Prevue March-April 2018 - 106
A sea-to-desert wellness experience for incentive groups
[ON LOCATION] AINE MCATEER
e arrived at Aruba's Queen Beatrix International Airport
to the rhythm of steel drums, and the beat continued
on to a glorious beachside feast at the 411-room
Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino's pop-up
restaurant, Atardi. The theme of our Aruba adventure is wellness, and
the Caribbean Sea's warm lapping waves, fresh seafood dishes and
calypso music have us off to a fantastic start.
"We can also host events in different places on the island
so attendees can really be in touch with the destination," says
Carolina Voullieme, director of sales and marketing at the property.
"We recently introduced a package where they can have a unique,
localized reception and dinner at either the Ayo Rock Formation
or Plaza Padu."
Planners have access to 10,450 sf of meeting space at the
resort, which includes an 8,000-sf ballroom, offering multiple
options for meetings, banquets or receptions.
We tested out Aruba's reputation as of the world's most sought-after
destinations for windsurfing during a session with Vela, located next
to the resort. And while most in our group were happily expecting a
beach-heavy itinerary, a land rover jaunt into Arikok National Park
with De Palm Tours for sightseeing, a dip in the natural pool, and a
little marine life spotting pleasantly surprised us. Caquetio Indian rock
paintings are nearby in Fontein Cave, and an old adobe house at
Cunucu Arikok reflects Aruba's farming past.
Back at the resort, Voullieme says treasure hunts and obstacle
courses that "start at Arashi Beach and end back at the hotel on
Palm Beach" are popular team building options for groups. They
can top this one off with a soothing treatment at the Balineseinspired Mandara Spa where the aromas of frangipani, Caribbean
coffee and botanicals greet them before indulging in one of many
massages, including the Aruba massage, passed down generation
EXPERIENCES FOR THE SOUL
It could be argued that the pizza-sized Dutch pancakes-topped
with mounds of sweet and savory ingredients-at Linda's Dutch
Pancake House are one of the island's variations of American soul
food. We tried these heavenly pancakes en route to a tour at the
Aruba Aloe Farm, the oldest such farm in the world, which also
houses a museum and store stocked with natural island remedies.
We then headed over to the trendy neighborhood of San Nicolas
to see colorful murals by worldwide artists, for a spin around the
Museum of Industry and to feast on an authentic Aruban lunch
with local artists.
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No visit to Aruba is complete without trying the national dish
keshi yena, a steam-baked cheese ball stuffed with the most
delicious combination of chicken, olives, raisins and spices. This
was prepared for our group at La Vista, one of seven on-site
restaurants, and our chef even obliged us with his secret recipe to
take home. Groups can also experience their own private cooking
class to learn how to make the dish.