Well, our first trip to Aruba was awesome!! Aruba is a beautiful, fun and relaxing island where our family spent a wonderful week together. We arrived on Sunday and Bully was waiting for us at the airport. He is such a friendly and warm man who welcomed us and introduced us to the area on our way to the resort. His van is very clean and spacious, and equipped with very cold airconditioning! We arrived at La Cabana where Bully made sure we were helped with our bags and settled in before he left. We arranged for him to take us to dinner one night during the week, and to take us to the airport the following Sunday. He is very knowledgeable and a wonderful source for answers to questions about the area. We were very pleased with La Cabana. You can only tell so much from a website, so we were happy to see that the resort was a very nice facility. Even though they are still in the process of renovating, it is already a great place. Our renovated room was pristine, and comfortable. All new furniture, tile floors, large bathroom with a large tiled shower stall, upscale kitchen with gas cooktop, granite counters, microwave/convection oven, dishwasher and cabinets stocked with pots, dishes, glasses, etc. The beds were comfortable (1 king, 1 sofabed), and we had plenty of pillows. We really had everything we needed in our room and went out for groceries on Monday so that we could have breakfast and lunch without having to go out.
The pool area was really nice. Beautiful pool and hot tub, with beautiful landscaping and tons of chairs, lounge chairs and tables. There is a nice bar next to the pool, a Sbarro pizza stand, a spa and a covered area for the band which played each evening. A short walk across the street from the pool is the beach with lots of grass umbrellas (we never could figure out what they were called!) and lounge chairs. There is also a small bar out there which served great frozen drinks with a happy hour bogo from 2-4pm daily. Of course the beach is just fantastic with white sand, cool turquoise water, and lots of palm trees. We just loved it! An attendant will unlock the lounge chairs and set them up for you, but go early for an umbrella that's close to the water. We packed a softsided cooler for the trip, and filled it with drinks and ice to take with us each time we headed for the pool and/or beach.
Most days we went to the beach from late morning until sometime in the afternoon, listened to the band and watched the sunset in the evening, then took the bus into Oranjestad to shop, having dinner and then hit the casinos. Our favorite restaurants were Wacky Wahoos, Smokey Joe's, Iguana Joe's, Driftwood, Old Man and the Sea, and Casa Tous. The fish at all of these was fantastic! Most had a 'catch of the day' with a variety of simple but delicious choices of preparation from Aruban style, grilled, blackened, etc. We never had a bad meal in Aruba - it was all so good!! Our favorite casinos were Crystal Casino downtown and the Radisson Casino. We actually won a little money! It was fun and entertaining.
We used the bus to get around the island, but wished that we had rented a car. The bus was cheap but unpredictable and we spent a good deal of time waiting for it to arrive. There doesn't seem to be an actual schedule, so it was difficult to determine what time it would show up!
All in all we had a great time. It's a wonderful island and I hope we can go back there soon - I miss it already!