Aruba’s popularity as a vacation destination is on the rise. According to MMGY Global’s 2017 Portrait of America Travelers, one in five travelers interested in visiting the Caribbean during the next two years has expressed a desire to go to Aruba. That’s the highest such number the island has achieved in three years, putting it on par with Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Gen Xers lead the way at 24 percent, with Millennials close behind (20 percent) followed by Boomers (18 percent).
It should be noted that this survey was conducted several months before Hurricanes Irma and Maria swept through the northern and eastern part of the region, so the fact that Aruba sits outside the hurricane belt was not necessarily a factor. Aruba rarely gets heavy storms or even rain in general; sometimes residents even pray for rain to avoid droughts.
Clients heading that way this winter and beyond will find some new and enhanced accommodations to choose among, including a private island retreat, over-the-water bungalows and the Aruba debut of an iconic hotel brand. Here are some of the details.
New Private Island Offering: Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino has announced new enhancements to, and offerings at, its Renaissance Private Island. To access this island, a host welcomes guests onboard a water taxi from the Renaissance Marina or Ocean Suites in Aruba and guides them through the various options, which include four private waterfront cabanas overlooking Flamingo Beach and five private waterfront cabanas overlooking Iguana Beach. There is also new lounge furniture, water and beach hammocks throughout the island, weekly “Dinner Under the Stars” events, sunset DJ music sessions, crafted cocktails at Mangrove and Papagayo, beach tennis courts and recreation equipment, and a prime snorkeling and diving location near an old airplane wreck.
The new private waterfront cabanas can be rented daily starting at $150 for the smaller cabanas (maximum capacity four guests) and up to $300 for the large ones (up to six guests), excluding service charge. This experience includes butler service, water floats, and a selection of beverages, sparkling wine and hors d’oeuvres.
The cabanas at Flamingo Beach are exclusively for adults and suitable for bachelor and bachelorette parties and couples alike. The largest cabana on Iguana Beach has a kids’ slide for younger guests. The resort’s concierge team, known as “Navigators,” can also coordinate customizable group and couples’ experiences, such as beachfront spa treatments at Spa Cove.
Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino is also working toward continuing this expansion in the coming year with a new wedding venue on Flamingo Beach, yoga and fitness classes, and overnight stays on the private island.
AMResorts to Open Over-Water Bungalows: Travel Agent recently got the skinny on AMResorts’ plans for a new Zoetry Resort in Aruba that will include the company’s first-ever over-the-water bungalows. In fact, all of the approximatey 130 rooms at the Aruba resort will be such accommodations, says Susan Lang, AMResorts’ regional sales manager for the Northeast. Lang tells us the Aruba resort will open in 2019.
Hyatt Place Coming Next Year: Hyatt Hotels will be opening a 116-room Hyatt Place Hotel by the end of 2018. This will be the first property of that particular brand on the island of Aruba (Hyatt Regency is already respresented). It will offer guests a mixed usage of office space, food court options, shops and restaurants. Although the brand primarily targets business travelers, the hotel’s location next to Reina Beatrix International Airport makes it a convenient base for exploring Oranjestad, with easy connectivity to other island attractions as well.
Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort recently unveiled the newly renovated suites and bungalows at its oceanfront Tara wing overlooking Aruba’s popular Eagle Beach.
Better-Than-New Wing for Adults-Only Hotel: This past summer, Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort unveiled the renovations of its oceanfront Tara wing overlooking Aruba’s popular Eagle Beach. The makeover included upgrades to the Tara lobby, lounge and all 44 beachfront suites and bungalows. Each “new” Tara and Bungalow Suite has a wet bar, and the Penthouse Suites have full kitchens. Guest bathrooms are completely remodeled and continue to incorporate vanity mirrors with built-in TVs. All totaled, Bucuti has 104 guestrooms, suites and penthouses
Commissioned neo-pop paintings from internationally recognized local artist Elisa Lejuez decorate the new accommodations. In 2014, Bucuti procured its Zen collection from the artist that is on display in Bucuti Wing rooms. Lejuez’s latest collection for Bucuti features her signature colorful patterns that mix Caribbean culture with Asian and African influences.
Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort also recently introduced a new “Romance Concierge” service to assist guests with arranging relaxing and private moments during their stay — such as turning couples’ spa treatments into oceanfront massages or exploring the island on off-road excursions.
Divi Dutch Village Continues Revamp: The second phase of an ongoing renovation project at Divi Dutch Village Beach Resort includes a new pool with underwater music and lights.
A two-sided bar provides endless libations with a swim up bar on one side and a sports bar feel on the other. Food service around the pool is available from Tiki Tiki Café. Surrounding the extensive new pool area are shady palapas in the sand, bringing the nearby beach right up to the pool, as well as luxurious white cabanas and plenty of comfortable lounge chairs.
New Wellness Retreat Package: Travel Agent recently visited the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino and uncovered some tips for spa-goers. The Massage de la Aruba at Mandara Spa is just the thing for relaxation, while the smoothing Elemis Tri-Enzyme Resurfacing Facial is designed to take years off one’s complexion.
For an only-in-Aruba experience, there’s the Aloe and Milk Bath Wrap. It incorporates aloe (Aruba’s top export) from Aruba Aloe, the oldest such factory in the world. The plant’s vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and amino acids work together with hydrating and smoothing milk to refresh the skin.
The resort is a haven for honeymooners, young families and other sun-seekers. And like its clientele, the resort’s room options are diverse. Everyone gets a beautiful beach view, but for the best bird’s-eye vantage point, opt for deluxe rooms on the eighth-floor, the adults-only Tradewinds Club. There, a private lounge is stocked with complimentary refreshments, and Tradewinds Club guests get use of an exclusive beach.
New York Eatery Coming: A new New York-style restaurant, Casa Nonna, is slated to open in early 2018, as an extension of The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba. The restaurant offers a mix of traditional Roman and Italian fare on Palm Beach.