[VIDEO] The Rising Star of Aruba Hotels

There is a new sheriff in town. A new top rated hotel has manifested itself at the number 1 position of the defacto leadership board in Palm Beach and Eagle Beach hotels.

According to TripAdvisor, the highest ranking hotel in Aruba at press time is Ocean Z Boutique Hotel Aruba. This small hotel exists only since 2015 and has risen to the top of the heap fast.

Continue reading [VIDEO] The Rising Star of Aruba Hotels

Highly Rated Vintage Manchebo Beach Resort

The inventory and diversity of resort hotel properties in Aruba are fairly extensive. Most prominent hotels are located in either the top rated Eagle Beach area or ritzy Palm Beach. Either way, the mash-up of places to stay in Aruba is remarkable.

As remarkable as the places to stay in Aruba can be some resorts can get, some hotels don’t get the attention they deserve, in my humble opinion. Such a resort is Manchebo Beach Resort.

Continue reading Highly Rated Vintage Manchebo Beach Resort

Alhambra Casino and Shopping Bazaar Construction Update

Alhambra
Main entrance at Alhambra Casino

A building in bad need of a renovation is certainly Alhambra Casino and Shopping Bazaar, as it is officially called. Located in the heart of the Divi properties in the low rise district, this project was virtually abandoned by owner Divi Resorts for many years. Off course Divi is busy expanding and renewing their other resort properties on the island.

Currently, the renovation work is focused on the outside of the main building. A brand (grand?) entrance has been build, while the outer walls are getting a once over. Divi announced recently that it close the sports lounge inside to completely rebuild that area.

The shopping area has advanced to the roof structure now. Generally this means that the construction is 25% advanced. The rest generally takes longer as detailing takes a lot of time. This is going to take a few more months to complete it seems. Divi insists that the casino remains open for operation.

Alhambra
Front entrance Alhambra Casino

Alhambra
Building material in front of Alhambra

Alhambra
Construction at Shopping Bazaar continues

Quick Hits #2: Natura Aruba, Coral Pyramid, Coach New York, Super Food, Mambo Jambo, Blue Residence Club, Aruba Millennium

After last week’s Quick Hits post containing updates on a wide variety of projects currently ongoing in Aruba, I decided to write a sequel. I’ve received an avalanche of emails from people asking me to write more about other projects as well. Gladly. Here is Quick Hits #2.

Something new I’m doing with these post now is linking to various sites relating to the subject matter, hopefully making the content more useful. Note that all links will open a new tab or window.

Natura Residences Aruba
Natura Residences Aruba [Image by Natural Residences website]

Natura Aruba

A few years ago many new condo projects start popping out of the ground like wild mushrooms, however, most of them never materialized due the economic crisis. Fact is that financing dried up and most projects paralyzed or stopped altogether.

Until now that is. The money-flow for new condo developments seem to have restarted and a new project has presented itself: Natura Residences at Eagle Beach Aruba. Construction has started and is located between Eagle Beach and Palm Beach, north of Blue Residence Club (defunct The Cliff Residences) and south of Divi Phoenix Aruba timeshare towers.

The developer of Natura Residencias (note the spelling in the logo is in Spanish “Residencias”) is Natura Development, a company registered at the Chamber of Commerce on January 30, 2007 and a local national and a Venezuelan, according to official records. The sales office is located in The Village mall (in Palm Beach across Radisson Resort). The Village is (co-)owned by the same local national mentioned above.

The increase of development and construction in Aruba comes inherently with criticism, from both locals and tourist. While I’m not going to get into that topic right now (this post is called Quick Hits) I want to emphasize that this development is different from what’s we’ve seen recently on this island. In fact it reminds me more of the Boardwalk on steroids. Natura’s going to to feature 20 units (or town houses as they are called nowadays) which is going to have a different architectural style and overall theme in comparison to other projects. It certainly won’t high rise development and the theme is more earthy and Caribbean.

I visited the construction site the other day and observed construction of what seems to be two model-units. The rest of the terrain is empty.

Coach New York

Renaissance Mall Aruba continues its focus to attract more high end tenants for its luxury brands mall. After seeing Salvatore Ferragamo left Renaissance Mall in favor of Palm Beach Plaza mall, a prime spot came open. Now luxury apparel brand Coach New York is opening its door before the end of the year.

Super Food

Super Food is currently located on the main road going to the hotel area, just before reaching the low rise hotel area, across the street of defunct Bushiri Resort. Super Food has big expansion plans and is building a brand new facility east of Tropicana Aruba and west of Sasaki Apartments. Formerly Adventure Golf miniature golf and Black Hog Saloon were located there. After a long construction delay (which is normal in Aruba) Super Food recently started the construction.

This supermarket seems to target now not only the local shopper, but more directly the tourists as well. Apart from groceries, bread and meat, they are offering rental spaces for other merchants to open shop there as well. Think of a farmacy and florist.

Mambo Jambo

Iconic bar and restaurant Mambo Jambo has been sold. Owner Aruba Wine and Dine lost confidence in the project after losing business due to the move of clientele from down town to Palm Beach area. The new owner, who has experience in this field, said he’s planning to turn things around. The name “Mambo Jambo” is likely to disappear.

Blue Residence Club

The original project was called The Cliff but the project ultimately was abandoned. The Cliff was under development by Venezuelan Pering Group, which was simultaneously developing Oceania Condominium. Oceania Condo was delivered but The Cliff didn’t make it.

A few years has gone by and Pering decided to give another go. They changed the name to Blue Residence Club but the logo and plans shows similarities with defunct The Cliff condo. This is going to be a relatively tall building consisting of 127 units. The plans on the website suggests four models, the smallest being 1024 square feet (95 square meter) and the biggest 617 square feet (297 square meter). Very spacious. Unit prices start at $418,000.

Aruba Millennium

Low budget resort Aruba Millennium, located off Palm Beach, has been up for sale for some time. Last year the property exchanged owners and is now owned by Venezuelan investors. Soon after the property was officially acquired, renovation work started, only to stop just as quickly. It’s been sitting without any activity for months.

Closing

Lastly a final word of advice from me: if you’re in the market for condo property, beware of notorious construction delays and moving deadlines.

Most legal documents are in Dutch (Aruba’s official language). You cannot demand English or Spanish documents as Dutch is our official language. Just pay a guy to have look at it. It’s puzzling for me to see how many people refuse to hire a guy for $1K or so to go through the documents while on the other side are more than willing to commit $300K option to purchase, sometimes without having a clue what the contract says. Buyer beware.

Quick Hits: Alhambra Casino, Tropicana Resort, Linear Park, Oasis Condo, Acqua Condo, Costa Linda, Taste of Belgium, Ritz Carlton, La Cabana

In terms of tourism development at lot went on during my 6 month absence, as you can image. This post is especially interesting for the repeat visitors to Aruba or just for the one who are curious by nature. I’m touching each project briefly just to get you up to speed. At a later time I will elaborate on the individual projects, including several pictures. Let’s get to it.

Alhambra Casino

The construction at Alhambra Casino has been ongoing for the better part of the year. Currently work is being done at the main entrance which is on the east end. On top of the main entrance a dome is being build to give the casino entrance a grand appearance.

Ritz Carlton Aruba Construction
Construction at Ritz Carlton Aruba

On the eastern part a new section is being constructed, which seems to going to function as a storage room or staff area. The parking area is completely finished, including new asphalt pavement, desert landscaping and LED parking lights.

The shopping area that use to be there was razed to make place for a new, better organized shopping area. The retail section still needs months of construction. Only food retail business to remain open during construction is Subway restaurant.

Tropicana Resort

Renovation at Tropicana Resort is ongoing, at a slow pace it seems. The old temporary banners with the resort titles made place for more permanent titles. Tropicana chose for a retro design using white letters on top circles with green background and gold trim for the second part of the resort name. The casino’s name is now Trop Casino. As of today the casino hasn’t resume business. The restaurant there is open for business. By the way I saw a couple of juicy deals on their website for the coming months. Have at it.

Linear Park

The island government has pushed for the construction of a linear park across the street from Talk of the Town Resort (this resort is located on the way to Oranjestad, Aruba’s capital, just after the airport). The linear park is an open and accessible park for locals and visitors alike.

The first contours of the park are becoming visible and I must say that I’m actually pleasantly surprised at the first shapes of this park. I could see myself hanging out there with the family. The complete plan entails the largest linear park of the Caribbean connecting the park from Talk of the Town to the hotel area by the beaches.

Oasis Condo

Oasis is practically finished, with only a few more minor details that need some work. The way things are going I believe guests could be arriving weeks before year’s end. It really looks nice. I’ll have to tour the place to see the quality in the detail and finish.

Acqua Condo

Construction at Acqua Condo continues to be ongoing, but not without the well documented issues. This time the issue isn’t the construction itself, rather the fact that some buyers are complaining about getting a different unit than initially was agreed upon. Sigh… By the way, I read that on a forum.

Costa Linda

This is the first major renovation of the 90s build resort, Costa Linda. Construction is full ahead and ongoing. Nothing else to report here.

Taste of Belgium

Taste of Belgium Restaurant (same owners as Cilo City Lounge, Papillon Restaurant, Taste of Belgium Bistro and a catering business) is under construction at Palm Beach Plaza Mall. This ambitious group is expanding rapidly and are now competing with another fast expanding group of restaurants Aruba Wind and Dine.

I have always been a fan of Taste of Belgium and related restaurants. You should check them out. They have a great Facebook page with up to date pictures of the construction at Taste of Belgium Restaurant.

Ritz Carlton

North of Marriott Resort, construction of Ritz Carlton continues without novelties. This luxury resort is expected to be delivered somewhere in 2013.

La Cabana

Construction at La Cabana continues. Big parts of the resort has been delivered, including the front facade and lobby. I think the renovation should help La Cabana fix issues it had recently due to the previous lack of maintenance.

These are just a couple of developments I covered, many more to come in the coming time. I’ve added some links for your convenience. Have a great week.

The Aruban Resort Status Unchanged

The Aruban Resort has been in the news for a few years now. The biggest news was when the years long “marriage” between La Cabana Resort and La Cabana Villas came to a bitter end in 2007. A Las Vegas, Nevada company acquired the resort and changed the name to “The Aruban Resort & Casino at Eagle Beach.”

It didn’t take long for the “new” resort to get into trouble. The timeshare unit reported problems and Food & Beverage also reported issues. Infighting between the partners on the one side and between the operator and staff on the other side made everything come down. In 2009 bankruptcy followed and closure.

The Aruban Resort (Ex-La Cabana Villas)
The Aruban Resort at night, image taken August 2008

After the intervention of the island government the resort reopened under an interim management. Meanwhile the bankruptcy process continued until investor Icahn Partners acquired the whole property during an auction earlier this year for a bargain price of $20 million. Currently The Aruban Resort is open for business, less the promised – and much needed – investments. Till this day many former staff is still waiting for compensation.

As I suspected back in May the new name of The Aruban Resort is Tropicana Aruba Resort and Casino. Earlier this month the website of The Aruban Resort was changed into Tropicana Aruba Resort and Casino. In person, however, nothing has changed, titles remain outside remain The Aruban Resort.

Epic: Aruba Hyatt Regency 20th Anniversary

This month Aruba Hyatt Regency is celebrating its 20th anniversary in the Aruban market. Hyatt arrived in Aruba in 1990, contributing to the economic expansion of the tourism related investments of the early 90s.

Hyatt has maintained a consistent high product quality throughout the years. Till this day Hyatt is considered to be one of the top tier resorts in Aruba. I believe Hyatt still has the highest average room prices of all resorts on the island.

Hyatt Regency Aruba
Walk way on Palm Beach side of the resort

Going forward Hyatt decided to upgrade the facilities, as they recently concluded a multi-million dollar renovation to the suites. Additionally Hyatt appointed a new General Manager to run the resort. Hyatt seems to be ready for the coming years. I would like to congratulate Hyatt, with a huge mention to the staff.