Xp Bonaire Feature Story
Gino Obersi, a local architect, has been in the spotlight recently as a subject in the online discussion surrounding several vacation rental developments and government development projects on Bonaire.
Gino Obersi, Antillian born, has spent most of his life on Bonaire. A child of two well known families on the island, the Obersi and the Apolinario families, he grew up in a typical multi-cultural island family of early, successful entrepreneurs on the island.
After completing his school education on Bonaire, he studied architecture on Curacao. His internship in Portugal at his Uncle Andre’s company was very important for his personal architectural style development as well as Andre himself, who he calls his mentor.
Gino has always been an island child and never doubted that he would live his life on Bonaire. His love of the simple life, free and close to nature, Sunday’s on the beach, fishing, cooking iguana soup, and listening to simadan music in the car are all part of his daily life. He sees his generation as the last ones who don’t rely on technology and lived “the old way”.
Gino was able to work as an external technical advisor at the OLB (island government) in 2013 and established Goa Architecture, his own company, together with his wife, Karen Hernandez - Obersi. In 2014, OLB asked him to develop a recreational public beach project. Even though the presentation of the project was welcomed with a lot of enthusiasm, priorities made this project drop down on the to do list. It became Gino’s personal passion project and every year he again knocked at their doors to remind them of the beaches. Bachelor’s Beach is his personal favorite because of its size, location and, of course, it is the best beach from which to enter the water and swim.
Finally, in 2020, local architects were asked to apply for the pilot project and development of three recreational public beaches, Te Amo Beach, Donkey Beach and Bachelor’s Beach. Gino, who developed this project many years earlier, had to apply too. He hoped to become the architect of Bachelor’s Beach and his wish became true and official in October, 2020.
While Te Amo Beach was delayed through a court case and was just recently given back to the OLB, Donkey Beach struggles with its development due to the rules and regulations surrounding air traffic flights that fly right over this beach to land at the airport.
Bachelor’s Beach / Playa Forn’i Kalki
Bachelor’s Beach was the only one ready to go and start the recreational public beach improvement project announced by the OLB at end of July, 2021. With some additional adjustments and modifications applied, Gino hopes to start in October of this year and complete the beach project around April, 2022.
The beach will have two stairways leading to the beach and sea below and will have a beach area with sun umbrellas, tables, BBQ, booths, sanitary facilities and benches. A parking lot that includes bus drop off, disabled parking spaces and food truck spots will all find place in this new development. Bachelor’s Beach will remain a public beach where people can bring their own food and drinks and use of this area will remain free.
After the video presentation of Bachelor’s Beach was posted on social media, the discussion started instantaneously.
Besides people who wished to leave the beach as is, others welcomed the project and there are plenty of critical voices as well.
According to Gino, in one of the adjustments that are taking place, a few additional parking spots will be created. Since this beach is situated in a residential area, it should not become a nuisance for the surrounding houses and neighborhood.
Bachelor’s Beach will be one of many improved beaches and then visitors will spread over many beaches in the future.
No space for locals
Many people question if there will be any space left for locals when the vacation accommodation project. Bloozz, opposite Bachelor’s Beach opens its doors and guests will use it, according to some, as their private beach.
Gino is of the opinion that people will come as they please, no matter the development of the beach. Gino, who was in charge of the drawings and the permit procedure for the Bloozz development, explains that the guests will have an artificial beach poolside with a pool bar on location and might prefer their own private beach while others might use Bachelor’s Beach.
Besides the two stairs leading into the water, all facilities will be created “upstairs“. The artificial beach will be created at a distance of about 3 meters to the cliff border in case big waves break off the rock. All marine park regulations are taken into account.
While Gino receives many positive reactions, he is aware of the negative ones too. He admits that is hard to deal with the “conspiracy theories“ and the corruption accusations. In the past he didn’t always agree with how certain projects seemed to be handed to some, but praised the government’s procedure this time. In his opinion, it was handled in an official and transparent way.
Gino, as head architect, and his wife, Karen Hernandez – Obersi, in charge of the financial side of the company, have established a successful company building houses all over the island.
Besides creating dream houses for his private clients, Gino has many other ideas to develop and improve public areas on Bonaire. Among others, Seru Largu, is an area that is used by many for physical activities, just for the beautiful vista or, as we know, the secret rendezvous.
Another project of Goa will be announced this month, the improvement of Kaya Grandi, our main shopping street. Goa was in charge of the development design for Kaya Grandi which was then handed over to a civil technician for the final technical plan.
Gino is looking forward to the completion of Bachelor’s Beach and is convinced that people will like it as much as he does.