I LOve Aruba sign in the town

I LOve Aruba sign in the town

By Allison Tibaldi, Taking the Kids correspondent

This winter, my New York City neighborhood looks an awful lot like the North Pole. The recent snow and bone-chilling temperatures have my family and I dreaming of our 3 days of tropical bliss in Aruba.

Why Aruba?

Aruba is easy to reach from the New York area.

We had our choice of nonstop flights departing JFK to Aruba. With shorter vacations a growing trend, it’s all about the nonstop flights when we take a quick family getaway. Once you’re on board, it’s a 4-hour flight.

There are nonstop flights available from much of the Northeast and Southeast.

Tourism is a big part of Aruba’s economic picture and locals aim to keep visitors satisfied. The people we encountered were overwhelmingly welcoming. The country’s slogan, “One Happy Island”, couldn’t be more appropriate.

Aruba is situated outside of the hurricane belt. With little seasonal temperature variation and a desert climate, good weather is practically assured.

Ocean suites pool

Ocean suites pool

Aruba is a melting pot of cultures. It has been an independent nation since 1986 but it retains close ties with The Netherlands. The official languages are Dutch and Papiamento, a hybrid language spoken in Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. Papiamento blends elements of Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish and a smattering of English.

Nearly everyone speaks excellent English and many islanders speak Spanish and French. With such a wealth of languages, polyglots will be in heaven.

Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino

The Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino is located in the heart of Aruba’s capital, Oranjestad, just a few minutes from the airport. The town features shady palm trees, pedestrian-only walkways and pretty pastel-colored buildings.  Hop on the free trolley or one of the bikes the brand new bike share program offers and pedal away.

Upon check-in, we instantly knew we had hit the location jackpot. The hotel is walking distance from shops and authentic eateries serving local cuisine. As much as we enjoy swimming, sand and sun, we also appreciate taking a deeper dive into the local culture. We’ve stayed at many Caribbean beach resorts that are lovely yet largely without a sense of place. Not the Renaissance. Its in-town position gave us a glimpse into how the locals live.

Aruba Coastline

Aruba Coastline

The Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino is actually two separate buildings located across the street from each other. The Renaissance Marina Hotel is a sophisticated, adult-exclusive property for guests over 18 years of age.

The Renaissance Ocean Suites is perfect for families. It offers spacious accommodations with fridges, microwaves and living rooms with sofa beds, so there’s room for everyone to spread out. Rooms have either patios or balconies with views of the ocean, pools or manicured gardens.

Renaissance Aruba Private Island

The resort has it’s own private island. Renaissance Island is exclusively for guests of the Renaissance Resort.

It’s just an 8-minute water taxi ride to this oasis of sun, sand and gentle waves. The boat picks you up at the hotel lobby, so it’s a breeze to get to paradise.

It offers a beach for families as well as an adults-only section.

Flamingo beach

Flamingo beach

The casual restaurant, the Papagayo Bar & Grill, serves yummy treats including wood-fired pizza.

Don’t even get me started on Flamingo Beach. This beach is where several pink flamingos reside. It’s an adults-only beach but there’s a daily time when children may come to greet and feed the flamingos. It’s a popular photo-op.

For my family, swimming in the warm Caribbean water during the day followed by exploring the town at night was an unbeatable vacation combo. We’ve got warm memories to help us power through the long winter ahead.