We've been home a week, but spent 8 enjoyable days in Aruba, getting home last Sunday. It usually takes me a week to get all the pictures and reviews together. We were in Turks and Caicos back in April, so Aruba was going to be a tough act to follow. We debated going back to TCI or trying a full week in Aruba. We spent a day here two years ago on a cruise and always said we wanted to return.
I have a bunch of pictures at this link, plus one can find our cruise pics if you scroll down on the albums. In the Arikok National Park album there are 3 videos at the end of rough water.
I planned this trip because last week was my wife's birthday and it was also the 10th anniversary of our engagement. From reading this forum I knew that Amsterdam Manor was going to be one of our choices to stay. I found a great deal on cheapcaribbeam.com but could only book it for 5 nights so I took it. For the other 3 nights I crossed my fingers and got the Marriott on Priceline for $95 a night. It had recently been dropped from "Resort" to a 4-star, so I'm glad we didn't get the Renaissance when bidding.
We rented a car from Payless for the week and it worked out great. Like Turks, I wanted to have the freedom to be spontaneous and go. We loved everything about the Marriott except the beach. It's way too crowded and totally ridiculous to pay for a hut, or get on the beach at 6am. That's why the car came in handy. We decided to spend one day at Arashi Beach and one at Baby Beach. Snorkeling was another reason to go to these beaches. TA has posted my full review of the Marriott if one would like to read more. For a Priceline room, they hooked us up. We were 4th floor, pool side and as close to the beach as possible without being oceanfront.
We enjoyed the whole Marriott complex. We liked exploring the shops and grounds at all 3 places. Both pools were refreshing after the beach. We ate at Ruth's Chris one night and it was superb. It helped that I had $100 gift card to use. We also liked the Champions Bar and Restaurant at the Ocean Club so we could watch the Phillies.
After 3 nights we were ready to move on to the quaintness of the Amsterdam. The whole Palm Beach area reminds me of Fort Lauderdale. The Marriott complex is at the northern end away from main strip. I was happy to see our room was ready in early afternoon. The manager Jurgen really hooked us up. We were put in a one bedroom suite and had a bottle of champagne waiting in our room. Again, my review has been posted if you want to read more.
The Amsterdam was much closer to the atmosphere we experienced in Turks and Caicos. Aruba just has too many water sports that can damper the atmosphere on the beach. One will never see that on Grace Bay. That being said, we still enjoyed everything about this resort. The beach felt private and it was never crowded. The beach bar was a fun place to hang out for happy hour. The bartenders were friendly and welcoming. We also didn't have any problem bringing our own beverages and snacks on the beach.
Eagle Beach was nice to walk in the morning. We never paid to use the gym next door. Ironically we used the gym each day at the Marriott. Our best night was having dinner on the beach at Passions, truly a wonderful evening. This was the birthday and engagement dinner.
Other highlights included a day trip to Arikok National Park. A different way to look at Aruba. The coves and rough water were neat to see. What a contrast to the calmer waters at the resorts. Explored one of the caves and saw lots of goats. We ended up at Baby Beach for a second time. Snorkeling was very good here, as was the beach.
We had no problems at the airport, everything went smooth. Arrived on Saturday and left on Sunday. Payless Car Rental was quick and efficient. We went to both the food stores Super Foods and Kings. Bought a little at each. I don't like beer in those little bottles. We brought cash and traveler's checks and they worked out fine.
I didn't post a lot before this trip, just kind of casually read many different topics. I appreciate everyone's contributions. The search engine on the forum is a great tool to use.