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Discovering the Charm of Going Boutique at Boardwalk Small Hotel

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By Tina Causey Bislick

Images by Dries Henau, Yuri Vandenbogaerde, and Boardwalk Hotel

Dries Henau and Yuri Vandenbogaerde—Belgian travel writers/bloggers, best-selling book authors, social media influencers, marketing and branding consultants, oh, and entrepreneurs founding two innovative, overnight-success concepts (WASBAR and Chez Claire)—recently spent a few days on Aruba, soaking up the sunshine and One Happy Island spirit.  The couple enjoyed the hospitality of Boardwalk Small Hotel, Aruba’s boutique hotel that has won numerous accolades, including consistently ranking in TripAdvisor’s Top 25 Best Caribbean Hotels for Service.

The well-traveled duo typically opts for large hotel/resort accommodations, preferring a larger setting that can afford privacy and anonymity, but were pleasantly surprised that they nestled right into the carefree island lifestyle and Boardwalk’s intimate charm and authentic island character. Boardwalk, located on the grounds of a historic coconut plantation, offers unique hospitality in their casitas, quaint villas that each have their own private patio or terrace. “The property is laid out in such a way that we were able to relax in privacy. We felt like we were in this remote Caribbean jungle,” explained Dries.

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The Boardwalk outfits each casita with a Treasure Box filled with hidden gems and authentic adventures. “The Boardwalk team provided us with great local insider tips that gave us ways to discover the real Aruba beyond the tourist areas,” said Yuri.

I asked Dries and Yuri why they chose Aruba.  As contributing travel writers for Belgium’s largest newspaper, Het Nieuwsblad, as well as Gazet van Antwerpen and Belang van Limburg, they shared with the editors a bucket list of places they were excited to travel to and write about.  Aruba was on that list, and they were told to pack their bags and head to the Caribbean.  Dries and Yuri are seasoned Caribbean travelers, so I was curious to know what they found special or unique about Aruba.  “The hospitality and kindness was overwhelming,” they shared, “much more so than the other Caribbean islands we have visited, like St. Martin, St. Thomas, Costa Rica, and Jamaica. Of course, people on these other islands are friendly in the way most are trained to be in hospitality, but in Aruba, the friendliness was so genuine and real.”

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The couple was also pleasantly surprised with Aruba’s gastronomy.  “The culinary variety and diversity is impressive for such a small island…so far beyond our expectations,” they enthused. In fact, Dries claims the best sushi he has ever had (and he says he is quite the sushi aficionado) was right here in Aruba at Azia.

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The warmth of Aruba’s people translates into a destination that LGBT travelers can feel welcomed to.  “We do not seek out destinations that have clubs, beaches, and nightlife that are specifically for the gay community. We just want a destination that we can immerse ourselves into comfortably, and Aruba’s open-mindedness and the friendliness of the people will make any LGBT traveler feel welcome.”

Follow Dries and Yuri’s adventures—always presented with quirky fun and humor—on Instagram at @drieshenau and @vandenyuri.

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