You, my delectable little devotees, will know that I have previously published four posts in my Crème de Mexico series where I shared my expert opinion on the top resorts in Cancun, Riviera Maya, Los Cabos and Riviera Nayarit (with more Mexico destinations to follow soon).
I can only imagine how ecstatic you must be to hear that I have elected to apply my not inconsiderable talents to the island of Aruba. (I am sure that faint ripple of applause I hear trickling through cyberspace will reach a crescendo at any moment.) What say we start with a word or two about the destination itself before I unveil the lucky beneficiaries of my editorial favor? Hearing no objections . . . even with the now thunderous ovation I correctly predicted . . . I shall continue.
Centuries of Aruban history is summed up nicely in this one sentence on the Aruba Tourism Authority website, “What began as a fishing outpost for Amerindians has changed hands between the Spanish and Dutch throughout the centuries, and is now a diverse constituent country of the Netherlands.” Knowing my audience all too well, I feel comfortable in assuming that your interest in Aruba is more hedonistic than historical so that tidbit should suffice.
Let me list several compelling, and more contemporary, reasons why Aruba needs to wiggle its way to the top of your bucket list (I’m picturing a pail of slimy fishing worms but you don’t have to).
- Aruba has more than a dozen incredible beaches like Palm Beach, Eagle Beach, etc.
- Aruba is relatively easy to get to with direct flights from many US gateways.
- Aruba accepts US dollars and most everyone speaks English (along with Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish and even Papiamento (just in case you need to brush up)
- Aruba offers an almost endless supply of adventure sports such as: diving, kayaking, sport fishing, parasailing and . . . Tell you what. Just go here and you can look at five pages of adventure options.
- Aruba offers a surprising selection of food as their cuisine is influenced by 90 nationalities!
More about Aruba another time but we must return to the stated purpose of this blog post which is to give you five superlative options for your Aruban home away from home.
Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts
As stated above, my number one reason to visit Aruba is the array of incredible beaches. If you are an aficionado of boutique style resorts that cater exclusively to couples and adults and a world-class beach is a must, then this property is for you. Located on Eagle Beach, this hotel is owned and operated by the renowned hotelier Ewald Biemans. You know you are staying in a boutique hotel when the owner writes his own blog which you can read here.
But what if you are not only a beach bum but also a food fanatic? Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts has you covered there as well. Carte Blanche is Nirvana for serious food lovers. The restaurant only seats 16 (now that’s exclusive). You will want to make your reservation well in advance of your trip to ensure one of those coveted chairs. As the website explains, “The highlight is Owner/Chef Dennis van Daatselaar cooking a 5-course “Carte Blanche” (chef’s surprise) dinner right in front of you.”
If fifteen fellow diners still make you agoraphobic, Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts has the perfect solution. Simply book a private cabana like the one pictured above where you can choose from a specially designed menu for two. Now if even two people seems excessive, I am afraid you have psychological issues neither Bucuti and Tara Beach Resorts nor I can resolve in this space!
The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba
What say we move from the boutique to the bodacious? This property has 320 spacious rooms, each with a private balcony. It offers a 15,000 square foot casino open 24 hours a day for those of you still living the fantasy that next time you really are going to beat the house. If you really want to daydream a little (OK, I know you are reading this at work but I won’t tell your boss), check out the pictures on their website. I must say they are some of the most stunning you will see of any resort.
Here is a quirky little factoid. The incredible spa at the Ritz is also 15,000 square feet, the same size as the casino. What better place to recover from the lingering disappointments of the night before at the blackjack table? After your Awa Awakening Treatment and the “seven different indigenous local floral and herbal potions . . . created by a Caribbean herbalist,” you will be so mellow you will sneer in the face of your gambling losses. OK, maybe not sneer but at least stop whimpering.
Radisson Aruba Resort, Casino & Spa
The resort offers a nice selection of dining options but be sure you visit their signature restaurant, the award-winning Sunset Grille. What caught my eye was the fact that their extensive wine list has received the highly acclaimed Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator Magazine 10 years in a row. I have been known to savor a tantalizing red on a couple of occasions (weekdays & weekends).
Another unique feature of the resort is Biba Aruba each Tuesday from 5 to 9 p.m featuring Aruban food and culture, live music and carnival dancers.
Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba
Would you like to discover one of the nine hidden jewels of the Caribbean? Before you answer, let me clarify that this is not an invitation to participate in another hokey reality show where you get to betray your best friend and sleep with your arch rival. This is the term no less an authority than USA Today applied to Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba.
Though they have labored to obscure the fact with their name, I should point out that this hotel is small. Speaking as one who has yet to be asked if I am a professional basketball player, I have no problem with small. In fact, I am a big fan . . .metaphorically speaking . . . of casitas (small house in Spanish) which this property offers in spades. They are doing a lot of things right to be ranked 2nd out of 24 Aruban hotels on TripAdvisor (You know, that site where people go who have yet to discover this incredible blog).
Occidental Grand Aruba Resort (Royal Club)
I am going to wind up this list by sharing a little insider tip. If you book your trip to Aruba (through us, of course) at the Occidental Grand you will have a great vacation. But if you want to turn great into spectacular, pony up the relatively small difference and book the Royal Club.
The best way to think of the Royal Club is as a hotel within a hotel designed for those with a nose for value. Paying more is never a guarantee of getting more so it takes a degree of travel moxie to know when an upgrade is worth the difference. Take it to the bank (my bank, preferably), this is not the time to quibble over a few bucks. You get access to the Royal Club Restaurant, the Royal Club lounge, personalized check-in and a private concierge. Don’t forget the premium beverages and the free wi-fi as well.
The only problem I see with the picture above is the potential argument over who gets the side with the view. Although, I suppose you could argue that if you have chosen your roommate well, there isn’t a bad view!
If you have been to Mexico so many times, the consulate is calling and asking if you have thought about applying for dual citizenship, maybe it’s time to spread your wings. Aruba beckons and one of these five exclusive resorts has a room with your name on it.