Anyone currently enduring this winter probably wouldn't need too much convincing to make a trip to Aruba. Besides sun, sea, and sand, all of which are in plentiful supply, there is another "s" word that makes Aruba an attractive destination this year: sustainability. Since the country's prime minister teamed with the Carbon War Room, an organization dedicated to reducing carbon emissions, the island has set a goal of becoming the world's first sustainable energy economy by 2020...
The same elements that make Aruba an attractive vacation destination make it an optimal place for sustainability. Those elements include sunshine and cooling trade winds, which keep temperatures comfortable. (It is also worth mentioning that the island is lucky enough to lie outside of the hurricane belt, making it a year-round destination.) Visitors to Aruba can now get a taste of the island's green initiative from the moment they arrive, as solar panels have just been installed at Reina Beatrix Airport, which, when fully functional this spring, are expected to generate enough power to cover the airport's daytime consumption. A wind turbine farm currently supplies 20 percent of the island’s energy and plans are in progress for a second farm, which will double the energy capacity and continue to decrease Aruba's carbon footprint.
Where to Stay
The island’s hospitality industry also makes an effort to provide green options for travelers. In 2010 EarthCheck, an international certification alliance for sustainable tourism, designated the Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Casino & Spa the first “Green Globe Certified” high-rise resort on Palm Beach. The hotel is also the only high-rise property on the island to have installed solar panels that provide the majority of its hot water.
Located on 12 acres of beachfront property, the hotel features a breezy open-air lobby, natural stone floors, and colorful Caribbean accents. The hotel's ZoiA Spa features fabrics and decor made from recycled materials, and uses all organic products. Nightly rates start at $320, but the hotel is currently offering 20 percent off advance bookings with complimentary breakfast for two.
What to Do
Situated directly in front of the Hyatt Regency, Red Sail Sports specializes in diving, sailing, snorkeling excursions and also participates in the EarthCheck program. The company also sponsors an annual beach clean-up day, and participates in an annual marine environment awareness campaign called the Aruba Reef Aware Project, focusing on the preservation of clean underwater sites and beaches. A three-hour snorkel sail with Red Sail Sports includes time to snorkel at the 400-foot-long wreck of the German freighter S.S. Antilla, one of the largest shipwrecks in the Caribbean. The sail costs $49 per adult and includes an open bar.