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Our Radisson Aruba Trip Report June 2011

Our travel to Aruba, like many families, is dictated by our budget and where we can afford to stay. Having a decreased income in a bad economy coupled with multiple eye surgeries for yours truly and a terminally ill pet, our family did not visit Aruba in 2010. This did gives us time though accumulate enough frequent flier miles with Delta for two frequent flier tickets as well as a third, “pay with miles” ticket which ended up costing us a minimal amount.

When it came time to book this Aruba trip, having used them for over 11 years, we again phoned MCM/Players Choice Tours. They only sell travel to Aruba and are highly reputable with excellent customer service. Ursula and Guy are always extremely patient in answering any questions we may have. All around they are a pleasure to work with. We have always found them to have the best pricing.

When we lived in New Jersey we were able to take advantage of the terrific airfares they bundled into their pricing of Aruba packages. Now living in Atlanta, we are still able to take advantage of MCM/Players Choice Tours fantastic resort package pricing even when we do not purchase our airfare with them. In all these years, we still have yet to find anyone who can beat their pricing on our favorite Aruba resorts.

This year, the Radisson was offering extraordinary special pricing during their $30 million refreshment which made it much more affordable for us. As of this writing, the refreshment is now completed. The special at the Radisson Aruba Resort, Casino & Spa included breakfast buffet daily as well as a generous beverage credit and other goodies. The Radisson has always been our favorite resort on the island. Finally we were on our way to return to the Radisson and Palm Beach.

My husband and I, had been to Aruba 19 times previously having staying at a variety of resorts along Palm Beach, some numerous times: Divi Phoenix timeshare, Playa Linda timeshare, Westin (future Riu addition), Occidental (former Allegro), Radisson and Hyatt. In the past few years, because it was what we could best afford, we had stayed at the Tamarijn All Inclusive.

Though this was the fifth time that we have stayed at the newly renovated Radisson, I still feel as I did the first time we were there in 2000. There are not enough adjectives to describe this resort-- wonderful, tranquil and gorgeous. We love, love, love Aruba, and we love, love, love the Radisson. The Radisson makes every effort to assure that guests are as comfortable and cared for as possible during their stay.

Aruba is a semi-arid island but the Radisson with its West Indian furnishings right on down to teak wood balcony furniture and lush landscape plantings has the atmosphere of a tropical vacation. We spend very little time in our hotel room while vacationing in Aruba and are able to fully appreciate the long stretch of beach with picturesque ocean beyond, cultivated lush green grounds and crystal clear, zero entry free form swimming pools.

As soon as we stepped out of our taxi driver friend Bully's van and were greeted by the bellman and subsequently the front desk clerk, we knew we were "home". The atmosphere at the Radisson is more upscale than the Tamarijn and in our opinion still the most tropical resort along Palm beach. We spend very little time in our hotel room while vacationing in Aruba and are able to truly appreciate the long stretch of beach with picturesque ocean beyond, cultivated lush green grounds and crystal clear, zero entry free form swimming pools.

Upon check-in we were told our room would not be ready until 4 pm. but the bellmen would store our luggage. Dh, dd and I walked around the pool area of the resort. It had been a long day, so I settled by the pool in the shade and kept an eye on our carry-ons while dh and dd went off to do some further exploring.

Promptly at 4 pm, our room was ready. The luggage was already in the room. Our room in the newly renovated Curaçao tower, 3522, had a southwest exposure with a partial view of the ocean. The attractive West Indian furniture has all been refinished, including the wood shutters installed over new insulated sliding glass doors. We found the new glass doors are virtually sound proof. Radisson has even gone the extra mile in refreshing their classic teak balcony furniture rather than replace it with uncomfortable plastic.

The room sparkled and was kept that way by housekeeping. Our room was kept immaculate throughout our stay, always made up promptly and there were always plenty of fresh towels. There were also complimentary toiletries such as shampoo, conditioner, and a selection of soaps, including body wash as well as mouthwash and hand sanitizer. Another thoughtful amenity along with the coffee/tea maker was the “to go” coffee cups along with lid. This made it easy to take along a cup of coffee for that walk on the beach before heading off to breakfast when the rest of the family awakened. For me personally, it always has been these added touches which show the resort wants to go the extra mile to satisfy their guests.

Our family rule is “no TV on vacation” but for inquiring minds, the Radisson has satellite TV with all the channels you would expect in the U.S. New in-room safes are large enough to fit a laptop very easily and inside the same dresser there is a small un-stocked mini-fridge as well. The room we had in the Curaçao tower had plenty of room to spread out as well as storage space for our family of three.

If you require a big bathroom, definitely request the Aruba or Curaçao towers. If you wish to be centrally located and bath size is not as important, definitely request the Bonaire tower. We have now stayed in all three towers of the resort and do not mind any of them, but they are all unique in their own way and offer slight differences.

If you require extra space, consider one of the suites with even more luxuriously appointed baths as well as living room and in the case of the Curaçao tower two balconies or Aruba tower suite with an exquisite view. From what I understand the Plaza Club is also an upscale add on for those interested especially in snacks and complimentary beverages as well as upgraded room amenities and personalized concierge services.

Because dh required the Internet for work, from prior experience at other resorts, the first thing he did was to check the in room Ethernet connection. The connection was not working. The Radisson folks worked on the issue diligently until it was resolved. In the meantime dh took his laptop down to the lobby where there was a complimentary Wi-Fi connection. In room Ethernet is complimentary as well. We also travel with a 15 – 20 foot cord to be able to sit at the table. Note, the sometime in the first half of 2012 the Radisson will have in room Wi-Fi as well.

Once we were squared away with the situation on the Internet, we were beach bound. Packing could wait while there were still hours of daylight left. It has become a family tradition to take that first swim in the warm Caribbean upon arrival. This June, the water temperature was 81 F. Refreshing any day when the temperatures were in the low 90’s every day.

That late in the day, there were plenty of palapas available. The Radisson Aruba offers the longest stretch of beach of all the resort on Palm beach. The shade palapas are spread further apart than most other resorts, and the beach is much less crowded than other resorts along that stretch of beach.

The Radisson offers an equitable solution to Aruba’s often problematic palapa shortage. The Radisson allows you to reserve your palapa at 4 pm for the following day. The towel hut personnel set out chairs about 3 pm for folks who inevitably wish to be first on line and do not mind waiting. Some bring drinks and make a social occasion out of it and others bring a good book. As long as you claim your palapa by 10 a.m. the following morning, there is no need to awaken at 6 am on your vacation as at other resorts on the island in order to stand in line for shade.

Our family spends most of the day on the beach so we reserved a palapa each afternoon for the following morning. In the morning dh would go to the towel hut where a beach boy would escort him to our assigned palapa, carrying our complimentary float and set up our towels and chaises.

For those who do not wish to wait in line and still want to reserve ahead for the next day, first row palapas can be rented for $35 per day or $25 per day for second row. Cabanas at the pool could also be rented at a cost of $35 per day. The cabana rental included a set up of unlimited towels as well as an ice chest with 6 bottles of Evian water.

We were vacationing during the summer in low season, but I can certainly see how these additional amenities would be a huge bonus during high season. The Radisson offers 5 handicap palapas for those with disabilities or skin conditions which can be reserved in advanced at no cost. If you choose not to pay for a palapa or cabana, or reserve a palapa on the beach late afternoon the day before, chaises and shade are available in the morning on a first-come, first-served basis.

Either swimming pool is perfect for senior citizens or young children in that both swimming pools are zero entry with easy access. No matter the time of year that we have stayed at the Radisson- March, June or September, the pool water has been warm and inviting. Even though we travel to Aruba for a “beach vacation,” our family finds ourselves spending more time at the pool areas of the Radisson than we do at any of the other Aruba resorts where we have stayed. There are plenty of large shade umbrellas or areas of sun if you are so inclined and unlike other Aruba resort areas, plenty of room to spread out on both the pool deck as well as in the water.

Each Tuesday during happy hour there is a manager's cocktail party with complimentary rum punch, wine, beer, soda and snacks. It was fun to see the names matched up with the faces of the managers and though we did not win anything, there were numerous gifts given away in a free raffle including two free nights for your next stay.

Upon the completion of our fifth stay at the Radisson, dh and I agree it is still the best resort on the island and continues to improve with age. Small things have never been a deal breaker for me, but I do take note of complimentary floats, they used to be $5 each per day, beach service for food and beverages, fresh frozen fruit poolside in the afternoon, generous daily happy hour with varied live entertainment and a weekly manager's cocktail party. Add to that newly renovated rooms with luxurious toiletries, complimentary coffee and tea with "to go" cups and other amentias such as complimentary min-fridge, a mini-safe large enough to accommodate a laptop computer and sleep number beds and it makes a difference and the Radisson stands out among resorts in Aruba.

We look forward to returning once again someday, hopefully in the near future.


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