Monday, March 03, 2008

Tropical Changes 2

More thoughts on the vaca, this time a bit more objective:

  • Aruba is nice and consistent in terms of weather, but there's a secret society of towel-gatherers. One has to arise from bed around 6am, certainly no later, at most resorts in order to secure a hut (read: shade) for the day. Lines form as early as 5am for a towel hut that opens at 7am. One is not allowed to merely walk onto the beach to take a hut; one must have towels in order to secure a hut, and the resort employee will take your "towel card" and room number, and assign a hut. After all the huts are taken, one is only allowed towels, and then one must find one's own shade. I can't criticize this process too much per my most recent vacation, because my mother, who can't sleep more than one hour a night, was always up plenty early to get us all a large hut so we'd have plenty of shade...but it's interesting that high-rise resorts are build with not enough huts to provide shade for all guests. It certainly caused tons of complaints from other guests who weren't willing to get out of bed at 5am each day.
  • Again, hate to criticize because the vacation itself was fine. But the hotel employees were pretty terrible. When I checked out I didn't even get a "thank-you for staying with us"; just "you're all set". This was the general mentality of the hotel employees during our stay...very indifferent. Indifferent to customer complains; indifferent to their own jobs. In fact, the most pleasant people my wife & I came across were the ones who were cleaning our rooms. We weren't staying at the most expensive resort on the island, but still, my overall experience at Turks & Caicos was much better.
  • We heard through one of the special people who get in line very early for towels, that the new Hotel Manager is a disgruntled, useless South American gentleman who "hates Americans" and "only wants South American guests" at his hotel. Hm, and this is the same island which uses U.S. currency. I love it when two-faced, low-life pieces of shit hate Americans but love our money, our aid, our charity to their citizens who cross the border illegally...good luck getting your fellow South Americans to spend nearly the cash at the bar and casino that Americans do when you chase them all out, pal.
  • It's a very interesting experience going on vacation to a tropical, resort-oriented island. One local told us to "fuck off" as we drove past. Again, lack of gratitude from what was probably a resort employee who loved to hate on the "gringos". Just sad. It's very likely he drove a Civic worth $500 with $2,000 rims on it - very typical. But other than being told to fuck off, it's just a very interesting atmosphere: I loved the beach and the water, and one always feels comfortable with lots of Americans around, which was the case on the beach, in the hotel, in the casino, etc. etc. But when dealing one on one with hotel employees, there's definitely an air of tension, as if the hotel employees feel the American guests walk with an air of entitlement, and the American guest just wants the same level of service to which he/she is accustomed back home. The hotel employees were generally not willing to work with hotel guests with any issues they had upon check in; the check in process was ridiculously long (at least 15 minutes per party); the concierge wasn't very helpful...and they wonder why tourism is down 7% from a few years ago in Aruba. I think for a while it'll be fine, but I see it going the way of the Bahamas in future years, where cruise ships will bypass Aruba and go instead to Grand Turk or other, nicer places.

By the way, the hotel we stayed at was the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort in Aruba. Stay away if you're planning to go there - splurge and stay at the Westin or the Radisson, or rent a time share.

Again, these aren't complaints, per se, because the overall experience was excellent and I loved beachin' it all day, every day; the food was phenomenal; and we certainly needed the getaway. Just observations and one big warning re: the Holiday Inn.

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