Spring Break Aruba Style


We are back from our much anticipated vacation and slowly getting back in the routine of our daily lives. There is always so much to share about a vacation, it’s hard to know where to start. I’ll start by saying we had a great time! Yes, I would recommend Aruba as a destination for families. I’m going to break down what we liked, and somethings we didn’t. And, yes my favorite outfits, swimwear and accessories I packed for the trip are included {just keep reading}!

How did we choose Aruba for spring break?

We were planning to go to Florida like everyone else, however, the flights were expensive and we thought the hotels were too for what we were going to get. My husband travels A LOT for work {like almost every week} and is a loyal Marriott guy which means we have points and status within the Marriott group of hotels. With that being said, we started our destination search by seeking out Marriott properties in the Caribbean. The Renaissance Resort in Aruba came up, and looked very enticing.

View of Renaissance Ocean Suits from ocean

The most important thing to us when traveling with our children (ages 4 and 6) is to have a separate room from them {it’s not the most relaxing traveling with small children, so breaks are needed!}. With separate rooms we can put them to bed and we can still enjoy ourselves for a bit as adults. This type of room set-up is not always the easiest and most economical to find, but the Renaissance in Aruba offers all suite-type rooms – a huge bonus!

Another factor for us with traveling with small children are the flights. Madison, Wisconsin is not the easiest place to leave from as we can only get to so many destinations directly. For Aruba, we were able to fly 1.5 hours to Atlanta – from there it was about 4 hours to Aruba. These flights were doable for us and got us to Aruba at a reasonable time. Everything was looking good to make this our spring break trip of 2019! We looked forward to this trip for months, now it was time to go!

Hotel Breakdown – Renisannce Ocean Suites and Casino

The Reniassance is a HUGE area of Oranjenstad (the capitol city). It takes up multiple blocks and is almost like it’s own little city. There are two hotels that make up this complex, Ocean suites (family friendly) and the Marina Hotel (adult only).

Pros of Renaissance Ocean Suites, Aruba:

  • About 2 miles from the airport (quick taxi ride ~$20).
  • Mall area just steps from hotel featuring restaurants, shops, ice cream, Starbucks and a casino.
  • We felt very safe walking around everywhere!
  • Our room was a good set-up, although overall a bit small. We had our own bedroom, and the kids slept on the pull-out couch in the common area. We also had a kitchenette and a nice sized balcony.
  • Great pool area with two large pools and a sand area with a lagoon.
  • Wonderful breakfast buffet with everything you could imagine, this was included with our room.
  • Access to the Renaissance Private Island. The island features a separate adult only area and family area. A unique and wonderful restaurant is located on the the island. Also, tons of wildlife; flamingos, iguanas, pelicans and fabulous snorkeling. It’s about a 15 minute boat ride from the hotel.
  • Overall a very family friendly vibe. We didn’t encounter any annoying drunk people, or anything that made us feel uncomfortable with kids. Ya know how the scenes can get at some pools in the Carribean. đŸ˜‰
  • Happy Hour at the pool bar from 4-6pm with live music.
  • Part of the hotel (certain floors) are condos. I think this welcomes very respectful guests.
  • Everywhere we ate; hotel, and outside of the hotel had really good food! It was also affordable for a touristy spot. No, I’m not saying “cheap” but $12-$18 for entrees. You could get a nice steak for around $32.
  • Last but certainly not least – such yummy, fun, tropical drinks!! Can’t forget that!
Renaisssance Private Island (family side)

Cons of the Renaissance Ocean Suites, Aruba:

  • No direct access to a sandy beach from the hotel – have to take a boat to the private island for that.
  • Not a great workout facility. The fitness center is located on the island which made it not super convenient.
  • Rooms were nice but nothing exceptional. Could have been a bit cleaner (I also have super high standards and don’t think I’ve ever thought a hotel was ‘clean’).
  • You could hear the airport noise from the private island. It wasn’t constant, but the island is close to the airport.
  • The check-in process took a while. They only had two staff members checking in guests, and many people had just arrived.

The positives definitely outweighed any of the negatives. The cons for us weren’t deal breakers at all.

Path to catch boat to Renaissance Private Island

Activities:

Boca Prins

We did rent a car one day. It was really easy to do within the hotel as they had a Hertz desk. We explored Arikok National Park and Baby Beach. It was neat to drive some local roads and see the pastel colored homes, road signs in Dutch, and the dry dessert-like landscape. The national park wasn’t all that exciting for the kids, we saw a million cacti, and after the 107th one they had seen, they had enough. As we kept winding our way through the national park we came across Boca Prins, a little beach area with the big waves, that made the National Park all worth it. It was stunning. We were so happy to find this little stop.

Pastel homes were so pretty

From Arikok National Park we followed the map to Baby Beach. It was nice, but not as nice as the private island we had access to. There is a fun restaurant on Baby Beach called “Big Mama,” that had a Flinstone theme. It was cute and the kids enjoyed their huge hot dogs.

For another activity, I took my 6-year-old-horse-loving-daughter horseback riding. We used Rancho La Panchero, and had a great experience. They had a shuttle pick us up at the hotel, which made it really easy. We started inland and rode down to the beach. The scenery around the beach was incredibly beautiful. My daughter loved that she was able to ride her own horse. The horses were very well trained and really kept in a line and made it very easy for young riders. The guides were all nice and helpful too. If you’re looking for horse back riding while in Aruba, I’d recommend this company.

Horseback riding Rancho La Panchero

Other than that, we walked around our hotel area, saw where the cruise ships dock, and also headed up to the “High Rise Hotel” area to scope out other Marriott properties for future trips. We realized this area was a lot busier as there are 14 high rise hotels right next to each other. It did create a different atmosphere than around our hotel, but still very nice and family friendly.

Will we go back?

One thing we discovered while we were down there was Aruba is a place people will go back to again and again. Other travelers we met had been there 3, 4, 7 times. I think that says a lot in itself. Yes, we would go back. Yes, we would stay at the Renaissance again. Overall, it was a great value and we thought it was a perfect place to stay with children. Really no major complaints about the trip at all.

Such great wildlife around the hotel, flamingos, pelicans, iguanas, and crabs were so fun to find!

What I Wore

Let’s get to the good stuff! What I packed for Aruba! I keep it pretty simple {well, actually not, let’s be honest}, but I pack a lot of easy dresses so it’s just throwing on one thing to be out the door. Here were some of my favorite pieces I brought:

Easy Dresses

Shop Aruba Dresses

Lilly Pulitzer Pink Flower Dress
Amazon off the shoulder dress
Leith Rushed Body Coon dress
Leith Everyday Dress
Lilly Pulitzer Pink Flower Dress
Amazon off the shoulder dress
Leith Rushed Body Coon dress
Leith Everyday Dress
Lilly Pulitzer Pink Flower Dress
Amazon off the shoulder dress
Leith Rushed Body Coon dress
Leith Everyday Dress

Flowy Pants

These pants have been SUCH a hit with all of you! I know why, they are like wearing pajamas! I felt so island chic {I just made that up} in this outfit! The pants in the blue color are low in sizes, however, they come in a blush stripe which I actually tried on first. These wide leg pants are so easy to wear and cool for warm weather. I loved the big shell earrings as an accessory with this outfit.

Shop This Outfit

Round straw tote 2
amazon round straw tote
Round Straw Bag
Free People White Cami
Free People Pants
Kendra Scott Diane Earring
Treasure and Bond Sandals
Round straw tote 2
amazon round straw tote
Round Straw Bag
Free People White Cami
Free People Pants
Kendra Scott Diane Earring
Treasure and Bond Sandals

Swimwear

I wore a couple of new suits for the first time and I am so happy with them. I even wore a high waist bikini! For a full break down of swimwear head to this post. These are the swimsuits I packed for this trip and loved.

Aruba Swim Wear

Francescas swim coverup
Freya high waist bikini bottoms
Kona Sol Scallop Swimsuit
Becca Swim Bottoms
Francescas swim coverup
Freya high waist bikini bottoms
Kona Sol Scallop Swimsuit
Becca Swim Bottoms
Francescas swim coverup
Freya high waist bikini bottoms
Kona Sol Scallop Swimsuit
Becca Swim Bottoms

Shoes and Accessories

Ahhh, the fun things to pack – accessories and shoes! It was really fun to wear some of these for the first time too! I know the round straw bag I brought is a huge hit (and yes, is sold out, but I linked some other great options). I also cannot tell you how much I love these wedge sandals. They are comfortable and go with everything.

LOVE these earrings

Shop Aruba Accessories

Round straw tote 2
amazon round straw tote
Round Straw Bag
Target sun hat
Kendra Scott Diane Earring
Sam Edelman natural flats
Sam edelman nude sandals
Havaianas Flip Flop
Treasure and Bond Sandals
Nordstrom Heart Sunglasses
quay square sunglasses
Madewell Necklace

Ayo (bye) Aruba

I really loved seeing the European influence while we were in Aruba. The food, language and culture are such an interesting mix. Hopefully from this post you can see how much we all loved it there. If you have any specific questions on our stay, outfits, or anything, please don’t hesitate to let me know!

As always, thank you for reading and make it a great day!

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