When Richard Roy, now the general manager of The Westin Aruba, moved to the island about five years ago, he made sure to ship over his custom Harley-Davidson Sportster XL 1200. He thought that the consistent Caribbean weather would be ideal for riding, but as bad luck would have it, the bike took a circuitous three-month trip from his then-home in San Antonio to the west coast of the Caribbean isle, with unscheduled stops in New York City, Puerto Rico and Jamaica along the way.
Thankfully for Richard, his hog eventually arrived -- and the Harley-riding hotelier is now leading two-wheeled tours of the island as part of the hotel's Hog Island Special package, a five-night offer that starts at $199 a night for an ocean-view room and includes 20% off a Harley rental at Big Twin Aruba.
He took time to explain to HuffPost Travel why the island is ideally suited to motorcycle tours, the local spots he always recommends to visitors and the inspiration behind the idea for the GM-guided rides.
HuffPost Travel: What inspired this package and do you really get paid to ride your motorcycle around Aruba?
Richard Roy: It started as a way to come up with creative packages, to do something different. I had a regular customer that came every Christmas, and we always rode together when he came to the island. We've been doing that for the last three years, and if he wants to do it every time, maybe there are other people who would want to if they had a little encouragement.
HPT: So it's not just a way for you to get out of the office for the afternoon?
RR: Not so much because I ride on my own whether somebody's here or not! But it's a lot of fun to go with the customers.
HPT: How's it going so far?
RR: We've only done one so far, and we had five riders and myself. It was a good crowd, and that size group is very comfortable. Riding by yourself is not safe anywhere -- it's difficult to be seen when you're alone -- so two, three, four riders makes us easier to be seen by cars on the road. With the special, I'll try to go out with guests at least once a month.
HPT: Where do you ride, and where should visitors ride if you can't join them?
RR: First we talk about whether they want to go to touristy spots or off the beaten path a little bit. This island's very nice for that because it's a very friendly island. You can pull off to the side of the road and stop at a local, what they call, Caribbean shacks, where you can get a snack or a cold beer if you are so inclined. It's a little warm when you're riding around here at times.
We usually go up to the lighthouse on the north point of the island first, which offers a good view of the back side or off-road portion of the island. You can then ride down the coast on those dirt roads, going by the lighthouse, the old gold mines and finally the natural bridge, a great attraction. Everything's wide open to visitors.
There's a little restaurant called Zeerovers that's on the coast. You pick your own shrimp or fish out of a container and they'll fry it up for you right then and there. You eat with your plastic fork and paper plates and have a cold beer and enjoy the island like a local.
HPT: Tell us about your hog and the rental options on the island.
RR: I've got a Harley-Davidson 1200, the Sportster model. I got lucky, I found a nice bike with a custom paint job on it, and I tricked it all out with chrome and put chrome-spiked front wheel on it, so it's looking pretty sharp. Big Twin has some nice bikes to rent, some Heritage, some Classics, a couple Fat Boys. They've got a pretty good selection.
During Flag Day here on the island, a lot of riders come over from Bonaire, Curacao, St. Maarten, a few from Venuzeula and even a couple from Holland. On those days, there's anywhere from 450 to, last year, the peak was 620 riders. Everyone runs around in one big pack, a huge parade of motorcycles on the island.
HPT: Some people avoid the Caribbean during hurricane season, but Aruba's outside the range of hurricanes, making it a safe option for summer travel. Anything else happening this season?
RR: We have leatherback turtles on the island, and we have a nest on our beach. That's kind of unique because it hasn't happened on this stretch of beach for 12 years now. It should be hatching some time around July 4th, and it'd be really interesting if it happens to happen on that night. We're the only ones on the high rise strip that got a nest, so we're very proud and very happy.
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