I did it! Â I went on aÂ vacation that was not Disney! Â Yes, I have been known to venture to Scotland to visit family, but otherwise â€“ itâ€™s Disney destinations only! Â 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. Â 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? Â It was a good week â€“ I enjoyed the company and my friend enjoyed her birthday! Â Would I recommend the Riu? Â It depends on what youâ€™re looking for.
Hereâ€™s 9 reasons you should check it out, and 3 reasons you you might want to stay elsewhere.
1. Â The Beach
You canâ€™t deny that the beaches are gorgeous in Aruba and the one in front of the Riu is no exception! Â Yes, the wind is a little rough when youâ€™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. Â The Pool
We spent our days at the â€˜biggerâ€™ pool. Â The water wasÂ refreshing and the fountains were a great way to cool off when you didnâ€™t want to go all the way in. Â Sometimes the wind was enough to create a little â€˜sprayâ€™ of the water around the pool that kept you nice and cool.
3. Â The Activities
They had a bunch of stuff going on in the pool during the day. Â You could participate if you wanted or stay at the other end of the pool and relax. Â There was a lot of participation by the guests and the staff made sure everyone was having fun.
4. Â The Staff
The staff at this resort was incredible. Â The bar staff around the pool were attentive and the activity staff made sure everyone was having fun! Â Somehow they even talked my friend in to bingo, water aerobics (complete with the beer in her hand) and volleyball. Â They were always coming to check on us and joked around with everyone. Â They definitely were the best part of the resort.
5. Â The Food
We had talked about trying to get in to all of the a la carte restaurants on the resort before we went. Â Surprisingly, after the first night at the buffet we were so happy with our meals that we ate there every night after! Â We had such delicious meals â€“ and now Iâ€™m wishing I had taken pictures of them! Â The desserts were delicious too, they had something for everyone.
6. Â The In Room Fridge And Bar
I drink a LOT of water, especially when itâ€™s hot â€“ so itâ€™s no surprise that I was very thankful for the bottles of water in the fridge! Â The bar was stocked with liquor and the fridge had beer, pop and water. Â When we ran out of anything, we made a call and within 15 minutes we were completely restocked.
7. Â The Wi-Fi
There was Wi-Fi all over the resort, including the beach! Â Each room was entitled to have 4 devices connected to the free Wi-Fi. Â Upon check in youâ€™re given a user name and password for your room and while you get kicked off it periodically â€“ when you were connected, it worked really well.
8. Â The Store
We all needed to buy the large insulated mugs because the drinks werenâ€™t big enough and got warm very quickly. Â 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. Â Maybe we didnâ€™t need a lot â€“ but when we did need something, it seemed that this little store had it. Â Itâ€™s the small things that make a difference!
9. Â Night Time
There were a variety of things to do in the evenings to suit everyone. Â 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. Â The Casino was fun, but I had to leave after I lost 3 times as much as I intended, inside 10 minutes! Â I think my favorite was a sax player that was belting out the tunes down by the beach one night â€“ 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. Â The Rooms
The rooms and the building itself are VERY dated. Â While normally Iâ€™m not fussed with that kind of stuff and had read about it on Trip Advisor, the beds were beyond terrible. Â I shared a room with my friend and BOTH of our beds were horrible. Â After 2 nights in the beds were both applying muscle relaxing creams to our backs. Â By the 5th day we went in to town in search of a pharmacy that sold a muscle relaxant like Robaxacet. Â Just an FYI â€“ drug stores in Aruba donâ€™t sell drugsâ€¦ you need to find a Pharmacy â€“ and they donâ€™t sell Robaxacet.
2. Â The Front Desk Staff
Every member of staff we interacted with was fantastic, with the exception of the front desk. Â We had keys that didnâ€™t work consistently and when I had to sign in to work on my laptop â€“ I was told that I couldnâ€™t connect an additional device. Â I am the first to be understanding about rules, procedures and technical issues â€“ 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. Â The Lizards And The Shade
Getting some shade by the pool was a bit challenging if you werenâ€™t an early bird. Â Lots of people saving chairs with their towels pretty early in the morning. Â We quickly learned that we had to be down there about 8am if we wanted to snag a decent spot so that we didnâ€™t get burnt. Â Even SPF 60 wasnâ€™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. Â We liked to sit around the back near the grass â€“ but that also brought these guysâ€¦ 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. Â The only challenge was that I came home with an infection in my eyes. Â My friends were all fine, but I started having issues the day before we left. Â Coincidence? Â Or is this the universe telling me that Disney vacations are the only kind I should take? Â Hmmmâ€¦ makes me think!