We stayed for 11 nights at the Tamarijn from Dec. 2 – 13, 2012. I tend to write long reviews, so I’ll start with a short summary for those of you who prefer not to read all the details. This resort is a bit tired, but the relaxed, un-crowded atmosphere, view from the room, ability to also use the Divi facilities and great location on a fabulous stretch of beach more than make up for the few down falls of this resort.
Trip from airport & check-in – It took us maybe 15 minutes by taxi from the airport to the resort. The friendly bellman grabbed our bags and check-in was quick and easy. They gave us a whole package of info. and went through the amenities on the map. As the bellman loaded our bags into one of the golf carts to take us to our room, the De Palm bus pulled up. So glad we took a cab and beat the transfer bus.
The room – We stayed in 1116 on the top floor in building 11 which is closest to the Divi end of the resort. It was exactly where we requested to be. It was as close as possible to the Divi and the wide beach between, yet still close to the main area of the Tam. We also had parking right there for our car (for a week in the middle). So glad we weren’t at the far end. It’s so far from everything. We wanted top floor so we could choose to leave our door open a crack at night to hear the waves, and to be able to leave our dive gear out to dry. The balcony is set back and is twice the size. We didn’t spend much time at the room, but when we did, the view was amazing. It’s a reno’d room with king bed, but still quite basic and simple. Just don’t expect 5 star furnishings - lots of clothes storage though. Housekeeping was ok, but didn’t do a super thorough cleaning. Don’t expect towel animals here. The first morning we had issues closing our door. It wouldn’t latch shut. A friendly guy from maintenance came, but it didn’t really get fixed. We had to slam it to shut it for the rest of our stay. We did have water issues. It took about 10 minutes to warm up, and then the pressure would fluctuate and then drop to nothing. If you can avoid taking showers just after sunset (when everyone does) it’s a little better. We had some water leakage when it rained heavily, but not as bad as some rooms on the ground floor.
Weather – It was very hot and mostly sunny with some clouds rolling through. This was often a relief. About half way through we heard it rain in the early morning. One morning when we went touring we had some rain, but then it cleared up and dried up quickly. On our last full day it was cloudy and rained but this time it didn’t really clear. We could see the rain coming in the black clouds and ran for cover at the main Divi bar. It bucketed and started to flood the common areas. Staff came out with mops ans squeegees. It rained long enough for us to have lunch and a couple drinks, then stopped, but didn’t really clear and we had a few more showers. We gave up on the beach and checked out the shops at the resorts. The last morning we had hoped to sit out for a bit, but it rained torrential pretty much non-stop most of the morning. It made it a little easier to leave.
Beach – In front on the Tam the beach is narrower and has some large rocks in spots, but this makes handy for those who like to sit in front of their room. We didn’t. There aren’t nearly enough palapas, and those on the ground floor take them before sunrise. Yes, I was up and saw the towels already out. I also walked to the far end and most were taken by 7:00. We love the sun, but it is so hot and intense here you really need a palapa to escape it. So we found ourselves at a palapa near the Sandpiper beach bar at the Divi the first day, and that area became our beach spot. We never had trouble getting a palapa there, and even after lunch (on days we toured or dove the morning) we could still get one a row back. The beach is so wide here. It’s not at all crowded (after the first day when they packed up from the volley ball tournament in the piece between the 2 resorts).They rake it every morning with the tractor so it’s soft and fluffy. The entrance to the water was easy and the bottom sandy. It drops off fairly quick, so it’s great for floating and swimming. The water is quite warm – in the low-mid 80’s. The first 2 days the water was dead calm, but then it did get a little rougher with small waves. Our only complaint is that since it is a public beach, locals bring their dogs and let them run free to do their business wherever. We even saw a woman bury it. Of course no reflection on the resort, and likely someone from the resort cleaned up the one the dog did under the palapa while we were there, as the dog owner sure didn’t despite us pointing it out. Gross and inconsiderate!
Pools – We didn’t really use the pools since the ocean is so nice. They were usually somewhat busy with small kids, but we did find the quiet pool at the Divi sometimes child free and relaxing to just float. There are also 3 pools at the Dutch village which the desk told us we could use, but signs say for Dutch village guests.
Bars – We mostly got drinks from Curtis at the Sandpiper during the day. Drinks and service were good. We went to the Bunker bar a couple times at sunset. Great view but it was so hot in there. Bar service was generally a bit better in the evenings at the Divi than at the Tam.
Shuttles - We only used them at night to and sometimes from dinner. Usually they were handy, but one afternoon/early evening they must have been short staffed and we gave up and walked. So do leave time.
Entertainment – It seemed a bit better at the Tam. We enjoyed the Dream Awake show. The music other nights was good. Forget karaoke though.
Food & dining – The breakfast buffet was just ok at the Tam and slightly better at the Divi. The scrambled eggs were blah and bacon sometimes under cooked. Fruit was ok, but not so fresh. We were spoiled by amazing fresh fruit selection we had in Costa Rica. For lunch we ate at the Divi buffet; lots of selection, but mainly we made salad with the taco toppings. The pizza was good at both the Divi and Tam, with more selection at Per Tutti for other things (fries, chicken nuggets). The Sandpiper had good burgers. We only had buffet dinner 1 night (Tam) – so so. We ate 3 times at Paparazzi. The tenderloin and ravioli dish was our fav. – very good. The seafood pasta just ok, but lasagna was good. Inside was chilly. Outside you could hear music, but warm of course. We also dined 4 times at Ginger. We really enjoyed the food here and tried many things off the menu. It’s more Thai and not at all American Chinese (don’t expect chicken balls etc.) which is why we liked it. Thai beef salad and Green Chicken Curry very good. We ate 3 times at Red Parrot - twice outside and once inside. Again, it’s warm outside but you can enjoy the entertainment (we usually ate around 8:00 pm). The food here was good, especially the tenderloin and the fish I can’t recall name – not grouper, although Yaldo brought us that to try too. Service was very good at all 3 but I think Yaldo was the best for his personality.
Service (front Desk, concierge etc) – The ladies at the front desk weren’t overly friendly, but when we had trouble with our Wifi they seemed defensive, like it was our fault it stopped working on my Playbook, but managed to get it on Kev’s. We paid $50 for a week and it was very slow at times. We went to use the internet lounge last day and they were out of cheaper cards. Then it didn’t work on some computers. Other than the front desk most staff were friendly, just not overly so. I guess we are just so spoiled by the personal treatment we get in Jamaica at Couples. Nothing compares service wise.
Off resort – We had a car for a week and did some touring, which was great. We also checked out Palm Beach. It was not our thing. It’s much more busy and crowded than at the Tam/Divi.
We really did love Aruba, the great beach at the Tam/Divi, and the ease and savings of all-inclusive. We’d go back to Aruba for sure, and quite possibly back to the Tamarijn, especially as long as we can also use the Divi.