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The Aruba Tourism Authority recently launched a new program called the Aruba Quality Seal, AQS for short.
The program reviews and guides restaurants, retail stores, and activity companies in terms of providing quality products and services to visitors and residents of the One happy island.
I imagine, in order to receive the Aruba Quality Seal, your offering should be pretty extraordinary. So, as naturally curious person, I was wondering what’s so special about these companies. The only way for me to find out was to go check these certified companies out for myself. So I did!
In this blog post, you can follow my journey to exploring all AQS certified spots in Aruba.
My journey started at the Aruba Aloe store. While “winter skin” isn’t really a thing in paradise, it’s still important to moisturize, as the constant exposure to sunlight is pleasant, but also drying if not hydrated properly.
So off I went, to the Aruba Aloe store in Hato. You can’t miss it because next to the store, you will see the large Aloe field that grows the plants that the products are made of.
Upon entering the building, I was greeted by friendly gentleman who guided me through the store entrance on my left. While the store is spacious and there is plenty of room to walk around, it was immediately apparent that there's a wide variety of products available.
From natural soaps, to bath bombs, and even medicated creams. The items are all very neatly placed to the point that I almost felt bad for buying something and disrupting the display!
There are samples for just about anything so you can see if you like the smell and consistency of the product before you buy. Needless to say, my hands and arms were well-moisturized and smelling great by the time I left the store.
After a while of having fun exploring the store and sniffing every sugar cube scrub I could, it was time for me to find what I was looking for. No small feat when the store has so much to offer. I decided to ask one of ladies that worked there. “I want a moisturizer”, I explained clumsily without giving any more details. Thankfully, the sales representative knew the right questions to ask in order to uncover what product would be best for me. After a short conversation, she suggested I try the hand and body lotion in the green bottle, and it’s exactly what I was looking for; hydrating without leaving any sticky residue.
If you’re ever unsure of what products will suit you best, just have a chat with one of the kind staff members. They’ll gladly help you out.
To me, the Aruba Aloe Store’s biggest strength is how easy everything is made on the customer. You can test almost everything, the staff is extremely helpful, and the store is very well-organized.
All that shopping sure made me hungry! Which is why The West Deck was next on my list of spots to visit. After doing a quick review of the menu online, my stomach had started growling, so it was time to go.
When I arrived I was given the choice of sitting on the deck or in the garden, and was offered a nice spot that was ambiently lit with a variety of string lights.
My server’s name was Jason, and he cheerfully introduced himself as soon as I was seated. Jason explained that the restaurant offers a tapas concept for those who like to mix and match dishes, but you can also opt for a traditional appetizer, entrée, dessert format. I chose the latter and eagerly told Jason that I would be ready to order in no time, as I had already been eyeing the menu on their website. I swiftly ordered my dishes and asked for help selecting a mildly sweet wine. I was recommended a Riesling, so Riesling it was, Jason seemed to know what he was talking about.
I ordered two appetizers (because, why not!) that perfectly complement each other. The Caribbean bread basket had a great variety of bread-like goods such as Aruban pan bati and little arepas that are popular across the Caribbean and Latin America. If you’ve never had pan bati with herbed butter before, try it at The West Deck, you won’t be sorry!
My second appetizer was the Trocadero Garlic Shrimp. The menu said to “expect lots of garlic” so I did and I was not disappointed!
My main course came in a much bigger portion than I anticipated, which is great if you’re big on leftovers. I ordered the surf & turf off their special main course menu. It came with shrimp, steak, vegetables, macaroni salad, and French fries. Once again, the shrimp was nice and flavorful, and the steak was incredibly tender.
Jason checked in periodically to ask everything was okay. Everything was more than okay, especially when it was time for dessert. All I can say is, try the NY Cheesecake, it’s the perfect conclusion to a great meal.
The West Deck really stands out for its beautiful location near the ocean accompanied with its warm, welcoming ambiance provided by the staff. Of course, the amazing food is a crucial element to the restaurant’s appeal!
If my experiences at Aruba Aloe and The West Deck are indicative of what Aruba Quality Seal certified experiences have to offer, I am excited to see what the rest of the companies have in store. Stay tuned for more insights and reviews.
For more AQS certified local companies take a look at Aruba.com/AQS
Aruba Quality Seal, AQS