Hotel Crush: Boardwalk Small Hotel, Aruba
The big dilemma when visiting a tropical island: A) Stay in a luxury all-inclusive with 500 guest rooms, 12 swimming pools, 33 restaurants or B) Do the local thing. Stay in a small artsy villa, buy your own groceries, cook your food and enjoy the island in a quieter way that feels like home. Although Option A is always a good idea, there's something to be said about option B. We have long associated island getaways with luxury suites and poolside service, but there are many ways to enjoy a getaway, and everyone should do both at some point.
If you want to get your Option B on, then Boardwalk Smalls Aruba is the perfect place for a more secluded trip. Ranked number 2 on TripAdvisor as the best accommodation on the island, it's a refreshing change of pace.
Opened 6 years ago by sisters Stephanie and Kimberly, the property consists of 14 casitas, set up in a way that gives each guest tons of privacy. Adorned with bright tropical colors, each casita comes with a small kitchen, a spanking brand new bathroom, a plush bed, AC, hair dryer, outdoor grill, television and best of all, a hammock for swinging away each day with a glass of wine in hand. If you opt out of cooking, the property also gives the option of breakfast each morning as long as the reservation is made the day before. Although the service is friendly and fast, things are still pretty self-catered, so don't look for late night room service or mini bars here. There is a SuperFoods Grocery store about 5 minutes away by cab and a few nearby fast food options as well.
Located directly across from high rise hotels like the Ritz, Boardwalk Smalls is a short walk (less than 5 minutes) to the beach. The property has a designated area on the beach that can be reserved by guest ahead of time. You can lay on the beach and enjoy discounted food and cocktail service from The Ritz, as they have a partnership with the hotel.
Once a coconut plantation, the grounds are filled with lush grass and palm trees, a small pool on the property and a cozy lounge area where rum punch is served around 5 p.m. daily. If you want to venture away, the front office can arrange taxi pickups as well as rental car drop offs.
All in all, a stay at Boardwalk Smalls is an ideal for a change from the typical resort scene. The property doesn't come with the hustle and bustle of the high rises, and the prices are very affordable. All inclusives are always cool, but can become a bit predictable, no matter what island you are visiting. Boardwalk Smalls' quiet property, extremely friendly service (the staff will wave and greet you by name when passing you on the property) and inviting atmosphere make it a must-stay accommodation.
Address: Bakval 20, Noord, Aruba