Aruba Trip Reports

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Aruba Divi Phoenix

August 3 - 10, 2002 by Nora and Louis

This was our first trip to Aruba since 1999 and we were eagerly anticipating going. We were scheduled to leave from Newark on US Air but Mom Nature had other plans sending in a huge storm the evening of the 2nd that forced some delays including ours on the 3rd. US Air / Newark was completely unorganized the morning of the 3rd as far as getting passengers lined up in queue to wait for check in. Passengers were milling around literally without US Airs help. Our flight was pushed from 8:00 am departure to 10:00 am departure that meant that we would lose our first day. My sister in law and her daughter were to be staying with us got out as scheduled on Continental. We were able to get a 3:00 pm flight to Atlanta with a flight to Aruba on the 4th via Delta on tickets issued by US Air. The morning of the 4th we were at the airport bright & early and checked in only to discover that US Air had issued out tickets incorrectly. Thanks to the ticket agent at Delta we were able to get things straightened out and on our way.

8/4

The new airport is great! Much easier in getting around. Aruba was the same as I remembered it. Lots of sun and the ever-present breeze made for great weather practically the whole time. Got our luggage, grabbed a cab and headed over to the Phoenix. Grabbed our swimsuits & snorkeling gear and headed down to the beach. Ahh! The water was the way I remembered it! Nice and warm. Spent the day just hanging out and enjoying happy hour. Dinner was in the condo with a walk to The Wyndham for ice cream afterwards.

8/5

Breakfast in the condo, took a walk to check out the "nature trail", hit the beach all day, El Gaucho at night for dinner. I can't say enough good about El Gaucho. The meat is unsurpassed by anything I've had in the US taste and texture wise and their prices are cheap considering the amount of meat they serve you.

8/6

Basically just in the water all day having fun. Much much windier at night, it really howled!

8/7

Still really windy even by Aruba standards. The Octopus morning snorkel trip was great! Breakfast and lunch included. Captain Jethro makes two stops the first being at the Antilla. Did you ever go snorkeling in whitecaps? That's how choppy the water was due to the wind. The second stop around Malmok was much calmer and the snorkeling was really nice. I will go again on the Octopus. Shopped in Orangestad in afternoon. Dinner that night in the condo. Dinner that night was at Salt & Pepper. This is a pretty nice place across the street from the Hyatt (?). Slow service but the Tango Restaurant next door has live \ Tango Dancers to watch while you are waiting. Good food, I will go back there.

8/8

Rented a Daihatsu Terios from Economy. Drove out to Baby Beach. Baby Beach is sort of like a mostly shallow lagoon. It was more crowded than I thought it would be but still the snorkeling was fantastic. Out by the breakers where the ocean enters the fish were numerous and huge, big enough to catch and eat! Dinner that night was The Flying Fishbone. It was pretty eating on the beach. I had shrimp in bleu cheese sauce and it was excellent. Fresh sweet, firm shrimp in a tangy cheesy sauce. My wife, sister in law and her daughter opted for the surf & turf (beef & shrimp) that had a okay piece of meat but drenched with a straight out of the can tasting gravy. The shrimp were good however. As this place is very pricey they should be able to serve food of a quality that is in line with their pricing. I have to say that overall The Flying Fishbone was kind of a disappointment and will probably not go back.

8/9

Sadly the last full day. Saw the Butterfly Farm, my daughter loved it (so did us adults). Took a drive past the lighthouse and bounced around to the natural bridge seeing the gold smelter ruins and old church along the way. Seeing the raw untamed shoreline get to be breathtaking in spots. At the gold smelter ruins now there is a very reasonably priced souvenir van. Prices lower than anything in Orangestadt. Had our last ocean swims in the afternoon and stayed in the water pretty late.

8/10

I hate leaving Aruba, had the buffet breakfast at Playa Linda, took one last look at the grounds of The Hyatt and took off for the airport.

From what we were told the Phoenix is sold out except for a week or two in April. That's good news. Can a expansion onto the land bordering the polis station be in the future? I hope so. I like the Phoenix and we had a great time but I do have some mixed feelings. On one hand they have added the souvenir shop, prettied up the ground floor around the elevators, added three gas grills for outside cooking and added posted daily activities which is very nice but I saw the beginnings of some maintenance oversights that were not very reassuring to view. The paint on the front of the tower has come off in several areas, the drip irrigators were not being used for watering (the watering is being done by hand), the elevators broke one day, there is rust on the stairs going up the front of the tower and out of three grills only one was working.

Don't get me wrong, The Phoenix is a great resort and we are happy we bought there but maintenance is an area that cannot be ignored especially in a saltwater climate. The grills used are standard Charbroil units, it would be better to have two commercial grade grills that could stand up to climate / expected heavy use. With the competition from Marriott at the other end of the beach this will be even more important.

Hope to be in Aruba next year!