Aruba is a ‘very gay-friendly’ island

Sat. December 10, 2016 12:00 AM
by Ross Forman

Carl Quant and Endy Croes got married Nov. 4 in Bonaire, the Caribbean island that, together with Aruba and Curaçao, forms the ABC islands.

They were both living and working in Aruba earlier this year when I visited, but Quant has since transferred within the hospitality industry to Bonaire, where same-sex weddings are allowed.

But still, Aruba is very gay-friendly.

"I've had no issues whatsoever being gay (in Aruba); we don't do anything different than any other person," based on our sexual-orientation, said Croes.

For instance, they danced together at Croes' Christmas party last December, with about 250 attending.

"We can go to any restaurant in Aruba and not feel any different just because we're gay. We're very open, very out (about our sexuality), and have even been featured in local media," Croes said.

"Aruba is just very gay-friendly," Quant added. "There are gay bars (in Aruba) and gay-friendly (straight) bars. We've had no issues at restaurants either. Coming from a hospitality background, I pay close attention (to customer service), and we've never had any problems, none whatsoever. We get the same service as anyone."

Quant, 25, was the sales coordinator of destination weddings at the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino; he is now the sales coordinator at the Courtyard By Marriott Bonaire . Croes, 33, is the PR and communications manager for Aruba's airport.

They have been dating for about two years.

In early-April, Quant witnessed his first same-sex celebration at the Aruba Marriott Resort, which he said was, "quite the experience." The event was held on the beach by hotel, "and everyone was clapping," he added.

The Aruba Marriott Resort offers a Pride in Paradise package for same-sex visitors, which includes such perks as Tradewinds Club ocean-view room accommodations, a champagne and cheese platter in your room upon arrival, and an exclusive catered dinner on your balcony prepared by the executive chef, and more.

The Aruba Marriott Resort is certified by the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA).

"You can be yourself (at the hotel, so) if you want to hold hands (at the hotel or elsewhere in Aruba, or) lay next to each other by the pool or beach, it's not an issue," Quant said.

The lesbian community in Aruba is limited and the transgender population is even fewer, they said.

There is no specific gay beach in Aruba, nor a section of the beach that is predominantly gay, they said.

Jimmy's Place is the main gay bar in Aruba, and La Vie is a second option. Otherwise, there are several gay-friendly clubs, such as, Senor Frog's Gusto Night Club and Upstairs Bar & Lounge. "Jimmy's is a fun place," Croes said. "There we can dance, without any issues whatsoever."

Quant added, "That doesn't mean we couldn't dance together at the other bars," which are traditional straight bars.

Three restaurants worth hitting in Aruba are Zeerovers, Peanuts, and Papiamento (fine-dining).