… continued from The Ultimate Luxury Aruba Guide Part One.
Aruba, the Caribbean island with only 120.000 inhabitants and almost one million visitors per year. For me, people are as important as place. Together they make travel memories last.
The Arubans are friendly, open and dedicated to visitors. From water vendors in the street to multiple hotel owners. And, most important, they all love and are proud of their tropical little island with swaying palm trees, sparkling white sandy beaches and turquoise blue sea. I really enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere, no matter where I was on the island. That qualifies for luxury as well.
Breakfast at the Ritz
A girl gotta eat, right? Let’s have breakfast the American way at the stunning Ritz hotel at Palm Beach. One of the newest 5 star luxury resorts on Aruba. There is something for everyone here. Spacious and chic grounds with two large swimming pools, a 24H casino (if you can’t resist to roll the dice at 04.00 am?), distinctive dining outlets, large lobby and exclusive boutique by Eva Zissu, a presidential suite of 3000 m2 (!) and miles of white powder sand beaches. Oh, and large white cabana’s to protect you from the sun.
Along the clear blue waters you’ll find original mangrove trees (love those) since this is a protected nature area. One of the many beach activities offered on site is a yoga paddle class. On the water.
Watched a group trying this while enjoying breakfast on the terrace, balancing is challenging. The outside terrace gives you that tropical feeling with bright light, warm island breeze and birds flying in and out. Beware of your just collected breakfast. Crumb thieves alert.
Healthy Aruba Aloe Vera tour
Into health lifestyle like me? Than this adorable little factory – with shop! – is a must do. I loved to learn about Aruba’s Aloe Vera and watch how they peel the leaf and free the aloe gel. The complimentary tour is led by local tour guides who are quite skilled in filleting, looks so easy when they do it.
I must try this at – Portugal – home where we have Aloe’s in the garden. Add some of the gel to my fresh green juice in the morning or maybe start making my personal skincare… Will be cont.
After the demonstration the tour guide escorts you along the small museum and shows the state-of-the-art factory and laboratory where the production process takes place in large steel tanks.
The long history of Aloe on Aruba is fascinating. Back in 1840, the aloe vera wonder plant was introduced in Aruba, influencing everything from art and architecture to health and healing. Soon, two-thirds of Aruba’s surface was covered with aloe vera plants and Aruba became the world’s largest aloe exporter. The fierce southern Caribbean sun and Aruba’s desert environment intensify the plant’s natural healing qualities and produces the earth’s most potent aloe gel to revitalize skin and help repair skin damage.
After the tour comes the shop, perfect gift buying place with Aruba Aloe skin care products. Guess what I did. ps. first shop outside Aruba recently opened in: Amsterdam!
Luxury Aruba = Sailing on Monforte III
Oh my, everything Aruba has to offer on luxury level came together on this boat trip. Sailing on the wooden yacht of Pelican Piers, the Monforte III was all about luxury. On the water and under. A warm – champagne, what else? – welcome by captain and friendly crew. Bob Marley over the speakers and space enough to cuddle up, sun and wind in your face and surrounded by nothing but deep blue sea.
Enough space to enjoy this scenery from the shade. Pampered with green juices, lemon water (drink, drink, drink) and fruit by the crew, spoiled with anything we wished for. Once we dropped our anchors at Boco Catalina reef, the chef took place behind the Boretti bbq on the quarterdeck to prepare a delicious grilled dish with fish and veggies.
This was our cue to put on our mask, snorkel and flippers and start exploring what’s under the surface. Amazing! So many full colour fishes (found Nemo) and water plants, this was such an overwhelming experience. The stillness made a deep impression, luxury the zen way. Take me back, please…
Let’s Luxury Aruba Spa
All that snorkeling makes your muscles ache, next stop back to the Ritz-Carlton for a pampering treatment and spa experience. Indulge in this tranquil oasis, or rather sanctuary, was easy. After we choose our natural herbal essential oil for the massage treatment, lavender for me, we spend some time to relax in the hammam.
The treatment was wonderful, the therapist (ask for Mario) professional and I felt relaxed and rejuvenated after. It’s all about balancing body, mind and soul at this luxurious retreat with Asprey amenities.
The Spa is equally divided into two wings, serving both men and women in their own separate, stylish and comfortable areas. It includes two his and hers steam rooms, dry saunas, and two outdoor, private jacuzzi’s. Tried them all.
Dinner at The Kitchen Restaurant
Dinner was served and prepared in the open kitchen of chef Urvin Croes. This fine dining place, located along Palm/Eagle beach, has the perfect terrace to watch the sun sink in the sea. With matching colours. And a glass of champagne. Of course.
The Kitchen Table by White restaurant serves 16 seats only and is a 7 course gastronomic feast. I am vegetarian and it really was the most exquisite veggie menu I have ever had. Every thing was made with love with the best local ingredients, right in front of your plate. Our menu was Dutch Caribbean since Aruba has been part of Holland for several centuries. With that long history and the strong ties the island still has with Holland, Dutch influences can also be found on culinary level. So Dutch favorites interpreted by Croes’ very own way. Born on Aruba and worked for a long time as Michelin * chef in Holland. The culinary luxury Aruba best of both ways. Much to my surprise one of the wines served was our favourite Grand Reserva from Portugal, Esporao.
In the center of Oranje stad is Fort Zoutman, the oldest building and historical museum. Here you enter Aruba’s exposure of the past. For protection against pirates and enemies, Fort Zoutman was built in 1798. Over the years, it has housed government office, a police station, jail, tax office, courtroom, library and post office.
The Willems tower stands out and offers a 360 view of the island. Your rewards after climbing the small, steep stairs. We had a lovely breakfast in the courtyard ànd an art class by local artist Vanessa Paulina.
Our assignment was to sketch the tower first and then finish inside with oil paint on canvas. Loved it! Fully concentrated and immediately loosing every sense of time. We deeply attached to our artsy tasks. 2,5 hours felt like 2,5 minutes. Paula guided us and coached us with all her heart and smiles.
Bucuti and Tara Beach Resort
Location, location, location. We all know the importance of the right spot. The Bucuti & Tara Beach resort has captured the best spot on the island, Eagle Beach. The marvellous white sandy beach is long and wide and you can walk for miles and miles along the ocean.
This intimate and private resort is a romantic retreat for adults only. Fifty percent of the guests are European and there is a civilized calm that instantly grabs you when you arrive. No loud music, but waving palms in the inner courtyard. There are 104 rooms divided in two buildings with a restaurant and deck on the beach. The wellness program is tailor-made and yoga classes on the beach deck with the sound of birds is the ultimate way of starting the day.
“Our resorts is made for couples who actually like each other, their favourite spot is the double deck chair on the beach to watch the sun set” __ Tisa, Marketing Manager Bucuti.
The owner, Ewald Biemans, is a notable environmentalist and a sustainability pioneer on Aruba. Hence the numerous green awards in the glass cabinet in the reception area. Since the drinking water of Aruba is of the highest quality, every guest receives an aluminium water bottle to refill with tap water. Luxury Aruba and green do go very well together and Bucuti is the living proof.
No idea why it took me being over fifty to first visit Aruba, shame on me, but it will surely not be my last. I have to show mr. B. around the one happy island, now don’t I?
More Aruba: The Ultimate Luxury Aruba Guide, part one Life and Style after Fifty Portrait of Eva Zissu Luxe and Links golf at Tierra del Sol Resort
This stay was an international journalists trip organised by Aruba Tourism Authority. I was there by invitation on behalf of Chapter Fifty and L’Officiel NL and did not pay for any of the above-mentioned activities. Words, photos and opinions are my own.