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Thread: Rona's thoughts "Alternative Accommodations"

  1. #1
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    Rona's thoughts "Alternative Accommodations"

    By: Rona Coster
    Investigating the Alternative Accommodations

    When ratifying the 2016 budget, the Parliament of Aruba passed a motion to investigate the “alternative accommodations.” The term refers to the airport ID card which asked guests where they are staying, hotel, timeshare, all inclusive or alternative accommodations, in other words apartments and private homes. Just to give you an idea how much this segment of the market has grown, I can tell you that in November 2015, 41.6% of Aruba’s visitors stayed at alternative accommodations, just 38.6% of visitors stayed in hotels, and 19.9% stayed in timeshares. Surprised at the extent of that phenomenon?
    This migration from traditional accommodations to untraditional accommodations has been going on for a while, but in 2015, it really experienced growth from a reasonably high percentage, 27.8%, to the alarming current 41.6%. So why is it alarming? Because it is a sensible, price-conscious, budget tourist that is coming, and not the big spender, that we were told we would be welcoming.

    1. I am not at all surprise. Aruba has always been the perfect destination for the middle class vacationer who worked hard all year and afforded himself a great vacation in the sun, just once a year. The island was well suited for that Barefooot Elegant traveler, who did not want to pay too much, and expected value for his money, perfect weather, friendly people and an uncomplicated experience: We speak English, we accept dollars, our water is safe.
    2. With the arrival of the big hotel brands, we set our sights higher, on a bigger spender, and a more affluent, sophisticated and demanding traveler. BUT, while the hotels did their share in providing deluxe accommodations, think Bucuti Beach Resort and Tara Suites, the island did not up the ante. We remained mediocre as far as value for money, cleanliness – think dump, service and most deplorably saturated, in second class restaurants, in third class retail – remember the kiosks – and in no class nightlife, think about the Olde Molen.
    3. The big spenders came once, and did not return. The Ritz Carlton, did deliver, in the group business, not in the individual traveler category.
    4. As the hotels made it more expensive for die-hard Aruba’s visitors, as far as room rates were concerned – who wants to pay $900 a night for beautiful four walls? – AirBnB, introduced the concept of Shared Economy, and many other websites followed, from TripAdvisor to Wimdu, HomeAway to FlipKey. Shared Economy meant we could all host and entertain, in a spare bedroom, in the apartment at the back of the house, in a converted garage.
    5. This thing spread like wild fire. I understand that Aruba today has over 3,000 properties renting to guests and most of them doing a good job at an average of $150-$199 dollars a night.
    6. Our loyal middle class visitor who worked hard all year and afforded himself a great vacation in the sun, just once a year, found a way to come back, without paying too much, while receiving value, in perfect weather, with friendly people for an uncomplicated experience.

    So what does it mean you’re asking, who cares where they are staying, as long as they are coming to visit us. For once, the government cares, because it is supposed to receive 9.5% on the room rate and $3 environmental fee per room night, and the collection system is hardly in place, and totally depends on the goodwill of the island’s “alternative accommodations” operators, to pay up.
    Over the past few years, a sub-segment of that market was born, visitors staying in “Buchi’s Garage,” strapped for cash Venezuelans, coming to Aruba to milk dollars from the ATM machines. Their number increased exponentially in the past two years, and the crazy “warm bed” system was introduced by pirate hosts, driving pirate taxis, cramming a great number of people into small spaces, at a super low rate per night.
    The MinTour published a press release today promising to regulate and support that “Alternative Accommodations” segment of the market, he will be taking advise from the Dutch, to see how Amsterdam coped with the Airbnb, and the FlipKey situation. Someone is going to be paid a lot of money for a report.
    So why is the issue investigated now? Because January was a disappointing month, mostly due to mild weather in the US but also because, the affluent travelers went skiing, and the dollar-conscious visitor coming to Aruba preferred to stay at more reasonable alternative accommodations.
    I will give you an example. Some of my friends, a family of 13, two couples, and their grown children and their partners, rented a house on Malmok. They had a perfect time together. They reported the house was nicely equipped. The slugs among them sat on the deck the whole day, and the active ones jogged along the coastline, and went snorkeling. Every single family member, on a different type of diet, maintained different grazing habits, which was easy with a comfortable kitchen. I don’t see this working for them as well in a traditional hotel environment.
    The people we see booking alternative accommodations want to pay less, and vacation more, they want to eat less, and read more. The first timers want to book 4 or 5 days, because that’s all their budget can afford, and the older ones want to book 10 days, at a lower rate, because one week is never enough.
    They are wonderful visitors, but they prefer a tea kettle instead of room service, and an ice cooler instead of a pool bar!
    Think about it, if the government manages to collect the taxes, then it’s a win-win, on the opposite end of the high-end hospitality spectrum, it’s no frill, and requires a small number of employees. What else can I tell you: I am for!



  2. #2
    Senior Member danadog56's Avatar
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    Interesting article...the gov't will of course find a way to get their fair share out of the folks that are renting to this type of visitor to the island. I have a TS and whine overtime I get the bill and see all of the extras I have to pay for....energy, environmental, etc etc etc.....but it could be worse, I could be stuck here in the snow forever without every having the luxury of seeing my Aruba again.....and that would be my worse nightmare !!!!!
    ARUBA....HOME AWAY FROM HOME

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    Great article and great research by Rona Coster! She really explored the accommodation industry of Aruba and gave great examples. And numbers! Aruba has the great tool through the airport ID card to KNOW where tourists will be staying. Here is an excerpt from Rona's article which I found most interesting:

    "I can tell you that in November 2015, 41.6% of Aruba’s visitors stayed at alternative accommodations, just 38.6% of visitors stayed in hotels, and 19.9% stayed in timeshares."

    IMO, it shows a certain trend where tourists are staying. Unfortunately, Rona did not mention which effect this has on hotels, if they are booked out, partially booked out our rather vacant.

    My point: Is there are demand for more hotels? IMO, no.

    Rona Coster mentions the loss of taxes for the government. She is right and I'm surprised this had even happened. She also mentions "pirate taxis". I'm not sure what that means. Could it be that people without a proper license provide taxi service? That would explain why so many taxi drivers don't know where they are going.

    What I would LOVE for Aruba to improve: That the government gets involved in the stray animals of Aruba by starting to take care of them as well, providing a large non-kill shelter and making spay/neuter mandatory. IMO, this would make many, many tourists very happy!

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    We are able to stay twice as long at the townhouse versus hotel.more money spent on restaurants,bars,supermarkets,casino.just not at the hotel.more diverse spending

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    As an owner of some vacation villas, I can say from personal experience that the guests who have stayed at the villas claim to have spent less, enjoyed the fact that they had privacy and could operate on their own schedule. In addition they loved that they could cook in, BBQ. Or just saunter out to a restaurant. No pressures. Most guests are now repeat guests and we love hosting them

  6. #6
    Senior Member schexc's Avatar
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    The first three trips to Aruba we stayed in resorts. Since them we have rented a condo, which financially has allowed us to stay for longer periods on the island. We'd prefer the latter, as we rent a car during our duration of stay and travel daily throughout the island. I can't see us turning back. As aquaman stated, we feel exactly the same.
    TRIP 15 OCTOBER 2018


    OUR COUPLE'S RETREAT. THE PEARL CONDO HOTEL AT EAGLE BEACH. CONDO ACCOMMODATES TWO ADULTS. YOU MUST REQUEST UNIT #8. https://photos.app.goo.gl/lRquP1F4VtxyZhR42 RENTING DIRECTLY THROUGH http://www.thepearlaruba.com/.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Aruba4ever's Avatar
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    We look to be the exception. Our 16 trips have all been spent in one of the high rise hotels (hyatt, radisson (hilton), or the Ritz Carlton) We would consider leaving the area at some point, I just don't know when. When we go away we dont ever cook, and wont in the future. The one benefit of not staying in a hotel would be the extra room but we would lose out on the "ease" of living we so much enjoy on vacation.

    As I type this message I sit on my balcony listening to the (mini) waves at the Ritz Carlton or maybe its just the wind, lol- it does not better than this IMO. I am getting ready to go gamble when my wife returns. I have put a small addition on the someones house the last few night, I am hoping for the cards to go my way today

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    Senior Member cindyo's Avatar
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    Incredible article . I love Rona...
    The numbers certainly do speak volumes.
    If I had to guess the %'s I would have guessed timeshares a higher number.
    Hotels, future hotels, should heed the warning signs. The Aruban Govt. should also.

  9. #9
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    most of our trips have been in timeshares.
    our circumstances have changed since we first started visiting aruba.
    we are now retired and can and do go to aruba for longer than a week.

    we have to rent out our lacabana units in order to pay the monstrous timeshare maintenance bill.....leaving nothing for us to use @ lacabana...so we either rent from another owner, use interval or stay at a place called Bananas.

    Bananas is a small owner occupied group of apartments, with nice grounds, a pool and easy walk/drive to the beach.

    staying longer, spending less and enjoying the amenities, works for us.
    Quote Originally Posted by schexc View Post
    The first three trips to Aruba we stayed in resorts. Since them we have rented a condo, which financially has allowed us to stay for longer periods on the island. We'd prefer the latter, as we rent a car during our duration of stay and travel daily throughout the island. I can't see us turning back. As aquaman stated, we feel exactly the same.

  10. #10
    Senior Member WaltVB's Avatar
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    I agree with CindyO, I would have bet half of the visitors stayed at timeshares alone. Andrea, looking forward to your review of Banana's.

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