Aruba Vacation, Travel to Aruba
Romantic Getaway to Aruba
This Dutch island offers laid-back luxury lodging, clean beaches and rustic, dining gems sure to enchant vacationing couples.
The most surprising thing about Aruba was the fact that it surprised me at all. I’d somehow imagined the island to be filled with huge hotels and hordes of cruise-ship passengers, but was pleasantly surprised to find a program in place to preserve the beaches and protect the place from overdevelopment. Aruba turned out to be quite a romantic destination—and not just because of the white sand beaches, dreamy sunsets and mango daiquiris.
Rent a car and you’ll easily find your way around, driving on well-paved roads. Decide to go out to dinner, and choose between romantic spots in town, on the beach or all the way out on a pier. And while there are a few enormous all-inclusive resorts, there are lots of lovely low-rise places to stay—where the staff is as warm as the island breezes that continually blow (if you’re a woman with long hair, bring lots of ties and hats to tame your tresses in the trade winds).
The island has an exceedingly well-educated and well-traveled populace (every Aruban we met was fluent in four languages: English, Dutch, Spanish and Papiamento, the local tongue)—and they approach tourism very seriously. Many we spoke with spent their college years in Holland studying hotel or restaurant management. They have such a friendly and welcoming way of greeting tourists that many visitors come back over and over again. In fact, the couple sitting next to me on the plane was heading to the Divi Divi Resort for the 14th year in a row. Apparently, there are many such folk who are loyal to Aruba giving rise to the Goodwill Ambassador Award given to visitors who return for 20 consecutive years!
Romantic Aruba Hotels
With so many Arubans studying hotel management overseas, the island is full of hotels that are well staffed and well run. Many hold on to a smaller, island feel. Choose from a just-opened inland eco-lodge to three beachfront hotels, each with its own surprises.
Bucuti Beach Resort: Low-Rise and Low Key
While children can be charming, even parents sometimes want to vacation in a spot where the pool is splash-free and the beach is for grown ups only. The handsome Bucuti Beach Resort beautifully fills the bill. From the moment you walk into the breezy reception area where cold champagne comes with a warm smile, this adult-focused hotel is a pleasure.
Popular for weddings and honeymoons, the staff aims to please—and does. There’s a dedicated wedding planner named Nashette who works her magic for weddings big and small. While we were there, a couple got married on the beach at sunset—alone, with no guests.Even so, it was handled so elegantly and beautifully, we were happy to sip our drinks and observe from the sidelines.
Bucuti’s décor is tasteful and stylish with an elegant but beachy feel that invites you to put up your feet and relax. Our room, decorated in fresh white and walnut, was in the Tara Suites section of the hotel. The oceanfront patio was right on the beach. Bucuti’s stretch of Eagle Beach encompasses 14 acres—no rising at dawn to claim your chaise here. There’s always plenty of room.
Bucuti Beach also has a nice pool, spa, massage hut on the beach, outdoor fitness center and beachfront bar. The Pirate’s Nest serves breakfast, lunch and dinner overlooking the sea. And while the hotel is for adults, it’s not for exhibitionists or swinging singles—just nice couples looking to spend time together in a beautiful spot on the beach.
Rates start at $250 per night. L.G. Smith Blvd. #55B. Tel. +297-583-1100. www.bucuti.com
Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino: South Beach Style
The Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino is distinctive on the island in that it offers several completely different experiences. First of all, it’s right in the capital of Oranjestad, within walking distance of restaurants, casinos and more. It’s also attached to an upscale shopping center, should you want to add a little Gucci or Ralph Lauren to your vacation attire. What’s so cool? The South Beach-style infinity pool for starters. For adults only, it overlooks the open water on a terrace several stories up. With a lively adjacent bar called Blue, it’s a great spot to sip, swim and soak up the sun.
What about the beach? Just walk over to the boat dock right downstairs inside the hotel’s atrium where a launch picks you up and takes you to the hotel’s own idyllic private island. Once there, you’ll find a shop for beach essentials, a bar and restaurant—and two completely different beaches with everything from luxe lounge chairs to a roving flock of pink flamingos. In the middle is Spa Cove, reserved for beachfront treatments.
Renaissance Island was recently the setting for music mogul Timbaland’s wedding, attended by hundreds of lucky guests. This stylish affair was designed by Aruba’s extraordinarily talented party planner, Fernando Mansur. With several family-friendly hotels, too, the Renaissance has it all.
Rates start at $196 per night. L.G. Smith Blvd 82. Tel. +297-583-6000. renaissancearuba.com
Cunucu Arubiano: Chic, New Eco-Resort
We rented a car and drove around the island, longing to see the desert terrain Aruba is known for. On the wide-open North Coast, we found crashing waves, wild beaches, copious cacti and the brand new Cunucu Arubiano Eco-Lodge. Lovingly created by Eddy Paris, an Aruban with movie star looks and taste to match, the individual cottages are based on the native houses of Aruba known as cunucus. These luxurious little stucco houses are each decorated differently, including local artwork, museum-worthy wall murals and fabulous furniture.
The small compound is off by itself. Guests were raving about the starry-night skies, the solitude and the rollicking beaches nearby. There’s a small pool and a homemade breakfast is served each morning.
As if all this atmosphere weren’t enough, Cunucu Arubiano backs up to the owner’s donkey sanctuary where a group of volunteers give Aruba’s abandoned donkeys a home right out of a children’s storybook. Wander out and mingle with the newborns (there were two adorable babies in pens with their mothers when we were there), stroke the adults or just check in with this well-protected little pack.
Rates from $345 per night for doubles, June and July special of $245 per night. Santa Lucia. Tel. +297-594-4491. www.cunucuarubiano.com
Divi Divi: Beachfront All-Inclusive
I’ll admit I don’t like the idea of all-inclusive resorts. While they may be economical, I dislike the way they sequester guests away from the place they’re actually visiting. Divi Divi is not like this at all. With a series of low-rise buildings right on a spectacular beach, it offers everything but still feels like part of the island—and in an residential neighborhood. There are 10 dining options, seven bars, three pools, tennis courts and a sports center to enjoy. Regular buses can take you into town. There’s just no reason to leave.
Rates start at $412 per night based on a seven-night stay. Tel. 800-554-2008. www.diviaruba.com
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