Questions about Aruba

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Jul 8th, 2003, 10:53 AM
  #1
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Questions about Aruba

Hi, first post here....

I am planning a trip to Aruba anytime from January to early April...and had a few questions....any thoughts on when is best to visit during that time?

1. Does anyone have any opinions on the Renaissance, Radisson, Wyndham, Marriott and Hyatt hotels there?

2. A lot of people knock Aruba for being "too Americanized". Well, our party consists of single gals in their late 20's and early 30's, all of which have never been to the Caribbean and like to shop and go out to eat and for nightlife, in addition to the water activites. Is Aruba a good choice for our first Caribbean experience?

3. Other than the beach/resorts, we want to explore the rest of the island....rent a car?
Easy to get around? A lot to see outside of resort area?

4. Finally, knowing that Aruba is an arid island, some people actually say it is "not a pretty island". Agree or disagree?

Sorry so many questions, just trying to get as much info as possible before we finalize our plans...thanks in advance.
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Jul 8th, 2003, 11:08 AM
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caribtraveler
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Hi first time poster...
Let me see what I can answer
1. I haven't stayed at those hotels, but I;ve seen the beach of the Hyatt..very very nice..and 2 cousins stayed at the Hyatt and loved it.
2. I'm one of the people who find Aruba very touristy (lots of Americans). I don't knock it though. It's more a statement of fact on my part. I think the island is safe for a group of gals (you'll only be accosted to purchase timeshares!). I enjoyed Aruba so I don't think it's a bad choice at all.
3. Yes you can rent a vehicle. I would advise you to rent a jeep though (4x4). If you rent a car, you may find yourself stuck on the other side of the island which needs exploring (rocky). We saw people in cars getting stuck when we were there.
I think there is a lot to see in Aruba. If you don't want to rent a vehicle, you can book a jeep safari tour which are sooo much fun. They'll take you all over the island in a day.
4. Aruba is pretty in its own way. It's arid with lots of cacti and divi trees...and beautiful beaches.

 
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Jul 8th, 2003, 11:31 AM
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1. I have stayed at the Marriott and the Wyndham. The Marriott is by the far the best. The rooms at the Wyndham didn't seem as clean to me. The Hyatt is beautiful but the beach is a bit crowded. But if you are single, maybe you would like it. The Renaissance is downtown so stay away from there (the beach isn't as nice as Palm Beach). The Radison looked very nice (like the Hyatt) but again crowded on the beach.

2. I love the Americanized Aruba. It feels so much like the US except the weather is perfect! The shopping is great. I am a shopper! The restaurants are wonderful and the nightlife is great. Casinos too! Lots of water activities. I think this is a really good choice for singles. It is very, very safe..

3. You can explore the island. The other side is beautiful and undeveloped. Just be careful when you drive on the unpaved roads. We ruined the jeep we rented!!

4. Finally, Aruba is no Hawaii as far as beauty goes but the beaches are beautiful. The locals are so nice, the food, the drinks, the shopping, the climate - you can't lose!

FYI... One downside, the "timeshare" business is everywhere. Just say no!
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Jul 8th, 2003, 11:42 AM
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Thanks so much for your helpful replies...and so quickly!!

I am almost pulling my hair out trying to decide if Aruba is the way to go..or if maybe a Barbados, St. Maarten, or USVI trip may be a better choice....I am looking for that perfect mix of activity and serenity....

I know one thing, as long as I can avoid another long nasty Northeastern winter, I will be one happy lady!!

Thanks...I am sure to be back with more questions.....
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Jul 8th, 2003, 11:46 AM
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While I have been to Aruba I have not stayed at the hotels you listed. I stayed at La Cabana but I hear it has become quite overcrowded since I was there in 92. Yes, perhaps Aruba has become to Americanized with the strips of hotels, timeshares and the abundance of casinos. However, I (from Canada) met many people from all over the world not just Americans. You definately should tour the island. It was the differences in topography that struck me. You have the west side with the hotels, divi divi trees and planted palm trees, then the north with sand dunes, off to the centre of the island with a 'moon scape' and lastly the south with a little more vegetation and the wonderful Babyback Beach. Shopping? I don't recall my wife being overly impressed. Nite life? We quite enjoyed our nightly trip to the casino (there were at least 8) and took in to few of the 'shows'. You should be aware that it can get a little difficult to lie on the beach for tanning due to the wind (you will get sandblasted). We spent more time around the pool. While I am not that big on St.Martin have you considered it? The Dutch side would certainly have more shopping than Aruba. It may be a little less expensive too. From St. M you can take a ferry over to Anguilla for some wonderful beaches.
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Jul 8th, 2003, 11:57 AM
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I am also considering St. Maarten, but need to look into hotel options. Any ideas would be appreciated. I am sure I would stay on the Dutch side, as it may be more reasonably priced. I would love to go to Anguilla for a day, it looks absolutely beautiful.

You mentioned you were not impressed by St. Maarten/St. Martin...I'd like to hear your opinions on that....thanks.
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Jul 8th, 2003, 12:09 PM
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I have been to many islands, St. Martin is our least favourate. We stayed at Nettle Bay on the French side. While the accommodations were excellent it was the surly waiters/waitresses (imported from France, not the local inhabitants) that bothered us. They were doing us a favour by coming over to our table to give us water. Anyway, just didn't appreciate this kind a service. A meal in Grande Case was quite good, but small. We stopped to get a pizza on the way home. The Dutch side was fine (in fact I am real partial to Dutch people thats why we enjoyed Aruba so much). Little Switzerland was quite the experience when the cruise ships are in. We were not impressed with the beaches in St. Martin. Yes people go on and on about Orient beach however, you have to declare and guary your 4 square feet of space. There are much prettier islands than St. Martin. A few I would not hesitate to go back to....Grenada (see my trip report March 14th), Turks and Caicos, Tortola and Virgin Gorda in the BVIs, St. Kitts/Nevis. Jamaica can also be a blast.
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Jul 8th, 2003, 12:18 PM
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I had briefly considered both St Kitts and Turks and Caicos.....because they look extremely beautiful. However, I wondered if after a few days, there would be enough activity to occupy us...seeing as none of us are going to be in the water for more than a sail or snorkel..enough land based activity?
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Jul 8th, 2003, 12:23 PM
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Not a lot of shopping or such in TCI. St. Kitts...well if your have seen Basterre once you have seen it. So, maybe there would not be enough day time activity for the crew. Grenada is a different story if you are into touring rainforest, spice factories, rum factories etc. Go to grenadaexplorer.com for some good insight.
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Jul 9th, 2003, 06:37 PM
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Went to Aruba a couple years ago in May-had a great time--
-it is desert like, not lush and mountainous, but I will say we did not have 1 rainy day out of 10
-not as authentic as some other islands but still had a lot of character and conveniences--very safe
-stayed at a big resort right in town(sonesta) by the marina which had it's own private island off shore-had a boat that literally came into the lobby every few minutes to whisk you away..very cool
-there is a bus terminal right in the center of town that will take you up and down the strip for a buck and save you some hassel--you can get off at any of the major resorts for the day (on palm beach) if you want to join the crowds
-many, many activities to choose from--parasail, booze cruise, fishing, submarines, snorkel etc
-favorite restaurant-El Gaucho
-best snorkeling was Baby Beach, but is hard to get to on your own w/o a car(can take a day trip)
-did not find a problem with the wind-- just remember those pony tail holders --actually felt good on those really hot days(and it can get HOT there)
-loved staying right in town--could walk to casinos, shows, restaurants, shops, pier etc and seemed like it cost a lot less than people on the strip were paying
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Jul 11th, 2003, 06:16 AM
  #11
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Thanks, Katetravels, for the great information.....I am keeping all of your recommendations on a list so I can see them all when I get there. I definitely like the private island deal at the Renaissance (old Sonesta)

Another friend of mine is going to Aruba tomorrow......needless to say, I am very jealous....
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Jul 14th, 2003, 05:16 AM
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I vote for Aruba, it's amazing. As for time to go? Anytime, it's always nice there and out of the hurricain areas. I was there for Christmas two years ago, wonderful weather. The ocean water is warm all year round.
I would rent a car!
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Jul 17th, 2003, 08:23 AM
  #13
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Turks and Caicos is a very quiet destination. There are day excursions but no night life. However the beach is beautiful. I've been to St. Martin and didn't care for it. Go to Aruba, you'll have fun.
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Jul 17th, 2003, 09:20 AM
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Hi Elizabeth~

We went to Aruba last September and loved it...we will definitely be back. No weather worries. It was warm, sunny and breezy/windy the whole time. It was amazing though because we never encountered any blowing sand.

I would recommend first the Radisson and second the Hyatt. the Radisson recently underwent 55 million in renovations and it's beautiful...nicely decorated room in british/caribbean decor, the grounds are amazing...waterfalls, parrots, tropical flowers, zero entry pool. The beach there is great too with lots of grass huts to camp out under! And the staff was extremely friendly and accomodating.

there is a cool little bar on the end of the DePalm Pier (next to the Radisson) where you can go for happy hour to watch the sunset. Oh and the Radisson makes the best pian coladas!
We will defintely stay there again. I don't recommend the Renaissance as it is on the main drag in town..very busy and no beach! (you have to take a boat to get to their island).

One sid eof the isalnd is rugged and arid (but beautiful) and the other side is tropical so you getthe best of both worlds!

Some "must dos":

Kukoo Kunuku party bus
El gaucho Restaurant
Jolly Pirates snorkel cruise
rent a 4x4 and explore the rugged side of the island.

Hope you decide to go!

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Jul 17th, 2003, 09:24 AM
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My experience has been that "Americanized" equals SAFE, STABLE & CLEAN. If you want crime and dirt, then head for one of the "un-Americanized" destinations (such as St. Martin/Maarten). And Aruba is a great cultural destination -- during my last visit there I met people from the Netherlands, Venezuela, Colombia, and Korea. Due to its history and location, Aruba has strong influences from both South America and Europe. It's a great destination and the perfect choice for your group.

My preference is the Radisson, although people will argue that the Hyatt is nicer. My rooms at the Radisson have been larger and "newer" than at the Hyatt. Plus the pool atmosphere at the Hyatt can be annoying.

Aruba is certainly an arid island, but that offers its own beauty (just like Arizona and New Mexico, both arid).

Your group would love one of the bar-hopping excursions on a bus. Check www.aruba-bb.com for info and a forum devoted to Aruba.

Enjoy!
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Jul 17th, 2003, 11:04 AM
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I'm with Gekko, go to the Radisson. Just returned from staying there, and it's fabulous and superior to the Hyatt. Aruba will be perfect for your group--it's safe, and people are exceptionally pleasant and friendly. Don't listen to the travel-snobs who claim it's too Americanized. What does that mean, anyway? Clean safe and friendly, with a high standard of living? Actually, we met many from Europe and South America while there. Go, stay at the Rad and have a blast.
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Jul 17th, 2003, 06:23 PM
  #17
caribtraveler
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I can't speak for everyone but to most people I know the word "Americanized" means fast-food places, shopping malls, etc... "Americanized" doesn't mean safe, stable and clean. I don't know where you live in the U.S. (obviously your own little world is clean, safe and stable and for some reason you think it's the same for everyone in the U.S.) but there are plenty of places in our lovely U.S. of A that are dirty, unstable and so unsafe you wouldn't wanna walk there during daylight.
Some people when they go to the Caribbean are looking: for the Caribbean...not someplace that makes them feel like they're still at home, then they might as well have stayed at home, right?..that's what some people mean by "Americanized"...
Anyway, Elizabeth as I said in my previous post, if you chose Aruba, you'll enjoy it. It's a fun island.



 
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Jul 17th, 2003, 07:03 PM
  #18
caribtraveler
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..and may i add...
from webster's dictionary:
americanize: to bring (as an area) under the commercial influence of the U.S.
..hmm...could that mean fast-food places, shopping malls, casinos...??
and nickie, i think gekko IS the travel snob "if you want dirt and crime, head to the un-americanized destinations such as St. Marteen"...
if that's not a travel snob, what the hell is that??

 
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Jul 17th, 2003, 07:54 PM
  #19
 
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American businesses locate in countries with stable governments, relatively safe conditions, and decent infrastructure. "Americanized" Caribbean islands have these features.

I've been most all of them, 27 islands since 1981. As an avid scuba diver and former instructor, topside isn't half as important as what's underwater. I've slept in luxurious hotels and bug-infested shacks (Roatan, Utila, etc.) I like many of the "un-Americanized" destinations as well, but I'm not Elizabeth27, a young lady who's planning a first-time vacation with young lady friends.

Let's remember why we're here -- not to argue about fast food restaurants but to answer questions based on our personal experiences.

Elizabeth27 and her friends will love Aruba and will feel safe enjoying its varied and exciting nightlife. I can't say the same about several other destinations (including St M/M). If you don't agree, fine. Life goes on. . .

Good luck Elizabeth!
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Jul 18th, 2003, 08:32 AM
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Hi there - to those of you who have stayed at the Radisson. Can you tell me what room category you had? I am considering staying there in a Gardenview - though it is still hundreds of dollars more there for the week vs. a standard or superior room at Wyndham. Having a hard time deciding what to do. Thanks for all your help and exerience!! (This is a very special trip for me and my fiancé - we aren't getting married but want a romantic vacation.) Another option is the all inclusive at Wyndham - but it is a great deal more in price - trying to figure out if we would spend it anyway going EP.
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