My DH and I just returned from our first trip to Aruba. I had made the reservations way back in May for our trip in October....it seemed to take forever to get here!
We flew out of Boston on AA to Miami to Aruba. The flight was uneventful and we arrived in Aruba safe and sound, luggage and all. I had tried to get Cerry or Bully to pick us up at the airport bet neither one was available. So, we walked outside and hopped into a cab. It cost us $25 for the ride from the airport to the Occidental. It was a pleasant ride and the driver was very friendly.
We arrived at the Occidental and the staff was right there to help us. Since we were guests of a timeshare owner, we had to check in at a different office. We were greeted with mimosas, filled out a few papers, and then had to wait about 30 minutes for our room. We did the All Inclusive since it was our first time and didn't plan on renting a car.
I was anxious to see our room, a little nervous because of all the recent reviews of the Occidental. We had an ordinary hotel room with two double beds (we had requested a king bed, but didn't get it). No big deal for us. The room was clean (although when we were leaving, I looked under the beds to make sure I wasn't leaving anything, and found a lighter that must have been left by a previous guest, so I gather that they don't really mob under the bed!) Anyway, the room could use some sproucing up by way of painting, there were several areas that had some black spots. I tried to wash off a spot in the bathroom, thinking it was mold, but it didn't wash off. On the second day, while we were out housekeeping came in and cleaned the room, and left us one towel. There was a staff member in the hall and I asked her for more towels, and she said they would be coming later. They didn't come. But the next day, and every other day after, we were left 3 bath towels along with hand towels and wash cloths. Just a side note: we did leave a tip for housekeeping everyday, I just folded it over the card that had her name on it. I left out a lot of change everyday, and that was never touched. We did use the in room safe to lock up our medications, passports, and cash.
We ate at all the hotel's restaurants. The food was good, not 4 star but adequate. DH's favorite was the Mexican, I don't think I can pick a favorite, I liked them all, DH did too, but Really enjoyed the Mexican. At the Italian restaurant, our waiter was quite the comic. I can't remember his name but it started with the letter A. He brought us our dinner on a covered plate, told us to lean in and say walla walou....lean in closer he told us....way walla walou again....and then he said wah la and pulled off the plate covers....on my plate was a plastic Iguana! I let out a 'little' scream....we were out on the veranda eating, and the other diners and people in the pool area all looked to see what was going on. We all had a good laugh and the waiter took a picture of me 'biting' the tail of the Iuana. It was a fun time.
While we were out across the street, we stopped in at Charlie Tomato's to have a little lunch, it was $49 for a small meatball sub, chips, 1 soda, 1 beer and a medium pizza! We did not go back there! On our last night in Aruba, we walked down the street to Texas De Brazil. What an expericence! LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it! They have a very big salad bar with soups, cold cuts, cheeses, salad fixins, veggies, sushi, breads, etc. Then they come around with meats on skewers and slice it off for you at the table. For the two of us to eat, 2 glasses of wine, and a piece of pie it came to $111.00, and that's with a 25% off coupon you get if you go to their website. Well worth it, you could stay there for hours, and hours.....go hungry!
The Beach.....Wonderful!!!!!!! One of us would go down early (5:30- 6)and tie my pacsafe backpack around the Palapa (sp) and put our towels on a chair. Never had a problem.
The Activities...... we didn't go to any of the nightly shows, we did go to the beach party which did have a few dancers, that was a great time. We did go to the casino a couple of times, we set a limit on what we would spend, we would cash out if we were ahead.
I didn't want to fill up our days with a planned activity every day. I chose 3 things I/we wanted to do. Deep sea fishing, snorkeling, and an island tour.
I have posted reviews about the snorkeling and island tour (both excellent times) under activities and getting around forums.
The Deep Sea fishing trip was ok, not what I expected. I will post a review under activities soon.
I think it worked out well not overbooking, we really enjoyed the down time.
Safety....The first time off the resort (just across the street) I made DH go with me. Once I realized I had nothing to fear, I would go out by myself to shop without worrying (although I don't think I would go by myself at night, just because)
The staff at the hotel..... Everyone was very pleasant and friendly.
Other guests....Everyone was very friendly, we came to know people by where they live....Boston, New Jersey, Long Island, Italy, etc.
In closing I must say that we did tip waiters, bartenders, bell hops, etc. and they really seemed appreciative, no matter the amount. But, I will say that every guest got treated the same whether they tipped or not. We just did it to show our appreciation to them.
Next trip, hopefully next October, will be 10 days instead of 7!
Oh, a few things I forgot to mention....
When you are in the hotel room, make sure you put the security latch on your door. Several times, housekeeping just walked right in....no knocking! Never did find out what they wanted, as soon as they saw us in there, they said sorry and closed the door, and disappeared!
I also purchased the internet for a week for $59 so that I could use the wireless right in our room and out and about. I did this so that I could skype the kids back home every night. Well worth the money in my opinion.
A funny thing, while watching tv, which is American tv, Dish Network message kept popping up saying "to pay your bill now, click here" too funny!
I wouldn't go back to Charlie's......the food was ok, not great, not horrible. We took the leftover pizza back to the hotel, but it got soggy really fast, which we should have realized that that would happen.
Also, we walked, what seemed like miles and miles, down to a local store to get some snacks....I was really craving potato chips, I can't remember the name of it, but it was in a little strip mall area. Well, we got there, grabbed a couple bottles of water, I wanted to get a half gallon of OJ to keep in the room but it was priced at $8.95, so I bought a little single serve bottle for $2.50. I refused to buy the chips because they were $6.50 for a bag that costs $1.50 here! Then, later that day, as I was exploring Occidental, I found a little market right in the lobby that sold chips, snacks, etc.! That is where I bought my chips and pretzels (I like to have snacks on the beach). Of course it was more expensive than here in the states, but I expected that. A can of pringles was $3.95, and they taste different than ours, but it helped with the craving!
Last edited by brendielee; 10-18-2011 at 08:39 AM.
Snorkel Mangel Halto, day or night with a waterscooter. Check out our website. E-mail Stuart at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Stuart local: 745-7459 Or visit: www.arubabobsnorkeling.com 47th trip in June 2015 and 48th trip in Nov 2015.
glad you enjoyed the occidental, just returned from 12 day stay, our 5th trip this year.
we love the occidental, but to be honest, we no longer get the all inclusive, due to the fact were at the hotel very often, and we spend many night's with local friends.
looking forward on returning jan 3.