Aruba Trip Reports

Our Honeymoon (Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort Aruba)

April 4 -April 10, 2004 by Mark & Diana

Kissing Honeymooners Mark & Diana

The Holiday Inn was not the best hotel to have stayed in. The tower that we stayed in had two elevators. One was always broken and the other one was extremely slow. The towels provided were always a different amount of towels and sometimes not enough for two people. Beach towels were provided with a plastic card given at the time of check-in. Each person received a plastic card good for a towel that could be traded in for a clean towel daily until the date of check-out as shown on the plastic card.

If we could afford it, next time we will stay at the Radisson, Hyatt, or Marriott which are probably quite expensive. The front of the Radisson was beautiful.

Sunday, April 4

We arrived and checked into our hotel approximately 10pm in the evening. Our room was on the 5th floor and had an ocean view from the balcony off to the side. There were not many restaurants open so we ate at Tony Roma's across the street. Tony Roma's price was reasonable and the ribs were fantastic in comparison to the Seabreeze Grill and some of our other dining experiences on the island. It was great to finally be in Aruba, something we had looked forward to for so long and it was worth the wait.

Monday, April 5

Romantic Sunset

We didn't do much on Monday. We walked around the street in front of the hotel and had breakfast at Mi Dushi's in front of Playa Linda Resort, next to the Holiday Inn. There was a place next door called Charlie's that served burgers and hot dogs; but, we never made it to eat here. For lunch/dinner, this place was called the Argentianian Grill; but, we never had a chance to dine there. For breakfast, we both had onion bagels with cream cheese. This was about $8.50 with 2 sodas. For dinner, we ate at the Texas de Brazil which is actually a Texas restaurant; but, there isn't one in Houston. It offered 13 different kinds of meat and a fabulous salad bar. The little shrimps in wine sauce from the salad bar were delicious. The cinnamon plaintains were delicious as well. It was served with cheese bread and garlic mashed potatoes which were excellent. The price was $34.95 per person excluding drinks. We played on the beach a little during the day and my shoulders were slightly sunburned.

Tuesday, April 6

Natural Bridge

Today we went on a full day Jeep Safari with ABC Tours. We met some people from Michigan and the father of the family John drove us around all day. The ride was really rough. We visited most of the top spots including: The California Lighthouse, the Natural Pool, the Ostrich Farm, Chapel of Alto Vista, Indian Cave, Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins, San Nicolas Arikok National Park and Baby Beach.

At the Natural Pool and Baby Beach we did a little snorkeling and took some underwater pictures. When we visited the Ostrich farm, some of the tourists fed the ostrichs and we saw how they incubated the Ostrich eggs in a man made machine.

Tonight we ate at the Hyatt Regency Ruinas Del Mar. The food was okay; but, avoid the mushroom ragout. It was so salty we couldn't even eat it. Be prepared to pay for your dinner here. Water was $6.50 and there is no such thing as free refills for iced tea. Our meal was $116 for two people which included 3 mixed drinks, iced tea, 2 soups, 2 entrees, and 1 side dish and no dessert. Service Charge is already included here too.

There was a nice water fountain at the restaurant which was located between two other restaurants at the hotel. There were black swans in the pond and exotic parrots in cages on the sidewalks around the pool upstairs from the restaurant.

Wednesday, April 7

Snuba with Red Sail Sports

Today we went on a half day snorkeling trip with Red Sail Sports on a catamaran behind the Hyatt Hotel. For breakfast, I picked up 2 croissants with egg, bacon/ham, cheese & 2 drinks for $10 from Mi Dushi's. The croissants were very good and warm as they should be.

We stopped at three places for snorkeling. I got so excited that I used up the only disposable camera we had with us on the first stop at Catalina Bay, a shallow bay with calm waters where you can see colorful tropical fishes. At the second stop was the famous Antilla Wreck, a 400 ft. German freighter that sank in 1940 when the Germans decided to blow up their ship rather than surrender to the Americans in WWII. The third stop was the Arashi Reef, where you can spot parrotfish, angelfish and octopus from time to time. This day wasn't as windy as the sunset sail we took on Friday. The snorkeling on this trip was awesome, not that Baby Beach was bad at all. I saw so many unique fish and the warship was only about 20 feet below the top of the water. The extreme snorkelers (Snuba) could touch the top of the ship; although, you are not supposed to touch anything. There were thousands of minnows around the ship. I swam off to the left front side of the boat where I saw lots of reef and coral along with many beautiful and colorful fish.

We got a rental car about 3pm and that evening went downtown where we ate at Don Carlos Italian restaurant on the water next to the Renaissance hotel. The view was fabulous. The pizza was great and the lasagna was decent although pricey. I think this meal was about $86 with a couple of mixed drinks and iced tea. One neat thing was they showed you a HUGE live lobster if you choose that item on the menu. We took a picture of the lobster in the waitress's hand just for fun.

Thursday, April 8

Holiday Inn - Pool Area

We went to Baby Beach and did some snorkeling and then did some shopping downtown where we bought several souveneirs at these stores like flea markets on 1A. I was told the shopping prices were better on Main; but, we never had time to go shopping in this area. This evening we ate at the California Lighthouse, La Trattoria Italian Restaurant. It was a little pricey; but, the food was decent. The meal for 2 including 2 iced teas and 2 mixed drinks was about $93. Be careful because the service charge/tip was already included; but, on the receipt, it said that it was not. The view of the sunset was absolutely gorgeous. We walked on the beach and saw a performance of Mexican dancers with beautiful colorful costumes behind the Holiday Inn. I do give them a good grade for entertainment.

Friday, April 9

Holiday Inn - Our room view

We attempted to go to De Palm Island and some other beaches; but, there really wasn't much to see. We went to Wendy's for lunch and ate at the Seabreeze Grill (hotel restaurant) that evening. At 5:30, we went on a Sunset Sail on a catamaran with Red Sail Sports. It was quite windy and although the sunset was beautiful, I probably could have done without this activity due to the amount of wind. If you are on the upper deck, hold on tight. The Seabreeze Grill was the worst meal we had the entire week. I had BBQ ribs, potatoes, and grilled veggies which were all very cold. My husband had grill mixed seafood, french fries, and grilled veggies which were also very cold. Our waiter never bothered to check on us when my husband wanted another beer. The service here was also very slow. The worst part, my husband was sick at 4am in the morning from what he ate at the Seabreeze Grill. My advice to you, avoid this place like the plague. The view was nice with the sunset; but, would just suggest walking on the beach for that. The last night of our honeymoon in Aruba we walked on the beach. There was a performance of synchronized swimmers behind the hotel in the evening which was stunning. The young girls were just teenagers but the performance was beautiful.

Saturday, April 10

La Trattoria Restaurant

Our flight was at 3:00pm. De Palm's Tour bus picked us up at 12:15pm which is a good thing. I grabbed breakfast at Dunkin Donuts across the street. You had to fill out cards leaving the U.S. and coming back. Make sure you keep those with your passports as you will need them. The lines were long so make sure you show up at least three hours early to the airport for departure back to the U.S. You have to check in your luggage and check it back out before you check it in for final departure to the U.S. There are delis and a sbarro at the airport; but, I would suggest eating before you head to the airport since the lines were long and you don't want to cut in to your check in time.

Overall, if you can afford better than the Holiday Inn, go for it. We stayed in Aruba Tower, one of 3 buildings. One elevator was broken the entire time and the other elevator would give you an occasional scare and was very slow; although, it seemed to do the job. One day the maid service never changed our towels and on other days they were inconsistent with the number of towels we were given. We drank coffee one day and the next day they replaced the coffee; but, provided no cream or sugar. Our room was so-so; but, if you are a really clean person, I would suggest a better hotel.