By Hugh Spencer
The flight was a breeze… the arrival was a breeze…the cab ride was a breeze…the check-in was a breeze… and of course trade winds are a breeze. After a short drive from the airport, rising out of the ivory pure beaches of Aruba’s leeward coast is a section of high-rise hotels you would expect to see off Key Biscayne in Miami and worthy of their grandeur, but the non-pretentious Radisson is clearly the forerunner of them all.
The Radisson hotel is not the newest nor is it the fanciest on the friendly island of Aruba but it sure stands out as the best. It’s not clear from the road what lies behind the registration counter but you are sure to be greeted with rum punch upon arrival and with a cool towel to wipe your sure-to-be perspiring brow. With the trade wind breeze wafting through the open air lobby of this $55 million recently transformed retreat, this is just the start of what this 14-acre hotel has to offer.
Breeze through the check-in process and you will immediately see that this resort is meant for children of all ages. The Disney Channel plays on the 50-inch plasma television oddly close to the entrance of the Sunset Grille, the Radisson’s fine dining restaurant, the in–house luxury shops and of course the casino. Equally kid- and couple-friendly, the Radisson is not the raucous playground the neighboring hotels have surely become. This place is a sanctuary as well as a full-service resort with lagoon water features, lush foliage, unusual plantings and cascading waterfalls, but noticeably no water slides and no screaming kids.
The only sounds in this lobby come from a dozen or so exotic birds colorfully mimicking the guests as they walk down to the magnificent zero entry free form pools. Make sure to reserve (reservations are taken at 4 p.m. a day before) a rattan hut for the next day as you meander on the glorious trails that take you to the private beach. There usually is a short line of people who are in the know, lined up at 3:30 p.m. looking for waterfront prime real estate as the lounge chairs are given out on a first come first serve basis. Don’t worry, there is plenty of space for everybody and like everything else, the process is a breeze.
While the fragrant gardens surround the Radisson’s Gilligan Bar on one side the crystal aqua ocean plays the role of the perfect backdrop to good pub food and great drinks on the other. Have a Bay Breeze and enjoy the golden glow setting to live karaoke at sunset. This surely is “the” place to be for happy hour no matter where on the island you happen to be staying.
While the constant trade winds continuously cool and relax you as you take in the serenity of this seaside paradise, nothing takes your tension away more than the magic hands of a talented masseuse. The Radisson Aruba clearly has made this luxurious service its passion as it is by far the best on the island. Even though the lavish Larimar spa is open to the public and vacationers from all the surrounding hotels use the numerous services like the hair salon, the newly equipped gym, the steam room, sauna and cold plunge pool, there always seemed to be free time available for an aloe vera hot stone full body massage for the Radisson guests.
After experiencing the opulence of the spa, sit and enjoy the relaxing music of El Prove’s silky soprano saxophone as he takes your requests at the Martini Bar and Cigar Lounge or just listen from your private outdoor balcony overlooking the pool and the ocean in the comfort of your own room. Or, if you prefer, enjoy your own music from the iPod ready in-room stereo.
Rooms are the lap of luxury fitted out with the ultimate amenities: a firm adjustable mattress, a 50-inch plasma television, marble bathrooms and turn down service featuring incredibly decadent chocolate truffles. Slip into your waffled Egyptian cotton bathrobe, call the 24-hour room service for champagne and dinner and stare out at the panoramic view, and you might never want to leave the room. But, explore, you must…
There is too much to take in in Aruba to stay cooped up. Tennis, golf, water skiing, parasailing, diving, snorkeling and boating are all at your fingertips via the concierge or roam the island and discover the local culture by car and return to free on-site parking ... it’s a breeze! The Radisson is perfectly located in walking distance from the island’s most acclaimed restaurants.
The point is, no matter what your pleasure, Radisson Aruba is a breeze.
Radisson Aruba Resort & Casino
J.E. Irausquin Boulevard 81, Palm Beach,