Entertainment every night, not your normal local kids dancing & singing to canned music. Acts were semi-professional, with great shows and something differend almost every night.
Arrival: -5 hours flight from Toronto, Skyservice. -Pleasant flight, seats on Skyservice are normally very tight, this was a new Jet, with a little more leg room -Airport in Oranjestad very small, however very efficient. -Hotel check-in was outstanding, we were a group of 16 golfers in Aruba for 7 days of golf. -We here herded into the lobby bar, given cold drinks and a seat, 2/3 front dest reps, had us fill in a check-in form, these were collected your name called, you got your ID bracelet, room keys, check-in package etc. -By then our luggage was lined up in the lobby, with bell-hops at the ready, you gave them your room number and a tip and your luggage was taken to your room. Have another drink in the bar and 10 min’s later go to your room and everything will be there. -Staff were very friendly, all spoke english (this is a Dutch island)and they could not be more helpful for anything you wanted. -More than 5 star service.
Rooms: -Rooms are all Jr. Suites, two queen size beds, large sitting area, Chesterfield, 2 chairs, coffee table, lamps, etc., in-room safe, well stocked in-room bar (4 bottles rum, whiskey, sherry, vodka, you can reqeust your preference) plus a stocked frig (beer, water, soda pop)replaced with what you take out every day. (give the room maid a small tip first day, and your room will be well stocked all week) -A/C works well, beds are comfortable, clean linen & towels etc every day. TV has CNN, North American programs, and some local. -All room have a balcony with two lawn chairs, and a full view of the ocean, beach, and pools. (spectacular view’s) -Again more than 5 star rating.
Restaurants: -Excellent food, a-la-carte resturants, you must book your reservation between 9:00 & noon each day (this is a pain) we did not use as we were on the golf course everyday during the window of time, however did get into the Italian & Steakhouse on an exception basis from the hotel manager (Richard) very helpful and accomodating. Both meals were outstanding, the evening buffets offer very fresh, and a wide selection of foods, cooked at stations, with GREAT service.
-All Inclusive features, all meals and snacks:
Breakfast: -Full American breakfast buffet, on the spot cooking stations, fruits, juices and Java
Lunch: -Hot and cold buffet and on the spot cooking stations
-Pizzas, pasta, salads and assorted desserts
Dinner: -Buffets and on the spot cooking stations
-Special evenings: theme buffets (twice a week)
Optional dining (reservations required): -"Krystal" Fusion Restaurant -"Sayuri" Japanese restaurant -"Milano" Italian restaurant -Grill and steakhouse Snacks 24 hours a day
Beverages: -Unlimited local and imported beverages 24 hours a day -Mini-bar and regularly restocked liquor dispenser -Room service from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. -I know your sick of me saying this…..again 5 star ++ food & service.
Bars: -Lobby Bar was a good meeting place. -Excellent selection of drinks. -Great service. -Entertainment every night, not your normal local kids dancing & singing to canned music. Acts were semi-professional, with great shows and something differend almost every night. -There is also a sports bar, hidden behind the main desk in the lobby, best kept seacret in the hotel. Seems to be open 24 hours a day, has all types of video machines, pool table, game table, well stocked bar, and if Victoria is there, she is "top-notch". -Also located in this bar are several well stocked frig units with made up sandwitches, furit, drinks, etc. with take out packs for your use when going on island tours, golfing, etc. -Pool bar is equally first class, with great service, good selection, friendly staff. There is no beach service, I think its because its a public beach with a board walk through it where guests from other hotels pass by.
Beach and Pools: -Beach is very nice, sand, expansive, normal beach lounges, and shade huts. -Water is fairly calm, however does drop off quickly. (small children would need to be closely supervised) -Very large expanse of pools, with plenty of lounges for your use. -The hotel consists of 3 towers in the shape of a horseshoe, pools are in the centre, natural shade from some to the towers if you want it, and plenty of sun on the other side’s. -With approx 600 rooms the pool and beach did not seem that crowded when we were there. -Incidently, I should of talked about the WIND earlier. It never stop’s blowing (about 40/60 kms per hr) day & night. This may seen bad and annoying, wrong, without it the heat (85/90 all the time) would be somewhat un-bearable. Believe me after your first day, you get use to it and its almost like its not there as it is so constant.
-It is a bit of an adjustment on the Golf Course. (see below)
Grounds: -Grounds are vey good, this is a fairly new hotel, (opened July/2007) and the local grass, bushes, flowers, etc., are still growing and need some help. However lots of evidence of hotel maintance staff working on the grounds everyday. -There is a board-walk along the beach that is easy to walk and runs the length of the hotel area. (2/3 kms)
Activities: -Our group (16 guys) golfed everyday. Did not see much of the hotel activities, however did see salsa lessons both at the pool and in the lobby bar. Given this is a Riu, and 5 Star ++ I am sure there are plenty of activities for everyone. GOLF: -Our group take an Island golf trip every year. -We played everyday at the Terra De Sole Golf & Country Club. -It is not included in the hotel package, not sure of the cost per round, we paid $700.00 CDN$ for 7 rounds for the week. Club rentals and a very well stocked pro-shop on site. (See Oliver (local pro) he was very helpful) -While the club is busy, 4-somes appear to be all good golfer’s and you can play 18 in about 4 to 4 & 1/2 hours. (normal) -It is an 18 hole Pete Dye Course. Par 71, Slope 124. Play the white tees, over 6,000 yards good for the mid handicaper. There are blue and championship tees if you are a scratch golfer. Due to the wind holes play much longer and white tees provide a good challange. Most of us are 12 to 18 handicap and found it excellent to play. -Check out the par-5 14th hole…….it is awsome, took a 10 the first day brided it the next 5 days). This is followed by a par-3 all carry over water into the 40km per hour trade winds……..use one or two extra clubs. -3 holes on the back nine run along the ocean, with the wind always constant right to left. Hit all you have down the right side and let the wind bring it back, you do get use to the wind. We had some rain the first day, you can see it coming in advance off the ocean. If you see it take cover, it comes in hard and strong, head for a stand of Divi Bushes to break the wind and rain………..however if you get wet, it will be gone in 5 min’s and the sun comes out and you are dry within 15 min’s.
-Take beer & water from the hotel (free bar) cost is very expensive at the golf course, especially if you play every day. Our gourp even started to pack fruit and sandwitches from the sports bar (see above) for the day. Carts have coolers with ice supplied. Pack a small folding cooler in your golf bag to carry drinks and food from the hotel daily. -We played the Moon Palace in Cancun last year and this course is almost as good as the 27 holes there. We rate it #1 in the Caribbian for golf. Tera De Sole is #2. (in our humble opinion)
Tours: -We had a bus to take us to and from the golf course. -We saw some of the local areas daily from the bus, we were offered a tour of the island, however did not take it, other than a couple of local excurssions to Oranjestad (capital city) to a flee market (lot’s of deals) and the Rennisaunce Hotel on main street to the Steakhouse next to the Casino. (Excellent service and food and quite reasonable in cost) -It is a very pretty small island, with very friendly people everywhere you go. -Along the hotel strip there are several local resturants and a shopping court with some high-end stores that were just starting to open (new) while we were there. There is a fountain/music show each night in the courtyard of the plaza well worth seeing.
-We also tried several of the resturants (even though we were on an all inclusive package) the food and service was very good, no worries about local water and food problems with any of our 16 guys all week.
Conclusion: -The rating for this Hotel is 5 Star……… -We would rate it 5 Star +++ -Hotel staff were very helpful and friendly. -Everyone spoke English, there is a local dilect, (spanish/dutch) I think, that most local’s speak. Spanish seemes to be a first or second language for all staff. -Would I recommend this hotel to friends……..YES. -Would I return again…………YES. -Remember I warned you about the WIND>>>>>>>>>>>> -Enjoy.