The pool area at the Ritz-Carlton Aruba.As hotel debuts go, the recent opening at the Ritz-Carlton Aruba in Oranjestad was seamless.

The prime minister, tourism officials and hotel hierarchy, including Marriott International Chairman Bill Marriott and Ritz-Carlton President and COO Herve Humler, were there.

The lobby's marble floors gleamed, the hotel staff beamed and the view of the ocean beyond the floor-to-ceiling windows was picture-perfect (it was Aruba, after all).

What stole the show was Pierewietje (a Papiamento word meaning "children's chorus"), 10 youngsters dressed in bright yellow dresses who sang a potpourri of Aruban songs. After charming the audience, each of them bore a tray holding a large pair of silver scissors and paraded to the satin ribbon stretched across part of the lobby.

With the help of the front-row VIPs, the ribbon was cut, the Ritz was officially open and the first guests checked in.

The $200 million, 320-room Ritz-Carlton Aruba is the fifth Ritz resort in the Caribbean and the first for the company since the debut of the Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Dorado, Puerto Rico, in December 2012.

With the Ritz-Carlton opening, Marriott International now is the largest employer in Aruba, with four other hotels: the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino, the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, the Marriott Aruba Ocean Club and the Marriott Aruba Surf Club.

More than 90% of the 450 staff members are Arubans, and they moved easily and gracefully into their new roles.

"Our training program was amazing," Bibiana said as she took my lunch order at the Madero Argentinian Grill, one of four dining venues at the hotel. "I feel like I am very valuable to this company."

Madero converts to a steakhouse restaurant by night, specializing in grilled meats.

Later, Karin Cofino, spa director, showed me around the 15,000-square-foot spa sanctuary with 13 treatment rooms offering a range of wraps, facials and massages, many of which incorporated oils from Aruba's signature divi divi tree.

I dined at Les Crustaces, selected an appetizer of mussels and scallops from the Raw Bar, followed by snapper Aruban-style.

"It has chorizo, crusted scallion relish, small Japanese mushrooms called shimeji and sancacho, a spicy sauce -- you will love it," my waiter, Jean Carlo, told me. I did.

My room was spacious and serene, with neutral colors, a balcony that overlooked the two pools and beach, WiFi ($14.95 per day, although it is free in the business center) and an espresso machine that defeated me.

General Manager Roberto Grisi assured me that written instructions for the coffee machine would be placed in the room in the next few days.

My stay was all too brief, but I saw enough and sampled enough, from amenities to activities, to know that the luxury traveler can put this resort on his bucket list.


Follow Gay Nagle Myers on Twitter @gnmtravelweekly.  


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