Last weekend, I promised myself that if I did all the laundry, I could work on my blog. Yes, I sometimes have to bribe myself like a three-year-old. And yes, it really does work. Except that by the time I finished said laundry (and countless other post-vacation chores), I was too tired to write. This weekend (only two weeks behind schedule), I just couldn’t wait another minute to share my experience in Aruba!
I have to say, this island far exceeded my expectations. I’m sure this was in large part because we stayed at an outstanding hotel… Manchebo Beach Resort was the absolute highlight of the vacation. This place is so beautiful and relaxing that it was actually difficult to drag ourselves away to see other parts of the island.
First and foremost, the location is spectacular. Manchebo is situated on a large strip of pristine beach just 15 minutes from the airport. It’s also only 10 minutes by cab to the hustle and bustle of the high-rise section of Aruba, if you want to do some shopping or eat at different restaurants. Cabs, by the way, are clean and have regulated fares. To and from the airport is $22, and rides into town are $9-$12 each way. If you plan to do a lot more exploring, you might want to rent a car, but since the four of us went to veg out on the beach most of the time, cabs were the cheaper way to go.
The hospitality at the resort is also pretty amazing. Upon checking in, they greet you with a cool towel and a complimentary mojito. (Best mojitos of my life, by the way). When you go to check out, they give you a little bag with snacks for your plane ride home. Awww. And in between, you are treated with friendly and courteous service by all of the staff.
As for the resort itself, I just can’t say enough good things about it. We much preferred the laid-back style of the low-rise hotel to the huge chain hotels in town. It’s peaceful, and everything is only a two-minute walk away. Forget your sunscreen in the room? No worries, your room is only 2 minutes away. Want to get a drink? No problem, the bar is only 2 minutes away. Some may think that a smaller hotel means less comfort, style, or luxury, but not here. We purposely picked Manchebo because of its stylish, modern decor and amenities, and thankfully, reality was as good as the pictures online. Actually better. The rooms were clean and comfortable, the AC was cold as ice (if you wanted it to be), the bathrooms were updated, and the whole resort felt new. No “blast from the past” experiences here! My only complaint about the room we had is the somewhat mushy, lumpy pillows. I’m a fussy sleeper, though, so that may not bother most people, and at least the beds were very comfortable.
Finally, I want to mention a couple of tips that we picked up along the way. 1) They offer a great BOGO (buy one get one free) happy hour from 5-7pm. Don’t just load up on mojitos–buy bottles of water! They’re included in the special. 2) The morning yoga classes in the outdoor pavilion are awesome and well worth the early start time. It’s yoga with a beach view, but without all the sand. 3) Ike’s Bistro is great for breakfast and dinner. Lunch options are a bit limited at Pega-Pega, which mostly features so-so beach-bar fare. Definitely check out Barefoot in town for a delicious dinner.
Aside from the resort, you’ll find that the island is clean, the people are friendly, and the atmosphere is serene. Nobody moves at the speed of light, but once you get used to the slower flow, you realize that it feels pretty good to relax and not think of 47 different things at once. Trust me, you’ll miss that when you get back home.
One more tip: DO get to the airport crazy early. See my post on Flying Out of Aruba in 15 Easy Steps to find out why.
Here are links to the other reviews I posted on TripAdvisor:
- Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa – Don’t just take my word for it, read other travelers’ reviews as well!
- Ike’s Bistro – Great on-site restaurant for breakfast and dinner.
- Barefoot Restaurant – Drool-worthy restaurant in town.
- Rancho Notorious – In case you decide to give horseback riding a try…
- Gianni’s Italian Restaurant – Here’s the spoiler: good food, obnoxious environment.