Writer Felicity Long recently visited the Aruba Sonesta Beach
Resort. Her report follows:
The expression "when my ship comes in" takes on a whole new
meaning at the Aruba Sonesta Beach Resort at Seaport Village, a
property that boasts, among other things, a water-shuttle dock in
The property, which is in the final stages of a $25 million
renovation, uses the shuttle to ferry guests to its private,
40-acre Sonesta Island.
The water canal and surrounding area, designed to look like a
natural cave, were part of the renovation.
Waterfalls and lush greenery lend a natural look to the dock,
and guests who gather at 8 p.m. are treated to a nightly water and
The shuttle runs every 15 minutes between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., and
the ride takes eight minutes.
Sonesta Island features the Seabreeze Bar and Restaurant as well as
private dinners on the sand, where -- in a long dress and bare feet
-- I sampled an upscale al fresco buffet including grilled lobster
Travel agents can arrange similar theme dinners for their group
Other island features include secluded coves as well as a
tropical bird sanctuary, sandy beaches, a tennis court and a
Guests looking to relax can rest in hammocks under leafy palms,
while more active visitors can Jet Ski, kayak, snorkel and scuba
The property was formerly comprised of two separate hotels
located across the street from each other: the Aruba Sonesta Resort
and Aruba Sonesta Suites.
The two buildings now are known as the Marina Tower and the
Beach Tower, respectively, bringing the total number of rooms to
My brightly decorated guest room featured a balcony overlooking
the marina; one-bedroom suites offer kitchenettes.
The Beach Tower has its own beach cove, and guests in either
tower can use all of the combined resort's facilities.
A highlight of the renovation is the Okeanos Spa, which opened
I sampled a first-rate Swedish massage at the new spa located
adjacent to the swimming pool at the Marina Tower, where guests
also can try wraps, spa treatments and fitness programs.
The spa treatment was priced at $70 for 50 minutes.
Guests at either wing of the resort can get a break from the
heat in the Seaport Village shopping center, which is accessible
from the lobby of the Marina Tower or by crossing the street from
the Beach Tower.
I explored the village shortly after my arrival and found
everything from ice cream and souvenirs to trendy beachwear, gold
necklaces and water- sports gear.
In all, the resort and village comprise more than 130 shops and
eateries -- including 15 restaurants and six bars -- as well as
three swimming pools, two casinos with 24-hour gaming, six cinemas
and the Stardust Theater, where visitors can take in live
The property has its own upscale restaurant, L'Escale, as well
as the new Umbrellas Cafe & Espresso, a gourmet coffee bar
located in the lobby.
Because of the high domed atrium, the coffee bar has the look
and ambience of an outdoor cafe but in an air-conditioned
During my visit, I also attended meetings in the
40,000-square-foot conference center, a five-minute walk from my
accommodations in the Marina Tower.
Families can take advantage of Sonesta's Just Us Kids children's
program, which offers supervised activities for ages 5 to 12.
This year the property received top overall honors from the
Aruba Hotel & Tourism Association's annual Freeman Survey,
which also rated it No. 1 in the food and beverage category.