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Thread: Much Overdo Aruba Trip Report

  1. #1
    Senior Member amarg's Avatar
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    Much Overdo Aruba Trip Report

    I apologize strongly for this trip report being so long overdue, 2 years overdue in fact. I have had quite a few personal things happen since then and time just flew by. Then I thought it was too late to post and no one would care to read it. However, I have decided to just bite the bullet and post my trip report.
    I travelled to Aruba in November 2010 for 2 weeks. I went with my 14 month old daughter and 2 of my sisters. One sister traveled with me for the whole 2 weeks and the other met us there for the second week, flying in from London, UK. I flew in from Toronto and my sister from Vancouver to Toronto to Aruba.
    There are no direct flights from Vancouver. From London, there are direct flights but the carriers charge for all checked bags and do not include the exit fee from the Aruba airport. My sister didn't know this as ours with Westjet was included and luckily, she caught me just as I was in line to board my plane as she had no US cash left and they don't take credit cards or debit.
    I rented a 2 bedroom 2 bathroom timeshare at Casa Del Mar in the low rise section. I rented through an owner who couldn't use the timeshare herself that year but still had to pay her maintenance fees. I was surprised how many timeshare units were out there for rent and the discrepancy in fees. I looked on redweek, this site (the best), the resort websites directly and craigslist. I was lucky that I was able to contact the resort and confirm that the owner actually owned those weeks and was allowed to rent them out. We filled out legal paperwork and faxed it back and forth. She took credit card payment via paypal or directly as she had a business. I liked this as credit card payment or paypal is the only way to have any protection against fraud. I googled the woman too and felt safer as she had given me real info and I had her address, phone number and business info. She wasn't just some name. She had rented before so I even posted on here if anyone knew her and her family and since there are many many experts and repeat visitors on here, people did know her. I was able to bargain a bit with her as I wanted both weeks and feel I got a good deal.
    I was very pleased with our choice for a first visit and with a baby. In the future, I may try something different as we drove around and checked out all the other properties and I like some of the other properties.
    The Casa Del Mar unit was HUGE and clean. I really liked having a full kitchen, 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. There was a patio as well. I will admit the building is a bit older and tired looking. However, it is clean and the staff was very nice. The other guests were phenomenal as well. The guests are older to be honest and this isn't a young people's party resort or a place to look for other singles. It is a family resort and a place for retirees. This didn't bother me in the least as I felt safe and everyone was kind and helpful. I even met a lady who was going home after 2 weeks and gave me cereal, juice, oatmeal and snacks for my daughter before she left. She came to my door to drop them off. True kindness.
    There is a giftshop in the lobby and there is also one at Aruba Beach Club (ABC) the adjoining resort. The units at ABC are smaller but still nice. The resorts are attached and you can use the facilities at both. The store at ABC is open later I believe. There is a car rental desk in the lobby as well. Be warned though, getting a car seat was difficult to say the least and the one we finally got was some relic from 1992 and didn't have any instructions nor seem safe. The staff are not allowed to install it for you for liability so we did our best. Next time, I would bring my own if renting a car.
    I forgot, we had prearranged with Bully for pickup from the airport and he was on time with a car seat, properly installed and in a comfy van. He had his adorable son with him. Bully is the nicest man ever and was wonderful on our trip. While there, I had to see a dentist and he took me, waited for me and took me to the pharmacy to get my prescription and back to the Casa Del Mar. He didn't charge me for waiting but just for the ride.
    The dentist's office was clean, totally modern and a good experience. There was nothing to fear. She spoke perfect English and had up to date equipment. She had studied in Holland. I would go to an Aruban dentist again no problem. The prices can't be beat. A filling is $40, a root canal $200 compared to a filling being a few hundred in Canada and a root canal $1200 not including the crown. I met many Americans in the waiting room who go to Aruba every year and see the dentist there every time to save money. I wouldn't be against this myself.
    We rented a car from the lobby and explored the island. We went to Baby Beach, the highrise area, Orangestad, shopping and out to dinner, a nightclub and Senor Frogs.
    The cabs have set rates and don't run meters. Ask before you get in what the cost will be.
    We went grocery shopping and I was incredibly impressed with the availability of goods in the stores. The nicest is likely Ling and Songs but others like Hong Kong have better prices. My sister said that Hong Kong and Certified reminded her of Dollarama. The prices weren't too bad though. I actually found them very comparable to Canadian prices and the only ones complaining are Americans. I think prices tend to be higher in Canada so we are just used to it. My sister from the UK found the prices ok too. We were able to buy ANYTHING that we have here I think. There were diapers, wipes, baby food, snacks, fresh foods, organic foods, UV outfits for kids and adults, toys, sunblock, hair products, sanitary items, etc., We bought noodles and some toys for the beach and pool and the prices at the grocery stores were decent or at any of the local shops.
    Just don't buy at the resort. There are alcohol stores too and considering how busy they are, I'd think the prices are decent.
    At the resort, housekeeping came daily and did a good job. I was impressed that she was able to clean up all the sand and after us 3 women and a baby so well. We did have an issue with our blender on the first night. My sister decided to make strawberry daquiris and the blender somehow exploded its top. My poor baby was standing nearby and thank God there was no glass and my sis hadn't added the alcohol yet either as she was covered in strawberry goop. She looked like a murder victim and was terrified. The walls in the kitchen were covered too and the floor. We cleaned up as best we could and called for another blender. The new one we got was top notch and way better than the one we had before. It was ice cold too like it had been kept in some basement storage. The poor maid had to clean up our disaster the next day and did such a good job that I had to tip her big time. I actually always made sure to tip her as she did a good job everyday and gave us lots of tips while there. She also warned us that there was an outbreak of Dengue fever while we were there and to protect my daughter well with long clothing and insect repellant.
    We did get bites while there in the evenings and they hurt. My daughter got quite a few and I felt awful for her. They were huge welts and not like typical mosquito bites. Take afterbite, polysporin and Benadryl.However, I have found this the norm in the Caribbean.
    The weather was pretty good while we were there and it rained sporadically but not enough to affect our trip. I did have to be careful though as I was fooled by the clouds one day and didn't apply sunblock and neither did my sister. We were both burned and uncomfortable that night and the next couple of days. No matter what, wear sunscreen.
    I didn't find it hard to find seats by the pool or at the beach. The beach is nice. However, as a non all inclusive, you do have to get your own drinks and food. The bar and restaurant Michael's is really good and we ate there a few times. They have Happy Hour a few times a day and it gets busy. The drinks are pricey so Happy Hour makes it worth it. You can charge to your room and order room service and charge it to your room. There is evening entertainment at the restaurant but nothing spectacular. Some music and drunken revelry. They do tequila shots where they come around and poor it straight into your mouth. It's a good way to get drunk fast.
    The pool is nice and relaxing. They do water aerobics in the morning and it seemed like fun but I didn't join. Kids aren't allowed in the adult pool, even potty trained under age 3 I think. I was somewhat disgusted with the kiddy pool as I saw children pee in it, be unaccompanied and eat in it (one family of kids was eating cheetos in the pool and dropping them in there and rinsing their hands and faces off, it was gross), older kids would jump in there and it wasn't always safe for babies. I did find the pool at TBC quieter and used it at times.
    We met a nice couple with a baby 2 months older than mine and hung out with them a lot. They were at TBC so we got to see their room and check out the amenities there. They hung out at the Casa Del Mar side more than TBC as there is the restaurant and bar at CDM and more people. We shared babysitting services with them too. It was nice as the husband had been to Aruba many times with his parents (own a timeshare) and lived there before for a year. He knew his way around and it made it fun.
    For babysitting, we used Tender Babysitting Care. I found them professional and felt at ease leaving my daughter with them. The sitter was great, had CPR and first aid, was insured and the owners were responsive and always available.
    I rented a phone in Aruba from Trees at Aruba Discount Cell. She came to where we were, dropped the phone off and picked it up. We had no complaints.
    We took a boat cruise that left from behind the Riu and was fun. The alcohol though sucked and the bathroom was tiny and not very clean. I think the boat was just too crowded. There were a lot of partiers on board though and it would be better for singles or young couples I think. We were allowed to bring our kids and their strollers on and there were other families on board as well.

    Aruba is very Americanized which can be a good thing or bad thing depending on the person. I liked it because I was with a baby and wanted the ability to get familiar items, safety and clean drinkable water. The water in Aruba is definitely drinkable out of the taps and there is zero worry like when we went to DR or Mexico. I even made my daughter's bottles with the water from the taps. You can buy bottled water but it's not necessary and it tastes fine. No weird aftertaste. There are 2 Starbucks, one in the Renaissance and one across in Orangestad. There is a Burger King, Wendy's, Pizza Hut, Dominos, Little Caesar's and other familiar North American places. At the Casa Del Mar, there was a bagel place just down the parking lot that a lot of folks went to for breakfast or lunch and a Dunkin Donuts right behind the casino. The Dunkin Donuts was always busy.
    There is a lot of shopping in Aruba and you can't bargain here like in other places in my opinion. The only thing I noticed was that Gucci was about 30-40% cheaper than in Canada and there's no tax. I did buy a few luxury items here that I normally wouldn't for a gift for my husband and for myself. I went to all the other shops and malls and didn't find any other savings. The aloe is worth getting as is the roll on bug repellant. I can't recall the name but it works amazing.
    Aruba is different than other places I have been in that I wouldn't do an all inclusive. We ate at different places like Passions, Michael's, Pizza Bob's, Mirandi's and others. All the food was good. Sometimes when out shopping, we grabbed a budget bite and it was nice to have a kitchen to make our own breakfasts and snacks. With a child, it sucks to have to rush out to meals or sit in a restaurant for every meal. A timeshare rental makes it much easier. The quality of the food and clean water to me, negate the need for an AI. I stay in AI if I am worried about getting clean water, good food and eating off the resort. Otherwise, I hate to be trapped to my hotel and like to explore. Aruba allows that.
    I found that Senor Frogs was the most fun of all the night spots. The DJ was awesome and played the best music and took requests. It was laid back and just a party. The club we went to wasn't so fun and mainly latin music, which others may enjoy but I can only take so long. We left and went back to Senor Frogs. We tried Hard Rock and were unimpressed. Sopranos was ok food but nothing great.
    There is an afterhours in Aruba until early morning, I think 6 or 7am every night. I only went once til 3am but had to get home as a mom. My sisters stayed later and went a couple of more times and had fun. It's ok on vacation I guess but we all agree it's not something we'd do on a regular basis or at home.
    I am not sure what else to tell you but thank you to everyone on this board for all your help and tips. I am sorry it took me so long to post my report. I will definitely go to Aruba again sometime but have been traveling else where due to weddings and family plans. We are off to the Maya Riviera again this May and just returned from Punta Cana (not a trip I would repeat unlike Aruba) so Aruba will have to wait until winter or next year. I would definitely rent another timeshare so will keep reading this board.
    Oh, ironically, when we were visiting the Hi Rise area, it was raining there but when we got back to the Low Rise area, no rain. This happened for most of our trip. We spoke to people staying in the Hi Rise area and they were upset as they had rain daily but we had very little in our area. This made it worth it for us to stay there. Also, the distance between the two is so minimal that it's easy to visit wherever you wish.
    I am willing to answer any questions.
    Last edited by amarg; 01-03-2013 at 08:54 PM.

  2. #2
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    Join Date
    Oct 2009
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    59
    I'm so glad you wrote that report. I am not the only one who worried you didn't have a good time or were stuck with lots of rain. It was particularly rainy that time.
    crosby

  3. #3
    Aruba since 1979
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    Andrea J.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    29,920
    thank you for posting.
    are you planning another trip to aruba?

    which dentist did you see? my husband and i are 2 of the americans that utilize great dentistry and great pricing in aruba!!.

    your daughter is now 3 1/2?
    thanks for posting

    Quote Originally Posted by amarg View Post
    I apologize strongly for this trip report being so long overdue, 2 years overdue in fact. I have had quite a few personal things happen since then and time just flew by. Then I thought it was too late to post and no one would care to read it. However, I have decided to just bite the bullet and post my trip report.
    I travelled to Aruba in November 2010 for 2 weeks. I went with my 14 month old daughter and 2 of my sisters. One sister traveled with me for the whole 2 weeks and the other met us there for the second week, flying in from London, UK. I flew in from Toronto and my sister from Vancouver to Toronto to Aruba.
    There are no direct flights from Vancouver. From London, there are direct flights but the carriers charge for all checked bags and do not include the exit fee from the Aruba airport. My sister didn't know this as ours with Westjet was included and luckily, she caught me just as I was in line to board my plane as she had no US cash left and they don't take credit cards or debit.
    I rented a 2 bedroom 2 bathroom timeshare at Casa Del Mar in the low rise section. I rented through an owner who couldn't use the timeshare herself that year but still had to pay her maintenance fees. I was surprised how many timeshare units were out there for rent and the discrepancy in fees. I looked on redweek, this site (the best), the resort websites directly and craigslist. I was lucky that I was able to contact the resort and confirm that the owner actually owned those weeks and was allowed to rent them out. We filled out legal paperwork and faxed it back and forth. She took credit card payment via paypal or directly as she had a business. I liked this as credit card payment or paypal is the only way to have any protection against fraud. I googled the woman too and felt safer as she had given me real info and I had her address, phone number and business info. She wasn't just some name. She had rented before so I even posted on here if anyone knew her and her family and since there are many many experts and repeat visitors on here, people did know her. I was able to bargain a bit with her as I wanted both weeks and feel I got a good deal.
    I was very pleased with our choice for a first visit and with a baby. In the future, I may try something different as we drove around and checked out all the other properties and I like some of the other properties.
    The Casa Del Mar unit was HUGE and clean. I really liked having a full kitchen, 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. There was a patio as well. I will admit the building is a bit older and tired looking. However, it is clean and the staff was very nice. The other guests were phenomenal as well. The guests are older to be honest and this isn't a young people's party resort or a place to look for other singles. It is a family resort and a place for retirees. This didn't bother me in the least as I felt safe and everyone was kind and helpful. I even met a lady who was going home after 2 weeks and gave me cereal, juice, oatmeal and snacks for my daughter before she left. She came to my door to drop them off. True kindness.
    There is a giftshop in the lobby and there is also one at Aruba Beach Club (ABC) the adjoining resort. The units at ABC are smaller but still nice. The resorts are attached and you can use the facilities at both. The store at ABC is open later I believe. There is a car rental desk in the lobby as well. Be warned though, getting a car seat was difficult to say the least and the one we finally got was some relic from 1992 and didn't have any instructions nor seem safe. The staff are not allowed to install it for you for liability so we did our best. Next time, I would bring my own if renting a car.
    I forgot, we had prearranged with Bully for pickup from the airport and he was on time with a car seat, properly installed and in a comfy van. He had his adorable son with him. Bully is the nicest man ever and was wonderful on our trip. While there, I had to see a dentist and he took me, waited for me and took me to the pharmacy to get my prescription and back to the Casa Del Mar. He didn't charge me for waiting but just for the ride.
    The dentist's office was clean, totally modern and a good experience. There was nothing to fear. She spoke perfect English and had up to date equipment. She had studied in Holland. I would go to an Aruban dentist again no problem. The prices can't be beat. A filling is $40, a root canal $200 compared to a filling being a few hundred in Canada and a root canal $1200 not including the crown. I met many Americans in the waiting room who go to Aruba every year and see the dentist there every time to save money. I wouldn't be against this myself.
    We rented a car from the lobby and explored the island. We went to Baby Beach, the highrise area, Orangestad, shopping and out to dinner, a nightclub and Senor Frogs.
    The cabs have set rates and don't run meters. Ask before you get in what the cost will be.
    We went grocery shopping and I was incredibly impressed with the availability of goods in the stores. The nicest is likely Ling and Songs but others like Hong Kong have better prices. My sister said that Hong Kong and Certified reminded her of Dollarama. The prices weren't too bad though. I actually found them very comparable to Canadian prices and the only ones complaining are Americans. I think prices tend to be higher in Canada so we are just used to it. My sister from the UK found the prices ok too. We were able to buy ANYTHING that we have here I think. There were diapers, wipes, baby food, snacks, fresh foods, organic foods, UV outfits for kids and adults, toys, sunblock, hair products, sanitary items, etc., We bought noodles and some toys for the beach and pool and the prices at the grocery stores were decent or at any of the local shops.
    Just don't buy at the resort. There are alcohol stores too and considering how busy they are, I'd think the prices are decent.
    At the resort, housekeeping came daily and did a good job. I was impressed that she was able to clean up all the sand and after us 3 women and a baby so well. We did have an issue with our blender on the first night. My sister decided to make strawberry daquiris and the blender somehow exploded its top. My poor baby was standing nearby and thank God there was no glass and my sis hadn't added the alcohol yet either as she was covered in strawberry goop. She looked like a murder victim and was terrified. The walls in the kitchen were covered too and the floor. We cleaned up as best we could and called for another blender. The new one we got was top notch and way better than the one we had before. It was ice cold too like it had been kept in some basement storage. The poor maid had to clean up our disaster the next day and did such a good job that I had to tip her big time. I actually always made sure to tip her as she did a good job everyday and gave us lots of tips while there. She also warned us that there was an outbreak of Dengue fever while we were there and to protect my daughter well with long clothing and insect repellant.
    We did get bites while there in the evenings and they hurt. My daughter got quite a few and I felt awful for her. They were huge welts and not like typical mosquito bites. Take afterbite, polysporin and Benadryl.However, I have found this the norm in the Caribbean.
    The weather was pretty good while we were there and it rained sporadically but not enough to affect our trip. I did have to be careful though as I was fooled by the clouds one day and didn't apply sunblock and neither did my sister. We were both burned and uncomfortable that night and the next couple of days. No matter what, wear sunscreen.
    I didn't find it hard to find seats by the pool or at the beach. The beach is nice. However, as a non all inclusive, you do have to get your own drinks and food. The bar and restaurant Michael's is really good and we ate there a few times. They have Happy Hour a few times a day and it gets busy. The drinks are pricey so Happy Hour makes it worth it. You can charge to your room and order room service and charge it to your room. There is evening entertainment at the restaurant but nothing spectacular. Some music and drunken revelry. They do tequila shots where they come around and poor it straight into your mouth. It's a good way to get drunk fast.
    The pool is nice and relaxing. They do water aerobics in the morning and it seemed like fun but I didn't join. Kids aren't allowed in the adult pool, even potty trained under age 3 I think. I was somewhat disgusted with the kiddy pool as I saw children pee in it, be unaccompanied and eat in it (one family of kids was eating cheetos in the pool and dropping them in there and rinsing their hands and faces off, it was gross), older kids would jump in there and it wasn't always safe for babies. I did find the pool at TBC quieter and used it at times.
    We met a nice couple with a baby 2 months older than mine and hung out with them a lot. They were at TBC so we got to see their room and check out the amenities there. They hung out at the Casa Del Mar side more than TBC as there is the restaurant and bar at CDM and more people. We shared babysitting services with them too. It was nice as the husband had been to Aruba many times with his parents (own a timeshare) and lived there before for a year. He knew his way around and it made it fun.
    For babysitting, we used Tender Babysitting Care. I found them professional and felt at ease leaving my daughter with them. The sitter was great, had CPR and first aid, was insured and the owners were responsive and always available.
    I rented a phone in Aruba from Trees at Aruba Discount Cell. She came to where we were, dropped the phone off and picked it up. We had no complaints.
    We took a boat cruise that left from behind the Riu and was fun. The alcohol though sucked and the bathroom was tiny and not very clean. I think the boat was just too crowded. There were a lot of partiers on board though and it would be better for singles or young couples I think. We were allowed to bring our kids and their strollers on and there were other families on board as well.

    Aruba is very Americanized which can be a good thing or bad thing depending on the person. I liked it because I was with a baby and wanted the ability to get familiar items, safety and clean drinkable water. The water in Aruba is definitely drinkable out of the taps and there is zero worry like when we went to DR or Mexico. I even made my daughter's bottles with the water from the taps. You can buy bottled water but it's not necessary and it tastes fine. No weird aftertaste. There are 2 Starbucks, one in the Renaissance and one across in Orangestad. There is a Burger King, Wendy's, Pizza Hut, Dominos, Little Caesar's and other familiar North American places. At the Casa Del Mar, there was a bagel place just down the parking lot that a lot of folks went to for breakfast or lunch and a Dunkin Donuts right behind the casino. The Dunkin Donuts was always busy.
    There is a lot of shopping in Aruba and you can't bargain here like in other places in my opinion. The only thing I noticed was that Gucci was about 30-40% cheaper than in Canada and there's no tax. I did buy a few luxury items here that I normally wouldn't for a gift for my husband and for myself. I went to all the other shops and malls and didn't find any other savings. The aloe is worth getting as is the roll on bug repellant. I can't recall the name but it works amazing.
    Aruba is different than other places I have been in that I wouldn't do an all inclusive. We ate at different places like Passions, Michael's, Pizza Bob's, Mirandi's and others. All the food was good. Sometimes when out shopping, we grabbed a budget bite and it was nice to have a kitchen to make our own breakfasts and snacks. With a child, it sucks to have to rush out to meals or sit in a restaurant for every meal. A timeshare rental makes it much easier. The quality of the food and clean water to me, negate the need for an AI. I stay in AI if I am worried about getting clean water, good food and eating off the resort. Otherwise, I hate to be trapped to my hotel and like to explore. Aruba allows that.
    I found that Senor Frogs was the most fun of all the night spots. The DJ was awesome and played the best music and took requests. It was laid back and just a party. The club we went to wasn't so fun and mainly latin music, which others may enjoy but I can only take so long. We left and went back to Senor Frogs. We tried Hard Rock and were unimpressed. Sopranos was ok food but nothing great.
    There is an afterhours in Aruba until early morning, I think 6 or 7am every night. I only went once til 3am but had to get home as a mom. My sisters stayed later and went a couple of more times and had fun. It's ok on vacation I guess but we all agree it's not something we'd do on a regular basis or at home.
    I am not sure what else to tell you but thank you to everyone on this board for all your help and tips. I am sorry it took me so long to post my report. I will definitely go to Aruba again sometime but have been traveling else where due to weddings and family plans. We are off to the Maya Riviera again this May and just returned from Punta Cana (not a trip I would repeat unlike Aruba) so Aruba will have to wait until winter or next year. I would definitely rent another timeshare so will keep reading this board.
    Oh, ironically, when we were visiting the Hi Rise area, it was raining there but when we got back to the Low Rise area, no rain. This happened for most of our trip. We spoke to people staying in the Hi Rise area and they were upset as they had rain daily but we had very little in our area. This made it worth it for us to stay there. Also, the distance between the two is so minimal that it's easy to visit wherever you wish.
    I am willing to answer any questions.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    May 2007
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    1,931

    I rememeber you!

    Well yes, its been awhile and at the time we/I was wondering about your trip. I actually PM you to see how things went as I did offer you some "tips" at the time. Glad to see you had a great time.

    One question: At the time there was a lot of discussion about your husband and flights to Aruba. You said he needed not to travel via the US and you asked us a lot of questions about this. From your report it appears he did not not travel with you? Was that because of that issue?
    happiness is going to Aruba with your adult kids because they still want to come with their parents

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