The Mill Resort: March 27, 2013 to April 1, 2013, Beach, Food, Jolly Pirates
Quick 6 day trip, 2 adults, 2 children (DD 11 yrs old, and DS 6yrs old).
Our Trip started off by me leaving work early and picking up the kids from their after school program (they do not know yet that we are leaving for Aruba). We pull up at home and they are wondering why mommy is home too. We walk in and my wife is sitting on the couch. I tell them to sit down. I blurt out; we are leaving now for NY b/c we have a flight to Aruba in the morning! My 6 year old son starts to jump all over the couch, while my 11 yr old daughter keeps saying no way, no way. It was a nice surprise. My wife had the car packed and we all jumped in headed off to NY. We completed our 2hr trip to NY and checked in at the Best Westin, $255.93 for the night which included a weeks parking at a nearby lot, and a shuttle pick up and drop off.
The next morning we wake up at 4am head down stairs for our 4:30 shuttle to JFK. Our flight was at 8:30am Delta. We are always early so our process through check in was smooth. Our seats were all over the place but some kind passengers switched so my wife could sit with both kids. Great flight, real smooth.
We arrive in Aruba (on a Monday) and to my delight the line for customs was about 4 families short in each line, it took about 15 minutes to pass into Aruba. We grab our 2 checked bags and we are out the door. You have to love that hot feeling that hits you. We walk to our left toward the cabs and a man asks us where we are going, and then he gave us a paper with the price and we jump in the cab. $25 bucks right to the Mill. Much faster and cheaper than using the big Depalm bus. Plus the driver knew where to expect traffic jams and with no other hotel stops our drive to the Mill was quick.
The Mill Resort Check in at the Mill took about 10 minutes. We got to our room and it was clean and nice, but only one double bed. I called the front desk and about 5 minutes later they bring in a cot. I ask the man for another cot b/c there was four of us. He said he would get us one but really we should only have one. I thought that was odd.
The bathroom was nice however the toilet flushed horrible, you could not put paper in it at all. I never heard of this. I had to call the front desk to unclog it. The Hotel was full so there were no other rooms available. So for our stay, we had to walk down the hall and use the lobby bathroom for a “number 2.” Sorry to be graphic, but readers to be aware.
The pool area was nice, and they had a daily 2 for 1 special happy hour that took place from 5-7. The drinks were good, but the bar tenders were a bit slow. They did not try to hustle, but I never had to wait long which was fine. Day two I would tip $20 with my first drink, then a few bucks if I grabbed a drink or two more. Plus my kids would go up and get “ice ups” which were Philadelphia Water Ice and other drinks. Service sped up for us. LOL, You could always grab a place at the pool, no need to save a space, but some did anyway.
On Easter they had an Easter egg hunt and the hotel appeared to allow locals to participate. There had to be about 50 kids running all around. Only bad part was over the speaker they would announce what the kids needed to do in only Spanish, so we could not understand them. No big deal.
Most guests seemed to be non Americans; the Americans I did meet all had time shares, about 7 families in total. We were the only Americans who were not on the time share program. My guess is if you could pick, you would skip this place.
We did try the breakfast buffet one morning, which was just okay; the selection was about the same as the Divi AI, but not as good. We paid $52 for the four of us.
We are beach people and I thought I would be okay with walking across the street, cutting through the Westin, and then making a left to go to the Mill part of the beach. With two kids it was kind of a pain. We were spoiled by our stays and the Divi AI and Tamarijn. The good part is you were on the same beach as the Westin/RIU folks, but paid less. The beach was packed with people each day; I was missing the low rise section. But hey, we are in Aruba! The ocean had a slight chill; it was much warmer in November. Each day my DD and I would swim out to that little wood platform out in the ocean in front of the Westin. We would then jump off; Dive etc, then climb back up. One day a ton of seaweed washed up in front of the RIU and Westin, but the Mill beach part was seaweed free.
I will skip the Mill next time. If I do AI, I will return to the Divi or the Tamarijn. If I opt for non AI I will go for the Divi Dutch village (located behind the Tamarijn). When I booked the Mill, I did not know about the Divi Dutch Village, I thought it was part of the Tamarijn AI so I thought you have to do the AI plan. I feel like I have learned a lot about Aruba and myself now.
We made breakfast in the room each morning; I cooked and cleaned up each day.
Lunch, my DD and DS and I had a nice lunch at the pool bar at the Divi Phoenix, a few days about $50 bucks. We also walked up to Depalm pier and had donuts, or sat outside and ordered some finger food. Good prices.
Dinner was out time to splurge. I pre-booked reservations to avoid disappointment. All dinner times were 7 or 7:30 and prices below do not include tax rides. Each tax cost us $11 to $17 each way before tip.
Wednesday – Yemanja, this place was awesome. We choose outdoor seating, I love the heat. We loved the atmosphere and the place was not crowed. My DW and I had steak, and WOW it was awesome. The steak came with sides of dipping sauce that were out of this world. We ordered some kind of goat cheese special salad, forget what was in it, but that was awesome. DD had the potato soup for her appetizer and the kid’s tenderloin. She loved it. Everyone loved everything about this place. DW and I agree, this was our best dinner on the Island. We will return! Total bill with Tip $140.33
Thursday – El Gaucho, Indoor seating. I had the 2lb T-bone and it delivered awesome taste with great juices. This steak also came with dipping sauce that was very good, but not as good as Yemanja. But still, this place was awesome. DW had the filet and she thought it was very good, but said she can get that steak anywhere, meaning there was nothing special. I had to disagree, this place made a great steak that I loved. It can be hard to find a steak this good. For Dessert I had the crème Brulee, this was one of the best I ever ate. DW had black forest cake; she said it was good, but not fabulous. DD had ribs that needed more sauce, she thought they were average, for dessert she had chocolate crapes that came with nutella, and they tasted okay. I tasked her dessert and it was kind of like nutella on a flat bread, good, but not what we expected. Loved the steak so we will return! Or at least I will ;-)Total with Tip $133.10
Friday – Que Pasa, Outdoor seating. You guessed it, the Steak theme continues. I had the large filet and it was very very good. I loved it. DW had the special; it was strip steak which was awesome! For dessert she also had the banana fritters which she loved. DD had the tenderloin and she said this was delicious; this was her second favorite meal on the island. For Dessert, DD had the kid’s ice cream; she said it was good; it was ice cream so nothing special. Once again, I opted for the crème Brulee which was good, but not as good as El Gaucho’s dessert. This place had the best service by far. The waitresses, kind of tag teamed us and were very attentive. I went to resturauntsaruba.com before our trip and I printed a free coupon for a free glass of wine which they honored. I printed another one for DW, but she passed on the wine. We would return! Total with Tip $170.64
Saturday – We had MJ’s scheduled, but we decided to walk into the high rise area and check out the local vendors. We choose Smokey Joe’s. We both had the half rack of ribs that were very good. I could have eaten the Full rack, but I wanted to avoid that overfull feeling that I had on most nights. DW and I passed on Dessert, the kids had fried Oreos, and they loved them. This was DD favorite meal on the Island. Total with Tip $66.26, much cheaper than our other dinners!
Sunday – (Easter) We ate La Trattoria el Faro Blanco at the lighthouse. Great atmosphere, but the food was subpar. The bread was dry; I had pasta fagioli soup with bacon which tasted kind of like Tomato soup, no hint of bacon. My chicken parm was okay, I did not like the sauce. I did tell them it was my DD birthday, which it was not and they brought out a FREE Tiramisu with a big sparkler on it and a Birthday hat for her! They also sang to her. That was real nice. Despite the free dessert I would pass on this place. None of us like our meal, it was all below average. Total with Tip $141.81
Before departing for Aruba, I pre-booked the Jolly Pirates snorkel trip on Thursday from 2:30 to 5:30, you get a discount on their website when you pre-book. Total cost $107! Great price. When you book online they ask you to select two dates that you prefer to attend, 1st choice, 2nd choice. I read on their site that if you are on a cruise ship you should just enter the same date for both choices. So I entered Thursday for both dates because I wanted to attend the trip on my day of choice, not what worked best for them. Either way, my trip was confirmed via email before our flight.
The snorkel trip was lots of fun, two boats went out to sea. We walked up the Holiday Inn, checked in, and met them out on a pier, they then picked you up on a little boat and took you on a 3 minute ride out to the ship. From there you stop at 3 sites. The first was to see the sunken WW 2 ship. The water there, as advertised was rough. DD and I snorkeled there. DD is on a swim team, so she can handle it. DW and DS watched. The next stop was much calmer, and we all snorkeled. The crew would throw bread crumbs or something into the water and it attracted lots of fish for us to see. Everyone had a blast.
The last stop there was no snorkeling, but we got to use the rope swing. DD and I stepped up to the task and did it. It was awesome and fun. DS wanted to do it, but he is only 6 and I made him miss it. Not sure if he would have let go too early or something.
The crew was awesome and they made the trip real fun. The trip included open bar, but there were so many families on board and there were no drunks which was a concern prior to the trip. The trip includes liquor but no beer, as advertised. We will do this trip again.
When the trip was over my family caught a cab back to the Mill. I opted to walk back. I stopped at Scott Brats, only to find out that they closed at 3pm. I guess they are on Island time as well. I should have known this since they are open for Breakfast and Lunch and I looked up menus etc on the web before my trip.
We grabbed a cab about 3.5 hrs from our flight time. We got to the airport about 3hrs 15 mins to go. We got through all security/customs etc with no problems, and very small lines. Then we had just over 2hrs to sit and wait for our flight.
I am always so sad when we leave, DD started to cry because she would miss it. She cried on our past Aruba trips as well.
thank you for posting
the bathroom situation was inexcusable......
imo they should have placed you at another resort with the difference paid by the mill.
who did you book the "mill" thru?
having to use a bathroom in the lobby is not and never will be acceptable when you are paying for one in your room!
you folks were good sports.
yrs ago at a few places on aruba there was NOTHING allowed in the toilet that was not biological human waste .
there were signs beside the toilets at the alhambra casino that said "all paper products to be placed in this trash bucket and not the toilet"
the mill manager should be thanking the good lord that i was not in your party.
Ya, we were good sports about it for sure. It was a short trip, so I decided not to rock the boat. I was thinking I did not have any real options. I asked a few times for a new room. They told me to just call and they would come fix the problem each time, so we avoided it and just use the hallway facilities.
Hey Danny, they would come and "fix" it, but it would break again. So we gave up.
My wife reminded me about my nightly dance to get the AC to come on. Every night the AC must have been on some time of timer that only turned back on with motioin, that I could not control. Since their was no motion in the room, it would turn off and the room would get a tad too warm for me to sleep. So I had to get up and walk over to the front door and put my arms out. A little light above the door would turn red and the AC would quick on instantly. I had to do this about 2x every night. We called it the dance.
One last thing, the motion sensor lighting system in the room was not working correctly, so I every night I would get a chair and unscrew two of the light bulbs by the door. Why? because if I moved wrong on my cott, the lights would turn on. Nice to wake up to that. So at night, I unscred, and in the morning I tighen them.
You really seemed to take all the inconvienences is stride... good for you. Other than the Mill being such a nightmare... sounds like your vacation was great! Thanks for posting such a great trip report!
Great report. You have now become a "regular" aruba visitor when you know to stay away from La Trattoria!! With respect to all of your issues at The Mill, I certainly would have asked for a discount on my final bill.