Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Travel Gift Ideas & Stocking Stuffers

Aruba Bound
Tired off standing on your home scale without and then with your suitcase to determine how much it weighs?

We have had a luggage scale for years and just upgraded to the digital. You only have to rearrange your open suitcases on the floor of the airport at check-in to realize how much you need one of these scales. They make great stocking stuffers and Dh and I have also bought them as Christmas gifts for other family members who are frequent fliers.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Radisson Aruba vs. the Tamarijn All Inclusive

The Radisson is non-all inclusive & the Tamarijn is all inclusive

If you are big drinkers
  • Radisson drinks are $$$
  • Tamarijn drinks are "free" (top shelf liquor is at least included in what you already paid)

If you are big eaters
  • Radisson make sure the breakfast buffet is part of your package and be prepared for $50/couple lunches on site at Gilligan's (figure 2 sandwiches & 2 beverages)
  • Tamarijn all food and snacks are included at a choice of 8 dining options & 7 bars at either the Tamarijn or neighboring sister resort the Divi (all amenities are shared between the 2 resorts)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Patriot Day

Aruba Bound
Display Flag at Half-Staff

Patriot Day is observed on September 11th.

Patriot Day was signed into law on December 18, 2001 as a day to remember those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks on our country.

On Patriot Day, Americans should fly their flags at half-staff and observe a moment of silence to honor those individuals who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attacks.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Marriott Aruba Boutique Service, Brand Name

Aruba Bound

Aruba Marriott Resort opens Tradewinds Club, an intimate hotel experience wrapped in a resort setting

PALM BEACH, ARUBA (September 1, 2008) The Aruba Marriott Resort and Stellaris Casino officially opened the Tradewinds Club, a new concept designed with today’s modern traveler in mind, on September 1. During the current $40 million renovation the necessary enhancements were made to turn the 8th floor of the Aruba Marriott Resort in to the Tradewinds Club. This hotel within a hotel initiative, introduces a boutique hotel experience in a resort setting that provides for personalized service and exclusive amenities.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Guadirikiri Cave Aruba

The caves are worth a visit, but be forewarned that Guadirikiri Cave is not for anyone with respiratory issues. The temperature inside is unbearable. Think Aruba heat with 105% humidity and no wind. The Arikok National Park ranger served as a guide and gave us a very informative tour of the cave.

Imo if you can stand the heat, for overall features, Guadirikiri Cave is the best on the island with Fontein coming second.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Review Passions at the Amsterdam Manor Aruba

A friend as well as my parents, had recommended Passions on the beach at the Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort for dh and my anniversary dinner.

When we arrived we were immediately greeted by Diana the hostess/maître d' and everything from the food to the service, it was nothing less than perfect and a wonderful evening. Our table was closest to the water with torches and a lantern on the table. I can imagine how nice it would be at sunset, however since we can view that from the comfort of our patio, and like to eat later, dining under the stars with the Aruban tradewinds are just delightful in my book!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Aruba Hyatt vs. the Radisson vs. the Westin

Dh and I have stayed at the Hyatt once. Very nice resort, top notch as a matter of fact. Beautiful swimming pool with waterslide and swim up bar (if that is a deal maker or breaker for you).

Downside is the beach can get crowded and the rooms have only step out balconies, unless you go for the very big bucks and book an oceanfront suite.

In recent years, we have also stayed at the Radisson four times and the Westin when it was still the Wyndham, three times. The rooms at the Westin have all been renovated since we stayed there.

The free form pool is not as modern as those at the Hyatt or Radisson, but as of this writing, is scheduled for renovation in the upcoming month. The beach at the Westin is admittedly windier than that of the Radisson and Hyatt. With that said, if we could not afford the Radisson, and the Westin were cheaper, we would definitely stay at the Westin.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Review Kini Kini Tours Aruba

This trip to Aruba, we had decided to take dd to see the Natural Pool. Dh and I had driven there twice previously on our own via 4 x 4. Dh hated driving there and did not want to do it again. He is allergic to horses so that was out. The new Tom Cars looked cool on the Aruba Off-Road website so we decided we would give that a shot. The day before we left for Aruba they emailed a confirmation and substituted Baby Beach for the Natural Pool. The reason we booked the tour was for the Natural Pool, so we cancelled.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Q. & A. Radisson Aruba Bonaire Suite vs. Curacao Suite

Aruba Bound

Q. What is the highest floor of the Radisson's Bonaire and Curacao Towers?
A. The Bonaire Tower is four floors and the Curacao Tower is six floors.

Q. What are the differences between the balconies of the Bonaire Suite and the Curacao Suite?
A. For the Bonaire Suite, there is only one standard size balcony and it is off of the bedroom. There is a "Petite" Bonaire suite, but it does not have a balcony, it is "French" or step out balcony. (far left side of photo).

For the Curacao Tower, there are two Curacao Suites on each floor. Each suite has two balconies: an oversized balcony (or first floor patio) off of the living room and a standard size balcony off of the bedroom. The oversized balcony directly faces the ocean and overlooks the swimming pool.

Q. What is the difference between the Bonaire and Curacao Suites?
A. The Curacao Suites are a step up for sure. Curacao Suites: two balconies vs. one, bedroom slightly larger, a little further from the ocean, but less restricted view. There are 2 of these suites on each floor.

The Bonaire Suite in my opionion has a nicer bath. The Bonaire Suite offers a separate full size stall shower and separate whirlpool tub.

Bonaire Petite Suites offer a wet bar as well as an oversize "power shower" in lieu of the full suite's stall shower and whirlpool tub combination.

The Curacao Suite bedroom is a slightly bigger and the living room has a wet bar. I did not like the bathroom quite as much as the Bonaire Sute.

Depending on personal preference, the Curaco Suite has a slightly larger sink counter than the Bonaire Suite's.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Review Jolly Pirates Aruba

Aruba Bound
Along with our friends and their two daughters we took the "Sail, Snorkel and Swim" excursion with Jolly Pirates. It was a nice day and the kids especially had fun. Most of our boat was filled with a family attending a wedding in Aruba and they were having their own little party, but not rowdy or drunken. We did the normal snorkel stops of Arashi and Malmok. Unfortunately there was a great deal of moss like seaweed, part of nature, but just kind of creeped me out swimming amongst green blobs.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Jolly Pirates Aruba Rope Swing

Dd on Jolly Pirates Rope Swing

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Tamarijn Aruba All Inclusive Beach Update June 2009

Aruba Bound
Having found them to have the best pricing, we have now used MCM Tours for over ten years when booking our Aruba travel. Knowing, for our original all inclusive visit to Aruba, that we needed a spot which was affordable for a family of ten, it was they who originally suggested the Tamarijn because of the quality of the food, value and oceanfront rooms. MCM Tours has always provided us with the best customer service and are quick to respond to our questions. All around they are a pleasure to work with.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Good news for US citizens living (or wanting to) in Aruba!

Dutch American Friendship Treaty recognized by the Aruba Courts

July 8, 2008

In a recent decision Extreme Sports/Kunder vs Ministry of Immigration the administrative court of Aruba (“LAR”) has declared local immigration statute non-binding vis-à-vis U.S. nationals. According to the Court, section 7 sub 3 of the National Ordinance on Immigration (“LTU”) conflicts with a higher regulation i.e. Dutch American Friendship Treaty.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Whats going on with the food in Aruba?

Aruba Bound
A recent post on the forum at "Whats going on with the food" made us realize that we are not the only ones who had similar experiences during our recent visit.

Though we stayed all inclusive at the Tamarijn which also entitled us to the privilege of dining at the sister resort the Divi Aruba, on a few occasions we chose for variety, to eat outside of the resort.

Since 1995 we have eaten there at least once each and every trip. More often than not it was our first and last meal on the island. We loved this place so much we named one of our cats after it.

This trip, we were just not that excited about the meal. They have a new menu with all of the most popular "old" items. Some of the recipes though have been changed. I had their

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Our Upcoming Trip to Aruba

Aruba Bound
Wow! Lots of activities for our upcoming trip.

C.'s first Aruba snorkel excursion was on the Tranquilo. This time we thought she might enjoy something a little less sedate and a lot less serious by taking the "Sail, Snorkel, Swim & Swing " with Jolly Pirates.

C. has never been to the Natural Pool. Jerry has driven there by Jeep two times previously, but let's just say that it is not one of his favorite things to do. For his dd, though, what will hopefully be a more pleasant experience, we are taking an excursion about the Aruba countryside, including the Natural Pool, with Aruba Off-Road Adventures. This will be in lieu of our customary one day drive around the island.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

AA Reduces Flights to Aruba

Curacao falls outside American Airlines’ economy measure Tuesday, June 03, 2008

WILLEMSTAD – The two daily flights from Miami to Curacao are not as yet included in American Airline’s economy measures. AA will reduce the number of direct flights between New York (JFK) and Aruba drastically. American Eagle will cancel her flights from San Juan to St. Maarten and Aruba, and Bonaire will be left with 3 weekly flights.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Jet Fuel Price Monitor

The price of jet fuel up 69.3% in one year.

Link: Jet Fuel Price Monitor.

We are all complaining about sky high airfares, but will we soon be complaining there are not many airlines still in business?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Aruba Travel with an ATM Card

Before traveling with an ATM card, please check with your bank's policies regarding lost and stolen cards. Rules and policies are not necessarily the same as they are with credit cards where you are normally liable for only the first $50 in charges.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Some Aruba Questions

Q. Is snorkelling gear included at the Tamarijn Aruba?
A. Snorkel gear IS included in the all inclusive package at the Tamarijn.

Q. Where do we go to snorkel?
A. For snorkeling in Aruba, use this as your guide. I also wrote about recent snorkeling experiences in Aruba here. Another great way to snorkel in Aruba is an excursion aboard Tranquilo. Their southside lunch cruise goes to a reef which is on the outside of the barrier islands and there are no other excursions which go there. You can read about our experience on my Aruba blog here.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Aruba All Inclusive With Kids?

Q. I am planning a visit to Aruba. My hotel choice is going to be based largely on what activities are available for teenages (ages 14-18). I am very interested in an all inclusive facililty. Your response would be greatly appreciated.

Shopping In Aruba

Lots of things to buy-- Clothing, t-shirts, souvenirs, jewelry, electronics, cd's, perfume, liquor, Aruba Aloe products, Delft, Douwe Egberts coffeee, Dutch Cheeses- especially gouda.

ECCO (Mainstreet- Havenstraat)- Tablecloths, Delft Blue, Souvenirs & Gift items, Handicrafts,T-shirts & Sweatshirts

Vendors stands- small paintings, license plates, possibly some jewelry The Stands themselves are located between the cruise ship dock and marina

Sunday, March 23, 2008

For Restaurants Check Out

Aruba Bound

For restaurants, besides my own Aruba Bound! website, check out Restaurants Aruba Dining Guide.

We like gourmet dining and do not have any closer than a 45 minute drive from our home, so do like to splurge on vacation and do eat soup to nuts.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

18th March- Aruba’s Flag & National Anthem day

Aruba Dushi Tera (Aruba Precious Country) is the national anthem of Aruba. It is a waltz written by Juan Chabaya 'Padu' Lampe (lyrics) and composed by Rufo Wever (music). It was accepted as the anthem on March 18, 1976 and is is written in Papiamento.

Aruba Precious Country

Aruba beloved home
our venerated cradle
though small and simple you may be
you are indeed esteemed.

Aruba our dear country
our rock so well beloved
our love for you is so strong
that nothing can destroy it. (repeat)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Lightweight Luggage

Aruba Bound

The xcase-XL is the worlds lightest luggage set.

  • 30" Upright (30" x 20" x 12"; 9.8 lbs)
  • 26" Upright (26" x 17" x 11"; 7.2 lbs)
  • 20" Upright (20" x 14" x 10"; 5.2 lbs)
  • A blend of Polycarbonate and ABS mixed into the shell makes the xcase-XL extremely durable
  • The Polycarbonate allows the shell to absorb impact by 'flexing' when under heavy stress
  • The ABS is then added to give the shell greater rigidity so that it will not permanently deform when under pressure but instead 'pop' back up into its original shape
  • The xcase-XL is the lightest set meaning now with the airlines becoming more and more restrictive on allowable weight, this lightweight luggage set is definitely your best choice of luggage as it allows you to pack more

Thursday, March 6, 2008

All Inclusive Sports & Activities Tamarijn Aruba

From their website:

"3,000 square-foot Divi Winds Sports Center

Open daily: 7 AM to 9 PM

30-ft outdoor rock climbing wall with 4 belay stations

Air-conditioned fitness center with equipment including:

Monday, March 3, 2008

Delta to add red tags to some luggage

Passengers of Delta Air Lines' international flights will soon be seeing lots of red tags.

Starting this weekend, the Atlanta-based airline is issuing the red tags to keep track of approved carry-on luggage.

Spokeswoman Betsy Talton says the purpose of the new plan is to maximize overhead compartment storage space for passengers.

She says there are no plans in the works to use the tags for domestic flights.

Delta officials will place the red tags on carry-on luggage at the check-in counter or the gate.

The airline currently allows each passenger to bring aboard one piece of luggage with total length, width and height dimensions of no more than 45 inches and a maximum weight of 40 pounds.

Passengers may also bring aboard another small item, such as a briefcase, purse or tote bag.

Aruba for Kids

Is Aruba For Families?

Aruba is definitely a family island. Aruba does not even offer any advertised "couples only" resorts. Admittedly, there is one resort which has an "adult only" tower and a resort which is "adult only",  but this is far from the norm.

Most resorts offer Kids Clubs and those which do, some are free of charge.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Private Romanctic Dinners in Aruba

For private dinners, think romance, in Aruba check out some of these options:

Radisson Aruba
Dinner by Torchlight

Hyatt Regency Aruba (something in every price range)
Pampered in Paradise
Sunset Service

Morning Star Sailing Cruise
The Oyster - Romantic Dinner Sail Too expensive for us, but comes highly recommended as VERY romantic.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Tamarijn Aruba All Inclusive- The Rest of Our Vacation

The Rest of Our Vacation
Most of our days were spent lounging on the beach with plenty of food and swimming mixed in. Jerry and I were usually the first ones in the family to head over to the breakfast buffet. Nice and quiet that time of day with no line for omelets and usually easy to secure a table close to the beach. For myself there is always that stupor for the first few days, just relaxing in a chaise lounge looking out over the gorgeous turquoise waters trying to keep my eye lids from closing until the time I ultimately lose the battle. No book needed these first few days. My grandmother was very content watching the kids enjoy themselves as she watched from her chaise lounge under our palapa. The rest of the time she kept herself busy reading or doing a crossword puzzle. Walking just those few short steps from the patio to the chaise lounge was perfect for her. Dh does what he does best, reading under the palapa until he eventually dozes off. His idea, and mine too, of a perfect vacation.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Tamarijn Aruba All Inclusive- Activities

Upon check-in you will receive a packet of information which includes a list of resort activities. There was a wide variety of things to do at the Tamarijn. The activities center-towel hut was open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Our family’s main use was to pick up towels and floats. Most days we exchanged our towels for fresh ones late in the day when our time at the beach was over. This way when dh went out early in the a.m. to sit under the palapa waiting for the rest of the family to awaken he always had fresh towels.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Tamarijn Aruba All Inclusive- The Beach

Another huge topic among those who discuss the Tamarijn on the internet is “the rocks”. There are a substantial number of rocks the length of the resort. Yes, it was a slight inconvenience, but again there are many positives of the Tamarijn which outweigh this aspect. In comparison to the high rises, the Tamarijn’s beach may not have as sandy of a bottom, but unless you own a lanai at the Playa Linda or an oceanfront unit timeshare at the Riu, there are no resorts where you are able to walk from your room directly out onto the beach. If all you know are high rise beaches, all you know is a beach full of people. We had been reading and hearing how wonderful the beaches were at the low rise resorts for many years. It took a stay there and seeing it with our own eyes to be convinced that yes there are beaches in Aruba which are not crowded.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tamarijn Aruba All Inclusive- Food, Beverage & Service

Food was excellent throughout the resort and there was always something for everyone, including the children. For food the buffet opened at 7 a.m. and Pizza per Tutti stayed open until 1 a.m. For a quick snack there was always popcorn. They made it throughout the day at per Tutti and dish it out fresh in small paper bags. My niece complained the pizza at the pizza bar had a "plain" sauce and was "not like the NY pizza she was used to.” She was supplied with oregano and red pepper- problem solved. We were totally taken by surprise by some of the more upscale offerings on the lunch buffet such as scallops in wine sauce and paella complete with shrimp, mussels and crabmeat (though I think that may have been imitation). Steaks at the Red Parrot were better than the ones we have been served on Princess and Celebrity Cruise Lines and in my opinion, the Churasco was better than El Gaucho's. The portions were also more than plentiful. If I had to say any part of the food was lacking it was the cakes for dessert, though there were a couple of chocolate cakes that were not half bad. Is anyone going to allow his vacation to be judged upon desserts?

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Tamarijn Aruba All Inclusive- Rooms

After a quick hello to my Mom, we went to the front desk and received our bracelets which would allow us to eat and drink throughout our stay, towels cards, and room keys and, we rented a key to the safe for the duration of our stay. Again, we booked four rooms through MCM Tours and had asked them to request for obvious reasons, that at least my grandmother’s room, be located on the ground floor with the three remaining rooms as close together as possible. In checking in we discovered that all our rooms were adjacent on the first floor of the 1300 building- 1313, 1311, 1309 and 1307. We were off to a wonderful start.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Tamarijn Aruba All Inclusive- Getting There

Our family members flew from Newark on Continental, American from Miami and dh, dd, and I, from Atlanta on Delta. Considering we were flying the Saturday before, and only 3 days before Christmas, things did not go too badly.

Living in Atlanta, most of our flights no matter we travel are via Delta. We have flown Delta 3 times, twice domestically, in the past 6 months and our experiences have been good and bad. Probably all in all it breaks down to 40% poor, 40% mediocre and 20% excellent. Even booking flights eight months in advance for this trip, the discounted fares were already sold out. The discounted first class airfare on the way to Aruba was less expensive than a round trip coach fare so we took that, and used frequent flier miles to upgrade to first class on the return.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Tamarijn Aruba All Inclusive 12/22/07- 1/3/08 Overview

We are a family of 10 comprised of my grandmother age 94, who treated the family to this trip as a Christmas present. My parents are in their late 60’s, my brother, husband and, myself - mid- 40's and children- aged 11, 13, 15 and 18. My parents have been to Aruba three times previously having stayed at the Holiday Inn and most recently the Radisson. My husband and I, have been to Aruba quite a few times having staying at a variety of resorts along Palm Beach, some numerous times: Divi Phoenix timeshare, Playa Linda timeshare, Wyndham (now Westin), Allegro (now Occidental), Radisson and Hyatt.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Aruba Dande Groups

Aruba Bound
"The name dande, also spelled dandee, comes from the Papiamento word, dandara, meaning to revel, to carouse, or to have a good time. After King William III of the Netherlands declared slaves to be free, the celebration began.

A group of five or six people usually performs these rituals, though more can join in. These people accompany a singer and travel door-to-door to express their best wishes for the New Year. Repetitive songs, with the chorus which includes the phrase "ai nobe"(aña nobo) – "new year" – sung after each phrase. The celebratory travel usually leads to the houses of the singers' friends and family, where the host collects money in his hat to give to the group. Certain districts may have their own dande groups performing on the second day of the year."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Is Dine-Around Plan Worth It in Aruba?

I think the reasons you do not see people raving about this program are numerous. The Aruba Gastronomic Association's Dine-Around Program is only worth it if:

a.) you will be dining at those particular restaurants
b.) be prepared to spend additional to do so. In other words, "read the fine print."
c.) don't have your plans written in stone unless you wait to purchase the plan when you arrive on the island. The fact that there are surcharges and a limited number of restaurants participate in the program (more on that to follow) in comparison to the total number of restaurants on the island is just for starters.

For more of my thoughts on this... more

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Aruba Pagara

New Year's in Aruba is brought in with a huge bang. There is a tradition on the island of lighting firecrackers and fireworks on New Year's Eve. The noise of the firecrackers and fireworks are thought to rid oneself of the evil spirits from the past year in order to begin the New Year anew.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Christmas & New Years at the Tamarijn

Aruba Bound
Our family of 10 had a wonderful Christmas and New Years at the Tamarijn Aruba topped off by a beautiful fireworks display accompanied by champagne at midnight on New Year's Eve on the beach between the Divi and Tamarijn. Christmas decorations at the Tamarijn and Divi were gorgeous. I feel very very fortunate to have finally experienced an Aruban Christmas.

If you have read a sufficient amount of reviews on the internet, you will have an excellent idea of what to expect from this resort. It is NOT a 5 star resort, but we have stayed at the Radisson and Hyatt on Palm Beach and found a much more relaxed atmosphere at the Tamarijn.