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Visit one happy island

Aruba’s got it all

Created date

February 21st, 2012

Aruba s warm and breezy climate, aqua blue water, and wide white beaches make it a sun-lover s paradise. And its casinos, restaurants, and high- and low-rise hotels make for an action-packed vacation if you want. Whether you re ready for relaxation or gaming to go all in, Aruba s got it all.

Where to stay

This small Caribbean island off the coast of Venezuela has an abundance of well-known hotel chains, from Marriott and Hyatt Regency to Radisson and Holiday Inn all on a wide stretch of powdery white beach. The island does have some inland hotels and resorts, but to truly appreciate the essence of Aruba, stay beachfront and you won t regret it. The Marriott Resort and Stellaris Casino offers fantastic pools, beachfront, activities, and restaurants. Neighboring two Marriott Vacation Club properties (time shares), the Ocean Club and the Surf Club, hotel guests may take advantage of daily activities like water aerobics, stretch and tone, and Zumba classes. The properties also have daily poolside bingo, which draws a crowd. The Stellaris Casino at Marriott offers a variety of games: three-card poker, roulette, craps, black jack, and plenty of slots. It s smoky day or night, so if you d rather breathe easy, take a short walk down the beach to the newly renovated Hyatt Regency. Their casino is smaller, but offers Baccarat. Speaking of the Hyatt, its manicured grounds, open-air lobby, and delectable restaurants bring it to the top of my list if you can afford it. One benefit of staying there: the Hyatt offers more daily adult activities than the Marriott, which is more kid-friendly. For more affordable beachfront accommodations, try the Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort, which offers a clean, modern property with pool and beachfront; shopping, dining, and fitness amenities; and plenty of palm-roofed cabanas. It s kid-friendly too.

What to do

You can spend your days soaking up sun, swimming in sparkling waters, and pampering yourself in the spa. You can stay active playing tennis, go deep sea fishing, or take long strolls along the beach. Or you can shop till you drop at designer stores. If you opt for beach time, bring a collapsible or inflatable raft instead of spending $5 to rent one and $150 if you don t return it by 4:30 p.m. each day. Most resorts have poolside air pumps for their well-prepared guests. Some hotels are more aptly positioned near shopping and dining, but a $1 bus ride will quickly take you wherever you need to go. If you enjoy sightseeing, put these landmarks on your list: Arikok National Park, Casibari and Ayo rock formations and Indian caves, Bushiribana gold mill, Alto Vista Chapel, and the Aruba Aloe factory. Depending on the time of year you travel, you may experience one of the island s exuberant music festivals, cultural events, tournaments, and regattas. And if you really want to experience the essence of Aruba, come during Carnival, a thrilling display of costumes, music, and festivities. Check the calendar at before planning your trip.