We went to Amsterdam Manor from September 19-23 for a long-weekend trip from Boston, MA, USA. Because we relied on these reviews so much in deciding to plan our trip, we felt obligated to report back that our trip was perfect, even better than we could have possibly expected, and that the staff and amenities at Amsterdam Manor were responsible for our trip being so fantastic.
Our expectations for the trip were for my girlfriend and I to unwind, relax, and celebrate. All we wanted was a place where we could sit on the beach by day while drinking, reading, and floating in the water, and at night find a good place for a relaxing dinner. We decided to get the all-inclusive option at Amsterdam Manor, mostly because we weren't really planning on leaving the hotel to explore the island save maybe a shopping trip that we took on Saturday morning.
Additionally, we were really drawn to Aruba because everyone we know who has gone there has raved about it being their favorite warm getaway, it is convenient (you can use US currency), it is on EST, and a 4 1/2 or so hour direct flight from Boston (via Jetblue).
Knowing all our considerations and what we wanted out of the trip, our review will make a lot more sense. We left on a Thursday and got into the hotel by one in the afternoon. Our room wasn't ready, but we were given our all-inclusive bracelets and told we could change in the lobby and grab lunch on the beach. We read the information about the all-inclusive package, and it comes with drinks on the beach, lunch at the hotel (either at Mangos, which is at the hotel near the pool, or at Passions Beach Bar, which is right on the beach), dinner (one night at Passions On The Beach, the other either at Mangos, which is behind the pool, or Tulips, located two hotels down on the road), breakfast, free snorkeling gear, and free bike rentals (we didn't use either of the last two). We also found out that we got a free upgrade, which ended up being one of the best aspects of our vacation: we wanted a superior studio (the one with the ocean view) and they upgraded us to a 2 bedroom suite with a balcony looking over the ocean. This balcony had two beach chairs, a table with two more chairs, and a drying rack for bathing suits, and ended up being where we'd watch the sunset almost every night at around 6:30.
Our trip ended up consisting of waking up early and going to Mangos for Breakfast, where we were greeted by Juan, who I would equate to a "cruise director" who serves both as a waiter and a social liaison. He'd walk around talking to everybody, cracking jokes, and encouraging people to talk with one another. He's the kind of guy who even at breakfast would be offering you whiskey, and at lunch would bring you a new Amstel Bright in a tin bucket filled with ice as you were finishing your previous one. We'd head to the beach, where the morning was hot but not overwhelmingly so, and we'd tan, read, and drink when the beach bar opened. We found, at our time of the year, getting down to the beach by 10 we'd have a front row cabana, chairs, and the floating pads, and even on most of the days we were there the cabanas hardly ever filled completely. We'd grab drinks at the beach bar, grab lunch at Passions Beach Bar (with Juan again, who would still be there cracking jokes in all of the five or six languages he could speak), sit at the beach again in the afternoon (but usually under the cabanas or in the water since it started to get too hot to stay out in the sun for long periods of time), go to the bar near the pool for afternoon happy hour (where, in our experience, more of the people went for happy hour if you're interested in meeting other people and being social), retreat to our balcony for sunset, get ready for dinner, and then head to bed.
Because our experience was really just about sitting on the beach, eating, and drinking, I'll talk a little bit more of each of these. The beach was amazing. The cabanas were nice (and if you were early, some even had outlets). There are nice beach chairs, towels, and big yellow floating pads for you to use. The water was clear, warm, and gorgeous. We joked that it was so clear that we didn't get why anyone would snorkel considering you'd think one could just look down and see the bottom of the ocean, but then a kid swam up to us with a live starfish and we had to recant our criticisms of the snorkeling area. There is a reason Eagle Beach is considered one of the best beaches in the world, and we found that the Amsterdam Manor section of it was not very crowded and especially relaxing.
Food and drink: As mentioned above, we got the all-inclusive option because we didn't want to have to travel around the island to head to dinner or drinks, and we thought it would be a good deal to get all-inclusive. We ended up eating at the hotel and using our all-inclusive for every meal, and it ended up being a extremely cost-efficient and pleasant option. Passions on the Beach is an experience that you don't find in many places, and the ambiance there was among the top restaurants I've ever been to. The food at all of the restaurants was good and certainly was above our expectations. For breakfast at Mangos, I'd say it's probably the least noteworthy of the dining options, considering it's buffet-style and buffet-style breakfasts usually aren't that noteworthy unless they are bad. Mangos was good, and we had nothing to complain about. We ate at Passions Beach Bar for lunch every day, and while the portions were huge, the food was good, and we especially loved the sauces. We don't normally have Caribbean sauces in Boston, so the pina colada dipping sauce on the coconut shrimp and the spicy chile sweet and sour sauce on the calamari was delicious and enjoyed immensely. For everything else we ate, the food was good, and my only criticism could be having options for sides for the food other than french fries (or, because the dishes are usually accompanied by a mountain of french fries, splitting that into fries and maybe a small salad or something tasty yet not starchy and filling). For dinner at Mangos and a dinner at Tulips (the other all-inclusive dinner option at the hotel two blocks down), the food was on par with a good restaurant in Boston, and we were actually surprised at the quality considering that, in all the meals we ate in Aruba at Amsterdam Manor, there wasn't one dish we didn't like. If you are a foodie looking for exotic or crazy culinary concoctions, this isn't quite the option for you, but if you're looking for a safer menu at a hotel that clearly is devised to appeal to a variety of travelers, you won't be disappointed.
I think the only thing about the food that we can't really evaluate is the price. Because we didn't have to worry about whether we were ordering a specific dollar amount (the all-inclusive even included a 15% service fee, though we did add on at the end of our trip to people like Juan who made the experience better), and because we didn't eat anywhere other than Amsterdam Manor, we can't comment on the price of a specific dish compared to the market. However, the quality was such that, if we were eating the same meal at a restaurant in Boston, I don't think we would have minded paying the same price for the meal. Thus, the bonus of getting to eat it in an environment like Aruba was certainly a plus.
For those considering the all-inclusive option, we stayed at the hotel for 4 days, drank all day, and loosely kept track of how cost-effective the option was. Neither my girlfriend and I are big eaters (we didn't get an appetizer or dessert at half of our meals), but we did drink quite a bit (probably 1-2 drinks an hour from 11-7). We found that, for each of us, the all-inclusive saved us between $50-100/day/person, and that included a great dinner at Passions that itself almost cost the $125/person that the all-inclusive costs/day. When, not if, we come back to Amsterdam Manor, we'll probably get the option again, though maybe try going to another restaurant on the island for one or two dinners, and, for us, we still think it would be cost-effective.
For our opinions on the things that tend to come up in a lot of these reviews (considering we read them every week for 6 months before our trip to get us excited):
There was no smell.
The internet worked adequately (sometimes wifi was spotty, but usually worked if you moved closer to the hot spot in our room), and there were computers you could use if you didn't want to use your mobile device.
There was a pool, which we actually thought was appropriately sized for the size of the hotel and the proximity to the beach. It never seemed like there were more than 2 or 4 people in it at any point in the day.
The beach was not that crowded, but it also wasn't really in "season" when we went.
The floors did not get wet in our room.
The air conditioning was not that cold.
The "sweet water" that Aruba is famous for is actually really good.
The beds were extremely comfy. They definitely were on the firmer side, but you could tell the mattresses were nice, and we slept like rocks.
The "road" was really a small bike lane and two one-way roads separated by a median. That being said, you didn't feel like it was "big" or an eyesore. It reminded me more of a neighborhood road than a "highway" (as some people have characterized it). We never felt in danger crossing it, and because it is two one-lane roads with a median in the middle, it's not like you're playing a real-life game of "Frogger" to get to the beach.
We hope you find this review helpful, and if you decide to go to Amsterdam Manor, we hope you love your time there as much as we did (and say hi to Juan!)
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- From the moment you arrive you'll feel the difference. Dutch colonial-style architecture and a Caribbean flair make the Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort a special place.....A small hideaway with the luxuries of a large resort, located on a premier beach, Eagle Beach. Warm, friendly personalized service, fine facilities and amenities create an unforgettable vacation. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Amsterdam Manor Beach Hotel Palm/Eagle Beach
- Hotel Amsterdam Manor Beach
- Amsterdam Manor Aruba
- Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort Aruba/Palm - Eagle Beach