Aruba remains a popular destination for travelers to the Caribbean. And why wouldn’t it be? With gorgeous beaches, mild weather that hovers around 80 degrees and a location outside of the hurricane belt, it’s an ideal vacation spot. Nicknamed “One Happy Island,” the destination also has a stunning desert landscape great for hiking, ATV riding and cave exploring.
The island is on track to make a strong recovery from the pandemic. In 2019, it welcomed almost 2 million visitors, and last year Aruba’s minister of tourism reported that tourism had recovered 72% compared with those record-high 2019 numbers.
As the Caribbean continues to rebound after Covid closures, travelers are looking for unique hotel amenities and personalized experiences. Another feature many travelers are looking for is adults-only programming. To accommodate this trend, the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino offers Tradewinds Club, an adults-only “resort-within-a-resort” experience.
I recently traveled to Aruba and got a firsthand look at the exclusive offering. After an easy three-hour flight from Miami, I spent less than 30 minutes going through customs and took a 15-minute taxi ride to the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, which is conveniently located on Aruba’s famed Palm Beach.
First impressions are everything, and the lobby of the resort made a strong one, with soaring ceilings and lots of stylish seating arranged around sleek wood coffee tables.
The Tradewinds has its own check-in desk and concierge, which right away elevated the vacation experience.
Though the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino has more than 400 rooms and the largest casino and spa on the island, the Tradewinds Club offers lots of personal touches along with access to the rest of the resort amenities.
After checking in, I made a beeline for the resort’s palm tree-lined beach, which has an adults-only area with a separate towel hut for Tradewinds guests. Another feature I loved: the palapas that came with food and drink service.
Though the palapa food service is a standard amenity at the resort, the Tradewinds Club also recently launched a Peaceful Palapas service that includes a palapa rental for the day along with a fruit platter, a morning guided meditation session and a mindfulness journal.
Sushi, seafood and steak
Besides getting your meals and meditation delivered right to you, the resort has nine restaurants and bars.
On my first night, I enjoyed Caribbean sushi rolls and a signature Aruba Ariba cocktail from the Lobby, the resort’s lobby bar and restaurant. The resort also has familiar outposts like a Ruth’s Chris Steak House and a full-service Starbucks in the lobby.
Atardi is the resort’s crown jewel, offering guests delicious seafood on beautifully prepared beachfront tables. Few things rival eating a sunset meal of perfectly seared scallops with your toes in the sand.
I took most meals at the hotel’s on-site restaurants, but Tradewinds members also get complimentary light meals five times a day and access to an open bar from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily — a welcome perk for those who want to linger over drinks in a cool, adults-only lounge.
The accommodations at Tradewinds Club are located on a dedicated floor and include deluxe oceanview guestrooms overlooking Palm Beach. Guestrooms at the hotel are decked out in traditional Caribbean decor with turquoise walls and dark wood furniture.
The bathrooms were large, and there was tons of storage space there as well as in a walk-in closet. My room overlooked the beach and adults-only pool, the H2Oasis, and I had plenty of room to drink my morning coffee on my furnished balcony.
Ultimately, Aruba offers travelers just the right mix of beaches, exciting activities and great food. Though the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino is also popular with families, the exclusive Tradewinds Club also makes it an ideal choice for girls or guys trips or for solo travelers who want to unplug under a palapa.
Rewarding off-resort exploration
Although there was plenty to keep me occupied and satisfied at the resort, I couldn’t resist doing some island exploration.
Off the resort, I got a taste of Aruba’s cuisine and exciting activities. One of my favorite meals was pancakes at Linda’s Dutch Pancakes. Just a few minutes from the hotel, the casual diner provided a taste of Dutch culture with pizza-sized pancakes featuring sweet or savory flavors like bacon; cheese; or strawberries and whipped cream.
Lima Bistro was another restaurant highlight; the newly opened Peruvian restaurant on the Oranjestad Marina boardwalk serves generous cuts of pork chops and lobster tails.
I toured the Aruba Aloe Factory, which offered a fascinating history behind one of Aruba’s most popular exports.
Another highlight of my off-resort adventures was exploring Aruba’s desert on a utility vehicle. Arranged through De Palm Tours, my half-day excursion included a guided off-road tour of Arikok National Park with stops at Blackstone Beach, the Ayo Rock Formation and the California Lighthouse.
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