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Senior Trip For Son. Aruba, Barbados, Grenada or Curacao...

Senior Trip For Son. Aruba, Barbados, Grenada or Curacao...

Mar 30th, 2012, 04:04 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 37
Senior Trip For Son. Aruba, Barbados, Grenada or Curacao...

Hi. Long time lurker but enjoy the forum. Family of 4. We're taking son (age 18) and daughter (age 21) for his Senior Trip. Flexible on dates, and can leave after June 10th. Looking to keep it under $1,500 plus us my frequent flier miles (Delta or American) and/or hotel points (Marriott). Not wedded to that combination, but it's a start, although the availability of airline points seems to be better in June.

Ended up so far with:

Courtyard Bridgetown (Barbados)
Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino (Aruba)
Renaissance Curacao Resort & Casino (Aruba)

He wants a "beach experience", although they all have nice beaches. It would be nice, but not essential, to have access to some restaurants, shopping etc. Not sure I want them overly tempted by "partying opportunities" like one might have at a Cancun. One less hassle for me and this should be a time for all of us to be together. Fishing and snorkeling are certainly objectives, along with "good food".

Any suggestions would be appreciated! I will certainly reply back after the trip with a review.
ghutch is offline  
Mar 30th, 2012, 04:09 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 37
Sorry. Long day. Make that Renaissance Curacao Resort & Casino (Curacao). And, we are very open to other hotels, apartments, condos etc. if it makes more sense and is cost effective.

ghutch is offline  
Mar 31st, 2012, 02:21 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 12,269
Aruba Palm/Eagle beach best for senior trip
great snorkel dive more peers to recreate
with best beach of all the islands. It
is wise to review travel.state.gov for
safety info and be careful with drinks etc.
particularly at the notorious Senor Frogs

Happy Deciding!
qwovadis is offline  
Mar 31st, 2012, 07:16 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 4,077
We have been to Aruba and Curacao and booked this year for Barbados.

Aruba has lots of good shopping and dining options. The Renaissance Aruba is in downtown Aruba. Not much around that hotel as all the best dining options and beach restuarants will be found on Palm Beach. If you want to use Marriott points I would go with the Marriott on Palm Beach instead.

There is not good snorkeling off the resort beaches. Take an beach hopping tour or a boat snorkel trip. DePalm Island has huge parrot fish, but there is much controversy over the cost and what is included there.

Curacao beaches are made up of crushed coral, so water shoes are a must. Most of the beaches are on the West side of the Island, so you will need to rent a car or take a beach hopping tour to get to them. The downtown shopping area is very nice and clean. Like department type stores. We enjoyed our trip, but it didn't make our return list. For one thing, it was very difficult to get there from Texas in one day.

We chose Barbados for this year as it seemed to have lots of nightlife, dining and shopping options as well as good sightseeing. I'm finding things to be rather expensive though and formal. We want to take a day trip over to Grenada while we are there.

Of those choices, I would say go with Aruba and stay on Palm Beach. Lots of things for a family to see and do.
KVR is offline  
Apr 1st, 2012, 06:35 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I'm assuming your $1,500 budget is for lodging only?

I haven't been to Curacao or Grenada yet but between Aruba and Barbados then your money will go much further in Aruba. Barbados is pretty expensive.

Personally, I wouldn't stay at the downtown Renaissance Aruba Resort. When I think "beach resort" I don't think stuck in the middle of downtown. My guess is you'll be much happier if you can stay at the Marriott on Palm Beach for that beach experience, although you may be a little late in securing lodging using points at this late date. That Marriott seems to be very popular. There are many walkable restaurants in all price ranges across from Palm Beach. And that is a very nice beach.

There are also Marriotts on Grand Cayman (GC is expensive), St. Kitts and St. Thomas.

I'm not sure why you have discounted Cancun. Mexico is generally less expensive than the Caribbean. If you are thinking "spring break" partying in all of Cancun I can disabuse you of that notion. Yes, Cancun does have a lot of partying during spring break, but it is during spring break. There will of course be bars everywhere you go but we never see spring break-type partying in our travels.
sharona is offline  
Apr 1st, 2012, 08:18 AM
Join Date: Jul 2004
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From my nieces feedback based on their recent trips to Aruba I feel unless your son is very responsible I might take a pass though it is along with Cancun the Party Islands. Curacau has developed into having a active night life the past 5-6 years and there are a number of restaurants but the food is not cheap. The Renaissance is fine but if the Hilton is not too expensive consider it. though it was a little run-down on our last visit, 2006,it is right next to a very lovely Marriott with a social scene and it is not that far from the Arches where there are 8-10 restaurants. The snorkeling is very good but it is at the WEST END and he would have to get 1-2 others to come in on a car rental and take the Maximum insurance even though it cost $20-$25/day plus rental of $50+/-/day. There are a series of bays 25 miles from the Hilton and along the wals of the bays the snorkeling is quite good. Far better than Aruba. In fact, in my opinion, based on my visits 15-20 years ago there is no decent snorkeling in Aruba though the beaches are lovely vs. Curacau where they are just o'k. We have been to Curacau 3 times, last visit 5-6 years ago, and enjoyed each visit very much.
StanKase is offline  
Apr 1st, 2012, 11:44 AM
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Wow! Thanks for all the feedback so far.

sharona: That's a tentative budget for costs other than lodging if I can use airline and hotel points, but if not, my costs would probably be around $2,000 or so still with using airline points. Delta mileage levels are much higher to Mexico, so that's why it's out right now. The Palm Beach Marriott was like 140k points when I checked, so I don't have that many. I'm open to finding reasonably priced hotels that aren't part of the affinity programs if it makes sense.

StanKase: Good points! We are going with him, but certainly it seems like Aruba has it's fair share of "temptations" for a younger set!
ghutch is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2012, 04:22 AM
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Hey sharona! Looked up the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino (Aruba) on their site. Wanted to try to understand the "City" comment further. Looks like they're on the water. What didn't you like about that location? Thanks!
ghutch is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2012, 05:33 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
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The Renaissance is in downtown Aruba by the airport. It's in the city. They have a private beach area that they shuttle people from the hotel by boat. It's divided between adults only and families. Check Google Maps, it will give you a good idea of it's location. The location is not preferred because it's not on the beach.

Most of the hotels are either on Palm Beach or Eagle Beach. Palm Beach has the high rise hotels. Across the street is blocks of shopping, restuarants, entertainment, and bars. On the beach side is water sports stations, beach bars and reataurants. It's right in the middle of all the activity and for me, the place to be.

Eagle Beach has the low rise hotels. Not as much activity, restaurants or bars. The beach area is wider, more spread out and doesn't get as crowded. Lots of people like the quite atmosphere.
KVR is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2012, 08:17 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Hi ghutch. KVR has it exactly right. We didn't stay at the Renaissance because it's downtown. As KVR stated they have their own beach where they shuttle you in their boat. I don't believe you can walk to the beach.

We like Palm Beach. Lots to do and lots of restaurants within walking distance.
sharona is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2012, 04:48 AM
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 2
Hi ghutch, I'm new to this forum thing, but here's my opinion.

Two years ago we went to Aruba, we rented a timeshare thru VRBO, quite inexpensive. Arube was nice. Great food! Windy! When you are walking on the beach, or laying out, the sand blows and in kind of 'stings' you. Aruba is like a desert, very dry, loads of cactus'.

Last year we went to Curaçao. Again, we rented a house thru Homeaway. It was BEAUTIFUL. It overlooked the ocean, but not ON the ocean. We had a pool, so it great. Food there was NOT great. Kids still joke that we lived on bread and water. We did not go to many beaches because we had the pool. The town of Curacao was cute.

This year, as a matter of fact, even as I write this, we are in Barbados. Barbados has THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BEACHES!! rockley Beach,
margarita66 is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2012, 04:55 AM
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 2
Ooops! I pressed submit on accident.

OK, so Barbados has the best beaches. BUT, there is nothing pretty about Barbados. The people are unbelievabley nice and polite. As far as food, eh, nothing spectacular. Aruba still wins in the food category, big time! And if you are on a budget, DON'T come to Barbados.....it is SO expensive!!!

That being said, enjoy your time with your kids. We are here for 10 days and are having a beautiful time.
margarita66 is offline  
Apr 4th, 2012, 08:18 AM
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Posts: 37
Thank you for all the wonderful information. I think we've pretty much settled on Grenada because of the cost. Now I have to find a place to stay!
ghutch is offline  
Apr 5th, 2012, 03:19 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 793
We stayed at Coyaba on Grand Anse and love it. Food was wonderful; rooms very nice. The people of grenada are wonderful.

Make sure you get some of the chocolate with nutmeg. Visit the nutmeg processing place....it was fun. We rented a car from Archies car rental. No problems. Make sure you go the Aquarium Restaurant for lunch and spend the afternoon on the beach there! Good snorkeling and the pina coladas are the best!

peace, greenie
greenie is offline  
Apr 24th, 2012, 08:29 PM
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 8
Hi There

Let me apologize in advance if this jumps around and is riddled with typos. It's getting late!

I am a big time budget vacationer. I spent a week in Aruba last year. I thought Aruba had a little bit of everything. My girlfriend and I stayed at the Holiday Sunspree on Palm Beach. I certainly cannot recommend that hotel if you are looking for something fancy, but it served the purpose for us. If you choose to stay at the Holiday, please make sure to upgrade the room. I heard a half a dozen complaints about the lower priced rooms smelling strongly of mold.

Keep in mind that Aruba is truly a desert island. There are tropical trees around the resorts that effectively give it a tropical feel, but if you venture away from the tourist area, it's desert.

If you are looking for the beach atmosphere, don't stay in the downtown area. I highly recommend finding something on Palm Beach. Palm Beach is lined with high rise hotel/casinos. As a result you'll get a nice combination of beaches, bars, restaurants, shopping, and activities.

If you enjoy shopping, there is a shopping center within walking distance of Palm Beach, right across from the Holiday. Like most shopping centers, it's full of restaurants, shops, and bars. The best shopping however, is downtown. (right near the Renaissance) A bus or a taxi can get you there.

If you are there for the food there are restaurants at each of the hotel/casinos that you should have access to. Many of them are located right on the sand. If you step off the beach a little way there are some mom n pop places along with a host of American style fast food joints. If you are really into food though, you should head downtown there seemed to me more selection there.

Nightlife... There was definately some nightlife on Palm Beach. There were a couple of restaurants that remained very busy later at night. They could provide the opportunity to drink, party, and have some fun. I visited a couple of them, and it was fun without being over the top crazy. If you like gambling, most of the hotels along Palm Beach have small casinos attached. They have everything from daily bingo to vegas style table games, craps, roulette, etc. The casinos I gambled at gave free drinks while sitting at the tables and slots.

Activities. The snorkeling was alright in Aruba, but it didn't compare to Mexico. We took a snorkeling tour for something like $50 (U.S.) and it was well worth it. Food and unlimited drinks were included in the price. The fish were alright, but not spectacular. We also went out to Baby Beach to snorkel. There again, it was just OK.

If you like exploring, it's fairly easy in Aruba. There is a busline that runs between palm and Eagle Beach. Otherwise, rent a jeep and go exploring. The hotels will give you a map with different destinations. We managed to put 180 miles on the jeep we rented.

As far as beaches go in general. Palm Beach is definately the place to be if you want a little of everything. Eagle Beach is great for a day trip, but it's quiet, and you won't have the same level of access to food.

I've been to Ixtapa, Cozumel, Playa Del Carmen, Zihuatanejo, and Puerto Vallarta in Mexico. All of those trips were wonderful. I prefer Aruba though, because it seems to have a little of something for everybody.

If you go to Aruba, and you plan to drink, grab a few bottles from the Duty Free at the airport. You'll save yourself a huge chunk of change. For budget transportation check out Arubus.

Two last thoughts for you.
You will read a lot of comments about the wind there. It's windy. I actually welcomed the breeze though. The desert sun can get very hot.

If you've been to Mexico I'm sure you've grown fond of the MANY traveling salesmen/women/children. I was not heckled to buy anything in Aruba. I actually had to approach the sales people in order to book our snorkeling trip. I personally appreciated that. If you have questions, ask them. I can give specific restaurant names if you'd like, I just need to pull out the pictures.
TimSyd is offline  
May 19th, 2012, 05:50 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 37
As the trip turns...

Well, no decisions yet. Issue with using my frequent flier miles (ultimately my fault), has created a situation that some reservations were cancelled, but being appealed.

We're back to square one really. Grenada seems more distant, but a possibility. Turks and Caicos is on the horizon now, and maybe Barbados.

If anyone has any bright ideas, all ears as I'm bug eyed looking at all this stuff!

ghutch is offline  

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