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Trying to make sense of Aruba - hotels, food etc

Toronto
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Trying to make sense of Aruba - hotels, food etc

My husband and I are looking into going to Aruba Jan 20 or 27 for a one week vacation. We enjoy a beach front property geared more towards adults that like a relaxing quiet vacation. I have a few burning questions about Aruba that I cannot figure out.

1. Is the water safe to drink - also is the food safe off the large resorts (I am 4 months pregnant and do not want to risk getting sick)

2. Is all inclusive the way to go, or is it better to do a EP (assuming food is safe)?

3. What hotels are recommended to people like us and is it worth it to upgrade to an ocean view room? We were looking at the Rennassance - has anyone been here?

4. Do we need to rent a car or are the restaurants and sights within walking distance of the resorts?

I Truly appreciate your input, tripadvisor has saved me a lot of hassle in the past!

Minneapolis...
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for Aruba, Palm - Eagle Beach
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1. Re: Trying to make sense of Aruba - hotels, food etc

1. Yes. All of the water in Aruba comes from the Caribbean and goes through a desalination/purification plant. It's the best tasting water - and safe to drink right out of the tap.

2. AI v. EP is all personal preference. We prefer EP because Aruba has so many wonderful restaurants and we enjoy eating out. Yes, the food is safe.

3. From what you described, I would look at staying at the Bucuti. Smaller hotel (about 120 rooms), geared toward couples, quiet and a fabulous beach.

4. Again, personal preference. Some restaurants will be within walking distance (depending on where you stay). But if you're going to be hanging out on the beach for most days and would only be using a car for dinner at night, then it's just as easy (and cheaper) to use a taxi.

White Plains, New...
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2. Re: Trying to make sense of Aruba - hotels, food etc

While I agree with most of what Aruba Amy said above, I recommend renting a car if not for the entire time, a few days. Just think to/from airport, driving to some restaurants not in walking distance, why limit yourself. Renaissance is nice, you can use the private beach. I am surprised you can get a reservation now for the end of January.

maryland
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3. Re: Trying to make sense of Aruba - hotels, food etc

hello, yes, the water is very safe.

My family visited aruba last february. The water is actually very good.

We prefer not to go all inclusive.

Detroit, Michigan
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4. Re: Trying to make sense of Aruba - hotels, food etc

We stayed at the Ren and rented a car for a couple of days to tour the island ourselves and go to a couple beaches. Other than that, we took a taxi. There is a lot withing walking distance. I would not recommend going all inclusive because there are so many wonderful places to eat.

Virginia
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5. Re: Trying to make sense of Aruba - hotels, food etc

The water is very clean! It was one of the reasons I chose Aruba for our family trip a couple of years ago. Quiet, and realtively no kids would say Bucuti Beach resort on eagle beach.

The Ren is downtown and you need to take a boat to the beach.

Restaurants are top notch and would recommend not getting a meal plan. Dine around. Taxis are easy to get and not very expensive. I would rent a car for a day or two at most.

New Jersey
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6. Re: Trying to make sense of Aruba - hotels, food etc

The drinking water is VERY good.

I'd recommend not doing AI. There are so many wonderful restaurant choices.

If you want to be on Palm Beach, check the Marriott or Hyatt. If you want something more low-key for couples, check the Bucuti.

I've never rented a car. We might rent one in April to explore more than we have in the past, but it would only be for one day. I don't care to drive while I'm on vacation - and a car just isn't necessary for more than a couple of days.

Hope this helps.

Enjoy!

Toronto
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7. Re: Trying to make sense of Aruba - hotels, food etc

Wow thank you so much everyone! I just booked up at the Bucuti Beach Resort for a FANTASTIC price! We are looking forward to dining at the local restaurants. I really appreciate the feedback since i would never have known about this hotel otherwise.

Massachusetts
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8. Re: Trying to make sense of Aruba - hotels, food etc

My husband and I have been to Aruba about 8 times. We are also going on January 20th. I thought I would comment on your questions:

1. The water is safe.

2. There are some great restaurants on the island, so unless you don't want to leave the hotel, I would not do the all inclusive.

3. I like the ocean view rooms, as when we're getting ready to go out, it's nice to watch sunsets over the water.

4. You can walk to some places and cab to others. The taxis are reasonable. If you want to explore the island, then you might want to rent a card for a couple of days. If you do, go to Fishbones for dinner, and request a table on the beach. It's on the other end of the island, so you would need a car.

Have fun!

Debbie

New York City, New...
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9. Re: Trying to make sense of Aruba - hotels, food etc

I wrote the following "novel" a while ago as a primer for the new visitor to Aruba. I did edit it with current changes. My other other addition would be to consider reserving a hotel via Priceline. My May 2007 visit to Aruba was reserved through Priceline at $75.00 per night for a week at the Marriott Stellaris.

I think you are correct in that you need some basic guidance about Aruba. Unlike some other islands (Jamaica) Aruba has very few if any true all inclusive resorts. In Aruba you don't need to be in a walled in resort, like Jamaica, as the island is safe. For this reason most will find that not doing the all inclusive is the best option. All inclusive in Aruba means inclusive of meals. In Jamaica and other locales it includes water toys, etc, etc.

There are three primary places to stay in Aruba. The first is downtown where the Renaissance Hotel is located. This is the only large hotel downtown and the hotel overlooks the major street and across the street is the water. Due to this hotels location there is no beach but they do have their own private island about 5 minutes away by small boat that actually leaves from the lobby of the hotel. The downtown area has many shops, restaurants, etc. The shops are typical of the Carribean (Little Switzerland, many jewelry stores, etc.). Aruba really does not have any Arubian crafts for sale.

Next in line (driving from the airport) is the low rise section of hotels. While I have not stayed here I would only suggest that if you choose the low rise section you make sure you are happy with the location and the beach. Some of the hotels in this section are across the road from the beach. If you want to step out of the hotel and hit the beach you can in some of these resorts but you can't in some of the others.

Last in line (only a couple of miles from the low rise resorts) is the high rise section. Almost all of the hotels in the high rise section are directly on the beach. A couple, including the low priced Mill Resort, are not on the beach. This stretch of hotels goes on for almost two miles with the Phoenix at one end and the Marriott resorts at the other. The Phoenix is sort of by itself as there is a modest amount of undeveloped land between it and it's neighbor, the Wyndham (now renamed the Westin). The hotels on this stretch range from a couple of stories to about 20 stories tall. In looking at many the nicest look to be the Hyatt, Raddison and Marriott. The Marriott is really three separate properties, all next door to each other. The Surf Club and the Ocean Club are Marriott's timeshare properties (you can rent these privately from people or through Marriott) and the Marriott Stelaris Resort and Casino is their hotel property. I stayed at the Surf Club a few months ago and I have reservation for the Marriott Hotel this coming May. The Marriott Surf Club is more family oriented (one, two and three bedroom units, a large pool complex with a lazy river, etc.)

Since Aruba is a desert island you won't find any lush landscaping unless the hotels spend a lot of $$ on them. The Hyatt and the Raddison did a great job. The beach along the high rise section (Palm Beach) is very nice and does not differ dramatically up and down the beach. What this means is that the sand, etc. in front of one is similar to the next. Some resorts have significantly more depth between the boardwalk, which stretches 2 miles from hotel to hotel, and the water. A couple (Hyatt) has a dock in front of the beach which means more motorized water toys to play with (all individual rentals) but also means the water is a little more congested. Probably the biggest concern from hotel to hotel, other than the price, is the difficulty in getting a Palapa (those straw covered umbrellas [many call them huts but they are not huts]) on the beach. The larger hotels may have 100 of these Palapas on the beach and they are in demand as this the only way to get any shade on the beach. At some resorts you can reserve for a $10 or so per day in advance, at others you have to get up at 6:00 am and stand in line. Most resorts have plenty of chairs at the pool and usually some palm trees have been planted to provide shade as wanted.

All of the hotels have pretty good, but sometimes pricey, restaurants. If you look at the web site www.arubahouse.com and scroll towards the end there is a good review of dozens of restaurants. In the high rise section all inclusive is not logical (unless your liquor bill would be astronomical) as the road that runs on one side of the hotel strip has many excellent restaurants. They are all in easy walking distance of the hotels but staying sort of in the middle of the strip of hotels puts you in a better position.

I guess in fairness I should mention that you could rent a townhouse, or whatever they call it, at the Tierra Del Sol golf course. This is a few miles past the high rise section and there is no beach at the course. The course is fun to play (a 2-3 club wind at most times) but the townhouses are off the beaten path and you definitely need a car if you stay there.

Renting a car for a couple of days would be logical if you want to explore. Taxis are inexpensive and the rates are predetermined (no meters). There is a bus that runs along the main road from town to the low rise and high rise section that many tout as excellent. You won't find me on a bus when I am on vacation but to each their own.

I would suggest that you try and research the high rise vs. low rise section and then narrow down your choice to a few properties. Price from property to property and be pretty different. I have stayed at the Wyndham and would judge it a notch down from the Hyatt or Raddison but it ususally is anywhere from $75-$150 per night less expensive. In my opinion I would spend $25 more for the Hyatt or Raddison but not a penny more. The Wyndham was great at a price that ranged from $175-$200 per night.

EIRE pa
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10. Re: Trying to make sense of Aruba - hotels, food etc

We stay at MAnchebo next to Bucuti. Its in the low rise and very uncrowded and less expensive.