The wife and I stayed at the Renaissance Aruba for our honeymoon, and a had a fun time. We did not find Natalee Hollaway, but I am sure she is, as the LHPDW said, she was sold into white slavery.
Anyway, it was not a Five Star Resort, but was real nice and perfect for those who leave their pretentiousness at the door. Checking in and out was no problem, and a brief island blackout was handled real well.
We stayed at the Ocean Suites, which are simply large rooms, with a separate bedroom. The rooms were nice, nothing ridiculously different, and had a refrigerator, freezer, wet bar, and microwave. Our refrigerator was dialed way down, but no big deal.
True, the hotel is next to the Marketplace, an assortment of shops and yes, a Wendy’s and Sbarro, but they didn’t ruin my trip. In fact, it made for a real quick, cheap meal.
The Private island is nice, but the beach has a breakwater which cuts way down the number of eaves that come in. Yes, planes do fly low over the beach, but only the most picky find that a bother. The flamingos and lots of lizards were fun to watch.
We stuck mostly to the pool area, with lots of friendly people and a convenient bar nearby.
The biggest highlight on Aruba was the absence of “island time,” the often interminable wait for basic things at meals and at the bar. Didn't happen ONCE!
We also checked out the Seaport Casino, which reminded me of riverboat casinos back home. The waiters were beyond attentive, and the tourists there were fun, as were most of the dealers. One drawback was that the locals who played there seemed to be there more out of desperation than just some fun. I noticed less of that at the Crystal Casino up the street.
We ate at LG Smith’s restaurant at the main Renaissance, and it was typical upscale steakhouse. The Gaucho was derided as a tourist trap by some snobby types we met, but we enjoyed it. After all, we were tourists. The dining highlight, and possibly the overall highlight of the trip was the Flying Fishbone restaurant. It is a $19 cab ride each way, but the food and atmosphere were top notch, especially for romantics. The tables are literally on the beach, with some feet getting wet. The food was great, with the steamed mussels and crème brulee highlights. It doesn’t hurt that the staff there were some of the most beautiful and attentive women I have ever seen. Iguana Joe’s offers good sandwiches and colorful boozy drinks.