We just returned home to Massachusetts after spending another great week in Aruba, our favorite travel destination. It is hard to believe that it was only 11 years ago that we made our first visit to this fantastic island destination. On that first visit in 2005, we stayed at the Wyndham, now the Riu, and we have returned every year since, sometimes twice in the year. Not long after the first visit we bought at the Marriott Ocean Club and Surf Club...obviously no regrets. When we returned in 2007, I proposed to my wife on the beach in front of the former Wyndham, where our love of the island began.
This past week was spent at the Surf Club. We did get to enjoy a day or two using the Lazy River before the renovation work on this part of the complex was started. Those planning a trip soon should know that they anticipate about a month of construction to get the river back in use. Even with this work in progress, the trip was great, beach and ocean relaxing, the weather perfect, and the people of the island friendly as always.
This year we made our first visit to Madame Janette's for dinner. I know, what took so long! Friends who have been to the island were always surprised when we told them that we had never gone there for dinner. Pat is a fussy eater and I was a little concerned that she would spend the evening watching me eat. We went this past Wednesday and needless to say we were not disappointed. The service was great and the meals exceptional. Plenty to choose from even if your food choices are on the plain side. When we return in May, we will definitely make a return visit to Madame Janette's.
Pincho's, another of our favorite restaurants was terrific as well with Ron our server providing an enjoyable dining experience in a spectacular waterfront setting.
Time at the casino could have been more profitable, but always a nice diversion after a day on the beach.
At the Surf Club, the staff was pleasant as always. I would like to mention Yenny from the pool bar who we have seen many times over the years. This year we spent some time talking with her when the activity at the pool was slow. She is a pleasure to speak with and a valuable asset of the Marriott company. As we were preparing to leave, we returned to our room Friday evening to find a gift from Yenny waiting for us on the bed. It was a wall decoration of the California Lighthouse. It was touching to think she would do something like that for us and we look forward to seeing her again in May.
Meals during the trip at some of our other favorite restaurants (Smokey Joe's, BLT, and El Gaucho's) is something we always look forward to and are never disappointed. Also, after a nice meal, we went to the Soprano's Piano Bar one night. Very entertaining, small and cozy bar with good drinks and great music.
We found El Gaucho's to be good but not great this time around. We have gone every year for the past 7 or 8 years and have remained loyal, but this year, compared to some of the other dining option, it was not as good. The steak at BLT was more tender and the filet at Madame Janette's was melt in your mouth perfect.
Having said that, we plan on giving them another chance in May when we return.
In my initial post I forgot to mention that this is the first year that we did not climb Mt. Hooiberg (Mt. Haystack) due to a muscle pull that I suffered two weeks ago. I strongly recommend to visitors to the island that they attempt the climb. The 360 degree view of the island is spectacular. Bring plenty of water and pace yourself!!