Aruba Trip Reports

Riu Palace Aruba

September 20 - 28, 2008 by Karen

September 20 – happy birthday to me

Up at coming 6a......Wow, 5-10 minutes tops from checking in suitcases at Jet Blue (JFK) to clearing security. It pays to fly early.

The Bad thing about this flight is that you don’t have Direct TV for most of the flight due to flying over water. And now they make you PAY for the movies – not gonna do THAT.

At one point we were actually over 40,000 ft at 576 MPH (the "live" maps are cool).

Really easy check in at the hotel. Got a MOST fabulous room with the best view I've ever had.

Bad thing is that dinner at a la carte only 6:30p and 9p. You have to make a res between 9-12 ea AM but the res's are usually gone by 10a. Fortunately for my birthday they did do my first night res by email. The KRYSTAL "gourmet" resto was pretty darn good. But they didn’t give me a birthday cake like they should have done – disappointed. I guess I should have mentioned it (again) when I walked in.

Hotel has a small casino. I did not lose – in fact I was ahead about $200 when I left if you include the casino in town.

September 21 – Sunday

Fortunately I knew about the towel/chair game so had to be up at 5:30a to secure a chair with umbrella at the pool. The palapas on the beach were gone by 7:30am. I feel sorry for anyone who arrives after about 10-11a. No seats anywhere.

Met nice peeps. Very few kids......
Internet is $10/30 min so I initially didn’t do this...........
Japanese resto – not really all that Japanese. Perhaps my least fave but it was still good – I did not try steakhouse.

Mon – Wed 22-24

SOSO....Early to rise...........chair, sun, lunch, sun/swim, drinks, dinner, drinks.....

Monday I went to Amsterdam Manor for a happy hour to meet peeps from the Aruba boards. That was fun.....especially meeting ArubaAmy (thanks Amy for the birthday drink).

I am already losing track of what happened when (and I dont do much!), and I can't read my notes......computers have spoiled us....everyone's handwriting has suffered.

I did find out that there's a Dunkin Donut open down the beach at 5:30am but they are not consistent so I only went once.

On various days, Buffet resto for dinner (surprisingly good), Italian (one of my faves),

Thu Sept 25

Entire day waiting for my AMAZING dinner at Matilde (French Resto) in town. They knew me by name when I arrived I guess bec. I was the first one there.

OMG, that dinner Thursday night was AMAZING!!! the a la carte was VERY expensive (and I would have done it but the tasting menus were very nice, so I chose one of them. (the hostess knew my name when I walked in just before 6pm and remembered that I was offered complimentary wine.

I guess I should tell you that I WAS supposed to go on Sun 21 but they emailed me the prev. Friday and told me they had to do emergency repairs - cancelled all weekend reservations, and offered me Free Wine if I still decided to come to the resto for dinner that week)

  • 2 glasses white zinfandel (stick a straw in the bottle - it was delicious - sorry I didn't get full bottle)
  • Amuse bouche
  • Gravlax with onions
  • Potato/garlic soup
  • ostrich filet with veggies
  • sorbet
  • beef tenderloin with veggies

even tho' tasting portions, I was STUFFED when I left.

Now just explain why after this tremendous meal I had a dream about Gordon Ramsey?

I had gone into town early to look at shops, stopped on Renaissance Casino. Penny slots, $10 investment, got $220. Stopped.

Fri Sept 26

Nothing to report except that I started packing Friday night for Sunday departure. Dinner at Gourmet resto again. Still delicious. Very good service in all restos.

Sat Sept 27 – last full day

The usual line-up to make dinner reservations. And check with De Palm tours to find out departure time Sunday. You want to pick me up at WHAT time Sunday (10am for a 2:15p departure). SOSO (same old, same old) again..... Italian resto at night. Really good.

Sunday Sept 28

I hate departure days.

The airport procedures READS like its difficult – two complete departure procedures for Aruba and you go thru US customs there – but it was EASY, EASY, EASY, and I had so much time. No good shopping (that is, no high quality stuff). A few expensive snack places to eat.


  • Beach – beautiful but there's the chair/hut issue, ditto pool
  • Room – fabulous, spotless, cleaned on time, sometimes got turndown service. Mini-bar and the fridge actually kept things COLD. I SHOULD have gone to Ling or Hong King and bought low-fat milk. Oh well, next time.
  • Pool – very nice if a bit to warm at times....Decent enough drink service at pool. The walk-up and swim-up bar are "attached. Not the type of pool if you do lap-swimming...
  • Food – Really good for an AI, and contrary to prev. comments on the buffet, I thought it was GREAT (didn’t do lunch, but breakfast and dinner were good). Krystal-gourmet, Italian, Japanese, buffet, steakhouse (didnt do SH)
  • Bars – several to choose from in PM, but in day, only the pool area and the sports bar (sports bar has internet, games, food (microwaveable), drinks, coffee etc). Table service at lobby bar and one outside bar. Premium liquors. a few small tips go a long way.
  • TV/Cable (its important to me): Still saw most of my programs. They had my local ABC, CBS, NBC....Plus BBC America which I love ("cash in the attic"). And I fell asleep during the 2hr premiere of Greys Anatomy)
  • Shopping - I never did make it back to down again, so no Aloe, no jewelry. But I think the secret is go to town EARLY in the AM as soon as shops open (thereby missing your opportunity of course to get a pool chair).
  • General - I love that you can walk almost the whole length of the high rise section on either the street or beach side. They have security that does a great job of keeping non-Riu peeps off property from the beach side.
  • Other Hotel - Westin - I actually WAS going to try one of the restos in the Westin on Fri or Saturday but when I went in to get information they (concierge) was very stand-offish and did not give me really any info about food or menus - only hrs for the resto. I guess they dont need MY money.

Lastly, I am sure I forgot stuff. I lead a boring life on VACA (that's a good thing)