Weather: Very windy. In fact the wind was so bad for a few days that the waves/water came all the way up to the street in front of La Cabana. The beaches all got washed out. For 3-5 days, you couldn't even go in the water because of the under tow. A 54 year old man drowned on his first day in Aruba at the Divi when he attempted to go swimming. There was also a few days of 5 minute rain storms. One of the pool guys at La Cabana said that they have had too much rain lately. It was also Easter and a lot of the tents on the beach were flooded. All of this was very sad. I guess the bad weather can hit paradise too.
Accomodations: La Cabana BRC. We have been an owner here for 13 years and love it. I am glad they are in the process of upgrading the units but they were clean and functional. As always, all of the staff at La Cabana were so very nice and helpful. The one complaint we had was that in order to get a table with an umbrella in the AM, we ended up having to get up at 5AM otherwise everything was taken when we went out at 7:30am. This was unbelievable. Sometimes, the people at the reserved tables wouldn't return to them until 9-10AM. They knew that security tags them at 8AM giving them 2 hours to return. I believe this needs to start earlier, it was nuts. I can't sit in direct sunlight so I needed an umbrella so we had to get up at this godly hour to get a table. Many times we just stayed out at the table because once I'm up, I'm up. It was beautiful though watching the sunrise in the breeze. We did see some rudness as well regarding reserving of tables. We also did sense this year, hatred towards Americans. This is the first time, we have ever experienced that. It's a shame that a few can ruin it for a lot. We didn't like that aspect this year.
Food: We get the meal plan at La Cabana. They have many different options but we get one with 4 dinners and 7 breakfasts for 2 weeks. Owners get a 10% discount. It's really a good value. We have always loved the food at all of the restaurants at La Cabana. They have a mean Filet Mignon and there pasta specialties are always great and the shrimp cocktail is out of this world. Their buffet breakfast on the weekends is good and their lunches are plentiful. The pizza is pretty good too. We also tried Fishes & More this year and loved it. We have always liked the Pirates Nest at Costa Linda. The food is great and the sunset is wonderful while you eat. I have yet to eat at a bad place in Aruba.
We used to really like the Alhambra Casino but this was different this year too. I'm not sure if it was because of Easter but I sensed when we went there, we weren't welcome. A lot of the machines were taken by the locals and some weren't even playing them but sitting at the machines because they had some promotion going on to get $50 (I think) every 30 minutes if your machine is pulled. So needless to say, we did not spend much time there this year. This did however open us up to trying other casinos and we had fun. We didn't win much this year but we did have fun. We hated the RIU casino. Nothing paid out. We had a fun filled night at the Raddisson Casino doing video poker. That's the place to go if you like video poker. They claim to pay out the most and I think they do, I couldn't loose. I didn't win big but I also didn't loose. We entered a black jack event there one night but again, we were 2 of 5 tourists the rest were locals and they knew the rules. The tournament was not even in English so I don't think these events advertised in the paper are for tourists. I actually ended up taking 2nd place but felt uncomfortable winning. We stopped at the Holiday Inn for one night and had a good time. This was one of the original casinos on the Island and we usually spend one night there. They had some of the newer machines (Can't Lose). I didn't win but I also didn't loose everything in 10 minutes either. We checked out the Marriott. They have some really cool machines including Monopoly and Wheel of Fortune. Those are fun slots and my friend did really good on them. We played 4pm Bingo at the Hyatt one day. Again, we were in the minority, the clientele was mostly local. I can now say, I am casinoed out until next year and I didn't loose the house.
We snorkeled at Baby Beach. Because of the weather mentioned above, it wasn't one of the better years but it was also not disappointing either. The key with Baby Beach is to get there early (8:30-9AM). By noontime, it's packed.
We love renting ATV's and going out on the other side of the Island. We took the tour a few years back and that was awesome but now that we know our way, we also enjoy doing our own trip. This is just the best. We use ATV Extravaganza. They did a nice tour. It's always fun to take a snorkel boat tour but due to the weather, we did not this year. Shopping at the various hotels and downtown is always fun. The fleamarket on Sat/Sun is fun too over by the grocery stores. We went to Senior Frogs downtown for a drink this year. It's a new place by where the ships come in. We had a blast of a time. It is definitely a place to go to have fun. Mambo Jambo and Iguana Joes are also fun places to stop for a drink while downtown. Sean's Jewelers is one of my favorite jewelers and they do give good deals. My other favorite is Artisan. They have very unique jewelery items. We actually met the boss man there this year and he told us about mining the tanzinite mines. It was very interesting. I got a nice pair of casual earring there for an awesome deal. I have a nice collection of tanzinite, diamond and opal jewelery all purchased in Aruba.
Airport: The airport still needs some managing. There were still long lines getting through immigration, with only a few booths open. If they know 5 planes are landing at the same time, they need to accomodate that but they haven't got there yet. A ton better but not perfect. It took about 2 hours to get to the gate, thru immigration and to getting our bags. Very tiring. I became handicapped 4 years ago due to a surgical error and require a wheel chair now and it was a struggle. Getting into Aruba was ok but getting out was an absolute nightmare. There was no one at the airport to help us with our luggage or getting thru customs. We did end up finding a luggage kid to help us out and where told to go to the front of the line at customs only to have the people in line at customs rudely tell us they would not let us thru without a senior member of customs telling them they had too. I was just astonished. Finally after 3 people said the same thing, did some one other than the kid that was with us come over and ask if we could get thru. I was so embarrassed but at the same time so astonished that people are so mean to one another these days and in Aruba? Except for this year, I have never seen such hatred or anger or something. It was just very weird.
Summary: Another fun year in Aruba. It wasn't one of our top ten years. Easter is a very busy time on the Island and had we known it was Easter we probably wouldn't have gone this year. A lot of time the Island was in shut down because of the holiday. The locals set up camp on all of the beaches at Easter time to celebrate. It's amazing but it's also very crowded. Many things were closed for many days because of the holiday and the casinos/restaurants/hotels were all filled to capacity with locals celebrating the holiday. l got the feeling that tourists were not really welcome during this time and don't blame the locals for feeling like that, I just wish I had known before I booked that it was Easter but didn't. Then this underlieing anger in general this year towards Americans was disturbing. I had heard and read how many hate the Americans these days but never thought this hatred would show up on Aruba but why not, many people come here. That was sad since we have no control over our government, we are in Aruba for the same reason every one else is - to have fun in paradise. It's too bad a few ruin it for a bunch. I also noticed that La Cabana is changing as well since Bluegreen took over a portion of the complex. Being an owner, you have a certain feeling of responsibility for caring for the complex. With Bluegreen, it becomes nothing more than a hotel room for travelers. I noticed a lot more mess left behind in the rooms and the pool area than in past years. What happened to leaving the room in the shape you got it in. When we switched rooms, the room we were going to, was awful. There was trash every where. This is going to increase our fees but there is no ownership anymore thus no responsibility to help out. This is sad because La Cabana is one of the most beautiful places on Aruba. But anyway, I'm still counting the days until next year!
Thanks for posting your review. I know there are others here who own at La Cabana and most likely also appreciate your point of view. A vacation is not a vacation though if you must awaken at 5 a.m. to reserve some shade.
Thank you for posting a report on La Cabana. We will be there in early May and we are very excited about our 3rd trip there. I was sad to hear about getting up early to reserve a cabana/table in the early a.m., the last two times we have stayed there we never had a problem getting a cabana/table. Could it be because it was Easter wk? I'm counting down until we return to paradise!!!!