A July 2003 trip
to Aruba by lawyerjay
Quote: Relax without being bored in Aruba. Tropical climate with ocean breezes, beautifully developed yet has room to explore. Something for everyone and every taste.
All-inclusive is also a waste unless you will be drinking all day and staying at hotel all day. Dinners at fine dining establishments, including appetizer/salad, entree, dessert and gratuity (15% usually included) under for two people. Also too many good places to eat to restrict yourself to one place for entire week.
Hotel was recently renovated and is set on beautifully maintained property adjacent to beach lush with palm trees. Talking tropical birds and iguanas running all over enhance character of hotel. Free form pools meander across property with more than ample pool side lounges. Sloped, zero entry pools permit placing chair in water and reclining. Hotel room with king-size bed, seating area, ample space in bathroom, terrace overlooking garden were well-maintained, clean and nicely furnished. Staff was most courteous and attentive and promptly responded to every request.
Upon checking in, room safe was locked and security rectified problem within minutes after bell-hop left. Bulb in make-up mirror burned out and again was quickly replaced within minutes of my call. Concierge desk made dinner reservations, confirmed departure and provided suggestions for sightseeing, etc.
Hotel, as I was told, was almost at capacity but there was no problem getting palapa at beach or chair at pool any time of day and best of all, did not feel like I was falling over people.
Beware of fully stocked fridge and snacks -- could get expensive just for removing items since charges incurred by sensors, although bill will be reversed if you put items back.
Only drawback at casino in hotel was no craps -- told it was lack of interest during low season.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 28, 2003
Eventually, a knowledgeable person arrived and indicated I could not have the room that I was registering for (maybe the other guest whose name was on the package arrived). He then inquired if we would be willing to stay next door at the Radisson and as an accommodation, he would give us the all-inclusive package without charge. After ascertaining that I would not be sharing my room with rats or roaches, I gladly accepted. That was the best thing that could have happened.
While I cannot comment on the hotel rooms, and I was told the timeshare rooms are larger and better appointed than the hotel rooms, I can comment on the property. I guess the hotel was full and we were transferred because they needed the space. That still does not explain why a timeshare unit was not available.
My speculation on the hotel being full is the result of feeling like I was falling over people whenever I was on the grounds.
Arriving for breakfast betwen 9-9:30am on most days, it seemed like all the chairs poolside were already taken and the palapas on the beach were also occupied. Also, the palapas were on top of one another. They were five deep while palapas next door at Raddison were only three deep with more space between each as well. Pool also appeared crowded.
As an all-inclusive, the Allegro is way overpriced at $115 pp/per day. Only three restaurants available Caruso, Topaz, and Papaya. Caruso is excellent but need to reserve before arrival if possible or wait until later in week since usually fully booked for 2-3 days in advance. Topaz is buffet -- breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Even with different dinner nightly, it is quantity over quality. Did not eat dinner at Papaya, but need reservations there too and from what I ate there during the day, it is not a restaurant I wanted for dinner. It gets full because people are on all-inclusive and have no choice.
Swim up bar at pool is nice and there is a bar on beach too, but drinks, which I assume is why people like all-inclusive, are nothing to speak of and service is poor due to crowd at pool and understaffing. Frozen drinks (pina colada, daiquiris, etc.) are from a frozen mix, blended with ice and liquor then added on top. Took me two days to realize I had to ask to have whole thing blended and then got dirty look from bartender each time I would so request.
For nightly entertainment, staff does put on good 45-60 minute amateur show each night (except Sunday) with different theme and costumes. Saw it twice and it is dancing, acrobats, singing. Did it because it was included with all-inclusive, but would find other shows at other hotels if I was paying.
Because of overcrowded feeling and exorbitant all-inclusive (even if I was paying for meals and show, which are overpriced to justify the all-inclusive, it would not cost $115/day), I would not stay at Occidental/Allegro.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on July 28, 2003
While everything on the menu sounded wonderful, we started with crab cakes (said to be the most popular choice) and the lobster bisque for starters. The two crab cakes were served over a cole slaw on top of pita bread that and the bisque came under a puffed pastry. Both were as good as they looked. Main courses were macadamia crusted grouper and duck. Again, the presentation was exquisite and both totally satisfied the pallate. The duck was crispy despite a fruity sauce. Can't comment on dessert since we were both stuffed to the gills.
Attentive service and a waiter willing to double as a photographer were bonuses.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 28, 2003
Attraction | "Baby Beach & Boca Catalina"
At the north end of island is Boca Catalina (someone also called this Malmok Beach, but best I could discern that Boca is the beach just south of Arashi). It is easily visible by noting all the snorkel trips that are at this spot. Water is very calm and plenty of fish to north/left side of beach. No facilities available.
Alhambra has $.50 minimum for craps between 7 and 9pm. Blackjack and craps dealers are not to talkative or friendly however. In fact, some actually seemed anti-player e.g. don't set dice, rushing you to throw dice and getting nasty if both dice don't hit back wall.
Reputation that machines don't pay seems to be earned although there are penny slots, so you can't really lose too much! Slots only noon to 5pm and tables open after that.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 28, 2003
Along the route, stop at the Alto Vista Chapel, a quaint, colorful chapel overlooking the ocean, and then continue along the dirt road to the Natural Bridge. Along the way I stopped often to photograph the different secluded beaches.
The Ayo Rock formation is another marvel of nature that can be appreciated by following the path around the park for 15 minutes.
If you are still up for more exploring, drive through the Arikok National Park where you may see wild goats running off the road and stop at Boca Prins, yet another isolated beautiful beach and a short distance from the Fontein Cave, which has Indian drawings on the ceilings. Further down the road is the Guadirikiri Cave which has two chambers where sunlight shines through a hole from above illuminating the cave to provide a breathtaking experience.
Woodbury, New York