PALM BEACH, Fla. -- After $8.5 million in renovations, the 600-room
Holiday Inn Aruba Beach Resort & Casino here took on a new name
The resort was branded as the Holiday Inn SunSpree Aruba Resort
& Casino and now features a "greater emphasis on activities,
meetings, value and fun," said Michele Olivier, director of sales
and revenue management.
"We completed the renovations [in 1999] in hopes of becoming a
SunSpree property within the next five years or so," said Olivier.
"To our surprise, it took just over one year."
SunSpree properties have standards that are not found in typical
Holiday Inn properties.
Some of the standards include in-depth activities and children's
programs, an open-air lobby, access to numerous on-site
recreational amenities and facilities for meetings.
Although the new signage went up on the property in November,
Olivier said an official launch will come after the property's
restaurants are remodeled.
"We are very excited and proud of the fact that we are a
SunSpree property," she said, "but we want to wait until all
renovations are completed before the official launch."
Remodeling of the restaurants should be completed this
With the status of a SunSpree property, the resort is putting a
new emphasis on capturing a bigger meetings market, which currently
accounts for about 8% of total business.
In the works are plans for a business center on site and extra
amenities in the meetings areas.
The main pool deck was retiled last summer and now can
accommodate up to 1,000 people on the deck for dinner and
Also to coincide with becoming a SunSpree property, the resort
opened an Intermezzo Day Spa.
A local firm operates the facility; there are locations in four
additional sites on the island.
The spa features four treatment areas, including one facial room
and one wet room.
A variety of massage and facial treatments as well as manicures,
pedicures and hair styling are offered daily at Intermezzo.
Also as part of the overall upgrade to the property, Olivier
said the individual shops, which are not run by the resort, also
have been upgrading.
"After seeing what we have done and still plan to do, the shops
have taken the initiative to try and improve their products and
attract a higher-end crowd," Olivier said.
For instance, the Excelsior Casino upgraded its venue with new
tables, carpeting, games and employee uniforms.
Renovations on the rest of the property included refurbished
guest rooms, the addition of an open-air lobby, new soft goods
throughout all public and private areas and upgraded grounds.