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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Trip Review- Aruba. One Happy Island.



Today's post is a departure from previous articles.  Today I am going to review our recent trip to Aruba.

My wife and I just returned from a two week trip to our favorite Island-Aruba.  We own a timeshare at the Marriott in Palm Beach there.  For those of you who aren't familiar with timeshare jargon, we have a 2 BR lock-off unit.  That means it's a 2 BR unit that can be "split" into a one BDRM suite (full kitchen, LR, DR) and a second efficiency unit (more like a regular hotel room with a connecting door).  If you want, you can use the whole 2 BR suite for one week, or you can"lock off" each of the two units separately for one week each.  We chose the latter option this year so we we could stay in Aruba for two weeks consecutively. We have been going to Aruba at least once a year for several years now.  I understand why they call it "One Happy Island". If anyone is interested, we do rent out the unit periodically.  PM me and I can give you details.

Before anyone jumps on me about is a timeshare worth it, that really depends on how you use it.  We bought ours on the resale market for 1/3 cost of what Marriott sells them for.  We have an annual fee that is very reasonable.  As long as we pay the annual fee, we have the unit's guaranteed use during the year.  Marriott recently switched over to a point system.  You "buy" X number of points to be used at anytime at any Marriott.  Great if you need flexibility.  You can book as many days as you like.  I am locked into one week intervals and check in from Th-M.  That's OK for us since we take multiple vacations each year.  We know one of them is Aruba.  If we want to trade our unit for a different destination, we can still do that.  The points option doesn't seem like a good value to me. 

If you are interested in seeing what the resale market on timeshares looks like, visit this site.  It is a place to find timeshare rentals as well.  I have no affiliation with them.  I also know a broker who deals in resales.  He helped us with negotiating for our unit. PM me if you are interested and I can get you in tough with Sammy.

The Aruba Marriott property where we own is the second most requested timeshare of all the properties in the Marriott lineup.  We have been returning to Aruba for several years now.  In fact, this was our second trip there this year.

The very first time we went to Aruba, we stayed with friends in their 2 BR unit. One day I was floating down the lazy river in my Phillies hat with my friend Mark  (Mark talks to everyone).  He started up a conversation with a gentleman from Pa who happened to also be a Phillies fan.  This man was there with about 20 members of his family.  He told me he and his family had been coming to Aruba for 20 years.  He then proceeded to give us his list of the top ten reasons he returns to Aruba every year.  What I have found over the past few years, is that there are a lot of people just like him.  They return to Aruba year after year.  This trip, I met a man in the elevator who had been coming to Aruba for 39 of the last 49 years! My wife and I have also fallen in love with this tiny Island off the coast of Venezuela.

There are so many great places to eat in Aruba.  I like to say that you could visit for a month and not run out of great meals.  Our Favorite place in Aruba is Carte Blanche.  It's a unique restuarnt.  It only seats 14-15 people.  You are seated in a semicircle around the kitchen.  You have your choice of a 4 or 5 course meal, with or without the wine pairing.  I chose the 4 course with the wine pair.  My wife also had the 4-course meal, but without the wine pairing.  She ordered two glasses of wine separately.  Carte Blanche is as much entertainment as it is great food.  It's owned by two guys, Dennis and Glen.  Dennis is the chef and Glen is the Sommelier.  Glen's job is to pair the wine with Dennis's food. Dennis's signature appetizer is cerviche.  Glen's wine pairing with this dish was outstanding.  You get choices of the main course, but thre is no menu.  You pick from meat, fish or vegetarian entree.  If you have special dietary requests, let them be known at the time of reservation.  You probably need a reservation 6 months in advance.  Currently they are located in front of the giant windmill.  They are moving into a new location on the beach after the start of the new year.  If you visit Aruba, make sure to visit these guys.  You wont regret it.  Price: Expensive.  Two 4-course dinners, one with the wine pair and the other with two glasses of wine was $250+.

My favorite day trip was the visit to the Arikok National Park and the trip to the Batholithic Rock formations.  If you've been to Virgin Gorda to see "The Baths"  it is the same type of rock formations, just not nearly as breathtaking.  There is a great view from the top though.  Another great thing to do is to visit the lighthouse at the northern tip of the island.  Great views and a spectacular (and yes they are real) place to get a coconut smoothie with or without rum.  We usually rent a car in Aruba, but it is not necessary.  Driving around the island is VERY easy.  There is one main road that takes you most of the way around the island.  There are a few traffic lights and circles.  It's hard to get lost unless you wander off the main roads too far and get stuck in a neighborhood at night where it is very dark.  Diving or snorkeling Aruba's wrecks is another popular thing to do.  My favorite spot to snorkel is a little cove on the way to the Lighthouse.  That is where one of the dive wrecks are located.  My adult kids and their friends did the "Pirate" snorkel adventure.  There was all day drinking and snorkeling.  There's also have a rope swing that everyone enjoyed.  We have never been to the Natural Pool on the eastern side of the island.  It is not accessible by car. There are Jeep tours, but if you have neck and back problems, it may not be for you.  VERY bumpy.  You can rent quads, but there have been reports of people being killed on the way there riding on them.  Lastly, there is Baby Beach.  It's probably worth the hour drive to visit once.  The water and beach are beautiful.  Great place to snorkel.  There are no chairs to sit, and not a lot of shade. The food and bathroom options aren't great either.  People have drown there getting caught in the rip currents, so be careful not to wander into open ocean.
 

Aruba is one of the A,B,C islands.  The others being Bonaire and Curacao.  There is great windsurfing in Bonaire if you are looking for a day trip.  The synagogue in Curacao is the first in the Western Hemisphere, complete with a sand floor. 

There you have it? Did you find this helpful?

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About The Points Doctor

The Points Doctor is Bruce J. Wilderman DDS of Artistic Expressions Dentistry.Dr. Wilderman has a practice limited to Cosmetic Dentistry, serving patients of the Philadelphia Area since 1986.He and wife of 30 years enjoy traveling the world for little or no money with the points and miles they have earned from the credit card companies. Dr. Wilderman would love to teach you how to do the same. You may reach him at ThePointsDoctor@comcast.net









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