If you’re one of the many planning the perfect warm-weather family vacation for this winter, look no further than Aruba and the Hyatt Regency Aruba.
Aruba is a small island located about 20 miles north of Venezuela. It’s one of the most visited Caribbean islands for families looking to soak up some sun while taking advantage of endless opportunities for fun. The island itself is roughly 19-miles long by six-miles wide and positioned just below the hurricane belt, leaving the weather very dry with very little/no rainfall. The location of Aruba and the daily offshore tradewinds make for perfect weather just about every day of the year.
Fresh from my visit, here are my top reasons to pay a visit to this beautiful island in the sun and its Hyatt mainstay:
1. The Hyatt Regency Aruba is great
The Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa & Casino is a fantastic full-service hotel located in the area of Palm Beach on the western side of Aruba. With 357 guestrooms, plenty of on-site restaurants, cafes, beach bars, access to just about every watersport you can imagine, and a casino, the hotel offers many ways to occupy your time.
2. The Hyatt staff
The minute you arrive, you’ll be greeted by the friendly staff members at the Hyatt Aruba. From the concierge to the staff at the restaurants and all the way over to the crews at the beach shack and pool, everyone at the hotel was great. Nothing but smiles. I found this to be the way of the locals, as well. Very kind people down there in Aruba.
3. The pool
The 8,000-square-foot pool is also a great place to soak up the the warm Caribbean sun. Complete with a two-story waterslide, the pool provides plenty of chaise lounge chairs with umbrellas. There’s also a poolside bar if you’d prefer not leaving the pool to grab one of their signature drinks. But be careful: the rum punch in the sun will getcha.
There’s no lifeguard on duty at the pool and children must be accompanied by an adult.
4. The beaches and water (and sunsets)
The hotel is located on the western side of the island, which makes for not only picture-perfect sunsets but some of the best beach conditions in the Caribbean. Because the beach at the hotel faces west, it’s protected from the tradewinds that create impossible wavy conditions on the other side of the island. The beach at the Hyatt is great all day for calm and warm swimming conditions.
If you’re looking for some quiet time with a book, I’d suggest arranging for a space on the beach. Like any popular hotel pool, the Hyatt’s can get a bit busy. Spaces on the beach are first-come, first-serve, and people get there early, but you can beat the line by reserving a choice spot for a fee.
5. Endless activities
Activities in Aruba are everyplace. In addition to everything the hotel has to offer, you’ll also find independent companies that provide watersports along all of the beaches. Everything from paddleboarding to catamaran cruises can arranged for you just minutes from your doorstep. These suppliers are not owned or operated by the Hyatt, but the efficient staff at the hotel is very helpful in making sure your days spent in the sun are a success.
Back at the hotel, here’s an example of the activities on the Hyatt schedule one day (the schedule changes every day):
- 11:45 am — Papiamento Lesson at Towel Hut
- 2:00 pm — Bingo at Lower Pool Deck
- 3:00 pm — Frozen Treats around Pool Area
- 3:30 pm — Search in the Pool
- 4:30 pm — Cornhole competition, arranged by the Towel Hut
- 4:30 – 5:30 pm — Happy Hour at Piet’s Pier Bar
- 5:00 – 7:00 pm — Happy Hour with Live DJ Music at Palms Bar
- 6:30 – 8:00 pm — Live Entertainment at Piet’s Pier Bar
- 8:00 – 10:00 pm — Karaoke at Piet’s Pier Bar
- 9:30 pm – 1:30 am — Live Entertainment at the Casino
For water activities, Red Sail Sports is located right in front of the hotel. They offer everything from catamaran cruises to deep sea diving. I was fortunate enough to go on their 70-foot catamaran for a Luncheon Snorkel Sail, and it was great. The excursion is about four hours, is offered on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and costs $79 for adults and $30 for children ages 3-11. They have many other options available so be sure to check out their website.
6. The on-site restaurants
There are several great restaurants as well as full-room service at the Hyatt that can accommodate all of your needs: Ruinas del Mar for seafood and steaks, The Palms with a focus on fresh island cuisine, Mexicado for south-of-the-border flare, and—if you opt for a romantic setting away from the busy restaurants—you can reserve a table for two on the beach at Footprints.
I’ve included dinner menus from two of the restaurants to give you an idea:
7. The social scene
The Hyatt Aruba is a very social hotel. On the days I visited, Happy Hour was always bustling with patrons having a couple drinks with friends, meeting new people or enjoying the magical sunset. Because there’s very little to no rainfall, the hotel’s outdoor settings are weather-proof places to meet people for drinks. I also noticed what appeared to be a group attending a business function and another there for a wedding. The Hyatt Aruba accommodates both. Here’s a list of signature cocktails served at Alfresco Bar.
8. Off-road adventure
An ABC Tours off-road excursion is a great way to spend time if you’re looking to see the island outside of the hotel. With the Natural Pool Aruba Jeep Safari Adventure ($89 for adults and $60 for children; 4.5 hours), a guide picks you up at the Hyatt and drives your group across the island to the Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins and the Natural Pool of Aruba. The day finishes with a light lunch at the Ayo Rock Formations. Some tours are a bit more extreme than others but there are several options. Have a look at their website to see what tours suit you best. And pay in advance to skip lines at the company office.
9. ZoiA Spa
As at most resorts, the standard is set high for the spa and relaxation center, and the Hyatt’s is right there with the best of them. There’s nothing quite like some relaxing time at a spa and ZoiA Spa at the Hyatt provides just that. Here’s a partial massage rate list.
Located just down from the Hyatt is Armando’s Kite Shack. They’ll have you kiteboarding in no time, and the staff is great. The water where you’ll be learning is never more than waist-deep, xo if you fall, all you have to do is stand up and start over. And the area is enormous so running into other kiteboarders is never an issue.
Tip: Trying to email or call or having the hotel reach out to the guys at the kite shack is a waste of time. You just have to go there in the morning to schedule a time. You can either walk a couple hundred yards down the beach from the hotel or have the hotel drive you.
11. Rooms with a view
All of the rooms at the Hyatt are modern in design and have great views, so you’re certain to get a good night of sleep with the sounds of nearby waves. Rooms face the water, pool or garden and from what I was told by other guests, the hotel is great about upgrading or changing your room to suite your needs.
Tip: It’s a big and social hotel so if you want a room that will be quiet I would suggest requesting a room away from the outdoor bars.
12. The Natural Pool of Aruba
The Natural Pool of Aruba is something worth making the trip for. The ride (with ABC Tours, above) can be bumpy at times, but once you swim in the pristine water of the pool you’ll be glad you made the trip. Some choose to go alone and hike in, but I would highly recommend a guide. It can be a bit tricky getting there and the locals are also great at pointing out possible dangers such as water surges and dangerous rock formations to avoid.
Snorkeling and diving can both be facilitated by Red Sail Sports and arranged through the hotel, and both are great ways to get out on the water and experience the marine life that occupies the areas around the island. Some fish tend to nip at you while you’re swimming with them but fear not: It does not hurt at all and in fact makes for a better time. Or, just keep feeding them sea kelp like I did.
14. The casino
The casino is full of energy most nights and with 21 gaming tables, 255 slot machines, a full bar, and live entertainment, it’s no surprise. Open every day from 10 am to 4 am and live music Tuesday through Sunday, the casino is great for those looking for the thrill of victory.
Here’s a list of games offered at the casino:
- Let it Ride
- Three Card Poker
- Caribbean Stud
15. There’s a two-story water slide!
A quick departure note…
When we arrived at the airport for departure, it was completely empty. When I inquired about this, I was told that the airport is always empty on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. If we’d departed on a weekend, I was told, there would have been long lines and anyone leaving would have been told to get to the airport at least three hours in advance.
For more on the Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa & Casino, visit aruba.hyatt.com. For more on Aruba, check out An Aruba hotel to treasure and 4 reasons why Aruba is different from other islands.