Aruba Marriott Is A Teenager

Aruba Marriott is celebrating. It’s a teenager. Actually it’s been a teenager for five years. That’s right; Aruba Marriott is celebrating its 15 year existence in August. They are doing this by offering hot deals. I suggest you visit their website for more on that.

Since it opened in 1995 Marriott became one of the high profile resorts in Palm Beach, a trendsetter really. Till this day Aruba Marriott belongs to the principal hotel brands operating in Palm Beach. They managed to reinvent themselves, including a recent renovation of $50 million, adding high end “resort” Tradewinds Club on Marriott’s top floor.

Marriott Titles
New Marriott

The Marriott brand expanded beyond the hotel business alone. Marriott Vacation Club has been introduced on the island. In fact Marriott Vacation Club (Marriott’s timeshare unit) is now even bigger than Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, as the resort is called officially. Additionally, Marriott’s other brands are represented in Aruba as well: Renaissance and Ritz-Carlton (under construction). Kudos.

Aruba Hotel Managers Bullish

Hotel managers recently declared that they are bullish about tourist arrivals for the remainder of the year. Apparently booking is showing strong for certain sectors.

This is a welcome news as most hotels have had to cope with a drop in arrivals for some time. Having said that, September is quickly approaching and this the typical slow month.

View at Divi All Inclusive
Movements of tourists at Divi

Speaking of slow month, this is the month to look for discounted tickets and hotel fares. A quick search for Aruba Marriott for example I found whopping 40% discount for a room, with prices starting at $167. To find this offer and other visit Marriott’s deals page. Scroll down to see some offers.

A Walk Around Divi All Inclusive

Divi All Inclusive was so nice to allow me to walk around the resort and take a few pictures. I haven’t been there for a while and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by the facilities, in general.

The pool area is clean and have a modern look and feel. The rooms are all right, but I noticed that the bathrooms are a bit dated. It’s an all inclusive resort so meal are included. There is no room service though. From what I understand some people have had issues with the restaurants and flies. Maybe Divi needs address this by installing A/C in some open air restaurants or come with some other solution. This seems to be a legitimate issue.

View at Divi All Inclusive
Divi All Inclusive pool area

I haven’t been on Divi’s piece of beach in quite a while and must say that this beach is awesome. The quality of the sand is top notch and it’s very spacious with a limited number of objects or obstruction on the beach. Beware that the water there tends to be a bit choppy, but still good enough to swim.

View at Divi All Inclusive
Divi All Inclusive bathroom

View at Divi All Inclusive
Divi All Inclusive bathroom

View at Divi All Inclusive
Room at Divi All Inclusive

View at Divi All Inclusive
View outside room

View at Divi All Inclusive
Near pool of Divi

View at Divi All Inclusive
Divi’s pool with vintage Aruba palm trees

Aruba Hilton Returns

Back in March I wrote about the sad state of defunct Bushiri Hotel All Inclusive. This pioneer resort served also as hospitality school until its shutdown in 2003. It’s been vacant ever since.

Recently local officials announced they were in talks to developers who are seriously interested in acquiring ex-Bushiri Resort. It was also announced that they were connected to Hilton Hotels.

Bushiri reportedly becoming Hilton

If this group finalizes the acquisition and truly transforms Bushiri into Aruba Hilton Hotel it would mean the reintroduction of Hilton in Aruba. Aruba Hilton used to operate the building which is The Westin Aruba.

I’ve searched for an announcement or confirmation from Hilton Hotels but couldn’t find one.

Renaissance Aruba Renewing

A typical sight around resort during this time of year – off season – is of renovations. Hotels take advantage of the softer occupancy figures to renovate, this way avoiding as the inconvenience to the guests as much as possible. Currently there are several renovations on going, such as at Renaissance, The Mill, Divi Village, Divi All Inclusive, La Cabana, Paradise Beach Villas and Radisson.

Renaissance properties have undergone major renovations the last few years, especially the retail sector. Renaissance Mall and Renaissance Marketplace are looking good as a result. Speaking of Renaissance Mall they, recently changed the opening hours from 8 AM to 6 PM to 10 AM to 8 PM. This is a pretty normal trend. Customers tend to shop more during the 6-8 PM timespan than the 8-10 AM one. In the medium term, the still common Sunday-closure in Aruba is going to cease to exist as well. It’s just a question of time before this happens. On a related note, Renaissance officials announced that Starbucks is going to open an additional coffee shop in Renaissance Marina. Currently Starbucks operated a coffee shop in Renaissance Marketplace.

Renaissance Marina Aruba
Painters busy at Renaissance Marina Hotel Aruba

Right now Renaissance Marina building is being taken care off. The efforts are now being concentrated on new tiling and paint job. Mostly cosmetic. I don’t really expect any major structural (noisy) renovation to ruin your vacation.

Critics: Ritz-Carlton Polluting Palm Beach

Recently construction of the new Ritz-Carlton Aruba started. Currently the works for the foundation is being taken care off and the rerouting of the principle road the lighthouse. The rerouting is necessary to accommodate Ritz-Carlton’s new parking lot.

Herein lies the problem. The area this new road is going to be build on – including another traffic circle – is sensitive. It’s a sort of swamp. When it rains water accumulates there and the ground becomes soft. In order to make that area workable the sub-contractor hired by Venezuelan developer Desarollos Hotelco must drain the water with pumps.

Dirty water flowing in Palm Beach [image by Awe Mainta]

The dirty water is supposed to go down the street and evaporates later. I’m not sure where the sub-contractor is pumping the water. What I can tell you is that we’ve just endured two days of serious storms (1 inch of rain in two mornings) and if the dirty water was not taken care off, it washes into the sea, with all consequences. It certainly seems to be the case here.

The project has been controversial and political since the beginning. This project cannot handle any PR mishaps. Marriott International officials (Marriott International owns the Ritz-Carlton brand) must address this issue. They have to meet with the developer Desarollos Hotelco and make sure this doesn’t happen again. Neither the developer or sub-contractors are getting the blame, the Ritz is. Additionally, in the wake of sea pollution elsewhere people are wary on situations like this.

Even if the developer claims that the rain is the culprit, just the fact that people make these claims and the overall perception is bad enough.

Dirty Palm Beach, due to Ritz construction [image by Awe Mainta]

Water being pumped to Palm Beach? [image by Awe Mainta]

Key Largo Casino Opening

The cleanup efforts by Total Services still continues and I’m guessing they are starting to wrap it up. According to reports the casino is supposed to open next week, July 1st.

Apart from the acquisition by Ichan Group this is the first good news this development is receiving in years. The small casino is going to employ about 80 from which most are returning to their old jobs.

Defunct Key Largo Casino
Reports: Key Largo Casino opening July 1st

The other casino building, beside Key Largo, is going to require about 21 million dollars in renovations. This sounds about right. Apart from a carcas, there’s nothing there (below picture). Icahn is more of a casino investor than anything else. Expect something nice there.

Former Royal Cabana Casino
Old Royal Cabana Casino