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Tamarijn Aruba All Inclusive December 22, 2007 - January 3, 2008

Author: Arubalisa
Email: arubalisa@gmail.com (More Trip Reviews by Arubalisa)
Date of Trip: December 2007

The Tamarijn: The Rooms
After a quick hello to my Mom, we went to the front desk and received our bracelets which would allow us to eat and drink throughout our stay, towels cards, and room keys and, we rented a key to the safe for the duration of our stay. Again, we booked four rooms through MCM Tours and had asked them to request for obvious reasons, that at least my grandmother's room, be located on the ground floor with the three remaining rooms as close together as possible. In checking in we discovered that all our rooms were adjacent on the first floor of the 1300 building- 1313, 1311, 1309 and 1307. We were off to a wonderful start.

Some people worry about security with these ground floor rooms but I would not worry too much if you take the proper precautions. We felt just as safe at the Tamarijn in a ground floor room as we did anywhere else we have stayed in our 15 previous visits to the island. The room's sliding glass doors have a bar which locks across the middle of the door in addition to a standard lock. Our lock was always locked when we were not in the room. I have heard from others who either forgot to put up the bar or chose to sleep with their door open, that security had stopped by and asked them to shut the door and put up the bar. In building 1300, because of the direction of Aruba's tradewinds, front to back on our room, we had to ensure we truly pulled hard when shutting the front door to our room to guarantee that the lock had caught. Not doing so, there would be a chance the door could blow open. This is not an issue as long as you are aware of it. There was visible security around the resort day and night. Twice during the day when I walked to the end of the resort to the 2500 building there was a security guard posted there as well.

Rooms came equipped with hair dryers, iron and ironing board (not for me on vacation thank you), and a mini-refrigerator and clock radio alarm. You can put whatever food you wish in the mini-fridge. It is totally empty and located on the bottom right of the armoire. Delicious Aruban water is from their desalinization plant and can flow from the tap quite warm. Bring your own empty pitcher if you want to chill some to keep in the fridge. Satellite TV stations were very well covered: ESPN, ESPN2, HBO, TNT, Disney, USA, WGN, TBS, CNN, Venevision, Tele Aruba, Cinemax, Fox, CNN Headline News, BBC World, BBC America, CNBC, ABC Family, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox Sports, Golf Channel, MTV, In-house TV and a couple of others, presumably South American, I never heard of.

The maids have a tough job keeping the tile floors clean of sand. I know in all four of our rooms, no matter how hard we tried, we still tracked in some sand each day. We took the towel tub mat and placed it right inside our sliding glass door from our patio to wipe our feet on when we came in the room, and that helped some. I think the rooms in the higher numbered buildings which have grass between their room and the beach, accumulate less sand.

Again, I have read complaints about the noise from these in the wall units but it was never was a problem for our family and, it soon became just background noise. The air conditioning had a digital thermostat to set as you wished and to boot, the room had a ceiling fan! Lighting in the room could have been better for reading at night. Luckily dd, had brought her book light and dh used that to read before falling asleep at night. If you have a lot of hanging clothes, bringing a dozen extra clothes hangers from home is also a pretty good idea. Between dd and myself we need at least 8 hangers just for beach cover-ups.

Many people state, for them the biggest turnoff is the bathroom, but honestly I thought it was clean. There was always hot water, soap and plenty of fresh, fluffy towels. I have one photo where it looks like mildew on the tiles in the shower, but after close examination dh and I did not think so. I have horrible allergies to mold and mildew and have had allergic reaction in rooms in other resorts throughout the Caribbean because of this. This was not the case at the Tamarijn. The shower had shampoo-body soap "all in one" type wall dispenser and a bar of soap were provided as well. There is a liquid soap dispenser for the sink as well. If you like your "own" brand bring it from home and if you have longer hair definitely bring conditioner for your hair.

With my grandmother being now 94 years old, she has difficulty walking long distances. Past Christmas vacations when we have taken cruises, she has spent most of her days on the balcony of her cabin sharing only meals with us. I just knew that if we could convince her that Aruba was a destination which would appeal to the entire family, that the Tamarijn would be the perfect accommodation. The entire family loves the beach so our days are spent mainly there and, of course, in the ocean swimming. What would be more fitting for her than an oceanfront room with a patio where she could sit working her crossword puzzle or where only steps away, she could lounge under a shade palapa all within sight and contact of the entire family.

In building 1300, everything was centrally located for her, whether we needed to get her out to the lobby to the rental car for our "do it yourself" island tour or the golf cart shuttle to take us over to the Divi for dinner at the ala carte Red Parrot Restaurant or an even shorter walk to Pizza per Tutti for lunch or a snack or the Cunucu Terrace for breakfast or lunch. Also close by between the lobby and the Cunucu Terrace were the ala carte restaurants, Ginger and Paparazzi. The Palm Court Grill is also located adjacent to the Cunucu Terrace. Again, this was ideal for someone who could not do much walking.

After settling into our spectacular oceanfront room, we met up with my grandmother and headed over to Pizza per Tutti where we had some delicious pizza and my first Balashi of the trip, all while overlooking the ocean just a stones throw away! The snack proved to be more than enough food to hold us over until our first night's dinner at the Red Parrot. Following our snack, dh headed back to the room to unpack, and I headed to the lobby to await my brother, my nephew and two nieces. It had been a year since I had seen the kids, and I missed them dearly. Following a long day of travel, the next best thing to being in Aruba, was sitting in the Tamarijn lobby gently cooled by the tradewinds, just after dark, relaxing in the warm glow of the Christmas lights and beautiful Christmas decorations and trees.

The Tamarijn: Food, Beverage & Service
Food was excellent throughout the resort and there was always something for everyone, including the children. For food the buffet opened at 7 a.m. and Pizza per Tutti stayed open until 1 a.m. For a quick snack there was always popcorn. They made it throughout the day at per Tutti and dish it out fresh in small paper bags. My niece complained the pizza at the pizza bar had a "plain" sauce and was "not like the NY pizza she was used to." She was supplied with oregano and red pepper- problem solved. We were totally taken by surprise by some of the more upscale offerings on the lunch buffet such as scallops in wine sauce and paella complete with shrimp, mussels and crabmeat (though I think that may have been imitation). Steaks at the Red Parrot were better than the ones we have been served on Princess and Celebrity Cruise Lines and in my opinion, the Churasco was better than El Gaucho's. The portions were also more than plentiful. If I had to say any part of the food was lacking it was the cakes for dessert, though there were a couple of chocolate cakes that were not half bad. Is anyone going to allow his vacation to be judged upon desserts?

My parents arrived at the Tamarijn a few hours prior to us so Mom was in charge of making dinner reservations. She was able to make reservations for the first three nights of our stay. Reservations the first day work out essentially, you get whichever seating's are left for the night you arrive and, except for those who have checked in already before you that day, you have first dibs on the next two nights. Then the following morning beginning at 8 a.m. you can make reservations for your fourth night's dinner and so on for the successive days. My husband is an early riser so was there at 8 a.m. each morning. The resort was full capacity for some of the nights we were there. On New Year's Eve, because of all the new check-ins of those who could book the 3 nights in advance, instead of 8:30 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. our reservation for that night was 8:45 p.m. We do not mind eating late, especially on New Year's Eve, a 15 minute difference was no big deal. Most every other evening we were able to reserve a table at 7:30 p.m. It was very sad arriving at the restaurants, which were supposed to be booked solid, and they sat half empty. From talking to the staff, they explained that from drinking all day, people get tired, take a nap and then sleep right through their dinner reservation.

You cannot discuss dining without mentioning the service. Again, a matter of opinion, we did not have high expectations for the service at the resort after reading negative things throughout the internet. We again, were very pleasantly surprised at how good the service was. Those Arubans who were outstanding included: Concierge Iris; at the Cunucu Terrace: Iso and Elvira; Tamarijn bartenders: John and Carmen and Calvin at the Red Parrot. These are just a few of the folks at the Tamarijn and Divi who made our vacation so enjoyable. I also cannot leave out the activities staff, which no matter how few participants they had, just carried on in their jobs trying their best to get the crowd involved. The biggest draw of the day was always poolside bingo. I knew the ladies from the kid's club were winners when they surprised the kids during pool games by jumping in to the surprise of everyone, with all their clothes on! The kids thought it was cool, and so did I.

My husband was not keen on tipping at an all inclusive where the tipping was "included," but at my prodding, he quickly learned that a $5 tip here and there was worth a ton of good will. He visited the concierge first thing 8 a.m. each morning to make our dinner reservations. Twice he came forth with a $5 tip and both reactions were the same, utter shock. Evidently no one at the resort ever tips the concierge? Must have been a truly memorable moment for sure if dh received a hug and kiss from Iris the concierge as we were departing. $5 first thing in the a.m. helped us get prompt service the rest of the day at Pizza per Tutti, meaning if we walked up the same time as someone else, we were handed the drink first, rather than having to wait and the drink being slid across the bar. This also helped our dd who is a little on the short side stand out among the crowd when she was waiting to be served. Dd was having a difficult time in the beginning getting served her afternoon ice cream. When they found out she was with us that took care of that problem too. LOL...Was it a problem? Where was she rushing off to anyway?

There was no beach or pool service, but the bars served just about every kind of tropical drink imaginable. Alcohol served was name brands. They only served one brand of wine, Colon, from Argentina. Dh liked the merlot, Mom liked the Chardonnay, and I liked the Pinot Grigio. Beer is only available on tap. All bars served the local Balashi beer. Balashi is a light lager similar to Amstel Bright and Corona. Some of the bars carried Amstel and Heineken. For beverages, or food, for that matter, neither beach nor pool service was offered. If you ordered something at Pizza per Tutti and wanted to sit at the table and chairs they have under the canopy overlooking the boardwalk and ocean, the bartenders would gladly bring your food over to you after it was cooked.

Breakfast buffet at the Cunucu Terrace at the Tamarijn was more than satisfying. There is a problem if you could not find something to your liking. Offerings included: yogurts, small platter of meats and cheese, chunks of fresh fruit: pineapple, orange, mango, melons, eggs cooked to order, hard boiled eggs, French toast, pancakes, pastries and breads, corned beef hash, scrambled eggs, sausage links, sausage patties, bacon, Dutch potatoes (baked cubed potatoes with onion) and juices: fruit punch, orange, grapefruit, tomato and cranberry among others. Dh did not particularly care for the coffee, but then again we have never traveled where he liked the coffee as much as he does his own at home. It is interesting to note that on New Year's morning, dh and I decided to head to the Divi's breakfast buffet and in addition to the above, they offered lox as well as egg's Benedict and poached eggs. Overall the breakfast was a little more upscale, but if you do not like the walk or the even longer wait for the golf cart shuttle there from the Tamarijn, it is not a huge deal if you skip it. As a nicely added touch, on both Christmas and New Year's morning, the resorts offered a choice of Mimosa or champagne at the breakfast buffet.

Monday Lunch Buffet Cold Buffet: chef salad, nicoise salad, beet salad, fresh cut fruits, fresh cut fruits, salad bar; Soup of the Day: cream of asparagus; Hot Buffet: wild rice with mushrooms, macaroni and cheese, deep fried plantain and potatoes, BBQ ribs, turkey and mushroom; Action Station: chicken nuggets with honey mustard sauce, pork sate with peanut sauce, stir fried vegetables, Cajun mahi-mahi, grilled beef steak with chimichurri; Sandwiches: hamburger, hot dog, tuna salad, smoked turkey-tomato, pastrami-mozzarella; Dessert: variety of mousse and cakes. Tuesday Lunch Buffet Cold Buffet: crabmeat salad, baby corn salad, coleslaw, fresh cut fruits, salad bar; Soup of the Day: beef bullion with noodles; Hot Buffet: rice pilaf with curry, penne with basil pesto, mashed potatoes, cauliflower in cream sauce, Cajun beef stew; Action Station: fried calamari, beef skewer with spicy dip, pork loin stir fry, chicken stir fry with vegetables; Sandwiches: hamburger, hot dog, egg salad, gouda-lettuce-tomato, turkey-cheese-bacon; Dessert: variety of mousse and cakes. Wednesday Lunch Buffet Cold Buffet: Titi shrimp salad, turkey salad, potato salad, green bean salad, salad bar; Soup of the Day: Boston clam chowder; Hot Buffet: Cajun rice, tri-color rottini with pesto, potato bonne femms, sautéed zucchini, spicy chicken wings, pork in tomato basil sauce; Action Station: French fries, onion rings, fish skewer, stir fry beef, pork in mushroom sauce; Sandwiches: hamburger, hot dog, salami, roast beef-mozzarella; Dessert: variety of mousse and cakes. Thursday Lunch Buffet Cold Buffet: Italian salad, bean salad, egg salad, salad bar; Soup of the Day: Potato garlic; Hot Buffet: white rice with raisins and butter, penne carbonara, boiled potato in tomato sauce, mixed vegetables; steamed mussels in wine sauce, sweet and sour vegetables; Action Station: mini croquettes, chicken sate with peanut sauce, beef stir fry, pork in sun dried tomato pesto; Sandwiches: hamburger, hot dog, shrimp salad, pastrami-mustard, mozzarella-salami-onion; Dessert: variety of mousse and cakes. Friday Lunch Buffet Cold Buffet: mixed seafood pasta salad, beef potato salad, kidney bean salad, salad bar; Soup of the Day: Goulash; Hot Buffet: fried rice, bow tie pasta with four cheese sauce, fried potatoes and peppers, Asian mixed vegetables, BBQ chicken drumsticks, jerk beef ribs; Action Station: fish fritters with Thai sauce, meatball onion skewer, pork in pepper sauce, chicken with fajita spices, French fries; Sandwiches: hamburger, hot dog, prosciutto-provolone-pepperoni-onions; Dessert: variety of mousse and cakes. Saturday Lunch Buffet Cold Buffet: chef salad, tri-color pasta with pesto, rice-fruit-raisin and nut salad, salad bar; Soup of the Day: chicken consommé with vegetables; Hot Buffet: rice with herbs, fettuccine with tomato basil sauce, curried boiled potatoes, corn on the cob, fish fillet in Creole sauce, beef stew; Action Station: breaded pork in zingara sauce, beef kabob, grilled chicken in BBQ sauce, mini pastechi; Sandwiches: hamburger, hot dog, bacon-lettuce-tomato, cheese-mushroom-pizza sauce, salmon salda; Dessert: variety of mousse and cakes. Sunday Lunch Buffet Cold Buffet: chicken vegetable salad, four bean salad, beef macaroni salad, salad bar; Soup of the Day: mushroom; Hot Buffet: paella, farfalle with mushrooms, potato quiche, yellow squash with onions, pork Roast with mustard sauce, sesame chicken in five spice sauce; Action Station: fried fish with tarter sauce, chicken with sweet and sour sauce, pork in pepper corn sauce, soy beef and vegetables; Sandwiches: hamburger, hot dog, crabmeat salad, roast beef-lettuce-peppers, ham-cheese-pineapple; Dessert: variety of mousse and cakes.

When we did not eat at the buffet for lunch, we ate at Pizza Per Tutti. We also walked over to per Tutti for most of our beverages since it was so close to our room. For water or soda, we walked to the other side of the swimming pool to Coconuts where there was a self-service station. My personal favorites at per Tutti were the made to order, thin crust pizza with mushrooms, tomato, peppers, onions and olives, the Mexican fries which are topped with salsa, sour cream, cheese sauce and guacamole as well as the onion rings. My Mom loved their garlic bread, grandmother enjoyed the garlic bread and, of course all the kids loved the chicken nuggets, ice cream, frozen virgin drinks and grape soda. In June I will try the Tuna on French bread as well as the meatball sandwich on French bread. If you were still hungry, everyday, many times a day they were making pop corn. Popcorn was dispensed plain so low calorie which makes it even better. On the subject of calories, dh and I thought we would gain some weight on this trip with all the terrific food, and it turned out we did not. He and I came to the conclusion that with all the walking back and forth between the bar and the buffet or per Tutti, we were burning the calories as we consumed them.

Some days my grandmother did not feel up to walking to the Cunucu Terrace so my brother or I, would fix her a plate "to go". Usually, one of her favorites, a hot dog with sauerkraut or a nice salad from the salad bar, and she would eat it at the table on her patio overlooking the ocean.

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