I did it! I went on a vacation that was not Disney! Yes, I have been known to venture to Scotland to visit family, but otherwise – it’s Disney destinations only! This year I had a very special friend who wanted to travel to Aruba to celebrate her birthday with her husband, myself and another friend. We decided on the Riu Antillas in Aruba and were very excited about a week of sun, drinks, good company and fun.
So how was it? It was a good week – I enjoyed the company and my friend enjoyed her birthday! Would I recommend the Riu? It depends on what you’re looking for.
Here’s 9 reasons you should check it out, and 3 reasons you you might want to stay elsewhere.
1. The Beach
You can’t deny that the beaches are gorgeous in Aruba and the one in front of the Riu is no exception! Yes, the wind is a little rough when you’re on the beach and you get sprayed with sand, but the birthday girl thought it was so relaxing to float in the water.
2. The Pool
We spent our days at the ‘bigger’ pool. The water was refreshing and the fountains were a great way to cool off when you didn’t want to go all the way in. Sometimes the wind was enough to create a little ‘spray’ of the water around the pool that kept you nice and cool.
3. The Activities
They had a bunch of stuff going on in the pool during the day. You could participate if you wanted or stay at the other end of the pool and relax. There was a lot of participation by the guests and the staff made sure everyone was having fun.
4. The Staff
The staff at this resort was incredible. The bar staff around the pool were attentive and the activity staff made sure everyone was having fun! Somehow they even talked my friend in to bingo, water aerobics (complete with the beer in her hand) and volleyball. They were always coming to check on us and joked around with everyone. They definitely were the best part of the resort.
5. The Food
We had talked about trying to get in to all of the a la carte restaurants on the resort before we went. Surprisingly, after the first night at the buffet we were so happy with our meals that we ate there every night after! We had such delicious meals – and now I’m wishing I had taken pictures of them! The desserts were delicious too, they had something for everyone.
6. The In Room Fridge And Bar
I drink a LOT of water, especially when it’s hot – so it’s no surprise that I was very thankful for the bottles of water in the fridge! The bar was stocked with liquor and the fridge had beer, pop and water. When we ran out of anything, we made a call and within 15 minutes we were completely restocked.
7. The Wi-Fi
There was Wi-Fi all over the resort, including the beach! Each room was entitled to have 4 devices connected to the free Wi-Fi. Upon check in you’re given a user name and password for your room and while you get kicked off it periodically – when you were connected, it worked really well.
8. The Store
We all needed to buy the large insulated mugs because the drinks weren’t big enough and got warm very quickly. The little store in the resort had mugs, towel clips (that everyone needs because of the wind), sun tan lotion, muscle cream and cold medicine. Maybe we didn’t need a lot – but when we did need something, it seemed that this little store had it. It’s the small things that make a difference!
9. Night Time
There were a variety of things to do in the evenings to suit everyone. The lobby bar or the beach bar, the shows or the coffee house (which had a good cup of tea!), the club or casino, you could be as active or relaxed as you wanted. The Casino was fun, but I had to leave after I lost 3 times as much as I intended, inside 10 minutes! I think my favorite was a sax player that was belting out the tunes down by the beach one night – he was very talented.
Lots of great reasons to visit this resort, but there are 3 reasons I would think twice about going back:
1. The Rooms
The rooms and the building itself are VERY dated. While normally I’m not fussed with that kind of stuff and had read about it on Trip Advisor, the beds were beyond terrible. I shared a room with my friend and BOTH of our beds were horrible. After 2 nights in the beds were both applying muscle relaxing creams to our backs. By the 5th day we went in to town in search of a pharmacy that sold a muscle relaxant like Robaxacet. Just an FYI – drug stores in Aruba don’t sell drugs… you need to find a Pharmacy – and they don’t sell Robaxacet.
2. The Front Desk Staff
Every member of staff we interacted with was fantastic, with the exception of the front desk. We had keys that didn’t work consistently and when I had to sign in to work on my laptop – I was told that I couldn’t connect an additional device. I am the first to be understanding about rules, procedures and technical issues – but the communication from the front desk was a bit rude, I kind of felt like I was bothering them when I asked for them to recode my key so I could get in to my room.
3. The Lizards And The Shade
Getting some shade by the pool was a bit challenging if you weren’t an early bird. Lots of people saving chairs with their towels pretty early in the morning. We quickly learned that we had to be down there about 8am if we wanted to snag a decent spot so that we didn’t get burnt. Even SPF 60 wasn’t going to prevent me getting burnt unless I had cover.
I spent the day moving my chair to try and make sure I wasn’t sitting directly in the sun. We liked to sit around the back near the grass – but that also brought these guys… they freaked me out, but my friends and others by the pool loved them.
We all had a great time and the week was full of great company, entertainment, sun, drinks and good food. The only challenge was that I came home with an infection in my eyes. My friends were all fine, but I started having issues the day before we left. Coincidence? Or is this the universe telling me that Disney vacations are the only kind I should take? Hmmm… makes me think!