Cover: Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull
We love boutique hotels done well. The seclusion, the personality, the charm – a great boutique hotel turns a hotel stay into a unique experience.
But, it’s funny, we haven’t found many good boutique hotels in the islands. We’ve found them in the French countryside, in small towns in Belgium, in ocean side getaways in California – but not in the Caribbean.
That changed recently when we arrived at the Boardwalk Small Hotel in Aruba – a boutique hotel that gets it so right. We’ve been to Aruba countless times and have stayed in most of the high-rises along Palm Beach. They are very nice, and Palm Beach in Aruba is one of the prettiest beaches on the planet, but it can be so touristy and busy.
The last time we came to Aruba we rented a private house. With a pool, palapas, and tons of room – it was pleasant but very isolated. This time we were looking for something secluded and relaxing – but still close to the beach, the restaurants, and the casinos. So, when Boardwalk Aruba asked us to stay with them, we decided it sounded just like what we were looking for and – it exceeded our expectations. Here’s why…
A boutique hotel with a fabulous location in Aruba
Located across the street from the Ritz Carlton, the Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba is tucked away on a former coconut plantation that is lush, quiet and casual and only a three-minute walk to the beach.
An oasis in the midst of the most desirable area of Aruba, we were instantly in love with the little jewel. As the wind rustled through the trees, the bright play of tropical colors served as a cheerful invitation to relax and enjoy the peaceful surroundings at the Boardwalk.
With 14 studio, one or two bedroom casitas, or apartments, the hotel is small enough to be charming but large enough to support hotel features – like maid service, breakfast delivered to your room, and a pool.
Our tropical casita
Upon entering our one bedroom casita, we both said the same thing – “It’s immaculate!” As 100+ nighters per year in hotels, we’ve seen the gamut of cleanliness from good to, well not so much, and the Boardwalk was the most pristine of them all.
A beautiful combination of bright whites and warm colors, the decor is the definition of a tropical oasis. From the comfy, rattan couches to the plush, white bed linens on the cushy bed, every inch of the casita was well-thought out. The fully equipped kitchen included a microwave oven, blender, toaster, coffeemaker, and, inside the fridge was the most amazing iced tea.
The bath was quite large with a walk-in rain shower, vessel sink, Aruba Aloe toiletries, and tons of storage.
It’s in the details
As we continued to explore and discover, we found a cooler to take to the beach – and if we wanted, the hotel had snorkeling gear and beach chairs we could borrow. Additionally, fresh beach towels are delivered daily to your casita.
If heading to Palm Beach, Boardwalk Aruba hotel guests have free access to Moomba Beach Club, which includes the use of lounge chairs and discounts on the restaurant’s food offerings.
Then there’s the Treasure Box.
Filled with suggestions for the best things to do in Aruba, the Treasure Box highlights activities and dining recommendations on the island. Each tip described in detail on laminated cards ranging from restaurants to yoga to beach tips.
With a bottle of wine in hand and a couple of glasses from the kitchen, we next headed outside to our private patio with a hammock and teak patio furniture.
One of the Boardwalk’s cats came by to say hello and, as we enjoyed the setting sun, the smoky fragrance of our neighbor’s barbecue was quite enticing. In addition to the full kitchen, each casita is equipped with a charcoal BBQ but we decided to just head across the street and enjoy a dinner at the Marriott, located next to the Ritz.
Arriving back at the hotel, we took a last stroll by the pool before turning in for the night.
The best breakfast in Aruba
After a fabulous night’s rest, we awoke to enjoy breakfast delivered to our patio. From the multiple selections offered, we chose the local breakfast, which included a cappuccino, fruit smoothie of the day, pastries, home-made arepa (corn-based bread) with cheese, jam, butter and, since we don’t eat eggs, they substituted fruit and yogurt with granola. The entire breakfast was fresh and delicious – the yogurt was divine.
A quiet morning by the pool
After breakfast, we spent some time wandering around the hotel grounds. Nestled amongst the tropical gardens are a quiet swimming pool and Jacuzzi with lounge chairs for those seeking a quiet spot to relax.
Near the pool is a common area with couches and a hammock – it would be a great place for larger groups to gather and share the events of the day or just to spend some quiet time reading.
Stopping by the lobby, which is open daily from 9am to 5pm, except on Sundays, we found Kimberly and Stephanie, the Aruban-born sisters who discovered the property in 2008. Following a major renovation that transformed the hotel into the tropical oasis it now is, Kimberly, Stephanie, and their staff now manage the property and are on hand to dispense advice and suggestions on how to get the most out of a visit to the island.
The two have truly created an exceptional boutique hotel. It’s no surprise they’ve been recognized by the New York Times and have also received TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Award as a 2015 Top 25 hotels in the Caribbean for service as well as the Certificate of Excellence from 2011-2015.
Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba
Reservations & more information: Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba website
Location: Bakval 20, North, Palm Beach, Oranjestad, Aruba
Rooms: 14 guest rooms and casitas
Facilities: Pool, jacuzzi, complimentary Moomba Beach Club access, free use of snorkeling gear, coolers and beach chairs, Nespresso coffee and library in the lobby, pet-friendly
Casita amenities: Barbecue grill, hammock, daily beach towel refresh, breakfast service, daily housekeeping except on Sundays, daily newspaper,
WiFi and parking: Free
Disclosure & disclaimer: Special thanks to Boardwalk Aruba for hosting us as their guest. The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.