I have to apologize to Robert, as I had some major life changes after returning home and took too long in writing this review. My girlfriend and I visited Aruba in August of 2012 for one week. I will write my review to provide help in two areas: general impressions of Aruba and why Robert and his family make the experience as good as it is.
First, Aruba was our first visit to the Caribbean. We are the type of vacationers that prefer to carve our own path rather than bask in all-inclusive amenities until departure. We chose Aruba thinking that we'd be able to plan our days catered to this attitude. We were spot on in this respect, but the island offers more than we imagined. For adventurers, there is plenty available, but the resort section of the island is full of activity. As Robert mentioned, one can walk from My Aruban Home to the Marriott and use the hotel's beach chairs, so you can easily balance between custom day trips and lazy lounging. Aruba itself was incredible. When we swam with pufferfish and squid in our first snorkel trip, we thought that would be it and were satisfied. But we later went to a different section of the island and off the beaten path. What we found was a snorkel paradise that I can only describe as a private aquarium. We were the only ones within sight, and school upon school of different species swam by as if we simply didn't exist. To reach this destination (near Blue Parrot waterpark), we took our kayak out, and the waves were formidable and a little scary, so I can't say that I recommend it to those not confident in swimming ability. Having our own kayak made the trip unbelievably free, as coral reef and beautiful, private areas became immediately accessible and not held back by return times or group tour guidelines. For a family who wants more structure, though, water sport activities were plentiful, and we often heard the happy chatter of tour groups either on their boats or when docking.
As for My Aruban Home itself, it was more than we expected and everything we could want. The lodging is designed to make you feel as if you live in Aruba. This means that you should plan to bring small things that a hotel might provide, such as a hair dryer, razor, and such. Beyond this, all of the items we would want, such as flatware in the kitchenette and bedding, left nothing to be desired. There was enough space for us to keep our luggage, move around, cook, and so on, but other than that, we wanted to spend all of our time at the amazing spots that we simply can't wait to revisit. The feeling of living in Aruba was nicely achieved, I think. There was no swim-up bar or casino down the hall to lure us away from the treasures of the island, so we simply recharged our bodies and minds in the cozy guest house and then ventured out the next day. The air conditioning and wifi ensured comfort, but for us, it was all about daytime adventures, nighttime preparation of our own meals using Aruba's great ingredients, heading out again for some nighttime fun, and then slumping into the sizable bed with satisfaction. If our muscles were sore or skin sunburned, the house was welcoming and always a close walk or drive. Regardless of lodging location, I recommend a rental car. No matter how close the beach is (10 minutes' walk from My Aruban Home), a car opens up possibilities.
Now to where it really counts. Robert and his family imparted the kind of courtesy, respect, warmth, and knowledge that will make a trip to Aruba unforgettable and perfect the first time around. Being a couple that likes to design our own adventure, we have been to Florida with a guide book and discovered too late that we need a second trip to do what we truly set out to do. With Robert and his daughter's advice on our side, we quickly found spots that do not fail to impress. Every single aspect of our days was made comfortable and anxiety-free thanks to their expertise. A hotel receptionist would never provide the kind of care we received. From our daily ingredient shopping to rental car arrangements to bike borrowing (from Robert), the only thing we had to think about was how to fit so many good experiences into each day. Robert continuously mentioned that he only recommends a location if it's good enough for his family, and this was made very clear in the quality of places we went. I particularly recall being made to feel like family when my girlfriend hurt her leg and we wanted to get out for happy hour. Robert's family came to the rescue and gave us a ride to our favorite spot. Of course, after happy hour, there was no pain walking home! Speaking of which, check out Bugaloe, a bar/restaurant sitting on the pier behind the hotel strip. Amazing food, best mojitos of my life, and awesome happy hour specials. We ended up going there almost every day.
I am getting wrapped up in memories. Suffice it to say that Aruba is a great choice for a vacation, and My Aruban Home (moreover, those who own it) will ensure that your trip is perfect. We will be back, and we can only hope that Robert will have a room for us! See you this summer, Aruba.