Long a leisure tourism standout for vacationers craving sugar-white-sand beaches, colonial Dutch architecture that seems as edible as a gingerbread house, and turquoise-blue waters, Aruba also boasts amenities that has groups—incentive and otherwise—swimming in options.
“For meetings and incentives, Aruba’s really set up to make it easy for planners, in the sense that everything is right there,” says Hal Davis, sales manager, North America, for the Aruba Convention Bureau. “It’s a small island, so it’s easy to get around. Plenty of activities and restaurants and nightspots are walking distance, so you don’t have to spend a lot of money on transfers because it’s all right there.”
Another bonus, Davis says, is that the island is the beneficiary of frequent trade winds that cool down attendees at outdoor events, even in the hot Caribbean sun. Popular activities on the island’s eastern, resort side include lazy sunset sails, a diverse dining scene for dine-arounds, snorkeling and other water and beach fun.
An autonomous nation that follows Dutch law, Aruba thrives on tourism, and that’s reflected on the quality of its infrastructure.
“Eighty percent of Aruba’s GDP [gross domestic product] is tourism,” Davis says. “They just installed a trolley downtown and are working on a walkway on the beach that will connect the airport all the way to Palm Beach.”
The walkway makes its way through Linear Park, stretching from Queen Beatrix International Airport to the new 320-room Ritz Carlton, Aruba. The addition also includes Plaza Turismo, with walkways and trolley service.
The island’s rugged windward side—with rocky shorelines pounded by huge waves—offers activity options such as jeep safaris through Arikok National Park and the exploration of the many coves that dot the coast.
According to Davis, meeting planners typically work through the Aruba Convention Bureau to utilize one of the four DMCs on the island, adding that planners should first reach out to the Aruba Convention Bureau, or at least cc them on RFPs, as it often has promotional funds to dedicate to MICE groups.