Boardwalk Hotel Aruba Rating: 3.0 Pearls
Aruba

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

  • An intimate garden setting on the site of a former coconut plantation
  • Spacious casitas have a tasteful but relaxed coastal style
  • Fully equipped kitchens, flat-screen TVs, and fine linens
  • Private patios have charcoal grills and hammocks
  • Outdoor pool, Jacuzzi and cushioned lounge areas
  • Walking distance to Palm Beach for swimming, wind and kite surfing
  • Free use of snorkel equipment, beach gear and toys for kids
  • Free use of eight tennis courts and a fitness center nearby
  • Friendly owners will arrange tours and give invaluable local info
  • Weekly rum punch party in the backyard
  • Massage and nail services offered on-site, upon request
  • Free Wi-Fi and parking

Cons

  • A walk to the beach; guests have to cross a busy road to get there
  • The pool area is small and not ideal for sunbathing
  • No restaurant on-site (ask the owner, Stephanie, for off-site suggestions)

Bottom Line

For those in search of a truly intimate boutique experience on Aruba, the Boardwalk Hotel -- owned by a set of Belgian twins -- is an excellent mid-range choice. This peaceful 14-room property, tucked behind three massive Marriott properties and situated on a former coconut plantation, remains an oasis of calm. Adventure sport seekers have called this their secret vacation home for years, but the property also appeals to couples and families. The bright, spacious rooms -- more like apartments -- have fully equipped kitchens, fine linens, and private patios. Snorkel gear is provided free to guests, as are beach towels, coolers, chairs, and umbrellas. There's no direct beach access, but guests can walk to nearby Palm Beach (full of bustling restaurants, casinos and nightlife) or get in the car and head to a hidden beach recommended by the owners -- they know the local scoop, so guests should be sure to ask their advice.

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 Scene

This hidden gem attracts a laid-back, adventure sports crowd

Outdoor common area
Outdoor common area

To reach the hotel, guests will head north on the main highway that travels along the west coast of Aruba, passing a series of Marriott properties facing Palm Beach as well as the construction site for the colossal, soon-to-be Ritz Carlton. To the right, past an unattractive marshland, a curious orange and turquoise entrance beckons. The driveway is lined with tall palm trees, and the relaxing vibe of this former coconut plantation can be sensed even before stepping out of the vehicle.

The lobby to the front of the hotel is cheerful with bold colors and island accents. Many guests will meet the dog, Lola, first, before one of the friendly owners offers a tour of the grounds. The small pool area is never crowded, and there are lounge areas to have a beer and read a book under the large palapa or in the backyard, next to fresh herb plants.

Each of the 13 casitas -- either on the ground level or up a private flight of turquoise stairs -- has its own kitchen and private patio. The lack of a restaurant and activities on-site contributes to the peace and quiet. It's never totally silent, though, as constant trade winds rustle the tropical vegetation; for guests looking to socialize, the hotel does host weekly rum punch parties in the backyard.

 Location

Steps from Palm Beach, but a rental car is recommended

Aruba is a small island 15 miles north of Venezuela, known for having white-sand beaches and constant trade winds. The Boardwalk is situated on the northern end of the High-Rise district behind several massive Marriott resorts. Though tucked away on a former coconut plantation filled with tropical plants, guests of the Boardwalk have close proximity to Palm Beach -- but they'll have to cross a busy road in the process. A rental car is recommended to access other areas of the island, and the friendly owners will offer suggestions for local hot spots. Taxis can be arranged as well, though fares can get expensive.

  • 5-minute walk to Palm Beach for high-rise hotels, restaurants and shopping
  • 6-minute drive to Tierra del Sol golf course
  • 6-minute drive to California Lighthouse
  • 7-minute drive to Alto Vista Chapel
  • 10-minute drive to Eagle Beach
  • 11-minute drive to The Links golf course
  • 11-minute drive to downtown Oranjestad and the cruise terminal
  • 13-minute drive to Queen Beatrix International Airport
  • 22-minute drive to Arikok National Park
  • 24-minute drive to Savaneta for beachside dining
  • 36-minute drive to Baby Beach

 Rooms

Spacious casitas have comfortable amenities and a cheerful coastal style

Bedroom in thhe One Bedroom Casita
Bedroom in thhe One Bedroom Casita

Boardwalk offers thirteen spacious one- or two-bedroom casitas with fully equipped kitchens, adjoining living rooms, and separate bedrooms that are dressed in fine white linens. The decor is minimalist chic, with wood-beamed ceilings, white walls, and bright accents in orange, turquoise and lime. Bathrooms have local toiletries and large walk-in showers. Furnished patios look out onto lush gardens and include quality deck furniture, cushions, hammocks and charcoal grills. Patios are well-used, as there aren't any views of note from bedroom windows. The carafe of fresh lemonade in the refrigerator is a nice welcome touch for new arrivals. The hotel received renovations to its larger casitas in December 2012, adding new floors, kitches, and rain showers.

  • Crisp white bedding and duvets
  • Fully equipped kitchens (including coffeemakers and microwaves)
  • Free homemade lemonade in the fridge upon arrival
  • Large furnished patios with attractive fruit bowl
  • Charcoal grills
  • Hammocks
  • Flat-screen TVs (DVD players upon request)
  • Aruba Aloe toiletries
  • Attractive bathrooms, including large walk-in showers (no bathtubs)
  • Air-conditioning

 Beach

Steps from the hotel is Palm Beach, with great swimming and restaurants

Boardwalk is set just one block away from Palm Beach, the two-mile-long stretch that's home to High-Rise hotels, restaurants, and shops. Like all beaches in Aruba, it is open to the public and provides a nice, if somewhat crowded, spot for swimming and playing. There are no rocks here, and it is shallow close to shore, but then drops off quickly and gets quite deep. A short walk south on the beach is MooMba Beach Club, where guests have free use of the beach club chairs.

Just north of Palm Beach is the area known primarily for wind and kite surfing. It enjoys constant trade winds and shallow waters, making it a great place to learn either sport, and there are plenty of operators who rent gear and provide instruction.

Guests can drive a bit farther north up the island toward Malmok, Boca Catalina, and Arashi beaches -- all good spots for snorkeling, sunbathing, and swimming.

Beach towels, chairs, umbrellas and coolers are provided free of charge for guests of the Boardwalk. Kid-friendly beach gear includes Frisbees, paddleball sets, floats, surfboards, and body boards.

A big plus: The hotel offers snorkel gear. (Most places in Aruba force tourists to book a tour in order to use equipment.) Boardwalk gives guests freedom to go out on their own, and the owners can recommend local hot spots, including nearby shipwrecks.

 Pool

An attractive but small pool area surrounded by tall palm trees

Bird's eye view of the pool area
Bird's eye view of the pool area

The outdoor pool is nice, but -- like the hotel itself -- small, although it rarely gets crowded since there are so few guests. There is a Jacuzzi, a shallow pool section for children, and a deeper area for adults. The terrace surrounding the pool is attractive, and decorated with wooden lounge chairs and bright colored cushions. Tall palms provide plenty of shade for reading, but those who want direct rays will have to wait for certain times of the day. Alternately, guests can snag the two cushioned lounge chairs in the sunny backyard area next to the large palapa.

 Family

Spacious casitas with kitchens are a fine choice for families

The spacious casitas are convenient for do-it-yourself families, featuring fully equipped kitchens and outdoor charcoal grills. The one-bedroom units with two queen beds can fit four family members, and the two-bedroom units can accommodate up to six. There are plenty of toys, lawn games, board games, and crafts available at the front desk. Kids may also like the hotel's adorable dog, Lola.

For added safety, Boardwalk can loan guests car seats, beach-proof strollers, and a children's gate to block the front door of the casita.

Older kids will enjoy the free use of body boards, floats, Frisbees, paddle ball sets, and snorkel gear.

 Food

Kitchens, charcoal grills, fresh herbs, and restaurant recommendations from the "foodie" owner

Each casita comes with a fully equipped kitchen, as well as a charcoal grill on the furnished patio. For bread and cheese, the staff recommends Super Food's bakery. Ling & Sons grocery store is recommended for purchasing barbecue items, fruits, and vegetables. In addition, there are several commercial centers with grocers near the hotel. For a special addition to a recipe, ask the owners to snip a sprig from one of the fresh herb plants growing in the backyard.

One of the owners, Stephanie, has a passion for food and has made it her mission to discover Aruba's hidden gems so that she can pass on her favorite suggestions to guests. She is animated when it comes to restaurants, and will gladly make reservations for guests.

 Drinks

Walking distance to several bars for live music and entertainment

  • Boardwalk holds a weekly rum punch party (snacks included) in the backyard. This is a fun opportunity for guests to meet staff members and mingle with one another.
  • Wine and beer (as well as coffee) can be purchased at the front desk and enjoyed on the grounds or in the casitas.
  • The staff can provide local suggestions for bars and entertainment within walking distance of the Boardwalk, including MooMba's for daily happy hours at sunset, and live music on Sunday nights.
  • Several casinos are near the hotel, including Marriott's Stellaris Casino, across the street.

 Spa

Two specialists for nail treatments, and a variety of massages

While the Boardwalk does not have an actual spa, Florian (a.k.a Flo) can be booked in advance for on-site massages. He has years of experience in Aruba, as well as Vietnam, where he co-owned a spa and fitness center. Florian's passion for extreme sports has taught him essential skills in self-treating injuries.

Guests can schedule a massage in their own casita, or in the garden. Swedish, sports, couples, and Thai massages are offered, among others.

Boardwalk also offers manicures and pedicures from Carolina, a nail specialist who is available to visit Boardwalk upon request.

 Services

This small property offers an impressive list of services.

  • Free maps, local information, and reservations from the friendly staff
  • Free use of sporting equipment, books, games, and toys
  • Free use of local tennis courts and fitness center
  • Free Wi-Fi throughout property
  • Daily local newspaper delivered to patios
  • Daily housekeeping
  • Laundry service
  • Free use of beach lounge chairs at Moomba Beach Club

 Physical Activities

This hotel's laid-back vibe attracts adventure-seekers, especially those interested in wind and kite surfing

  • Palm Beach is a block away, and Boardwalk provides free use of coolers, beach chairs, Frisbees, paddleball sets, floats, and body boards. They also provide information about activities and day tours and can make arrangements for guests.
  • Every guest is offered a snorkel set free to use during their stay. Several great snorkeling spots are within walking distance.
  • The Aruba Racquet Club is free of charge for guests. The facilities are within walking distance and include eight tennis courts, a practice wall, fitness center, showers, playground, pool, and skate ramp.
  • Aruba is rated one of the top locations in the world for wind and kite surfing. Boardwalk works directly with a shop on the beach at the nearby Marriott Aruba Resort for top-notch equipment and training.
  • Aruba attracts scuba divers and the island has the largest historical wreck of the whole Caribbean. Boardwalk can recommend dive tours for guests.
  • There are some surfing spots (though conditions vary) on Wariruri, a little bay on the North Shore. Surfboards can be rented at the front desk.
  • Several parasailing operators are located at the High-Rise hotel water sport centers.
  • Numerous charter boats offer half- or full-day deep-sea fishing excursions.
  • There are two golf courses on the island, including an 18-hole championship course and a 9-hole course in the Low-Rise district.
  • Mountain bikes can be rented at AAV, across the street from the hotel.

 Romance and Honeymoons

A quiet atmosphere and big patios contribute to the romantic ambiance

Each of the casitas has a spacious patio decorated with wooden furniture and touches of turquoise, orange, and green against the building's white facade. Couples looking to stay in for the night can cook in the kitchens or on the charcoal grills, and dine on the patio table and chairs. Aruba's constant trade winds rustle the palms and plants around the property, and the relaxed setting feels a million miles away from the High-Rise crowds.

Large casitas are decorated in a cheerful coastal style, and include high-quality white linens and big walk-in showers. Separate living rooms have comfortable sofas and flat-screen TVs. (DVD players available upon request).

Boardwalk does not offer special packages for honeymooners. Let them know in advance, however, and a member of staff will place a bottle of bubbly in the refrigerator and flowers on the bed.

 Weddings

A relaxed, tropical setting for small destination weddings

With its peaceful garden-like atmosphere, Boardwalk is an ideal spot for an intimate wedding. Several weddings and private parties (including engagements, vow renewals, and anniversaries) have taken place here in the past; guests have rented out part of the property or even the entire property.

There is no set price for a basic wedding package, but a discount is offered for wedding parties, and staff members will gladly help plan details, such as catering and boat trips. Popular spots for the ceremony include the large palapa in the backyard, or around the pool area.

 Eco-Friendly

A commitment to growing eco-friendly practices on the property

  • The cleaning staff uses eco-friendly products, including baking soda and lemon.
  • Renovations in 2012 added a grey water system to reuse water for the garden; energy efficient air-conditioning units; and water efficient toilets
  • To save water, bed linens are replaced only twice per week (or sooner if requested).
  • Laundry service here uses less water, energy, and fewer environmentally harmful chemicals.
  • Staff separates aluminum, cardboard, and paper and glass for EcoTech, the recycling company on the island.

 History

A former coconut plantation turned windsurfers' mecca

Boardwalk's property has an intriguing history as a former coconut plantation, once known as Plantage Tromp. In its heyday, parties and treasure hunts for children were organized here, and the Queen of Holland once paid a visit during an annual tour.

Original Boardwalk owners, Geert and Julia, first bought the property in 1987 to use for their windsurfing business. The hotel started in 1991 with one casita and over time expanded little by little into what it is today. Current owners -- two female Belgian twins -- took over the property in 2011 (the former and current owners met through kite surfing) and today, Stephanie and Kimberly are passionate about preserving the soul and authenticity that attracted so many repeat guests through the years.

Guests can walk around the property and find a few original palm trees dating back to the plantation days. Since then, additional trees and vegetation have been planted to re-create the garden oasis that it once was.

 Renovations and Upkeep

The already charming casitaswere renovated in 2012.

Interior renovations to the casitas took place on a one-by-one basis from September to mid-December 2012. Updates included the installation of new flooring, while bathrooms and kitchens received a makeover in line with the existing coastal style.

Eco-friendly additions during this phase of renovations also included a grey water system to reuse water for the garden; energy efficient A/C units; and water efficient toilets.

The property is kept immaculate by a small team of dedicated and friendly staff.

 Pets

Unlike at nearby megaresorts, pets are allowed and even encouraged

The tranquil garden-like setting of the Boardwalk makes it a good choice for those traveling with their four-legged companions. Boardwalk is proud to call itself a pet-friendly hotel and furry friends stay for free. To prove it, the owners have an adorable dog named Lola who can often be found around the property.

 Handicap

Areas of the property -- including first-floor casitas -- are handicap accessible

The intimate size of this hotel allows for a relaxed setting for those with special needs. The lower-level casitas separated by walkways are handicap accessible, as are the lobby, pool and garden areas. (Bathrooms do not have support rails, however, and have walk-in showers but no bathtubs.) Parking is situated close to the rooms; guests can ask a staff member for a spot closest to the lobby for additional convenience.

 Safety

An after-hours security guard

This garden property is located behind the soon-to-be Ritz-Carlton, secluded behind a high wrought-iron fence. The only way to enter is through the driveway, which is manned by security guard after office hours (hours vary). Owners can always be reached in case of emergency, and to be on the safe side, they urge guests to double-lock front doors and avoid leaving valuables in parked cars.

Each casita has a safety deposit box for personal belongings. There is also a safe at the front desk where guests can leave valuables, free of charge.

 Bottom Line

For those in search of a truly intimate boutique experience on Aruba, the Boardwalk Hotel -- owned by a set of Belgian twins -- is an excellent mid-range choice. This peaceful 14-room property, tucked behind three massive Marriott properties and situated on a former coconut plantation, remains an oasis of calm. Adventure sport seekers have called this their secret vacation home for years, but the property also appeals to couples and families. The bright, spacious rooms -- more like apartments -- have fully equipped kitchens, fine linens, and private patios. Snorkel gear is provided free to guests, as are beach towels, coolers, chairs, and umbrellas. There's no direct beach access, but guests can walk to nearby Palm Beach (full of bustling restaurants, casinos and nightlife) or get in the car and head to a hidden beach recommended by the owners -- they know the local scoop, so guests should be sure to ask their advice.

Things You Should Know About Boardwalk Hotel Aruba

Address

  • Bakval 20, Palm Beach, Aruba

Room Types

  • One Bedroom Casita
  • Two Bedroom Casita

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 13
Pool: Yes
Fitness Center: Yes
Spa: Yes
Internet: Yes
Pets Allowed: Yes
Cribs: Yes
Jacuzzi: Yes
View All

Hotel Information

Location: Aruba
Address: Bakval 20, Palm Beach, Aruba
(See Map)
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