The following is a trip report:
ARUBA JOURNAL 2011
January 28 2011
We embarked from JFK on American Airlines to Aruba. American Airlines still has that “old fashioned” feel of service to their airline and the flight was pleasant and uneventful.
We had been issued a voucher for transportation to our hotel and this was a mistake. Needless to say we were the next to last to be dropped off and we spent one hour in the bus waiting our turn for our hotel. We later learned that a cab ride costs $25.00 and the duration is approximately twenty minutes to the Palm Beach High Rise hotels.
We also learned that there are designations for Low rise hotels and high rise Hotels along Palm beach, which is the are on the northwest coast of the island north of Oranjestad and the airport.
I regret to say that we did not visit the capital Oranjestad as the purpose of our visit was strictly to rest and relax on the beach. We did pass through the capital and the stores are plentiful and house top of the line retailers. The buildings themselves are brightly colored and ornate. I was told that when a cruise ship stops over the town becomes extremely crowded and so a visit to the concierge for advice is warranted should you desire a visit to town.
We were booked into the Radisson Hotel which is in the high rise district. The hotel is composed of three main buildings. There are two towers, The Curacao and the Aruba and a low building called the Bonaire.
The Curacao tower was completely closed for renovation though scheduled to re-open in late February 2011. The Bonaire building has already been renovated and the Aruba tower is scheduled to start renovation in late March 2011.
The Bonaire building is approximately four stories and I do not believe there are any ocean views from their rooms. This is because the palm trees are old and extend to the fourth floor.
We stayed in the Aruba tower and should you desire a ocean view you must be at the fifth floor or higher. The Aruba tower has nine floors to it. This building could use a make over however the rooms were clean by no means antiquated.
Our room was on the sixth floor and had a beautiful view of the ocean. The balcony was a little small but by no means tiny and there was room enough for two chairs and a small table.
The bathroom was spacious and contained a bath/shower combination. I prefer a separate shower but the water pressure was very good and the bathroom was completely in marble. The sink area was spacious and had a long shelf for personal toiletries. The hotel
provided soaps and lotions, including mouthwash from a company called Asira, which I am not familiar with so I do not know the quality. The toiletries provided were certainly sufficient for our needs.
The bed contained a “sleep number” apparatus though we never used it. The bed was comfortable and the bedding was fine.
There was a standard TV but there were no movie or gaming options. I imagine this will be updated in the renovation. The armoire containing the TV also housed a small refrigerator. We found this useful in that we read that across the street from the hotel there was a market where food and beverages could be bought. Our first day we purchased some fruit wine and beer and placed them in the refrigerator.
The tap water is great. There is no need to buy bottled water and we purchased a bottle of water the first day and thereafter refilled it for the tap.
The personnel at the hotel are extremely helpful and present always with a smile. Registration was seamless and we were checked in promptly and process was complete in five minutes.
We found that flights to Aruba are not plentiful. In past years we primarily vacationed in Puerto Rico and flights are many and at numerous times of the day and evening.
We found ourselves traveling for the entire day having taken a 10:00a.m. flight and not arriving at our hotel until 5:00p.m. They are one hour ahead of Eastern Standard time.
After settling in we found ourselves at the Mira Solo lounge which is adjacent to the lobby. We ordered drinks and chose ceviche from a limited appetizer menu.
The drinks were fine but the ceviche was exceptional. The fish was extremely fresh and nicely seasoned. We ate the ceviche almost every evening.
We are not big eaters especially in the evening and so we mad our main meals at breakfast and lunch and had light appetizers in the evening.
For those interested, the dining options at the hotel are limited. There is the Laguna restaurant which serves strictly buffet for breakfast and dinner. There is no lunch served there.
There is also Gilligan’s restaurant which is down at the beach and serves ala carte breakfast and lunch. The menu is typical with eggs in the morning and burgers and sandwiches at lunch. The food was merely pedestrian. We ate there for breakfast and found the eggs typical and the bakery choices were fine.
There are abundant dining options close by to the hotel. Across the street is an Italian restaurant, an Indian restaurant and several other American type pubs. We were told that the food there was on the whole very good.
We did find a restaurant along the water at a hotel called the Playa De Linda called Azzurro.
This is an Italian restaurant run by an Italian serving very good basic Italian food. There is no fancy appetizers or entrees rather basic pastas and great grilled fish. Being of Italian descent, from New York and having visited Italy a number of times we are somewhat familiar with good Italian food. As I stated this is basic Italian and very good.
We ate our lunches there and found the food very good at a reasonable price.
We take winter vacations in the Caribbean to relax and sit on the beach. We realized well in advance of our trip that an umbrella or some sort of covering was a necessity. The sun is strong and even limited exposure runs the risk of sunburn.
We learned that the hotel has “palapa’s” which are huts set about the beach. These huts are numbered and assigned on a first come first served basis. The huts are free and you must sign up at 4:00 p.m. the day before for the next days palapa. We were told that the lines can be long as I stated above cover is a necessity to stay at the beach.
We did learn that you can reserve the huts in advance and for your entire stay for a fee. The huts can be reserved at a rate of $35.00 per day. We found this invaluable as we did not want to stand in line for a hut and chance not getting one. As I stated above, our primary destination was the beach and as stated above we did no sightseeing.
The most coveted huts are the ones closest to the beach however where you sit along the beach signals your preference for the type of company you wish to keep. The hut reservation person suggested a palapa closest to the beach and in the main section.
This was a mistake for us. We are not snobby or standoffish however we crave the quiet. The main section is extremely crowed and filled with people who are interacting with each other in conversation. Also as the day progresses and the liquor flows, the rowdiness increases.
We found the area on the extreme end of the property by the spa to be blissfully quiet and filled with like minded people. We always exchanged pleasantries but there were no extended conversations.
There are people who thrive on the interaction and the main section would be for them.
The beach is fairly wide and we have heard that not all beaches in Aruba likewise. The sand is powdery and the water magnificent. The beach has quite a slope to it as you approach the water however entering the water the descent is gradual. The water is that Caribbean blue and clear as can be. The water is very calm.
There are the standard recreational water activities and there is no need for me to recite them here. The staff keeps the beach impeccably clean as with the entire property. It seems that there is a small army maintaining the hotel.
There is a Casino on the property however we are not gamblers and we did not go in. I am sorry that I can give no report on the Casino. There was nightly music at the Mira Solo Lounge which varied from Rock to Reggae and through to Salsa.
We do not have an interest in nightlife either. I know it sounds pretty boring but working as we do throughout the year, all my wife and I want to do is relax and sleep. You will have to rely on other sources for night clubs and alike.
There is a small business center in the lower lobby of the hotel and contains several computers and printers for those who need to be connected. There is also Wi-fi in the lobby and internet access in the rooms. I would imagine that all these will be upgraded in the upcoming renovation.
The maid service was merely adequate. The rooms were cleaned thoroughly however we found that at times our room had not been cleaned by the early afternoon. This is a minor point but for some may be important and so I pass it on.
There is the perfunctory spa with massages and alike however we did not avail ourselves of any of these services. We did use the gym everyday and found it a trifle small. We exercise early in the morning and there were few like us at that time of day. There were several treadmills, a couple of elliptical machines, some free weights and some Nautlius machines.
We did have a glitch in our vacation which involved the weather. The weather in Aruba is great with a nice breeze always blowing. The issue was back home. We always keep our eye out on the weather here in New York and saw a winter storm approaching the metropolitan area.
We had booked the trip through Liberty Travel and called them for assistance. We ultimately decided to leave for home one day earlier than planned and when presented with this problem, the folks at Liberty Travel acted quickly and secured us on what was to be the last flight to New York. I do commend there assistance.
Needless to say we quickly checked out of the hotel, forfeiting the nights stay and took a cab to the airport. After the experience with the trip from the airport to the hotel, a cab was worthwhile. The cab ride was twenty minutes at a cost of $25.00. I should also point out that there was no meter in the cab so it is advisable to determine the rate prior to entering the cab.
We returned on Jet Blue and arrived uneventfully at JFK and returned safely home.
This was our first trip to Aruba and there were more positives than negatives. In the past years we had vacationed in Puerto Rico and found that the flights were more plentiful however the past few years the weather has been spotty. As we make the beach our primary destination, weather is paramount. The weather in Aruba is consistently great with the negative being the paucity of flights in and out.
We intend on returning to the Radisson as we believe it offers most of what we desire in a resort.
If there is any other information needed please let me know.
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