Aruba Sonesta Beach cuts minimum winter rate

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ORANJESTAD, Aruba -- The Aruba Sonesta Beach Resort reduced its minimum peak winter room rate for stays of three nights or more through March 30.

The nightly rate is down to $199 from $215, according to Mari-Elena Baldwin, marketing director for the hotel's owner, Aruba-based Meta Corp.

Blackout dates are Feb. 16 to 22.

Baldwin said the hotel decided to trim the winter rack rate for the first time in years because its occupancy projections for the next few months were running 10 percentage points behind last year.

The hotel normally runs peak winter occupancies in the mid to high 80s, she said, and the current forecast indicated a mid-70s occupancy.

The reduced rate does not affect package prices, Baldwin noted, as the plans have their own built-in discount.

The $199 rate could be the catalyst needed to transform "a pent-up demand for travel" after the holidays into bookings, according to Anabela Peterson de Sousa, the hotel's vice president of sales and marketing.

In other news, the Sonesta introduced a five-night Island Romance 2002 package, valid through Dec. 21.

Rates start from $1,550 per couple through March 31; after that prices begin at $1,250. Suites are available for an additional $100 over the five nights.

Rates cover an oceanview room, a 25-minute massage for both guests in the resort's Okeanos spa, a candlelight dinner in the hotel's L'Escale restaurant, tickets to the hotel's Crystal Theater, a sunset catamaran sail, a bottle of wine and a picnic lunch.

Clients who stay for seven nights or longer get an off-road vehicle rental for one day. Guests who get engaged or married during their stay will get a free night at the property on their first anniversary.

For more information, agents can call (800) SONESTA or visit www.arubasonesta.com.

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