I’m always obsessed with the beach, but perhaps my obsession grows a little in the winter. We just returned from a vacation on the beach for New Year’s, and I’m already dreaming up our next getaway. If you are like me, here’s a warm, sunny option to consider:
Scouted: The Ritz-Carlton Aruba
Rooms: The guest rooms were very clean with spacious bathrooms that have walk-in glass showers and separate soaking tubs. The beds were comfortable with soft sheets and feather pillows.
Food/Drinks: I love eating lunch outside with a view of the ocean, so I was very happy that the Ritz has the Madero Latin Grill with fresh, delicious food! Unfortunately, the food served in the restaurants for dinner was not the best. The quality was definitely acceptable, but the flavor was lacking. Room Service was high quality and had slightly better flavors. Overall, dessert was not tasty, except for some very magically doughy chocolate chip cookies served at night.
Beach: There is a lot of wind in Aruba that can blow the sand around. The Ritz has very comfy lounge chairs and umbrellas set back that helps to block this. The walk from the beach to the water is short. The water is extremely calm and shallow. This is perfect for kids, and it was perfect for me. I was very weak with MS when we were there, and the water was so calm that I was able to safely swim by myself.
Pool: Ritz pools in the Caribbean tend to feel a little crowded, and this is true at their Aruba property. There are 2 pools here. The one I call the adult pool (I don’t know if it officially is), is fine for hanging out in with a drink, but there isn’t always a lot of space for actual swimming. To be clear, it in NO WAY feels crowded like an all-inclusive college hotel. The “kids” pool is where all of the families go. It is near very clean bathrooms, is larger, and has a nice “walkway” that is much easier and safer than stairs. It’s like walking into the ocean. Food and drinks are served at both pools.
Activities: Since the water is so calm, kayaking and paddle boarding here are very easy. The one thing I didn’t like though is that they rope you in and only allow you a certain space to be active. I don’t like being restricted.
Service: As I mentioned earlier, I was very weak with MS during our stay. The staff at the Ritz couldn’t have been more helpful. I was in a wheelchair, and every time a staff member saw my husband trying to open a door or navigate me through the lobby, they literally ran right over and physically assisted. That was 2 years ago. When I think about it now, I still feel really loved by those gentlemen that I didn’t even know.
Flights: Aruba works for me because there are nonstop business class flights from New York. Delta flies out of JFK and United flies out of EWR (Newark). If you fly on a Saturday, you can take JetBlue Mint Class. I have tips to find the best flight for you in my article, How to Become a Jet-Setter.
Airport: The Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA) does not make me happy. They try insisting you have to show up 3 hours before your flight to the U.S. I think you should check with your airline to see if there is any wiggle room here.
Transportation: The hotel is approximately 20 minutes from the airport. Contact email@example.com to set up transportation.
Warning: You need a passport if flying from the United States and you will have to go through customs and immigration. I put this in the “warning” section because I don’t wait well in lines. I don’t believe in lines. They are such a waste of life. Anyway, another important note when flying internationally is to keep any little papers you are given when you land because they often ask for them back when you are trying to fly home. I’ve been told I would not be allowed back on the plane unless I found them. I believe Husband said they are called “immigration papers.”
- Ritz’s can be a little pricey, but not too pricey. When I asked how much a glass of my favorite scotch was, I heard “$70,” and walked away without it (only slightly surprised). It turns out it was $17, only a couple more dollars than usual. I think there was a slight language barrier.
- Many resorts we’ve stayed at that advertise water sports often cancel them due to weather. That was not an issue here.
- Most (maybe all) rooms have a balcony. Room service on the balcony is by far the best way to enjoy breakfast.
- Food at the restaurants was “okay,” but didn’t feel worth the time or money. Appetizers in the lobby bar was much more relaxing and satisfying.
- The level of service can’t be beat. I’ll always remember when we asked the host of one restaurant for directions to the other restaurant, he left his post and walked with us across the property to show us the way.
Here’s to sun, sand, and salt….
Andrea Graye (and Husband, Ryan Glotzbecker)