One "happy island" is about to get a lot happier, if Ritz-Carlton has its way.
The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba, the hotel company's newest Caribbean resort, opens Nov. 22 on the island's Palm Beach, its seventh in the Caribbean and Mexico region and its first since the debut of Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, in Puerto Rico in December 2012.
Aruba's tag line of "One Happy Island" fits perfectly with the level of excitement as opening day at the Ritz nears, according to Roberto Grisi, general manager and a long-time Marriott executive, who also has served in managerial positions at several of the company's hotels in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.
"That all of us are excited is an understatement," he said. "The hotel design combines modern with traditional and carries the Ritz-Carlton stamp of elegance in the accommodations, facilities and service that is our trademark."
The property broke ground four years ago on a site near the Marriott Aruba Resort & Stellaris Casino.
'A lot of space'
Each of the Ritz's 320 oceanfront guestrooms has balconies or terraces, ocean views "and a lot of space," according to Grisi.
The rooms themselves are 600 square feet, and the 55 suites are even larger.
Guests staying on the seventh-floor Ritz-Carlton Club level will have the use of a private lounge, concierge services and five food and beverage selections throughout the day, including signature cocktails.
Facilities include four restaurants, two pools, 24-hour room service, a fitness center, the Ritz Kids' Club (daily charge), evening entertainment in the lobby and the French restaurant, watersports, nearby golf, propertywide WiFi (there is a charge for in-room use) and the second-largest casino on the island with 350 slot machines and 19 tables, open 24 hours a day.
The 15,000-square-foot spa with 15 treatment rooms will be the largest on Aruba when it opens.
The meetings complex, with a 7,500-square-foot ballroom, meetings rooms and a boardroom, already is generating bookings, according to Grisi.
Two weddings have already been booked for 2014. The hotel offers a number of outdoor venues for ceremonies and receptions.
Training for the 600-plus "ladies and gentlemen," as the Ritz employees and staff are called, will begin in earnest 30 days prior to opening, following a series of job fairs and recruitment and interview sessions.
"We're hiring many locals, and we will be bringing some Ritz employees from other islands as part of the workforce and to assist in the training," Grisi said.
Seasoned Ritz-Carlton executives will fill several management positions on the supervisory levels, as well.
Ten days before the scheduled opening, training sessions will ramp up to include motivational seminars and workshops to reinforce Ritz-Carlton hospitality standards geared to the guest experience and expectations.
"The uniforms have been selected, the reservations lines are open and the landscaping is well under way," Grisi said.
The hotel plans to host agents and operators on several fam trips and is working with key operators on a variety of package programs.