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Hotels & Resorts

Some travelers assume they can't afford the big hotels and resorts. With all the packages and sales, though, this isn't always true. The rates included in this guide are "rack rates" -- the officially posted rates you'd be given if you walked in off the street. Hardly anyone actually pays these prices. Save yourself a bundle by asking a travel agent or the hotel's reservations agent about packages or discounts.

Some hotels are flexible about rates, and many offer discounts and upgrades whenever they have a big block of rooms to fill and few reservations. Smaller hotels are less likely to be generous with discounts, much less upgrades.

The best deals can be had during off-peak periods, which doesn't always mean from mid-April to mid-December only. Discounts are also available during certain slow periods, called "windows," most often after the New Year's holiday. If you want a winter vacation, choose January rather than February or the Christmas holidays, when prices are at their all-year high.

Several hotels, such as the Divi properties and Renaissance, allow you to access facilities at two or more of their locations on the island at no additional fee. This means you can take advantage of the amenities, such as beaches, water toys, activities, and events at other locations as part of your all-inclusive package. Be sure to ask before you book, since this is not always the case. For example, the Renaissance has an adult-only policy for certain locations, such as their lobby bar and infinity pool, which means that teens and children are not allowed. This can be a problem for families traveling with children, but it can also be a plus for honeymoon couples or seniors who prefer to steer clear of too much youthful exuberance.

All-Inclusives -- Presumably, everything's paid for upfront at an "all-inclusive" resort, even drinks and watersports. Unfortunately, some packages cover a room and two meals a day only -- drinks, sports, and whatever else are extra. Before you book, ask exactly what's included.

Generally speaking, the all-inclusive market is geared to the active traveler who likes lots of organized entertainment and activities, unlimited platters of food, and endless drinks in plastic cups. Some of Aruba's all-inclusive properties, such as the Holiday Inn SunSpree Aruba-Beach Resort & Casino and the Renaissance Ocean Suites, appeal to families (there's so much going on, the kids will never get bored) and young adults (plenty of fun times and other young adults). Other properties such as the Westin Resort, Aruba and the Renaissance Marina Hotel, are geared more toward the adult couples who want over-the-top luxury, plenty of dining options, and nightlife that includes a casino or show lounge. For the ecoconscious traveler, the Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa is Green Globe certified and offers all-inclusive packages. On the other hand, if you want to get out, see the island, and eat at some of the amazing restaurants, or if you're not particularly interested in nonstop organized events, all-inclusive hotels probably aren't for you.

Timeshares

Renting an apartment can be one of the least expensive ways to vacation in Aruba. It also offers privacy, independence, and, in most cases, peace and quiet. All of Aruba's timeshare accommodations come with a kitchen, and most have a living room, a dining room, and a guest room or two. Because many tour operators work directly with timeshares that have rentals available, your travel agent may present a suite in a timeshare property as just another accommodations option. In addition, most individual timeshare resorts assist owners in renting their units, so call a property that interests you or visit its website. Some of these include Playa Linda Beach Resort and the Marriott Ocean Club. Some websites have owner bulletin boards with a listing of rentals available. General bulletin boards, such as Aruba Bulletin Board (www.aruba-bb.com), abound with timeshare-rental opportunities.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.