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Thread: Our Feb 2012 Aruba Visit

  1. #1
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    Our Feb 2012 Aruba Visit

    Okay, this is a long one; feel free to skip it if you don’t like to read long reviews. I won’t be offended, promise.

    Flights: JetBlue (BOS/AUS/BOS)

    JetBlue direct 02/09 down and 02/23 back. Both of our flights were smooth and we experienced great customer services from all JetBlue team members. It may take a while for JetBlue to issue their fares and even longer for them to be a price you can handle paying but in my opinion it is more than worth the wait.

    Lodging: Oceania

    This was our second year staying at Oceania and all of us were so happy to be back at this very lovely condominium complex. The unit we stay in is a two bedroom, two bath unit on the ground floor with all the extra amenities you can think of. Last year we were unable to use the Jacuzzi due to a maintenance issue; however this year we enjoyed every minute we spent in that lovely little gem. It came in real handy after partaking in several Carnival activities. Mario is our contact at Oceania and is always more than ready and able to assist us with any questions/issues we may have. His wife (and I’m sorry to say we don’t know her name) is available to hire on as maid service as needed. We usually have her come in during the middle of our stay as we find we really don’t need anything more frequent.

    Oceania has four beautiful pools and access to Eagle beach via a locked gate. As this is a private condo complex there are fewer people actually on-site vs. a resort setting at any given time. This is perfect as far as we are concerned; we never had to worry about how busy the pool/beach would be and always had access to shade to ensure that we enjoyed both. I am already thinking about what dates we will need for next year’s visit.

    Dining: we dine out a lot

    Day one: Bugaloe for drinks and snacks – we love this location and were truly happy to make it our first stop after unpacking. As usual the view was amazing, the drinks nice and cold and the snacks just what we needed after a day of traveling. Talk of The Town – we had friend who were staying here (and it is our old stomping grounds) so we decided to stop by for a few drinks. The service was exceptionally slow and very inattentive – if our friends weren’t there we probably wouldn’t have spent our time or money here. The Plaza Café – we stopped here for a quick bite to eat before crashing for the night. This is a casual favorite of ours and we were not disappointed. Of course we were really tired and maybe a little bit tipsy so they could have given us anything as we would have been happy. Burgers and chicken sandwiches were just what we needed.
    Day two: Tomato Charlie’s – this is a perennially favorite of our and we had a new friend to introduce to our yearly tradition. The service was actually quicker than in years past and the pizza (a mix of meat and veggies) was as good as we remembered. My favorite was the Hawaiian.
    Day three: Talk of The Town – we actually went back because our friends were still there and it was a perfect location to watch the lighting parade. Again the service was exceptionally slow, the food choices were very limited due to the parade but we really didn’t need anything special or fancy that night. You get what you pay for.
    Day four:We had a small cookout with several friends at the condo in an early celebration of my 40th birthday. I did the cooking. I’m kind of a control freak.
    Day five: Smokey Joe’s – we love this location and have made sure to go at least once every vacation. Our friend Andres is the manager here and always makes us feel welcomed and happy to be here. One had the pulled pork sandwich, two had the ribs and I had a burger. All were very happy.
    Day six: Barney’s – Thanks to Amy’s suggestion we decided to give Barney’s a try on Valentine’s Day. There were seven of us for dinner and all were very happy with our meals. Two had grouper, two had a wiener schnitzel special, one had a seafood mix, one had steak tips and one had pork. There was a small mix up with the pork order – it didn’t come with the rest of the meals (possibly not cooked/entered with the rest); our server noticed right away and corrected the issue as well as removed the item from the bill. All in all we were all very happy here and will definitely be going back next year.
    Day seven: Matthew’s - This was my 40th birthday and we knew that we wanted to be here for the Karaoke festivities so we thought it best to just start our night here. I will say that this is usually another favorite of our but the service that night was VERY slow and two of our orders did not come out as requested. However I know that it is sometimes hard to get steak cooked to order so I had no problem sending mine back for more time on the grill. . Over all it was a good experience. Three of us had steak and one had lasagna. The Karaoke was unbelievably fun and everyone was very nice to offer their birthday blessings. It could have been the 40th crown I was wearing that tipped them off.
    Day eight: Amadeus – There were eight of us for dinner this night and of the eight seven were extremely happy with our meals. The one person who thought his food was just okay ordered the ribs and said that while the flavor was good they were tough to eat. The service is outstanding and the ambiance is very nice; the only complaint I would have is that depending on where you are sitting the AC can be a bit (okay a lot) overwhelming. I was frozen solid by the time we left but was happy it was me sitting under the unit and not one of the older ladies in our group.
    Day nine: Cilo – My sisters and I were the only three that went out to dinner this night. We decided on trying Cilo based on reviews we have read here and on other sites. We were not disappointed. The atmosphere was great, service was attentive (and cute ), the food was great and the gentleman singing and playing guitar was a very nice touch. By the way, we saw this same gentleman several places over the course of two weeks and loved him every time. I just wish I could remember his name.
    Day ten: Amuse Bistro – This is another place we decided to try based on reviews that we have read. The general consensus is that we would not go again. The location is nice, the service is spot on it was the food that we were not impressed with. In general it’s a great idea to have whole and half plates available but $14 for a half plate of food that consists of just a few bites is note our idea of a good deal. Plus we have very simple tastes and most of the food items offered were just not to our liking. Plus we had a very drunk, loud and obnoxious man sitting next to us who pretty much ruined any ambiance of the place for all of the nearby tables . I would have felt bad for the woman sitting with him but she stayed for the verbal abuse he lashed out at her and added her two cents into the whole mess. I know this is in no way a reflection of the restaurant but it really colored our view of the night. Being the witch that I am, I made plenty of comments and had a running commentary to them but they in their drunken stupors chose to ignore the effect they were having on their fellow diners.
    Day eleven: 5 Burgers – My sisters and I decided to order take out from 5 Burgers after enjoying the Grand Carnival Parade and were not disappointed. This meal was just what we needed after a day in the hot sun enjoying a few adult beverages. The burgers, fries, and onion rings were cooked perfectly. I would definitely try them again.
    Day twelve: Wacky Wahoo – There were four of us for dinner this night and all were very happy with our meals. Two of us had the grouper Aruban Style, one had the half chicken and one had a skewer that had shrimps and wahoo grilled to perfection. For desert one had the Captain Morgan Flan and one had the cashew cake – both loved their choices. We love going here and have made it a yearly tradition.
    Day thirteen: Da Vinci - There were four of us for dinner again this night and we were happy with our meals for the most part. One had the Bolognese, one had chicken parmesan and two had the eggplant parmesan. I felt like the sauce on the eggplant parmesan was way too salty. And for a confirmed saltaholic that is saying something. We were originally sat indoors but when a table outside opened up our server graciously accommodated our request to be relocated. The location is nice, the service is great but a little slow given the fact that most of the staff including the kitchen staff were running back in forth between Da Vinci and Rembrandt’s all night. They are sister locations and share as needed. A good thing to note is that if there is no available outside seating at either place you can ask to sit at the other location and order off of either locations menu. This would have been handy to know before we were sat inside as this caused some grumbling from others in my group who don’t like to sit inside while on Aruba.
    Day fourteen: Bugalo – We decided to end our vacation where it began and went back to Bugalo for Salsa night. We love the dancing and music on Wednesday nights at Bugaloe were not disappointed. The food is very basic bar food but is just what we wanted/needed to end our vacation on. Plus I had another chance to get my beloved bitterballen.

    Other items:
    We prefer the Dutch Pancake House for our breakfasts out while on Island and enjoyed two lovely meals there this trip one in the beginning and one in the end. While we eat dinner out most nights we eat breakfast and lunch in the condo for the most part; therefore we made several trips to the grocery stores to keep up with our consumption. We did bring a few snack and beverage items from home but prefer not to go overboard with that since it’s pretty easy to find what we need in the stores.

    Most nights my sisters and I went out after dinner for our entertainment. For the most part we enjoyed the bars and casino at the Hyatt, Soprano’s, The Upstairs Bar (it’s too bad this place isn’t busier as it’s a great location and the service is outstanding), Senor Frogs and Buster’s.

    We ran into a service issue one night at Senor Frogs – last Monday during the height of the President’s day craziness I waited on a corner of the bar behind a group of teens being served when they were finished I stepped up to take my turn ordering but the bartender ignored me to serve the people on the other corner opposite me. I waited while he served several groups ahead of me (I’m not sure where I got the patience to wait through this) and when I asked him to take my order he informed me that he could not serve me on that side of the bar/corner (even after serving the teens ahead of me). I asked him who could and he said no one; I then asked him if he was okay with me taking my money to another bar and he just shrugged his shoulders at me. So, we walked away and went to the upstairs bar where we got prompt and happy service. Flash forward to the next night and we were back in SF to meet up with a friend and the bartender from the night before came up to our table to introduces himself and apologized for the night before, thanked us for coming back and bought us our next round. I have to say that really impressed me and confirmed for me that mistakes (and miscommunications) happen and it’s all in how you fix the issue that matter. He noted that they were not ready for the rush of President’s week and were totally overwhelmed by the amount of people in the bar. I can totally appreciate the situation he was in and he could appreciate how we felt as well. All is well that ends well.

    Now for Buster’s; I have a lot I could say about this place but will keep it to a minimum. We have been going here since the year they opened and have seen many changes in their business – and none of them good. We continue to go to support our friends who work there but I have to say that the management system currently in place is not conducive to running a successful business on a small island. There are hopes that they can turn their business around after relocating to a smaller venue but I feel that unless the current management is changed their success will be short lived. This is too bad because they have all the makings of a great establishment. It used to be a fun, lively place to go.

    Most days we enjoyed the pools and beach at Oceania but did go to Moomba twice. In retrospect we wish we went more but we were just so comfortable at the condo that we didn’t see the need to leave during the day. The only question/we have about Moomba and maybe someone here can help us out. What is the deal with the white vs. yellow chairs? The yellow chairs are still free but you have to pay for the white chairs – which is totally fine we prefer the yellow chairs but the people who run the hut for the white chairs are completely militant about where their chairs go and will not allow anyone to put a yellow chair anywhere near where they feel their part of the beach is. It is my understanding that all of the beaches in Aruba are public and are not restricted as to where you can put your chair (unless it is under a hut). I can’t understand why they are allowed to bully people to move their chairs because it happens to be in a part of the beach they claim is theirs. Any ideas??

    Now we have to start planning for next year because this coming to work every day routine really stinks.

    Sorry this is so long and thank you to anyone who has read the whole thing. You are certainly a trouper.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Arubalisa's Avatar
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    Thanks for taking the time to write the review. We too enjoyed DaVinci but found most of our food over salted.

  3. #3
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    Great review! Do you know what the going rate is for a rental at the Oceania?

    With respect to your question about the yellow vs. white chairs, The owner of that business has a license to put umbrellas and chairs only within a certain section of the beach. The white chairs go with his umbrellas and he has limited chairs ( I believe) visa vie the umbrellas. Each umbrella comes with 2 chairs and then he charges a daily rate for the white chairs. I think the yellow chairs belong to the Holiday Inn but I am not positive. He probably is "protective" of the area around his business as this is where is he is allowed to put up the majority of his umbrellas.
    happiness is going to Aruba with your adult kids because they still want to come with their parents

  4. #4
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    We rent our unit directly from the owners and the rate changes with the seasons as expected. We paid more this year than last year but that was expected too. If you can find an owner to negotiate directly with you will get the best rates otherwise there is a rental program that is run by Oceania that offers a whole bunch of different room with all kinds of different rates. I can get you the contact info for the husband and wife we rent from if you like. As long as your dates don't conflict with mine. ;-)

  5. #5
    Senior Member arubabob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArubaJAK View Post
    We rent our unit directly from the owners and the rate changes with the seasons as expected. We paid more this year than last year but that was expected too. If you can find an owner to negotiate directly with you will get the best rates otherwise there is a rental program that is run by Oceania that offers a whole bunch of different room with all kinds of different rates. I can get you the contact info for the husband and wife we rent from if you like. As long as your dates don't conflict with mine. ;-)
    There is a website that has owner rentals all over the world including Oceania and many other private condos and homes on Aruba. We rented a 2 BR condo on Maui thru them and a place in Florida as well. The site is www.vrbo.com
    It is Vacation Rentals By Owner.
    Last edited by arubabob; 02-28-2012 at 02:57 PM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Arubalisa's Avatar
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    Randi I believe the yellow chairs are owned by MoomBa. BUT like you said, the gentleman with the white chairs is renting them as a business and thus expects to be paid for their use.

    click on thumbnail to enlarge

  7. #7
    Aruba since 1979
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    Andrea J.'s Avatar
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    thanks for the very detailed and extensive report.
    so many folks live vicariously thru reports/reviews like yours.
    thanks!

  8. #8
    Senior Member corona's Avatar
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    I enjoyed your detailed report, ArubaJAK. Lots of great info!

    Way to keep your cool at Senor Frogs. I'm glad it worked out so well. I'm sure the bartender felt better having the opportunity to make things right the next night.

    Enjoy your 40s! I recently said bye to them.
    No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem
    Next Aruba trip in
    Loving Aruba Since Honeymoon 1984

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArubaJAK View Post
    I can get you the contact info for the husband and wife we rent from if you like. As long as your dates don't conflict with mine. ;-)

    Thanks...I was just curious about what the prices are there compared to renting from timeshare owners. We own TS's so until we are retired, we are good!
    happiness is going to Aruba with your adult kids because they still want to come with their parents

  10. #10
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    Randi, I just sent you a private message re: Oceania. I hope that I provided the information you were looking for. . .

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