In 2019 Jachmin Pinedo, the popular local celebrity and businesswomen announced her newest multimillion investment project in Curaçao; the acquisition, remodeling and operating of Hotel Otrobanda. A hotel located at a prime spot in the city center and harbor area.
Under her direction, the hotel is expected to become a spectacular touristic investment and a catalyst for other investments in the ‘other side’ of the island’s capital. Pinedo who started her business from scratch, shares her confidence in Curaçao’s potential and explains the essence of her success. The new developments caused by the COVID-19 crisis did not affect her determination.
From the day the news spread that Pinedo was behind the acquisition of Hotel Otrobanda, this became an inspiration for local investors. People with properties in Otrobanda told her that they had their investment plans on hold due to the uncertain economic situation.
But the fact that she was going to develop the hotel, had motivated them to continue with their projects in the area. This made her realize the impact of her efforts and that she had actually created a trademark that people look up to. The expectation is that the new accomplishment will be comparable to her Radio and TV company and other business ventures. Even the former owner of the hotel felt relieved when he heard that Pinedo had become the new owner. He told her; you have made us proud with your TV. We expect no less at Hotel Otrobanda. Pinedo’s entrepreneurial spirit was triggered long before she started in the broadcasting business. She began working when she was 10 years of age, helping her mother in her business activities. She looks up to her mother who was an active self-made businesswoman in her days. Her business attitude served as Pinedo’s model and created the standard that she sticks to until this day.
Pinedo was resolutely dedicated to the tasks given by her mother. When other kids were playing outside and having fun, being the oldest of the four kids, she often helped with her younger siblings. At the age of 18 she had her own business. At the core of her commercial success was her determination and seriousness. “I was very responsible in the way I attended my activities, like I still do in everything else”. She later met her husband who has the same drive and together they develop their business activities.
Determination and dedication
Next to organizing events and selling clothing and jewelry, Pinedo started to present programs on a local radio station and soon had her own program on the local TV channel. She worked during 15 years at the local radio station Radio Korsou FM, before starting her own radio broadcasting company. During that time, she continued to organize events like parties, mothers’ day celebrations and other shows. She can look back at successful events with both local and international artists, such as Nelson Ned and Pedro Fernandez.
One thing was sure, her events had to be special and stand out from the crowd. All her parties were a huge success. The customers expected that from her, and everybody would dress up to go to her shows. The parties were nice, the vibe was good, and the visitors had a good time. Consistency made Pinedo without a doubt a genuine influencer in Curaçao, which brings with it a lot of responsibility. “If I say that I am going to do something, I must keep my promise. My reputation is what makes me succeed. I have to cherish that”.
The jewelry business grew from small scale mobile sales to the establishment of her jewelry store, GL Jewelry. After the Jewelry store, Pinedo opened her own Radio transmission company, Radio Direct 107.1 FM. This was soon followed by a second channel Radio Direct 92.1 ‘Live’. She also ventured in real estate and bought Tesoro Plaza, the land and the building where the jewelry store and the radio station are located. The building also accommodates apartments and business units. The units on the ground level include a douche making them easy to transform in apartments in case the demand for stores, declines.
Have a back-up plan but take a decision!
Pinedo explains that in her business approach she always has a back-up plan. Her humble beginning thought her this. “When you take a step, it’s between you and God and there’s no way back. I take risks, but I also keep my feet firm on the ground”. She is convinced that one cannot sit still because the economy is sloppy. “You must reinvent, change and do something else. No one will help you if they don’t see that you are trying to help yourself”.
When asked about the remark that she is considered a power woman, Pinedo makes clear that she is not an overnight success. “I am not a wonder woman. I always do my homework and contemplate my business ventures thoroughly. After having figured out the idea, I take the courage to create the plan and take the necessary actions. I have a lot of guts and don’t let anything get in my way. If I have made a proper business case and have concluded that it is a sound commercial activity, I go for it and so does my husband. His motto is, let’s go for it, just cut the risks”. The astute businesswoman doesn’t let anyone upset her plans. “God will give you the strength when he sees that you want to succeed and that your intentions are good”. Always remember to give back to your community. Pinedo explains how she deals with reactions from others. “People may project their fears upon you. It can be good to listen to their warnings though; they can help you to prevent mistakes. In life, we need people, but the final decision is always in your hands. Consider the threats but take a decision. That is the message that I always convey when I give a motivational speech”. When she presented the idea of opening a TV station, people discouraged her. With the support of her husband, she used all the points that were presented to her as pitfalls, to develop precautions and decrease the risks. TV Direct has now been in the air for more than three years and is very successful.
She started the TV channel on the 25th of August 2016 with only two local programs. She had boldly proclaimed that the TV would be airing 24 hours, but actually did not really know how to realize that, as she was then equipped to make two programs, the news presentation and the morning show. This did not discourage her. After the official launching of the broadcasting on the 25th, she opened the following morning with the morning show Mainta na TV Direct with a lot of zest.
“I remember how I got up early, dressed up to come to the studio to show Curaçao its new Morning Show, with the certainty that this project was going to become a huge success”. A live morning show, “with a lot of entertainment and a bit of news” was a longtime dream of the brave TV Director. She managed to fill in 24 hours due to good international relations and network. “When you do good, you will always get someone to help you” Pinedo explains. Years before she had assisted a Venezuelan TV company that wanted to outsource part of their operations. This created a friendship and they gave her a helping hand when she needed to fill in the programming that in the beginning consisted of mainly international programs. As time went by the company introduced more local productions and by now more than 80% of TV Directs’ programming consists of local production.
Pinedo focuses on details. She was completely involved in the design and construction of the TV studio, including the decoration.
“I had an excellent understanding with the architect. I told him my plans and he created the studio according to my wishes”. The TV studio was already designed and ordered, when she saw a glass podium tv news studio. “I wanted that one, so I asked the supplier if he could import a similar model. But the price was too high”. Pinedo decided to ask the company abroad if they could design the podium for her. With the design she contacted a local producer who made the podium at one third of the cost.
From a micro business merchant on her way to becoming a local tycoon.
After opening the TV station, Pinedo was ready for her next venture. Being a person who likes to work with tourists, she always wanted to have a hotel. The same goes for her daughter who aspired a position in the management of a hotel after finishing her studies.
The opportunity to buy Otrobanda Hotel was thus almost like a sign. Pinedo heard about the sale of the hotel one week before the auction and could not realize the financing on time. But that auction did not materialize, and so she had the chance to bid in another occasion. For the second auction, Pinedo was all set, although it took another round for her to win the bid on August the 29th of 2019. According to Pinedo the announcement that her company would invest in hotel Otrobanda was a relief for other businesses in the area.
“The sale created a constructive energy and the expectation that the project will have a positive impact on this part of the city. “It became the talk of the town and even the main topic on talk shows on competing radio stations. “The beauty is that they all applauded the plan. I am overwhelmed by these reactions and want to ask everyone to continue supporting this plan”.
People are also happy for the local investment as most of the local hotels are currently in hands of foreign investors. Hotel Otrobanda was sold for ± USD 7.1 mln. The remodeling requires another ± USD 4.9 mln. The financing comes from the local Banco di Caribe and the project is eligible for tax incentives. Pinedo’s daughter who has a master’s degree in management will take care of the daily operations and also forms part of the management team. The building is now being dismantled and will get a complete transformation and upgrading.
A USA company with experience in this field is developing the casino concept. The structure of the building is solid and does not need major improvements, but the casino has been stripped and will be enlarged. Pinedo has therefore acquired the adjacent ‘Jopi’ Building of which the first floor will serve for the casino expansion. The remodeled hotel is expected to open before the end of this year. All the 45 rooms and restaurant will get a makeover. For this task she hired a well-known local architect David Bohorquez. The redesigned restaurant will consist of an air-conditioned and an open terrace area overlooking the harbor. One of the ideas is to replace the current canvas sunshade roof of the restaurant with a concrete one that will also serve as the floor of an upper deck. This surface can be used for parties and events.
This means a need for more parking spaces. Pinedo hopes that the government can help with that. Her company is currently renting a parking area with 60 parking spaces in front of the hotel for almost USD 8.000 a month from the Tauber Parking Area. Still, there is need for more parking possibilities. One thing Pinedo is certain of, the end result is going to be beautiful and Curaçao will be proud. This hotel is the closest to the quayside of the harbor and is one of the most picturesque locations on the island. It has a spectacular spot for taking pictures, with the Handelskade in the back. Hotel Otrobanda will become an attraction and the place where everyone wants to go.
Believe and invest in Curaçao
“I want to motivate our people to believe in ourselves and invest in this country”. Pinedo transmits an air of positive expectation and self-assurance. “People may want to leave the island, due to the economic and financial uncertainties. But I am not going anywhere. Our country has a lot of potential. As soon as you have a project and a reputation that creates trust, you must walk the talk and prove yourself”. She recaps that she had to work hard for her success and also had her ups and downs. “The point is that I get up every time and then I come back with more strength.
“I am human just like everybody else, but my determination and character make a difference. When I say that I am going to do something, you can count on it that it will happen. Or it must be because of a valid reason. For instance, a better solution”. She closes her ears for distractions and focusses on her goals. She enjoys working on her projects and considers this very important. “If you do this against your will, you will be lost”. Pinedo works almost 24 hours a day. This does not stop during the weekends. “If you want to succeed, you must be willing to make the effort”.
Pinedo is known for her strong opinions in the news. She explains that she is not against anyone, but against certain policies. “It is not about the person, but about the topic”. She regularly gives suggestions for the development of the islands’ tourism. According to her Curaçao has a lot to offer tourist and good service is the key to keep them coming back. She also has some recommendations for business starters. “Don’t let people down. Especially if they believe in you. Fulfill your obligations.
Do not spend more than you have earned. If you turn over 10 guilden, you cannot take that amount as your income base without considering your costs. The company is yours, but the money is not. When you have fulfilled your obligations and paid the taxes, what is over is yours. And you have to live responsible”. Pinedo thinks that a lot of business failures have to do with this. The business itself is often ok, but the owners do not separate their private income from that of the company.
The Hotel Otrobanda project has also caught the attention of International investors, who are approaching her about this venture. According to her people from small countries, tend to think that they cannot succeed on their own. “As long as you believe in your country, you will attract more investors”. Pinedo considers herself a real patriot. In her business decisions she keeps the advancement of Curaçao in mind and thinks that her fellow citizens should also benefit from the project. She always surrounds herself by a team of people who support her. “When you find the right people to work with, take care of them and cherish them”.
“Believe in your country. Find out what you can do for your community. Stop looking at who helped you or not. If we as local investors can show that we have confidence in Curaçao, we will automatically attract foreign investors to our island”.