Aruba Trip Reports

32nd trip to Aruba - Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort

August 30 - September 14, 2015 by ~Amy~® and Mike

Aruba Forum Profile: ~Amy~®


We always fly Delta (MSP-ATL-AUA) and got our Delta Medallion comp upgrades to First Class again. Flight was quick, easy, on time. Arrived at the Aruba airport and we were one of the first ones off the plane. Usually it only takes us about 5 minutes through Aruba immigration but this time was completely different. We were stopped at the top of the escalator and had to wait in line before they let us go down. I glanced behind me and saw that the line extended so far back that I couldn’t even see where it ended. Finally it was our turn to go down the escalator to immigration. They were directing people from Venezuelan flights to specific lines and people from U.S. flights to different lines. I had a newer passport with the chip on the front cover so we were able to use the new passport readers to the far left. My husband did not have the chip but they allowed him into that line with me and when his turn came he was able to go through a regular booth without the reader. By the time we reached baggage claim all of the bags were off of the carousels and sitting everywhere. We spotted mine right away but we had to do a couple of loops around before we found my husband’s bag. What a mess! All in all, we were in one of the shorter, faster lines but it still took about 30 minutes of waiting in lines compared to the usual 5 minutes.

Outside the airport we saw our usual shuttle driver from Optima. He actually drove our rental car to the airport to pick us up, dropped us off at the Optima location at the Toyota dealership and left the car and A/C running so it would be nice and cool when we got back in. Only took a few minutes to fill out the paperwork and we were on our way toward our hotel.

Amsterdam Manor

Checked in right away and had our choice at the front desk of either a rum punch or a fruit punch (rum punch, of course.) Tasted really refreshing after a long day of flights and airports. We got our favorite room, unpacked, and relaxed on the balcony with a couple of ice cold Brights.

Then off to the grocery store (Super Food) – we arrived on a Sunday so we knew we had until 6pm to get our shopping done. Got ALMOST everything we needed except for my husband’s favorite brand of pop. So once again, off to Cheng’s down the road for that one item. Ran into Peter (our favorite bartender from Amsterdam Manor) and his wife while in Cheng’s – felt like we were already “home”.

Back to the resort and off to happy hour at Horizons (pool bar) where we ran into local friends and had WAY too much wine while we chatted away. Decided by 8pm that it was best to have dinner at Mango’s that night since it was steps away from our room and then call it a day/night.

Odds and Ends in no particular order

Our first morning on Eagle Beach…headed to the beach early around 7:30am when it’s still quiet and no one is around. We took a couple of mimosas to the beach and picked a palapa right by the water. As we were sitting there I noticed something black along the shoreline. At first, I thought it was a garbage bag or maybe an old t-shirt but instead of going in and out with the waves it was coming toward us parallel with the shoreline. We walked over to take a closer look and it was a small stingray just happily swimming along the edge of the shore. We took some photos and walked with him all the way to the end of Eagle Beach by the rocks which is where he turned and swam back out to sea. Never saw him again but it was a fun way to start the trip.

We were meeting with a lot of friends on this trip – both from the U.S. and Aruba – a lot of celebrating (birthday, anniversary, and our 20 year Goodwill Ambassador certificate from the ATA.) Every day seemed like a celebration of some sort as more people arrived and we met up with friends for dinners and drinks.

Tranquilo – had another great snorkel sail with them! We’ve done this snorkel tour many times - Captain Anthony and Buster took very good care of us as usual.

A night at the Ritz - we had a couple of friends who emailed us one afternoon after they moved from the Marriott to the Ritz to invite us over and share in their free upgrade. Because they are Marriott Lifetime Platinum members, they were upgraded for free to the Presidential Suite at the Ritz. The room was amazing! The foyer (complete with chandelier) was probably larger than my first studio apartment in college! Each room had its own balcony – the one off the dining room at a large table and chairs for eating, the one off of the living room had comfortable chairs with cushions, the one off of the bedroom was a wrap-around and had amazing comfy lounge chairs with an incredible view. I could have easily just slept on one of the balconies! The bathroom – separate showers and a separate tub with his and hers vanities on each side of the room. Then we went to the club level lounge with them where, depending on the time of day, there is always food to choose from and drinks galore. We were there later in the evening so we had mini dessert trays and helped ourselves to a couple of glasses of Prosecco. The club also have its own balcony so you can sit outside and enjoy the night. I really did not want to leave….LOL!

Speaking of wonderful rooms/houses…..we were able to visit the Villa Royale which sits on a hill behind the Ritz. It’s an 8 bedroom mansion with a dining table that seats 24 people, pool with swim-up bar, fire pits, chef’s kitchen, Jacuzzi, and an amazing sunset view from the upper level balcony. If you have a large family or want to get together with friends for a vacation….this is the place! An amazing place!

Philip’s Animal Garden – we have been going here since it first opened and every time we visit I am amazed at the improvements and how the number of animals continues to grow. New for us this year was the addition of camels, a beautiful white horse who just arrived that day, and more monkeys – and the number of birds just keeps multiplying. There is a fee to enter but they also give you food (cut up carrots and some pellets) to feed the animals. Philip really does a wonderful job giving these animals a home.

Birthday celebration – started with mimosas on the beach in the morning. My husband headed back to the room for a refill and then quickly came back down to the beach to get me….we had a wonderful breakfast feast waiting for us on the balcony – eggs, toast, potatoes, ham and cheese, fruit plate, yogurt, coffees, and OJ with a bottle of bubbly. Biggest breakfast I’ve ever seen and a wonderful way to start the day! That afternoon Peter found us on the beach and brought over a gift of a Dom Perignon champagne corker which I love! (But I guess no one told Peter that we rarely have any leftover champagne. LOL!) Back at the room was a bottle of wine and balloons waiting - had a happy hour sunset on the balcony with bubbly and cheese and crackers….and a birthday cake delivered to our room. After dinner that night, we headed back to the pool bar for a late night happy hour with friends and birthday cake. The cake was so large that we just started serving pieces to everyone at the bar who wanted some so it became one big happy birthday party. Definitely a fun day/night.

Spent a wonderful late morning at the Bucuti one day with Ewald (Bucuti owner) who invited my girlfriend, Stacy, and I over for Bloody Marys with shrimp. Stacy has known Ewald since the Bucuti was built and she was still going to Aruba with her parents so it was fun for them to catch up. Enjoyed the great conversation and company (and the great Bloody Marys). I think this will have to be an annual “date” going forward.

Our Goodwill Ambassador certificate was scheduled for a Monday at the weekly bulletin board party at Amsterdam Manor’s beach bar – and it also happened to be our anniversary that day, too. The presentation from the ATA was very nice, a lot of our friends were there, and those who arrived early at 5pm for the bulletin board party were there as well. We got the framed certificate, some nice pins, and a gift from Amsterdam Manor (bathrobes with our names stitched on them.) A special day followed by an anniversary dinner at Passions. We really had no idea where to go for dinner that night and by the time the party ended it was pushing 8pm. Since we were standing right there Passions seemed the perfect choice. Had to wait awhile for a table since we didn’t have a reservation but we just relaxed at the bar with a glass of wine until a table was ready.

Weather – hot and windy! Perfect for days floating in the water but many bad hair days as soon as you walked out the door. Oh well….it’s Aruba! We had one sprinkle of rain on the beach one day that lasted about 5 minutes. Then the one dark cloud went on its merry way and it was sunny again.

Parking downtown – the new parking meters had just been installed during our trip and went into effect during our last week. Never had a chance to use them though. Couple of times we were downtown for dinner it was after 7pm and they were not enforced after that time.

We tried a few new restaurants on this trip and even did a “restaurant crawl” one night where we had appetizers at a few different places and then ended with dessert at Screaming Eagle (favorite place for dessert!)

A couple of highlights for us: Wacky Wahoo (rarely went there anymore because it was always loud and noisy but this time we went late around 9pm without a reservation and the place was only about ¼ full so we had a great dinner in a relaxing atmosphere); Que Pasa (haven’t been here in awhile but we were meeting local friends for dinner and this was their pick – food was excellent!); Zuzuroh (nice relaxing atmosphere, good food, and great hosts!)

Met some people from the bulletin board party one night at The Local Store for after dinner drinks and to celebrate anniversaries and birthdays that were all within the same week. This is the old location of the Caribbean Store Bar (miss that place) and they’ve expanded the seating area which is nice. We used to go to The Local Store when it was downtown but now they’ve added a lot of craft beers and have more food on their menu. One should probably never order a glass of wine at a burger/beer joint but I took my chances and it was surprisingly pretty good.

Of course, an Aruba trip is not complete without drinks/food at Bingo’s and Barney’s. Love the owners, love the atmosphere, love the food and drinks. You can never go wrong at either place. Also had to have a couple of lunches at the Bugaloe – always a great afternoon with a view of Palm Beach.

We also had another wine tasting at The Wine Room before dinner one night. They always have some lovely wines to try and you can also get a nice nosh (cheese, bread & oil, olives, etc.) to compliment your wine. They will be moving to a new location soon so we’re looking forward to seeing the new Wine Room on our next trip.

On our last Sunday morning we were at the beach early for a morning beach walk and saw a group of people gathered by the famous tree at the end of Eagle Beach at Amsterdam Manor. They were singing and a few were dressed in white. They were performing baptisms. It really was special to see and made you smile.


Our flight was at 3:25pm – we dropped off the rental car and Optima dropped us off at the departure terminal around 1:30pm. From airline counter to the gate was about 30-35 minutes (this was on a Monday.) No issues with lines and everything was smooth sailing. Medallion comp upgrades again on Delta so we had a decent lunch on the flight back.

Had another wonderful trip to Aruba with many celebrations and fun with friends (thank you for being there to help us celebrate – it wouldn’t have been the same without you!) Hope to see everyone again next year!