We appreciated the invitation to the ribbon cutting event at the Boardwalk Hotel, on October 15th, and complimented owners, Aruba-born twin sisters Kimberly and Stephanie, on the incredible, two-and-a-half-year project of expanding their gem from 14 casitas to 52, to the tune of $10 million dollars, adding a multi-experience pool, fitness & spa facility, an inviting, modern lobby and spectacular rooms, all graced with a unique Caribbean character and flair.
Artist Claudia Ruiz-Vasquez Nooren was also showered with compliments for her brilliant work on the project.
I recently sat down for coffee with her.
Claudia reports getting involved with the Boardwalk under the previous ownership, when Julia de Ruiter and Geert v/d Berg were getting ready to perhaps refurbish and upgrade their no frill, aging windsurfing village, established in 1989, into what Julia called, the most beautiful boutique hotel in the Caribbean.
She consulted Claudia, and they both started hatching a plan, but then plans changed, and in 2011 new owners took the property over, inheriting Claudia, and the vision, in addition to the charming brick and mortar cluster of casitas, under tall palm trees.
Julia left behind a fantastic, perfectly-chaotic and abundant garden, and the new owners set out to preserve the property’s barefoot oasis-feel, and complement it with vibrant color, picturesque hammocks, and creature comforts for discerning individuals who deliberately wish to stay away from the hustle and bustle of the high rise hotels.
Guatemala-born Claudia, was right there with an intuitive, bold and fresh approach to color. She handled that initial, modest-budget reno-project and over time the Boardwalk Hotel earned optimal TripAdvisor rankings and was voted among top 25 Best Caribbean Hotels for service, maintaining its exceptional Instagram appeal all along.
Finally, over the last two and a half years, the team at Boardwalk tackled an ambitious remake.
About her role in the creation of the masterpiece, Claudia sees it as the guardian of the project’s integrity, so that the design elements always conform to the original concept of creating a chic, bohemian, inviting environment, that inspires thought, and is relaxing and romantic, at the same time.
“I am not an interior designer,” she says, “I am a conceptual designer, a curator, one cannot separate the interior from the exterior, as they both work together if you aim at delivering greatness.”
While Caribbean chill is palpable around the property, skin deep the project is totally green constructed with Nudura and Insuldeck insulating materials, with an ultra-efficient energy management systems and 100% LED lighting, and solar panels.
That marriage of eco-friendly construction immersed in a mature, and lush garden took some planning and maneuvering, and it is a source of great pride to all those birthing Boardwalk 2019.
The piece de resistance, the new lobby is truly a work of art boasting a profusion of harmonious natural materials, and an airy, breezy feel, where the interior is in constant conversation with the exterior.
And the aqua-duct, the immense wall of flowering creepers, setting the resort apart from its verdant parking lot, is a one of a kind, breathtaking, oversize living wall, that pulls the two wings of the l-shaped hotel together.
The ribbon cutting was performed by Aruba’s Minister of Tourism Dangui Oduber, Ronella Tjin Asjoe-Croes, CEO of the Aruba Tourism Authority, A.T.A., and Tisa LaSorte, CEO and President of the Aruba Hotel & Tourism Association, AHATA, along with Boardwalk Hotel’s owners, Kimberly and Stephanie Rooijakkers.
Minutes later, the very first quests, Kenneth Navarro and Lupe Leito from Curaçao, checked-in to start their island vacation.
Local contractors include Coburg Construction, project management; Claudia Ruiz-Vasquez, Interior and Conceptual Design; Fantastic Gardens and Caribbean Drip, landscape design and landscaping services; Ecoled lighting; Crystal Pool, pool installation; HJC Structural Engineering; Banjolux bathrooms and Berloni kitchens. Aruba Aloe bathroom products in eco-friendly dispensers and local art by Arte Sano Foundation and other local artists contribute to the casitas’ interior décor.
Boardwalk Boutique Hotel, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. The hotel is family-run and operated and employs 20 local staff members. More information on www.boardwalkaruba.com