Aruba Trip Reports

30th trip to Aruba - Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort

April 4 - 15, 2014 by ~Amy~® and Mike

Aruba Forum Profile: ~Amy~®


Flew Delta (MSP-ATL-AUA) and got our Delta Medallion comp upgrades to First Class again so it was a nice, easy relaxing flight. We breezed through immigration and our luggage was among the first pieces on the belt. We took a quick peek into the Duty Free shop to see what they had for champagne (got a great bottle for a good price there one year) but, again, nothing worth purchasing so we decided to wait until our trek to Super Food for food and drink supplies.

Walked out of the airport and immediately saw our usual shuttle driver for Payless Car Rental waiting across the street. It’s always good to see him and start our trip out with a familiar face. We were at the Payless office (located at the Toyota dealership) within a couple of minutes. As we signed our paperwork, they pulled the car around, loaded our luggage into it, and turned on the AC so we were all set to go in a nice cool car.

Amsterdam Manor

We’ve been staying at Amsterdam Manor twice a year, every year since 2004. We’ve stayed in a few other hotels over the years (been traveling to Aruba since 1996) but Amsterdam Manor quickly became our favorite. We love the fact that it is a smaller hotel (only 72 rooms) so the staff is quick to recognize and get to know you. Also because of the size of the resort, their beach area is never crowded and you can get a palapa on the beach at almost any time during the day so there is no need to get up at the crack of dawn like at the larger resorts to “claim” your space for the day. All of their rooms have full kitchens or kitchenettes (depending on the size of the room you book) so it’s great to have breakfast on our patio every morning and be able to make some happy hour snacks like shrimp cocktail.

We booked a one bedroom suite on this trip which has a front patio with French doors and a back door off of the kitchen. The front doors made easy access to the beach (less than a minute) and pool (just steps away) and the back door made easy access to our rental car in the parking lot (less than a minute.)

I think our hardest decision of the day was where to have pre-dinner/happy hour drinks. We loved our patio in front of our room and enjoyed the view but we also loved the beach bar (2 for 1 drinks during happy hour) and… we also loved Horizons (the upper level pool bar) which also had happy hour and my favorite bartender, Peter, who makes happy hour the happiest place on the island (and makes a great Chilly Margarita!) Such decisions to make! LOL!

Our patio was located right by the beach walkway – my husband left the French doors slightly open one afternoon as we were returning from the beach because he knew I was right behind him (I had stopped to talk to someone) and I didn’t have a room key. Once again, (this happened to us last Nov.) a couple walks right into our living room and starts asking questions/directions. I now feel like I have a “Free Information Here” sign with an arrow over my door. I am almost ready to hide the Welcome mat that is in front of our French doors, too. LOL!

Eagle Beach at Amsterdam Manor

The beach and water was perfect as always but it was quite a bit windier this year than on previous trips so this was really a “hold onto your hats – and drinks” kind of a trip. Was definitely glad we brought along our towel clips for the beach chairs.

We used the beach bar at Amsterdam Manor throughout our trip for drinks and a lunch here and there. This time instead of the fresh fruit skewers they bring around on the beach for their guests, we were treated with small fruit smoothies every day - which was an excellent treat around mid-morning.

Out and about

We were out and about quite a bit on this trip. Stopped at the Donkey Sanctuary (picked up 2 large bags of carrots at the grocery store on our way) – had a nice time with a couple of the volunteers who were in their early 20’s and from England. They signed up for a volunteer program that England offers and you are able to pick your destination (they pay for your room and board). Really interesting talking to them and learning about the various volunteer opportunities so after we fed the donkeys we sat on the “porch”, bought a couple of Balashi Chills and chatted with them for an hour or so.

One afternoon we were headed to Don Pincho’s for lunch in Santa Cruz. Since we were near Frenchman’s Pass we made a small detour because my husband had never seen it before. After driving through, we noticed some ominous looking ruins in the distance so we decided to be adventurous and take a look. No one was there and it was eerily quiet since you were a bit off of the road into the cunucu and overgrown brush. As we wandered around the ruins we saw a mini-van pull up – it was a private tour guide and four people from the cruise ship. He let us tag along so that we could hear the history of what was once another gold mining area and is now called Balashi Ruins. We hiked along a very long dirt path which took us further into the cunucu and onto a small pond – lots of birds in the area. Again, so quiet you could almost hear a pin drip. After all of our trips and years to Aruba, we are still finding new sites to see!

We did have our usual lunch/drinks at the Bugaloe one afternoon and then walked along the beach path in front of the old Westin and over to Signature Park. The grounds of the old Westin are torn up and it looks like the Riu is starting from scratch as far as new pool, outside dining, etc. Blossoms, though, is still currently open for lunch and dinner and you can park in the parking lot next to the Westin and enter in through the side door. There is also a beach vendor on the Westin’s old beach who is renting chairs. Seemed nice and quiet and a great place for those who want to spend some time on Palm Beach but are staying elsewhere.

We did our usual food/beverage shopping at Super Food – very convenient and has everything we need. There is a small fish store connected to the Super Food building (their entrance door faces the Tropicana) called Daily Fish. We bought our shrimp there that we cooked for shrimp cocktail that night on the patio. The shrimp was excellent and they also had some nice ahi tuna and mahi-mahi filets at their counter which we may try on another trip. Great place if you’re looking for fish!

Stopped by the SkyLounge one night for a couple of drinks while we watched the water fountain light show. We also saw pony rides available for the kids, too, at the mall.

Fusion is another place we like to frequent at night after dinner – music is always good and they have a nice wine list.

Spent another relaxing day at Reflextions – relaxed on their beach and had a nice lunch there, too.

We mainly just tried to relax on the beach on most days and got together with our friends at night for dinner and/or drinks.

The Wine Room

Ahhhhh…..back to The Wine Room. We first went here last November and fell in love with this place, the wine, and Monrick. This time we didn’t go on a “formal” tasting night but just went to try a few new wines by the glass, have a couple of tapas, and met some great new friends in the process. Another great evening at The Wine Room!


We went to our usual favorites and tried a new place here and there. L.G. Smith’s was running an anniversary special so we tried it for the first time and thought it was great (steaks were cooked perfectly.) We would probably go back again if/when we’re in the mood for steak. Passions and Screaming Eagle are two of our favorites and they never fail to disappoint. Our casual favorites (Bingo, Barney’s, and Amadeus) were also as good as ever. Tulip has a new menu with a French/Caribbean flair to it – love the new menu! We tried a couple of new places for us that ended up being “clunkers” but I chalk that up to more of our own personal taste than any fault of the restaurant.

We stop by Screaming Eagle a lot at night for after dinner drinks to chat with local friends. Had to laugh one night as we pulled into the parking lot and the Amuse Bistro van was parked there. Gave Amuse’s owner a hard time about his van being there and told him I was going to take a photo of his van in front of the Screaming Eagle sign with a caption of: “Even the owner of Amuse Bistro dines at Screaming Eagle!” LOL!

Bulletin Board Party

Loved meeting everyone at the weekly bulletin board party at Amsterdam Manor’s beach bar on Monday nights and we were also able to reconnect with some friends who we haven’t seen in a while. Always a fun time with a great group of people.


We always try to avoid weekends when we depart so, as usual, we booked a Tuesday departure. Delta was kind enough to give us the Medallion comp upgrades to First Class again. Our flight was at 3pm so we left the hotel around 12noon to drop off our rental car. Our time from the airline check-in counter to the gate was about one hour total. About 20-30 minutes of that one hour was spent standing in the U.S. Customs line which was very slow.

It’s always sad to leave but we always look forward to seeing our Aruba friends again on the next trip.