I arrived in Aruba on Monday, November 26, 2012. I was greeted at the airport and provided bus service to the Occidental Grand Aruba. Raymond, the bus driver, provided an excellent level of entertainment on the ride to the Hotel. His sense of humor is only surpassed by his eagerness to educate and welcome his riders to Aruba. Upon arrival to the Occidental I was greeted by a Bellhop eager to take everyone’s luggage from the bus. After checking in at the front desk I was greeted by Augusto with a welcome drink. I was first assigned a room in Tower 1 on the fourth floor that contained two double beds. I returned to the front desk and explained that I had reserved a King Deluxe room. I was reassigned a King Deluxe in Tower 2 on the fourth floor. The room was in perfect condition, clean and fully stocked with drinks, water and beer in the refrigerator. The room was cleaned daily and left in immaculate condition. The view from the balcony overlooked the pool, beach and I could see the lighthouse at the end of the island. Absolute Paradise! After choosing your location and a morning walk on the beach coffee is ready at 7AM along with three free local newspapers for the taking. Everything you could possibly want for breakfast is included buffet style. The food is well prepared, tasty and offered in a pleasing manner. The staff is very accommodating, friendly and fun to start the day with. The beach at the Occidental is the best of high rise hotels. It drifts off into the ocean with a slight downgrade. Many areas of the other high rise hotels have a drop off from the beach to the ocean. Be sure and pick up a free float from Daveline (David’s daughter) at the Coconuts shop located to the right on the walkway to the beach. While you’re there reserve free sailboats ride with her father, David. You will have the time of your life sailing to the end of the island and back in approximately 1 hour. It’s a blast! David is handsome, funny and a great fisherman. Plus he’s an experienced sailor. I went with him alone and I felt very safe and repeated the trip two additional times with my girlfriends. Put this on your must do list during your visit. Lunch is served starting at Noon. Everything you can imagine is offered…you will not go hungry! Feed the Iguanas lettuce during lunch around the pool as they pose for photos. While many complain that top shelf liquor isn’t included at the bars, I didn’t find that a problem. Try an Aruba Arriba! Life is good! Please remember to tip you servers and bartenders. They are an excellent group of professionals that bend over backwards to make your stay pleasing. I know that the 15% gratuity is supposed to already be included but it IS NOT! They do not see a dime of the supposed 15% gratuity…unless you tip them personally. Make sure and make dinner reservation on your first day. L ’Olio’s was excellent…very romantic setting with superb food and service. The Zen Hibachi was the most entertaining. Elmo is the man and our chef rocked. Try the fried ice cream. It’s a dream! Don’t miss the Beach Party. The Fun Club entertainment was beautiful, artful and sexy. The dancers are very talented and encourage everyone’s participation. Alan pulled us from our seats onto the stage and we had the time of our life. The dancers are gorgeous in their pretty colorful feathered costumes. Alan was my favorite in his green pants and yellow and green feathers. He could surely shake a tail feather. The Casino is nice...just not my thing. The beach is the best, powdery white sand and gentle surf. There’s always a slight breeze. The worst part of the vacation is the time share staff will try and schedule and hour of your time in exchange for freebies. Watch your step. I walked out after 5 minutes when my freebie changed from a Jeep for the day to an economy car for a half-day because I’m single. Thanks…but NO THANKS! Remember you’re on vacation, be kind…not demanding… love your bartenders and servers and you will have the time of your life and make lifelong friends along the way. Drink plenty Aruba Arriba’s and let the good times roll! When you depart, leave 3 hours for airport security clearance. You’ll need it. I loved the Occidental Grand Aruba, its staff and most of all Aruba and its people. I will return.
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