This year for my 30th birthday my amazing husband, The Trip Sherpa, surprised me with a long weekend away to Aruba. I was excited to check off my second of the “ABC Islands”(Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao) and have a nice and relaxing time.
We flew Southwest Airlines using points and the companion pass (link) which is a benefit of the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards program once you accrue 110k points with them in one calendar year. The flights were easy enough from Pittsburgh to Baltimore, Baltimore into Aruba landing day of in the afternoon, giving us the afternoon to enjoy at the beach. Once we landed we grabbed our rental car from National, and were on our way to the Holiday Inn Resort Aruba.
We arrived, found our sea facing room and started to unwind. The room was basic, but clean and comfortable. There was a welcoming assortment of cheeses, fruit and a bottle of wine. There was also a cute stuffed lizard souvenir for Lucy on one of the beds. The view from our room was stunning and we couldn’t wait to get out on the beach.
Once we were properly clothed for the beach and lathered in copious amounts of SPF 50, we headed down and found our personally reserved Palapa. I was starting to fully unwind while watching Lucy and Kyle run into the sea, thinking this place is paradise…
All of a sudden my best friend and her husband appear. I am startled and surprised! I had a small feeling that something like this might happen, but when I asked about this feeling a few weeks prior to our trip, my loving, honest husband told me that no such surprise was in the works.
I believed him.
It was a very welcomed and exciting surprise.
The Holiday Inn Resort Aruba had a lot to offer us for a quick couple of days celebrating together. Their beaches are clean, white sand beaches trimmed with crystal clear waters. There are plenty of lounge chairs to be found on the beaches and around the the fairly spacious swimming pools. The staff was pleasant but not over the top, this wasn’t a Park Hyatt experience, but it wasn’t a Park Hyatt price either. The best hotel experiences are the ones where you are always provided for, happy and don’t really have to ask for anything. This was more or less the case for my experience at this property.
We enjoyed our first day relaxing and taking advantage of the warm weather before preparing for an evening outside of the resort. There is a lot to see an do right at your doorstep. We had a car which was helpful for our transport to and from the airport and also convenient for trips that were further away, but being able to just walk outside the door of your hotel and find many places to eat, shop and explore is a huge draw to us. We have learned that not leaving the resort makes us a little stir crazy. Ironically on this first night, we found ourselves at the Hyatt Aruba not too far away to eat at their on site Mexican restaurant, Mexicado. I learned on the walk over that half way through our stay in Aruba, my family and I would be moving over to try out the Hyatt for our last two nights. The food in the restaurant was delicious, but the service was absolutely outstanding! I am not sure if it was due to our late dining time that the restaurant was not very busy and the staff was overly attentive, but either way we enjoyed every minute of it. We even had a lovely conversation with the Chef and Sous Chef after our meal was through.
Our friends had already scoped out a great place to enjoy breakfast and coffee in the morning. The food was good, the prices were unbeatable and the location was about three minutes walk from our room. After breakfast we grabbed some snacks and beverages, along with a few souvenirs from a local shop and headed back to enjoy the grounds at the Holiday Inn Aruba a little bit more. My husband had been in communication with the staff in advance in regards to making this a special weekend and my friend and I had a chance to try out their on site spa and get a massage.
After living in Southeast Asia for a time and traveling back there often, I am at least a massage enthusiast and possibly a snob. The bar for a massage is always set high. With all that being said, the massage exceeded my expectations and I would recommend visiting the Etnika Spa if you get the chance. The masseuse spoke English, was attentive and asked about my preferences for pressure, she was able to customize the massage to my satisfaction. Unlike many Caribbean experiences that prey on American pocketbooks, the Spa prices were reasonable (about $80/hr for this massage) and was a nice indulgence that won’t break the bank, but makes your trip that much more of a treat. If i could make a suggestion it would be only that the ambiance in the room itself could use a bit of work, but that is just me nit-picking.
Other than the pristine beaches, the affordable approach, and the friendly staff, what I liked most about my stay at the Holiday Inn Aruba Resort was that it was family friendly without being family only. It is important to have this balance. Our family had a great stay as well as my friend and her husband who are newlyweds. There really is something everyone at the Holiday Inn Aruba Resort.