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Old Tuesday, June 27th, 2006, 09:12 PM
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Default Great Vacation

My wife and I just returned from 2 marvelous weeks in Aruba. The weather was near perfect as was just about every aspect of our trip…other than our luck at the casinos. I won’t bore you with a long trip report, because we don’t really do much anymore other than sit around the LaCabana pool during the day, eat dinner at night, and then play video poker at either the Marriott (mostly) or Radisson casinos at night.

We noticed that the island appeared extremely quiet the first week of our trip. LaCabana pool and beach area was as quiet as I have ever seen it. Getting a chair by the pool or a palapa on the beach was not a problem at all. We drove down town and had a problem finding a parking space. Yet, there did not appear to be that many folks milling about. I think that most of the parked cars probably belonged to employees. The second week action picked up and things seemed more normal for this time of the year.

We never made a reservation at any of the restaurants we went to. It seemed that the informal places like Tony Roma’s, Iguana Joes, Smokey Joes, Champions and Bob’s Pizza were packed with people. The more formal, or perhaps more expensive restaurants, were darn near empty. We were happy with most of the places we ate with maybe two exceptions. Our three best meals were at:

Azzuro at the Playa Linda. We agree that this was the best meal of our trip. The restaurant has a great location and the food is just as great, from appetizer down to dessert. Both my wife and I like veal dishes, and their veal in a creamy lemon sauce is one of the best we ever had anywhere. Their prices are reasonable as well. We went there on a Monday night during the second week of our vacation. Only three tables were filled. Across the street, Smokey Joe’s was packed.

Rio Steak House. The place is huge. The Thursday night we went, there were three tables occupied, including ours. We enjoyed our meal and felt we received great value for our money. I had a giant beef tenderloin and my wife had a rib eye. Both made for a very good lunch the next day as well.

Tony Roma’s. We generally go there the first night on the island. I have read some negative comments about the place lately, but we thoroughly enjoyed our ribs. The place was packed with both locals and tourists, yet the service was pretty good.

We played Video Poker every night at the Marriott or Radisson casinos. My impression is that the Marriott is more generous in their comps than is the Radisson, and since the Marriott has the VP game that we enjoy the most, we spent more time there. Marriott has, I believe, the largest casino on the island, and always seemed to have a lively crowd. Both casinos had live entertainment and the drink service was always there, especially at the Marriott.

Our departure at the airport was a breeze. Our flight was at 3pm on a Sunday and we arrived at the airport a little more than 3 hours before that. Within 45 minutes, we were at the terminal gate. The only problem for me was that I had to take my shoes off twice when passing through the two security checkpoints. My wife, being a little smarter than me, carried her shoes from the first checkpoint to the second. I will remember that for sure next year.
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Old Tuesday, June 27th, 2006, 09:46 PM
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Default Re: Great Vacation

Welcome back, Tom! Just a couple comments ~ I loved Rio, too. We ate there twice, and next year will do the same. With the Aruba Plus card we got an extra 10% off, along with it being inexpensive. I couldn't understand why it was never crowded, but word of mouth is traveling, and it may pick up. I personally thought it was as good as, or better than El Goucho!

In February, a bunch of us were talking about the higher end restaurants, and the consensus of opinion was that the American economy is so bad that it's causing people who used to go "top shelf" not to be able to afford it any more.

I'm very content with Pizza Bob's, Tony Roma's and the like... as long as I'm on Aruba, I'm a very happy person.

Thanks for the report!!
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Old Wednesday, June 28th, 2006, 12:39 AM
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One Happy Island Re: Great Vacation

I am glad you enjoyed your vacation. Was this your first time in Aruba? I hope you enjoyed it enough that you will be come a regular. It was probably quite due to a lot of gradutation. We go every year in Sept-Oct for 3 or 4 weeks. It is quite then also because the kids are back to school. I can't wait to get back to Aruba to see all my friends I have made over the years.
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Old Wednesday, June 28th, 2006, 11:30 AM
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Default Re: Great Vacation

Hi Elaine: Thanks for the welcome back. We thought the Rio was great too. We had steak at a few restaurants this trip, and none could compare to what we had at the Rio. When we left Aruba immigration at the airport and headed toward the down escalator, there was a giant (took up almost the entire wall) advertisement for the Rio. Maybe with this and the word of mouth recommendations, things will pick up. I hope so as we certainly want to return there next year.

I am not sure why some of the high-end restaurants seemed to be so empty. The US economy may have something to do with it although the Marriott casino was packed every night we were there. The time of year may have something to do with it also but many of the cheaper places were packed. I think that maybe tourists’ tastes are changing somewhat too.

We went to Champions one night just for a light meal before hitting the casino. The place was packed with young couples, old couples like us, all kinds of groups, and families too. They didn’t go there for the food, for sure, but they all seemed to be having a good time with the DJ and karaoke singers. The joint was loud but also fun. At Azurro, where we had our best meal of the trip and great service, the fun factor was missing. The place was as quiet as a tomb. My wife and I will always return to Azurro once during our trips, but likely only once. At our age, we can only take so many romantic dinners. We would rather watch folks have fun and maybe even have some ourselves…although I promised my wife I would never do karaoke.
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Old Wednesday, June 28th, 2006, 11:39 AM
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Hi Firstlight. Thanks for your response. We have been going to Aruba for about 13 years now and have enjoyed every trip. We have weeks 24 and 25 at LaCabana and usually they are the last 2 weeks in June. This year LaCabana’s calendar was a little different and we arrived there earlier than usual. Since so many of the LaCabana folks come from the East coast, school may not have been out yet, accounting for fewer guests at the resort (my observations only) the first week we were there. The second week picked up a lot. Next year, our timeshare schedule will be back to normal and our son and his family will be able to accompany us…hopefully.
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Old Wednesday, June 28th, 2006, 12:02 PM
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Default Re: Great Vacation

Welcome Tom! I enjoyed your mini-report very much. We have been going to LaCabana for the past 6 years and love it. I happy to see another good report on Rios. We look forward to going. Thanks for the info on Champions too - sounds like a place to sent my daughter and friends next year. We like to mix upscale places with the cheaper ones for dinner at nights. I dont like the noise in the cheaper ones everynight.

Oh and Tom - no one is "old" on Aruba! We are all "young at heart"!
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