Aruba Trip Reports

27th trip to Aruba - Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort

September 2 - 15, 2012 by ~Amy~® and Mike

Aruba Forum Profile: ~Amy~®


Flew Delta with a connection through Atlanta (MSP-ATL-AUA) – got a free upgrade to First Class since my husband is Gold Medallion with Delta. Newer planes so they had the TV screens in the seatbacks and you’re able to choose any movie you wanted.

Our luggage arrived right away so headed to the Duty Free and picked up a nice bottle of Laurent-Perrier champagne which was a much better price than at the local grocery stores. We were celebrating my birthday and our anniversary on this trip so there would be plenty of bubbly during the next 2 weeks. We actually dubbed this the "Sparklers and Desserts" trip since we seemed to get those at most dinners. LOL!

Rented a car from Tropic. Waited in the usual spot for about 10 minutes or so until Hans’ son showed up to take us to the rental car in the airport parking lot. A lot of construction at the airport because of the new round-about they’re installing. We left the parking lot behind another (local) car and turned left (the usual way). Car in front of us started turning around in the middle of the road – had no clue why until we realized there were cars coming toward us in a single lane – yep, we were going the wrong way (no detour signs.) So turned around and headed right…. and then detoured back along a single lane of the old road - very confusing. There are a few signs but you need to be alert because there are a lot of one ways by the airport now. We made 3 trips to Savaneta during our stay so finally got the hang of everything as we went through the detour each time.

Grocery Stores

Arrived on a Sunday at 2pm so we decided to hit Kong Fui for supplies since I had decent luck with them in April. This time we really couldn’t find anything we wanted and the shelves were kind of picked over. So I suggest we try Cheng’s which was also open on Sundays. Cheng’s was MUCH better – better selection of everything and they even had an in-store wine tasting going on which we did partake in (and bought a bottle.) Plus, Cheng’s is right down the street from Amsterdam Manor so this is our new "go to" store.

Amsterdam Manor

Arrived at Amsterdam Manor and barely had one suitcase out of the trunk when Napoleon appeared out of nowhere to take our luggage for us and get us complimentary rum punch while we checked in. We booked a one bedroom suite but they upgraded us to one of our favorite 2 bedroom suites with the large balcony in front. Walked into the room and they had just finished with new upgrades – new colors, new artwork/photographs on the wall, and new, bright linens and pillows for the beds. Looks beautiful – love all of the color. Also loved the Brights on ice that were waiting for us, too!

And in true Amsterdam Manor fashion, the morning of my birthday they delivered a birthday cake and a nice bottle of champagne to the room. It was the start of one of the best birthdays ever.

Beach and Weather

The beach and beach bar at Amsterdam Manor was our hang-out for most of the trip. Beach was beautiful, water clear (could see small silver fish swimming around), and never had a problem getting a palapa at any time of day (morning or afternoon) - nice and quiet and relaxing which was just what we wanted. Weather was great for the entire 2 weeks – sunny (almost no clouds some days) and windy. Had a 15 minute shower one night at around 7:30pm – and a brief (less than 5 minutes) sprinkle one morning as we had breakfast on the balcony – which was followed by a lovely rainbow.

New places for us

Nos Clubhuis – this little bar is located on the 2nd level above Hadicurari. Great place with some local snack food and a BBQ on Sunday afternoons. Great view, too!

The Local Store – they’re located downtown on the 2nd level right across the street from Iguana Joe’s. Very cheap (and cold beer) and some local snacks like pastechis, etc. Very quiet when we were there but they said on the weekends they have a DJ at night and it’s a hopping place. Great views, too, and nice to have a few cold ones while downtown at decent prices.

Aruba Bob Snorkeling – we met Stuart (our guide) and another couple at Club Arias in Savaneta for some snorkeling with a water scooter at Mangel Halto. Great time and Stuart is a fantastic guide and very patient! If you’re looking for something different other than the usual boat snorkel trips, this is it! The current is a little strong sometimes (hence, the water scooters) as you go out quite a ways so just be prepared. Stuart called my usual snorkeling "lazy snorkeling" compared to this. LOL! Side story: my husband had the car keys/fob and some money in a plastic baggie in his zippered pocket in his shorts. Long story short, the baggie leaked, key fob is wet, and the car won’t start. Stuart was kind enough to lend us his cell phone while he drove the other couple back to Palm Beach. Just as we were about to call, we met Arias who said the battery just probably needed to be replaced and there was a hardware store about 3 blocks away. He sent my husband on his way along with a huge glass of lemonade while I sat and chatted with Arias in the shade by the pool. In a few minutes, Mike is back, battery in the fob, and the car starts again. Woohoo! Thank you, Arias!

Fusion – love this place for a nice glass of wine/bubbly at the end of the night. Great service, too.

Rat Land – had to stop by to check out the "rat rods" and the store. Stopped at the bar in the back for a drink but it was fairly early so the bar was pretty quiet yet.

Nikky Beach – decided to try this place one morning. Thought we’d spend a couple of hours there but got so comfortable we spent the entire day. They had great comfy (with pads) lounge chairs with umbrellas and the water was great for swimming. Cold beer came at us faster than we could drink it – lunch was beef nachos (BEST nachos I’ve ever had) and "bang bang" shrimp – great food and service! Can’t say enough about this place. They are getting a new dinner menu, too, which would be a great place to watch the sunset. We will definitely be back again next year.

Open Home & Kitchen – the food here was amazing! They only have 4 tables a night and it’s a prix fixe menu where there are a few options of each course to choose from. This place was definitely in our top five – great flavors, service, and a relaxing atmosphere on the veranda of a private home. The night we were there only 2 other tables were full besides ours and we knew one of the couples (what are the chances?) – Paul (better known as one of 2 Fools) and his girlfriend checking out the competition on his night off.

Alicia and Gail’s house – okay, not exactly new for us since we stayed at their house for NYE one year but…. we finally got to meet Alicia and Gail (and stayed for grilled burgers and wine and cheese) and got to see their new pool and gazebo. Looks fantastic and I’m ready to rent again!!! More photos:


Went to so many that I don’t know where to start…..

Passions – had our anniversary dinner here. Wonderful and romantic as always with great food and service.

Screaming Eagle – This was my pick for my birthday dinner and it never disappoints. Chef Erwin always c reates something new, fun, and tasty!

Pago Pago – usually not a fan of hotel restaurants but we followed Chef Matt here a few years ago and love his menu. Filet mignon, ahi tuna, and my favorite appetizer of duck with hoisin sauce wrapped in crepes. Had a HUGE anniversary dessert there, too.

2 Fools And A Bull – ate here for the first time last April and it keeps getting better. The Fools know how to cook and entertain for a fabulous night – complete with birthday card and sparkler.

Old Man And The Sea – we went here when they first opened and oohed and aahed over the ambiance and the food. Then the so-so reviews starting coming in over the last few years. We were hesitant to eat here again but heard they had a new chef so gave it a shot. We walked in and it is even MORE beautiful than before – and…the food was great! Very happy that we gave it a try again and will be back next year.

Ventanas del Mar – never had a Sunday brunch in Aruba and we were looking for something low-key so decided to give this a try. Had a table outside with a beautiful view of the golf course and water in the distance. Ernesto was serenading us with soft guitar music, and the mimosas/champagne was never ending. The brunch is ala carte (order small plates off the menu, as much as you want) and was a great value for the price. Nice and relaxing day – didn’t need much for dinner that night so just made shrimp cocktail, cheese and crackers and popped a bottle of bubbly on the balcony.

Other favorites that we had great dinners/drinks at: Bingo’s, Barney’s, Amadeus, and White Modern Cuisine. Love these places!

Had a few lunches out at some our favorites, too: Bugaloe, Cuba’s Cookin’, Tulip, Zeerovers, and B55.

Bulletin Board Party

The first Monday was a small group but had a nice time with "JP in Missouri", "Wally" and their wives. The second Monday was a group of about 12 from various Aruba bulletin boards. Met some great people (as always!) Met up with JP and his wife later in the week for a drink on our birthdays (found out we share the same birthday.)

Philip’s Animal Garden

My husband had not been here yet so we ventured over to see (and feed) the plethora of animals (pythons, kangaroos, goats, monkeys, birds, etc.) Philip keeps improving the place and really takes great care of these animals (some had been abandoned or owner’s could no longer take care of.)


We flew out on the dreaded Saturday (busiest day at the airport) because hubby wanted to have a day off before back to the office on Monday. Flight was at 3pm and got to the airport around noon-ish. Line to check in was quick (Sky Priority with Delta), immigration line was slow, and the first security check point was both slow and long. Tons of people in line for U.S. Customs but they were well staffed and it moved pretty fast. All in all, from check-in to the gate it took about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Had time to grab a sandwich and a beer at the Old Dutch Bar which was right by our gate. About 15 minutes before boarding they called my husband’s name to the desk and we both got upgraded to First Class for the flight home at the last minute. So we had our "second lunch" on the flight to Atlanta.

Thank You (again!)..... to the entire staff at Amsterdam Manor – you always know how to make us feel welcome! Also many thanks to Paul & Fred (you fools!), Eline & Ron at Barney’s, Osyth, Chef Matt and Chef Erwin (loved the desserts!), Alicia and Gail, both Jorges (at Nikky Beach and Ventanas del Mar), and my favorite "Bingo boys" (and staff). I could not have asked for a better birthday and anniversary!