One of the most remarkable aspects of staying at Divi & Tamarijn Aruba All Inclusives for the first time is the sense of familiarity. Certainly, everyone loves the expansive selection of food and drinks, each property’s lively pools, the nine-hole golf course and, without a doubt, those beautiful private beaches. But there’s something truly special about walking into those open-air lobbies, being greeted by staff members who never forget a face, and feeling like you truly matter.
When we visited last year, we met a Dutch couple kicking off the second week of their anniversary vacation, but it wasn’t the number of years they’d been together that stood out. Instead, it was how long they’d been celebrating their love at Divi Aruba—almost 30 years. Another couple told us how they’d chosen this resort for an anniversary almost 20 years earlier and loved it so much that not only do they return every year to celebrate that special day, but it is also the choice for their annual family vacation, and one of their adult children even got married on Divi Beach.
These stories would seem embellished if they hadn’t been told to us by the actual guests as they celebrated life and love while being greeted by name by everyone, from the general manager to the Pelican Bar’s charismatic staff. And even while we expected this year’s visit to be different, we weren’t surprised when two American couples met for the first time and regaled each other with stories of their combined two decades of visits to both properties, all while being greeted, by name, by various staff members.
That kind of attention, however, is just the cherry on top to the remarkable changes and additions that establish Divi & Tamarijn Aruba All Inclusives as standard bearers in this new era of travel.
Same Faces, New Amenities
Enthusiasts of the all-inclusive buffet-style dining will feel like their worlds have been flipped upside down when they enter Divi’s Pelican Terrace or Tamarijn’s Cunucu Terrace and see the incredible changes. Gone are the “help yourself” food stations, as executive chef Paul Zijlstra went to great lengths in designing and implementing live-cooking concepts for both resorts, keeping everything fresher and tastier than ever.
Guests can mix and match their breakfast, lunch and dinner meals from the various stations, including fish and meat from the grill, pastas and soups, a carving board and more. The floors are marked with standing spots to make social distancing as easy as it is safe, and guests take turns visiting the shielded cooking areas to place their orders and return to their tables with a buzzer in hand. It might not be as simple as loading up a plate on your own, but the freshness and creativity of the food selection make it more than worth the short wait.
Our favorite new addition is the Smoothies and Juice Bar, a personal touch from general manager Marin Bijl, who expressed his desire to use the resorts’ closure to make changes that weren’t just focused on overall health protocols, but also personal health. Now guests can start their mornings with an incredibly delicious strawberry energy shot before lounging at the pool or partaking in some watersports along the beautiful, private beaches at both resorts.
The creativity is also on display at the various bars as guests are tempted and perhaps even challenged by signs calling on them to “Taste Our Local Flavors.” Food and beverages operations manager Hiram Zievinger was thrilled to tap into Aruba’s regional ingenuity while developing a new cocktail menu packed with drinks made with local juices and liquors. Needless to say, the results are delicious.
At the signature spots—Divi’s Red Parrot and Tamarijn’s Paparazzi Restaurant, Bar and Lounge—guests who can’t put their phones down because of the incredible views of the Aruban sunset are asked to keep those phones handy. That’s because menus have been replaced with QR code signs on the table, putting the dining options on phones and tablets while cutting down on reusable menus and wasteful paper versions (although those are still available for anyone wishing to disconnect for a romantic dining experience).
Just like at the a la carte dining options and cooking stations, Divi & Tamarijn Aruba’s signature restaurants have put an overwhelming emphasis on delivering a fresh and spectacular dining experience. Given the effort that chef Paul puts into the presentation, guests will never be disappointed, especially if they choose the spectacular tenderloin.
A Cleaner, Safer Experience
You don’t need the resorts’ staff to point out the changes that both Divi & Tamarijn Aruba have made to their daily cleaning procedures and health protocols. From the blue circles on the Pelican Terrace floor and hand-sanitizer stations throughout all public spaces, to the arrows on the Tamarijn gym’s floor and “No mask, no lessons” signs at the Divi Links driving range, the intense effort and strategizing that went into the transformations at both properties are crystal-clear.
When it comes to the beaches here, guests already enjoy a wide-open, spread-out experience that is enhanced by the lack of hotel towers—it simply feels like you have all the space in the world. With social distancing protocols in place, people are spread out even more, which is something no one will ever complain about. And credit is due to the resorts’ guests because they not only followed every rule—including temperatures checked at the lobby and masks in all public places—but they also embraced everything willingly and made the ordeal that much easier for the staff.
Guests returning to Tamarijn Aruba will also be blown away by the transformation to the rooms as the resort once again used the closure to make stylish upgrades. New floors, walls, lighting and furniture accentuate what are arguably the best beach views on Aruba, and the beachside patios have been enhanced to promote those views and give every guest lasting, picture-perfect memories.
Some Things Never Stay the Same
One may wonder, amid all these changes, renovations and enhancements, will things eventually return to “normal”? At Divi & Tamarijn Aruba All Inclusives, this is the new normal. The cleaning protocols, including the room sanitization and fogging process, are here to stay, and arriving guests will always be greeted by the blue “Clean Check” label on their doors. Chef Paul and his team will continue to serve fresh, delicious food and drinks in both resorts’ dining areas and restaurants, and the Sea Turtles Kids Club will always offer the youngest guests a pristine area for learning and playing.
If it isn’t obvious, there are plenty of reasons why so many guests at Divi & Tamarijn Aruba All Inclusives are on their second, fifth, 10th or even 30th visit. For starters, there’s value. The Endless Summer sale, which runs from October 1-31, offers discounts of up to 60 percent off for travel between January 4 and March 31. That’s the perfect getaway window for so many of the resorts’ most loyal guests, but also just about anyone aching to get some pool time in a safe, health-focused atmosphere.
Whereas some resorts see change and challenges as burdens, these sister properties used circumstances beyond their control to make things even better. Call it raising the bar or setting the standard for Aruba’s all-inclusive resorts, but we prefer to think of it as recognizing the best interests of the people who matter most.