This was our 13th visit to Aruba and our 12thstay at the Tamarijn. Hope our reportprovides some info and insight.
Arrival; Took a short commuterflight to O’hare then non-stop to Aruba. Landed 15 minutes early @ 3:15. Usually when youland early there are no gates open. Today we taxied right up to the gate. Aruba customs was full so we meandered down to the ‘magic’ far rightlines. Just like ‘on queue’, we werewaived to the Aruba citizen/flight crew line. Zip Zip and we were going down to baggage claim. My 1st thought was sure, wequickly breezed through customs and we’ll wait a ½ for our luggage. The carousel buzzed and to our amazement the5th bag out was mine and Mimi’s followed shortly. Exited arrivals to find Omar waiting asBully’s van was in for repair. Had a quickback road trip to Tamarijn . No lines at check-in. We were greeted with ‘Welcome Back’. Our requested room was ready! We walked over to say hello to Iris and madea few dinner reservations before heading to our room. So nice to see thea ‘Welcome Back’ bottle ofwine waiting. So, our flight toucheddown @ 3:15 and at 4:00 we were unpacking!
Departure; While on theisland I had read that some had recently experienced lengthy lines at theairport/US customs. Our flight was @1:50 PM so we told Bully to pick us up @ 10:30. Bully was early for pick-up and at 10:40 we were in line @ Unitedcheck-in. Unfortunately United’s countersdid not open until 11:00. Breezedthrough check-in, Aruba customs and the 1st securitycheckpoint. Approaching baggage re-claimthe lines were out of the baggage room to the slots room. Line did not move for 15 minutes. Took us another 1 1/2 hrs to get to USCustoms. Only 5 of the 10 stations wereopen. A 6th station open aswe approached. After being at theairport 31/2 hrs prior to scheduled departure, we arrived at our gate 15minutes before boarding. Departure wasdelayed 30 minutes waiting for 2 passengers to make their way to the gate. Uneventful flight back to central Wisconsin.
Aruba; There isconsiderable construction in Oranjestad, both buildings and theinfrastructure. Landscaping along LGSmith Boulevard is beautiful. Manystreets are closed with replacement of pavement/walkways, landscaping, andtrolley related work. Walkways are avariety of paving stone products. PlazaDaniel Leo (behind Renasissance) is gravel with many utility trenches. Mainstreet has seen the most changes being itis limited to only trolley and pedestrian traffic. While we were on the island a dozen verylarge palm trees were plant with irrigation to each. Huge, huge improvement. Didn’t take any photos. Several buildings along Emanstraat have beenrenovated with beautiful facades. Unfortunately the trolley tracks, with paving blocks between the trackswere installed first and in many areas the blocks have been damaged bysubsequent heavy equipment traffic. Itis apparent the government is investing considerable in improving theappearance of the area. Although foottraffic is difficult in some areas, the finished project will be beautiful.
Facilities; Improvements continue with new stone decking (appears to be a type ofTravertine) around the pool and Cocunuts/Pizza Per Tutti bars. New Blue/white ceramic tile front toCoconuts. Couple of shops empty andbeing remodeled. Internet lounge movedand now located behind concierge. Original location from many years back. Beach lounges are either new or have been recovered and areplentiful. Some areas are needingmaintenance, I.E., bathrooms behind front desk need some tile replacement andgeneral facelift. Would expectre-painting of buildings as this occurs every 3-4 yrs. Had 3 maintenance issues in our room, 2 ofwhich were each taken care of with an hr of reporting. Slow shower drain took 2 days to correct. Our 1st week the resort wasoverbooked. Talked to many guests whowere located in Divi Dutch for 1-2 days before moving to beachfront. 2nd week 91% capacity. As mentioned, guest nationalities wereconsiderably more diverse than prior years. Made many acquaintances with guests where verbal communication was atbest, limited!
Beaches; Except for the first morning, our dailyroutine was to walk the beach from Tamarijn to Amsterdam Manor. On arrival Tamarijn/Divi beaches were verynice with the only rocks by 1400. Surfline was at those rocks. Saturday thewater on Druif Beach was very tranquil/calm. Have never seen the beach so crowded from Tam 1300 to Divi. Every lounge was in use, all day. Also noted a high population of Swedish,Dutch, and Latino. Many very largegroups. In past years, it seemed guests wereprimarily English speaking. Sunday, thesurf began to change, with wave action from the west. The surf was most notable on Manchebo Beachwith obvious erosion from Aruba Beach Club past Costa Linda. Half dozen palapas down in the water @ CostaLinda with sand eroding as you watched. Eagle beach was tough walking with a very steep angle. A couple days during our walk, the beachlounges were so close together by Aruba Beach Club, it was difficult to walkpast. Did not appear to be a pleasantlocation to enjoy the sun. Monday thesurf picked up and the mourning paper advised high surf would continue throughFriday and would impact the low rise hotels. Tuesday Aruba youth were surfing and body boarding by Aruba BeachClub-Manchebo. Surf was huge throughEagle beach. When the waves hit therocks past Amsterdam, it appeared the spray was shooting 20+ feet in theair. Spectacular. Should have been carrying our camera. Waves continued through the week withTamarijn beach continuing to grow. Tuesday-Wednesday the high surf went over the boardwalk in the 1300block. Many rooms had lots of sand andstanding water on the patio. Guestsseemed to take it in stride with one using a child’s shovel to build a dike anddrainage trench. The surf becameextremely dangerous with red flags posted at all resorts. Many ignored the flags and enjoyed rolling inthe waves. One guest in front of 1300was knocked down multiple times and pounded by the surf while trying to exitthe water. Others finally pulled him tothe beach. He suffered 3 broken ribs anda punctured long, was hospitalized several days, then flown home via air ambulance. The waves did subside by the week’s end,however the periodic HIGH rollers continued until Tuesday March 19. 8 days of rough water. Many of our friends that we meet each year,are 70+ yrs of age. They look forward tobeing able to spend time in the therapeutic easy surf but were unable to gobeyond ankle-deep. By Wednesdayafternoon, the ocean was smooth. Tamarijn beach expanded significantly during the high waves, with allrocks being covered. At one point atractor with front loader was brought in to level the high dunes of sand nearthe Bunker Bar. Overheard one guestcomplaining the walk to the beach was too far. Should also mention that the high waves were not as intense from1600-2500 blocks.
Food/meals; I’llpreface this section by saying the theme restaurant menu’s change little fromyear-to year. We have previously tried nearlyall entree’s and most often go with those we’ve liked. Prior to arriving I had read many commentsregarding a decrease in the quality of food @ Divi/Tamarijn. Also, during cocktails on our 1stevening, friends commented about overcooked/tough beef. Am surprised guests elect to not send-backfood that is not to their liking. Alwaystell folks, if you don’t like it, send it back or order another entre’. Generally, we had breakfast/lunch and acouple evening meals at the buffet. Itappeared buffet selections have been changed/expanded to meet a more diversemix of guests. Always like the buffet asyou can try a small portion, if the taste is not to your liking not muchwasted, if it is, go back for more. Breakfast; Our selections were, pancakes, bacon,sausage, eggs to order, hash, Danish, and fruit. A new item added was a sandwich with Englishmuffin/hash/poached egg/cheese. Tasty ifyou had one fresh, so-so if it had been under the lights for while. The fruit was the best ever. Papaya, honey dew and water melonswere…Succulent! Lots of selections wenever tried. Lunch; Had lunch at thebuffet/Pizza Per Tutti/Sandpiper. Alwaystried to eat ‘lite’ at lunch. Call meweird, but I look forward to a lunch hot dog @ Tamarijn. Something I don’t eat at home. Wasdisappointed the rotating grill is gone and the dogs are under warminglights. Still tasted great. Rotating grill was replaced by ‘make yourown’ taco and veggy wrap stations. Mimiloves tacos so this was a hit for her. Ienjoyed the pre-made cold wrap sandwiches and had at least one at eachlunch. Good selection. Beef selections at the action station weresporadic. Some very good, others verytough. Some in the hot buffet weretender and very tasty, others were not. Again, trying a small portion first allows one to decide. I had cauliflower/broccoli wheneveroffered. Had a couple of Paninisandwiches but often appeared to have been under the lights a while. Freshcut tomatoes were wonderful. Very flavorful and I had some at eachlunch/dinner buffet. Only had one burgerat the buffet and it was good, however the burgers at Sandpiper were superb. Pizza Per Tutti is of course, greatl anytime. Dinner; Red Parrot. 2X Having heard of overcookedtenderloin, I ordered mine rare and it came medium rare. On a subsequent visit Mimi did the same withsimilar result. Meat was very tasty andtender. It appeared some of the ‘silverskin’ may not have been completely removed from the filet causing some difficultyin cutting. Wonder if others haveinterpreted this as being ‘tough’. Themeat was however, very tender/flavorful. We also had coconut shrimp and the pork cutlets both to our liking. Had Dutch onion soup that could have been atad bit warmer but was good. GingerFusion. 3X. Our entrees were Mango Chicken, Salmon Steak,Tokyo Beef, and Curry Chicken. Forappetizers Spring Rolls and Tempura Mix. All were very good. We werepleased that when we asked for ½ orders, a smaller portion was indeedserved. Paparrazi. 5X. Wereally enjoyed Paparrazi this year. Prior years the A/C was too cold but this trip, just right. Our entrées, Lasagna, Spinach Ravioli,Tenderloin on ravioli, Pork loin. Onrecommendation by friends, I combined spaghetti(served meatless) with 2 ordersof the spicy sausage appetizer. Cut upthe sausage and it made an excellent dinner. We highly recommend the Minestrone soup as it was a true flavorexplosion to our taste buds. I can’tcomment enough on the staff @ Ginger and Paparrazi. Many remembered us and we were greeted withsmiles, hugs and “Welcome Back”. Theyalso remembered were we liked to sit within the restaurants.
Our Time; For manyyears our morning routine has been, coffee on the patio while gazing upon theocean, walk the beach to Amsterdam Manor and back, breakfast, sun, swim,sun. The ability to walk directly fromour room to the beach/ocean is probably our biggest attraction to theTamarijn. Only thing we need to carry tothe beach is our bodies. All else is athand close by on our patio or in the room. The majority of our neighbors are folks we met here and have known formany years as our visits coincide annually. No fighting for palapas as we tend to share the space. Late afternoons we tend to gather under apalapa for beverages and cheese/crackers. One day, this happy hour gathering turned into sunset watching, and therealization we’d missed dinner. 11:00 PMtrip to Pizza Per Tutti filled the stomach void. Often we also gather late evening onsomeone’s patio. It’s a tremendous sightwhen you can sit on your patio and view the starry sky over the ocean. For those new neighbors, it’s easy to getacquainted when you are in such close proximity on a daily basis. We always invite neighbors to share a palapawhen there is space. Had two greatSwedish senior ladies one of whom could speak English in a room above us. They came for 3 weeks are on leaving wereeager to return. Also in our midst, we hada young Argentinean couple with 2 yr old daughter Lucinda. Was fun to watch Lucinda go from beingapprehensive in the sand to squealing with joy splashing in the ocean waters. Many of the guests during this time periodhave been visiting for many, many years. This marked Phil’s 29th yr having started visiting with his wife prior to the all-inclusiveformat, and now being accompanied by daughter/son-in-law. It is wonderful to hear 1st hand reportson how the resort has changed both in appearance and format. Am hesitant to mention the other wonderfulfolks we spend time with, lest I offend someone by omitting. Suffice to say, ‘you are all the greatest’!
Made it up to Scott’s Brats topick-up our license plates. Great tohear that Scott and Leslie are fellow Wisconsinites with Scott hailing fromGreen Bay only 80 miles from our home. Only took one trip to Palm Beach/highrise to reaffirm why we don’t staythere. St Patty’s day was fun as alwayswith the fronts of 1100-1200 draped with green decorations. Interesting note, for many, many years, StPatty’s day was singular effort by guests. Now, Tam staff fully decorates the Bunker Bar, and most of the staff,including maintenance, are wearing something green. Funmaker Rodney was in the Bunker Bar all dayspinning the tunes. Nice addition. Never had an issue with the shuttletransportation to/from the other properties. This year there was one dedicated shuttle that was only Divi/Tamarijnand to the dismay of some guests, the driver would not vary. We received our Distinguished Guest honoringfrom ATA. Tamarijn put together a verynice presentation in the plaza with numerous staff attending. Mimosa’s for all. Was a very good feeling for both Mimi andI. Over the years, we have made aconcerted effort to get to know the staff and consider many, close friends. We know of their children, families, andlives outside the resort. On our lastday, it is gratifying the number of staff that recognized the tell-tale plastic‘checked-out’ bracelet, come over to say farewell, and wish us a good yearuntil we return in 50 weeks. This yearwas special for us, as we are now both retired and our time on Aruba did notwind down with thoughts of what might be waiting for us at the office, orregularly checking e-mails. Life hastreated us well, and we hope next year, God will permit us to return toParadise.