First, let me be “grateful“. We are lucky to have the opportunity to travel on free tickets and use free nights for hotels. We are grateful for our relationship, family, and friends and our 6 days in Aruba had beautiful weather.
We stayed at the Renaissance Ocean View Suites and a well timed $20 bill at check in got us an ocean view one bedroom suite. Our breakfast was included each day in the rate we received from TripAlertz. All the costs were covered (except the taxes) by referring all of you to the TripAlertz program when they had a new member signup bonus. Thanks for the 6 days in the sun!
We found the hotel, which has a beautiful downtown location to be somewhat tired and worn. The staff was extremely friendly and helpful, but some of the grounds needed repair and upkeep. Things like missing tiles along the pool edge and stains on the ceilings. Aruba is not OSHA required as we saw open electrical boxes in some areas and most discouraging internet was only available in the lobby and spotty at best. The bed was fine, the TV had many New York channels, and international calls back to the US were $4 per minute. I’m going to give the hotel a C+ rating.
We had been to the limited island attractions on previous trips so did no real additional exploring and just hung out at the pool and walked around town. I found the best pizza I have ever had at Casa Tua adjacent to the hotel. Starbucks, shopping and the Seaport Casino were nearby as well.
For those of you that don’t like bugs, this place is not for you. I remember the no see ums from previous trips and they were out in full force in the evenings at sunset and early AM as well. The Burts Bees insect repellant worked well but they were still annoying and kept us inside or in the pool during their time of conquest.
Our departure from the island was a huge disappointment. We arrived at the airport 3 hours before flight time, had a quick lunch outside of security, and ran into a horrific people jam for security, customs, and a second security check. The staff at the airport was clearly not equipped to handle the four US bound flights that depart from 3-4PM each day. They tried to process us with two security lines and two customs agents. I was thrilled to have US immigration in Aruba but they were also understaffed. It took us almost two hours to get through the process and the last insult was a second screening of our carry on bags and metal detector.
I spoke to one of the airport personnel about the delays and she blamed it all on the USA TSA requirements of 8 agents per security belt for screening. If they are taking in all those US dollars and have almost 800 people departing per hour, they can afford to pay a few more bucks to get us through the lines. In fact, when push came to shove and it became apparent they would not get everyone through in time for their flights, they mysteriously opened the third security lane and I can assure you, there were not 8 or even 6 agents on each line.
The airlines constantly tell us they appreciate us choosing to fly with them on any given flight. Aruban officials need to recognize there are plenty of island choices in the Caribbean and this traveler, for one, will look for a more efficient send off than we got in Aruba.