Sherbert hues: A shopping complex in
Aruba’s colorful capital city of Oranjestad
Aruba is arguably the most pleasant of
Caribbean islands, with its pleasant climate, pleasant people and
pleasantly surprising food. Given its 4,000 rooms all within a few
miles, it’s also one of the few islands that can host meetings of
larger than a few hundred participants.
This year, Aruba became an even more attractive host with the
launch of Meet Aruba, a new marketing effort
spearheaded by the Aruba Hotel and Tourism Association. This
private-sector initiative will work with the existing Aruba
Convention Bureau to draw meetings and incentives.
Dec. 31, 2006, is the new date by which all travelers to the
Caribbean (except for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) will
be required to have a passport. Planners would be wise to recommend
that attendees begin the process of getting their documents
Also noteworthy: As of Sept. 13, 2004, meetings in Aruba are
tax-deductible for U.S.-based organizations. The move comes as a
result of Aruba signing the Tax Information Exchange Agreement with
the United States.
Several new flights are serving the island.
American now flies nonstop twice daily from Miami.
Continental has added two Saturday flights from
the New York City area, including a nonstop from LaGuardia Airport.
United introduced three weekly nonstop flights
from Chicago, and US Airways now flies four times
weekly from Boston.
Morgan’s Island, a splashy $20 million,
750,000-square-foot water park with a pirate theme, is scheduled to
be finished in September 2006.
The 600-room Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort Aruba
invested $5 million this year to renovate 200 guest rooms and some
public areas. The rest of the resort will be renovated in 2006 and
The 391-room Grand Aruba by Occidental reopens
Jan. 16, after $20 million in renovations. Highlights include a spa
and meeting space for 950 attendees. Before the makeover, the
property was an Allegro by Occidental.
The 360-room Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort &
Casino is planning to undergo an extensive, whole-property
renovation and upgrade, but the details still are being ironed out.
The property features 9,245 square feet of meeting space.
The 358-room Radisson Aruba is building a
15,000-square-foot freestanding spa, with opening anticipated in
November 2006. One of the property’s three hotel towers might be
renovated into a spa tower within the next few years.
If the pending deal is finalized, a 220-room
Ritz-Carlton would become the island’s first
luxury property. The proposed resort would also have a casino.
Riú Hotels and Resorts recently purchased and now manages the
Aruba Grand as an all-inclusive resort with 171
rooms and 4,800 square feet of meeting space.
Divi Resorts, a collection of all-inclusive properties ideal
for small, affordable meetings, is investing in major
" The 162-room Divi Village Golf and Beach
Resort opened 52 golf villas this year to coexist with its
new nine-hole course.The property has plans to open 30 more such
villas next year.
" Guest rooms at the 123-room Divi Dutch Village Beach
Resort were thoroughly renovated this year.
" At the 101-room Divi Aruba Phoenix Beach
Resort, plans call for the addition of 140 rooms and
suites, an open-air restaurant and a swimming pool. Work should be
finished by summer 2007.