Hey Aruba aficianados!
Here's the deal...I have spent the last 8 consecutive visits to Aruba at the Hyatt facilities. With a growing family (3 kids; 2, 5 and 9) we have decided to try an AI and my wife has booked the DIVI AI. I am so mired in my ways that I am having a difficult time accepting the move from the HR area and Palm Beach to the LR area.
I'm a creature of habit and even though I have told Katherine that I will "go with the flow" I'm having trepidations.
I'm all about the sun and just hanging out w/family. I'm nervous that the accomodations will not meet my expectations and the AI will isolate me (ie no need to leave the facility) from the Island.
I have never stayed at a HR, but I have stayed at the Divi 1 time, and Tamarijn 3 times and will be there again in less than 2 weeks. We like the AI features. My husband's son has gone with us about every time and takes a friend with him. He was 16 when we first started going. Kids and adults can get anything to eat or drink from about 7am - 1am. There is a wide selection of food available. Staying at either of these places gives you access to either facility. There are several nice restaurants on both places. Red Parrot at Divi, Paparazzi's (Italian), Ginger (Asian), and Palm Grill (Cook your own steak, chicken, shrimp, pork) at the Tamarijn. You need to make reservations to eat at each of those. There are pizza bars at both places and buffets. We also like to go to several restaurants away from the resort too. There are always taxi's waiting at each resort. If you like casinos, the Alhambra is in walking distance to the Divi. We thought about switching to a HR this time, but decided against it. I hope you will love it there as much as we do! When are you going?
Ralph I told understand where you are coming from. My dh and I were once in your same position and thought a stay at a low rise resort instead of Palm Beach, would be our worst experience on the island. At first we were horrified that our suspicions were correct. HOWEVER, read on... Below is what I wrote your wife:
From 1995 to 2007 we had stayed seemingly everywhere on Palm Beach-- Divi Phoenix, Playa Linda, Westin when it was the Wyndham, Occidental when it was Allegro (non all inclusive), Radisson and Hyatt. Throw in a stay at the Caribbean Palm Village for variety. We were hooked on Palm Beach and never needed to look elsewhere.
A trip over Christmas, including extended family, including teenagers who are also "foodies", made an all inclusive mandatory. Only the Holiday Inn or Tamarijn were affordable. Kids 17 and under stay free so with 3 kids in that age range, it was a "no brainer".
Switching to the Tamarijn in 2007 was honestly culture shock. For the first three days at the Tamarijn dh and I looked at one another and shrugged our shoulders. We felt like fish out of water thinking, "this is not us".
Admittedly there was doubt in our minds. I cannot speak for the rooms at the Divi, but the rooms at the Tamarijn are small and the bathrooms are outdated. I have someone close to me who would never stay there and I would never dream of suggesting it. The place is clean but to her it would just never seem that way because it is not new, glitzy and sparkling. No marble baths and no fancy toiletries. Just your basic all in one shampoo conditioner.
Others complain the rooms are way too small. These are people who have never been on cruise. Spend 16 days in a 179 sq. ft box with 3 people, a bathroom smaller than your linen closet and the Tam's rooms are NOT small. The rooms are basic AND a great value.
There were a few more waves after the calmness of Palm Beach, it was not as "plush" as the Radisson or Hyatt, and there were no activities within walking distance outside of the resort (with the exception of the Alhambra Casino). Heck this was like one of those Jamaican vacations where you never even need to leave the compound!
Then about the fourth day it dawned on us. Hey, this place we wake up in the a.m. and throw on our bathing suits and walk out our slider onto the beach. No elevator no long walk across the lobby. We are already there.
Run back in the room, throw a cover up on over the suit and a pair of flip flops and we were good to go to breakfast.
Later we'd come back and sit on a chaise outside our room. Oops, finished the book you were reading, just slip into the room only steps away to get something fresh to read. Same thing for "potty breaks". This was vacationing in a much more relaxed atmosphere. VERY laid back. The beach was our living room from nearly sunrise to sundown. We have stayed there so far a total of 24 nights and never once touched the TV. The ocean outside our door is our entertainment and our "picture".
Our family usually ate dinner late 7:45 p.m. at the earliest and 9 p.m. at the latest. Finally I guess on one of the earlier nights we noticed that this resort had LIVE entertainment! Sure enough the next night when we went to dinner at the Red Parrot at the Divi, they had LIVE entertainment as well. And both resorts did this every night! Wow.
I am presently writing a blog entry about the Tamarijn/Divi food options and hope to get it posted tomorrow. I have read many descriptions for the food at these resorts. One even included a comparison to Olive Garden. I don't know, dh is Italian and does not care for O.G. but he has no trouble with the Italian restaruant at the Divi/Tamarijn. Sure it is not true Italian, it is Aruban Italian. I have yet to find a true "gravy" on the island.
True to say that we have always found the food to be very good and delicious. You will not walk away hungry and portions are generous. The Red Parrot for dinner at the Divi is the most popular and imo, a lovely spot, dining beachside or indoor if one prefers. There is a wide variety of choices on the menu and imo, something to please everyone.
I will be the first to admit that the Divi/Tam is definitely not for everyone. If you want Katherine, send me an email about your specific questions, such as the Scotch and I will keep it in my inbox as a reminder to ask the question(s) while we are there.
P.S. Did I mention the kids club is FREE! Our dd loves the staff. "
Here is my blog post mentioned above:
" When eating at the Tamarijn, we try to rotate restaurants each night so it does not become boring. We consider ourselves "foodies" and though the food at these resorts is not gourment, you will by no means starve to death. Our family has never eaten dinner at the buffets. It is key that you make your reservations as early in the day as possible, or to be really flexible as to restaurant and time. Overall we have been extremely happy with not only the quality, but the portion sizes.
We have eaten twice at Ginger and twice at the Palm Court Grill and multiple times at the Red Parrot and Paparazzi. My personal favorites were the Caesar Salad at Paparazzi and the Red Parrot, the Dutch Onion Soup at the Red Parrot and the Churasco a Moda at the Red Parrot. This steak was served with a delicious, hint of garlic, creamy "almost" mashed potato as well as tomato vegetable relish and orange soy barbeque sauce. These were spicy, which I have a hard time with, so I ask for them on the side. Special requests like that are never a problem.
At Ginger, the Asian restaurant, some of the items we have enjoyed included: Appetizers: Spring Rolls, Sushi, Green Curry Mussels, Tempura Mix (included fish besides the Vegetables), Miso Soup, Won Ton Soup and Entrees: Tokyo Beef Noodles, Spicy Chicken, Spicy Green Curry Chicken and Mango Chicken.
The Palm Court Grill Restaurant is a different concept. The table is your cook top here and you cook your own food. You grill your own two choices of Shrimp, Pork, Chicken or Beef. Some in our family have doubled up and ordered two beef or two shrimp and it was never a problem. Before bringing out your entree for cooking, there was a choice of two salads and two soups as well. Along with your selections for the entree, each table was also served a fresh vegetable mix for grilling, French fries or fried rice, and three yummy sauces: Chimichurri, teriyaki and garlic mayonnaise. Besides the ice cream, the best dessert was found here, what they referred to as cream puffs! In actuality, even better, Profiteroles! Only downside is that it is warm sitting around a hot cooking table. We skipped this restaurant last June and will more than likely skip it again this June.
What would an all inclusive resort be without an Italian restaurant? At the Tamarijn it is Paparazzi Restaurant. I would label the food here more Aruban Italian, than true Italian but we make out just fine. With that said, I was never daring enough to try the Lasagna al Forno with cottage cheese. In the 12 years we have been traveling to Aruba, never have we found a true Italian meal. No matter where we have been it has always had that blend of Aruba mixed in. Imo, it would only be the real Italians looking for some of Mom's "homemade gravy" who would have a tough time at Paparazzi since again, like all the restaurants, there was something for everyone.
At Paparazzi we have sampled just about everything. Appetizers: Bruschetta, Prosciutto E Sopressata, Carpaccio Di Pesce, Caesar Salad, Beef consommé with ravioli and Entrees: Ravioli Al Formaggio (Cheese ravioli in a creamy mushroom sauce served with basil and parmesan), Pasta Di Penne (Mediterranean ratatouille with penne pasta and tomato), Frutti Di Mare (Spaghetti with shrimp, mussels and squid in a creamy crustacean sauce), one of our favorites: Rinforzare E Salsa Delia Senape- Grilled beef tenderloin with cheese ravioli and grain mustard butter sauce and Dessert here: try the Torta Di Formaggio Di Amaretto- Amaretto cheesecake with marinated raisins and rum raisin ice cream. No need to go out drinking when you get a taste of their rum raisin ice cream. With the amount of rum in that ice cream the spoon stands up all by itself.
The most popular ala carte restaurant is the Red Parrot Restaurant located at the Divi Resort. Items we sample here included: Appetizers: Nicoise Salad, Caesar Salad, BBQ Chicken Wrap, Island Seafood Gazpacho, Bonito Carpaccio (tuna loin), French Delight (Baked Brie cheese on toast served over poached apples finished with honey and red wine drizzle), Chorizo Delight (dh's most disappointing item in all the restaurants), Dutch Onion Soup and Entrees: Creole Snapper, Coconut Shrimp, Lomito Famoso (grilled medallions of beef tenderloin accompanied by a garnish of potatoes, onions, bacon and carrots served with a creamy pepper sauce) and Churasco a Moda (Marinated and grilled sirloin steak served with creamy garlic potatoes, tomato vegetable relish and orange soy barbeque sauce).
Bars at Divi
The Pelican beachfront/poolside Bar (open 11 am - 1 am)
CoCo Grill and Bar (open 11 am - 1 am for snacks as well as drinks)
Sandpiper Bar (open 11 am - 1 am for snacks as well as drinks)"
I'm nervous that the accomodations will not meet my expectations and the AI will isolate me (ie no need to leave the facility) from the Island.
The Divi/Tamarijn are NOT a 4 star Hyatt. Far from it. BUT there are many positives which outweight marble/granite baths and brand new furnishings. You will know what to expect.
The AI WILL isolate you, but only if you allow it. We still follow our 17 year tradition of renting a vehicle for at least one day to tour the end and see the changes. With the money we save, NOT staying at the Radisson, we eat some great dinners at the Divi/Tam, BUT we also have extra money leftoever to eat dinner off the property. This year for a 12 night stay we'll be off the property for dinners 4 nights.
Hopefully the thing you will like the least about the Divi is the long stretch of beach walking down to the water from your palapa. You may also miss that there are less people on the beach at the Divi.
Thanks for your comments. I posted you a response but unfortunatley was not logged in. To sumarize
I am concerened that we will become isolated at an AI and lose the freedom and relaxed flexability that the Island offers. We will become tied into fixed eating times and miss out on walking the street side along the HR. Also the area seems like an island unto itself with sparse restaurants/shopping kiosks and water sports within a childs walking distance. These things might actually become a good thing.
My biggest concern is the one I need to over come. That is the shift from a level of service and accomodation that I have come to expect from the Hyatt to a facility that may/or may not meet my expectations. That comes from many repeat years at one location and does not reflect or presume anything about the Divi. I trust my wifes good judgement. After all she did opt for me! I don't need to be pampered. I am very satisfied with the sun, pool and companionship the island resorts and people offer. As a creature of habit I am nervous and concerened that my change from what I'm used to will hit me with a bit of relocation shock.
That is why I am looking for feed back from those who have made or tried the change.
We enjoyed La Cabana and Eagle Beach, however, we decided to make the switch (about 5 years ago) when our kids became teens. Our kids now are teens and one "young adult" and they enjoy having more of a nightlife at the HR. The beach at the LR is more spacious and some say nicer (Palm beach water is a little calmer though) but doesn't have places to go to within walking distance at night. The kids have friends who they see each year and are now able to go over to Moomba, Buster's, Hard Rock, etc. on their own. They cab back when its late but have the freedom to go out on their own while still be very close by to us. We found that for their age group the HR is a little more to their liking.
There are always trade offs in everything but for us this has been a very positive move. Once the kids start going off to College/University, if you want them to continue joining the parents on vacation then you have to be able to adapt to some of their own "wants". The kids eat with us most nights and then go off on their own later. Works well.
My biggest concern is the one I need to over come. That is the shift from a level of service and accomodation that I have come to expect from the Hyatt to a facility that may/or may not meet my expectations. That comes from many repeat years at one location and does not reflect or presume anything about the Divi.
IF you compare it to the Hyatt it will not meet your expectations. It is not the same class of hotel. You are getting though imo, the value that you are paying for. The two resorts though are like comparing apples to oranges. It is just a different type of experience.
We will become tied into fixed eating times and ...the area seems like an island unto itself with sparse restaurants
Reservation seatings for dinner begin at either 5:30 p.m. or 6 p.m. and run to 9 p.m. which is pretty flexible, depending upon your tastes.
You did not say how many night you will be there, but there are 4 ala carte restaurants.
If you plan on dining off property a night or two this will surely give you some variety.
Also the area seems like an island unto itself with sparse restaurants/shopping kiosks and water sports within a childs walking distance.
You are correct. There is not much there. Both the Divi and Tam have a few shops. If anything you may get tired walking back and forth between the resorts or waiting for the golf cart shuttle. Keep in mind though that one advantage of the all inclusive is the:
"Bikes (child, youth, and adult sizes)
Tennis (lighted at the Tamarijn Aruba)
Non-motorized watersports with snorkeling equipment & clinic
floats (I know they offer noodles at the Tamarijn)
beginners windsurfing equipment and “Learn to Windsurf” beach clinic
30-ft. rock climbing wall"
For motorized watersports you will have to go to Palm Beach.
Under a hut, walking Eagle Beach, lunch on the beach, Amstel Bright Beer on the beach, coffee in the morning on the beach, taking a dip in the sea,
>>> " LR"
---- Have always been a LR person. If a beach person think will find it better.
Yes, the Hyatt is great with a good pool. But I'm a beach person and very seldom use the pool. We stay at a timeshare next to the Divi and the beach there is usually great.
>>> "beginners windsurfing equipment and “Learn to Windsurf” beach clinic"
---- But be sure you get the training. Some days from my beach chair next store drinking my Amstel Bright I watch some trying to windsurf. They try and try and try but can only stand up for a few seconds. Down in the water they go. All the time they keep drifting out into the ocean. Finally they send a rescue boat out to tow them back.
---- Those are OK.
If staying at the Divi AI they do have a bar that is right on the water.
And from the Divi AI units I see you are right on or very close to the beach.
>>> "they enjoy having more of a nightlife at the HR. The beach at the LR is more spacious and some say nicer"
----- That is a Ditto.
>>> "IF you compare it to the Hyatt it will not meet your expectations."
----- That is a ditto.
So its what you like. I like a great beach with space to spare.
Last edited by TomFrederick; 06-08-2009 at 12:02 PM.