AGENTS CAN REST ASSURED: SEND YOUR CARIBBEAN-BOUND CLIENTS TO THE HYATT REGENCY ARUBA RESORT AND CASINO (www.aruba.hyatt.com), and they'll come back relaxed and with much to rave about. The just-renovated hotel has intimacy and serenity happily coexisting with an action-packed casino and entertaining nightlife scene. The resort's superb dining selections and beachfront access will also win big with any type of traveler. In short, we found the resort to be pretty, lively, and peaceful all at once—the perfect option for couples, families, or groups celebrating any sort of special occasion.
Travel Agent paid a visit to the hotel (just a 15-minute ride from Queen Beatrix International Airport) this past month to view its recent $20 million top-to-bottom redesign. Evidence of the massive enhancements is first seen when entering the hotel's stunning open-air lobby. Intricate light fixtures, gorgeous white marble floors, sleek couches, and breezy sheer white curtains give the space an almost South Beach vibe—though guests are instantly reminded they're in Aruba by just a glance at the palm-tree-filled three-level pool complex viewable just off of the lobby, with the glittering Caribbean Sea as its backdrop.
All 360 guest rooms were upgraded and now include flat-screen TVs, iHome alarm clocks, and a "Caribbean-contemporary" décor in brilliant hues of orange and green. Bathrooms—now with scaled-back walls that give the entire space a more open, inviting feel—were also outfitted with rainshower showerheads and stylish marble countertops. Suggest that clients book Sunset Suites or Ocean Front King suites; we found them to be tranquil and well appointed with unbeatable views. Agent Insider
Request the Governor's Suite for your most discerning A-Listers. Found on the top floor—the Regency Club level—the space contains cathedral ceilings, two fully furnished rooftop terraces (both as large as regular guest rooms), a large living room and multiple bathrooms. Note: All guests on the Regency Club Level are offered complimentary breakfast, evening hors d'oeuvres and wine each day in the private lounge and have access to a dedicated concierge staff (who we found to be welcoming and accommodating) between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. This level is a non-smoking floor.
For families, the three-bedroom Orquidea Suites are unbeatable. Clients will enjoy a comfortable deluxe living room area—as large as three guest rooms and furnished with a conference table for eight—as well as a long balcony for viewing the stunning sunsets, a master king bedroom, and two queen bedrooms with French balconies.
The head concierge at the hotel is Arianne Brkovic-van Esta Tjallingii (011-297-586 1234, ext.4595 or [email protected]), a Member les Clefs d'Or. Contact her to arrange any special requests for your clients prior to their arrival.
Celebrate in Style
The Hyatt Regency Aruba is endlessly equipped to make any celebration special for its guests. Thoughtful staff members, led by General Manager Scott Allen (297-523-4510; [email protected]), can arrange activities and meals that start with a chauffeured limo ride and end with your client's favorite dessert and after-dinner drink, and it's those tiny details that will take your guests' experience up several notches.
For a special celebratory meal, guests have numerous options. Reserve a table on the outdoor patio at the hotel's signature Ruinas del Mar (Spanish for "Ruins by the Sea"). It offers imaginative twists on traditional Spanish-influenced cuisine and has a dramatic atmosphere: guests on the torch-lit patio are surrounded by a peaceful lagoon, where black swans and Koi swim peacefully, and bubbling fountains and a cascading waterfall create serene background noise. A rustic wall built from indigenous Calichi limestone, resembling a historic stone fort, also borders the patio. Clients ought to have dinner there at least once but should also sample the restaurant's lavish Sunday brunch (9 a.m. to 2 p.m.), which is popular with locals and during which we were overwhelmed with the selection that included breakfast classics, carving stations, amazing desserts and unlimited champagne and mimosas. Note: Clients can also enjoy gourmet Asian entrees at Café Japengo; yummy Northern Italian fare at the more casual Café Piccolo (try the Frutti di Mare Alla Piccolo) or fresh and flavorful South American food and an incredible drink menu at the lively Palms Restaurant, where they'll be treated to Latin dancers and live music.
Celebratory dining hardly ends there. Arrange a gourmet group brunch right on the beach underneath a palapa, where the resort's talented Head Chef Miguel Garcia can prepare melt-in-your-mouth pancakes and omelettes made to order (and he'll also keep clients entertained with his friendly and sparkling demeanor). Recommend an outdoor morning meal like this after a client's big night out or for their last day of vacation—it's unlike any meal we've ever had, and your clients will rave. For couples marking an amorous private occasion like a honeymoon or engagement, there's simply nothing else out there like the Hyatt's "Ultimate Experience" sunset cruise for two. The package includes a private two-hour sail for two aboard The Fiesta, a 62-foot catamaran, where they'll be treated to a five-course gourmet dinner (think stuffed lobster tails) cooked onboard for them by a personal chef. First-class service begins with a limousine ride from the hotel to the pier and a red carpet escort to the catamaran; they'll also sip Dom Perignon, as well as their preferred cocktails from the open bar, which will be pre-stocked with their choices. A saxophone serenade and a discreet, professional photographer complete the experience.
Though the hotel is glad to arrange rides into downtown Aruba, there's plenty at the resort to keep guests busy at night, including a bustling casino, live music and several outdoor lounges (we liked Alfresco Bar with its trendy décor and canopied sofa beds). Hyatt guests will also be thrilled at how close by most daytime activities are. In addition to the multi-room Stillwater Spa, the fitness center, and the three-tier pool (with the swim-up Balashi Bar and must-try waterslide), the hotel sits on the part of Palm Beach that's smack in the middle of all the action. Take advantage of the onsite adventure outfitters, Red Sail Sports (www.redsail.com), which has safe, knowledgeable guides overseeing diving lessons, snorkeling, deep-sea fishing charters, and every watersport you can imagine. Travelers can visit Red Sail's information desks both in the hotel lobby and on the beach or agents may call 877-RED-SAIL to make arrangements in advance. Large-group, family-friendly and full-day-with-meal itinerary options are available.
The hotel sits on the tiny island's northwest coast, and the Hyatt can arrange for jeep or ATV tours of picturesque island scenery, natural pools and rock formations, the California Lighthouse and the Baby Natural Bridge. Recommend that clients opt for taking a ferry ride to De Palm Island, where guests can dine outdoors, children can play at the waterslide park, adventure-seekers can try unusual water activities and lazy beachgoers can sunbathe at three different pocket beaches.