Tamarijn All Inclusive December 22, 2007 – January 3, 2008

We are a family of 10comprised of my grandmother age 94, who treated the family to this trip as a Christmas present. My parents are in their late 60’s, my brother, husband and, myself- mid- 40's and children- aged 11, 13, 15 and 18. My parents have been to Aruba three times previously having stayed at the Holiday Inn and most recently the Radisson. My husband and I, have been to Aruba quite a few times having staying at a variety of resorts along Palm Beach, some numerous times: Divi Phoenix timeshare, Playa Linda timeshare, Wyndham (now Westin), Allegro (now Occidental), Radisson and Hyatt.

Traveling with 4 children who love to eat and eat well, we knew to start, dining out was not an inexpensive option and cooking by one of us, say in a timeshare, was just not going to happen. We could stay home and cook for the holidays if that were the case. So in our case, all inclusive was the choice for our family. We have used MCM Tours for over eight years now when booking our Aruba travel. Having always had the best pricing and excellent service, this trip was no different. In explaining what our family needed in a resort accommodation and having booked our travel through them for so many years, they knew our likes and dislikes and recommended the Tamarijn. We went along with this knowing full well before booking that it is NOT a 5 star resort.

This was the first land vacation in Aruba for my brother and his children. After seeing the crowds along Palm Beach during Christmas week, he said given the choice of staying at the Riu all inclusive on Palm Beach or staying at the Tamarijn, he would choose the Tamarijn hands down for simple fact that the beaches all along Palm Beach were just too crowded. Add to the crowds, the huge amount of watersportsactivities and their accompanying noise, it was a real big turnoff to him.

I cannot say in words how happy our family was with the Tamarijn. In reading a greatmany reviews of this resort over the many months before our trip, we knew what to expect. This was not going to be a 4 star resort like the Marriott, Radisson or Hyatt or even the Westin. I would however say we were just as happy if not happier with our experience at the Tamarijn than our 3 stays at the Westin when it was still the Wyndham, and itis a different type of experience than our four stays at the Radisson.

The atmosphere at the Tamarijn is much more relaxed than anything you would find on Palm Beach, never mind the Radisson or Hyatt. Cannot comment on the Marriott because we have never stayed there, but would imagine it would be the same. Dh and I,still believe there are "trade offs" for staying along Palm Beach at some of the more "upscale" hotels and staying at a resort such as the Tamarijn. The Tamarijn and Druif beach does not have all the many activities within walking distance, the rooms at the Tamarijn are much more basic and unlike Palm Beach where there are many casinos in the hotels adjacent one another, there is only one casino, the Alhambra, across the street from the Divi Resort. For us, however, the tangible bonus of the Tamarijn was the ability to walk directly out of ourroom right out on to the beach. As much as we love the Radisson we cannot do that there.

For some it seems so much easier for people to find faults with the Tamarijn than to have done the proper research before booking their stay. Just because all the rooms are oceanfront, this does not mean that this is a 5 star resort. There are no 5 star resorts on the island. We had booked our trip through MCM Tours, and theyhad requested, though could not guarantee that our 4 rooms be near one another. Our room in the 1300 building was more than adequate in size for three people, but then again, the only time we spent in our room was to shower and sleep. The beach outside our room was our living room for the 12nights of our holiday vacation. Our TV was never turned on. The ocean outside our door was our entertainment. The baths may be outdated, but were clean and again, for our needs, not an important factor for thisvacation. The resort suited our family in every way for whatwe required, in a family vacation for our holiday.

The rooms at the Tamarijn from what I understand were renovating not too long ago and appeared to us clean and fresh. After having read so many reviews I was also expecting a room the size of a shoe box. Well,maybe too many cruises for us, but with three people, we had plenty of room and storage for the all too many clothes we packed. Many reviews have also stated that the guestroom bathrooms were outdated. Well, yes they are; however,our family knew what to expect, and wefound clean bathrooms which in no way adversely affected our vacation. Other complaints I have read over and were that other than their ala carte restaurants, they serve their beverages in hard plastic cups. Indeed this is true, we knew what to expect. The swimming pool was not fancy; yes the swimming pool is a simple rectangle. In our opinion, on the island of Aruba, the Tamarijn cannot be beat for the value for the money in an all inclusive resort. All oceanfront accommodations make this resort the perfect paradise.

If anything, the worst thing I can say is that it would be very easy to never leave the resort except for an occasional run over to her sister resort the Divi. For first time visitors to Aruba, if younever left the resort, you would never get a real feel for the island and all it has to offer. Youwould still however have the wonderful experience of one-on-onecontact with one of Aruba's and the Tamarijn’s exceptional assets: it'swarm, welcoming and friendly people. As soon as we stepped out of our taxi driver friend Bully's van and were greeted by the bellman and subsequently the front desk clerk, we knew we had found an amazing spot.

My husband and I, love to frequent some of those $150 - $200 per couple "fine dining" restaurants in Aruba such as the Sunset Grille and found all the food outlets at the Divi and Tamarijn, whether ala carte for dinner or breakfast and lunch buffets, to be delicious. All members of our family are “foodies” and no one felt there was anything wrong with the food here. From made to order omelet’s at breakfast and even seafood selections at lunch such as scallops in wine sauce and paella, we could find nothing to complain about. In other words, we could always find something to eat. Snacks and sandwiches at the Pizza bar were also excellent. Made to order pizzas were our favorite, with a choice of thick or thin crust!

Service at the food and beverage outlets was typical "Aruban or island time.”No worse than any other place where we have eaten. If we were looking to sit down, eat and run, then the buffet will be our choice. Since I enjoy being able to sit and enjoy the atmosphere and the company of whomI amwith, I was more than pleased with the service and staff at both the Divi and Tamarijn.