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Aruba’s Big PlansFebruary 12, 2010 By: Joe Pike Travel Agent
Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino’s newly revamped guest rooms have large private balconies
With a new ambitious tourism minister, more airline seats and routes on the way and an array of new hotels and aggressive renovation projects, the small island of Aruba is ready for a big year.
Travel Agent touches on some of Aruba’s latest selling points that could entice the island nation’s fans to return and new travelers to check it out.
Hotels and Resorts
Divi Aruba Phoenix Beach Resort bears a new look and feel with the addition of 140 luxury suites to its existing 101 beachfront studios. The luxury suites— studios, one-bedroom suites and two- and three-bedroom penthouses—are housed in four eight-story buildings. Agents can contact Henderik Watson, reservations supervisor, at 800-367-3484.
Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino opened its remodeled Okeanos Spa with Menu 22, a special spa menu that uses authentic indigenous Aruban Aloe in its treatments. Also, coffee giant Starbucks will open a retail store at the Renaissance Marketplace—its second in the Caribbean and first in the Dutch Caribbean.
Brickell Bay Beach Club on Palm Beach recently completed a renovation, including that of the Intermezzo Spa, fitness and business centers, and hotel rooms. This boutique hotel with 100 rooms and suites displays the charm of the Dutch Caribbean.
Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort & Casino recently gave finishing touches to four new specialty suites, completing the $20 million makeover that began last year. Ranging from 1,150 to 2,500 square feet, the new suites are arrayed with authentic Italian furnishings, leather woven rugs, Mitchell Gold sofas, McGuire lounge chairs, and bathroom elements, including soaking tubs. Three of the suites have balconies, while the new Governor’s Suite has an impressive outdoor patio. Carina Luidens (011-297-586-1234, ext 4519, [email protected]) the hotel’s reservations manager, can share further details.
The Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino has reopened its 180,000-gallon free-form pool. It has been resurfaced, its rock formations restored, new LED energy-efficient lighting installed and the pool bar upgraded. Contact Reservations Manager Ester Aponte-Maduro (011-297-520-6446, [email protected]) with queries.
Big Plans for Small Island
Otmar Oduber, sworn in as minister of tourism, transportation and labor affairs, in October 2009, already has big plans to promote Aruba’s culture with a $20 million project to beef up the downtown Aruba area. We met with Oduber during the Caribbean Marketplace and learned of the island’s three-year plan to renovate, refurbish and build new cafés, shops and restaurants in the downtown area. His plan, over the next four years, extends to invigorating demand for stay-over tourists from select markets, including new ones such as Chicago and Los Angeles.
The Midwest continues to be an area the island sees potential growth from, especially with the new flights. Aruba is contemplating bringing in American Airlines flights from those destinations and more, although no clear plans have been mapped out.
More New Flights
In December, AirTran Airways launched a service between Aruba and Atlanta with flights every Saturday. Additionally, it will introduce nonstop flights, on Saturdays again, from Orlando this month.
JetBlue Airways is increasing the frequency of its flights to Aruba from Boston Logan Airport. Boston will now see five flights a week starting spring—two on Saturday and one each on Friday, Sunday and Monday.
The first of its kind in the Caribbean, Aruba’s National Archaeological Museum opened in July 2009 in downtown Oranjestad. The museum offers a glimpse into 5,000 years of regional history with entertaining and interactive displays. The complex also includes a research center and a cafeteria. The first exhibition titled “Rancho” features Aruba’s traditional fisherman’s quarters on the western outskirts of Oranjestad.
The Arikok National Park of Aruba unveiled a visitors’ center after its three-year makeover. The center includes a headquarters for the nearly 40 rangers who patrol the park and a souvenir shop for visitors. The national park occupies 18 percent of Aruba’s land mass and is home to the countless indigenous examples of flora and fauna. New roads and paths have also been built for visitors.
Café de Pijp opened this past July at the South Beach Center. It was modeled after an “Oud Hollands Café” (typical Dutch-style café) and includes the “Pelpinda’s” tradition, wherein patrons eat peanuts while littering the floor with shells. It is open from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. on weekdays and from 5 p.m. to 4 a.m. on weekends.
CILO recently opened its doors to guests at the Renaissance Marketplace. It serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with an extended international menu. The restaurant has three wide screens, an impressive sound system, terrace couches and parasols with marina-view tables. It is open daily from 7 a.m. to 3 a.m.
De Suikertuin officially opened its doors in June in a historical mansion in Wilhelminastraat. The mansion’s front porch is used as an outdoor, sit-down bar, from which guests can catch a glimpse of the cozy seating area through the front door. The other rooms have tables for four or two people, while the back porch is another option. The restaurant is open Monday through Saturday, and is available for catering events, birthday celebrations and impromptu parties or get-togethers.
Paseo Herencia shopping and entertainment center is a new “old-style” plaza surrounded by shopping, dining and a state-of-the-art movie theater. There is also a main stage where a nightly waterworks extravaganza and musical performances are staged against a backdrop of Aruban architectural designs showcasing the island’s heritage. Shops at Paseo Herencia are open Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and on Sunday, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. These include Hunkemöller, a leading European fashion store; Baci de Roma, an Italian women’s boutique; and one of three Aruba Aloe stores in the island.
The pool and the remodeled Okeanos Spa at Renaissance Marina Hotel are exclusive to adults