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Eager for some fun in the sun? Aruba just confirmed plans to begin opening its borders on June 15, with U.S., Canadian and European passport holders permitted to enter beginning in July. The island will begin welcoming tourists as follows:
June 15: Bonaire, Curacao
July 1: Canada, Europe, Caribbean (excluding DR and Haiti)
July 10: United States
According to the island’s announcement, “Official opening dates for other markets, including South America and Central America, have yet to be determined… but hopefully soon!”
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Aruba is encouraging travelers to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR test 72 hours prior to arrival. According to authorities, “All travelers not showing documentation indicating a negative PCR test result prior to travel to Aruba as a part of the ED card process, will receive a mandatory PCR test at the Airport when arriving in Aruba, at the visitor’s expense, followed by a mandatory 24-hour quarantine at the travelers’ accommodations while test results are assessed.”
Additionally, visitors showing evidence of a negative test will undergo a temperature check upon arrival, and all visitors will be required to a mask during their flight to Aruba, though masks are optional on the ground.
Personally, I’m a big fan of Aruba, and I’m eager to return. In fact, my very last international trip was to the island, just a couple of weeks before lockdown began. On both of my visits, I stayed at the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino — my go-to, since guests get access to Marriott’s private island, a short (and free) boat trip away.
The Renaissance has confirmed that it’ll open to guests on June 30, so the property should have some time to work out any last-minute kinks before Americans begin to return on July 10. The resort is rolling out a number of new procedures, including check-in through the Bonvoy app, adding hand sanitizer throughout the resort, requiring social distancing in all public areas, limiting Renaissance Island boats to 10 guests and more.
Award nights are available starting at 45,000 points, worth $360 based on TPG’s valuations, but paid rates may be the better bet, starting at $237, or just under $300 per night after taxes and fees. The hotel is also offering pre-purchased vouchers with a 25% bonus until June 30, valid for two years and refundable anytime before Dec. 31, 2020 without penalty.
Aruba visitors can choose from a number of other points hotel options, too, including the Hyatt Regency, starting at 25,000 points (worth $425), or $336 ($425 after tax) per night; the Hilton, starting at 78,000 points (worth $468), or $274 ($349 after tax); and The Ritz-Carlton, starting at 85,000 points (worth $680), or $460 ($582 after tax); among others.
Related: Review Hyatt Regency Aruba
Flights are a bit of a different story, though. While it’s always possible carriers will soon choose to add more options, given that the island has confirmed an opening date, as of now, nonstop flights are limited — and, in several cases, very expensive. For example, the least expensive nonstop flight from New York City on the day after Americans are welcome, operated by JetBlue, will run you $668 or 48,000 points (plus $85) round-trip.
There are far more affordable opening-day options from other cities, though, including Fort Lauderdale (FLL), with $199 round-trips operated by Spirit.
I’m glad to see Aruba including a requirement for visitors to provide a negative COVID-19 test or undergo a test upon arrival, rather than the open-border approach we’ve seen in some other countries, such as The Maldives. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for somewhere else to go, check out our country-by-country Caribbean guide for more on when your destination of choice plans to welcome guests.
Featured photo courtesy of Aruba.