New arrests last week thrust the Natalee Holloway case back into the headlines, but Aruba, where the Alabama teenager disappeared while on a graduation trip in 2005, appears to have fully recovered from the decrease in arrivals it experienced in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy.
Aruba has proved that a longstanding reputation of safety--along with great beaches, entertainment and food--can withstand even the most serious of setbacks. After Holloway went missing, many parents weren’t allowing their children to travel to Aruba despite the island’s reputation as one of the Caribbean’s safest. But the more people learned of Aruba, the more they realized this incident, while tragic, was a fluke. And as they do in most tourist destinations beset by some kind of crisis, travelers eventually came back. Now, Aruba is arguably stronger and more popular than it was before 2005. This year has seen significant growth in visitor arrivals, major hotel and resort renovations and the addition of airline service, among other successes.
Through July, U.S. arrivals in Aruba had increased 4.17 percent for the year (translating into 12,497 additional visitors). The year kicked off with a robust January and February that saw a 6.52 percent and 6.13 percent increase in arrivals, respectively, followed by a strong 10.15 percent spike in March. As summer approached, the island reported an incredible 9.26 percent increase in arrivals in June, while July’s upswing measured 2.61 percent. Worldwide numbers were up 6.88 percent over last year as of July, showcasing Aruba’s strengthening international appeal.
Key developments on Aruba include:
Hotels and Resorts
Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino has begun a $40 million renovation, which will include all 413 guest rooms and is scheduled for completion by summer 2008.
The Westin Aruba has entered the second phase of a $16 million renovation. Guest rooms and suites have been upgraded with new furnishings and amenities including 32-inch flat-screen TVs, marble baths, Westin’s Heavenly Bath products and signature Heavenly Beds. Renovations to the lobby and public spaces will be completed in December 2007.
The Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort Aruba has almost finished its three-year, $15 million makeover, featuring a new marine theme in its updated guest rooms, restaurants and meeting spaces.
The Casa del Mar Beach Resort this spring converted to a “Pure Allergy Friendly Resort,” with changes to all 147 rooms, shops, the gym, member’s lounge and more.
The RIU Palace Aruba, a 450-room luxury all-inclusive resort, opened in July. It has tropical landscaped grounds, an Olympic-size swimming pool, tennis courts, casino, onsite PADI dive and watersports center, restaurants and more.
The Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort & Casino has completed a $20 million renovation of its guest rooms and bathrooms, suites, Palms Restaurant and Bar, and open-air lobby bar. It hosted a soft opening in October, and is set to officially debut the new look in early 2008.
The Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort Aruba has almost completed a $3.5 million renovation of all guest rooms and public areas. Guest rooms received new furniture and tiling, bathroom appliances, modern kitchens with granite countertops, and flat-screen TVs.
JetBlue Airways this summer started the first-ever Saturday service from Boston Logan to Aruba and added three more flights per week (on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday) as of November 1.
American Airlines reinstated nonstop service from Boston Logan in October and offers service every day but Monday and Wednesday.
Spirit Airlines began Saturday nonstop service from Fort Lauderdale on November 10.
United Airlines will increase service from Washington Dulles to six times per week as of December 15.
For more information on planning a trip to Aruba, visit www.aruba.com or contact the Aruba Tourism Authority at 800-TO-ARUBA.