Marriott - May 19th - 28th, 2000
My husband and I just returned from 10 days in Aruba on Sunday. It was our 3rd trip and we had a wonderful time. We can’t wait to return. We stayed at the Marriott Resort. Here is my trip report. I will break it out into categories to make it easier to read.
Flight - We flew Air Aruba [Note *now defunct] from Newark on Friday the 19th. We had a 7 am flight that was only 45 minutes delayed which was great since the weather that day was pretty bad. We got to the airport at 4:45 in the morning just to be on the safe side and everything went very smoothly. We will always fly on weekday if we can now. The plane was more than half empty so there was a lot of room to spread out. We arrived in Aruba at 11:55 am. The flight really went fast. The service on the plane was very good. The flight crew was very friendly and the food was ok. We brought some snacks so we would not be hungry. I have no complaints about the flight at all.
Airport - The airport has changed so much. It’s really nice now and very modern. It was practically empty when we arrived so we were in and out of customs and immigration very fast. The luggage took some time getting out as usual. You have to get use to everything and everyone being on Aruba time. But you are on vacation so you need to go with the flow. We took a cab to the hotel for $18 and it was very worth it. We got there in about 10 minutes.
Hotel - We stayed at the
Marriott Resort. I LOVE it there. I think that the Marriott is one of the best hotels in Aruba. Now ... it’s just my opinion. I don’t want to be called a snob or start anymore debates on the low rise vs. high rise hotels. Anyway.. The Marriott is beautiful. The lobby is huge with a great bar with a huge screen TV for watching the games. My husband is a sports fanatic so we watched a few of the playoff games. Devils and the Knicks - (we are from New Jersey). They have a few nice shops and a coffee shop and TCBY in the lobby as well for a quick snack or latte. We had stayed at the Marriott on our past two trips so I knew which room to ask for. I had requested room #671 through an email to the Marriott and received a reply from Fanny the manager indicating that she would try to accommodate my request. When we arrived, the desk clerk told us that our room was #671 and it was ready. Well I couldn’t believe my luck. We were so excited. It was only 1pm and we were in our room changing into our bathing suits to be on the beach with a drink in hand at 1:15 pm.
Anyway, this room is oceanfront (we booked the deluxe ocean view category through Travel Unlimited of NJ. By the way, they are very, very nice there and I would highly recommend them to anyone. Great customer service). This room is in the front of the hotel, in front of the "U" shape with a direct ocean front view. It was wonderful. We spent a lot of time on the balcony, which is huge - In the early morning, at night, watching the sunsets; just watching the windsurfers go by. Its the most beautiful site in have ever seen. I could just stare at it all day. There are even lounges chairs on the balcony. I know a lot of people say that the room is not that important but I am one of the people who really need to have a good room to be comfortable - that’s just me. The room had double beds, which we really thought was going to be a problem but they move the beds together and make them up a one huge super king. Believe me, it worked out great.....
The room was extra big and had everything you can think of. The air worked wonderful. We had no problems with the service. Towels were always available and the room was always cleaned promptly. By the way, the Marriott has a great gym with 5 treadmills, weight, a couple of Stairmasters and bikes, also a nice big stretching area for ab workouts or whatever and aerobic classes everyday at 9 am. Very nice and clean with plenty of towels. We took showers there on the day we left since our flight was not until 6pm and it was very clean and convenient.
Beach and Pool- The beach at the Marriott, in my opinion, is the best. Since it’s at the end of the strip, you have so much more room to spread out. I personally like Palm Beach more than Eagle beach. You do need to get up early to get a hut on the beach though. They go very fast especially if you want one closer to the water. They don’t give out towels or set up the beach chairs until 8am but you can reserve a hut with a beach bag or get towels from the gym to save the hut. That’s what I did. I know it sounds stupid to be up at 7 am to get a hut for the day on your vacation but believe me, it is worth it. It is so beautiful and quiet on the beach early in the morning with no people and you really do need the shade during the day. It can get VERY hot and you really do start to feel scorched from the sun. We walked all the way down the strip on the beach to Phoenix and I felt that the beach at the Marriott was the nicest. Not crowded like at the Holiday inn or the Hyatt. We spent everyday on the beach... floating on the rafts in the ocean or on our lounge chairs. It really is wonderful...
The pool is very nice also. We had a few drinks at the bar in the pool, which is so much fun. The waterfall is very nice and there is a lot of shade at the pool from the palm trees especially in the morning. It is also very clean. They really do a great job of keeping the pool area and all the areas of the hotel spotless. The only thing that bothered me was the people leave a lot of trash on the beach, which I think is very rude and inconsiderate to others. If you have a drink, at least put your cup in the trash when you are finished. If everyone cleaned up there own garbage, then we won’t have any problems with trash all over the beautiful beach area. Anyway .....
The Marriott has a really great band every night at happy hour from 4-6 pm, which is so wonderful to listen to. People were dancing and having a great time. It’s one of my favorite times of the day. Just to enjoy a glass of wine and listen to band and relax.
Car Rental- We rented a Toyota Tercel from Econo for a week for $178.00. I had the VisitAruba Plus card for the 10% discount. It was worth it. We drove to dinner every night and went around to all the casinos. During the day, we took a couple of trips around the island and we had the car to go into town to the market for some beer, wine and snacks for the beach. They only problem I had was that I requested a Mustang convertible for my husband as a surprise for his birthday. They confirmed through email and then on the phone when I called when I got to Aruba. When I went to pick up the car, they didn’t have the mustang. They tried to give me a Cavalier convertible. Well I wasn’t paying $360.00 for the wrong car, so I got the Tercel which in the end worked out fine. We had no problem with the car and returning it was a breeze.
Restaurants- Here is where we ate. I really liked all the restaurants we went to. I mostly like to eat seafood on vacation. All amounts are approximate with the tip included.
Tony Romas - Ribs were very good according to my husband. I had a chicken sandwich. We both had a couple of beers- $42.00 with tip
Madame Janettes - This place is wonderful. Very romantic. We ate outside (I like to eat outside whenever we can- I have to eat inside in New Jersey most of the year with the little white lights covering the trees. The food was excellent. We both had fish, (mine was a special - grouper), 2 drinks and 2 coffees- $64.00 with tip.
Papiamento- Another great place to eat outside by the pool. Wonderful food. I had a shrimp special, my husband had a seafood combination cooked on a stone, a few glasses of wine. $78.00 with tip
Ruinas del Mar- I loved this place. You need to eat outside to get a feel for how wonderful it is. It is a so beautiful with the swans floating by...very, very romantic. We both had the catch of the day, a few glasses of wine and shared an awesome dessert. A bit pricey but worth it. $90.00 with tip
Simply Fish at the Marriott- This place could give Flying Fishbone a run for the money. You eat right on the beach. They change the Waves bar that serves food during the day into a beautiful restaurant at night. You would never even know its the same place with all the lights and wonderful decorations. The food is excellent. Very small menu but if you like fish, this is the place to go. I had the seafood combination and my husband had Mahi-Mahi, we each had a specialty coffee which were really not worth it at $6.50 each but still good and very strong. A bit pricey but worth it.- $94 with tip
Flying Fishbone- This place is really awesome. Right on the beach at sunset. You really can’t get better than that. They had a great couch to take pictures on and to enjoy your dessert or coffees. We had a great table with both of us facing the sunset. Very, very romantic. I really loved it there. The atmosphere is so wonderful and relaxing. We both had fish. I had lobster and my husband had red snapper, a few glasses of wine, (there is a coupon in the Aruba-experience book at the hotels that gets you a free glass of wine or beer with dinner - just get two coupons , its one per person), we shared a great crème brulee.- $95.00 with tip
El Gaucho - My husband loves steaks and he thought it was awesome. I can take it or leave it and even I thought it was great. very reasonable, they include salad, corn on the cob and garlic bread with your meal. My husband had the T-bone and I had the Churassco steak (they were out of filet mignon - don't ask) Both were very good. We also had a pitcher of sangria.- $78 with tip
Bar.com- This place was a lot of fun. The pizza is awesome. VERY thin crust. We shared a large pie, had a few beers and used the Imac for a half-hour for $5. - $38 with tip
Hadicurrari- This place is on the beach next to the
Marriott's Aruba Ocean Club with the fishing boats right outside on the pier. There are a lot of locals as well as tourists there. The fish is so fresh. They catch it during the day and grill it up at night. On the night that we went on a Sunset Cruise, we were walking beach along the beach and decided to check it out. We both ordered the catch of day platters, which include a huge piece of grilled red snapper, salad, rice and vegetables for only $6.00 each. We took it to go and ate on our balcony and had a few drinks. It was really wonderful... We also went there for lunch a couple of times.
Pelican Pier- Had a few drinks here and a couple of appetizers one day. Very nice and cute place to check out. They had a live band that day and it was really rockin’. A fun place.
Activities - We really didn’t do too much but hang out on the beach and float in the ocean on rafts but a couple of days here’s what we did.
Sunset cruise with Octopus - They are really great and the sailboat is beautiful and very clean. Jethro and crew are the best. Very friendly and funny. The night we went, there were only 6 people total on the sail. It was great. Very cozy. $22.50 per person. Get the coupon at the airport and you get $5 off. Open bar and light snacks.. .very nice and very romantic. The sunset was so beautiful that night, the sky was very clear. I recommend them very highly.
Morning snorkel and sailing cruise also with Octopus- A 3 and 1/2 hour morning sail with 2 snorkeling stops for $37.50 per person. (get that $5 coupon They give you mimosas and muffins and breads in the morning. Then a great lunch in afternoon, salad, sandwiches and fruit with open bar. Again, Jethro and crew are very friendly and will help you with the snorkeling if you need a lesson. They only take out smaller groups so its not crowded which is great.
We also rented a speedboat, which my husband loved. Just the 2 of us for a couple of hours with this guy whose boat it was, driving us. If you like to go fast, this is for you. I was holding on for my life but my husband loved it. He took us all over the island. Palm beach, Eagle beach , into the downtown area where a cruise ship was docked, past the Sonesta hotels [now Renaissance Resort] private island and around to Baby beach and then back. Most of the time we went pretty slow so I could see the sights from the water which is really great but when we were coming back, he really opened it up for my husband. It was actually a lot of fun once I was back on land. (ha ha)
We took a ride to the lighthouse which was very uneventful. We stayed for about 10 minutes. The view was good from there but that's about it.
We both got massages at the spa at the Allegro [now Occidental Grand]. Its called Intermezzo Day Spa and its very nice. I’m not sure if its new. Very clean and the services were excellent. The staff is very professional and very friendly. You can get a 10% discount with a coupon in the Aruba-experience book. As soon as I walked in, I could tell it was nice. They had many candles lit and soft music playing and it smelled very good. I liked it right away which is important to me with spa services.
Weather- We had great weather. (I was very grateful for that). We both got great tans. The sun is so strong. You need a lot of sunscreen. One day towards the end of the trip, I wore a SPF 4 and got a nice burn. SPF 8 is really the lowest you can go even if you have a good base. I think you get a better tan at the beach and floating around on the ocean on a raft but you can get tan (or a burn) just walking on the beach. We had a few cloudy days but nothing to leave the beach for. You can get a tan through those clouds believe me. One day, the day we went on the snorkel cruise, we sailed right into a rain storm and it rained on us for about 5 minutes. It was actually fun. I think it rained on the beach while we were out at sea. Most days were all sun with just blue skies maybe a few clouds. The last two days we were there, it were so hot and sunny, not a cloud in the sky. I love it like that. If you want shade, you can go under the hut. I like to decide if I want sun or shade not let the weather tell me what to do. Believe me, I am a freak about the weather. So for all you other sun lovers, don’t worry about the weather. Its really awesome and don’t check the weather reports before you go, it will just freak you out even more. I will never worry about the weather again.
Other Hotels- We checked out the Radisson which everyone is talking about. It really is very nice, beautiful grounds, pools, beach bar, a live band, the beach is nice. One good thing is there are always chairs on the beach, they don’t lock them up at night so you can always get one with a hut. The casino was very nice and new. We of course lost some money there. I was disappointed that the new restaurant wasn't open yet- Sunset grill. They were due to open on May 30th. We came home on the 28th so we missed it. It looks very nice. The only problem at the Radisson is - there are NO people there. Every time we checked it out, day or night, there were no people in the pool at the beach in the bars, at the restaurants. This doesn’t really bother me because I like it quiet but I thought it was strange. The resort is so beautiful and hardly anyone is there. Maybe because it is so new... I thought the
Wyndham (now Westin) was very, very nice and of course the Hyatt is beautiful. The Playa Linda is also nice. It seems like they are doing some renovations at the Holiday Inn pool area .. they opened it up to the beach so it looks really nice - more room.
Return Flight Home- We had a 6 pm flight. Air Aruba was delayed for an hour, which is really not bad. I really thought the airport would be a lot busier on a Sunday but we breezed right thought everything, immigration, picked up the luggage, went through customs, (there was literally no one on the line), dropped the luggage off again. I felt like we were the only people in the airport. It was a nice surprise. We have not had any problems with Air Aruba on 3 trips. We did talk to 2 couples in the airport that had their flight cancelled on Saturday and had to stay an extra night and they were not happy. I guess Air Aruba has its problems like everyone else.
The 10 days really went by so fast.. I can’t believe I am home already doing the trip report. Can’t wait for next year.