Aruba Trip Reports

Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort

May 16 - May 22, 2011 by Carolina and Ken

Aruba Forum Profile: CGO


This trip report is very long. I know, I have no edit button. I got absolutely grilled last year for my report being too long, so I apologize now for the length. If you do not like long trip reports, please turn back now......


The start of a perfect day! We were upgraded on Delta to First Class from ATL-AUA. My husband is platinum, so that was wonderful. We started out in the crown room for a bloody mary before we boarded. Plane departed a little late but landed early, so far, so good. We land in AUA to beautiful weather. We pick up our bright red Nissan Xterra through Econo in record time and are off to the Amsterdam Manor. Our room is ready early, we check in, get upgraded to a very spacious, gorgeous 2 bedroom suite over looking the famous divi divi trees on Eagle Beach.... as I said, a perfect day! We then head back to the airport to pick up our dear friends from the UK, Susan & Dave. We have our long awaited reunion and head back to the AMBR to get them checked in. We all meet back at the beach bar for the BB Party.
We had a great time at the BB Party. We are reunited with Amy & Mike, who we met previously. Cecille (Cammie Dog) was on our flight down. We met Beach Girl and her husband, Jeff. Jeff and I talked serious politics and solved all the world’s problems while I drank Mojitos and Pina Coladas. We also met Linda, who had on the most beautiful shoes and turquoise jewelry! We also met Ann and her husband, who live on the island part of the year, so great to get their perspective. Always great to put a name with a face and you can’t find a better location than the beach bar at the AMBR.

We then headed out for some dinner to Salt & Pepper with Susan and Dave. We split a pitcher of Sangria, the men had beer. The boys had sandwiches and Susan and I had salads. A few tapas to round out the meal. Still good food at S&P, that has become a Day 1 Dinner ritual for us. We then met up with Amy & Mike at Rembrandt’s. We had very good mojitos for Amy & me, gin & tonics for Susan, Dave & Ken had beer, Mike had wine. After a few drinks here, it was getting late for first night, so we headed back to the hotel.....only to stumble in to Soprano’s. For some reason, Dave thought doing shots of Southern Comfort were a great idea and to wash them down with Long Island Iced teas! Not sure why, but that is when things started getting weird. We met some strange folks at Sopranos that night, but it gave us a good laugh. We danced and was a late night for all of was so good to see our friends, we started the trip off with a bang!


What I have been dreaming of....We sleep in, get ready and go to Linda’s Pancakes! I absolutely dream of the dutch pancakes and can’t wait to eat them. Sad to hear about Linda’s passing recently. Business is still going strong and the pancakes were just as good. Susan and Dave joined us.....3 of us had the pancakes, 1 plain, 1 banana and I think one with bacon and apple. Dave got eggs and bacon, I think. We then headed to Ling’s to do some shopping. While in Ling’s a tornado hit nearby.....We heard the heavy rain and the guy who helped us out to the car with our groceries video’d the tornado on his cell phone and showed us. Crazy! Glad no one was seriously hurt. We bought the usual stuff...Beer, Beer, some beer....I have to have my Diet Mtn Dew (that is my coffee) and some interesting snacks. I love to buy chips and cookies from other countries, just a weird thing I do when traveling. We were able to get everything we needed. I did have Ken (my husband) drop by Super Food so I could buy a loaf of fresh crusty bread to go with my cheese and pick up a few chocolate croissants. I love the bakery at Super Food.
We hit the beach for a while (in the back row since we were so late, but the back row at AMBR is a whole lot closer to the beach than some places) We ate lunch at the beach bar at AMBR. Susan got a fruit salad (this will come in handy later), Dave got a shrimp salad sandwich, Ken got a sandwich and I got the chicken satay. All meals were good, especially considering the view and location! I love that there is decent food right there on the beach, you don’t have to dress, or even move out of your chair if you don’t want to, they will bring it right to your palapa! To me there is absolutely nothing more relaxing in this entire world than floating on the lovely yellow mat type rafts that the AMBR provides. They are so comfortable, you could almost fall asleep just bobbing slowly up and down in the warm caribbean. ahhhh, I think I am back there now.....

We head back to the room to dress and get ready as this is our special dinner at Carte Blanche. There are not enough superlatives to describe how wonderful this meal is. If you have a chance, can get reservations, have it in your budget, then do it! It is not a meal but an experience. From the moment you arrive, you are greeted by Glen and Dennis and made comfortable. We had made our reservations with Susan & Dave and Amy & Mike, so we were all seated together at one end of the "bar". Funny, Susan and I chose to do the 5 course, while the men did the 4 course. Susan and Ken did the wine pairings, while Dave and I had Sex on the you, didn’t I! Obviously, we did not really have "sex" on the beach, we were all dressed up, and that would have been awkward, right? No, that is one of the special drinks that Glen makes and it was wonderful, we joked all night it was the "best sex" I had ever had, how I would like to have more sex, that joke just does not get old. So, many glasses of sex on the beach were had. Ken and Susan enjoyed every single glass of wine on their pairings. Food wise, we started with a shot of cream of potato and ginger soup. It was heavenly. Really delicious and I love ginger. side note: I had written a big email to Glen and Dennis and was a bit nervous about this meal. I admit, I am not an adventurous eater and have the palette of a small child. I eat NO seafood whatsoever, so this was a big what if for me. I ended up speaking to Glen the night before and we were all on the same page. I must say, the menu they adjusted for me was perfect. The first course was a medley of all the things I love. Mozzarella, tomato, basil pesto and pine nuts.....Prosciutto with mango......Beef carpaccio with tomatoes and walnuts. It was all delicious. The fish eaters all had a trio of Ceviche, crab salad and a piece of ahi tuna. All amazing per the fish eaters. For our second course, I was served a lovely mediterranean plate of artichoke hearts, couscous, a skewer of pork tenderloin, roasted red and yellow peppers and a dollop of goat cheese. It was heavenly! The 3rd course for me (2nd for Ken) was a typical Dutch meal. A plate of white asparagus and potatoes with a piece of Salmon on top of it. Mine was adapted and instead of Salmon it had a piece of Ham on top. Very tasty! After this, we had a little break, got up to stretch, took some pictures while the next course was being prepared. I have been remiss....Dennis explains each dish he has prepared for you as he presents it to you. Glen shows you the wine bottle and tells you about each wine as he pours and presents it to you.
Wow, the next course (4 for me and 3 for Ken) The most amazing piece of beef I have ever eaten. We were given a plate of mashed potatoes, a sliced small baked potato with a dollop of sour cream. Atop these were a tenderloin of beef, cooked to perfection and a beef rib from Argentina that was slow cooked all day and literally fell off the bone.
We talked about grabbing the pan of extra ribs and hitting the door, they were THAT amazing. Everyone ooohed and aaahhed about their meat.
The last course was dessert and you had a choice between a strawberry something or other or might can guess which one I had. It was a perfect brownie type chocolate confection with chocolate mouse, some berries and a chocolate curl to top it off. It looked a bit over the top, as I am purist, that nothing can beat a brownie with ice cream, but this really was delicious and not over done at all. Dennis even packed each of us an extra brownie to bring home. We all relaxed and enjoyed our desserts. We were not rushed out or made to feel like we had to run. We took pictures together and said our goodbyes. Dennis and Glen were polite, engaging, entertaining and good at what they do. They have really created a one of a kind establishment and we can not recommend it highly enough.

We did end up hitting a casino this night...I remember as I got VERY sick at the casino....not just a side note, but a big note. Okay, so to explain this night.....I have been on weight watchers, had lost 37 pounds, had therefore, not been drinking much, as I eat when I drink....anyway, I started drinking Monday at 8:40 am, in first class you are served a mimosa as you board, followed up with a few more bloody mary’s and some fresca vodka drink that was the special.....on to the BB party with mojitos 2 for 1, pina coladas 2 for you can’t drink just 1, right? Sangria that night with dinner. Followed by Linda’s pancakes, chicken satay for lunch, pina coladas again, all that sex on the beach.....and a very rich dinner. Honestly, I have had "stomach" issues my entire life....I really thought I had food poisoning and needed to go to the hospital. I can not even begin to explain how sick I was that night and for 6+ hours. Thank goodness for the 2 bedroom suite with 2 full bathrooms. I could get sick all night long and my sweet husband not even know it! How thoughtful of me, right? Did I mention when I went home sick from the Casino, Susan drove home with me and the boys stayed at the tables....something about you can’t leave a heater.....whatever! I still shudder to think of that night. I will say, in hind sight, I do not believe I was poisoned and do think that it was the combination of not drinking and eating well for so long then doing the exact opposite with a vengeance.


I was exhausted from the night before and very skittish about going anywhere. Too bad, this was explore the island day, right? I took everything I had in my medicine chest (I bring a lot thinking Murphy’s law, if you bring it you won’t need it) So, with all the stomach up/down and in between medicine I could find and take, we set off for our island day....I did pack some plastic bags and toilet paper just in case....just sayin’....

We travelled through town and down toward the baby beach end of the island, hit the "other" lighthouse on the south end, drove to the windward side, got out, took some pictures, then headed back to baby beach. Got out, great day to be there. Did not stay very long, and headed back to San Nicolaas and to Charlie’s Bar. We had a much easier time finding it, since we had been there before. Susan and I both read both of Daniel’s books (An Island Away & Under a Blue Flag) which helped me find Charlie’s our last trip....Thanks for the detailed writing Daniel! The beer was cold (for the others water for me) Susan got the Paella, Dave and Ken got steak sandwiches. This part was funny. I am sure I was still green, not feeling well at all. The older gentleman, not our waiter, and not the much older gentleman, if you know who I am talking about..... He asks me, what did I order....I told him I was not eating. He said, Then what are you doing here? At first I thought he was joking....he was not! The look on his face was comical. So I ask, if possible, could I get the roll that the steak sandwiches came looks lovely and nice and bland on my would have thought I had asked for a kidney....Dave and Susan can back me up on this....It was laugh out loud funny, the look on his face, as if he could not be bothered. Well, he did return with my roll, it was perfect, just what I needed. He rolled his eyes at me like a slot lie! We all have our off days.

We take a few pictures and head back out....As we are passing through town, I ask if we can stop on main street, next to the grocery store, I think Kong Hing, is a lovely little stall type store that sells hand made jewelry from Peru. I have bought lovely "teacher gifts" here for the past few years. In just a few minutes, I have all my shopping for my kids teachers, a few of my friends and we are back on our way to the Amsterdam Manor.

We chill out for a bit and strangely enough, Ken starts to feel very sick. By now, I am back on the mend. Susan’s fruit salad from Tues is fresh in my mind, I tell my husband that is what I need. So he calls down to Mango’s and asks if he can get 2 fresh fruit salads to go. We eat the salads and I feel so much better. Just what my body needed. Ken, still not feeling much better. So, I head out to dinner with Susan and Dave and we go to Bingo’s. I am still gun shy on the whole eating thing, so I get a Goat Cheese Salad, my favorite menu item at Bingo’s. Susan gets the same and Dave gets the Shrimp appetizer that he really loves. A pretty tame night, we head back to the hotel. I was kind enough to get a plain sandwich made up and brought back to my thoughtful....


Tranquillo sail day! Feeling much better, thank goodness. We did wake to cloudy skies. We get a bite to eat at Mango’s before heading over to depart on the Tranquillo. A major downpour comes and some get skittish and back out from the snorkel sail. It ended up, as soon as we departed, things cleared up. We got really lucky and had beautiful weather for the sail. I can understand those that stayed behind as it was raining and the thought of sitting on a rainy boat is not much fun. The good news is, we only had 10 on the sail! A great number for Anthony’s boat in my opinion. Susan, Ken and I went on the sail. Dave, Amy and Mike stayed behind. Drinks were flowing for all....except me, still gun shy and we had a big night ahead of us! The sail was perfect. I highly recommend the Tranquillo. We anchored inside the reef by the southern end of the island where we have been before. You can climb over the dock and drop in on the outside of the reef in very shallow water. Great views and Ken took some great underwater pics....they are included for your viewing pleasure. He bought a water proof housing for his SLR last year and it has worked very well. Susan had only been snorkeling once before and she did beautifully. This is a great trip for someone who might not be so sure of themselves or a regular snorkeler. We also had our best view of Venezuela this trip. It is pictured in the attached photos. The pea soup was just as good as we were told and I don’t even like pea soup, or so I thought. Perfect after getting out of the water. The sandwiches were good too. Ham was one option and a shrimp salad was the other. The ham was great for me and Susan thought the seafood was tasty. The sail back was very relaxing. We arrived back on time and had a drink at Bugaloe to kick off our bar crawl night. We all headed back to the the Amsterdam Manor....Amy, Mike and Dave were a few beers up on us with their bar crawl starting early, lasting all day in the high rise area...Dave getting to go to Hooters for the first time, I think a life long goal of his.. We all got cleaned up at the hotel and met back at the Manager’s Reception at the AMBR. We had our drinks and hit the road.
We all crammed in the Xterra (that is 6 adults, 2 up front-Ken and Dave and the 4 of us in the back, Mike, Amy, Susan and myself) We got very "friendly" back there! We started up at the lighthouse with sunset and cocktails. The drinks are actually quite good. We did not eat, so can’t comment on the food. The view was beautiful, got some cute photos. There was a party on the terrace and we decided not to crash it....2 of us could have pulled it off, but 6, I don’t think so? We then made our way to Amadeus. We had drinks and we ate dinner here.....that is where we went off track! The eating. I think I was still gun shy eating and drinking..... The food at Amadeus was very good. Ken and I split a schnitzel and spatzle. It was plenty for the two of us. Susan and Dave split a shrimp appetizer and an entree, I think Amy and Mike had soup and salads. I got the apple dessert that was like a deep dish apple pie, strange consistency but very good.
Our next stop was the Old Dutch Bar. This is just the perfect pub. Practically empty. I have attached a picture of a tile that was on the wall behind the bar, that caught my attention....translated it says " A woman can fake and orgasm, but a man can fake an entire relationship" I thought that was funny. Bar tender was very friendly, we chatted, had drinks, the boys played darts. Making up rules as they go along.....who ever heard of a game that did not have a winner? Still don’t get that..... We ended up at Cafe 080. We just love this local joint. Very relaxed, sitting out under the trees all lit up. We had drinks there and headed back to the hotel. That was a LONG day! We have lots of pictures from this day. For some reason, many pictures of me kissing other men (the waiter, the bartender, etc) in Amy’s pictures, I had to explain that to my young kids, they thought mommy was "cheating" on daddy....I had to explain, daddy was standing next to mommy.


We slept in, ate at Mango’s for breakfast then hit the beach. Susan was kind enough to get us a palapa near them. We had no issues getting palapas the whole time. One more reason we love Eagle Beach. This was a really great low key day. I think this was the day we had beautiful weather, yet a very ominous storm was out in the distance toward Venezuela. It was strange to have such gorgeous weather and just stare out at this storm in the distance where you could see it was pouring and see a big tank vessel out in the ocean, see it disappear in the storm and reappear. We had lunch from the beach bar at AMBR. I had it delivered to our palapa. The special was wonderful....ham and gouda on a croissant with goat cheese and honey! Served with fries and a fruit skewer. So nice to have such tasty food, an amazing view and not even have to get up from your lounge chair. Again, I thoroughly enjoyed just laying on the rafts at the AMBR and floating in the warm water.
On this day, we decided to start happy hour early and we walked over to La Cabana as their happy hour starts an hour before AMBR’s does. We enjoyed 2 for 1 drinks with Dave, Susan, Amy & Mike. We then headed back to the AMBR and got ready for dinner. We ate at Gianni’s a favorite of my husband’s. He had to get his giant parmesan wheel fix for this trip. Since that meal is only served for 2, Susan was kind enough to get it as well. Dave had a seafood pasta and I had the gnocchi. I also had the mozzarella, basil & tomato salad and a chocolate brownie & vanilla ice cream for dessert. It all hit the spot. From there, we went to make our deposit at the casinos. The boys enjoy roulette and the girls tried our luck at the slots. I think Ken won some the first night, then Dave had a good run the next and maybe Susan the following on slots....we all kind of took turns. Nobody had any huge wins but no big losses either. Just entertainment with a few free drinks. We might have ended up at Salt & Pepper for a drink this night late....That was fun and we ran into a gentleman we had met at Cafe 080 and bought us a round of drinks on Wednesday. The sangria at S&P is enjoyable. I could have stayed later this night.....I think Ken and Susan were tired, Dave and I were ready to shift gears!


I think we went to Linda’s again on this day. I know we hit it twice, so this makes sense to me. I absolutely love Linda’s so, I think it was Saturday. If so, I had the same banana pancake (not with the liquor and whipped cream, just plain with bananas) We had another very chilled out day, hit the beach, maybe ran to Super Food to buy Dutch stuff for my mother in law. Ken’s mom is from Holland and we always buy her coffee, cookies, any Dutch things that she might enjoy. I always buy candy for my kids from other countries we visit. Half the fun when we get back is figuring out what it is, what flavor, etc. I also bought the Dutch Pancake mix and Dutch syrup so I could re-create Linda’s at home (not so much, but my husband did try very hard, had to actually google the words in Dutch to follow the directions) So we stocked up on that stuff before we leave on Sunday.

This day we went for a great walk all the way down Eagle Beach with Susan and Dave and we ate lunch at Matthew’s. It was very good and the walk was perfect! I love checking out all the other resorts along the way, wondering what they are like, checking out the people... This day we basically hit the beach, the beach bar and then got ready for our dinner plans at Flying Fishbone. Again, the Nissan Xterra did a great job getting us where we needed to go. We had really enjoyed FF last year and Dave and Susan had never been, so off to Saveneta we went. We were seated on the left side, instead of right from last year. We were not in the water, but 2 tables back. It is much more crowded than Passions, but the food is very good. We started with cocktails, again a mojito for me. Susan had prosecco and the boys had beer. I had the carpaccio of artichoke, probably one of my favorites dishes anywhere in the world. It has goat cheese, artichokes and some other yumminess, I don’t even know what it is, but it is worth the trip, just for that dish. For an entree I got one of the 2 dishes on the menu that do not involve fish, (not really, but close) again I do not eat fish, I know, crazy..... It was a truffle tortilla....It was okay, honestly, not as great as the dish I got last year. Also, my dessert was so-so. It was the chocolate cake with caramel ice cream. The artichoke dish was my highlight. Ken and Dave got the Seafood History of Saveneta and both enjoyed it. Susan had lobster I think, but I can’t remember...just have to wait for her trip report. We did get some really lovely sunset pictures here. The sky turned that incredible red, almost like lava....we had one like that last year when we were at Passions on my birthday. So the pictures this year were worth the bill! FF is great but the price is steep too! I think last year, having the guy next door cut 2x4 with his circular saw was so funny, this year, we got to wonder about the apartments next door to FF (to the left if you are looking at the water) Does anyone know about these? They looked very interesting but tiny!

On the way back "home" as we think of the AMBR, we decided to stop off at Pincho’s. We had an excellent meal there last year and Dave and Susan had never been. I also wanted to see if their mojitos were as good as I remember....So we put them to the test. It was neat, as we walked from the parking lot to the restaurant, they had that marina club blocked off having a wonderful family celebration for a girl’s first communion. It was lovely to see the celebration going strong. We bellied up to the bar....the boys had beer, Susan joined me for their sensational mojitos....yes, they are as good as I remember, I have their secret, so I can make my own at home! They were so good, I had to have another. Delicious! From there, we made our way back home or to the casino...I am not sure to be honest with you. The boys like their roulette. One night I actually walked down to the shops to poke my head in and at least I had something to show for my loss of funds! A lovely bracelet from the shop behind Senor Frogs!

Another night, we decided to show Dave and Susan the Marriott, they had never seen Marriottville, so we took them on a tour of the 3 properties. They could not get over how big it is. The Casino at the Marriott was packed! We ended up leaving as it was too crowded. We tried the Radisson too, and they would not open another roulette table and there were people waiting to sit at the only one open, so we left there too. We hit the Holiday Inn Casino the most (not sure why) Dave & Susan have won there before. We hit most of them and I would duck out to find a gift or two at the shops, as I am not much of a gambler. I did find a very funny gift at TH Palm.

If you do not have a sense of humor, skip the rest of this......So I hear these ladies giggling and saying they have to buy this for a friend.....I am intrigued so I take a look. It is a package with a large life saver looking thing in it...when you read closely, it is a circular piece of soap called The Weener Cleaner. It comes with directions and everything. I laughed out loud. My father in law, who passed away right before Christmas, would have loved I bought it in memory of him....and to show everyone. It was bought earlier in the week, and it came up often in in, if the boys were to go down to San Nicolaas (as the taxi driver tried to take them) they would need to use the Weener Cleaner....(joking about the guys getting hookers by the way) We got such a laugh out of it. The package says "one size fits most men" so that just opened the door for the boys to joke about it was not big enough/too big for so and can imagine. If you have a party to go to that needs a gag gift, seek this out on the web, I am sure you can find it.....It claims "personal hygiene has never been so stimulating"
Moving right along.....



Boo Hoo....our last day and on the early flight, unfortunately! We ate at Mango’s again, very good spread for breakfast. We like the continental breakfast, plenty of variety for us. Cereals, meats, cheeses, fresh fruit, boiled eggs, yogurt, pastries, al kinds of bread, tea, coffee and three kinds of wonderful juice. We went down to the beach for one last look and then packed it up to leave. We brought all our left over food and beer (I know, you are thinking, left over beer, what is that? but crazy enough, it happened) over to Dave and Susan, so they could enjoy it during their 2nd week! (so jealous) We were given a lovely bottle of champagne too by the AMBR, I hope Dave and Susan had wonderful mimosas on the beach! We said our goodbyes to Amy, Dave and Susan and headed out to the airport.

We hate to say goodbye to such dear friends and our "home" in Aruba, the Amsterdam Manor. I can not say enough about how incredibly well we were treated. I would recommend this hotel to anyone! We got to the airport, returned the car, again no problems or issues with Econo, would use them again....At the airport, we breezed right through the lines, no problems at all (they did want to take a long hard look at my eye lash curler, apparently they have not seen this before?) We had plenty of time at the gate, boarded on husband, platinum man again, got upgraded the day or two before...he told me and asked "was I okay with that"? I thought, you are kidding right? So, sweet man that he is, he called Delta and got me upgraded too. Poor thing had to "waste" some of his points, but I am glad he did. I would not have been to happy back in coach with him all spread out in first class. So the trip ended as perfectly as it began, with cocktails and plenty of room.
Flight was uneventful, on time and we were back by 6:30 pm to 2 excited kids, one tired mother in law and one action packed last week of school for the kids! I am room mom for the kindergartener and helped with the class party for the 3rd grader, swim team had started while we were in that is why this trip report is so late!

I made a crazy last minute decision that I am so happy about. During this stay, I really enjoyed the light weight waffle weave, cotton robe that the Amsterdam Manor provides in their rooms. I hemmed and hawed about buying one. I have to say, I am sitting in my kitchen typing right now in my robe. I absolutely love it! I know I will get a lot of wear out of it, the perfect weight and feel, not too hot, and embroidered with the AMBR logo. I love wearing it and will remember our wonderful trip every time I put it on....and since I do shower regularly, that will be all the time!

I know this is entirely too long. If you have any ?? please feel free to ask away....I am more than happy to answer any questions I can. I did submitted the pictures we took (some with my point and click and some with my husband’s fancy SLR) I tried to tag them all, which took FOREVER! I hope you enjoyed the report and that maybe it will help you plan your next trip to Aruba!

All the best!