Aruba Trip Reports

The Mill Resort & Suites

January 14 – 24, 2011 by Glenn and Donna

Aruba Forum Profile: Glenn

Hey there everybody; glad you could make it. Everybody grab a drink and have a seat and I’ll tell you about our most recent trip to Aruba. It was fun, relaxing and, well, it was Aruba.

Didn’t we just come to bed a few minutes ago?

Man, 2:00am seems to come awfully fast. But, it’s Aruba travel day! We know it’s going to be a long one but the reward at the other end is well worth it. Anyway, the limo picked us up at 4:00am and it’s about a 30 minute drive to the airport from our house.

We check in at United, pre-clear U.S. Customs and Immigration then after a short wait, we board our United flight to Chicago and we are on our way.

Landing in Chicago, we head towards terminal 3, stopping at Chili’s on the way for breakfast. We then find the gate for our American flight to Miami. As we’ve had to do previously, we get our boarding passes for the flights to Miami and later to Aruba at the American departure gate. Again, for non-U.S. passengers transiting through the United States, the airlines don’t share passport data with each other. That’s why we have this extra step.

Around noon or so, we board our flight to Miami and we are now on the second leg of our journey.

We get a bite to eat, find our gate and wait for the flight to Aruba. We are delayed about 20 minutes as the in-bound aircraft is late arriving, but we make up time on the way to Aruba and we actually get there about 10 minutes early.

113B? Well, here’s 112, so it must be…ok, let’s try this again

It’s just after midnight and we’re checking in. Everything was going smoothly until the man behind the front desk instructed the security guard to show us to our room. Granted, our room was kind of tucked away near the spa, but you’d think the security man would know where every room is. Eventually though we found it, unpacked and fell into bed.

Is this really Aruba?

I know from following other people’s adventures, especially from about September onward that the island has received more rain than it usually does. When we were there it rained but always at night. There never was a day when we couldn’t get some pool time. Daytime weather was usually a mix of sun and cloud with temperatures around +30 celsius.

One result of the rain is that in 30 years of going to Aruba, I’ve never seen the island so green. It really looks quite beautiful.

Tried and true, and many things new!

Yes, this is the restaurant section. We tried to balance things between going to old favourites, and trying some new places. I can honestly say that I don’t think we had a bad meal, either food or experience, during our ten days there.

Here’s our tried and true list,

  • Sole Mare
  • El Gaucho
  • Mulligan’s (Links at Divi)
  • The Old Cunucu House
  • Linda’s Pannekocken and Pizza (x2)
  • Il Faro Blanco – California Lighthouse
  • Hard Rock Café
  • Rembrandt’s Café (x2)
  • Salt & Pepper

And, here are places we tried for the first time.

  • Amadeus
  • Tropic Yogurt
  • Soenchi’s
  • Breezes
  • CILO
  • Casa Tua Pizzeria

Our favourites were El Gaucho, Amadeus, Sol Mare, The Old Cunucu House and Soenchi’s.

A shadow of its former self

Talking Renaissance Marketplace here. I’m not sure what the plans are for this place, but our favourite stores, JavAruba and Jewels in Paradise are no longer there. I think they want to make the entire side facing the harbour into a "restaurant row". It might eventually be one of those places that has one or two restaurants and the rest of the place just sits empty.

Take your time hun, I’ll just be out here looking cool.

You’ve probably figured out that this is the shopping section. We had a wonderful time shopping. Donna still prefers shopping in Oranjestad as opposed to the hotel area. I spent much of my time on the stone bench just outside Little Switzerland, watching the cruise passengers.

I normally get Donna a present when we come to Aruba. This time it was a Gucci watch from Gandelman’s. I got her another one as well, a funky little thing from Little Switzerland.

I think we’ve gone too far. Maybe we should turn around and go back.

No, not us. I’m talking about some of the cruise passengers. You guys must have seen them too! You know, you’re driving to O’stad from the hotel area on cruise ship day. As you go around the Valero station, you always see a few people who have strayed from downtown and have that unmistakeable look. One wants to keep walking and the other wants to turn around and go back towards the ship.

Anyone need another drink? I do, I’m getting kind of thirsty here.

You want terrible towels? Don’t go to Pittsburgh. Come to The Mill.

Donna and I pride ourselves on being respectful guests. Because we were so well-behaved, on about day 7 of our trip, we actually got, and I’m not making this up, 2 bath towels, 2 hand towels and 2 face cloths. Towels, or the lack of them, seemed to be the topic of conversation around the pool.

First there was just us, then this whole crowd of people showed up!

Monday, Jan.17 was supposed be bulletin board party day. Donna and I got there at 5;00 and at first we were the only ones there. Within a couple of minutes, Gary and Nancy arrived, then Laraine and Ken, and within about 10 minutes we had to get a second table. We had a great time. I think there were around 17 or 18 in attendance.

The highlight of the bb party was when Karen arrived. At first I was unsure of what to say but she put us all at ease. It was so wonderful to see her again.

See you all again next year.

And you thought the Bible was just for salvation

It certainly can be for that, but at The Mill it can serve another purpose as well. Stay with me on this one. Most small appliances have short cords. The kitchenette in The Mill is a bit awkward, in terms of where the electrical outlets are relative to where you think they should be.

Anyway, the only outlet close outlet for the coffee maker was up on the wall and to the right of the end of a shelf. By putting the coffee maker on top of the phone book and the Bible, we were able to plug it in. Still, all kidding aside, it is a potentially hazardous set up.

Time for change

After 5 years at The Mill, I think we’ll be looking for another place to stay next January. Not one big thing, just a lot of little things that, when added together, say maybe we should look at a different place to stay in Aruba.

We’re open to suggestions. We might look at going back to Amsterdam Manor, or to Manchebo.

I’m walkin’ to New Orleans

With the great respect Fats Domino, we didn’t actually walk to New Orleans but it sure felt like it. Normally, for the return trip, we pre-clear U.S. Customs and Immigration in Aruba. However, U.S. Customs no longer opens early to clear that 7:00am American flight to Miami. That means we clear customs and immigration when we get to MIA.

Passport control at MIA is a long, long, long walk and train ride from concourse D. Once you clear the formalities, and if you are connecting to another flight, you have to go through security again.

This whole thing might be eased starting in March when American changes its schedule. Apparently the morning departure will change to 9:00am. U.S. Customs and Immigration should be open then to clear that flight.

Well, that’s a wrap for another year.

Again, we had a wonderful time. All the things which make Aruba so special for us are still there. We’ll be back again next year.

Everybody take care.

Bye for now,