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Trip Report Aruba Trip Report 4/2011

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HI Just returned from a very relaxing trip to Aruba!!! Flew Delta and had no problems I am happy to report. Was very fortunate to get first class for the ride home. First class isn't what it was 10 years ago which was the last and only other time I got to be up front, but still nicer than coach!

Stayed at the Marriott Stellaris Hotel which is a very large Marriott complex including two timeshares. It really is a great resort complex with lots to do. Negative: The palapas must be reserved ahead of time. That is really a pain in the butt, but you need shade in Aruba or you will fry. Another negative: crowded beach area. I am surprised at how crowded the beach is compared to 7 years ago when we were last there (pre one of the timeshares). Positives: Lots of pool areas, activities, entertainment, friendly and helpful staff, clean and nicely decorated rooms and baths. Just a great Marriott. Since we used points, this was especially a nice trip!

We dined on the beach at Simply Fish at the Marriott on our first night. Food was pretty good, not great. It was pricey, but sitting on the beach was a nice way to start the trip.
Day two: Dinner at the Pelican's Nest out on the Pier. Food was good and reasonably priced which was a plus.
Day three: Dinner at El Gaucho. Dinner was excellent and reasonably priced. Good steak.
Day four: Dinner at Madame Janettes. Best meal on the island. Hard to find, but worth it.
Day five: Dinner at LaVista at the Marriott. Buffet at the hotel. Food was pretty good.
Day six.: Dinner at Giovanni's. It was very good food, but the portions were small. My DH thinks they must make a fortune charging 27 for a half of a bowl of pasta. I thought it was tasty.
We rented a jeep from More 4 Less. They met us at the airport and took us back to their place (not far) where we picked up our jeep for about 380 for the week. It says it has a/c, but it blew only hot air. The jeep is all opened and it is not luxury by any means. It is old and been through a lot, but the kids liked it. They had fun riding in the back with no seat belts(they are older teens) and it holds very little luggage. We had them on our laps to the hotel.
We took the jeep down to baby beach which was fun. I think the area south on the island in the state park has an eerie look to it. Almost like a scene from Planet of the Apes. I was waiting for Charlton Heston to come out on horseback with the Apes. The windmills are huge and sort of sci-fi. Very desert like and only the old jeep we were in was worth taking out there.
We had lunch at a cute local place that was just opened two months. I have looked at the pictures, but can not find the name of hte place. Oh and don' t ask local men where to dine for lunch down by baby beach. One guy sent us to the red light district of Aruba down by the refinery. Not a good part of town at all. Prostitutes, the refinery and bars. The refinery in the background of baby beach was not exactly picturesque.

We also did a DePalm Island day. My DD and DH said the snorkeling was amazing. I found the whole thing like a resort on an island and we already had a resort at the Marriott and a nicer one. Food was mediocre and drinks were tiny. (it was an allinclusive package). I don't think it was worth the money unless you have your own group of friends going. Then I think you can have fun anywhere. I wish we had done the catamaran instead as I like the boat ride more than the actual snorkeling.

Gambled a little and came out ahead which is always a plus. Loved drinking the Aruba Ariba drinks. They were potent and so tasty too! My DD who is 18 also liked them and decided she is a One and Done girl. Hopefully she will take that bit of knowledge off to college with her next year!

All in all, Aruba is a great destination to relax with lots of activities at your fingertips. It is not the prettiest of islands, but it was sunny and 90 degrees F every day. Which can't be beat. The water is a beautiful green color and the people are friendly. Food is good and can be expensive, but I think a good meal can be worth the money. I recommend it as family friendly, teen friendly, older people friendly, all around good place to go. This was our second visit to the island and we may return again someday.

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