Aruba itself is very nice. Modern, safe, many restaurants of any price range that you prefer. Transportation by taxi is always available. Transportation by the bus system is only a 10 or 15 minute wait. On the public transportation, there were about an even number of locals and tourists. You are completely safe.
My Review: Just got back from Aruba; stayed at the Holiday Inn. Here are my personal observations and evaluations of both the HI and Aruba in general. Maybe I can help someone out. Holiday Inn is older building. Our room was in need of a few minor repairs, but very, very clean. Housekeeping is "spot-on" and they do a great job. Holiday Inn restaurants were OK, that is to say, they were sufficient. But one can do better at many of the other close local eateries by walking just a couple of hundred yards down the street or the beach. We DID NOT go all-inclusive. We heard many comments that once the wait staff saw the blue All inclusive wrist band, they lost interest in providing service. Generally, the wait staff was slow, seemingly understaffed, and not exceptionally motivated. Sorry if this seems a bit hard, but it was our experience. The shops in the Holiday Inn actually had some reasonable prices for the typical souveneirs. This, according to my wife, who is the ultimate souveneir shopper!
The room, although basic, was quite comfortable. Again, excellently clean. There was air leakage around the patio door which caused it to rattle in the wind. I just pushed a washrag into the crack to stop the rattling and let it leak. They are paying for the lost air conditioning, so the heck with it!
More: The Holiday Inn’s #1 problem is that although they have probably the nicest beach, they don’t have sufficient palapas. We were told repeatedly that to "reserve" a palapa, you needed to go down to the beach at 5:00 AM. Personally, I didn’t pay $2500 and travel $2500 miles to wake up at 5:00 AM! So, we made do sitting under the shade of the palm trees. (Only slight difficulty with this is that you need to move your chair a few inches every 20 minutes as the shade moves with the sun. Not a big problem.) Also, they had plenty of broken chairs to sort through to get a couple of good ones. Aruba itself is very nice. Modern, safe, many restaurants of any price range that you prefer. Transportation by taxi is always available. Transportation by the bus system is only a 10 or 15 minute wait. On the public transportation, there were about an even number of locals and tourists. You are completely safe. One thing that needs to be said is that the Aruban people that you share the public transportation with are a good, honest, clean people. In some U.S. cities, you will be with a lower class of citizenry when riding the bus system. Not so with Aruba. The Aruban people are a clean, polite people. Most are simply riding to or from work. There are also "private buses"… for lack of the correct word. These are privately owned vans with many seats. They charge $1 for one-way to Oranjestad. They will drop you off at any hotel or restaurant along the way. Don’t be afraid of these, they are perfectly clean and safe. Just stand at a bus stop and they pull in at times between the arrivals of the full-sized buses. The drivers will answer a question if you have one. Everybody speaks English. Actually, everyone speaks English, and Dutch, and Spanish, and Papiamento! Communication is NO problem whatsoever in Aruba. The restaurants are phenomenal. Anything you want, at any price range. Personally, we liked the Azzurro, which is the Italian eatery at the Playa Linda, on the beach the best. Also the Old Canucu House for some of the atmosphere and the foods of traditional Aruba. Driftwood in downtown Oranjestad was an excellent "catch of the day" seafood restaurant. Comments on the Aruban eateries could fill a book! Watersports. Anything and everything that anyone could want. Land tours. Numerous. The hotels all have desks with folks to advise you. We went on the DePalm Jeep Safari/Snorkeling tour… fantastic! All in all, my summary of Aruba would be that it is a Carribean destination where the people realize that tourism is their primary "bread-and-butter". They have structured their services to provide a quality, safe tourist destination. You talk with people who are there for the 10th, 12th, even 20th time. That says a lot! The only negatives, and I’m not sure that you can properly even call them negatives, are… 1) It’s in the high 80’s every day. The sun will cook you in 10 minutes if you don’t use sunscreen. Use all the sunscreen you can. Don’t miss even a small part of your body or you WILL burn! (Wife burned INSIDE of her ears. I burned through my hair on top of my head!!) 2) Wind ALWAYS blows. Ladies, get a short hair cut. Don’t even think about doing your hair! 3) Things are a little expensive, but then again, isn’t everywhere in the Carribean? 4) Since communication is absolutely NO problem, it might be said that Aruba lacks a little of the exotic flair of traveling in a truly "foreign" land? My wife thinks I’m nuts for even mentioning this point. 5) Shucks, that’s all the possible negatives that I can think of, and now that I’ve reread them, they’re not really negatives at all… just things to be aware of
If anyone has any specific questions that I could help out with, feel free to email me