The Ritz History
The colorful history of The Ritz started in 1938 when Otto Senior founded the Ritz Ice Factory with his wife Rosalynde. The factory, located at the Heerenstraat, made milk for the U.S. soldiers on Curaçao. Soon, they also opened a soda fountain on Breedestraat. In 1947, the company expanded to the factory in Scharloo. Eventually in 1967 the family bought the house of Max Lowenthal (No. 25) and soon expanded to with No. 27 as well. For almost 70 years The Ritz had been the largest Ice Cream factory in the Caribbean. It made and sold ice cream, sugar cones, ice cubes, milk, yoghurt and juices. Even McDonalds and Burger King bought their milkshake mix from the factory. Products had names like Pink Panther, Temptees, Papureshi, Screwball and Palu Friwi.
The Ritz had great emotional value to many people. It seemed everyone had bought ice cream at The Ritz. Hundreds of people and often more than one member of a family, have worked at The Ritz.
A former Ritz Ice Factory employee recently visited us. She had worked in the front office for more than 40 years and her daughter and niece worked here too.
Many of the photos you see on the walls in the main building were her donations. One man told us stories of coming here as small child. He remembers running through the woods in the back lot and all the way down Kaya Ritz (Ritz street) to the front of No. 25 where he could buy an ice cream. Now he reserves rooms at The Ritz for his kids when they visit from the Netherlands.
Mr. Robben decided to preserve the factory buildings as industrial heritage buildings. This decision received a warm welcome from the Curaçao population.
The complex has been lovingly converted into a studio complex leaving the historic buildings intact. During the renovation Robben incorporated many original details, such as the spans, windows, floors and antique fixtures from the factory.
This keeps the integrity of the historical building intact. One can still see what the original functions of the buildings were, even though its been adapted for modern uses. Factory, office and storage converted into a functional modern atmosphere while keeping the integrity of its colorful history.
All buildings were restored and renovated with the factory in mind, showing its former industrial past. The floors were redone in polished concrete with an industrial coating. Some rooms show the industrial roof construction in the loft. The inner supports are made of steel pipes and profiles and are left exposed.
Remember the days before the Ice Cream Factory, when the main building was a house. There are many original elements from that time still in existence. For example, the floor in the meeting room is original and was the bedroom of Max Lowenthal, who was the owner before Otto Senior bought the house. We found the cornice’s that you see on the ceiling in the meeting room in a crawl space and had them cast in silicone and restored. You can read the story of The Lowenthals in the Museum.
The little colorful houses outside show the pastel colors that are famous in Curaçao. These buildings were the original storage units for the Ice Cream factory. Now renovated into hotel rooms, complete with kitchenette and bathroom. Our reception, car rental, dive shop, mini market and laundry are also located here in the small houses.
The tower that you see is called Cornetto and originally housed the ice making machines. The ice machines were tall and took up the entire tower. On our website or on the TV screens between the Eskimo and Split building, you can watch a video of these machines and watch the ice being bagged in the area that is now the bottom of the stairs in the tower.
The Blue building, Eskimo, was the actual factory area. Now our Caribbean Lofts are located there. Behind Eskimo we have Split, Float and Scoop. We have added these to The Ritz Village compound in the last few years to accommodate the great number of people who want to stay at the Ice Cream Factory. The original foundations and walls of these buildings are still intact.
You can visit The Ritz Museum in the Eskimo building and watch the short movies of the ice factory days. The Ritz Ice Cream factory has been recognized by the Curaçao Tourist Board as an official tourist site.
Welcome to The Ritz Village!