This is our review of our 6/15/95 to 6/20/95 trip to Aruba. This trip was a celebration of our 16th anniversary, with our anniversary being June 16. We decided, therefore, it would be neat to return to the hotel where we spent our anniversary, the Manchebo Beach resort in Aruba. We hadn t really thought about Manchebo that much until we saw a story in Caribbean Travel and Life which named Manchebo as one of the 10 most economical best buys in the Caribbean. Another reason we had booked here was because we had a coupon for one free night during the week of our anniversary for life. We booked directly through the resort, paying $130 per night for an oceanview room with balcony. For those of you who don t know our names, we do a lot of cruising, in addition to several land vacations to the Caribbean in the past few years. Therefore, those land lubbers among you will forgive our mention of cruise ships herein from time to time.
We booked on American, using FF tickets for me. DCA to JFK on a tree-hopper special, leaving at the ungodly hour of 6:40 A.M., 2 « hour layover there, then a direct flight from JFK to Aruba. The flight from JFK was around 4 hours and comfortable as such a flight can be, with the plane being less than half full, so we had three seats for the two of us. I stretched out to make up for lost sleep, from having had to rise at 4:30 that morning.
We arrived just about on time at 3 P.M., whereupon the pilot announced that we would have to wait a few minutes as there was no place to PARK the plane. Seems they re doing construction on the runways and there was no place to park. Anyway we waited just a few minutes, then grabbed our carryon bags (which was all we brought) and headed for a very short immigration line (maybe 3 minutes in line) and off to grab a cab for the trip to Manchebo.
When we checked in, the lady at the front desk attempted to TAKE my card which said that we had a free room for life during our anniversary. I objected and she, rather grumpily, said she would have to make a copy of it, so she would have security return it to me, since it would take a while for the copier to warm up.
When we arrived in the room, having recently looked at the pictures from our trip 16 years ago, I was pleasantly surprised with the room. The room was fully tiled with a nice bathroom with relatively new fixtures, with complementary shampoo/conditioner and lotion, TV with remote (around 20 channels) a/c and ceiling fan, furnished in light rattan furnishings. There was a chest with 4 drawers a nightstand with another drawer, around 2 « feet of hanging space, with several wooden hangers, with clips for skirts or shorts. There was a mini fridge and a key operated safe. The only negative was that the rooms apparently all have only 2 double beds. Sleeping in a king-sized bed at home, those double beds looked about the size of a twin!
We stepped out to our small balcony to check out the view. We looked straight ahead to the water and slightly off to the left for the bar and further off to the left for the pool and the indoor/outdoor restaurant. The indoor/outdoor restaurant served breakfast, lunch and dinner, the beach bar lunch, and there was also the French Steak house for dinner.
Manchebo Beach Resort is not for everyone but it suited our purposes for the long weekend perfectly. It s a small, two story hotel with around 70 rooms. It s a quiet place, with a great beach, lots of shade huts, and no place to rent jetskis, go parasailing, banana boats, etc. All those items are available down by the high rises, but not here at Manchebo. There was supposedly live entertainment every night at the resort after 8 P.M., but we were not often around the hotel at that time.
Upon arriving, we unpacked our stuff and headed out to check out the beach. It is a LONG way from the hotel to the water at Manchebo! Manchebo Beach advertises itself as having the widest sand beach in Aruba . Having confirmed that fact, we headed over to the bar to collect our free welcome drinks . The bar was deserted, except for one other couple.
We passed a couple of enjoyable hours enjoying the view and unwinding, and then decided to check out our surroundings more, walking across the street to the Alhambra Casino. Slots were open, but not many tables, so we left. We decided (Eric says I decided) to take a walk down to one of the other casinos, which I somehow thought were within somewhat easy walking distance. We finally ended up at the Hyatt, which I figured later was probably around 2 miles or so, which was not what I had really intended in the way of a short walk, but we did have a nice walk and enjoyed the sunset alog the way, complete with a view of the ascination, which sailed along with us down the beach, eventually disappearing into the sunset. We checked out a couple of casinos on the way, looking for the elusive $.25 roulette, and managing to miss the one place which did have it, which was the Aruba Palm Beach.
We ate at the Palms at the Hyatt. The meal was definitely in the OK range, but not worth the money. I had shrimp and chickn stir fry and Eric had prime rib. After dinner, we took a cab back to the Alhambra and I lost at roulette (.$.50 variety) and won big time on nickle slots. What a big spender! Since we were both tired, back to the hotel to bed before 11.
Friday we decided to eat the hot breakfast buffet at the hotel. Omelettes (cooked to order), french toast, hash browns and pancakes, plus croissants, sweet rolls, lots of fruits and juices, for $8.95. The cold buffet was good also, at $6.00.
We had wanted to pick up some cokes at a price cheaper than the $1 each at the little mini-mart at our hotel, so we headed out Friday morning in search of some cokes and a few food items and a little shopping. I was disappointed to find no place relatively quickly with cokes for under $1 per can, but we did pick up a pineapple to take back to the hotel, along with a couple of subs from Subway, complements of a 2 for 1 coupon In one of the little books we picked up at the airport. We came on back to the hotel and bought some cokes there for $1 each to place in our refrigerator. We passed the grocery store on the way, but we didn t have a car and Eric didn t want to make a special trip in a taxi to go there, so we made do and generally did OK with the happy hour drinks at the hotel (2 for 1).
Shopping didn t take too long, so we were back to the hotel by 11 A.M. From there we spent a couple of hours on the beach, then had our sandwiches for lunch and headed back out for some more sun. Tough work. Around 5 we headed in for a shower before heading off to the happy hour at the bar. We shared the bar with around a half dozen other folks, then decided to walk over to the Alhambra before dinner. Not much doing there and we lost some money before heading down to El Gaucho for dinner. El Gaucho lived up to it s billing here on $P$, with some great service and a great steak for me and a mixed grill platter for Eric, complemented by (what else??), an ARGENTENIAN bottle of wine. We finished up with some very South American (read STRONG!!) coffee. We finished dinner around 9:30, by which time, even in this slow season, there were people waiting to be seated for dinner.
Into a taxi from there, and on to $.25 roulette! Here on the BB, one fellow had stated that there was $.25 roulette at the Aruba Palm Beach, and he was perfectly correct. I had been very disappointed the night before to find no $.25 roulette at the Alhambra, therefore was pleased to find it at the Palm Beach. As things turned out for Thursday night and for most of the rest of the week, I guess they were pleased I found it also! Ah well, tomorrow is another day and another opportunity to win money. The Aruba Palm Beach also has $2 blackjack tables. It s pretty small and not particularly fancy but the dealers are friendly and the casino is very generous with drinks, even for me when I was only watching Eric play, and vice versa. We lost our share for the evening, then headed back to bed a little after midnight.
Saturday dawned bright and sunny and windy. Imagine that! (G!!) We headed down for the cold breakfast buffet at the hotel, which we shared with several birds and a large horde of ants. I came back and started on this trip report and then we headed out for a day of sun. We basically accomplished very little, other than the fact that I read about a third of a book and we each got a little darker, although no burns yet, despite spending from 10:30 to 4:30 on the beach, as we spent a good deal of time under one of the shade cabanas, and wore 15 sunscreen.
Lunch was at the Pega Pega Bar at Manchebo. Great cheeseburgers, fries and slaw for $5.75, plus some drinks and a great view of the aqua-blue waters. We spent the rest of the afternoon supine and resting up for a heavy evening in the casino.
Saturday evening we made our only major mistake of the the week, with deciding to go to Twinklebones for dinner. I had heard several people here on the BB mention it and saw it in one of the magazines, so suggested we go there. Not at ALL our type of place and we left before the show. I think that we were slightly put off by the $5 INSTANT pictures in the little paper folder frame.
Having escaped from Twinklebones, we walked over toward the casinos and finally picked up a cab and headed over to the Aruba Palm Beach to lose a little money before heading back to bed.
Sunday during the day was kind of a repeat of Friday and Saturday and a precurser or Monday, (beach from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M.), except that we headed over to Dunkin Donuts for breakfast. Eric wanted to buy the t-shirt that said Dunkin Donuts Aruba--It s worth the trip! , but, fuddy-duddy that I am, I said no. We brought our donuts back to eat at the bar at the hotel (which wasn t open yet). I always aspired to eat my breakfast at the bar on a tropical island and got my wish here. We spent the rest of the day alternately basting ourselves with lotion in the sun, then heading back to the shade. Manchebo beach is the unofficial topless beach in Aruba. Since I am somewhat well-endowed upstairs, and I spent a good deal of my time sitting upright reading Gore Vidal s Empire, I got a somewhat interesting tan line that I hadn't ever had before, but I survived.
Two cruise ships, the OceanBreeze, as well as the Seawind Crown, are home ported in Aruba. Sunday evening we decided to head downtown to see if we could locate a crew member who we had become friends with when we sailed on the OceanBreeze a couple of years ago. As we suspected, he was now gone on to another ship. We were sad we didn t hook up with him, but not sorry we tried. We decided to check out Mama Mia s for dinner. We had a lovely dinner, gazing out at the two cruise ships in the harbor. I had tortellini in cream sauce and Eric had a spaghetti bolongnese. Wonderful. The only slightly sour note, which we managed to laugh through, was that our friend JOHN, I believe his name was, from Twinklebones, he of the $5 instant picture, showed up at Mama Mia's. Eric told him that we weren't interested in his pictures the night before and sure weren't interested tonight. I don't really think that he got it! (G!!) We listened to a little of the live music (which is supposedly a nightly occurance here) and headed down to the casino, then back home around 12:30. Somehow, each night we kind of ran out of gas around 12:30 and we had the same taxi driver at least two nights.
This is as good a place as any to put in a word about the taxis in Aruba. We did not bother to rent a car and decided not to fool with the bus, which was $1 PP to town, as opposed to $5 for the whole TAXI to town. Taxis in Aruba are very reasonable. Taxi fare down to town was $5, to the Aruba Palm Beach also $5, unless it was after 12 midnight, when there was an extra $1 surcharge. We also found them to be exceedingly prompt when summoned. I think that the absolute longest that we ever waited for a taxi from the hotel was maybe 3 or 4 minutes. All taxi drivers were very nice and polite and most all had a/c on, except (of course!) for the fellow who picked us up at the airport. He was pretty surly and had no a/c on, even though it was around 3 P.M. and pretty warm.
Monday was a pretty good repeat of Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with breakfast at the hotel, then beach from 10 to 5. The only really amusing note was that I was sitting reading the 10 page Aruba newspaper when I saw the story about the cruise ship Celebration (on which I have sailed TWICE), which stated that the Celebration had had a fire onboard. Then, a page or two later, I saw where another cruise ship, the American Queen, had run aground on her inaugural voyage! We decided that this had been a bad week for cruise ships and that we were glad that we weren t on a ship this week!! (Of course, after we get home this week, another ship, the Star Princess, hit a rock in Alaska. Perilous times for ships!) Around 5 we went in to the disagreeable task of beginning to pack, then we headed back out before sunset to take a few more pictures and drink down the sun to the horizon. After dusk, we walked over to the Bucuti Beach resort next door to the Pirates Nest restaurant for dinner. We had a nice dinner of red snapper for Eric and beef stroganoff for me. The best part of the meal was at the end when I told the waiter that we were headed home the next day. He asked if we wanted some match play coupons for the casino. I said Sure! , since I had been looking out for them all the time we had been there and had seen none to date. Match play coupons are all over the place in St. Marten and they had so far eluded me in Aruba. He proceeded to give me 24 (!!!!) $5 match play coupons for the Alhambra. We took them straight away to the Alhambra and I managed to be very lucky with roulette, with the second 18 coming in 6 times in a row, then switching to blackjack and being somewhat similarly lucky. I was playing a coupon every hand and I was waiting for them to tell me that I couldn t play any more coupons, but they didn t, and we walked out after about 20 minutes a lot richer than when we walked in. Of course, then we proceeded to get in a taxi and head down to the Aruba Palm Beach, to give most of it back!
Tuesday our plane didn t leave until 3 P.M., so we asked for, and got, extended checkout from the hotel, until 2 P.M. We spent the morning on the beach, had a last burger and fries and drinks on the beach, showered and changed and checked out and arrived at the airport around 2:15 for our 2:50 flight. The fellow at the American counter was a bit miffed and said that we should have gotten there earlier, but we got right through the lline for immigration (except for the couple in front of us who couldn t find their immigration cards, then couldn t find their boarding passes) and were there in plenty of time. When our flight was announced, the fellow at the counter told us to go out the door to the last plane on the left . I thought that was pretty funny, like we were going to get lost between the terminal and the plane..
We had to go throught Miami on the way home, and after a rain delay (G!!) there, plus an additional delay since they put our bags on the wrong carousel, we headed out to DCA and arrived in D.C. around 10:15 and finally home around 11:30.
In short, even though we didn t do many (or maybe even MOST!) of the things that Aruba has available, we had a wonderful, relaxing time. Just what we needed for the time we had available.
|Cruise Photo Gallery||Cruise Reviews and Links|
|Island Reviews and Links||Island Photo Gallery|
|Back to home page|