Update Divi Phoenix Construction

Current Status Divi Phoenix
Latest picture of construction at Divi Phoenix Aruba

Divi Phoenix is busy expanding at various properties in the Caribbean. In Aruba they are currently expanding Divi Village Golf & Beach Resort and Divi Phoenix Aruba Beach Resort.

In a post last month I commented about the Divi Phoenix expansion and how much Divi Resorts helped this island get passed an embarrassment by taking over this project and developing it. After that it took Divi Resorts quite some time to expand beyond the current development. Divi Phoenix is a timeshare resort and a plausible reason for that delay is the lack of interest Divi Resort might have had selling that property.

Obviously this is no longer the case. Interest has picked up either by a general pick up in the timeshare sales market and/or efforts by the Divi sales team. They certainly have several off premises contacts around to sell the timeshare units.

Condominium Oceania Residences Aruba

The first wave of tourism in Aruba started with the construction of the first hotel, Aruba Caribbean Hotel & Casino (this building is operated by Radisson Aruba now), almost 50 years ago. The second wave was the introduction of timeshare units in the early 90’s and now the latest one is the construction of condominiums.

In recent posts I wrote about the rise of these new condo’s. I expressed specific criticism about the size of certain projects, the lack of information and planning by officials. I do want corner the tone in this post by commenting on the positive.

In my opinion the project that separate themselves from the competition is Oceania Residences Aruba at Eagle Beach. Architecturally and esthetically this project is sound. They capture the essence of what needs to be captured. A building that has 5 storey’s offers a more relaxed environment then a high rise, add some nice landscaping to create a Caribbean atmosphere by the beach and you’re in business. It’s like an oasis in the desert.

Currently Oceania has two phases almost finished and started with the other three phases. Sales of the condo’s seems to be going well too for a sum starting just over $300,000 for the smallest units. The first two phases are (almost) sold out and from what I could count on their website, phases 3, 4 and 5 are nearly 85% sold.

Not many buyers are using the place yet, it is still very quiet there. The pool area and the beach seems to be empty every time I pass by the building. I’m going to request a tour there soon to have a better look on things and be able to comment about it more intelligently. Maybe I could get some insider to share with you.

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.