XpBonaire IslandLife Feature Story
Red Palm Village, located on the curvy road to Sorobon, opened its doors in October, 2016. Owners Leo Dijkgraaf and his wife, Anna, have succeeded in creating a beautiful eco-lodge resort, built from nothing but their vision and ideas. The 20 lodges surround a stunning pool area including a restaurant and bar.
Running and creating an eco-lodge resort, or as they call it, “Glamping”, was a completely new experience for the couple. Anna studied Communication at the Hogeschool Utrecht, Netherlands. Later she worked at Lintas, an advertising agency for Unilever, before she became the owner of the interim account and project management company, “Wordt Geregeld” and Director of the Call Center, Annie Connect.
Leo studied at the School of Arts Utrecht, Netherlands. He started his career as an actor and street puppeteer. Leo reached fame by playing Pino (Yellow Bird) from the Dutch Sesame Street. He presented various youth programs on TV and became an Executive Producer and Program Creator at Endemol. In 2000, with the rise of reality TV, Leo changed course, founding the Annie Connect Call Center, the first and largest from home call center in the Netherlands working for charities.
In 2004, Anna and Leo visited Bonaire for the first time. Completely in love with each other on their honey moon trip, the couple also fell in love with the island. In 2010, they bought their house, at first a vacation home. Then in 2015, they became residents and started their new journey in the hospitality industry.
It is impossible for the creative mind to stand still. After 2 ½ years hosting Red Palm Village with its new challenges and excitement, Leo is now creating new ways to bring attention to Bonaire by showcasing its people and organizations to raise funds and create new possibilities, primarily for the youth on the island.
Brunch & Babbels (Chat/Talk)
Brunch and Babbels is a TV program for and about Bonaire. The show is produced on Saturdays at the Red Palm Pool Restaurant. Chef Corjan shows how to prepare a delicious 4-course brunch, while Leo chats with interesting guests about current events on the island, new surprising activities, nature and positive initiatives aimed at a better Bonaire.
The program is broadcast by NOS TV on Sunday mornings, starting 11 am. The first broadcast was in March, 2019. If you missed it, all episodes can be watched on the You Tube Nos TV Channel or on Red Palm Village’s own website Brunch en Babbels : brunchenbabbels.nl
Kinderhulp (Children’s Aid) Bonaire
Leo is part of the foundation Kinderhulp Bonaire, designed to initiate new projects to raise funds and support active projects focused on the children of the island who are in need to assist them to become active, functioning members of the community.
The foundation has succeeded in financing the start of its first project. In collaboration with the Department Integrale Wijkaanpak (Integrated Neighborhood Development), a group of children, ages 10–17 are now able to learn how to swim, participate in weekly swimming lessons and receive a swimming certificate at the end. 75 children are still waiting for the next funding to make their wish come true.
The first group of children are picked up by Voyager Tours, with their big Hummer, and taken to their swimming lessons given by Swimming Academy Splash at Hillside. This will be the first children’s project with many more to follow.
Dierenlot (Animal Destiny)
As an Ambassador to the foundation Dierenlot, Leo showcases and supports many of the animal protection organizations and foundations on the island. As a main sponsor of the TV program, Dierenlot , hosted by Leo, presents different animal subjects and projects.
Another project in the making is a media academy. This will create an opportunity for young and ambitious filmmakers in the making to experience and learn how to make documentaries with the support of Nos TV and Leo with all his knowledge and experience as a renowned Executive TV Producer.
Filmhuis (arthouse movies) Bonaire
On Mondays everyone is invited to come and watch movies with a contribution of $5. The special art-house movies, often with an artistic character, will be announced on the Red Palm Village Facebook Page: Filmhuis Bonaire. Staring at 6. pm, you can order your food at the food truck and enjoy a movie and fish night.
With all the new activities and projects, Leo has combined the best of his two worlds, a beautiful location in the middle of unspoiled nature and a center of communication and support through media located at the Red Palm Pool Restaurant. Visit the beautiful location and enjoy Breakfast, lunch , dinner or the Sunday’s Brunch starting at 11 am.
Check out Brunch en Babbels on You tube here>
or go to Brunch en Babbels website for all episodes here> https://www.brunchenbabbels.nl/afleveringen/