Aruba Travel Guide
Andaz Hotels pride themselves on their connection to the authentic, local experience, so when we heard that they may be opening up far off the beaten track in Aruba, we got pretty excited.
Though it's still very much in the early, unconfirmed rumor stage, we hear a whisper that there may be a new Andaz coming to Isla di Oro in Aruba, a site thick with mangroves where there used to be a restaurant on the water reachable via a pier. From what we can figure out, Isla di Oro is a diving spot, so how they plan to construct a hotel here kinda makes our heads spin. We'll just wait to see if it actually happens. Our source says there will be a decision made in the spring.
A visit to the spa can really bring a sense of rectitude to the body and mind -- especially in these tough early January weeks. What we really like about the Hyatt Regency Aruba's ZoiA Spa, though, is that this virtuous feeling extends to the surroundings.
Open since 2012, ZoiA Spa’s architecture and design incorporates sustainable products and materials throughout the entire space. Fabrics are made from recycled materials and decorations make use of cork, recycled glass tiles, and qurt -- a granite-like stone made from seashells. The hotel itself has continued the sustainable ethos by recently becoming the first high-rise on island to install solar panels to heat water.
To say the Ritz-Carlton and Marriott companies are on their grind would be an understatement. We let you know they're moving forward with the long-feared-dead Molasses Reef resort in the Turks and Caicos, and various properties have been opening or renovated left and right.
One of the hotels we're excited about is the Ritz-Carlton, Aruba which we originally reported would open in 2014. When we were on island last fall, construction activity was in full swing. Therefore it comes as no surprise that Marriott International and Ritz-Carlton Hotels has released news that Aruba's first five-star resort will now open November 2, 2013, just in time for winter high season.
The 320-room hotel will have four restaurants, a 15-treatment room spa, two swimming pools, a 24-hour casino, and one of the island's largest meeting facilities. They'll also offer the Ritz-Carlton Club Level with 35 exclusive rooms, concierge service, and five food and beverage offerings. We're not sure what the upgrade price will be, but of our findings, the Ritz' Club Level is known as one of the better options.
Hopefully the construction schedule keeps up the pace and we'll see the new resort ourselves this fall!
[Photo: Ritz-Carlton Hotels]
Reality-tv stars Rachel Reilly and Brendon Villegas, met while filming "Big Brother 12" in 2010, got engaged less than a year later, and returned to do "Big Brother 13", which Reilly won. The couple went on to appear in the latest season of "The Amazing Race".
Well, they recently married in Los Angeles, and decided to honeymoon away from the lights of LaLa Land. The location? The Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino. The stayed at the resort's adults-only Tradewinds Club. This a separate section of the hotel, with only 49 rooms that enjoy Club Level-type amenities and perks. The couple also camped out sipping cocktails in a private cabana at the hotel's new 18-and-over H2Oasis pool.
Now, we know quite a bit about the Caribbean, and agree Aruba was a good choice for this couple for a few reasons:
To be fair, the hotel does offer free WiFi in the lobby. That’s better than what a great many hotels offer on this island where internet access is a pricey purchase, and hotspots are rare. Plus, Brickell’s room rates are pretty stellar as well at $135 a night (and from $115 when you book 60 days in advance), including Continental breakfast. And as long as you book a room AWAY from the pool that also faces the loud Palm Village Mall area, you’ll actually get some sleep. But we digress.
Any time there’s hotel construction going on in the Caribbean, we at HotelChatter adopt the island phrase “soon come” and just wait to see what develops. See, these things take time, so we never fully know when, or IF a project is going to be completed. So, when we were in Aruba last week checking out new developments, we were shocked to see a new Ritz-Carlton being built. Like, actual workers working. We had to wonder if we had had too much sun or rum. Or both.
While the traditional gift for a 15th anniversary is usually crystal, the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino will give out rewards points instead—15,000 of them.
To get the 15,000 Marriott Rewards Points, you have to stay at the Aruba Marriott on August 15, the resort's birthday. If we're at the hotel on that day, we'd see if we could put the 15K points toward a beachside massage or maybe some poolside cocktails.
Just because Aruba is a warm-weather holiday travel alternative doesn't mean you can't still partake in traditions while you're there. The Occidental Grand Aruba is really trying to get you in the spirit by offering Nutcracker performances at the resort starring Kiril Kulish, the Tony Award-winning actor who was one of the original boxer-turned-ballet-dancer title characters in Broadway's Billy Elliot.
Having the 15-year-old Broadway vet in the Aruba resort is rather random, but nonetheless pretty cool. You can see how his ballet chops have fared since he left the Great White Way at the all-inclusive resort on December 29. His free performance as the Nutcracker prince will be exclusively for hotel guests as part of a holiday package.
Note: Yes, we know those aren't the Jams shorts that we all rocked in the 80s. (Even you!) But let us fantasize, will ya?
Whether or not you’re a tennis fan, beach tennis — featuring tan, chiseled-chested men! — is the sort of spectator sport many of us can get behind. Throw in a trip to Aruba and, well, you’ve got the makings for a pretty fabulous vacation, if you ask us.
If you agree, consider the Aruba Marriott Resort’s Beach Tennis Tournament Package. Coinciding with Aruba’s 8th annual International Beach Tennis Event, to be held Nov. 13-15, the hotel is offering a four-night minimum stay that offers a $700 savings, which includes a free night’s stay and breakfast and other free goodies, like a one-hour beach tennis lesson from a beach tennis pro, use of the resort’s beach tennis court and paddles, and the chance to participate in the round robin tournament. The package also includes access to the opening night festivities, free drink and entertainment included, plus a beach tennis T-shirt and BBQ lunch.
Rates start at $339 a night (remember: the fourth night is free). To book the package, request promo code S3Q. Learn more about beach tennis at Arubabeachtennis.com.
Even in the heat of summer, tropical Aruba always sounds like a nice spot for jet setting, if you ask us. Like-minded travelers might want to consider the Aruba Marriott Resort, which completed a $50 million renovation earlier this year and is celebrating pretty much all year with a Relaunch Rate that skims 30 percent off regular rates.
You can book rates starting at $188 a night through Dec. 18; just be sure to request promo code NEW.
The renovation included a total makeover of all 411 guest rooms, the addition of a Ruth’s Chris Steak House, redesign of La Vista restaurant, overhaul of the lobby and reception area, and the creation of Tradewinds Club, a “59-room hotel-within-a-hotel” on the resort’s eighth floor. Tradewinds Club has a 1,900-square-foot lounge with terrace and includes VIP perks like private check-in, upgraded amenities, preferred spa and resto reservations, secluded beach area, free Wi-Fi, free food service five times daily (with open bar), and more.
Guests can book Relaunch Rates for the Tradewinds Club too, with those rates starting at $338; or upgrade even more to the Tradewinds Indulgence package. The package starts at $469 per night but offers the fourth night free as well as a $100 resort credit. Book the package using promo code P51.
We’ll admit that the press kit photos are pretty to-die-for. Anyone out there have any first-hand experiences with the spiffied-up resort? Share in comments below.
Rated by Tripadvisor as one of the "Top Ten Least Family-Friendly Resorts," the 104-room Bucuti Beach Resort featuring Tara Beach Suites & Spa caters to a lovey dovey, couples-only clientele. Couples flock to Bucuti’s "Dream Beach of the World" to get hitched or to honeymoon, and, according to the hotel, they return year after year for anniversaries, special occasions and vow renewals. (Bucuti’s rock star wedding planner, Nashette Wouters, is a bit of a celeb after her face was splashed on advertisements within the New York Subway system and on major billboards across the U.S.)
Bucuti’s Facebook page has become an instant hit with the resort’s frequent repeat guests who actively use the social networking site to connect with locals and other guests, as well as post photos, comments and fave memories from their stay in Aruba.
The page is definitely geared more towards delivering useful information – such as media mentions in Body & Mind and Spa magazines, a guest’s latest deep sea fishing catch or updates on “Perry,” the resident Peregrine falcon – rather than wheeling and dealing hotel promotions. Couples who’ve connected on past trips frequently use the site to reconnect with island friends and other traveling twosomes for future trip dates. The cyber-savvy folks at Bucuti have managed to create a fairly meaningful sense of online community that outclasses the cheesy bulletin boards typically found on couples-only resort sites, such as, well, Couples Resorts.
Well, we've gotta hand it to the Westin Aruba: they deserve creativity points for this one.
Apparently, there's a sizable contingent of business travelers who are sent to exotic destinations like Aruba or someplace equally as beachy, and they're so busy with the work obligations and meetings that they don't have time to stick a toe in the ocean.
And then Westin Aruba's Sand on Demand program was born:
As one in five business trips are taken for the primary purpose of attending a convention, conference or seminar, many road warriors only see the beautiful scenery of the destination from a window as a result of back-to-back meetings and functions. By offering personal under-the-conference-table sand boxes, The Westin Resort, Aruba is encouraging travelers to experience a sense of the island by wiggling their bare toes in authentic Caribbean sand.