Celebrating the pre-opening of the First Salute Lounge are, from left: Government Commissioner Mike Franco, Diane Hoekstra, US Ambassador Pete Hoekstra, Claudia Wickert, Bob Castelijn, US Consul General Allen Greenberg and Haruko Greenberg.

St. Eustatius Monuments Director Walter Hellebrand (right), designer of the plan to incorporate the ruins of an 18-century building into the Orange Bay hotel speaking at the pre-opening inside the Lounge as persons listen to his presentation.

EUSTATIUS--One of the festive events of this year’s Statia Day celebrations was the pre-opening of the First Salute Lounge on Orange Bay on Saturday, November 16, 2019.

On the same date as when St. Eustatius made history by being the first to formally salute the flag of the newly founded United States of America in 1776, the US ambassador to the Netherlands Pete Hoekstra and US Consul General for the Dutch Caribbean Allen Greenberg with their speeches marked this first inaugural happening at the Lounge. Greenberg noted that places of hospitality have often played an important role in shaping events throughout history.

This new addition to the growing strip of recreational facilities along the Bay is part of the Orange Bay Hotel, located inside the ruins of an 18-century building that was uncovered when the hotel construction started.

St. Eustatius Monuments Director Walter Hellebrand designed a plan to incorporate the ruins into the hotel and proprietors Claudia Wickert and Bob Castelijn went with his proposal.

Acting Government Commissioner Mervyn Stegers welcomed this new attraction for Statians and visitors alike as an example of how history and economy can go hand-in hand.

Hellebrand revealed that the authentic walls of the Lounge were actually witness to the First Salute as he identified the building on an original 1774 drawing of the Bay that he owns. Two artists residing on the island copied part of the drawing to decorate the Lounge in style.

Wickert explained that the First Salute Lounge, once opened, will be open seven days a week – in connection with a bar and grill – as a place to unwind, relax and enjoy drinks and snacks. A daily happy hour and themed parties with live music or disk jockeys are planned as well. The lower storey will be used as a multifunctional space for meetings, private parties, tastings and similar functions.