I just returned yesterday from a wonderful trip to Aruba, January 16-23, staying at the Renaissance Ocean Suites. The weather was perfect: sunny, not a drop of rain; breezy, but not as windy as usual. Other observations:
• It’s so good to see all the friendly staff again, especially at the pool bar and at the private island. Natalia no longer works at the pool bar. Rather, she now works at the private island restaurant bar.
• I went to the private island every afternoon, and was never bothered by flies or mosquitoes. The private island is paradise!
• For the first time during my visits in recent years, all three elevators were working in the lobby!
• Since Brian no longer works there, we received a note slid under our doors that the timeshare meeting that was scheduled for Monday had been canceled. No other news whether Brian will be replaced or if timeshare owners’ meetings will continue or not.
• Some changes in the Renaissance Marketplace: The new “Sidebar” restaurant which is right next to Casa Tua is really nice. I had a delicious bacon cheeseburger there. Also, there is a new huge teepee-like structure that was added to the center of the Renaissance Marketplace. It seems to be a permanent addition, and covers the area that was formerly open.
In general, the room renovations were better than I expected. The rooms are much brighter, with a lot of white and natural colors. The electric lighting is brighter, and the ceiling fans have been removed in both the living room and bedroom. In many ways, I rather liked the renovations, and got used to them as the days wore on. However, there were a few things that could be improved:
• The main thing that bothered me was the two small tables in the living room that have the protruding legs at an angle. No matter how much I tried, I kept tripping over them. These really need to be replaced.
• The half-glass shower door wasn’t as bad as I expected, although it seems odd. I placed one towel on the bathroom floor, and this was enough to absorb the water.
• I found the shower floor somewhat slippery once soapy water falls on it. I asked for a rubber bath mat from housekeeping, and that solved the problem.
• The bathroom is bright with light! That was fine except when I had to go to the bathroom at night. After turning on the bathroom light, it was hard to get back to sleep! There really should be a night-light or some other way to dim the bathroom lights.
• The bedroom is nice, but I missed having a digital clock display to see the time and whether I should get out of bed or sleep a bit longer!
• There are new flat screen televisions in both the living room and bedroom, although I found the remote controls confusing.
• The living room has a few throw pillows, a foot rest for the big chair, and a small L-shaped table that could be used if someone were to eat while sitting in that chair. I guess they added this little table since the main table in the unit now has only two chairs.
• The balcony chairs lean back at quite an angle, and are not very comfortable. The balcony table is new, being higher and larger. However, it is heavy! It’s not easy to move from one side of the balcony to the other, as I usually do, depending on how bright the sun is when I’m sitting on the balcony at a certain time of day.
• The hallways are elegant. Nice color scheme, carpet, and sconces. The outside doors to the units have been covered with a faux-woodgrain laminate veneer. The doors look nice, but I notice that already some of the veneer has already chipped on small sections of some of the unit doors, and the old green paint is visible.
A lot of the things above are minor, and I don’t want to give the impression that the renovations are all bad. As I mentioned, I rather like much of what was done. But in general, it seems to me that the renovations were designed for their looks rather than practicality and durability.
Finally, when leaving Aruba, it only took me 45 minutes from being dropped off by the taxi at the airport to get to the airplane gate. It seemed that all folks were using the new automated passport control machines, as I don’t think the former purple US custom forms are used anymore in most cases. But you still have to show the “receipt” to a customs official, and they ask a few questions. Not sure if this saved any time or not.
In conclusion, even after more than 25 trips to Aruba and the Renaissance Ocean Suites, I can’t wait to return there in April!
will you list your restaurant experiences in the culinary?
Andrea, I'm not an adventuresome diner (I don't even eat seafood!) My dinners were enjoyable, but not newsworthy. I ate at Casa Tua, Sidebar, El Gaucho, LG Smith, and even Subway! I met friends one night for dinner at Elliotti's Restaurant near the Bucuti & Costa Linda parking lot. Good Italian food there!