Arashi: One Of My Favorites

Impression Of Arashi Beach

Arashi Beach is indeed one of my favorite beaches around. I like the water’s calmness, clearness and shallowness. Two days ago I went swimming and snorkeling at Arashi. After swimming I stayed there and just sat for about 1,5 hours, under one of those huts relaxing. Naturally I took the family and we enjoyed ourselves.

In a recent post about snorkeling I specifically wrote that Arashi is a good beach for snorkeling. Maybe I should have been more thorough and added that you need to be close to the corals and rocks to see better underwater life which you will find by Arashi and not at the beach itself.

Car Rental Companies Shuffled At Aruba Airport

Car Rental Companies No More
Car rental companies removed their titles at the airport

In order to control quality of the service offered at the airport by car rental companies, the airport authority decided to change a few things.

Back in the 70’s, 80’s the few existing car rental companies in Aruba used to have a booth inside the airport, just by the exit-doors at the arrival terminal. There were only a few rental companies at the time and tourism wasn’t that big so this system worked. Incidentally there might have been a squabble between security and the car rentals because of bad parking in front of the airport, but things worked out.

Aruba’s tourism started to grow, naturally more rental companies opened and requested, and granted, a booth at the airport. It reached a point that there wasn’t any more space and the airport was growing itself and they needed that real estate themselves.

As a result they decided to build little offices across the street in front of the airport to rent out to the car rental companies. They build a bunch of them, over 20 offices. These offices were, and still are, highly lucrative for a rental company, not to mention for the airport. These little offices bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for the airport.

Since about three years there has been a change in management. Aruba Airport is run by Schiphol Group (Amsterdam Airport in The Netherlands), and they send an executive to run things and he’s been very busy. He cleaned up the place. Financially and structurally the airport is in better shape. The new management wasn’t afraid to implement unpopular measures as a mean to reach important goals: profitability and continuity.

Management reviewed all contracts with suppliers, vendors, employees etc. The airport got a face lift, parking changed, big signs were installed, pesky taxi personnel is going to be checked more thoroughly etc.

And now it’s turn to take care of the car rental booths in front of the airport. Management is going to reduce the amount of booths from 20+ to 10. All companies that are interested must enter the bidding process and the 10 highest bidders get a space, thus win a concession for a few years. Rental companies need to comply with stricter rules regarding product and customer service.

This brings up some interesting questions. Is the airport going to get the same amount of money from the 10 companies that are returning as they got from the 20+ they had before? Apart from the bidding and rent is the airport getting a piece of the sales as well? Aruba airport already does this with the retail businesses inside the departure terminal. And are the car rental prices going to increase?

Within the next four to five weeks we will know more. Then all winning bidders will be known and we can learn more about the prices. The car rental companies that lost the bidding and don’t return can still do business at the airport and take advantage of an eventual price hike by the ten remaining car rental companies.

Condominiums Continue To Rise

Acqua Condominium Aruba

A rendering of what is going to be Acqua Condominium Aruba

Acqua Condominium Aruba 2

Titles and logo of Acqua

Acqua Condominium Aruba 3

Construction just started of Acqua, with in backdrop Marriott’s Surf Club

I drive by Palm Beach almost every day and I’ve been meaning to post about something I saw going on there for a few weeks now. In an earlier extensive post about the latest developments in properties in Aruba I objected about the amount and massiveness of these new condominium projects that are rising quickly. Take a look for yourself:

  1. Oceania Suites at Eagle Beach
  2. Goldcoast Villas at Westpunt
  3. Jardines del Mar at Eagle Beach
  4. The Sands at Eagle Beach
  5. Acqua Condominium Aruba at Palm Beach

Oceania Suites phase 1 at Eagle Beach is the only project that is partially finished for buyers to move in or use at this point. Goldcoast Villas is moving rapidly and construction is ongoing but far from finished. Acqua Condominium have just started construction (see above picture), while The Sands and Jardines del Mar haven’t begun building.

In many studies conducted and released by the tourism authority and statistics bureau time after time one of the more important reasons visitors travel to Aruba is for the quietness and the Caribbean laid backness (excuse that word for a lack of a better one).

The Dean of Tourism, Dr. Peterson, at University of Aruba in many publications has pointed out various directions Aruba could take in order to ensure a sustainable future in tourism. For example in one of his publications he mentions the underdevelopment of cultural tourism and lack of cultural entrepreneurship in Aruba. Not to deviate to much from the topic, I don’t remember Dr. Peterson suggesting the rise of condos as an important option forward. Slowly Aruba is starting to look a little bit like Miami Beach and Cancun with all that building that’s been going on lately.

Like stated in a previous post with a similar topic, my objections lies with the massiveness of these projects. Also the lack of information by officials about all of what’s coming.

Having said all of the above, these properties are already here or are in the pipeline and there is no way back. At the end of the day these properties are located on some of the best areas this island has got to offer and I must admit they look very nice. I definitely want to invite you to take a look at some pictures taken from one of the rooms at Oceania Suites at Eagle Beach.

Aruba Marriott Renovations Just Started

Aruba Marriott Renovations Just Started
Marriott construction

Aruba Marriott Renovations Just Started
Workers getting busy at Aruba Marriott

Recently I wrote a piece about hotels having the habit of starting renovations in the month of September, I’ve noticed that Aruba Marriott hasn’t begun. Well, up until yesterday that is. Renovations kicked-off at Marriott Resort yesterday October 1st.

The first thing they are ripping apart is the entrance-lobby. Right now they are taking the old hardware out. When it gets time to start rebuilding and, more importantly, drilling, is this noise going to affect guests? Are they able to keep the noise to a minimum level?

It seems likely due to the fact that I haven’t seen much price reductions by offering hot deals and the resort is going to remain open. The reconstruction is most likely going to be cosmetic more than anything else and the noise level might be kept to a minimum.

Suspended Passport Rules Back On

On January 1st of this year strict rules regarding passports came into effect for travelers going to the Caribbean, Canada and Mexico. US laws now require every US citizen leaving the country to carry a passport traveling to these before mentioned areas.

The US State Department was so overwhelmed with passport requests, that they couldn’t handle the load, thus decided to suspend this rule. Starting today the strict rules are back on. You need a passport to leave the United States (actually to enter the United States) when traveling to the Caribbean.

Officials in Aruba are negotiating with US Customs and Border Control (USCBC) to seek an exemption from these rules due to actual presence and legal status of USCBC in Aruba.

If you aren’t familiar with the airport situation in Aruba, I’ll summarize it.

Aruba airport has two departure terminals, one for “Non-US Departures” and one for “US Departures”. After checking in and getting a boarding pass from your airline you’ll then proceed through local customs and lastly pass through USCBC. As soon as you pass through USCBC that piece of terminal is considered American soil. Consequently when your aircraft arrives in the United States you will arrive at a domestic terminal.

For the time being, get your passport. Certain reports suggest it might take up to three months to get one in certain US cities.

It Costs $3000 To Get To Arashi Beach

In the last few posts I wrote about Arashi Beach and how great it is there. Now comes the key question: how much does it cost to get to Arashi Beach? Simple answer: US$3000,-

What is that? Could you elaborate? Sure. As a hypothetical case I took two adults traveling from October 13 to October 20 from Boston.

Air-fare: $1156 (2 adults, including taxes/fees) via usairways.com non-stop from Boston’s Logan International.
Note: if you’re traveling from different city, more southern in the US, the air fare is probably going to be lower; if you’re traveling from a more western city in the US the air fare is probably going to be higher.

Resort: $1197 (2 adults, including taxes/fees) via CheapTickets staying at Divi Dutch Village at Druif Beach.

Food: $420 (figure according to local statistics bureau)

Transport: $102 via Toyota Rent a Car for a 3-day special, gas $25.

Other costs (tipping, gift, etc.): $100.

Grand total: $3000.

Keep in mind that above calculation is just an indication of a random itinerary. You could stay less time, stay at a different resort, rent a different car (or none), travel from another city or country, etc.

There you have it, this is what three grand could get you nowadays in the world of travel.

Arashi Beach Guide Finished

The sub-title of this site is “latest news & handy beach guide”. I’m sure you’re wondering where those beach guides are, well, wonder no more. Today I publish the first: Arashi Beach Guide. I will ad fresh pictures in the following days and probably tweak a little here and there too.

I’m planning on adding a guide for all the popular beaches, Palm Beach, Eagle Beach, Druif Beach and Baby Beach, as well.