This morning it is very over cast (as was yesterday morning but then by noon it turned into a glorious day) so I thought I would make a report.
The weather has been a little "wonky" this past trip but in contrast so was our Christmas trip. Christmas trip the weather was unusually amazing with only half a day of cloud and one day with some rain so contrast this trip, which should have been cloudy free has been some periods of over cast skies. Having said that, the weather really has been great. Yesterday was the only day with a little amount of rain but not much to speak of.
People have been speaking of the Sky Dving in Aruba and it has been very beautiful to watch. I would never do it but it is something to see. This past week there has been a fair amount of SkyDiving activity as this is a week where more young people are on the island. I have met the owner and he does seem very knowledgable. Glad to see something new for people to do in Aruba.
One can't help notice all the beautiful sails of the kite surfers and it makes you think about what will happen at that end of the beach. Some make a "good case" for the Ritz and the need for a true 5 star hotel and what it will bring to Aruba but I can't help wonder if they are making a huge mistake with its location! I truly believe that Aruba has reached its saturation point in terms of growth if they want to keep their island "their island"! The new palm beach mall is very nice with more stores opening but many not open. Again, no more stores/malls are needed. Just my opinion.
Aqua Condiminum (for those who are interested) is moving very slowly. I watch it from my balcony and they is a crew working but it does seem like it will take a long time for that project to be completed. From a very personal perspective, we always enjoyed the view from our building which allowed us to see into the island as well as the ocean. Unfortunately, most of the island view will be gone once that project is complete.
People are still amazing about their "territory" on the beach or pool. A few days ago there was an "incident" at the pool with two women. One woman went to sit down on a lounge with no towel or chair tag. Another woman came over, angrily, and told woman to get out of her chair. Woman B stated that there was nothing on the chair and as a result she then took the chair (which I totally agree with). Woman A got mad and SLAPPED HER, PULLED HER HAIR AND RIPPED HER BATHING SUIT!!! Couldn't believe this. I did not see this but someone who saw this incident told me about it!
SC pool/beach just brings out the best in people!!
Well that is all for now as I will take the clouds as a sign to start to pack so I can sit outside later and not worry. Restaurant reviews will be done when I get home next week.
Thanks for the report, yeah I guess it gets pretty tricky around the pool, there was an incident with a pool chair when I was there a lady arguing that there was no tag on the chair...oh well....Can't wait for the restaurant reports...
Have a safe flight back.
Well home and wishing I was still sitting on the beach of Aruba as I look out my window and see the grey rainy sky with reports of freezing rain...
So back to Aruba...
After all my years in Aruba, I can't believe I never went to Smokey Joes!! Well I loved it and thought they had the best ribs. Comment though, the way they seat people is very strange. We got there and were the 5th person in line for a table of two. Lots of empty tables which would sit 4 but they wouldn't sit anyone of the 2's there. Those tables sat empty for almost 20-30 minutes before anyone used them. All the 2's standing around and anyone who walked up in a group of 3 or 4 got seated (however, that only started happening after waiting 15 minutes). Four empty tables of 2's finally opened up but they still had the people wait as they continued to get names from people in line. Idea: Stop what your doing and get the people into the tables and then go back and take names?? Other than that we loved our dinner and I can't wait to go back.
Went back to Gianni's again and had a great dinner but was pleasantly surprised that we had great service again. That is three times so perhaps it is no longer an anomoly but they actually got their act together.
Casa Tua Mediterrian, lovely restaurant and nicely decorated. DS had the regular pizza and caesar salad and it is as good as the other place. I had chicken kebobs and they were very tasty but dry. I sent off an email to the manager as they had only been open a few days and were (I am sure) just learing to offer my feedback. In addition, the kebobs came with french fries and perhaps a better pairing would be rice or cousous with french fries as an option. Service was good. Very well priced. Chicken Kebob was $14.50.
Last night we went to El Gaucho and it was the usual great food and good service. We had fun with the entire room singing SWEET CAROLINE, much to the dismay of DS!!
The last two days of our trip the mornings were overcast and then by noon the sun came out and it was the usual Aruba sunshine. Last day (as in departing day), of course it was beautiful right from the start. Oh well, it just makes you pine for the nect trip.
So now for my story about my phone:
Arrangement was made to meet at 6:30pm at the concierge desk. I arrived at 6:25pm and am sitting at the concierge thinking about this whole situation. I arrived at 3pm and really preferred picking up the phone at the airport. I am thinking how this arrangement can possibly be suitable in a long term situation. I am thinking, do they really check to see if your flight is delayed? Would they just show up and not realize your flight is late? What happens if you want to go for dinner, get groceries, or whatever but you need to be at a certain place at a certain time to pick up the phone? I am thinking about the loss of the airport booth is really not a good thing. Well, its 6:45pm and no one is there so I decide to go out to the lobby and see if I can find Iris. Well, sitting in the lobby is a woman with a digicel bag and she has been waiting for me because Iris told her in front of the mini market in the lobby?? Hmm, first inkling!
We sit down and start going over the paperwork and I give my credit card and she takes it down as a deposit for the phone but then asks me for the cash! Astonished I look at her and am bewildered. She said that the company no longer has credit card access (wonder why they take my cc number on the slip then) and only takes cash. I tell her that I have limited cash but do have traveller's cheques. She calls Iris and we have an "interesting" conversation. She insists that she told me she no longer takes credit cards and I tell her she absolutely did not. She says, well sometimes I forget because I am busy??? She can't understand why this is a problem as she hasn't had any problems with the cash with other customers. I eplain that I am Canadian so I don't have unlimited amounts of US $$ and take only certain amounts and I was planning on paying by CC so she would then need to take my traveller's cheques. She starts telling me that she will have to pay 5% on them but I told her that is too bad as I was never informed of this change in policy.
I go over to my building with the employee and have her wait downstairs while I go up to get traveller's cheques and email from Iris. I arrive downstairs and employee tells me that Iris wants the 5% added to my bill. I show her the email, which clearly states what I owe, number of minutes left over from december and no mention of paying in cash (also states meet at Concierge desk). Employee has no choice but not to add the 5% and tells Iris this in Papiamento. I am really angry about this whole situation and I start thinking back over the past few years....
I have been using this company for many years. I have thought about buying a phone but when someone gives me good service I am fiercely loyal and perhaps that was what was holding me back. Charles was a good business man but I certainly had been bothered over the last few years about the change in service. The last two years, response time was terrible and the only way I would get an answer back was to copy my email to Charles and Fastphones. It could be a month before someone would answer back an email about a reservation. This past trip I emailed the company twice before I once again went to Charles to see why I wasn't getting an answer. I then learned that he no longer owned the company but it was and has been in the hands of his wife (I don't have an letter working that comes W) who he is no longer married to. Well this, to me, answers a lot about my service issues over the past few trips. She finally answers my emails with the rationale that she has been busy with Carnival. I sent two emails over a three week period with no response!!
I called Iris to ask her to come to SC to pick up my phone on Saturday but she didn't want to and told me to drop it off at the kiosk at the airport. There is a slot to drop it off. I was a little apprehensive about this as there is really no way of quaranteeing that no one could steal the phone and then I am responsible. I asked her to email me once she picked it up. She told me to email her first as she might forget to send me the email and then she would confirm. Which is what I did!
Ok, to end, I have decided to purchase an Aruba cell phone. Makes way more sense, cheaper and far less agrevation. This was what I decided by the time I left the employee in the lobby and got back to my room. I don't need to be treated like I am not a worthy, long time customer and who needs this? From what I have gathered, Digicel is cheaper than Setar. Cheap phone is around $45, SIM card is about $20 with a block of minutes attached and an Aruba telephone number. For $13 you can buy the Digicel phone cards which gets you about one hour of talk time.
From what I have been told, Digicel is going to reopen that airport booth sometime in the future. I can't (unfortunatley) see Fast Phones in its current state be around for the long haul, especially, if Digicel reopens in the airport. The delivery of the phone is really not as convienent as it is made to seem, only using cash is not a good option either (if you pay with cc you have more security if there is ever a dispute too). Returning the phone is not overly secure and if Digicel reopens the booth, I can't see them accepting the Fast PHones phones. All in all, I just felt saddness over the loss of what was such a good company with such good customer service. May be the company will continue to thrive, who knows??