Aruba has always been known to be a place distinguished for its white sand beaches, sparkling blue waters and luxury beachfront hotels. With the entire island exuding sheer magnificence, this little Caribbean oasis also has plenty of hidden treasures awaiting for those brave enough to explore it. Already known for being a quintessential vacation spot for the luxury traveler, the island accommodates those looking to combine both touristic luxury and authentic experiences. But I have to be honest, overpopulated Caribbean islands such as Aruba tend to be low on my list of places to visit. I've always been wary of the crowds and tourists who might overtake any authentic experience I was trying to find. It wasn't until I traveled to Aruba when I came to find that in recent years, the island had fallen off many travelers’ radars some time ago. with people flocking to other nearby Caribbean Islands instead. But for those who still find themselves traveling to Aruba these days, are finding that the island now boasts a more low-key, quiet holiday while still encompassing superb services and luxury vacationing. As much as this island is easily a place where one can go, relax and unwind solely in the comforts of one’s hotel, Aruba also offers a more authentic side of herself.
Enter Stephanie Roojakkers, whose mission on the island is to offer a more real Aruban but upscale vacation experience. Manager of the high-end boutique hotel, Boardwalk Aruba, Roojakkers revisited the island six years ago where her sister and her had a distinct vision of creating an intimate hotel that provides guests a place away from the overcrowding of the resort areas. Boardwalk Aruba is perfectly situated just a stone's throw from the beach, yet is tucked away just enough from the business of the beaches. With an idyllic location, the hotel's inviting aesthetics are meticulously presented to highlight the already noteworthy tropical environment. It's a hidden haven that provides customized itineraries of activities that utilize strictly Aruban-based businesses.
This is how I ended up in downward dog on a paddle board at Vela Sports, an activity center located in the nicest part of Aruba's relatively uncrowded Palm Beach. The team at Vela Sports plays an integral role in providing travelers real Aruban experiences through its extensive selection of adventurous activities and water sports, allowing guests to have choices of discovering Aruba through a plethora of fun options.
Now if you want to go local, you have to ask a local- which is how I ended up finding Yemanja Woodfire Grill. Set up in the heart of downtown, Yemanja’s romantically lit restaurant draws in both local and foreign crowds. The entire place is a perfect symbiosis between luxe contemporary decor and tropical island vibes. The menu features Caribbean- European influenced plates with a creative blend of dishes that are deliciously cooked on a wood fire grill. Executive Chef and Owner, Joyce de Cuba-Hüsken states it perfectly by describing it, “…Like you literally have Aruba on your plate.”
With being so close to the equator, you’ll most likely find yourself at some point avoiding the rather intense sun. Now, as much as staying out of the hotels does allow you to find other ways to experience Aruba, there is nothing quite like a spa inside of a luxury beachfront hotel. ZoiA Spa sits comfortably nuzzled inside the Hyatt Regency Aruba, boasting exotic exclusivity through its beautiful walkways, scenic ocean views and lush greenery that engulfs you in its tropical oasis. With a distinct charm, ZoiA Spa provides you with an intimate spa experience that encourages guests to unwind from the stresses of home with the ultimate privacy and seclusion from the outside world. The spa has enjoyed its earned reputation as a treasured gem among Aruba’s spa resorts and is one that should be atop every luxury traveler’s list. If there is one thing I am a sucker for, it’s a palatial spa treatment.
Now of course, one cannot leave Aruba without seeing it from a different perspective.
offers you unobstructed views of Aruba's year round spectacular sunsets with panoramic views sweeping across the Caribbean Sea. Although the cruise is filled with plenty of rum punch and dancing, it is also set up for those looking for a more relaxed cruising experience to wind down the long days in the sun.
With paradise at one's fingertips, it is no wonder that Aruba continues to be one of the Caribbean's most idyllic luxury holidays. The island has now found its longtime guests mingling with a new generation of wellness-conscious travelers who are also now being drawn to Aruba’s oceanfront oasis. When traveling to an exotic Caribbean island, I find that there is an unspoken unanimous search of people yearning to experience intimate settings of island culture, cuisine and services; which in Aruba, you will most certainly find. But to fully appreciate all the limitless luxury that this little island has to offer, one of course…needs to experience it.