The Beach - you'll usually find me going back and forth between the Tam and the Divi
Trip Report: Tamarijn from 5/1/08 to 5/5/08
Hi guys, I’m sorry for not posting this report sooner, but I’ve been swamped with work since I came back, and felt that I wouldn’t have delivered something worthy of this forum and the great people who contribute their input to it until I truly had the time. Let me start by saying that this was my husband and mine’s first trip to Aruba. We went there from 5/1/08 to 5/5/08, and here’s our (very long) report:
DAY 1-THURSDAY: Our flight left Newark 1 hour later than scheduled, but we made time in the air and arrived right on schedule. We arrived at Queen Beatrix airport and headed to customs. After picking up our luggage, we were greeted by Bully’s smiling face and a sign with our name. *Arubalisa and CindyO I told Bully you guys, and everyone else who’s used his services said ‘hi’ and had nothing but great things to say about him*. He took us to his van and we were on our way to the Tamarijn. Bully immediately addressed the scattered clouds in the sky saying that we should not worry about rain. Even though it was cloudy, the sun came thru and it was all still beautiful. The only sad thing is that the overcast shows in some of my pictures, not doing justice to our first shots. We drove thru town while Bully showed us what was where, where we could go to shop, eat, buy groceries, etc. He told us that Thursday and Friday were official Holidays due to Labor Day and that the shops would be closed, so that if we wanted to go to town and shop, we best leave it for Saturday. It was a very short ride, maybe 20 minutes, and we were at the Tam. We confirmed with Bully the time we were leaving on Monday, and he told us to call him if we needed car service. At the front desk, were greeted very warmly and given our room cards, towel cards, and safe box keys (which I highly recommend, not for risk of theft, but for peace of mind). We hoped on a golf cart that drove us to the room. My husband tipped the gentleman that drove us to our room and dropped off our luggage in our room and he was genuinely thankful. We learned that they call the tips ‘a cold one’, so my hubby would say ‘here, for a cold one’ from then on.
ROOM: We immediately looked out of our sliding glass doors and saw paradise. Our room #2407 is on the ground level, at the very end of the resort, where you walk a couple of feet of green grass before hitting the beach. I requested this room, as I had read that the beach was nicer here. A negative thing that we realized as soon as we walked into the room was the strong smell of cigarette smoke. We understand that people can smoke anywhere, but we thought maybe something could’ve done to freshen up the room and so, at the end of our stay commented about that on the pamphlet they ask you to fill out to rate their service. After the second and third time we walked into our room we didn’t notice the smell, until we arrived home and unpacked. Everything smelled like we’d been chain smoking, but it was going in the wash anyways. Ok, that out of the way, our room was clean and organized. Yes, it’s a bit small compared to other places we’ve been to, but we had more than enough space than we needed to just sleep and shower. Everybody says the bathrooms are outdated, but I found them to be just fine. The bathtub is just a regular tub, no mildew or defective fixtures. Our king size bed was a bit on the hard size, which prevented me from a good night’s sleep the first night, but then I got used to it and slept like a baby. I would say that the wardrobe closet could have used more hangers, but there was tons of space for folded clothes on the dresser. We had a nice, flat screen TV with some of the local USA channels, a channel devoted to the resort’s amenities and other Dutch, Venezuelan and local channels. We noticed that there was a door across from the bathroom and I opened it to see what was behind it. To my surprise there was another door that led to the room next to us. I didn’t know that the Tam had that option, which would be good for a large family staying in adjacent rooms. I proceeded to close and lock the door and it remained that way for all of our stay. As soon as I started to unpack I remembered that I hadn’t made any reservations for the a-la-carte restaurants. My hubby and I agreed that we’d have dinner at the a-la-carte restaurants every night since we wanted to do something nicer than the buffets offered. I immediately got on the phone and inquired on what was available. They told me they had really late reservations for the Paparazzi and Ginger, but that they had a 5:30pm for the Red Parrot. Since we arrived after lunch time, we decided on just getting something from Pizza per Tutti and then having an early dinner at Red Parrot. I also made reservations for Friday and Saturday, and was told that since they can only make the reservations with two days in advanced, I’d have to call later for Sunday’s reservation, which I already knew and didn’t mind. We quickly unpacked, threw on some shorts, and decided to walk along the boardwalk towards Pizza per Tutti. The scenery is nothing short of amazing. The resort did not seem packed, but we could see that most, if not all of the rooms were occupied. We arrived at Pizza per Tutti after walking around and noticing the location of Paparazzi, Ginger, the gift shops, etc. Pizza per Tutti was packed and the seating area next to it was occupied. My husband had taken charge of ordering: 2 thin crust pizzas and drinks, while I scouted a place to sit. I noticed that a table was empty, but then I saw that there were unfinished drinks on it. When I turned around, a lady was waving at me that they were sitting there, so I walked up to her and apologized. She quickly said that it was no problem and that if I liked, I could sit with her and her husband. I mentioned that it was me and my husband, and she said no problem. It’s so wonderful to meet sweet people like that. We all sat at the table, I introduced my husband to David and Phyllis from Boston, and we dug in. Our pizzas were delicious, and as we sat there, a game of Bingo was going on. The winners got to choose from a bottle of red and white wine. We all joked about having lost by one number, or two or three, and had a great time. We said our goodbyes to David and Phyllis, who were leaving the next day, and went back to our room. We had planned to go right into the beach, but noticed it was around 4:30 and our reservation was at 5:30, so we decided to get some drinks from the Bunker Bar, shower and change into our dinner attire.
RED PARROT: We called the front desk for a cart to take us to the Divi, which quickly arrived. We went in from the Divi’s entrance, walked past the Pelican Terrace, and were greeted at Red Parrot. We were seated outside (as requested) right by the boardwalk and beach. We took a couple of seconds to take in the location, view, setting, and thought about pinching ourselves to see if it was all real. We had appetizers: I had THE most amazing shrimp bisque I’ve had in my life (which was that day’s special), and the hubby had the chicken wrap. We drank a Merlot while deciding what to have as the main course. The hubby had the Churrasco da Moda and I had the Lomito Famoso. I honestly didn’t LOVE mine, but it was not bad. When the hubby gave me a taste of his, OMG, it was incredible. We immediately wondered if it could be topped by any other of the restaurants. While watching the sun beginning to set, we had our desserts: A chocolate cheesecake and apple strudel. The evening was truly perfect, the service was great - one of the servers even asked if we wanted to have a picture of us taken, to which we agreed and it ended up being one of our favorite pictures. Before leaving, they told us we could take the bottle of wine to our room, but we declined since we weren’t going straight to our room. We decided to take off our sandals and just walk back on the beach to the Tam, which I thought would be a long walk, but it was actually quite pleasant. We hung out by the Coconuts Bar a bit and then headed to our room, since we had been up since about 4am and were tired.
DAY 2-FRIDAY: The weather had gotten much better, still a few clouds, but much more sun. We walked to Cunucu Terrace for breakfast. The hubby immediately went for the bacon, sausage, eggs, etc… of couse, . They had the omelets station, all sorts of bread, oatmeal, fruits, yogurts and juices. We headed back to our room to change into our bathing suits and hit the beach. The beach in front of the 2400 building was great, the water was almost still that day; there were a lot of palapas available, and surprisingly a few people on the beach. We swam and sunbathed until hunger stroke. We showered, changed and headed to Cunucu for lunch. After lunch, we headed back to the water, and then rested in our room until the time to get ready for dinner neared. We got ready for dinner and decided it was still early for our 9:00pm dinner at Ginger, so we walked towards the lobby to find that the market was in the resort that night. They were playing a movie at the big screen on the beach, which we watched for a little bit. We looked around, purchased a few things and then headed to Ginger.
GINGER: I have to say that I was a bit disappointed by Ginger. I absolutely love Asian food and therefore had gotten really hyped about it. The greeter was not as friendly or warm as in Red Parrot, but I thought ‘whatever’. We sipped on Sauvignon Blanc wine as we decided what to eat. Before ordering, I asked the waitress if it was possible for me to just order two appetizers and skip the main course since nothing jumped at me, and I was told that it was not allowed. Maybe I was being unreasonable, but I didn’t see the big deal about it. Anyways, I asked for the Tempura Mix appetizer and the hubby had a beef salad whose name I can’t remember. He liked his, but I was just OK with mine. So, having but no other choice, I ordered a chicken main course (the name is a blur) and hubby had a beef plate (he is allergic to shrimp, shellfish, etc. so he was there more for me). The chicken dish I ordered ended up having what I can only describe as a peanut butter sauce which I couldn’t even finish, and my husband’s was alright. So twice now, I end up liking his dish better. We had a chocolate cake dessert.
DAY 3-SATURDAY: Weather was absolutely perfect. We had thought about going to town to purchase souvenirs, but then decided to first take a look at the resort’s gift shop. We found all of the souvenirs we needed at the gift shop. Perhaps the prices would’ve been lower had we purchased them in town, but we figured we’d just saved time and could use it enjoying the beach, which was the main reason we’d come. We had reached an agreement that we’d leave the going out of the resort to the market, restaurants outside the resort, tours, etc. for our second and hopefully longer trip, since we are sure we’re coming back. This trip was for relaxation, to just do nothing and enjoy everything. My hubby made me a reservation at the Divi’s “Indulgence by the Sea” spa for me. We had breakfast at Cunucu and then took the cart to the Divi. The spa has a calming, serene environment from the second you walk in. They’ll ask you to take off your sandals and place your feet in warm water. When you’re ready for a massage, they’ll dry your feet and guide you to the massage room. I had the most relaxing and de-stressing massage I’ve had and came out walking on clouds. My hubby, who had walked around the beach in the meanwhile, was there by the time I got out. We decided we should have lunch at the Pelican Terrace and then go into the Divi’s beach, which we hadn’t tried since we had our bathing suits on under our clothes. Lunch was good, nothing special, and then we hit the beach. We had reservations at Paparazzi for dinner.
PAPARAZZI: The atmosphere at Paparazzi is more sophisticated than the other restaurants we tried, which thought gave it a more romantic feel. We enjoyed a Cabernet while looking at the menu. The cheese puffs with marinara sauce were the day’s special appetizer, which the hubby had and liked, and I had the Bruschetta, which was very good. For the main course, the hubby had the special once again, which was a tenderloin dish and I had the Lasagna Al Forno. He loved his dish and I couldn’t stop raving about mine; it was incredible! For dessert, I had the Tiramizu, which was great, and hubby had another form of chocolate cake. We were completely delighted with the restaurant and thought that it gave Red Parrot a run for its money.
DAY 4-SUNDAY:We had loved the beach at the Divi so much, that we decided to have breakfast and lunch there. We had made reservations at Red Parrot again, because I wanted to try more of its menu and the Palm Grill, which was the only one we hadn’t gone to, didn’t spike our interest. Breakfast at the Divi was exactly the same as the Tam’s which was a bit of a surprise since I thought I’d read somewhere that they weren’t, but what the heck, we had something different every day regardless. We bought some snorkeling gear at the Divi’s gift shop since my hubby kept insisting that there were a whole bunch of fish around our feet in the beach, which I found to be true. These perfectly camouflaged sand-color fish were constantly around us. I absolutely loved snorkeling. Lunch at Pelican Terrace was good. Back to the beach it was for us. All the while, my hubby got his drink refilled at the bar by the beach, mostly 'Blue Mondays' and I had Piña Coladas and 'Chi-Chis'. We walked back to our room, getting another refill at the Bunker Bar to get ready for dinner.
RED PARROTx2: What could be better than a romantic dinner with a beautiful sunset, a live jazz band and great food? I had the French Delight as an appetizer, which was delicious, and the hubby had the Chorizo Delight. Our main course was the Churrasco again (of course) for him and I tried the Coconut Shrimp, which were good. Dessert consisted of a nice cheesecake.
That night, we stayed around the Divi listening to the band and then walked to our room, feeling the dread of leaving the next day, wishing we had more time, thinking about moving down here, you know the feeling. But, of course, there’s children, family, work to get back to, so we were grateful for having lived this experience, and swore to come back. To our surprise, we found a little white and yellow cat by our room. We petted him and noticed it was properly fed, just hungry at that time. My amazing hubby asked if we could keep him in our room while he walked back to Pizza per Tutti where he’d get him something to eat. How sweet is that? So we nicknamed him “Tam-Tam” (clever, huh?) and fed him and gave him water. After feeding him to where he couldn’t eat more, we showed him out. We love animals, so it was a sweet ending to our night.
DAY 5-MONDAY: We wake up early and grab breakfast at Cunucu. Bully was picking us up by noon, so we left everything except the clothes on our back packed. We walked around, checked out the gift shop for one last time, took a quick dip and then took our showers to get ready to leave. Bully picked us up right as we finished our last drinks and checked out. The flight back was good, and back to the grind it was.
Here are some breakdowns I think are useful:
SUNSCREEN: If you don’t want to burn, use a high SPF and use it frequently. We brought SPF 50 and 30. My hubby burns easily so he wore more of the 50 and I wore more of the 30, but by Saturday, we were both feeling the burn and put on that 50 every hour. We are VERY tanned to say the least, so again, you may not feel the sun as hot as other islands, but it’s there and it burns, so wear sunscreen.
FOOD: The food at the buffets was good and ok. I didn’t go with expectations of 4 & 5 star resorts because I know that the mayor draw of the place is the location, the beach. I enjoyed the dishes, but of course found that the quality could be much better.
BEACH: Ahhh…my weakness. Never before in any of the places we’ve been to, had I seen such beautiful, crystal clear water. If you stood still and looked down, you could pretty much see right thru the water. I must say that the beach at the Divi was much better than the Tam’s, but I also realized that the winds and time of the year have an influence in the condition of the beach. One day, the wind would bring the seaweed right to the beach and then another it’d wash it away. The Tam’s dividing point was the Bunker Bar. Before the Bunker Bar, the beach has a lot of rocks and none after the Bunker Bar. The Divi has no rocks at all.
RESTAURANTS: My favorite was definitely Paparazzi, followed by Red Parrot. When we come back, we’ll probably eat at just these two and then venture out to El Gaucho, MJ’s, FF, etc.
DRINKS: My husband was obsessed with the ‘Blue Mondays’, I loved the ‘Chi-Chi’, the ‘Hurricanes’ were good, so were the 'Aruba Aribas' and then the other typical drinks were great. Above anything, we both found that Balashi beer was everything everyone has commented. We don’t even drink beer frequently but were surprised at its smooth taste. Wines were good, and the biggest surprise was the clean and tasty drinking water right out of the tap.
SERVICE: Everyone (with exception of Ginger) was absolutely lovely. People here couldn’t be nicer.
NIGHTS: As it has been stated before, there’s no disco, which we didn’t mind. Even though we’re a couple in our late 20s and we go out every now and then, we didn’t want to do that kind of stuff on this trip, this was just a relaxing time, and we loved to just sit outside our patios and listen to the water and look up at the stars at night.
I hope that we’ve helped people thinking of going to the Tam make their decision, as previously posted reports helped us. Special thanks to Arubalisa . We loved the Tam, were crazy about Aruba and its people, and are sure that another trip is not far away.
The Beach - you'll usually find me going back and forth between the Tam and the Divi
I am so glad you guys have liked my report and photos.
To staylor: I am sorry, but I didn't notice if they still had Miller light. We dont drink much beer, and since the first taste of beer over there was of Balashi, my hubby never looked back. He's still talking about it. I think you'll like it too. I can check with him to see if he knows the answer and get back to you; otherwise, I'm sure that you'll find someone else on this forum that knows the answer.