An Aruban Treasure
Situated on Druif Beach in Aruba, Casa del Mar Beach Resort is a shining example of premier hospitality in the Caribbean. The oceanfront property is complemented by the white sands of Druif Beach and the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean Sea; its location alone makes the resort a top destination for both families and romantics alike.
As the resort approaches its 30th anniversary in 2016, General Manager Bob Curtis detailed how Casa del Mar got its start, the impeccable service that’s made it famous, and what’s next for one of Aruba’s leading timeshare properties.
“Casa del Mar was completed in 1986 by Sun Development, a corporation which was responsible for building the first five timeshare resorts in Aruba,” said Curtis. “Casa del Mar was the second timeshare resort to open in Aruba and was initially managed as one resort with our sister property, Aruba Beach Club, the first timeshare resort in Aruba.
“Many owners at Aruba Beach Club bought units at Casa del Mar at the time and many owners still own units at both resorts,” he continued. “In fact, our lobby connects to theirs and we share a gymnasium.”
The location, which is certainly a high selling point for potential owners, was also the main factor in the initial development of the resort.
“Casa del Mar is located on Druif Beach, next to Eagle Beach,” explained Curtis. “It’s known for some of the purest sand, clear waters and nice waves in Aruba; this is the reason the first time-share resorts were built here.”
In addition to the beautiful natural landscape, guests of the resort won’t have to travel far to fulfill all of their dining, entertainment and shopping needs. Casa del Mar includes a fitness center, tennis courts and laundry facilities for guests to utilize during their stay.
“Casa del Mar features first class restaurant as well as a clinical massage facility, juice bar, salon as well as a cigar, perfume and mini market,” said Curtis. “We are located across the street from a casino and mall complex, which features more than 22 dining and shopping venues.”
With 147 units, Casa del Mar can be referred to as a “smaller resort”. Though given when the resort was constructed, the accommodations are anything but small, as the suites themselves are as large and luxurious to comfortably sleep families of four to six people.
“It was built in 1986 and as such, the units are large,” said Curtis. “Our units have full sized kitchens, large living rooms and full balconies.”
The resort features two types of suites: The Presidential Suite and The Ambassador Suite. The Presidential Suite includes: a panoramic view of the ocean or pool from the master bedroom, two fully-equipped bathrooms, all tastefully decorated with tile floors and themed tropical furniture and colours. The Ambassador Suite looks over a private courtyard and contains all of the same amenities, except the second bathroom. Both suites promise an unforgettable experience, and the perfect place to stay while exploring the wonders of Aruba in peace.
“This area of Eagle Beach is a low density area and is considered the ‘low rise’ area, consisting of four to five story timeshare properties,” added Curtis. “The beach and ocean in front of our resort is not crowded and guests can relax in peace and take walks and connect with nature.”
Updating Technology & Going Green
As technology moves forward at a rapid pace keeping up to date is an integral aspect of any business. Curtis affirms that the resort is undertaking several projects which will streamline guest services and green initiatives to reduce their impact on the environment.
“We are adding a portal onto our website which will allow our members to view and pay their maintenance fees online, view the annual convocation and vote online and list units for sale and rent as well as buying and renting units online,” explained Curtis.
“We can also connect with our members with mass and targeted e-mails,” he continued. “This will cut down substantially on mailings.”
Cutting down on paper usage isn’t the only way Casa del Mar is finding efficiencies and helping the environment. Further plans involve improved lighting fixtures, recycling, and reintroducing plants native to Aruba in order to reduce water waste.
“The Resort is currently changing all light bulbs in the rooms as well as in all public areas to LED,” said Curtis. “Access lighting on the main building allowed us to remove 38 wall sconces, which were using incandescent bulbs.”
“We also have a recycling program and we’re replacing grass and plants with indigenous plants and cactus which require less watering,” he said.
As a result of a new management team – including Curtis who began his role as General Manager in early 2014- beaming guest reviews have been flowing and the resort has seen its rankings on TripAdvisor rise continually. With an achievement such as this, there’s no doubt that both staff and management feel proud.
“Current management has brought a new and progressive service culture to Casa del Mar,” explained Curtis. “New management has more of a hospitality background in Four-Star resorts. As evidence of the new customer service culture, Casa del Mar has risen from number 16 to number 6 on TripAdvisor in the past year and has been upgraded from a select resort to a premier resort in the Interval International inventory.”
It’s only natural to expect that accolades from organizations such as TripAdvisor would lend a hand in regards to marketing. However, Casa del Mar is an established timeshare property with an impressive sold unit percentage and loyal owners, so marketing isn’t a top priority for the resort.
“As a mature timeshare resort which is 98% sold out we do not have the need to market to the extent that other resorts do. As well our owners are very loyal and the vast majority use their weeks here as opposed to “banking” their weeks and vacationing elsewhere; they are our best marketers.”
“The next five years look extremely bright for Casa del Mar,” said Curtis while taking a look ahead towards the future of the resort. Curtis explained that through their commitment to upgrading and elevating their services, the goal is continuing the prosperity of the past 29 years.
With a substantial amount of investment, the renovations at Casa del Mar are expected to be completed over the next five years.
“We will invest over $5 million over the next five years for the renovation of the resort, both in the guest facing areas as well as in the back of the house,” explained Curtis. “We are also in the process of contracting with a designer, who will develop a resort wide conceptual design scheme, blending the public areas with the guest units.”
In addition to the overarching goals of the resort, Curtis also has a list of things he’d like to accomplish as General Manager at Casa del Mar. By remaining committed to improvements to customer service, the hope is that future generations will continue to see Casa del Mar as their ideal Aruban getaway.
“My personal goals are to continue to improve the customer service culture at the resort, and continue to add amenities and innovative services in order to attract future generations of vacationers and families to Casa del Mar.”