The Palm Beach area in Aruba is filled with over 100 restaurants and most of the main group resorts on the island, lining unbelievably white sands only 20 minutes from the airport. Watersport and land adventure DMCs are plentiful for everything from cocktail sunset sails to 4×4 desert picnics. So for everything from dinearounds to nightlife, Palm Beach is a super convenient group destination combining a ton of venues and amenities in a tight, easily manageable region.
“There have been many new additions to Palm Beach over the last few years, so it’s really a great group experience for a meeting or incentive,” says Hal Davis, North American sales manager for the Aruba Convention Bureau. He recommends restaurants like Hadicurari for group dining, one of the few private restaurants on the beach. We like the hotel dining spots due to their cosmopolitan flair and quick access to the beach. For pre/post cocktails, check out Mira Solo Martini & Wine Bar at The Radisson Aruba Resort, Casino & Spa. For upscale dining, try the escargots bourguignonne at Papiamento.
In the main town of Orangestad, Davis suggests El Gaucho Argentine Grill, with live music nearby at Garufa Cigar & Cocktail Lounge. We’re fans of the almond grouper in spinach sauce at Madame Janette located between the beach and city. For private, more exclusive dining events, Davis recommends Tierra del Sol Resort, Spa & Country Club at the end of Palm Beach on a bluff overlooking the Caribbean Sea and rolling golf course. Capacity is 700 pax.
Back on Palm Beach, the 411-room Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino added a new $1.5 million H2Oasis adults-only swimming pool and lounge area. The 10,000-sf terrace is decked out with plush cabanas, iPads and rum-infused snow cones, perfect for elegant cocktail receptions. Landscaping, coral stone pavement and illuminated pathways with glass mosaic tiles create a serene ambiance for up to 150. H2Oasis comes on the heels of last year’s $4 million enhancement of the Stellaris Casino and $50 million resort overhaul in 2009.
“We pride ourselves on being a playground for all types of travelers,” says Abigail Van der Linden, sales coordinator. “We’ll do ‘Dancing With The Starfish’ and ‘In the Heat Of The Night’ at H2Oasis. Our beach and poolside outdoor venues give planners so many onsite function options.
Smaller groups can enjoy a drink in the exclusive Tradewinds Club, an adults-only “hotel-within-a-hotel” on the property’s 8th floor. The 49-room boutique retreat offers personalized services and exclusive amenities such as access to a reserved beach area and 1,900-sf private lounge with oversized balcony. There’s also gourmet food like grilled shrimp lemongrass kabobs, blackened grouper and steamed PEI mussels.
Details were still pending at press time, but the old beachfront Bushiri Hotel will be bulldozed at the end of the year to make way for the new 310-room Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Aruba scheduled to open in Q2 2014. Located in Aruba’s quieter “Low Rise” beach, the sandy shore is as equally exceptional as Palm Beach, and there are those groups who will appreciate the more chilled out surroundings. But no matter where you are, you can reach everywhere you want to go in Aruba quickly.
“Basically the whole island is your resort,” says Davis.