending a SI USA meeting, applicable the next year.

World Congress 2017 Hyderabad, India

Representing Skål Puerto Rico at the 78th World Congress in October in Hyderabad, India, was an event to remember in more ways than one. The Congress itself was much of the usual—four days of meetings, parties, friendship and more meetings. The heart of the congress is the general assembly where the main business of Skål International is carried out. It is in these marathon sessions (this one lasted about 10 hours) members get to discuss and agree upon the tenets that guide our organization, outgoing executives make their detailed reports and the incoming executives are elected, awards are presented and achievements are recognized. This is the main job of your club’s representative and it is not an easy one! The business conducted is reported to all members by Skål International so I will not repeat it. New to this Congress was a three day trade show, which was useful to members who do business. One of the great values of attending a Skål World Congress is getting to see the venue and the surrounding attractions, and the forums and speakers who share ideas about trends in the industry.

Although not part of the congress, the pre- and post-tours (at additional cost) are among the best features. Before the Congress in Hyderabad, Chiqui and I joined Skål friends from Australia for a six-person private guided tour of the Golden Triangle: Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, including a dawn visit to the Taj Mahal. This part of the trip was superb, of course!

The Congress was also memorable because it helped us get a flight out of Puerto Rico right after Hurricane Maria. Because we had a confirmed flight San Juan to New York and New York to Delhi we were able to board one of the early flights while hundreds waited in the line trying to get away. Much of our free time in India was spent in front of a TV watching CNN and its reports on the storm’s aftermath in Puerto Rico—that pretty much kept us out of the party mood. We elected not to return to Puerto Rico after the Congress, at least not until power was restored in our area, which turned out to be nearly six months later.

May 17, 2018

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The US delegation at the Hyderabad Skål World Congress

My lucky capture of the amazing Taj Mahal

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A Real Charmer


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Prepared by Ronald C. Flores-Gunkle, Skål International Puerto Rico (SIPR)



© Skal International Puerto Rico 2018