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Tamarijn Aruba June 12 - 24, 2008Author: Arubalisa (More Trip Reviews by Arubalisa)
Date of Trip: June 2008
This trip was summer vacation for dh, dd and I. We had been to the Tamarijn once previously over Christmas and New Year's 2008 with our entire family (parents, grandparent etc.) totaling 10 of us. We had a terrific time and thought the resort was just perfect thus were looking forward to returning.
Unfortunately for dh, this was to be a "working vacation". He is able to work via laptop, mostly during hours as he chooses, but an internet connection is a necessity. Dh was required to work a single day during our previous trip to the Tamarijn and he was very satisfied with the connection. It is wireless, however there is a charge of $50 per week. This trip, with a bigger workload though, he was a little nervous about avoiding unforeseen disaster, we figured he would have the ability to work and there would be no problems. More on that shortly.
Our Delta flight was a half hour late departing in Atlanta, traffic volume in Atlanta. I had the window seat and was able to count a minimum of 12 planes ahead of us. Hartsfield recently completed construction of their fifth runway and are now contemplating a sixth. Gosh, it cannot come quick enough. Standard Delta two trips with the drink cart, a choice of free crackers or a pack of cookies etc. and the new EATS menu, food for purchase http://www.delta.com/traveling_checkin/inflight_services/food/#ffp. We knew what to expect so brought along our own delicious home roasted beef sandwiches as well as some snacks. If anything, eating makes a long flight seem to go faster. Unfortunately we did not make up any time during the flight so arrived a half hour late. Lucky for us, we received our luggage relatively quickly and were off to the Tamarijn via Taxi.
We had asked our wonderful travel agent at MCM Tours to request a room in the 1300 for us, the same building as we had last time. Upon check in we were given room 1211 on the first floor. That was fine; we had a nice room, on the corner like our last one which makes the patio a "little" more private. We were longing to jump in the ocean and dinner reservations which we had made on the way in were not until 9 p.m. so we would have plenty of time to unpack after a swim, snack and happy hour. I dug out the bathing suits while dh got out the laptop to make sure he had an internet connection. He did not. Initially he took it better than I thought, but soon panic began to set in.
Seeing the situation and knowing dh, I knew it was best to leave him to solve the situation and best to get out from under foot. Dd and I headed to Pizza per Tutti for a drink and a snack. While there I got a soda to bring back to the room for dh. By this point he had spoken to the front desk who said they would call their I.T. person. He was not "on" property. To the Tamarijn's credit, within 45 minutes he had arrived and increased the power for the Wi-Fi to the room. Unfortunately it was not enough and the internet was still sporadic with a very poor signal. Dh walked to the front desk and asked them if they had a room in the 1300 building because it is closest to the "access point" and they had one room. They were a little hesitant in giving us room 1319, warning us we would be directly next to the Pizza Bar, Pizza per Tutti. Another reason we think the Tamarijn was hesitant was because it is a handicapped room with a handheld shower, no tub, just walk-in stall but it is big. The bathroom overall was larger than the "standard" bathroom. They gave dh the keys to see the room; especially the bathroom and he came and got dd to check it out with us.
It was fine with us. A happy dh/Daddy is a happy vacationer. He went back to tell the front desk we would change rooms. The bell men were busy with check-ins so we very easily and gladly, took our wheeled luggage and carry-on to our new room. Oh how thankful I was that we had not unpacked. Later when we began unpacking dh insisted that he lost his black belt when we changed rooms. LOL, when we arrived home 12 nights later that black belt was hanging right in his closet where he left it. Waking at 3:30 a.m. he never realized he had put on his brown belt instead. We had a good laugh!
As it turned out in the end, being next to Pizza per Tutti was no problem whatsoever. If anything of course it was convenient to beverage and snacks. Dd spent most of her time at the pool so easy for dh and I to check up on her. People have asked me since if the room was noisy because of the bar and it was not. At night you could hear the recorded music from the bar through the bathroom window, once you left the bath that was about it and certainly never kept us awake. Our room 1319 also had a door to the adjoining room 1317 and we never heard a sound through the walls. Even during our previous visit to the Tamarijn we never heard a peep through the walls.
It was wonderful being back at the Tamarijn and we finally began to settle in. Dh's "girlfriend" Iris the concierge recognized all three of us from Christmas, and Igmar from the activities staff remembered, or at least said he did :-) dd. Just a mention that the activities/kids club staff were all the same individuals as were there at Christmas time. I like to think that is a good sign of not only happy employees, but ones who are doing their job satisfactorily. Definitely the conclusion we had come to in December! Our first night's dinner was to be at Paparazzi at 9 pm. The Red Parrot only had 9:30 p.m. or 5:30 p.m. LOL, we don't even eat that early at home, never mind on vacation. Since they did not have a decent time for the next night either, we made a reservation for Saturday, our third night, outside at the Red Parrot at 7:30 p.m. We had wanted to try appetizer night at the Promenade anyway; Dh did not have to be available for work early evening as he does Sunday through Thursday until 8 p.m. so we planned on that for our second night. Lucky for us, sunset in June is not until about 7:10 p.m. so we were finally able to make it into the ocean for a swim. The beach in front of the 1300 building was just as rocky as it was at Christmas, but this time there was enough sand to be able to pick our way through the rocks into the water. There was seaweed in the where the water washed onto the beach most days of our trip, but you could at least get past it. More important, the water was nice and warm.
Enough said about the Tamarijn. In our minds, for the money and an oceanfront, clean room, all you can drink and decent food, there really is no better bargain on the island. There is really not much more to be said about the hotel itself and amenities which I did not already say here http://www.independenttraveler.com/tripreports/tripreports.cfm?ID=1510. Really the only things I can add are that breakfast at the Tamarijn now offered baked tomatoes most morning (just one of my favorites which I do not get at home) and at lunch they have "wrap of the day" which rotates with different fillings. They were delicious and a nice "cold" alternative to all of the "hot" dishes offered on the buffet. Also now the activities staff offers afternoon bingo poolside every afternoon Monday through Friday beginning at 3 p.m. Prizes varied between bottles of wine and champagne and t-shirts. If you didn't care for your prizes, a polite smile and you could do some "dealing. I won a bottle of wine and gave it to my friend. During the week she won 2 bottles of wine and then traded all three bottles for four t-shirts :-)
Each morning dh awoke early and was out on the beach under the palapa outside our room by 6 a.m. He worked for about an hour and a half. By then I was more or less awake and we would head off to breakfast. The breakfast buffet at the Cunucu Terrace was every bit as good as we had remembered it. The rest of the days when we did not have an activity planned was spent relaxing on the beach.
Friday night was our much awaited dinner at the Promenade. The food was excellent, the service was awful. There were 3 tables of 8 people each and they received all the attention in the world. After two rounds of appetizers we sat for 35 minutes. Dh went and spoke to the hostess and they began serving us again, but he said he would never go back. Since then he has back tracked just slightly and says now he would think about going back but would only for an ala carte dinner. We shall see.
This trip to Aruba, we had decided to take dd to see the Natural Pool. Dh and I had driven there twice previously on our own via 4 x 4. Dh hated driving there and did not want to do it again. He is allergic to horses so that was out. The new Tom Cars looked cool on the Aruba Off-Road website so we decided we would give that a shot. The day before we left for Aruba they emailed a confirmation and substituted Baby Beach for the Natural Pool. The reason we booked the tour was for the Natural Pool, so we cancelled.
We then booked an ATV tour with Rancho Daimari. By chance when a kind person on the Aruba bulletin board heard we had changed our plans to an ATV tour, he instead recommended Kini Kini Tours http://www.kinikini.com/kk/servlet/Home. Dh cancelled Rancho Daimari and called Kini Kini and booked a private ATV tour.
We awoke early Saturday morning to give ourselves enough time for breakfast. While dd and I were finishing up dh went to the concierge to make a dinner reservation. He got confused and saw the van for Daimari and went over and talked to the driver. The driver said, yes he was there to pick us up and if we were not all there within 5 minutes he was leaving without us. HE was 20 minutes early and even if we were "really" booked with them, I don't like being threatened when he was early. Dh ran and got us at the buffet, we high tailed back to the room for a last potty stop and to pick up our backpack and we were off. When I saw the van I immediately knew dh had gotten confused and Daimari's driver took advantage of this. We were later told by others that this is a common practice for Daimari. They see tourists at resort lobbies waiting for pick ups and they try to grab them for their tours instead. Shame on them!
I went straight up to the driver and told him that we had cancelled and there was no way we were going ANYWHERE with him and his attitude. So dd and I sit down to await our pick up from Kini Kini and lo and behold there is their driver recognizable by his "Kini Kini" t-shirt sitting on the bench across from us. We went over and introduced ourselves and he helped us into the van and we were off. A short ride down to the high rise hotels we picked up a couple who were taking a jeep tour.
Our driver Ray took us to Kini Kini's office. It was a house and we were instructed to walk through the house to the back and there was the office! This office is actually in the home of the owners Eloy and his wife Christine. We indeed felt as if we were being welcomed into their home. Our credit card information was processed and we were then taken to the ATV's for orientation and safety as well as fitting for our helmets. Eloy and Ray made us feel very comfortable and gave us a good run through before our butts even hit the seats. If the ATV's were not new, they were "like" new. During our stop at the Natural Bridge, a rider on a rented ATV from another company admired our ATV's saying, "We got the good ones."
I rode single and our 12 yo dd rode on the back of the ATV with dh. Following our guide Ray, we were off to visit the sites. I have to say dh and I had never rode ATV's previously and were slightly nervous given the prospect of riding some local roads prior to heading "off road" once past the tip of the island and the California Lighthouse. Our worries were for nothing. By the time we left the lighthouse we were of course off road and I know I personally was feeling very comfortable driving. Ray allowed us to drive at a speed comfortable to us, leading accordingly and offering up insight and history at each stop.
Our sites visited included: California Lighthouse, Wish Garden, Alto Vista Chapel, "Baby" Natural Bridge, Bushiribana Ruins, the Natural Bridge and Natural Pool. We have been to all the above sites previously and again, took the tour for access to the Natural Pool. We did give up the stop at the Ayo Rock Formations in order to be able to spend additional time at the Natural Pool. Our guide Ray was very happy to oblige. Dd was happy to be able to take a swim, cool off and rinse off some of the dirt.
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