Following an extensive multi-million dollar renovation, the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino is not only offerings refreshed digs, but also a fresh approach to resort life. Recommend recently sat down with the resort’s new general manager Hans-Georg Roehrbein during a media lunch to find out what makes this 357-room beachfront oasis one of Aruba’s brightest gems.
Then and Now
“The hotel was originally designed in the 50s…to be the first resort in Aruba,” says Roehrbein. “Then in the 70s, they added two more buildings to it. So it’s not your typical resort in the sense that it has one large building; [rather it has] three distinct buildings—the Aruba Tower, the Bonaire Tower and the Curacao Tower.”
In fact, these buildings help differentiate the Hilton Aruba from competing beach resorts, as Roehrbein went on to say that one of the proprty’s distinguishing factors “is that you don’t have this high rise hotel. It’s not like a long corridor with 150 rooms that takes you 20 minutes to get from your elevator to the room, it’s very small buildings. So when you come down each of the towers you’re right on the pool or beach.”
The Hilton Aruba’s guestrooms and suites have come a long way from its early days, and while the renovations nod to the resort’s original architect, Morris Lapidus, the overhaul has impacted all aspects of the property, including redesigned guestrooms and suites, revamped landscapes, re-conceptualized menus and decor at the property’s five eateries, and a new open-air lobby.
In addition to paying homage to the resort’s original architect, the Hilton Aruba’s redesign also borrowed inspiration from its island setting, which is desert rather than tropical. Guestrooms and suites have been refurbished to feature neutral and earth-tone colors reflecting Aruba’s natural beauty, and are decorated with original works of local art inspired by historical images. New curtains, window treatments, carpeting, wood beds with plush new bedding, lounge or patio chairs and 50-inch HDTV complete the room enhancements.
Stay Your Way
The casual atmosphere of the Hilton Aruba is naturally a top selling point for travel agents. Roehrbein says they offer such a variety of amenities and activities that guests of all ages and activity levels can easily find their place at the property. “If you want to just be under the cabana all day long and lay by the pool, you have that option, but we also have bicycles and [bicycle tours] that you can use free of charge. (Travel Tip: Have your guests download the Hilton Honors mobile app before their trip so they can use their device to reserve a cabana and order drinks from their seat).
“The whole idea was not to nickel and dime people for other vacation experiences,” Roehrbein went on to say.
In addition to new poolside cabanas with new trellises, day beds, lounge seating, side tables, hammocks and umbrellas, Hilton Aruba features a new, professional beach tennis court on the property’s lush, refreshed landscape, allowing guests to participate in Aruba’s favorite pastime. Additional amenities range from a diving center and the eforea spa by Hilton to a 24-hour fitness center offering kickboxing and yoga classes and a dedicated kids club. Yes, a kids club, because while the Hilton Aruba caters to the mature crowd with adults-only amenities such as the 16,000-sq.-ft. casino, it has launched a host of new programming initiatives suitable for all ages including a waterproof library, bicycle scavenger hunt, koi feeding, and salsa and merengue workshops.
“[The resort] is kind of all inclusive in the sense that there are activities all day being offered as part of the pricing and then you can go offsite,” says Roehrbein.
Out on the Town
“The whole idea is that [the Hilton Aruba] is first and foremost a resort…and it has a casino component…but also has a great location with a lot of nearby restaurants and activities. So you don’t really need to rent a car or get a taxi at night if you want to go out,” Roehrbein went on to say.
“On the other side of the hotel, you have 120 restaurants, which means you can have as much exclusivity as you like, but at the same time you don’t have to feel like you’re captive. So if you want to go out at night you have 120 restaurants available, you have a bowling alley, a movie theater, shops…”
Roehrbein recommends guests spend at least four days at the resort to get a true taste of what it and Aruba has to offer. This should give them plenty of time to try each of the onsite restaurants—including Sunset Grille, the resort’s signature restaurant which received a new wood terrace bridge with dining tables and chairs, a communal dining table and cantilever umbrellas—as well as a few offsite options.
“Aruba has the highest repeat factors of all the islands” which Roehrbein says makes travel agents that much more important to the resort. When asked how important travel agents are to the Hilton Aruba, he immediately responds, “Very much so, because it’s a destination with a lot of repeat travelers so guests have their travel agent that they [continuously] book through.
“Ultimately it’s about the customer having a great experience and coming back. So this is not about a one time deal, but really it’s making sure that they came, they had a great time…and they got to see all the things that we are offering and all that the island has to offer and then they come back because it makes it an easy choice. They know the island, and then they know us, and we know them and what room they like and what building they like, so we can customize their vacation experience and they get more out of the time that they spend with us.”
Rates at the Hilton Aruba start at $229 per night. For more information, visit hilton.com/en/hotels/aruba/hilton-aruba-caribbean-resort-and-casino.