Groups that explore Aruba beyond the resort scene will find a treasure trove of authentic experiences.
Aruba is an island full of surprises. More than 90 nationalities call the island home. Groups can get a sense of this diversity in countless ways, whether an internationally acclaimed film festival, exploring 300 prehistoric pictographs, vast national parks or the island’s magical fofoti trees, bent permanently by constant trade winds, there’s certainly more than enough wonder to inspire attendees. Here are a few ideas for groups that experience Aruba beyond the resort scene that do just that.
Aruba’s DMCs organize everything from off-roading adventures, customized tours and VIP experiences CSR givebacks.CSR is an emerging trend in incentives, says Diantha Boekhouwer, ACB conferences and events liaison for the Aruba Tourism Authority. Education infrastructure and supplies in some island communities are hard to come by due to materials needing to be imported. Groups can roll up their sleeves in these communities, and have with Eco DMS, to assist with building schools, assembling school furniture and installing playgrounds, among other things.
During the last CSR project, Eco took local schoolkids to a theatre where they enjoyed movies while the CSR participants worked on a school makeover project. De Palm DMS also orchestrates CSR programs. Most recently, they took 220 incentive attendees to San Pedro di Verona Paviljoen in Oranjestad, one of three nursing homes operated on the island by the SABA Foundation. De Palm organized a fun day for SABA residents that included outdoor events and a DJ, while attendees interacted with the elderly (including giving them hand-selected gifts), painted and beautified the grounds.
Follow the Herd
The colonial charm of Oranjestad is on full display during guided walking tours that include shopping, mingling with notable local Arubans and local bites like pastechi at Lolita’s and other favorite haunts. A new art installation, Paardenbaai (Horse’s Bay) Aruba, featuring eight shiny blue horses—Rosalinda, Saturnina, Bonifacia, Eufrosina, Celestina, Sinforosa, Escapia and Ambrosio—each with their own backstory, makes for an interesting self-guided tour. Groups will trot past the National Archaeological Museum, which contains over 10,000 Amerindian artifacts, Aruba’s first lighthouse, the Renaissance Marketplace, elegant Wilhelmina Park and other cultural and historical attractions in search of the “herd.” The horses give nod to the area’s horse trade days.
Guided Nature Tours
Elsewhere in Aruba, groups should check out the 80-flock Aruba Ostrich Farm for educational sessions of these unique animals on everything from mating rituals to their amazing speed. The tour concludes with a visit to the incubator and hatchery, or groups can park it for lunch at the on-site bar and restaurant. The Butterfly Farm is another immersive experience, housing hundreds of exotic butterflies in a tropical rainforest setting. Groups may also be able to volunteer with Aruba Bird Conservation or partake in bird watching at Bubali Bird Sanctuary, located in front of the Old Dutch Windmill, a beauty in itself. Northeast of Oranjestad in the town of Noord, the Alto Vista Chapel is built on the site of Aruba’s first Catholic church; the sweeping sea landscape is stunning.
De Palms DMS is the only DMS company in Aruba that owns and operates a fleet of luxury coaches, Land Rovers and Jeeps, and has activities desks in most of the major resorts—oh, and they also operate a private island. So lots of fun incentive options there for groups that maximize ROE and ROI.
On the Hotel Front
A couple of properties are being rebranded: The Radisson Aruba Resort, Casino & Spa is now the newly renovated Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino and the Occidental Grand Aruba recently became the Barcelo Aruba. Aruba’s museums often make creative backdrops for events. The latest is the Museum of Industry in San Nicolas, which offers groups insight and interactive experiences of the island’s history.