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Longboat Key Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2018 2 years ago

Colony staff: Experience at the resort was special

As guests arrived at the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort, it was the teams behind the scenes that made visiting the once iconic resort such a unique experience.
by: Bret Hauff and Katie Johns

As guest arrived at the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort, it was the teams behind the scenes that made visiting the once iconic resort such an experience.

Being the morning chef at the Colony was Ray Arpke’s first job when he moved to Florida. After six months, he became head chef.

“It was really cool because we were right on the water, and when I drove to work, (I) drove all the way down the Key and sometimes saw the sun rising on one side and the moon setting on other,” Arpke said. “...It was really at that time, it was probably the place to come vacation on the west coast of Florida.”

Ray and Darcy Arpke, who now own Euphemia Haye, met while working at the Colony.

Ray’s roommate, who also worked at the Colony, came home one day and told Ray about the new girl that started working that day. D'Arcy Arpke was a hostess and also worked in the children’s program.

“I saw her and said to my roommate, ‘I will make her mine,’ and it’s all history from there,” Arpke said.

Eventually, Arpke moved on to Cafe L’Europe on St. Armands Circle and later, Euphemia Haye, but he said the group he worked with, including Michael and Tommy Klauber and Katie Moulton, stayed good friends and acted like family as they all moved on to new endeavors.

“The whole gang that we worked with, we had a lot of fun with each other,” Arpke said. “We made it fun.”

Catherine Cumings started working at the Colony in 1990 as the director of sales and marketing and “loved it because it was casual,” she said.

“I don’t think theres any other place like it,” Cumings said. “I miss the fact that it was by far the best vacation experience you can have.”

It was that guest experience that embodied the focus of the resort, Cumings said.

“We had a high repeat guest factor, because it was so special,” Cuming said. “Things were done so well that people came year after year after year — their kids grew up at the Colony.”

Cumings said she focused on bringing international guests to the resort in her time working there because the Colony had all that Europeans were looking for: the beach, the non-commercial atmosphere and fine dining.

And the staff there were all so welcoming, Cumings said. They’d write handwritten notes for every guest when they arrived and put fresh flowers in each of the units.

“Its just the kind of place that was really like a tradition,” Cumings said “It was truly a family tradition to go to the Colony”

When Jamil Pineda began working at the Colony in 2000, he found that he was surrounded by family, even though none of his relatives worked there.

“It was just not the work atmosphere, it was the home,” Pineda said. “You can’t point out this was great or that was great — it was all great.”

It was there at the Colony that Pineda, now the executive chef at Michael's on East, learned how to run a kitchen and cook multiple different cuisines.

The children who stayed there would bring him fish to filet and cook, when someone called for help in the kitchen it wasn’t long before many hands came to assist with whatever need to be done.

“It was a sense of community in a sense that you’d never find anywhere else,” Pineda said. “It wasn’t about me, it wasn’t about you, it was about everybody.”

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