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Thread: Thoughts on AI vs condo

  1. #1
    Senior Member arubabob's Avatar
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    Thoughts on AI vs condo

    There seem to be many different opinions about whether to do AI or not on Aruba. I thought a good comprehensive discussion would help everyone. I do not think there is a right or wrong choice. It is an individual choice. I will list my thoughts for why we do not do AI to Aruba. You list yours, pro or con. We do not do AI on Aruba for various reasons. The main reason we don't is because we think it is not worth the additional expense. Last June we took our grandson so there were 3 adults. One week at the Costa Linda Beach resort, purchased from an owner was $1,100. The unit was a 4th floor 2 bedroom, 2 bath with full kitchen overlooking the pool and ocean. Taxes and energy charge were about $25 a day. Total room cost was about $1,275 for the week. Checking rates at the Tamarjn and RIU, I found several different AI rates. The lowest was at the RIU at $4,943 for a week, the Tam ranged from $5,400 to $7,107. The only price that was in a 2 bedroom, ocean front was the Tam at the highest rate. This rate had a note that said it was 35% off the standard rate. Maybe there are cheaper AIs but I did not check for more. The difference for the week is between $3,800 and $5,800. Between restaurants, grocery store and bar tab we spent an additional $1,780 for the week. I will even throw in the rental car we got from Hans at $160 for the week because we did have to drive to eat most of the time. That makes our total for the week $3,215. Maybe you get better rates.

    Another reason we don't do AI is the food. We have yet to go to an AI where the food is anything more than good or OK. We have been to a few where it was not good. I think there is a tendency at some AI resorts to think, what do we care what we feed them, they already paid for it. We have found the Aruba restaurant scene to be full of great places to eat and pass the time.

    Another reason is that we feel safe driving around on Aruba, unlike Jamaica, the DR and Mexico. So it is an enjoyable experience to check out new places or revisit old favorites.

    These are our thoughts, what are yours?

  2. #2
    Senior Member act1966's Avatar
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    We always rent a house/villa. In low season, a three bedroom with pool goes for anywhere between $1500-$2000 per week (this can vary obviously).

    We had made the decision we were going to retire in Aruba (for half the year) a few years ago and wanted to get more 'local' when we would spend time down there and so we decided to try different neighbourhoods and actually live in them. We learned a lot about the different parts of the island and how day-to-day living would be. We also wanted a private pool as we're not really beach people and crowds drive us to distraction. We love going out to dinner but not every night so we have lots of experience grocery shopping (it's basically the same as in North America but with a lot of European influence on the products). We always rent a car. Yes, the costs add up but it gives us a sense of what it'll be like to live there once our house is built.

    Regarding all-inclusive: we started sailing on a cruise line called Regent a few years go; it's all-inclusive. The one big reason we decided to go with an all-inclusive cruise line was that I absolutely HATED getting a bill at the end of a vacation. I can't think of a worse way to end a fantastic holiday. So I 'get' the appeal of all-inclusive as it's all paid up front and done. I veered a little from the all-inclusive topic specifically as it relates to Aruba but, suffice it to say, I can understand the draw for some people. Is it more expensive? Sure. But I really like not having that "final tally" presented on the last day.

  3. #3
    Senior Member AndyM's Avatar
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    We never do AI because of the cost and that we like to go to different restaurants. As a result, we bought timeshare weeks and eat out at some of the great restaurants Aruba has to offer. The rest of the time we take turns cooking dinners with our friends.

    AI is for people who don't want to run around to restaurants or cook their own meals. That's OK for some.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Pegmeister's Avatar
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    Our first stay at the Divi AI was based on a friend's recommendation. I wasn't keen on staying at an AI but what I discovered was that I enjoyed the freedom it provided. Everything was prepaid with no unexpected expenses. I didn't feel like I had to carry a wallet around with me, just a few small bills for tips. The food wouldn't meet a foodies criteria but we always found something we could enjoy. Our feeling was the Divi was inexpensive enough that you could still go off resort to enjoy a few dinners. As for cost what I found was that if you book one of their specials it's actually cheaper than staying at a resort that is not AI. For our upcoming trip we again are staying at the Divi with a rate of about $442 a night for an oceanview room. Later in the vacation we are moving to the Radisson with a rate of $415 a night for an oceanview room with no meals included. What draws me to the Divi is not the AI but their fabulous beach. We have not yet given much thought to renting a condo, although never say never. I'm not one for wanting to cook when on vacation but maybe it would be nice to have breakfast in and then the rest of the meals out.

  5. #5
    Aruba since 1979
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    Andrea J.'s Avatar
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    We have done both and like both.
    But, Aruba is not the DR or Jamaica or Mexico so there is no real safety need to do AI.
    One can leave any of the resorts quite safely even in the dead of night (take same precaustions as you would at home though!)

    AI suited us a number of times...usually when we were traveling with our young son and his buddy.
    The 2 boys could certainly suck down burgers and pizza like there was no tomorrow!
    The AI at the Tamarijn suited us perfectly. The plan kept our bellies full with good (not great) food and drink and kept the boys from nickel and diming my husband and I to death. Did I mention I love my frozen cocktails?

    We are owners at LaCabana. Often we had our units rented out and sometimes found good deals with Tamarijn and Bushiri.


    When we used our units at LaCabana, which was way more often than going AI, we were able to save considerably due to the fact that we had breakfast and lunch in the unit. We enjoyed and enjoy heading out to restaurants when on island. We love having the option of eating in, whether it is something home made or take out.

    Different strokes.......

  6. #6
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    All Inclusive vs. Non All Inclusive


    http://www.aruba.com/forum/tags/all%20inclusive.html

    click above links for some "tagged threads" that have lots of all inclusive chatter/opinions.
    some of these threads are pretty old
    Last edited by Andrea J.; 09-12-2014 at 06:23 PM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Arubalisa's Avatar
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    I love this question. Different strokes, for different folks.

    Our family has been to Aruba over 20 times. Our family goes to Aruba for the beautiful beaches. We have been to Aruba so many times now that we know we will spend 6 days out of 7 on the beach. I can get in the car and go "out" to breakfast or lunch when I am at home. We don't feel the need to waste precious beach time riding around in a car (and then trying to find parking) when we could be on the beach instead. This means we also know in advance we will be eating at least breakfast and lunch at the resort.

    When my father takes the family to Aruba he insists upon traveling on an all inclusive package. He likes to know that everything will be paid for in advance and no one in his family will have to worry about added nickels and dimes out of their own pockets for snacks, beverages, floats, etc. He does not drink alcohol with the exception of one glass of wine, sometimes, at dinner. My daughter and husband drink a happy hour pina colada or mojito, I join them for happy hour and will have a drink with dinner and sometimes an after dinner drink, so no, none of us are in it for the cost savings on alcohol. We may drink 4 "rounds" of sodas during the day on the beach, so the resort is still making money.

    When ww were in the process of planning a trip this summer. I suggested not taking an all inclusive package. I would attempt to come up with a restaurant choice each and every night that everyone in our family would enjoy. He said that is too much work.

    He has found a resort on the island, the Amsterdam Manor, where he knows he will get not only a great room with plenty of room to spread out, but great food and service as well. He did not feel that the quality of the food and beverage at the Tamarijn warranted a 6th stay there. FWIW, he has also stayed at the Holiday Inn and Radisson non all inclusive. He enjoyed the Radisson but it is a bit too large for his liking and they do not offer an all inclusive package.

    With the Amsterdam Manor, he sees no reason to look elsewhere. Again, different things appeal to different people. He is perfectly happy eating dinner at Passions, Tulip, Mangos and an off property restaurant. He knows that if he did get tired of their fare, he can choose to dine elsewhere. We keep pretty close tabs of what our food and beverage checks added up to during our last all inclusive stay at the Amsterdam Manor. For 5 people in 2 rooms, it was at best a "break even". It is not a matter of being "cheap" he is just happy with what is already offered and feels the value for the money is fair.

    When my husband and I travel to Aruba with just our daughter, we sometimes go all inclusive and sometimes not. Not because we are cheap, but we have found some amazing "deals" on all inclusive packages at the Tamarijn, with our savings, we do eat off property some evenings. My husband loves the Radisson. When money is no object, he and I have stayed there.

    As to renting a car, we have been to Aruba so many times now that we know we do NOT need a car so that it sits in the hotel parking lot all day everyday. We do enjoy getting off the beach for a day or two during an 11 or 14 day vacation so then rent a car for a day or two. If we are not traveling all inclusive and will be dining off property every night, it is still less expensive to pay for taxis as we go than renting a car for the entire trip, which again, will sit in the parking lot of the hotel.

    Now I can ask the question, how can you consider a vacation, just that, a vacation, if you are renting a unit with a full kitchen so that you have to go through the labor of cooking and shopping for some, most, or all of your own meals? Is that truly a vacation? I already know the most common reasons are to save the expense, cater to an individuals tastes in food and not wishing to go through the "trouble" of going out.

    Again, I will say, different people, want different things from a vacation, that is what makes all of us unique.
    Last edited by Arubalisa; 09-12-2014 at 08:52 PM.

  8. #8
    Senior Member arubabob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arubalisa View Post
    I love this question. Different strokes, for different folks.

    Our family has been to Aruba over 20 times. Our family goes to Aruba for the beautiful beaches. We have been to Aruba so many times now that we know we will spend 6 days out of 7 on the beach. I can get in the car and go "out" to breakfast or lunch when I am at home. We don't feel the need to waste precious beach time riding around in a car (and then trying to find parking) when we could be on the beach instead. This means we also know in advance we will be eating at least breakfast and lunch at the resort.

    When my father takes the family to Aruba he insists upon traveling on an all inclusive package. He likes to know that everything will be paid for in advance and no one in his family will have to worry about added nickels and dimes out of their own pockets for snacks, beverages, floats, etc. He does not drink alcohol with the exception of one glass of wine, sometimes, at dinner. My daughter and husband drink a happy hour pina colada or mojito, I join them for happy hour and will have a drink with dinner and sometimes an after dinner drink, so no, none of us are in it for the cost savings on alcohol. We may drink 4 "rounds" of sodas during the day on the beach, so the resort is still making money.

    When ww were in the process of planning a trip this summer. I suggested not taking an all inclusive package. I would attempt to come up with a restaurant choice each and every night that everyone in our family would enjoy. He said that is too much work.

    He has found a resort on the island, the Amsterdam Manor, where he knows he will get not only a great room with plenty of room to spread out, but great food and service as well. He did not feel that the quality of the food and beverage at the Tamarijn warranted a 6th stay there. FWIW, he has also stayed at the Holiday Inn and Radisson non all inclusive. He enjoyed the Radisson but it is a bit too large for his liking and they do not offer an all inclusive package.

    With the Amsterdam Manor, he sees no reason to look elsewhere. Again, different things appeal to different people. He is perfectly happy eating dinner at Passions, Tulip, Mangos and an off property restaurant. He knows that if he did get tired of their fare, he can choose to dine elsewhere. We keep pretty close tabs of what our food and beverage checks added up to during our last all inclusive stay at the Amsterdam Manor. For 5 people in 2 rooms, it was at best a "break even". It is not a matter of being "cheap" he is just happy with what is already offered and feels the value for the money is fair.

    When my husband and I travel to Aruba with just our daughter, we sometimes go all inclusive and sometimes not. Not because we are cheap, but we have found some amazing "deals" on all inclusive packages at the Tamarijn, with our savings, we do eat off property some evenings. My husband loves the Radisson. When money is no object, he and I have stayed there.

    As to renting a car, we have been to Aruba so many times now that we know we do NOT need a car so that it sits in the hotel parking lot all day everyday. We do enjoy getting off the beach for a day or two during an 11 or 14 day vacation so then rent a car for a day or two. If we are not traveling all inclusive and will be dining off property every night, it is still less expensive to pay for taxis as we go than renting a car for the entire trip, which again, will sit in the parking lot of the hotel.

    Now I can ask the question, how can you consider a vacation, just that, a vacation, if you are renting a unit with a full kitchen so that you have to go through the labor of cooking and shopping for some, most, or all of your own meals? Is that truly a vacation? I already know the most common reasons are to save the expense, cater to an individuals tastes in food and not wishing to go through the "trouble" of going out.

    Again, I will say, different people, want different things from a vacation, that is what makes all of us unique.
    First a question. What is the point of "Happy Hour" at an AI? You totally misunderstand our use of the condo kitchen. We almost never cook a meal unless you count toasting bagels and making coffee for breakfast cooking. Or if you count making a sandwich and opening a beer and a bag of chips cooking. When you eat breakfast at the AI, you must put something on and go to the restaurant and eat. In the condo we stay in our jammys, take a bagel, melon slices and a cup of coffee out on the balcony and watch the boats and waves in privacy. At lunch we can do the same with sandwiches and beer or take it down to the beach. We do eat a couple of breakfasts and lunches out though most trips. Dinner is always at a nice restaurant except when we do a shrimp boil. The condo kitchen is a coffee pot, toaster and fridge for us, not a workplace.

  9. #9
    Aruba since 1979
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    Andrea J.'s Avatar
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    Lisa wrote...Now I can ask the question, how can you consider a vacation, just that, a vacation, if you are renting a unit with a full kitchen so that you have to go through the labor of cooking and shopping for some, most, or all of your own meals? Is that truly a vacation? I already know the most common reasons are to save the expense, cater to an individuals tastes in food and not wishing to go through the "trouble" of going out.

    again, different strokes.... we all have very different ideas on what a vacation is or isn't. my ideal vacation may be unappealing to some because i prefer to stay in a timeshare with kitchen facilities. when i was younger my ideal vacation was very different from what it is today. there are folks who enjoy camping and communing with mother nature. what works for some necessarily does not work for all.

    i am one of those people that prepare breakfasts and lunches in our timeshare as arubabob does. dinners.....well, typically during a 14 night stay we will eat dinner "in" at least 4 or 5 times due to costs, convenience, and pretty tired of going out. let's face, it budgeting $1000+ for dining out is pretty steep (we are now semi retired working part time so we do count our pennies) we enjoy dining in and we enjoy dining out.
    whatever floats your boat.

    disclosure...........we had a cottage near a lake and in the woods in wakefield nh. we sold the place in 1997. reason was every friday evening we would go there, it'd take me a while to load the fridge and get settled. it was fine for the weekends. a nice respite.

    for a vacation, no way. the work involved in maintaining the place was too consuming. grass cutting alone was a 5 hour event.
    we were busting our bums for 2 or 3 weeks every summer and it was ridiculous. to me and my husband that was NOT a vacation.
    but to others....that would have been a vacation.


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    we rent a townhouse when we're there. i love getting up, making coffee in pajamas, then having breakfast, then going to the beach. i go back and make lunch and bring it to the beach. we eat in dinner maybe 4 times during the two week period we are there. like andrea said, sometimes you just don't want to go out and i couldn't stay in if it was a hotel room. if i'm staying for two weeks, i need kitchen facilities. i get up earlier then my husband so that means i'd have to wait for him to go out for coffee or breakfast. this way i can pop some toast in or make cereal, have my coffee. so it is a matter of what you like. we always rent a house or something like it unless we're going to vegas, then there's nothing like staying in a vegas hotel, lol. but then you are usually there for only 4 or 5 days. no one can tell you what is best. only you can answer that.

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