Like the postcard-perfect island of Aruba, the Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa & Casino is a fantastic find for international meetings and events. The 357-room resort occupies a 12-acre stretch of beach along the Caribbean Sea, blending European flair with Caribbean charm on lush grounds just seven miles from the airport and two miles from Oranjestad, the capital city.
The resort’s international vibe is reflected not only in a design that includes a unique soiree of iguanas, parrots and Koi, but in a multilingual staff that is eager to respond to the needs of guests.
“Having a multilingual staff allows guests to feel comfortable communicating requests. Aruban residents speak a minimum of four languages,” says General Manager Fred Hoffmann, adding that planners generally choose the property for its “location, excellent service, beautiful grounds and outdoor venue options.”
Wriggling my toes in warm sand beneath the huge 2,218-sf thatch-roof beach palapa with room for 400 cocktail-style guests, Hoffmann’s words rang true as conversation within my group ebbed and flowed around burlap-topped rounds set with floral-ringed hurricane lamps.
The 2,488-sf outdoor terrace is a great spot for a private breakfast for 140 banquet-style guests. The 5,532-sf redwood courtyard deck offers oceanviews minus sand in your shoes.Tonight’s linens and chairbands in hues of the sea add gentle color below oversized white hurricane lamps. Mouthwatering scents drift from barbeque and buffet stations of bacon-wrapped shrimp, tender beef, grilled seabass and spicy BBQ chicken.
The atmosphere sparks creative brainstorming amongst our group beginning with Florence Stadwijk, director of catering/convention services, who suggests a memorable incentive “on the beach, under the stars with an awards ceremony projected on a floating screen above the ocean.”
It comes as little surprise when Richard Elliott director of rooms says that 30 percent of the resort’s guests have been repeat visitors since it opened in 1991. “We achieve highest occupancy in Februray,” he says, adding that Aruba sits outside the hurricane belt.
A carnival-themed casino with 21 gaming tables and 255 slot machines is ripe for the picking. Among 10 on-site eateries, groups can sample tequila, indulge in mouthwatering cigar-box salmon or dine barefoot under little palapas. During my stay, nightly entertainment ranged from an invigorating beachfront rock band to an introspective solo singer/guitarist.
A boardwalk links the resort to oceanfront cafes, bars and shops with markets and high end shops downtown. From Hyatt’s pier, catamarans take guests snorkeling or diving around a submerged shipwreck. Groups can explore the coast, desert and monuments via Jeeps or ATV tours, test an exciting water jetpack or roll up their sleeves for a day of aloe harvesting at the Aruba Aloe factory and museum. An herbologist at the ZoiA Spa offers treatments with homegrown plants and hand-pressed oils.
The resort has undergone a series of renovations in recent years that updated ZoiA Spa, named after the Papiamento word for balance, and a $3.2 million revamp of the 5,290-sf Regency Ballroom. The open-air lobby and lobby bar underwent soft revamps in early 2014 that added earthy warm and cool color tones to interiors.