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Born and raised in Aruba, hospitality veteran Jacky Boekhouwer has been working in the tourism arena since the early 1990s.
After studying in Holland, Jacky and her husband returned to their homeland in 1990, where she secured a job as an OPC (outside public contact) representative in the timeshare sector which was rapidly growing at the time.
“When I returned from my studies in the Netherlands, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do for my career,” Jacky explains, “but working directly with visitors as an OPC, I realised how much I enjoyed interacting with them.” Their conversations inevitably turned to questions about the island, recommendations, and even requests to show them around and share some of her favourite spots on the island to visit.
In 1992, Jacky took the leap and purchased her first tour vehicle—a 12-passenger bus—and began offering tours around the island to hotel guests and cruise-ship passengers. Aruba Fantasy Tours was one of the first smaller tour companies, offering a more personalised experience that also allowed her to customise and tailor her tours to accommodate her guests’ needs and wishes.
Throughout the past 30 years, Jacky has grown the business with a steady approach to consistently deliver what they promise and to keep the growth manageable to maintain that personal touch. She also notes how the business had to evolve their marketing strategies. “Back in the day, we just had flyers at the airport and word-of-mouth; nowadays much of our marketing is digital,” she explains. But some things remain constant—and that’s Aruba Fantasy Tour’s personal touch for those looking for a more exclusive, approachable island-tour experience. And they are keeping it in the family, with Jacky’s daughter Stephanie now on board and helping to oversee the daily operations and their fleet of buses.
With more than 30 years of working directly with Aruba’s visitors, we asked her what she has observed that makes Aruba stand out from other island destinations. “Aruba is consistent—our weather is always great… I even had some guests just this week that were originally travelling to another island that was in the path of a hurricane and they were so happy that they ended up here instead,” Jacky informs. But there is something else deeper at play here, as many of her guests throughout the years have commented that “there is something special here”—a connection to the island that they have never felt at other vacation destinations. We like to call that the Aruba Effect!
We’re just getting started with the amazing effects Aruba has to offer. Dig into your trip details below to unlock a Caribbean experience that will leave you sunnier, happier, and (of course) a little more tanned.