Gay Nagle Myers
Gay Nagle Myers

To succeed as a tourist destination, each Caribbean country banks on the support of the government, hotel partners, investors, developers, the airport authority, businesses and friendly locals.

Some islands have it better than others, although each can lay claim to beaches, natural attractions and historical and cultural sites.

Aruba seems to have the formula nailed down, having recently invested more than $100 million in hotel updates to enhance visitors’ experiences.

Another $50 million is on the table for 2016, according to Otmar Oduber, its minister of tourism, transportation, primary sector and culture.

“All sectors are equally committed to the continued enhancement of our one happy island,” Oduber said. (One Happy Island is the trademark slogan for Aruba.)

Recent hotel upgrades include the Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Casino & Spa’s multiyear, multimillion-dollar renovations to mark the hotel’s 25th anniversary.

Divi Resorts is investing more than $36 million in 60 new luxury rooms at the Divi All-Inclusive and a 135-suite addition to the Divi Phoenix. Divi Dutch Village rooms also are slated for a new look.

Divi Resorts has renovation and expansion plans at its Aruba properties.
Divi Resorts has renovation and expansion plans at its Aruba properties.

Marriott Aruba plans to invest $20 million in the next year and a half to upgrade and renovate, while the Holiday Inn Resort Aruba has completed a $20 million renovation and will spend another $2 million by year’s end.

Following a $25 million renovation project, the all-inclusive Riu Palace Aruba reopened on Palm Beach this month, next door to sister property, the adults-only Riu Palace Antillas (the former Westin Aruba), which debuted last fall.

Other hotels in the enhancement mode include the Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino, La Cabana Beach Resort and Casino, Tropicana Aruba Resort and Casino, the Mill Resort and Suites, Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort, Talk of the Town Hotel and Beach Club, Occidental Grand Aruba and Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa.

The Marriott Aruba plans to invest $20 million in a renovation and upgrade program.
The Marriott Aruba plans to invest $20 million in a renovation and upgrade program.

In addition to the renovations and improvements made to the island’s hotels, the Aruba Airport Authority upgraded amenities at the Reina Beatrix Airport, which included a WiFi upgrade across the airport; the installation of passenger kiosks; three new dining venues; and an update to the arrival hall and VIP lounges.

Additional airport improvements between $100 million and $150 million are planned in the coming years.

In 2014, tourist arrivals by air topped one million, up 9.5% over 2013; first quarter arrivals this year totaled 294,411, up 20% over the previous winter season.

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