What hotel(s) did you book for Aruba, and was the all inclusive rate worth it?
Barcelo (All inclusive only ~ $800/night)
The beach, pool, swim up bar, and drinks were worth it.
The food and walking distance to life outside the hotel was not worth it.
The beach had a water-sports hut which allowed you to rent things like, surf boards, jet skis, snorkeling etc. I’m not sure if it was included or not.
Renaissance ( Non-all inclusive ~$600 & all inclusive ~$800)
100% worth it!
Two hotels across from each other. The hotel on the city side is for adults only in the same plaza as high end shopping. The other hotel is more for families though it is still great for all couple. There are two pools (one with a swim up bar), and a private beach cove.
This hotel is on the city side so you can walk to pretty much anything you want and explore the streets. It's also on the cruise ship side of the island.
What was covered in all-inclusive?
Depends on the hotel and which package you have.
For Barcelo they have different color wrist bands depending on which package you have. You wear these wrist bands during your stay at the hotel. We had the blue wrist bands which included food, drinks, pool (1), pool towels, live shows, chairs at the beach. But if you are on the royal level (floors 7-9) you get a different wrist band color. You have the same as blue band perks, but you also get special beach chairs, and access to the top level restaurant in the hotel and the bar on the beach. There may be other covered items but since we didn’t have this I’m not sure that they are. The beach had a water-sports hut which allowed you to rent things like, surf boards, jet skis, scuba diving, snorkeling etc. I’m not sure if it was included or not.
For the Renaissance there are different color room keys depending if you purchase the all inclusive package or not. I also believe there are different all inclusive package types. Ours included 95% of the food & drinks. Which all the food was amazing! Everything was covered including the 15% service fee/tip even though we still tipped cash. All guest have free transportations and access to the private Island owned by the Renaissance. One side is adults only which host the famous flamingos. The island has private cabanas for $350 /day rentals which are over the water with top notch service, snorkeling gear, and beach floats. The private island also had a water-sports hut. Not sure if it was covered or not.
What advice do you have for travelers to Aruba and do you feel like you missed out on anything?
Do a little research and see what it is you want to do in Aruba. It’s only a 19 mile long island so you can do a lot in a weeks time. No need to rush it. Explore on your own. Laugh with some locals.
The private flamingo island and UTV Tour was the most memorable thing for me in Aruba.
I did everything I wanted to do during this trip. I’m not a crammer when it comes to vacations. I do not like to do eversions back to back every day. This was my time to reflect over a good drink / food looking over the clear blue seas and great views. My reflection time takes hours and is never planned so I want empty time to let my brain go and just be. I don’t get that during the normal work week. Since Aruba is only a 3.5 hour flight from Charlotte I know I will have opportunities to come back again and try other experiences if/when I want.