Long before becoming Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort and Casino, the iconic hotel was originally named Aruba Caribbean Hotel. It was the first luxury resort on the Caribbean Dutch island of Aruba, officially opening its doors in 1959.
Aruba Caribbean Hotel, 1959; The first luxury resort in Aruba, and a key component that paved the way for tourism on the Dutch island. The brand new hotel as seen from the coastal road, then named the L.G. Smith Boulevard; the coastal road was renamed in 1992 to Juan Irausquin Boulevard; Juan Enrique Irausquin and Oscar Henriquez are generally regarded as the driving force behind the development of the hotel. Next to the road is a typical Aruban cactus hedge built to keep out the local goats. Goats were a major problem directly after the opening of the hotel, as they were roaming the hotel grounds and eating the newly planted vegetation. Cactus hedges and cattle guards were installed to keep them out, but from time to time they still managed to come in from the beach side.
Morris Lapidus, 1959: the Aruba Caribbean Hotel was designed by one of America’s most famous hotel architects, who also designed landmark hotels such as the Fontainebleau, the Eden Roc and the Americana. Of the 276 hotels designed by Morris Lapidus, his design of the first large hotel in Aruba is considered one of his best. Interestingly, the picture serves as the cover of Morris Lapids’ autobiography, with the title “Too Much is Never Enough”, one of the mottos of the architect, who balanced almost modernist shapes with opulent decorations and unique use of light.
Aruba Caribbean Hotel, 1959; the reception area of the hotel was decorated with remarkable Delft blue tile wall (made in the Netherlands) that depicted an important moment in Dutch-American history; the first salute to the American flag and recognition of the American independence by a nation state. It was the Governor of the Dutch island of St. Eustatius in the Caribbean that fired eleven salvos from the fort to a trading vessel carrying the American flag in 1776. This action was not acceptable to the English government and they convinced the Dutch Government to call the Governor back to Holland. The Dutch parliament, however, agreed with his support of the new American state, and decided to reinstate him as Governor immediately.
Palm Beach, 1960; picture of two vacationing ladies, and in the background, the Aruba Caribbean Hotel. The beach in front of the hotel had great appeal to tourists, as according to Morris Lapidus (the architect): “The sand is as white and soft as talcum powder, and offshore breezes keep the water crystal clear.”
Aruba Caribbean Hotel, 1959; picture taken by the architect, Morris Lapidus, himself, with a handwritten note from him, saying: “The Aruba Caribbean Hotel framed by the famous Divi Divi trees fashioned by the constant prevailing breeze.”
Meet Jocky Tromp, the creator of the Aruba Ariba or as he originally called it, the Ariba Aruba. During a mixology contest held at the Aruba Caribbean Hotel, Jocky prepared his special drink recipe which stood out among the rest as the best. He was given a plaque in honor of this recognition. Currently, we celebrate Aruba Ariba Day on July 1st every year in honor of its legacy.
Aruba Ariba Recipe
- 1/2 oz. Vodka
- 1/2 oz. 151 Rum
- 1/8 oz. Coecoei (Grenadine can be used as a substitute)
- 1/8 oz. Creme de Banana
- 1/2 cup Orange Juice
- 1/2 cup Cranberry Juice
- 1/2 cup Pineapple Juice