I'm searching for a destination for our family to visit in November. At that time our kids will be almost 5 and 18 months. I've never been terribly interested in Aruba for a few reasons: I've heard it's windy (sand in my face doesn't sound fun), Americanized, and I picture huge highrises one after another along the beach (think Daytona Beach) BUT, our needs have changed with children... the days of a cozy little beach hotel and barhopping the local tiki huts are gone. Even though I'm not a fan of the huge hotels with casinos, etc., those hotels have the entertainment, and other kids, that my kids will most enjoy. A few specific questions to help push me towards Aruba:
1) what is the water like on Palm/Eagle beaches -- is it big surfing waves, or does the water quietly lap the shore?
2) are those areas one huge resort after another, or is there some local flavor mingled along the beach as well? Can we walk along the beach to other restaurants, beach bars, etc.
3) How is the wind?
4) Will I see a McDonald's? I can handle seeing one, but if I won't be thrilled if I pass a McDonald's, WalMart and Home Depot on the way from the airport to the hotel -- I want to feel like I'm in the Caribbean, not suburban America!
5) How is the snorkeling?
6) After reading my concerns, if you think we'd enjoy Aruba which resort would you recommend -- Hyatt, Radisson or Marriott?