Aruba Trip Reports

LaCabana

March 31 - April 7, 2007 by Corrine

Aruba Forum Profile: Corrine

This was our seventh trip to Aruba! The drama started on Friday night when Jamie's friend Elyssa's mom called hysterical because Elyssa never told her about the Banana Bus plan. Elyssa also had erased my message regarding the bus on their answering machine! She also doesn't want 18 year old Elyssa leaving the resort area at night. This is great because now the onus is off me to be the bad guy!

Saturday

Up at 5am Saturday morning and the town car is not coming!! We called and they quickly dispatched another. Our excellent driver got us to the airport in 20 minutes! The lines at JFK were insane. We made it to the gate with about 30 minutes to spare! I took Elyssa's first class seat. We sat on the runway for one and a half hours. The pilot said JFK, LGA and Newark were all backed up. I loved first class - I had all the water and drinks I needed, plus a great lunch and free movies. I watched Pursuit of Happyness which got boring. We arrived near Aruba and now there is a 30 minute wait to land! We circle and circle and finally land.

Customs is a zoo! We run all the way to the right and get through fairly quickly. Upstairs, everyone's bags are off the belt and thrown together along with another flight's. There was much grumbling about this throughout the airport. I picked up my phone at Fastphones with no problem. We decided to take a cab to LaCabana and rent a car there from Optima, to save time.
We get out and there is a huge line for a cab. You can take the boy out of Manhattan, but you can't take Manhattan out of the boy. Steve proceeds to run to the end of the line to the left, which is also where cabs are first entering the lane. He cuts off 20 people on line and hails a cab himself! Our driver Ricky tells us that Royal Carribbean has paid $2 billion for developing rights to the southern shoreline where the oil tanks currently are. The tanks will move to the San Nicholas area, while this area will developed with docks for boats, restaurants, hotel, and a shopping mall. What a nightmare that sounds like! They are also moving the downtown government offices up higher from the shore near the ballfields so the employees get to work easier and make room for more shops.
We get to LaCabana and have a quick check-in. It is now 4pm and we were supposed to be here around 1pm. No one has eaten but me and everyone is cranky. Hubby needs to see March Madness at 6pm. Run to the room put stuff down, run to Lings. As usual the bakery items were wonderful, plus I recommend Vita Lu crackers with Massoam-Merkass cheese as well as the Venezuelan yogurt. I picked up bags of my Douwe Egbert coffee. We ate quickly at The Captain's Table, which was a pleasant surprise. Hubby runs to watch game at Champions, girls go off to Cadushi Lounge at LaCabana and of course momma is in the room unpacking and putting groceries away!

Meanwhile, I had called Verizon Wireless before I left and they gave my phone the ability to call international. My phone worked, no problem! But they charge $1.29 per minute plus Setar charges, which I haven't gotten yet. I gave the girls the rental phone and kept mine, just so we could keep in touch. The rental was used for all local calls and calling home. Charles' phone was easy to use and worked great.

Sunday

Spent the day at the beach, got a hut in the back at 8:30am. Mostly a South American crowd, very few Americans, which was fine by me. Later, as we drove uptown I saw the new RIUs. Way too big! There is already a tenant in the Mall up there. Ate at the Moombas BBQ. Food was OK, but the atmosphere was peaceful and relaxing. Our gorgeous waiter looked like Adrian Brody, but with a normal nose, leaving 3 women at our table tongue-tied. Martin has graduated college in Holland and came to Aruba for 6 months just to hang out. But he is bored and is homesick for Amsterdam, so he will be leaving soon.
The evening went downhill from here. It seems the girls had met 2 boys from Holland and a girl from Venezuela the night before. They were meeting them at Moombas (I didn't know this). Steve and I left the girls at the outdoor bar with the band and went to Champions to watch the Mets Opener. We had our first Amstel Brights - yum! Champions is a great little place to watch your favorite sport (all different TVs) and is very kid-friendly. We went to pick up the girls and they were sloshed! I took them back to LC where they were going to hang out at the pool with Maarten, Sandar and Fabiana, their new friends. I went to the LC desk to get an access code for the computer lounge and the man tells me that the pool is closed! I go out looking everywhere for the girls and I can't find them anywhere! Later back in the room, the desk clerk called me to see if I found them. That was very nice of him. I wasn't ready to call security yet. Steve comes back from the HI casino at 1am. He had to call Optima as the battery on the car was dead. It seems one of the girls left the door open in the back and the indoor lights were on all night. Thank you Optima for quick service! He too goes looking and can't find them. By 2am, I am dressed, in a panic. The door opens, there they are both red-faced, staring at the floor. Apologies and tears were flowing! They were at the lounge and then the beach, supposedly. I went nuts. Poor Elyssa was in tears, telling me she was sooooo sorry to upset me, after I was nice enough to take her! I threatened to take away Jamie's new car if she does this again. The girls were back in their unit on curfew for the rest of the trip......

Monday

At 8am, still tables avail at the pool. Security was strict - I saw people with Villas towels removed as well as children from the hot tubs. Good! We played bingo. Steve went into town and got 8 hours of time for $15 at the Internet Café at the Seaport Marketplace. Time to meet Maarten, Sandar and Fabiana. They are very sweet kids, Sandar looks like a model, yikes! The boys were in Aruba temporarily, working on internships in International Business and Hotel-Management. They told me their stipend barely pays for rent, drinks and food. I am on to them - they hang out with girls from LaCabana and get to use the pool and beach. Later I found out Elyssa was buying them food and drinks on her mother's charge card! I wound up buying them drinks and lunch too later in the week, they are certainly are charming, plus I work with students and am a sucker. That night we had dinner at Gasparito.

Tuesday

I am fried and in pain. I changed tanning salons and used 15 SPF in the sun instead of 30 SPF. One of these decisions was an obvious mistake. Spent the day shopping! Started at Linda's for an excellent breakfast of pancakes and omelettes.
Steve made friends with the lady who sells cigars at the Mill. She said Rio was a great restaurant and the owner was a nice guy, and doesn't know why they closed. Unfortunately, Jan, owner of Eleanora's went bankrupt. The girls and I did damage at the Ren Mall and Seaport Marketplace. We got stuff at Rage (thank you Elaine), Shabby Chic, DuFry perfumes, Gimmick and Sole to Sole and gifts at Aruba Aloe. Traffic to leave town was impossible! The main drag was bumper to bumper to 2pm. We tried the smaller roads, but they were all one way, pointing in! Hubby's blood pressure was rising fast. Later, it took over an hour to get to the Flying Fishbone!
Traffic was snarled up to the airport! We missed our table right on the water. Unfortunately it was another cloudy sunset, but still nice atmosphere.

Wednesday

Beautiful day at the beach. The thicker clouds were welcome as it was over 90 degrees. The cruise ship people situation is getting ridiculous. They are being dropped off in droves after 11. The beach and water are now mobbed due to these people. I am wondering why they aren't being dropped off at the beaches before The Paradise Villas, where it is not crowded. I learned from Aruba Today that a big townhouse complex is being built near Malmok Beach and that 3 investors are bidding to build north of the Marriotts. So far, the Canadian company Fairmont Group is favored as they are planning a 5-star Hotel.
At 5pm we all went on the sunset cruise on the Mi Dushi. It was a great time, the crew were great, the drinks were strong, the music good. I hate birds, but their little 11 month old parakeet "Dushi" was a sweetheart. Afterwards, we dropped the girls off at LC and went to dinner at Texas de Brazil. Then we went across the street to shop at TH Palm & Co. Steve got a beautiful silk shirt.

Thursday

We were able to get a table at the pool at 8am. Fabiano left with her family. Steve and I went to dinner at Madame Janettes. Then we went to Café Chaos. Thank you, Amy! There was a band there that was fabulous and we stayed for hours! I believe the lead singer used to sing at MJ's. What a great bar, nice people!

Friday

We needed to switch rooms. The LC staff made it quick and simple. We had a last day at the beach with Maarten and Sandar and met some of their friends, one of whom wants to come to NYC for vacation. The kids all went jet skiing and tubing (I suspect on Elyssa's mom's charge card). We had a great lunch at the Islander Grill, while learning many new things about Aruba and Holland. One tidbit was that the man who owned the property at Marandi and Havana Club is now a multi-millionaire. No wonder he sold-out! We hung out at the beach until sunset. Had dinner at Fololi's at LC.

Saturday

Got up early for the first time. Steve had a quick checkout at Optima. We had a delicious breakfast at Amici's. Our great LC staff got our stuff (way too much stuff for 4 people) and got us in a cab quickly. I dropped off the phone at Fastphones, and it seems someone called them for an extra hour at $14. Neither girl will fess up to this, but I suspect my daughter was the one with the nerve. No line at Delta, yippee, but the rest of the process was awfully slow. The process of trying to find your bags at US Customs is stupid. There are now more places to eat and drink by the gates. I bought some swiss chocolate, stroopwaffels and Balashi Beer. We were very depressed to leave! I watched "The Holiday" on the plane - it is much better than the reviews said.

Final thoughts

Another wonderful vacation! I hate all the building - investors have discovered Aruba! The traffic was really bad this time. I hope there will be some regional planning. But the Aruban people were wonderful, thanks to those that gave us directions through-out the week. The weather, the food, the beaches - there is no place like it!

LaCabana

A wonderful home away from home - the staff is friendly and efficient, the pool and beach are beautiful and well maintained. There was no fly problem and the Islander Grill is now screened up. The computer lounge is simple to use, but pricey. The meals at the Islander Grill were excellent, The Captain's Table better, pizza good and Fololi's OK. However our units seriously need renovation! The tiles and countertops are stained, the furniture a bit beat up.

Casino

Never stepped foot in one, but Steve did a couple of polka tournaments. He beat a Red Sox fan three times at the table. Our night was made! I think he was down $200 for the week.

Restaurants

  • The Islander Grill was excellent, the Captain's Table is getting better.
  • Fololi's ($40 for 2) was hit and miss. I liked my Penne Vodka but the calamari was awful.
  • Moombas BBQ is OK - I liked the steak. But the atmosphere cant be beat! First it is quiet and then it gets hopping with live music. Dinner for 4 - $120 plus drinks.
  • Gasparito's is hard to find but worth it! I had my best meal of the week - Shrimp Coco. We started with a spinach ravoli with Kerry-Kerry, a kind of fish. I hate spinach and fish - but this was incredible. Steve couldn't decide between sauces for his fish entree, so Henry made a dish with all three. Delicious, as was the wine. The atmosphere was quiet and relaxing. Dinner for 2 - $100. 15% was already on the bill, but we left an extra $10 for great service. As it is also an art gallery, I also bought a small watercolor of an old cunuku house by a local Dutch artist.
  • The Flying Fishbone - They have added more tables so service is not so rushed. Service and food were excellent, much improved. I had the shrimp in the blue cheese sauce, Steve and Jamie steaks and Eyssa a salad. Dinner for 4 was $170.
  • Linda's Pancakes was delicious as usual. Breakfast for 4 was $40.
  • Texas de Brazil - We eat in one of the best churrasco restaurants in NYC. This was almost as good! Everything at the salad bar was delicious. The meats were very good, especially the flank steak. Service was great. It is now $43 pp.
  • Madame Janettes - The food was great especially Steve's snapper with crab on top. Grandma Elisabeth's bread pudding takes 30 extra minutes and it is worth it. Save room! Dinner for 2 was $120. My only gripe is that it was packed with little kids and we could barely hear ourselves talk! I am hesitant to return. I don't want to pay those prices for that atmosphere when Gasparito and FF are so quiet.

I only regret I didn't get to Bingo or Chef's Table.