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Thread: Randi's trip report Xmas/NY weeks- its long

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    Randi's trip report Xmas/NY weeks- its long

    We arrived to a newly updated lobby of the Surf Club, which was really very nice. It was done in blues, green and beige. However, while new and improved lobby was invigorated the front desk was not! This seems to be the weakest link in the Surf Club and I really don’t know what else to say except it is most frustrating! Also, the SC just put in wifi in the rooms and it is terrible. When using during high demand usage time, it is so slow and if you want to stream anything...forget it!

    There is a new manager at the Surf Club but did not get the opportunity to meet him. Owner meetings during the busy week 51 and 52 are a great idea as most occupants are owners, however, for the second year in a row, the decision to hold owner’s meeting on the usual Tuesday when it is Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve is not the best idea. Decided to go to NYE mtg as there are some issues that need to be discussed and found out despite the notices in the elevator the mtg was canceled because hardly anyone showed up on Christmas Eve!

    Walked over to The Ritz Carleton to check it out. Had coffee there twice and this was the opinion by all that were with me…VERY UNDERWHELMING! The interior lobby was sparse and not what I would have expected of an upscale Ritz Carleton. Comparing the lobby to that of the Hyatt, which is also a simple decour, the Hyatt is far more elegant. One night we went into the lobby with a very reputable architect and he wasn’t impressed either. He did comment that the flooring that was used in the lobby was a lower end travertine and colour pattern was not very attractive (I totally agree). Outside lobby is on the second floor elevation and that is very nice. We had coffee there twice and on our last visit got to watch two kids play hide and seek along the upper balcony without a parent or staff person suggest that this was not the best area for running.

    The pool and beach area of the Ritz is, imo, very stark and sterile. I wonder when the hotel is at full capacity if there will be some pool space issues? The landscaping appears to be complete and there were areas that were just plain grass with concrete surrounding it and I felt it was a waste of space and added to the very sterile atmosphere. There is a family pool which is just “plain” and the adult pool is nice with cabanas and it is more of a lap pool with a large “ledge” to lie in while covered in water. However, I can see space at this pool being a very huge issue. Beach area is very big and nice to see some of the natural vegetation left. No palapas, only umbrellas embedded in concrete lined up. I would have to say that the pool area at the Hyatt is FAR nicer than the Ritz.

    Went to the Aqua Spa in the Palm Beach mall and I would say to avoid this place at all costs. We went as a group for various treatments, pedicures and gel manicure. Both were terrible. Pedicures were not very good and the gel manicure was painfully slow and gel nail polish applied too heavily and peeled/chipped within 3 days.

    Once again, so happy to have rented a car from Tropic. Hans is just amazing and we think he has the best cars and customer service in Aruba.

    Grocery stores, went to Super Foods, Lings and Kong Hing. First stop was Lings and felt out of my element as they moved around some of the aisles and also eliminated some of the items I would normally buy. That prompted me to go over to Kong Hing which was far more quiet than usual. I should also mention that Lings didn’t seem as busy either and I did end up there numerous times and was always quiet. The place that was busy was Super Foods. After speaking with someone at the SC, I decided to give Super Foods another try as they now have more American style foods as opposed to mainly Dutch foods that they started with last year. Super Foods has wonderful meat and fantastic bakery. I still find that the produce at Lings is far superior. The parking lot at SF is also a disaster so park close to exit or even on street for ease of exiting.
    We had a large group of 36 people so we organized a private snorkeling catamaran with Red Sail sports. They were amazing to deal with, accommodating and found the crew and boat safe and very enjoyable.

    I wrote some time ago about trying to find a wedding planner to help organize a NYE party on the beach. First planner I started with was a man who has been written up about his “deceitful” ways. Then I was recommended another party planner who said she would help me but, although she has some wonderful reviews, her help never did materialize. She was always “too busy” with weddings to give it her full attention (even though I was going to pay her for her services). Her biggest issue as to why she couldn’t put together this NYE party was that she couldn’t find staff to work on NYE. I contacted her again this year when I was in Aruba thinking that may be if I start early and begin planning now, I could get this party planned for next NYE. Basically, she said she didn’t want to work over NYE and passed me off to someone else.

    So, I got passed off to Edwina from E2 Events, who I was very impressed with (so far). She came and met me on my last day in Aruba even though she was in on holidays. She had some very good ideas and promised to have some information ready for my return to Aruba in March. I asked her about the issue of finding staff to work on NYE, and guess what? She said that you can always find staff as the like to get the extra money for working that night!!


    Now for some comments on our restaurants:

    Barefoot was as amazing as usual. We enjoyed the lovely dinner on the beach this time and it was spectacular. The food is always fresh and delicious with service and presentation impeccable. This is a “must” for us when we come to Aruba.

    Anna Maria is another place we always go to as we love the ambience and adore the food. We love the Sicilian style Italian food and it is always fresh and excellent. Some of our absolute favorites are the calamari, penne a la vodka, spaghetti Bolognese, chicken parmagian, pasta with fresh seafood. This is a small place and you need to make reservations in advance.

    Madame Janette while still good, I don’t think we will be going there for a while. The service started off pretty good but then went downhill. When the food came to the table they had no idea who it belonged too. Just stood at the edge of the table yelling out what the item was. They used the food name that was on the menu and if we weren’t sure what it was (if it was a steak and they were calling it Versace) the server got annoyed. If someone didn’t answer directly then they just plunked down the plate of food in front of any random person. The food was good but not outstanding as it has been in previous years. We had to wait a very long time to get our final bill and the place was not full. We were a group of 14 people, all of whom have been to MJ’s before and eat at various places in Aruba. The consensus was that with so many great restaurants in Aruba now, this place is still good but the reviews or accolades are more on past than on present. In addition, this is one of the most expensive restaurants we ate at and the food just isn’t as good as others to justify the high price.

    Wacky Wahoos is the best place for fresh and delicious fish. We love it there and have always hoped that they would be able to expand a little. The owner of the small clothing shop next door is moving across the street and WW will be expanding into her space!! Yeh!!

    Taste of Belgium is where we enjoy going for a delicious dessert and coffee. Twice we went there and “they ran out of food”!!! How is this possible? The second time this happened was Dec. 30th and they said they had too many guests and there was not one spec of food left. We were wanting their delicious Belgium waffles before we left Aruba but alas, that was not to be. Makes you wonder what they were going to serve for the next few days before the stores opened up on Jan. 2nd??

    White Modern Cuisine is back on our list, happily. We stopped by there and took a look at their menu and found some of the items we loved from last year back on. We had cancelled our reservation last March due to the fact that they had changed too much of the menu and we couldn’t find things we would enjoy. We first went in Dec. 2012 and loved the menu and were excited to try it again in March 2013. The menu did not even resemble anything we had previously enjoyed. They must have had numerous complaints because they now are keeping a few of the dishes that people really love (corn chowder was one) and then change around a few of them every three or four months. Our dinner was outstanding and the presentation was beautiful. We sat near the prep area and it was truly remarkable to watch how the make up the plates. We will there again in March!

    Carte Blanche is in a class by itself!! This is an expensive place but truly “out of this world” good! The food is incredible and each of the five courses is better than anything we have ever had anywhere. Both Dennis and Glen are enjoyable and entertaining. Glen’s knowledge about the wine pairing is better than anything we have experienced in Aruba or elsewhere for that matter. I really can’t say enough great things about Carte Blanche!!

    Windows is going to be difficult for me to write about as there was such a strange series of events. Let me begin by saying the food, service and presentation was excellent. We adored the food and will definitely be back to Windows. This has been our NYE dinner for many years and we love it there. Sonja, the hostess is amazing and she knows her regular customers and greets them with such warmth and goes above and beyond to be accommodating. So here is what happened: For years we go to Windows as a large group of approx. 10 people, another group of our friends also go and they are a large group of approx. 12 people. We always have our reservation times split so as to make things easier on the restaurant but always ask and have been seated right next to each other. We are all friends and it makes a great time for all. I sent an email reconfirming and REMINDING them of this a few days prior to our reservation. I get to the restaurant and our table is on one place and our friends table is in another place. Right next to our friends table is another large table (same number of spots as ours) so I ask if we can be moved (even though we haven’t sat down yet and the other two reservations haven’t arrived yet). Manager, named Armando, will not allow this! I show him the email and he won’t budge. Sonja is trying to help us and see that this is a very easy fix and she also knows that this is our “regular” table request. Armando just won’t do it and just digs his heels in. I very nicely tell Sonja that I know it’s not her fault and we will ultimately sit where they place us but if the manager will not move us this will be the last NYE we spend in Windows. End result, after arguing for 15 minutes they seat us in the area next to our friends. Not a pleasant way to start off one’s evening. After that, we had some issues with the manager again as one of our friends from home bought us a bottle of wine that was to be delivered to our table. We got the card but no wine. They forgot to bring it to us and then after we drank another bottle, we asked about if there was wine with the card, Armando forgot to give it to us?! Ok, this was just a crazy evening but delicious food. Spoke with the director of food and beverage, Dominque and he was very apologetic and wonderful. He is going to make it up to us in March. We look forward to going there again but hope Armando has learned something about customer service!

    Well this trip seems like it was so long ago but now we count the days until our next trip in March!


    Last edited by Randi; 01-20-2014 at 09:23 PM.
    happiness is going to Aruba with your adult kids because they still want to come with their parents

  2. #2
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    Andrea J.'s Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing your story and restaurant reviews!!

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    Senior Member DANNYO's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing..Great report....Yes Hans is the best...

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    Senior Member cindyo's Avatar
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    Great report
    love reading restaurant reports
    will have to try White in September
    Windows will pass on now, screw Armando
    barefoot A+ in my book from past experience
    love Surf, hate the forever slow check in
    xo

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    Well Windows is still very good and the person above Armando, Dominique, more than made up for things.

    I did forget to mention one other experience and that was with Hadicurari. Years ago we went there for dinner and wasn't overly impressed so we have never been back. Every day as we walk back to the SC there the manager with his same "joke" trying to get ppl to come into the restaurant for dinner. This year we had heard from a few ppl that it was very good (and I believe Cindy you mentioned this too) so we thought next trip we will give it another chance.

    Anyway, last day in Aruba we decided to go there for breakfast and WHAT A DISASTER!! We were 9 people and EVERYONE'S breakfast came out stone cold!!! Not warm...COLD!! One person's breakfast had to go back three times to get it right. Then they put too many breakfasts on the bill. OMG!!! The staff were terrible and slow. When we asked for a manager they just gave us 10% off the bill and then couldn't get the bill right and it had to be done twice. Couldn't get out of their fast enough. I sent them an email upon my return (not sure if the email address on the website is correct) but never heard back from them. Hmmm.... will I bother to try them for dinner?
    happiness is going to Aruba with your adult kids because they still want to come with their parents

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    Senior Member cindyo's Avatar
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    The all all you can eat fish ( weekends only) is fabulous. We went probably 3 yrs ago. Had 4 types of fish you go up to the grill and they put on your plate. Things do change so take my review for what it's worth. Never had breakfast there. We like Salt and Pepper for breakfast or Dutch pancakes at the Renn mall.



    Quote Originally Posted by Randi View Post
    Well Windows is still very good and the person above Armando, Dominique, more than made up for things.

    I did forget to mention one other experience and that was with Hadicurari. Years ago we went there for dinner and wasn't overly impressed so we have never been back. Every day as we walk back to the SC there the manager with his same "joke" trying to get ppl to come into the restaurant for dinner. This year we had heard from a few ppl that it was very good (and I believe Cindy you mentioned this too) so we thought next trip we will give it another chance.

    Anyway, last day in Aruba we decided to go there for breakfast and WHAT A DISASTER!! We were 9 people and EVERYONE'S breakfast came out stone cold!!! Not warm...COLD!! One person's breakfast had to go back three times to get it right. Then they put too many breakfasts on the bill. OMG!!! The staff were terrible and slow. When we asked for a manager they just gave us 10% off the bill and then couldn't get the bill right and it had to be done twice. Couldn't get out of their fast enough. I sent them an email upon my return (not sure if the email address on the website is correct) but never heard back from them. Hmmm.... will I bother to try them for dinner?

  7. #7
    Senior Member rob o's Avatar
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    Always enjoy your reviews, Randi.

    What at an unfortunate experience at Windows....so unnecessary and very uncharacteristic.
    Please contact via e-mail at arubarennowner@gmail.com



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    thanks for the info on wackey wahoos. We love that place and our happy to read they are expanding. We enjoyed your trip review. Thanks so much,
    Sean and Susan

  9. #9
    Super Moderator Jacki's Avatar
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    Awesome restaurant reviews! Thanks for all the info!
    Jacki ~ loving Aruba from NJ

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by cindyo View Post
    We like Salt and Pepper for breakfast or Dutch pancakes at the Renn mall.
    We love Dutch Pancake house too! We had breakfast there with you a few years ago when we met

    Happy to share my reviews with all the nice ppl on this BB.
    happiness is going to Aruba with your adult kids because they still want to come with their parents

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