WHERE IS IT? About 15 minutes from the international airport and along the beautiful Palm Beach coastline, the Hilton enjoys the ideal location to take advantage of the island’s famous breezes and beautiful sunsets. Nearby shopping and restaurant options are within walking distance, and just in front of the resort is where many of the motorized watersport activities begin giving Hilton guests an edge compared to other hotels.
WHAT’S IT LIKE? This Hilton has an important reputation on the island. This was the first beachfront hotel to open in 1959, and it is regularly credited for being the birthplace of the island’s luxury tourism industry. It is also the birthplace of the Aruba Ariba cocktail. Along the same Palm Beach coastline today, there are many international hotels, but the Hilton holds a special place in locals’ hearts. It opened as the Aruba Caribbean Hotel and only became a Hilton in 2015. Recent renovations have given it a fresh and tropical look with its open-air lobby, meandering pathways through the waterfall-lined gardens and two waterfront pools. Repeat visitors will appreciate the fresh design in guest rooms and public areas, and history buffs will appreciate the vintage photos throughout the hotel detailing the resort’s history. Be sure to say hello to the resort’s resident birds, one of which has its own social media channels so that guests can follow it even when they get back home.
Current safety protocols are in place to protect against COVID-19, but Aruba’s requirement to provide a negative PCR test result eases any concern as everyone must show one on arrival. The island’s vaccination rates are high, and masks are no longer required with the exception of a few shops or enclosed spaces. The staff continues to wear masks, however.
ROOM FACILITIES There are three accommodation buildings, each named for one of the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao). Aruba is the original building and the tallest with beautiful water views from angled balconies. Lower floors overlook the gardens and waterfalls, and guests on top floors can take advantage of the hotel’s premium level, which also includes access to a lounge with complimentary breakfast, plus all-day refreshments and evening cocktail service. Island-themed art fills the guest rooms, and all sport cushioned headboards and Hilton’s bedding package with striped duvets and quality linens. Work desks have plentiful power outlets, and enormous flat-screen TVs swivel so you can watch them from any angle. Coffeemakers, safes, refrigerators and complimentary bottled water come standard.
Bathrooms were remodeled with glass showers featuring sliding doors so that you can easily adjust the water temperature from outside. Local toiletry products contain the island’s famous aloe, and vanities have exceptionally bright mirrors which many will appreciate.
Bonaire and Curacao buildings have similar décor although they have more garden-facing rooms since they have fewer floors.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS Even though there are many restaurants in the area, most guests may never leave since there are so many onsite dining options. Sunset Grille is the signature steakhouse serving impressive cuts of meat with all the customary sides (try the creamed spinach and Gouda cheese fritters). There are plenty of other options for non-meat eaters, too. A beachfront seafood restaurant serves everything from ceviche to grilled seafood. Salads, sandwiches and even a vegetarian ceviche are available. A poolside bar has light bites and plenty of libations pouring from morning to sunset, and the breakfast restaurant is especially popular for its bottomless champagne or mimosa breakfasts. In the lobby, the market sells a variety of sandwiches, salads, ice cream, wine, beer, coffee and other sundries, and the lobby bar enjoys a breezy spot by the waterfalls with a daily happy hour special and live music. Romantic dinners on the beach are a special amenity that the resort offers. Diners can choose from a multi-course menu served on a white-linen tablecloth, which is accompanied by wine or other drinks. Dipping your feet in the sand while watching sunset and dining on the beach is a special experience.
LEISURE FACILITIES A 24-hour fitness center features modern equipment facing the beach, and Eforea Spa, Hilton’s signature spa product, offers a variety of massage and beauty treatments. Relaxation areas include a cold plunge, sauna and steam room. On the beach, guests can reserve a palapa with lounge chairs and tableside service. To request service, flip a special marker from red to green, and a server will appear. Some of the newer palapas are ideal for remote working as they feature power and USB outlets as well a laptop cooling trays.
Poolside cabanas are another option, and there are plenty of shady spots to enjoy by the two pools. The resort has scheduled activities on a daily basis including meditation, yoga, pool aerobics and even evening movies in the pool, and for those who want to try their luck, the resort has a casino.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES Wireless Internet works well everywhere (including on the beach), and the hotel has numerous function rooms to host large-scale events either indoors or on the many grassy lawns around the resort.
VERDICT This resort impresses with its countless dining options, beautiful beachfront location and renovated guest rooms. Most guests will be surprised to learn that this was the hotel that started it all on Palm Beach.
PROPERTY HIGHLIGHTS Stunning beachfront lined with palapas and two sparkling pools beneath swaying palms; refurbished guest rooms with colorful artwork
HOW MANY ROOMS? 357 guestrooms and suites
CONTACT Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino, J.E. Irausquin Blvd. 81, Palm Beach, Aruba, Tel 297-586-6555, hiltonaruba.com
Images: Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino