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Tropical Tidbits
by Sue C Travel

What’s new on Aruba? Lots!

I often visit Aruba to sleuth out what’s new to enlighten my readers so that they can get a true picture of the “One Happy Island” vibe. So this edition is all about one of my favourite tropical spots and what to check out on island now.

Accommodation News

Divi & Tamarijn All Inclusives is one of the island’s oldest and most well-respected resort complexes and they have seriously upgraded their offerings with a brand new wing of 60 gorgeous rooms on the Divi side overlooking a brand new pool, cabana lounge and beach bar. The have also added a new restaurant – Pure Lime, an exceptional little authentic Mexican style gem with a fresh new vibe and excellent food. Both resorts have totally refreshed lobbies, and the Tamarijn has completely redesigned their main buffet to include a wide range of new food stations and a modern new seaside dining area. Guests have access to both resort’s multiple restaurants and bars with free shuttle transportation.

Hilton has taken over the iconic Radisson on Palm Beach, and now they are ready to receive guests with refreshed rooms and suites, a new lobby and all kinds of improvements. They also have opened the new spa Eforea on site- don’t miss their signature treatment of hot stone massage with local rum and aloe. And Boardwalk Hotel- a small luxury boutique oasis behind the Aruba Ritz-Carlton, now offers their guests a delightful dedicated beachfront right across the street.

New Luxury Villa Rentals

Though it might seem pricey to rent a luxury villa on vacation, you’d be surprised at how little it can cost if you go with a group! Such is the case with Villa Royale Aruba- a glorious hilltop three-story mansion that sleeps 20 people. The views are incredible and the pool area is insane- like something out of a movie star’s home. Each of the nine bedrooms have their own bathrooms, and the massive kitchen has all you need for entertaining. A formal dining room seats 20 and there’s also an alfresco dining terrace as well. You can also have it staffed for an additional cost.

Casita Alistaire is another unique option that sleeps up to 8 people out in Savaneta. It’s an overwater villa with all kinds of unique sea access like hammocks in the water, over-sea swings and a huge deck for just jumping into the aqua, fish-filled surf. The interior is out of this world creative; the owner is an artist, and it shows! There is also a grand piano within and a fully equipped kitchen.

New South Pacific Style Overwater Bungalows

The same owner as Casita Alistaire has also opened Aruba’s very first overwater bungalows on the site of her seaside restaurant The Old Man and the Sea. The restaurant still operates with reservations- famous for their fresh lobster right out of their wharf –but it has become more of a boutique resort with 15 new overwater bungalows planned for this year. There are three for rental at the moment, with two also on the beach. Each is decorated with the owner/artist’s unique vision, and some have seaside hot tubs and in-water hammocks as well. Seek them out as The Old Man and the Sea Ocean Villas.

Dining News

Downtown Oranjestad has undergone a total transformation and attractions are now serviced by a free eco trolley, which starts at the cruise port. Wilhelmina Restaurant is an anchor of one of the new neighbourhoods, and next door they have just opened a new tapas and cigar lounge. Look for new little boutique spots like the fun Moustachef where you pay by the kilo for authentic local lunch fare. Cuba’s Cookin’ in the Renaissance Marketplace also has exciting new live Latin dance shows and the downtown marina now offers live outdoor entertainment every Wednesday night.

New on the Palm Beach strip is +297- a South Beach style eatery and lounge with a great a sushi bar and all kinds of creative tapas and cocktails. And Amuse Bistro- formerly on the Palm Beach strip- has now relocated to a stunning new overwater location just past the airport. Now called Amuse Sunset Restaurant, it’s well worth the drive for incredibly creative cuisine, and the setting during sunset is absolutely surreal.

San Nicolas Renaissance

The little town of San Nicolas is seeing a massive rebirth with a new avant-garde art walk and new installations like the Museum of Industry, new art galleries, eateries and a new carnival workshop to come. You can also get a taste of carnival every Thursday night with the Carubbian Festival when their main street comes alive with parades, bands, and local arts and eats. On Baby Beach nearby, JADS Dive Center complex is building a new VIP infinity pool bar and lounge to cater to visitors seeking upscale seaside fun.

The New Face of Snorkeling

I’m an avid snorkeler, and when I recently had a chance to try this new full-face snorkel mask during an outing with family-run Aruba Watersports Centre (AWC) I was over the moon when underwater! I highly recommend their sail to the wreck of the SS Pedernales- the remains of a freighter hit by a German sub during WWII. I could see it so clearly without ever worrying about water seeping into my mouth or eyes; I almost forgot I was snorkelling! AWC also offers an incredible parasail over the wreck. I highly recommend them for all kinds of water sports, they are located on Palm Beach. 

Award-winning travel journalist Sue Campbell is based in Montreal but makes it her business to be on top of everything cool, hot, and new under the sun throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. World Traveler welcomes her as a new regular columnist. Follow her on twitter @suectravel. 

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