Earlier this month, Aruba eased entry requirements for all visitors as part of Aruba’s Path Forward to begin a shift to greater levels of normalcy. Travellers now have the option of providing either an antigen test one day prior to arrival or a PCR test up to three days prior to arrival or the option to travel with a digitally verifiable QR-Code proof of Covid-19 booster vaccination.
To get all the latest news, Travel Courier caught up with Ronella Croes, CEO of Aruba Tourism Authority, to discuss what’s new, why Canadians should visit and how travel advisors can ACE selling the destination.
Home to one of the “Top 10 Beaches in the World,” Aruba is the most revisited destination in the Caribbean, with more than half of all visitors returning year after year. Adventure meets serenity on this island, as the sandy shores of the world-famous beaches intersect with the rugged desert of Arikok National Park, and where Dutch influence meets American ease. Adventure-seekers bask in cool waters at the Natural Pool (Conchi) and hike through the Guadirikiri Caves and Ayo Rock Formations. Art lovers can visit the cultural hub of San Nicolas, where they can embark on a mural tour to learn about the art revitalization of the area.
Aruba’s year-round sunny skies and location outside the hurricane belt remains attractive to travellers looking to spend time outdoors, and we’ve also seen increased interest in private and wellness experiences among travellers. A few new offerings include donkey hugging (a stress reliever!) at The Donkey Sanctuary, new moonlit yoga-on-the-beach with instructor Maria Pucci, pop-up luxury picnics on the beach with Picnic Aruba, the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino’s personal Sunset Concierge Experience, which offers guests a private, catered five-course meal on the beach and many more.
Aruba has rolled out a slew of exciting new developments and offerings, including the addition of the new 133-suite Radisson Blu Aruba to our Palm Beach strip and more than $20 million in new hotel renovations across the Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa & Casino, Divi & Tamarijn Aruba All Inclusives, Boardwalk Boutique Hotel Aruba and more.
This fall, we will welcome a new Embassy Suites by Hilton resort on the island’s renowned Eagle Beach. The 330-room resort will include five food and beverage concepts, including a snack-and-grill restaurant; a pool bar; a lobby restaurant; a lobby cafe and a grab-and-go market. The all-suite hotel will also have an on-site casino.
As we continually develop Aruba’s tourism offering for the modern traveler, additional projects to come include the St. Regis Aruba Palm Beach Resort, set to open in 2023 and 2024 respectively, which will expand the island’s luxury accommodation offering, and our renovation of Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA), which includes an expansion of the U.S. departure hall with new gates, check-in areas, dining options and more.
Since reopening Aruba’s borders in July 2020, we have implemented many different tactics in order to keep health and safety top of mind while ensuring our entry protocols reflect market-dictated conditions and communicate them very clearly.
When reopening, we rolled out the Aruba Health and Happiness Code which helps create a safe destination for our partners and visitors. Throughout this next year and beyond, we are looking forward to the return of some offerings that have been on pause including festivals and traditional carnivals, which so many of our guests and residents alike typically look forward to each year.
We are confident that we can begin a shift to greater levels of normalcy and take a phased approach to further easing many of the current processes and protocols, which were effective at helping to navigate this challenging time. Aruba’s Path Forward combines several initiatives designed to scale back entry requirements and testing protocols while promoting travel and economic activity in a safe manner.
On an ongoing basis, we will monitor the current environment and changing conditions to determine how to further adapt, if necessary.
The Aruba Certified Expert (ACE) Program is specifically designed for our valued travel advisor partners. The educational platform ensures that our partners have a complete understanding of Aruba and its unique selling points. It provides valuable insights and information in creating the best Aruba vacation match for each advisor’s clients including accommodations, experiences and activities and how to enjoy the best of what Aruba has to offer.
A recent addition to the ACE program is a dedicated module devoted to romance, which is aimed at assisting those travellers thinking of popping the question, planning a bachelor/bachelorette party, looking to make their wedding dreams a reality or planning a honeymoon or special getaway.
Updates to the program are made frequently along with introductions of new promotions, so travel advisors should use the platform to keep informed on everything Aruba.
Canada has several flights to Aruba, direct from Sunwing and WestJet as well as connecting flights from carriers in the U.S., making it a great destination for Canadians looking for an easy, warm getaway. This past September, Aruba welcomed back Canadian travellers for the first time since the borders closed during the pandemic.
We also strive to make testing as simple as possible, with several resorts offering on-site testing, so Canadians don’t have to take time out of their vacation to make sure they are meeting the return entry requirements. We are continuing to expand our on-island offerings with exciting, fresh activities for returning Canadians visitors so they can enjoy new experiences each time they visit.
Right now, a lot of people are experiencing pandemic burn-out and stress. To combat this stress, Aruba has a wide variety of world-class, innovative wellness activities. Our spa and treatment centres offer an assortment of services, such as Moreu Facilitation & Healing Center where guests can take an energy healing session to boost detoxification and re-energize, or they can try a watsu water massage, which uses water to promote a state of deep relaxation while increasing flexibility of the spine and the nervous system. Or, give aerial yoga a try for the first time! In Aruba, there is something for everyone to relax.
I am always looking for something unique that I can only do in Aruba, whether it’s taking a dip in a natural pool while exploring Arikok Park or visiting a reclusive beach away from the crowds, like Arashi Beach and Angel Halto Beach. For more adventurous visitors, one of my favourite ‘off the beaten path’ experiences is visiting the Antilla Wreck, a “ghost ship” and the largest shipwreck dive in the Caribbean. Divers will be able to explore its interior, including compartments, anchors, cargo holds and boiler rooms.