Monday, April 16, 2012

DiVi Aruba All Inclusive Resort

Divi Aruba All Inclusive Resort: Spring Break 2012 (overall 3.5 stars)

As far as first impressions go, my first impression of the resort was quite dissapointing. On day one I gave the resort a two star. First, my check-in experience was not good; Second, we started comparing this resort to some of the larger all inclusives on Cancun, Punta Cana and other popular destinations. You can't compare.. they are just different destinations, different resorts and each has its own pros and cons.

Check in (1 star): While booking our vacation, we had purchased upgraded beach side accomodations (FROM STANDARD ROOMS). When we checked in, our room was facing a fence (right outside our sliding door & window). When we asked to change our room and reminded them that we had purchased an upgrade from standard room, their first response was sorry.. nothing we can do.. rooms are not guaranteed at the time of booking, we are fully booked, we have no other rooms available, we have no more rooms with two double beds..yada yada yada. After an hour of arguing and haggling, we finally did get a beach side room which was very nice. We also noticed later, that there were another 1-2 rooms in our building that seemed unoccupied for the entire duration on our stay. It seems Room 402 in Vista II building is not a popular room (as it faces an ugly fence) and the resort management probably tries to assign it to every new guest hoping someone will take it without complaining. That just left a bitter taste and skewed my overall resort experience.  Oh, and ask for room 400 in Vista II if you can because it is larger than the other rooms, and also has a great view to the beach.

Resort Facilities (4 stars):
The Divi resort is a fairly compact, comfortable and clean resort. The lobby had several comfy couches, large screen TV's for kids to hang out in the middle of the day, a convinience store, kiosks for Herts and DePalm tours.
Next to the lobby is the snack hut, the main dining area, and the pool. The sitting area around the pool is nicely done. There is no swim up bar but the pool itself is not large, a rectangular shaped perhaps the size of a country club pool. There is a bar outside the pool and beyond the drink bar is the beach. The rooms are located on north and south end of the lobby along the beach. I think the rooms on the north end (Vista I and Vista II buildings) were really nice.

Resort Rooms (2.5 stars): The rooms in general were clean and comfortable. Each lower level room open to a patio. The bathrooms were clean but they could use a renovation. Our bathroom floor became completely wet after shower no matter how we positioned the shower curtain.

Food and Drinks (2 stars): If you like food spicy, gotta try Aruba's Papaya Sauce.

Overall, the food at the resort was mediocre, if that. The snack hut at Divi served pizza, sandwiches, popcorn and drinks. The bar served both alcoholic and non- alcoholic drinks, but the cocktail drinks were too sweet (seemed like you were drinking syrup) and used domestic brands of alcohol. We stayed with soda, fresh smoothies and drinks like gin & tonic. The main dining area served buffet style meals. The breakfast was fairly standard.. omelette station, various breads, yogurt, fruit, a few warm dishes, etc. It was the same breakfast every day.. same choices. The lunch had some more variety but not much. After a day or two, the buffet choices became too boring and bland. At dinner, the food was not much different from lunch menu. Between the two resorts Divi and Tamarjin (both allow guests to freely use each other's facilities) they had 4 reservation only restaurants, which offered some variety for dinner. All these 4 restaurants had limited seating. You had to make reservations by 8 am two days in advance or the preferred dining times were not available. In fact, despite our efforts we only got either 6-6:30 pm or 9-9:30 pm seating at all the 4 places. The restaurants were not great, but atleast had more variety than the buffet menu. The desserts in every dining area just about sucked. My recommendation is to not to go to the Italian or the Asian food places, because they weren't that great. 

Resort Beach (5 stars): The resort is located on the southern section of the Eagle Beach. It was a wide and a beautiful white sand beach. The waves were gentle, no rocks, no undertow nor steep declines, water was very clear. The immidiate beach area in front of our resort did not have any natural shade, no cocomut palms but there seemed to be enough palapas though they were usually gone by 7 am in the morning.

To resort's north lay the majority of the Eagle Beach, a very popular public beach fringing the main road. There seemed plenty of natural and man made shaded picnic areas and a variety of motorized water sports. There were several other hotels along the beach and also just across the road. During spring break (Easter week), we saw a lot of families camping in tents on the eagle beach, and on baby beach. It seems to be a local tradition for extended families to camp out on the beach during this week. The tents were pretty elaborate.. each gathering seemed to have 5-7 tents ranging from small to large, a separate tent for cooking and eating.

Entertainment (2 star): During the day, there was not much organized entertainment. Our kids were quite dissapointed. They seemed to have one kid related activity a day e.g. bingo one day, tie-dye t-shirts another day, rock wall climbing one day, kite flying one day, beach side olympics one day. Rest of the time kids were on their own either at pool or on the beach. Now the good part is that the kids got a lot of R&R, simply hanging out with the family. The bad part is that after 2-3 days they were looking for things to do. During mid day when the sun was directly overhead and quite hot and there were no kid activities in the shade or in the pool. It also seemed that the staff and the schedule was a bit dis-organized, staff at Divi towel hut did not always seem to know what activities were scheduled for a given day, or if the time and location of an activity was changed. When the information got changed it was not necessarily communicated to them in a timely manner. Most activities were on Island time.. always a few minutes behind schedule. Not a biggie except it seemed that there were not enough supplies for most acctivities, so if you were not in front of the line when the organizers arrived, you may either have a long wait or out of luck. e.g. for rock climbing there was only 1 adult helper, 3 helmets and 4 straps between the two resorts and a line of 10-15 kids. So there was a lot of waiting around for helmets especially if there were kids who wanted to try multiple levels of climbing. Similarly, for tie-dye t-shirts there were insufficient kid sized t-shirts. Some kids ended up getting large adult sizes. For windsurfing there was one instructor and only 8 adults allowed per day between the two resorts, so if you did not sign up within the first 5 min once the signup window opened, chances are you could not windsurf that day.

For adults, there were almost no organized activities. We did manage to convince staff to teach us salsa dancing one day, and yoga another day. Thats about it.

Between Divi and Tamarjin, there was daily nightly entertainment. It usually included a band/music component, and a dance troup. There was also a small straw market every day (except Sat) at one of the two resorts.

Tamarjin All Inclusive Resort Facilities: (2 stars)
Divi Aruba All inclusive and Tamarjin All Inclusive are two separate properties located right next to each other and owned by the same company. Consequently, guests between the two are free to use the other's facilities and the two resorts share staff, gym, and activity areas. Tamarjin seemed older while Divi Aruba seemed newer. Since we stayed at Divi, I cannot really talk about the accomodations at Tamarjin, but based on what I saw, the rooms, the lobby, the dining room, and the pool area at Divi seemed much nicer. However it seemed that all the rooms at Tamarjin were ocean front. The gym, the watersport and the activity center were only located at Tamarjin. We had to go to Tamarjin to use the gym, to rent snorkling gear, for rock wall climbing, for kite flying, for windsurfing lessons, etc. The snack hut at Tamarjin also offered a little more variety in foods.. like fries and onion rings, in addition to pizza and sandwiches. Tamarjin had 3 of the 4 reservation only restaurants while Divi only had 1. It was an easy 5 min walk between the two resorts and there was also a free shuttle between the two so going from one to the other was not a big deal.Sometimes though it was annoying to have to go to the other resort for small things..e.g to just to get a plate of fries or onion rings in the middle of the afternoon.

Staff: (1 star)
More than anything else, I felt the resort was short staffed. Perhaps it had to do with easter week, but the staff seemed always rushed, had a "I'm busy" frown, they were never impolite never rude just not very warm. Don't think I saw very many smiles from the staff. The shortage was felt most acutely in the dining room and the snack hut. Periodically there were long lines. When the supplies ran short, the cook was running to get the supplies as well as trying to manage the orders from people waiting. In late afternoons, the snack hut was busy with people waiting for pizza and there was only one cook. Also the age group for majority of staff seemed to be in 50s. hmmmm

Suggestions to the Resort:
1. They really need to work on the quantity and quality of the staff. With more staff, perhaps the pressure on the existing staff will ease. If the staff is more relaxed the guests will feel more relaxed too. With younger staff, perhaps there will be more activities and overall energy at the resort to engage guests.

2.They need to organize more day time activities such as morning and evening yoga, dance classes for adults and kids, some board games, beach side games, family group activites etc. to engage the guests more.

 3. Improve the quality of the various dining options, especially the buffet menus, and the snacks and drinks available. They should make the quality of the food served in reservation only restaurant a bit more gourmet.


Alina said...

Great información!!!! Thanks for the detalle, very usefull!!!

max lucas said...

Hey could you tell me top 5 aruba beaches to roam arround when we are on vacation in Aruba. As we planed a vacation.

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