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One Happy Island

here's to your good health!

By Emme Martin | Photography courtesy of Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino

Island life is often dreamt about but seldom carried out. Many of us can agree that the best memories are ones in the sun, relaxing in the salty air, detached from the stress of an agenda. At home, we listen to guided meditations or calming ocean sounds, trying to achieve this sense of unbothered bliss our bodies so profoundly need. We may add self-care rituals such as taking a long shower or practicing yoga to our regimen to take a load off, but sometimes we need more. Occasionally it may take traveling to a beautiful island to remind ourselves of the beauty of being alive.

Tropical islands make these blissful feelings much more accessible thanks to their welcoming communities, warm weather, picturesque views, and sense of detachment from ordinary life. The same cannot be said for the inside of a studio apartment in a crowded city! It is no wonder they call Aruba “One Happy Island.”

Dual pools offer guests options between two aquatic experiences, whether they are in the mood to relax in the quiet oasis or stay near the bar and play some volleyball in the livelier of the two. | Photography courtesy of Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino

Although its own country, Aruba is one of six Dutch islands nestled in the Caribbean. The diversity here is as abundant as its beauty. The local population represents over ninety unique nationalities, speaking up to four languages: English, Spanish, Dutch, and Papiamento. Papiamento, also spelled Papiamentu, is the native tongue of the island, a creole language heavily based on Portuguese and Spanish. Visitors can expect to be greeted with the phrase “Bon bini”—Papiamento for “Welcome”—the moment they step off the plane, or anywhere in Aruba for that matter. The locals in Aruba are what earned the island its cheerful moniker. The love for life and the joy that radiate from the welcoming community are infectious.

Perhaps it’s the breathtaking surroundings that cause such sanguinity among the people. The landscape in Aruba is uniquely distinct through the contrasting white beaches and turquoise water against the desert-like terrain. Rain is rare, and hurricanes are nonexistent as the island lies far outside the hurricane belt. There are more cacti than palm trees, but Aruba will quickly redeem your vision of a tropical island. The arid climate offers its advantages, such as low humidity, cooling winds, and perfect weather essentially all the time.

Shaded structures called palapas made of dried palm leaves line the beaches of Aruba and provide some much-needed reprieve during an afternoon in the sun. | Photography courtesy of Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino

It is easy to see why many travelers are so loyal to Aruba, often coming back every year for more sunny times. With numerous options to choose from, seasoned travelers have made the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino the hotel of choice. The 357-room property, comprising three high-rise towers, two pools, multiple dining options, extensive meeting rooms, and endless activities, was the first of many large luxury resorts to rise upon the Aruban coast. Fortunately, the term luxury (and then some) still applies to this quintessential island paradise.

While it may have been the first hotel on the island, the Hilton was by no means an amateur project. Designed by one of America’s most famous architects, Morris Lapidus, the structure is an architectural gem. Lapidus is mainly known for his iconic Miami Beach hotels, such as the Fontainebleau and Eden Roc. He admitted in one interview that he was initially confused when prompted to design a high-rise hotel in then-bare Aruba. Yet, after visiting the fifteen pristine acres of beachfront land, it was a no-brainer. Aruba was the Caribbean’s best-kept secret.

Vintage photographs of the Hilton Aruba Resort & Casino give visitors a glimpse into the past as they relax in one of the many comfortable seating areas on-site | Photography courtesy of Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino

After multiple identity changes and renovations, the structure eventually became the Hilton in 2015. Nonetheless, reminders of the resort’s legacy are everywhere through vintage photographs hanging throughout the hotel lobby and in the rooms themselves. Guests feel connected to the property after viewing the images of past travelers enjoying the island just as they are. Hilton Aruba’s commitment to celebrating its past is one of the many reasons the resort continues to thrive.

When designing the milestone structure, Lapidus made sure to complement Aruba’s most distinguishable features: the views, of course, but more notably, the wind. Visitors are blown away to learn the wind is a prominent Aruban trademark, constantly blowing due to the island’s proximity to the equator. While inconvenient for ill-fitting hats and loose napkins, the wind does have a redeeming quality for lost travelers. The strong currents bend the famous divi-divi trees, so they always point southwest toward the hotels, serving as the perfect natural compass for the island. The whimsical trees can be seen all around Aruba, and there is even a life-size divi-divi sculpture behind the hotel’s Mira Solo bar due to its groovy aesthetic and pivotal ties to the island.

While the climate may be arid, the divi-divi trees are by no means the only shrub at the resort. Hilton Aruba works diligently to ensure guests enjoy a tropical island experience through the lush gardens around the resort. Strolls throughout the grounds are made even more enjoyable by the vivid colors of the abundant landscaping. The gorgeous gardens are also home to various bird species, which guests can mingle with, but beware of the parrots—they are not afraid to speak their minds! Other inhabitants here include magnificent koi fish and endless iguanas. The resort is even home to rare aqua blue iguanas, a truly majestic sight.

The beachside cabanas are the perfect setting for a couples massage in paradise. | Photography courtesy of Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino

As for the hotel quarters, Lapidus strategically designed the central tower so the Aruban breeze blows through each room. In addition, all rooms have private balconies facing the gardens, the sparkling Aruban seas, or both! Of course, the view depends on which tower guests are staying in; the Aruba Tower is the tallest and grants the best ocean views, whereas the Curacao and Bonaire Towers are not as tall but are closer to the beach. Regardless of which room guests reserve, they all include stylish interiors, room service, Wi-Fi, a mini-fridge, a TV, and more luxury amenities. Room options include guest rooms with a king or two double beds, handicap-accessible rooms, and elegant suites with features such as a separate living room with a queen-size sofa bed and even a jetted tub. The most lavish room option is undoubtedly the spacious penthouse complete with three bedrooms, three and a half bathrooms, and 645 square feet of open-air rooftop patio—yes, please!

Steps from the building, visitors make their way to the sparkling Aruban coast, where they can reserve a palapa. These are the small huts lining the beach and are particularly unique to Aruba. These shady spots are ideal for covering oneself from the fierce Aruban sun and come complete with fresh towels, bottled water, and fresh fruit, making for a perfect day at the beach. The resort also includes power palapas fitted with electrical power and USB ports so that visitors can work remotely in paradise.

Eforea Spa offers multiple packages for couples who prefer to relax and receive their services together. | Photography courtesy of Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino

While the coast and rooms here are beyond captivating, the new-age health and wellness amenities are exceptional. Before indulging in the details of these blissful experiences, it is essential to note that the resort takes its health and safety protocols very seriously, particularly surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. The Hilton offers full compliance with social distancing measures and many hand sanitizer stations throughout the resort. It has also implemented a new Hilton CleanStay program, which defines industry standards by enhanced cleaning procedures and partners with leading companies that offer hospital-grade hygiene and cleaning products. All team members have been trained and certified in all aspects of the new health and safety procedures. Hilton Aruba’s continued success throughout the pandemic can be directly attributed to its unwavering commitment to keeping guests safe, a comfort that is felt immediately upon arrival.

To carry on to the more glamorous health components, the Hilton Aruba Resort & Casino has mastered the recipe of a wellness retreat. Following the pandemic, the world saw a dramatic change in how people view well-being, with many developing a newfound consciousness surrounding stress management and self-care. Hilton Aruba is dedicated to facilitating its guests’ wellness journeys through new and inventive treatments at the oceanfront Eforea Spa. With the recent addition of bespoke wellness experiences such as self-guided stargazing, private guided meditations, native aloe experiences, and more, this is an ideal time to invest in oneself here. The soothing signature scent and tranquil music at the Eforea Spa are unforgettable trademarks of the property. The atmosphere and calming attendants create a space where guests can detach from their worries and simply exist. Guests can choose to unwind in the Japanese-inspired bamboo relaxation area with a glass of champagne or indulge in the steam room, cold plunge, or sauna in the locker room. For those wanting to reap the most health benefits, experts recommend alternating between the cold plunge and sauna to give the body a refreshing temperature shock.

To carry on the more glamorous health components, the Hilton Aruba Resort & Casino has mastered the recipe of a wellness retreat.
With over thirty-five massage options, guests may opt for classic relaxation or try something unique, such as the Drumi Dushi Massage, which incorporates essential oils throughout the service. | Photography courtesy of Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino

Eforea takes a holistic approach to wellness, often incorporating unique sensory features that one would not find in a standard spa. As a result, Eforea’s diverse services make it the perfect place for guests who want to try something new. With a long list of massages, body scrubs, facials, and hair and nail services, guests have endless options for pampering. The attendants at the resort are true professionals in their craft. Therefore, attention to detail and the commitment to ensuring guests have personalized and satisfactory services are always the highest priorities.

While it is impossible to go wrong here, the Hilton encourages guests to try one of its novel “wellness experiences.” These one-of-a-kind treatments include modern and native elements designed to transport guests to their most elevated level of relaxation.

One of these innovative services is the Sacred Sounds Massage, which combines soothing vibrational sound therapy with a classic fifty or eighty-minute full-body massage. Traditionally used in yoga and meditation, crystal singing bowls produce a tone that balances the brain’s left and right hemispheres, reducing anxiety and pain and enhancing mental clarity. Combining the massage with sound healing creates a profound sensory experience that connects the mind, body, and soul and leaves guests wishing it will never end.

Plan your dream wedding at the Hilton Aruba for an unforgettable tropical experience surrounded by loved ones. Photography courtesy of Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino

The Eforea Astronomy Experience is another must-try, especially for those who love to soak up the night sky. The experience starts with a dreamy fifty-minute relaxation massage under the stars, followed by a privately guided meditation. To end the night, guests receive a bottle of bubbly to enjoy as they gaze at the night sky via a telescope. The nighttime element of this service makes it ideal for romance, and there’s nothing more relaxing than a dark sky full of stars.

The island’s signature cocktail, Aruba Ariba, even served as an inspiration for one treatment. The cocktail holds a special place in Aruban culture and at the resort, for it was first created on the property in 1963 by bartender Juan “Jocky” Tromp, who still lives on this island working as a taxi driver today. The spirited eighty-minute treatment begins with an organic watermelon and basil body polish that exfoliates the skin, followed by a delicious massage with a blend of olive fruit and grape-seed oils.

Guests can also choose to unwind or have fun outside the spa with Hilton Aruba’s extensive activities list. The list ranges from quality family activities such as s’mores on the beach to more adventurous feats like snorkeling or diving at the on-site diving center or a picturesque guided bike ride across the countryside. The bike ride is a terrific way to explore the island as the path along the coast leads to the famous California Lighthouse, with many photo opportunities along the way.

Photography courtesy of Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino

As for dining options, the resort boasts multiple restaurants with diverse and locally inspired dishes. Recently, the Hilton Aruba welcomed French-born celebrity chef Olivier Falchi as the new executive chef to oversee all culinary operations. Falchi brings a wealth of experience in top restaurants worldwide. Through his international expertise, he found his niche in combining his classic French training with the Argentinean art of using open fire in the kitchen. Falchi’s eclectic cooking style and extensive experience with various cuisines make a world-class addition to the Hilton Aruba Resort & Casino that is worth a trip in itself.

Guests typically start the day off with mimosas and the Endless Breakfast at Laguna’s Restaurant. The restaurant overlooks the lush gardens and scenic koi pond, making it the quintessential scenery for an island morning. For lunch, visitors can choose to have their meals delivered to their beachside palapas for optimal comfort or grab a table at Gilligan’s Seafood Shack to chow down on some delicious grouper tacos. Castaways Bar is also a convenient option for those who want to cool off with a refreshing beverage or bite while chilling poolside.

Come nighttime, ambience seekers are in luck as the resort’s modern steakhouse, the Sunset Grille, offers a custom dining experience with views toward the horizon. The mouthwatering menu includes delectable options such as prime-aged steaks, chops, and buttery sea bass. Finally, those looking for a nightcap can leisurely make their way to the swanky Mira Solo for an after-dinner cocktail accompanied by nightly live entertainment.

Mira Solo bar comes alive at night with live music and colorful lights to set the tone. | Photography courtesy of Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino

The most romantic and scenic culinary choice is the Sunset Concierge Private Dining Experience. The ultimate date night includes a table arranged on the beach for guests to experience innovative, artisanal private dining. There is no better way to celebrate another day in paradise than witnessing the captivating colors of the Aruban sunset while savoring freshly caught local seafood. The Sunset Concierge offers the highest level of service and atmosphere that guests often say feels like a dream.

It’s accurate that every experience at this resort feels like a dream. The Hilton Aruba Resort & Casino is the perfect destination for those who want it all, from the exquisite surroundings, delicious food, and engaging activities to the world-class spa, which is on a level of its own. But, more notably, it is the people here who make the visit so memorable. One would be hard-pressed to find a more easygoing or welcoming community, and the good feelings are contagious. Visitors at Hilton Aruba Resort & Casino can genuinely understand what it means to be on island time as they fall in love with life again.


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Visit HiltonAruba.com to learn more or book your stay.

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