Just returned this evening from seven glorius days in Aruba, our 5th trip !!!! We departed from Pittsburgh on USAir through Philadelphia. Trip was uneventful, yeh !!!! Actually arrived in Aruba at 3:15pm....no lines at all at customs, our luggage arrived on an earlier flight and was awaiting us. Outside to a waiting cab and in the lobby of the Westin within 40 minutes !!!!! After a couple of Arubaribas to put us in vacation mode, it was off to Tomato Charlie's for dinner. We are avid hockey fans and our team (Pittsburgh Penguins) were playing to clinch the first round that night. Decided to walk to Champions at the Marriott and mayber be able to catch the score on one of the TVs....much to our surprise the game was on the big screen, with lots of Pens fans in attendance, we had a great time and our team won !!!!
Our first time staying at the Westin since they took over (stayed at the Wyndham several times) ~ lobby looked great, our room was nicely renovated, although the bathrooms did not look like they had much done to them. Service was wonderful, only complaint would be that rooms were serviced late in the day (after 4pm often) due to the number of departures. Hut reservation process much improved over the Wyndham process, although not sure why anyone would pay $58/day to rent one!!!
Have done many of the tourist activities on the island, spent this trip just relaxing all day on the beach. Weather perfect, abit windier than recent years, but only one day was it uncomfortable on the beach. Had some great dinners (sunset on the beach at Westin, El Gaucho, Hostaria di Vittoria, Gianni's Smokey Joe's) Only problem was dinner @ Casa Tua, immigration officials there checking the "papers" of all the staff, caused alot of chaos and getting food and check took forever. Hubby did a Harley tour of the island, his second time, learned alot of Aruba "factoids" and saw lots of the island that one normally would not see. Donated to all of the hotel casinos each night, but enjoyed each evening.
The new RIU Palace is quite impressive ~ but reminds me of a "Vegas-style" hotel. The island view rooms at the Westin are now actually "RIU view room" so be sure to ask for an even - numbered room if you are staying at the Westin. The music outdoors at the pool each day at the RIU also very loud, easily heard on the beach at the Westin, can only imagine how loud it was there.
Not affected at all by the strikers, when we arrived taxi driver pointed out where they gather near the airport....appeared like a carnival like atmosphere. One day the hotel left messages on the phone stating that strikers were demonstrating downtown that day, be sure to leave at least 3 hours before you flight and be prepared to possibly help the taxi driver to remove barricades !!! Spoke with a couple from New Jersey who had arrive a few days before we did and actually could not land in Aruba due to strike, firemen striking that day. They were diverted to one of the other islands where they sat on the tarmak for 2 hours while volunteer firemen were assembled in Aruba and they then were allowed to take off and land in Aruba.
Trip home equally uneventful, got to the airport at 10:30am for a 1pm flight. Moved through all the security and customs without any delays, again made all connections, and arrived on time. Can honestly say that with all the bad press that USAir gets, we have never had one problem flying to Aruba with them. Last 3 trips have used frequent flier miles as well for ticket.
We went to Aruba for our honeymoon 12 years ago because most other Carribean islands had severe hurricane damage......what a find. We have been back 4 additional times and will now make it an annual tirp. Absolute paradise !!!
Correct-only pay if you want from 2pm to 5pm each day for the next day. Can go to towel hut @ 6am each morning and reserve what is available then for that day. Do not have to occupy hut until 11:30 am. i was usually there by 6:15 and able to get 2nd row each day. First row all pre-reserved. Previously, towel hut did not open until 8am, line would start @ 6am and you would have to sit. Able to go sign up at 6am and leave now.