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Our Westin Resort Aruba Trip Report June 18 - 26, 2002

The Westin was terrific! My husband and I both concluded that this resort is perfect for a casual and laid back vacation. The entire staff from bellmen to managers is top notch. Nothing for any of these people is asking too much. You are their guest and you are there to relax and be kept happy.

The rooms, the lobby, the pool area and beach at the Westin Aruba Resort (now closed- future Riu addition) were all spiffy clean. Our room was to be an oceanfront junior suite on the ninth of eighteen floors. With a full view north and south on Palm Beach, with not one, but two balconies, who could ask for more? All standard equipment with oceanfront suites: one balcony was furnished with two chairs, an ottoman and table and the other balcony had a chaise lounge. Both one bedroom and junior oceanfront suites have two balconies. The Junior Suite has two balconies, angled, side-by-side.

The Westin (now closed- future Riu addition) does offer one of the larger standard guestrooms on the island. After having seen rooms in every single category at this resort, I can honestly say that no matter where you are situated, you will have at least a partial oceanview.

The oceanfront junior suite (00 rooms) was perfect for us. They are situated on the oceanfront end of the tower, centered between the oceanfront one-bedroom suites- 01 & 02 rooms, which occupy each of the oceanfront corners of the building. Junior suites are one room only but about the size of one and a half guest rooms. With the oceanfront suites, you are paying for the view: north and south along Palm Beach.

The oceanfront junior suite has a vanity, two chairs and table, armoire, divan and king size bed. All rooms and suites offer amenities such as Golden Door toiletries, remote control cable TV, in room movies, in-room safe, direct dial telephone, hair dryer, iron and ironing board, and AM/FM radios with alarm clock, mini-bar, coffee maker, robes, no chocolates, but room service and turndown service are available on request.

My in-laws were in an oceanfront one-bedroom suite- (01 & 02 rooms) and it is exactly that, oceanfront, facing the ocean. One oversized bath off the bedroom with Jacuzzi tub, separate stall shower, separate water closet, vanity, double sink and oversize closet area.

Both Junior and oceanfront one-bedroom suites have two balconies. The one bedroom suite has one balcony off the bedroom, and the second balcony is off the living room. The oceanfront one-bedroom suites form the corners of the building. With two balconies, there is a total of a small table & two chairs, ottoman & one chaise lounge. All suites offer a king size bed.

Oceanview junior suites- (37 & 38 rooms), are on the opposite end of the tower with an island/oceanview. These rooms are the furthest from the ocean. They sleep four with a sleeper sofa in addition to a king size bed, whereas the oceanfront junior suites sleep only two. Again, these suites are slightly larger than a guestroom, which are large by hotel standards anyway, but only one room.

Oceanview one-bedroom suites are oceanview, but not oceanfront. The one bedroom oceanview suite has a separate bedroom and full living room with sleeper sofa. The suites are situated in the middle of the north side of the tower. Beware, the bathroom here is off the living room, not the bedroom and does not offer the “fancy” bath that the oceanfront one bedroom suite offers. Oceanview one-bedroom suites are separated from the living room by a door and the oceanfront one-bedroom suites are separated from the living room with French doors. We liked the oceanfront suites much better!

Breakfast buffet at the Greenhouse Restaurant was quite impressive. The best breakfast buffet on Palm Beach, (yes, at one time or another, we have tried just about all of them) the breakfast at the Westin (now closed- future Riu addition) was included in our package. The usual staples including eggs cooked to order, baked goods, fruits etc. The buffet was served from 7 am to 12 Noon so one can easily make a very nice brunch and get out of stopping for lunch. On your way from breakfast at the Greenhouse to the pool or beach, make sure you stop by the parrot’s cages and visit with them and their caretaker, Jose.

No matter what time we arrived at the beach during our eight-night stay, there was not one morning where we were unable to obtain a palapa. The towel hut opens at 8 am. The resort allows you to reserve a palapa for use throughout the day through a system. Pick your palapa off the numbered map on the white board, one of the beach boys sets up your chaise lounges and it is yours to use for the day. In fairness to the other guests, the palapa must be occupied at 11 am and 3 pm. Do make sure you pick up your red flag along with your towels. This way you will never have to walk up to the bar or search for a waiter or server for refreshment or even lunch! Whenever you need something, just poke that good old flag into the sand and sure enough, someone will appear to cheerfully take your order.

If you are a “pool person”, this is “the” swimming pool for you. There is nothing not to like here. It is large and free form with fountains and two detached Jacuzzi spas. There is nothing not to like about the swimming pool- not too shallow and not too deep, it seemed to work well for adults and children alike. The couple of times that my in-laws were poolside, they never had trouble finding shade. My in-laws especially loved the thick comfortable padding on the pool area’s chaise lounges. During our stay, the resort was adding shade palapas to the pool area. It was very interesting to watch one of these “huts” being constructed by hand out of palm fronds. The Westin (now closed- future Riu addition) also features a pool concierge. The concierge comes around providing guests with free skewers of fruit, cooling towels, water misting, use of CD players, reading materials and even stock quotes.

Hotel activities also revolved around the pool area. There was daily afternoon bingo poolside as well as morning swimming pool aerobics, and then other activities such as beer drinking contests, ice cream eating contests, sexy legs contest and such.

Activities for the kids are awesome and FREE! Their Kids Klub Retreat is open from 10 am to 4 pm each day for kiddies four years old and up. Unlike many resorts where the kids club is the place to dump off the kids in lieu of an individual babysitter, the Westin Aruba Resort (now closed- future Riu addition) has a different approach. In the post 9-11 world that we now live in, the Westin staff encourages Mom’s, Dad’s and even grandparents to join the kids in the day’s activities. They vary activities from the beach and pool area to the indoor club so the kids are not out in the sun the entire day. There are trips to the butterfly farm and miniature golf course, of course all sorts of games and Nintendo, micro-football, sand castle building, ice cream eating contests, swimming, indoor basketball, even a tour of the hotel and of course, that one thing all kids absolutely love: face painting. There are also night sessions, for a fee.

Another nice added touch is the Family Retreat Welcome Pack. For $24.95, parents may purchase the pack for each child: it contains a t-shirt, vacation diary, and tote bag and disposable camera. Another terrific idea is the “Wyndham Kid Checks” that parents can purchase for their children. Paper Wyndham money in $1 denominations, the kids may use them throughout the resort for stuff like tokens in the game room, ice cream at Tropical Flavors or even Pelican Watersports.

Jerry and I thought the coolest kids activities were the campfire celebration and “Cooking With the Chef”. One night a week, they hold a campfire celebration (this is a complimentary activity), complete with marshmallows, sing-a-longs, stories and games. The resort also has another original offering, called “Cooking With the Chef”. Once a week, kids gets to prepare a special meal for their parents. We had the opportunity to see one little young lady cooking, with a little help from the chef, for her mom and dad. It was hard to tell who was prouder, the girl, the parents or the chef? The two would prepare a course and then serve it to the parents, before returning to the kitchen for the preparation of the next part of the dinner. We finished our dinner before they did theirs, but we did hear that there were brownies baking away in the oven. Kids are able to cook free when at least one parent is purchasing dinner. The dinner was $29.95 plus the gratuity.

Another wonderful and thoughtful added touch at this resort is the Tuesday night Manager’s cocktail party. Moreover, no we are not talking about pretzels, chips and soda. We are talking about an honest to goodness spread of food and a bar worthy of a REAL cocktail party. What is the catch? There is none. Jerry and I listened to the staff introductions, enjoyed the limbo show with the required honeymooners as participants and have a great time. There are even chances to win one of their prizes, such as a free return stay to the resort.

Lunches at the Terrace Restaurant were quite good. Our personal favorites were a tie: Tandori Chicken Wrap, Chicken Fingers and the Quesadillas. There were a wide variety of other goodies offered here: Caesar Salad, Burgers, Hot Dogs, Sandwiches, Nachos, Fajitas etc. We only wished there were more days, so we could sample some of the other goodies! Of course everything served here was available “to go” to be enjoyed elsewhere. Such as sometimes in our case: the beach. They served until 5:30 pm and the Terrace serves ala Carte breakfast during the high season.

Again, if we had only had more nights for more dinners! Our next trip we would like to try the Pago Pago and Blossoms Restaurant.


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