Heaven Under The Sun

Many organizations urged travelers to boycott the Caribbean island of Aruba after Natalee Holloway's disappearance on May 30, 2005. But more than 4,000 more sun seekers hit Aruba's shores last year than in 2004. And there's no reason to believe that vacationers won't continue flocking to the Dutch province, especially since $274 million was invested in the island's tourism industry this year. A Tierra del Sol condo (top); a room in the resort spa (bottom)

One common misconception is that Aruba, which has the highest repeat visitor rate (40 percent) of any Caribbean island, only offers lodging in the form of chain and boutique hotels on the beaches.

Situated on the northwest point of the island, the Tierra del Sol Resort & Country Club is different. Offering villa and condominium rentals, it resembles a Mediterranean-esque hillside village with red-roofed homes. The resort's coup de grace is its 18-hole golf course.

The condos and villas vary in size and design, but each includes a fully equipped kitchen, family room, patio and barbeque, making the resort an ideal choice for families, couples, or even large business groups. The two- and three-bedroom condominiums are situated within three-story homes, and are rented at upwards of $295 per night during the off-season. The rate includes unlimited golf, but a no frills package without golf is available for $220 per night. Of course, all guests have access to the resort's pool.

Luxe Villas Have Private Courtyard with Hot Tub

The most luxurious rentals are the villas, single-family homes that have between two and four bedrooms. Rates for these plush accommodations, which include private courtyards with Jacuzzis, start at $425 per night for between one and four people (including golf) and $350 per night (no golf). The crème de la crème of the villas are Costa Mesa numbers 4-10, Mesa Vista number 21 and Colina number 5, which Ingrid de Marchena, director of operations, calls, "The best of the best." What do these villas have that the others don't? Private pools, outdoor showers, gardens with tropical flowers and stunning views of the crystal blue sea and/or golf course, not to mention antique furnishings and, in the case of Colina #5, a grandiose dining room table. If you want to secure any of these villas for your clients, Ingrid suggests booking a year in advance.

While you're on the phone with her, be sure to ask about the special car rental rate she can arrange for your client. At the airport, economy cars cost around $25 per day. But Ingrid can secure a luxury car for $175 per week.

If money is no object, Ingrid can arrange for a private chef to cook all of your clients' meals, as two models recently did when they stayed at the resort (Alicia Keyes has also stayed there). For guests who prefer to do their own cooking, Ingrid emails them a checklist of foods before their arrival. When the guests arrive, they will find that the refrigerator and cabinets are fully stocked with their requests.

Would your client prefer to spend time snorkeling rather than sautéing meat for dinner? No worries. The on-site restaurant serves lunch and dinner (the house specialty is crab and corn chowder). Ask Ingrid for the ultimate romantic experience, a candlelit dinner on the golf course.

Speaking of that 18-hole golf course, it was designed by the world-renowned links design firm Robert Trent Jones II. Running alongside the Caribbean Sea, it also includes a practice range, putting greens, chipping areas and a golf shop.

If your clients would prefer to conserve energy rather than exert it on vacation, the Body and Soul Spa is open daily and offers everything from massages to anti-stress body wraps and blow-outs. And for couples who just can't bear to be apart for even an hour of pampering, they offer side-by-side massages.

After a little bit of time on this paradise within paradise, your clients may end up becoming repeat visitors to Tierra del Sol.

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