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Aruba Forging Ahead with a $230 million Investment in Tourism — the
Island’s Largest Expansion and Renovation Campaign in Years; 
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720 New Rooms Being Added at Four Resorts
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Oranjestad, Aruba – March 2, 2006 -- The Aruba Tourism Authority, together with its private sector partners, is forging ahead in 2006 with major investments in its tourism product totaling over $230 million.  Expansions and renovations encompass virtually every sector of the travel industry, from the airport and cruise terminal to hotels, spas and restaurants. 

“The island of Aruba is making significant investments in economic development across the island,” said Minister of Tourism and Transportation Edison Briesen.  “The $230 million flowing into tourism is indicative of the strength of this market and the island’s dedication to serving our visitors and enhancing the guest experience.  We are poised for an increase in both tourism numbers and revenue in 2006.”

Significant investment and expansion, to the tune of over $34 million, is underway at Queen Beatrix International Airport (www.airportaruba.com). The airport’s growth plan includes the installation of elevators to make the facility more accessible for disabled travelers, the addition of a new central security area, updated signage, free luggage carts and more.  The improvements are well-timed as many carriers, including American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Song, United Airlines, US Airways, have recently expanded service to the island.   Aruba is also planning changes at the cruise ship terminal, which will be expanded. 

The Government of Aruba is investing approximately $16 million in the creation of the largest linear park in the Caribbean, stretching 10 miles from Aruba’s Queen Beatrix International Airport to the end of the high-rise hotel corridor.  The new landscaping will include green areas, walking and bike paths, designed to enhance the ocean view along this much-traveled stretch from airport to hotels.

Other areas of the island, such as Baby Beach, on the east end, and downtown Oranjestad, the island’s capital, are undergoing development and upgrades.  One of the most visible sectors of change is among the island’s hotels and resorts, where over $180 million has been invested in major renovation and expansions spanning 2005 through 2007:

  • In spring 2006 the RIU Aruba Grand will close for a $40-million expansion to add 286 guestrooms.  When completed, the new and improved resort with be the five-star, 451-room RIU Palace. www.riu.com/uk/palm_beach/hotel_riu_aruba_grand.html
  • Holiday Inn Sunspree Aruba is undergoing a $5-million renovation, the first phase of a three-year program.  www.ichotelsgroup.com/h/d/hi/1/en/hd/AUAAN
  • The Divi Aruba Phoenix Beach Resort’s $20-million Divi Phoenix tower construction will start in 2006 and complete in fall 2007. The new development will more than double the size of the existing property adding 140 units, including timeshares, studios, one, two and three-bedrooms, in four buildings, bringing the total number of rooms to 241.  www.diviresorts.com 
  • The Divi Aruba All-Inclusive will invest $5.5 million and deliver 55 additional rooms by December 2006.  www.diviresorts.com 
  • Divi Village Golf and Beach Resort, a $42 million endeavor, features 52 new units, which opened August 2005.  Phase two will offer 52 additional rooms in April 2006, 56 units in December 2006 and 80 more by the end of 2007. www.diviresorts.com
  • The Divi Dutch Village Beach Resort underwent a $10-million renovation in 2005.  www.diviresorts.com
  • The Aruba Marriott Resort and Stellaris Casino completed a ballroom and casino expansion in 2005, is planning a $3.4-million room renovation in late spring 2006 and will spend $12 million renovating rooms in 2007.  www.arubamarriott.com
  • The Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino is completing a $10-million upgrade.  The renovations include a new Presidential Suite, new lobbies in the Marina Hotel and Ocean Suites, the opening of a new restaurant and pool bar, new bedding in all 558 rooms and suites and more.  http://marriott.com/property/propertypage/AUABR 
  • The Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort & Casino is embarking on a $20-million refurbishment, scheduled to begin in June 2006.  Full renovation of the property’s 360 guest rooms, lobby area, ballrooms, Alfresco Bar and Palms Restaurant and Beach Bar is scheduled and the Stillwater Spa and Copacabana Casino will be updated.  http://aruba.hyatt.com/hyatt/hotels/index.jsp 
  • The Tara Beach Suites at the Bucuti Beach Resort Aruba just spent $5 million remodeling Bucuti wing rooms.  www.bucuti.com
  • Wyndham Aruba Resort, Spa and Casino recently completed the construction of a new 10,000-square-foot ballroom, connected to the existing ballroom.  The two spaces total 20,000 square feet, making it the second largest ballroom on the island.  www.wyndhamaruba.com 
  • The Talk of the Town Hotel and Beach Club invested $500,000 in the front of the hotel. www.talkofthetownaruba.com
  • The Mill Resort spent $600,000 renovating the pools and first-floor rooms.  www.millresort.com
  • Andicuri Valley Resort and Spa is a multi-million project planned for the rustic and picturesque valley of Andicuri. The eco resort will feature 80 rooms. 
 Other areas of investment include:
  • The launch of “The Aruba Promise,” an island-wide tourism-training program.
  • Spa openings at the Costa Linda Beach Resort Aruba (late 2005) and Radisson Aruba Resort & Casino (schedule for November 2006, $5.2 million).  www.costalinda-aruba.com or www.radisson.com/aruba 
  • De Palm Tours is pumping $5 million into a new fleet of all-terrain vehicles and Land Rovers and a major renovation to its private island, De Palm Island.  The addition of a water park on the island is scheduled for completion in summer 2006.  www.depalm.com
  • New restaurants, such as Foot Prints Beach Grill (Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort & Casino); Aquarius Restaurant (Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino); The Promenade II (Aruba’s Sun Plaza Center); Sakura Sushi House (Aruba’s Aventura Mall); Crustaceans and Steaks (Irausquin Boulevard); Passions Beach Bar & Restaurant (Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort), will open.
For more information on planning a trip to Aruba, contact the Aruba Tourism Authority at 1-800-TO-ARUBA or visit www.aruba.com.

Aruba, where happiness lives, is truly a vacationer's paradise.  Located only two-and-a-half hours by air from Miami and four hours from New York City, the island is ideally situated outside the hurricane belt and boasts year-round cooling trade winds and perfect weather with average annual temperatures of 82 Fahrenheit and less than 20 inches of rainfall per year.  Aruba serves up 27 luxurious hotels/resorts, championship golf courses, sumptuous spas, vibrant casinos, extraordinary international cuisine, exclusive shops and boutiques, exciting land and water activities, unique cultural to-dos, world-famous music festivals and events and more. The backdrop of a pristine tropical escape coupled with the unforgettable hospitality of the islands people keep Aruba’s first-time guests delighted and its repeat visitor rate at 40%, the highest of any Caribbean destination. 

The U.S. State Department and the Department Homeland Security recently announced the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which will require all U.S. citizens and foreign nationals, to carry a passport or other accepted secure documents to enter or re-enter the U.S. from vacations or business travel anywhere in the Caribbean effective December 31, 2006.  This requirement is applied to all air and sea travel.  The Aruba Tourism Authority, in an effort to assist its valued visitors, strongly encourages all travelers to apply for their passports and advises all travelers to allow six to eight weeks to process U.S. passport applications in anticipation of their vacations to Aruba, where happiness lives.  For more information on the new U.S. passport initiative, please visit www.travel.state.gov

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Contact:

Aruba Tourism Authority
www.aruba.com

Eileen Almonte
Quinn & Co.
212.868.1900 x233
ealmonte@quinnandco.com

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Also See: A Destination Under Scrutiny - Aruba - One Happy Island / March 2006


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