Alto Vista Chapel
Arikok National Park
Bringing our 18 month old - need some advice
My husband and I went to Aruba in September '07 for our honeymoon and fell in love with it. We're going back in May, but this time with our 18 month old son, looking forward to some quality family time.
We're staying at the Holiday Inn on Palm Beach this time, I haven't been there before. I know they have babysitting services, but has anyone here used them with a young toddler? I've never had a stranger watch our son before because we live super close to my in-laws, so I'm pretty nervous about it...but the hubby and I could really use one date night out. Can anyone give me any reviews of this service, recommendations or advice??
Also, any other tips for going with an 18 month old little boy would be great. I've been doing my reading and the butterfly farm and donkey sanctuary seem inexpensive and wonderful for the little guy. Has anyone done Palm Island with a kid his age? Is it worth the cost?
The Ostrich farm and Baby Beach (the shallow water is great for kids) are other places you may want to check out while you are in Aruba. You may want to consider renting a car (most companies will also rent you vehicles with car seats if you request one) and driving around the island to visit these and other sites.
The Holiday Inn also has nightly shows (e.g. dancers) that would probably amuse your child. I would also take your child for a walk along the beach and visit the other hotels on the strip (for example, the Radisson has a number of exotic birds that your child would find interesting).
PS The Holiday Inn is in a good location and the pool (zero entry) and ocean (calm) are great for kids. All of the restaurants are also very child friendly and there are other children on the resort (i.e. people will not look at you funny if you bring your child to any of the restaurants). That being said, the planned kids activities and kid zone are geared towards older children. Furthermore, the Aruba and Bonnaire Towers of the resort only have showers in the bathrooms (i.e. no baths to wash your baby in).
Bring one of those blow up boat kinda things to take him out in the ocean. This also might sound stupid, but...take one of those 2.99 blow up pools, Yes, when you go to the ocean. BLow it up, fill it up with ocean water and sit it next to you on the beach atyour chair. That way the little guycan have his fun time for a whileand you can SIT for a few while sipping on a drink. Other impt things: Sun hats, water wings, lots of T's, toys you can buy there, water diapers( buy there),sunscreen....you will have a fun time. Renting a car or a jeep...make sure its covered to get out of the sun for a while. Open jeep is not the way togo if you intend on taking a trek tothe desert. ( my keyboard isj sticking...) Very dusty for a baby, and way to much sun. Depalm island might be fun, the water park is more kidish than adultish. Kinda pricey though...
I can relate to your "fear" of using the babysitters from the hotel. I first faced this 6 years ago when we brought our 2 year old daughter to Aruba. We have since had two more children who have come to aruba with us every year. We do not stay at the Holiday Inn, but i imagine they have the same system as the Hyatt. They have files and information on all the people who babysit for the hotel including pictures. They even can tell you how long the person has babysat at the hotel. Once we were there and met the people I felt more comfortable, and I am sure you will too. You could even have the babysitters help during the afternoons and stay with the little one during nap time in the room. This may give you a chance to be around the sitter for a while and get to know them before leaving for the evening.
Can't speak for the services at the HI but last year we used the service at the Hyatt for the first time (in 6 years) for a 1 year old and an 8 year old, and it was great. We are going back in June and we will use the service again
My husaband and I used the services of Anouk and Eleanor last year for the first time for our then 10 month old son. They were both great. They were very polite, flexible and certified in CPR. This is a full time job for them. They take it very seriously and are VERY good with the little ones. We are returning this May and have already booked them. You can visit the website at www.arubababysitting.com
one tip for air travel - don't lug the heavy car seats....just buy the child avaiation restraint system. it's essentially a strap that fits over the airplane's seat. it's the only FDA approved system other than car seats. it's expensive ($70-80) but well worth it in regards to time, effort, and comfort.
i bought one a few months ago for out upcoming family trip during thanksgiving. take a look for yourself on their website. they have a video tutorial.
and, i'm not sure if your son is still drinking milk, but the local milk in aruba is as good as the ones in the state. however, they call it "whole cream" instead of "milk" - my son drank it all week back in may 2008 (20 months) without any problems. oh, the best part is that the milk doesn't spoil out in the open! it's like parmalat.