The Bucuti is a romantic, adults-only resort taking up a prime stretch of Eagle Beach in the Low-Rise hotel district. This intimate, 104-room property has 14 acres of beach, and the main activity here involves lingering on the sand under shaded palapas; there's also a chic infinity edge pool. The hotel has been open for 25 years, and the original owner can often be seen socializing during check-in while guests enjoy a free glass of champagne. Rooms have stylish furnishings and modern amenities such as iPod docks, laptop tablets, and free Wi-Fi. A free breakfast buffet is served daily, and there is a restaurant for lunch and dinner, though plenty more restaurants are within walking distance. The resort sees a high percentage of repeat visitors, so book early.
A romantic boutique resort ideal for those seeking peace and quiet
Aruba is an island well-known for its big chain names (such as Westin and Marriott), but for those who seek it, there's a more intimate resort experience to be found. Tucked away in the Low-Rise area (it can be hard to find for first time visitors) is this low-key boutique resort renowned for its romantic setting and sustainability.
The entrance is nothing to write home about (there are no porters to help with luggage), but interiors give off a sophisticated vibe. Arrivals will be seated at one of the check-in desks and offered a free glass of champagne. Once settled into the contemporary rooms, guests guests can explore the rest of the property: A green lawn dotted with tall palms separates the resort's two wings, and leads to the expansive beach area where the main restaurant, terrace and bar is located.
Nightly happy hours at the Sand Bar are not to be missed: Drink specials are a good value, and the live steel drum music is an authentic way to experience Aruba's outstanding sunsets before heading to a dinner reservation.
The resort's owner has been a local for over 25 years, and is passionate about keeping the property modern and fresh. In 2012, the hotel upgraded its fitness center, featuring new equipment in a bright space. Bucuti also added a new restaurant in January 2013, Carte Blanche, a fine-dining establishment that features a 5-course menu that changes daily.
Taking up a prime expanse of Eagle Beach, close to the airport and capital city
Aruba is a small island 15 miles north of Venezuela known for having white sand beaches and constant trade winds. Bucuti is tucked away from the crowds in the Low-Rise hotel district, just 10 minutes from Aruba's capital city of Oranjestad and Queen Beatrix International Airport. (The Low-Rise district and High-Rise districts are exactly what they sound like, with low- and high-rise hotels, respectively. The High-Rise section fronts Palm Beach and has close proximity to shopping, restaurants and bars, but the Low-Rise section to the south tends to feel less crowded.)
A rental car is recommended for longer stays, but taxis can be arranged through the hotel's concierge service. The neighboring Divi Resort complex offers a 9-hole golf course, and upscale dining options can be found within a short walk of Bucuti at the Shops at Alhambra Casino.
5-minute walk along the shore to the hub of Eagle Beach
5-minute drive to Palm Beach for high-rise hotels, restaurants and shopping
7-minute drive to California Lighthouse
10-minute drive to downtown Oranjestad and the cruise terminal
10-minute drive to Alto Vista Chapel
10-minute drive to Tierra del Sol golf course
11-minute drive to Queen Beatrix International Airport
Contemporary rooms with varying views, suited for romantic couples or couples traveling with adult children
Bucuti completed updates to all 104 rooms and suites in 2011, and then further (more minor) soft renovations took place after our visit in 2012. There are two wings to the resort: the original Bucuti Wing and the newer Tara Suites Wing. Eco-friendly rooms have modern amenities, motion sensor systems, tiled floors, and contemporary furnishings in a sophisticated color scheme.
Most Superior Rooms have a garden view, though some come with a partial ocean view.
Deluxe Rooms are slightly larger than the Superior Rooms and come with two queen-sized beds and large balconies.
Bungalow Suites are located in a standalone building that leads out to Eagle Beach.
Junior Suites feature full kitchens, separate bedrooms and sitting areas, and large balconies.
Tara Beach Suites come with oceanfront views and separate living areas. Bathrooms have granite countertops.
The four Tara Beach Penthouse Suites have outstanding views of Eagle Beach and large terraces. The units come with living areas and full kitchens featuring stainless steel appliances. The bathroom has both a clawfoot tub and separate shower.
All rooms include:
High-thread count bedding and pillow-topped mattresses
Free breakfast for all guests and a main restaurant for lunch and dinner
This is not an all-inclusive resort, though breakfast is free for guests. There is a main restaurant and terrace for lunch and dinner, and more restaurants are within walking distance.
The main restaurant, Elements, is located on the beach and re-opened after our visit in 2012.
Carte Blanche, a fine-dining establishment serving a unique five-course dinner daily, opened in January 2013. The smal space is ideal for foodies looking for a one-of-a-kind meal.
Breakfast buffet is served in the Dutch Galleon or the Tara Lounge, which is an air-conditioned room. The spread includes made-to-order omelets, bacon, pancakes, sausage and French toast, as well as fresh fruit, yogurts, cereals, freshly baked breads and Danishes, pâtés, cheeses, sliced meats and vegetables, coffee, tea and espresso.
The resort's more stylish terrace, just in front of the "ship", is a good place for relaxed meals or pre-dinner drinks.
For a set price, guests can dine in a private cabana on the beach, separate from the main dining area. The price covers wine or champagne, appetizers, entrées, dessert, and tea, coffee or espresso.
Bucuti also offers a unique Dine Around program, which gives guests an option to purchase vouchers that can be used at any of about 20 restaurants located across the island.
Eagle Beach is famous for offering beautiful white sand and ideal swimming conditions.
The highlight of the resort is the prime location on the famous Eagle Beach, considered one of the best beaches in the world. Not only is the resort's 14-acre beach area considered safe, but views face west for outstanding sunsets. This beach is cleaned daily, and because of the great expanse, it is impossible for it to feel crowded despite being open to the public. The shore has lapping turquoise waves straight from a postcard -- great for swimming and long barefoot strolls in either direction.
For guests who want to relax with a book, shaded palapas are available to guests on a first come, first serve basis. Those staying in the penthouse suites will have access to their own palapa.
Each guest is given two guests towels upon arrival. These can be exchanged for clean towels anytime during the stay.
Food and drink can be ordered from the beach by using the "flag-up" service.
Non-motorized water sports are available for guests. For motorized sports, simply walk towards the hub of Eagle Beach for rentals. The resort's concierge team can also help book specialized tours and activities.
An infinity pool and attached Jacuzzi offers a sand-free alternative to the beach
Though Eagle Beach is the main attraction for sunbathers, a stylish infinity pool can be found behind the resort's main restaurant. This spot is rarely crowded and there are several cushy lounge chairs that offer guests a sand-free environment to relax and enjoy a drink. There is a Jacuzzi attached to the pool for evening dips when the temperature drops.
A variety of wine, beer and specialty drinks can be ordered around the resort.
The resort offers a sophisticated wine and champagne list by the bottle ranging in price, as well as many options by the glass.
Popular nightly happy hours at the open-air Sand Bar, with live steel drum music and lovely sunset views. The resort's signature blended drink, Sand in Your Shorts, is made with rum, Crème de Cacao, coconut cream and vanilla ice cream.
This peaceful adults-only resort offers little in the form of typical island entertainment.
Unlike nearby all-inclusive resorts that offer nightly entertainment for the whole family, Bucuti maintains a low-key romantic atmosphere.
Every evening before and after dinner, the Sand Bar becomes a hub for guests to relax, with happy hour drink specials and live steel drum music. In addition, weekly movie nights allow guests to watch a new release or an old classic right on the beach.
The Links -- with nine scenic holes, a pro shop and restaurants -- is one of only two golf courses on the island.
Golfers staying at Bucuti will enjoy being in such close proximity to the Links at Divi, which can be reached by foot. Open since October 2004, the Links is one of only two golf courses on the island. This 9-hole ocean-view course offers play over water and landscaped lagoons. Tournaments are held twice weekly, and golfers have use of a video golf swing analysis station, driving range area (in net), chipping area and bunker practice area.
The island's other option, Tierra del Sol, offers 18 championship holes and is a 10-minute drive from the resort. This desert course has beautiful ocean views and offers individual lessons, a putting range, chipping areas and a clubhouse with a golf shop and restaurant.
A nearby casino with low-limit tables and over 350 slots
There's no casino on-site at the Bucuti, but the one at the Divi Aruba is a five-minute walk away. Divi's casino was the first in Aruba, opened in 1959, and has over video poker machines, multi-game machines, and over 350 slots. Table games (only available in evenings) include blackjack, roulette and craps, and they come with low-limit offers.
In addition, the Shops at Alhambra Casino feature a variety of boutiques and restaurants, including a sophisticated cigar bar.
More casinos can be found a little farther away, in Oranjestad and the High-Rise hotel district.
Bucuti appeals mostly to couples with its peaceful setting along the ocean. Rooms have chic contemporary style, and the expansive beach rarely feels crowded; since all beaches in Aruba are public, couples can walk miles along the sand in either direction. The resort's location at the southern end of Eagle Beach faces directly west for outstanding sunsets. Couples frequently gather at Sand Bar's popular happy hour to enjoy the sunset views, cocktail specials, and steel drum music. The concierge can help book romantic tours such as the sunset sailing cruise.
The hotel does offer specific honeymoon and romance packages, which include extras such as a bottle of champagne waiting in the room and a romantic candlelight dinner for two on the beach.
Eagle Beach -- the resort's star attraction -- provides a romantic backdrop for intimate destination weddings.
This romantic boutique resort is, unsurprisingly, a popular destination wedding spot, but the resort only allows one ceremony on the premise per day so as to not bother other guests. In addition, weddings are limited to no more than 50 people to ensure that the resort atmosphere remains peaceful. Bucuti does not have a party scene, and kids under 18, while they can attend the ceremony, are not allowed to stay overnight at the resort.
Basic wedding packages require a deposit.
There is a full-time wedding planner on-site for arrangements including officiator, flowers, decorations, photographer, videographer, wedding cake, music, entertainment, and dinner reception.
Bucuti offers a 10 percent discount on regular room rates for wedding parties and guests.
Weddings take place on the beach or in the garden and courtyard area. Bucuti does not have indoor event facilities.
Professional sports players have stayed here, but this resort places a high importance on guest privacy.
Bucuti is known throughout the hotel industry as an adults-only romantic resort, and privacy of its guests is of utmost importance. The occasional celebrity has been spotted on the premise -- most recently, professional sports players from the USA -- but the resort would not name names.
The resort goes far beyond the standard eco-friendly practices of most hotels.
Bucuti's owner, Ewald Biemans, has been honored both locally and internationally for his environmental preservation work and sustainable tourism. Bucuti has been the recipient of many awards including the Green Globe High Achievement Award.
Some distinct environmental initiatives include:
Eco-friendly types of paper for resort marketing materials
Solar panels to heat water for guest rooms and the laundry
Water reducers, which cut down water flow by 60 percent in all showers and faucets, as well as low-flow toilets
Sink and shower water is treated and reused in the gardens.
Use of in-room dispensers with local Aruba Aloe shampoos, conditioners, and lotions, instead of individual packages in plastic containers.
Bucuti has been run by the same owner -- Ewald Biemans -- since it opened in 1987.
The Bucuti Beach Resort opened in October of 1987 by the Austrian-born Ewald Biemans, who moved to Aruba in the early '70s. In March of 2004, he added the new Tara wing, which consists of 41 oceanfront suites and penthouses. Ewald lives on Aruba and runs only this one property. His direct, hands-on approach has contributed to the resort's loyal following; in fact, Bucuti has been noted for having a high occupancy rate for many years. Ewald makes himself accessible on a daily basis to chat with guests and receive feedback.