Skål International Puerto Rico News

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Message from the Editor

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Stay Safe * Stay Well

Travel? Well, for now, there are only the memories and photos of favorite trips. If you are like me, you have had plenty of time during the pandemic to remember the highlights of the places far and near that you have visited. As a frequent representative of Skål Puerto Rico at national and International meetings, I have books and books of photos to help me recall what friendship and amicale mean in Skål everywhere. 

What my Skalleagues in Puerto Rico may not know is that I also have participated in non-official Skal trips with the award-winning North New Jersey Skål Club. For many years NNJ Skål has organized a Friendship Trip for its members and a limited number of invited guests. I had the honor of being included in trips to Croatia, Portugal and Scotland. There are no offical meetings but the organizers often coordinate events with Skål members at the destinations—fulfilling one of the main goals of our organization: doing business among friends.

Our friendship with the North New Jersey Club is so strong that we were in the process of "Twinning” with them—planning an event in Old San Juan to officially unite our two clubs in a ceremony endorsed by Skål International. That, of course, was suspended, as was travel and tourism wortldwide. When tourism once again becomes the focus and the joy of our lives, we may explore becoming a “twin" once again.

In the meantime, here is a small episode of a series I am preparing to remember the good times I had with the NNJ Skål club and their friends.

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Ronald C. Flores-Gunkle



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March 2020 Dinner

Ultra Lounge Restaurant


Our newest Skål International Puerto Rico member Melissa Pueyo from Bacardi Visitors Center (center). She is being confirmed in the Tourist Attractions category. I will be posting her info to the members area soon!  Here we are at the March dinner at  Ultra Lounge.

No. 1334 Ultra Lounge Restaurant on Roosevelt Avenue in Hato Rey is a creation of  designer Adolfo Arango. Some 20 members and guests enjoyed an evening of grand amicale, fine wine and food, in a charming ambiance. CLICK HERE for a few photos of the event. 


February Friendship Dinner

Ariel Restaurant 

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Ah, who can forget the fantastic food and service at Ariel In Miramar during our February Friendship Dinner?  Not many of our events have ever been so perfect!  OK, It was my idea and my magazine Urbane Traveler co-sponsored it with Skål. Yet, I am always the strictest critic and I could find nothing wrong! Great wine, wonderful food, stellar service in one of the most elegant and understated settings. Congratulations Chef Ariel and his amazing staff!

CLICK here for more photos!


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Holiday Happiness!

The gang gathered at Villa Flores for a holiday get-together recently. It was both an afternoon of Skal amicale and a feast—Tino brought a whole spit-roasted pig (lechón asado) and everyone else brought enough food and drink for two parties!  We managed to make a dent in it! As you can see in the photos (CLICK HERE for more), we had a great time.

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Skal Dec-Jan 2020  1


November BOD and Dinner

INNATO MIRAMAR

Our small but enthusiastic Skal club held its November board meeting and dinner at Innato Miramar, a trendy tapas and vegan restaurant. Unanimous opinion: delicious food, beautiful presentation, fine wines, and excellent service. Also unanimous--we all had a really FUN night!

For photos Click HERE.

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A TERRIBLY SERIOUS GROUP, OF COURSE!



SIPR 60th Anniversary Celebration

The Cannon Club at The Gallery Inn, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

October 25, 2019

Opening Presentation

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Good Evening, I am Ronald Flores, past president of Skål Puerto Rico and current board member.

 Tonight we celebrate the 60th Anniversary of Skål International in Puerto Rico. Our club was founded in 1959 to do what we are doing tonight: unite tourism leaders in friendship to better support our extraordinary destination. And what an extraordinary place to do it in: this historic Gallery Inn, a masterpiece by artist and sculptor Jan D’Esopo. Thank you Jan and General Manager Rafael Cestero for hosting us.

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 Just a little house keeping before we begin. After our brief presentations here, we will move up to the Alamanda Garden for the Skal toast and buffet dinner, followed by Skal amicale, our name for networking and meeting new friends, followed by the tour of the Inn.

We have two events tomorrow, a guided walking tour of the old city open to all members and guests that leaves from the lobby at 11:30 a.m. and a sunset cruise of the bay for invited guests. The cruise on The Legend departs from San Juan Marina a 5:30 p.m. and is sponsored by Castillo Tours.

 And now, Skalleagues and guests, let me present our president Robert Rodriguez.

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 “Thank you Jan and Rafael for making our event here tonight possible. Thank you everyone, Skål members, their guests, and our special guests, Lisa Conway, president of Skål USA. I’d also like to welcome Skalleague Clive Banfield and his wife Lise, who came in from St. Thomas to be with us today and Skalleague Jim Owen, CEO of Coral Crater Adventure Park in Kapole, Hawaii, who joining us tonight. Welcome!

Skalleagues and friends, may I introduce Lisa Conway.

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Lisa is President of Skål USA, the national committee that oversees some 50 clubs—including ours—with a total with almost 2,000 members.  In her real life she is Vice President of the Travel Insurance Division at Roanoke Insurance Group. She was president of Skål New York in 2013 and was instrumental in bringing the Skål International 75th Anniversary World Congress  to the USA. Ronald and I and our wives were fortunate to be at that wonderful New York event and to participate on the congress cruise between New York City and Canada. Also we are celebrating both Lisa’s birthday (yesterday) and my wife Jessica’s birthday (tomorrow) so please let’s embarrass them by singing Happy Birthday!

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(Coming soon: Lisa’s remarks.]

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Robert Rodriguez; Thank you, Lisa. Skalleague and past President Irene Castillo would like to present you with a small token of our appreciation for your visit..

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Our presentation tonight would not be complete without recognizing one of our own members. Skalleague Clive Banfield.

Sir Clive Banfield has been a member of Skal Puerto Rico for 55 years. He served as our president in 1984—and has held many other voluntary and elected positions in Skål Puerto Rico and Skål International over the years—as well as an extraordinary lifetime of accomplishments and honors that resulted in knighthoods conferred by Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain and by the Vatican. His accomplishments as so many that we would need two meetings to recognize all of them, but for tonight we want to present him with the highest award a Skal Club can bestow on an individual member, the title of Honorary President. The award reads:

 Skalleague Sir Clive E.C. Banfield, Member since 1964, President 1984, Has been named Honorary President, Skål International Puerto Rico, In San Juan, Puerto Rico, During the celebration Of the club’s 60th anniversary, And In appreciation of his lifelong Dedication and service to our club. Granted by the 2019 Board of Directors and Presented by President Robert Rodríguez, October 25, 2019.

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 That concludes our formal business. Please proceed up the stairs to the Alamandra Garden for the Skal toast, dinner and Skal amicale.

Thank you.

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[For photos of the event, please CLICK HERE.]



September  Networking Reception

Rosa (Lila) Ávalo Franceschi, the owner and creator of La Barra de Queso (The Cheese Bar) is a turophile and cheese expert who co-founded the first artisan aged cheese factory on the island. Her new “quesoteca” was the venue for our September board meeting and an informal wine and cheese get-together. The “crowd” was small but the amicable was not. Here are a few photos of the event.

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Barra de los Quesos is in Miramar Plaza, 954 Ave. Ponce de León, 

San Juan, Puerto Rico




Skal Puerto Rico Memories—A public service campaign we conducted years ago. This is the print part—it was also on the radio and TV.





August at the Mall!

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Skal at the MALL

As the invitation you see below—prepared by our Skal secretary Charlotte Ware--our August event was a night at a mall. Well, don’t think it was just any mall. The Outlet 66 Mall is something out of a science fiction movie! The mall used to be a place to shop (and still is) but now it is also a place to party both for kids and their owners.There are bumper cars, high speed racing, about a thousand hi-tech games in an enormous arcade. I have never seen so much digital technology flashing all about under one roof! 

Our Skal club, a more demure organization, first bowled among robots toward billboard-size flat screen monitors while sipping endless glasses of bubbling wine. Former Skalleague Felix Mulero was our host and his partners and staff at Karma's gave us the royal treatment all night long. The wine flowed (a nice Syrah) and the excutive chef Alessandro presented dish after dish of wonders from the kitchen. There was so much food that everyone received “doggy bags” to take home.

Our almost year-old new member Brenda Sastre, gave the Skal toast and our current (and future?) president Robert Rodriguez presented Brenda and SandraTotti their Skal certificates. We then gave a hearty welcome to our very newest member, Angel Torres Méndez, GM of Princesa Gastrobar in Old San Juan.

To see more photos of the event, CLICK here.

Our Long, Hot Summer

It has been a long, hot summer in Puerto Rico…and it hasn’t only been the weather! The massive protests and the resignation of Governor Ricky Rossello have been in all the news on the island and in much of the world press, so there is no reason to bring that up. As Skalleagues, our concern is tourism and that is what we do best! 

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Summer Flame Tree

COME ON DOWN TO COOL OFF!

 It has been hot, but not nearly as hot as many of the places on the mainland and Europe. Puerto Rico rarely has temperatures above 90—even on the hottest days of summer. It is pool and beach time and that’s why we take off a month—to travel around the island or abroad. In July the club went sailing and snorkeling on Skalleague Irene Castillo (and Castillo Tours’) catamaran, the Barefoot, while she and husband Joe cooled off in Wyoming.

 Discover Puerto Rico has been doubling it efforts to assure tourists that Puerto Rico is open for business and pleasure. The hotels that were affected by the two infamous hurricanes that hit us in September 2017 are not only open, but open with major upgrades, expansions, renovations and renewed energy to serve their guests.

OUR NEWEST MEMBER APPROVED

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Today we received the happy news of the approval of our newest Skalleague:

“We are pleased to confirm that ANGEL TORRES MENDEZ has been approved as a(n) Active member of Skål International PUERTO RICO on 26-07-2019 with membership number 090051001.

Angel will be pinned at the next meeting but you can welcome him at angeltm11@gmail.com.

Villa Flores was the venue for our Skal club’s annual holiday party



© Skal International Puerto Rico 2020