Reboot – Part 2

Aruba Beaches blog is celebrating 10 years of existence which is why a relaunch celebration. Following, I will outline what will be coming to this website in the coming weeks and months.

Reflection

This website will transition from opinion, newsy, real estate, weather related content to a more featured content, showcasing the best or quirkiest Aruba has to offer to most travelers. I will continue to feature “popular” content, but won’t shy away from featuring interesting, not so typical content that I feel deserves some attention. For instance, did you know that Aruba has a vineyard? I’m working on that piece.

Aruba grapes
Locally grown grapes for Aruba wines

The time between Reboot – Part 1 and this post, I spent, for the most part, going through 10 years worth of data about what content readers accessed most and what was accessed least on this website. Additionally, I went through old comments and emails to help me get an overview.

Continue reading Reboot – Part 2

Reboot – Part 1

Back in 2007 I began writing about Aruba tourism and local weather on this website and did so until 2011. It has been silent ever since…..sigh. Ten years is a long time for a website to exist, that’s for sure. Ever wonder what happened ten years ago? I did. If you are curious, check out the year 2007 according to On This Day.

The reason for keeping this website up all these years is simply because some readers appreciated the content according to their feedback.

In all fairness, I made sure to respond to most comments and emails, additionally, I made sure to update several posts in order to reflect current information.

Now I have decided to make a comeback and reboot the website. Allow me to explain.

Continue reading Reboot – Part 1

October Storm Forming In The Southern Caribbean, Headed For Aruba [Updated]


Storm near Aruba [image by Stormpulse]

Local weather service has issued an alert earlier today warning of potential heavy rainfall for the coming 24 hours. In this part of the world these kind of warnings are definitely unusual, causing some nervousness with some locals.

According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami this system has only 10% chance to become a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours. It’s a very slow moving storm at 10 miles per hours (16 KPH) headed west-northwestward.

NHC: “Regardless of development locally heavy rainfall and gusty winds are expected to continue over the windward islands, Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao through tonight.” As of 7:45 PM local time I can report that it’s dry and no clouds in the sky. Will be updated if necessary.

Updates below.

Update 1 – 9:55 PM: NHC raised the chances for this system to become a tropical cyclone from 10 to 20%. Still dry in Aruba. New imaged added with computer calculations.


New calculations on storm near Aruba [image by Stormpulse]

Update 2 – 7:00 AM 25 October: NHC upgraded the chances of this system to become a tropical cyclone to 40%. It started to rain modestly this morning. New image added.


Storm potential grows [image by Stormpulse]

Update 3 – 3:37PM 26 October: System moved without the expected rain. Island is still hotter than normal, waiting for the trade winds to pick up again to cool off the island.

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

Say What?!? Natural Bridge To Become The New Natural Pool

I’m sure the title grabbed your attention, especially if you are a frequent visitor to the island of Aruba. If you are not familiar with the story, here’s a quick recap.

Aruba’s number one tourist attraction, by far, was the world famous Natural Bridge, also known locally as Cura di Turtuga (freely translated to Turtles Cove). This bridge was made of limestone and was the largest of its kind in the Caribbean.

Fallen Natural Bridge
Recent image of Natural Bridge

Throughout the years it attracted millions of people who fell in love with this massive natural structure, including the relentless punishing it received from the waves. Usually people walked across and the more adventurous ones swam underneath, fighting the waves.

Unfortunately the Natural Bridge succumbed under its massive weight and collapsed on September 2, 2005. The same natural elements that created this bridge, proved to be equally lethal. The bridge didn’t stand a chance. Above image depicts how the situation is currently. Thousands of people still visit the bridge on a yearly basis. Despite the presence of another, smaller bridge, the magic is gone and will never be the same again.

Numerous people have asked me if I thought it was going to rebuild and fixed in its original form, which I answered with a resounding no. However earlier this week I read an article in a local paper  which suggested that there are plans in the works to revive the area. More specifically they want to create a natural pool-like structure.

To make this a reality is not that hard, I reckon. Just remove some rocks in the middle to let some water pass through and voilà. The question is, do we need and want a Natural Pool there? It still attracts a lot of people as is and if you build something where people will stay longer, perhaps it’ll change the whole scene there. I’m not sold on the whole idea, but I don’t hate it either.

I’m sure everyone has an opinion about this but take this into consideration: when Baby Beach was created and rocks were piled there to shut of the water I don’t remember reading about people complaining back then. Now, decades later, Baby Beach is one the most popular beaches in Aruba.

Police helicopter near Natural Pool
Helicopter hovering over Natural Pool

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.