Travels in Aruba 2016 – part sixteen or another “Top 10 Reasons to Love Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort”

After our October 2015 trip to Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort in Aruba, I wrote the series “Travels in Aruba” including the post Top 10 Things I Love about Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort  if you’d like to check it out!

As Spence and I were enjoying our recent trip in May, we compiled a list of ten additional things we love about this exceptional resort.  The list was easy for us and exceeded ten things but for consistency, I’ve whittled it to ten, in no particular order:

  1.  Purun Spa  Tucked away in the Tara building is the peaceful, zen-like atmosphere of Purun Spa. Soft music, subdued lighting, fruit-infused water or ginger tea is available as you await your spa service.  With an extensive menu of services and expert staff (I had Margarita for a massage and facial), I emerged relaxed and refreshed.
  2. Movie under the Stars – Twice a week at 8 p.m.,they feature a movie as you recline on comfortable lounges on the beach. The tradewinds and starlit sky as we watched “An Officer and A Gentleman” made for a unique and romantic experience.
  3.  Making my birthday special – We celebrated my 60th birthday on this trip and on the big day, the staff at Elements brought me a Mimosa and this beautiful presentation of fresh fruit. What a way to start my first day of being 60!

FullSizeRender 328

4. Sunday Happy Hour – During the Sunday Happy Hour, there are a select group of artists who display their work as well as a chef featuring an Amuse Bouche.  Spence bought me a lovely pair of earrings (last year I bought a bracelet here that remains a favorite). The art is lovely and the prices are reasonable. Plus it’s combined with Happy Hour – you can’t beat that!

FullSizeRender 519

5. Driftwood Workshop – This year the resort was featuring a painting class on driftwood.  I met the instructor during our first Sunday Happy Hour. I was intrigued with her talent and signed up for the next class.  It was fun to create art and hang out with Maria Onni, our instructor and Nicole, from Guest Services/Concierge who took the class as well.  It happened to fall on a rare overcast day that even sported a couple of quick rain showers but even if it had been a sunny beach day, it was completely enjoyable and I’d take it again!

6. Carte Blanche – Located within the Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort, Carte Blanche is open to the public but only if you’ve planned ahead to secure a coveted reservation to this limited seating, chef’s selected, multi-course gourmet meal.  I was lucky to get us a spot and the meal as well as the experience of watching a skilled chef create and plate the most exceptional food was a foodie’s dream come true.

7. Fresh Orchids – It’s the little touches and attention to detail, like fresh orchids in our room and even in the hallways. The orchid in our room was down to two blooms toward the end of our stay and was replaced with a new one, simply because housekeeping was paying attention.  And that’s typical of the attention to every detail that we’ve come to expect from everyone here.

8.  Aruba Aloe Bath & Body Products – In keeping with their eco-friendly policies,  rooms feature dispensers of liquid hand soap, body lotion, conditioning shampoo and body wash from the Aruba Aloe company. I’ve since ordered the products online as I loved the high quality – light scented, gentle and most importantly, I love the way my skin and hair feel after using the products for two weeks.

9. Complimentary iPad – This is particularly nice for any guest but in particular, as a blogger it was great to stay connected.  Though we somehow missed noticing this last trip, the alarm clock has both an iPod docking station and a sound machine with crickets, ocean waves and other sounds to help us relax  fall into a deep sleep.

10. The Sand Bar – During the day, Bucuti’s Sand Bar is “the place” for cold adult beverages (a Prosecco or Pina Colada for me – Balashi for Spence), as you relax in the open-air, shaded round bar while gazing at the beach and brilliant turquoise ocean beyond.  But there’s more…. as we discovered this trip – the lunch menu.  Over the course of our two week stay we tried the Element’s Ceviche, Tuscany Panini and Garlic Roasted Quesadillas. With lots of delicious menu items to choose from, two daily happy hours, a pair of love birds and Paco, the talking parrot, what’s not to love about the Sand Bar?

This ends “Travels in Aruba 2016”.  I hope you’ve enjoyed it – it’s been fun to share it with you and read your comments.  Many thanks!

Travels in Aruba 2016 – part ten

As mentioned, this visit to Aruba was planned in large part to celebrate my 60th birthday.  Heading down that morning for breakfast, I told Spence I’d like to start my day with a mimosa.  Martin, who greeted and seated us each day said he’d take care of that request.

We proceeded to fill our plates from the phenomenal buffet (see part six of this series for more about our daily breakfasts at Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort).  I’d just finished my first plate of goodies when I saw Martin approaching with my mimosa, followed by Oriana and Sali, singing “Happy Birthday” and bringing me this delicious surprise:

I learned from Sali that Nakarid, who we saw most mornings, had the day off but had asked Sali to prepare this for me in her absence. It was so thoughtful and I got a number of heartfelt hugs as well.

Later that day…

We think Bucuti’s own Elements Restaurant is the best in Aruba so when Spence asked where I’d like to have my birthday dinner, it was my first choice!

Yolanda, our server, was so accomodating and our meals were perfection. She took the picture of us below.

FullSizeRender 335
OMG – I can’t even describe this soup. I’d wanted to try it since our last trip here. Amazing!

On to the entrees:

FullSizeRender 333
My choice, the duck!
FullSizeRender 344
Cooked to perfection.
FullSizeRender 338
Spence had Gnocchi with Roasted Vegetables – yum!

As we toasted and enjoyed a leisurely dinner, the sunset was spectacular.

What a way to celebrate my birthday, from beginning to end.

Travels in Aruba 2016 – part eight

 

FullSizeRender 313.jpg
Mother’s Day gift from Bucuti and Tara Beach Resorts, a beautifully wrapped, scented soap – just lovely!

While in Aruba we celebrated Mother’s Day and after seeing that there was a special menu being offered at Bucuti and Tara Beach Resort’s Elements Restaurant (our favorite in Aruba) we made reservations.  It didn’t disappoint!

Mother’s Day Dinner Menu

 Choice of:

Smoked Salmon Carpaccio – Norwegian smoked salmon thinly layered over frisée greens with pumpernickel wedges and balsamic emulsion

– or –

Cauliflower Cream Soup – Roasted cauliflower unified with a hint of truffle butter and gently infused with parmesan cheese

ൡൡൡൡൡ

Grilled Mango Sea Bass Fillet – Carefully pan seared and topped with fresh mango salsa
Set on a mirror of Passion Beurre Blanc and served with roasted seasonal vegetables

– or –

Twin Tournedos Argentina Style – USDA choice tenderloin steaks char broiled and accompanied by a savory Chimichurri sauce and seasonal vegetables

ൡൡൡൡൡ

All main courses are served with choice of garlic mashed potatoes or wild rice

Mint Chocolate Crème Brûlée -Flavorful custard with a touch of mint and flamed caramelized sugar

Spence and I both selected the Salmon Carpaccio appetizer.

FullSizeRender 304.jpg

For our entrees, I chose the Sea Bass and Spence chose the Twin Tournedos – mine with the wild rice and his with the garlic mashed potatoes.

And of course, we saved room for the Mint Chocolate Creme Brulee – did you have any doubt?

 A truly scrumptious meal and memorable Mother’s Day!

Travels in Aruba 2016 – part one

Spence and I got home a week ago from a return trip to our beloved Aruba.  Last October we travelled there and had so much fun that four days later, we booked two weeks in May to coincide with my 60th birthday.

Those who’ve followed this blog may recall my 15 part series, Travels in Aruba from 2015.  Hands down, it collectively brought the most activity to Spence’s Girl since it’s launch. I’m hopeful that you’ll enjoy this series as well.

FullSizeRender 192.jpg
Starting the trip with an airport mimosa as we traveled Flint to Atlanta to Aruba.
We awoke well before the crack of dawn to arrive at the airport to check our bags by 4:00 a.m. and took off shortly after 6:00.

Arriving at our final destination around 2:30, we picked up our rental car and headed a short distance to Bucuti and Tara Beach Resort.  Having stayed there last trip, there was no question that we’d return there, we’d even requested and got the same room.

Upon our arrival, we were offered cool, lavender scented cloths to wipe away the travel grime – and a glass of ice cold champagne.  Nicole, who we’d met last year at check-in, took care of the formalities this year and got us settled in.  As always, they’d provided lovely welcome gifts.

FullSizeRender 193
Chilled wine, gouda, crackers, cookies & Aruba Aloe lotion!
IMG_9806

Knowing that the first of two daily cocktail hours commences at 4:00, we scooted down to the Sand Bar for drinks and our first sunset of the trip.  Life is good!

FullSizeRender 194
A little Prosecco

IMG_9793
Exhausted but we made it! 
We opted for night one to have dinner at Elements, the restaurant at Bucuti and Tara Beach Resort, which we think is the best on Aruba.  The menu is creative, food delicious, presented beautifully and excellent service guaranteed.

For our first night, we opted for a light meal and the selection of appetizers was very appealing…..what to choose???

Stay tuned for more in this new series……

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travels in Aruba – part fourteen or “Top 10 Things I Love About Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort”

In no particular order, here are my Top 10 Things I Love about Aruba’s Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort:

  1. The Staff – Spence and I, as well as other guests we spoke to, all concurred that we’ve never received the level of service and sincere caring about our stay that we experienced here. Each staffer’s name tag included the languages that they speak, making this great for travellers from all over the world.
  2. Beach and Poolside Service – as simple as raising a flag on your sunbed and one of several charming servers arrive with drinks. While Spence’s choice was buckets of Balashi (Aruba’s own beer) I favored Banana Dacquiris, Pina Coladas and on our final day, an ice cream based drink called Sand in the Pants.  As we relaxed, they would stop by with cups of fresh melon and cool cloths to refresh with – lovely!

3. Adults-Only – We loved the Adults-Only aspect of this resort, it assured a tranquil and quiet environment that met our needs. There were always ample shaded sunbeds available on the beach and around the pool.  Both the pool and beach were serene and never crowded. Breakfast and dinners were peaceful and romantic.  Just couples enjoying time together…..

The pool is pristine and
The pool is pristine and the perfect temperature
Immaculate Beach
Immaculate Beach

4. Designated Smoking Areas – Though I’m not a smoker, Spence is and he found that the three designated smoking areas were comfortable and didn’t make him feel any less welcome. In fact, he met a number of other guests there, striking up friendships as he always does and one was right on the beach, just far enough away so that the non-smokers weren’t disturbed.

5. Elements Restaurant – Executive Chef, Kurt sets a standard of excellence with the quality and preparation of the food at the resort.  We were wowed every morning by the selection of choices at the breakfast and the menu variety for evening dining (they also serve great lunches – we were just too full from breakfast).  The food here is so delicious and beautifully presented that we really never needed to go elsewhere.  Dining outside, a footstep away from the beach, trade-winds blowing and soft lighting, you feel as though you are truly in paradise.  Service, as mentioned before is exceptional both at dinner but also at breakfast.  Spence, who is very non-techy even learned how to operate the iPad menu which was very cool.

6. The Property – Set in the Low-Rise Hotel area, the grounds are landscaped with care and precision, with small signs posted that tell what type of tree, cactus or shrub you’re looking at.  For a gardening buff like myself, this was so interesting.  The white sugar sand of the beach was always clean – no littering, seaweed or anything other than an occasional shell or piece of coral.  And speaking of the beach – on 14 acres, there is so much to explore along the shore.  When you reach the ocean, you step into water which is clear turquoise with sand under your feet. The hotel itself is a beautiful boutique style property.

7. Two Daily Happy Hours – We loved Happy Hour at Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts.  After day one, the bartenders and servers knew our drink preferences and again, service was prompt and always friendly.  We enjoyed talking with them as well as other couples we met while seated at the Sand Bar or on any number of attractive seating enclaves that were comfortable and afforded views of the sunsets. Each night, there was a complimentary snack for the guests as well as music – steel drums, one night a violinist who was terrific and several exotic birds in cages which added to the tropical ambiance.

8. Breakfast included –  This is not your typical “breakfast included” experience. The value cannot be fully realized until you see it for yourself.  The choices each day were extensive and we loved that you could choose one of two places at the resort to enjoy it (same selection), our favorite was the one that served until 11 a.m.  There were a number of items not limited to omelets and belgian waffles that are made to order as well as 5 chafing dishes containing hot items and two full buffets of cheeses, meats, breads and countless baked goods, cereals, fresh fruits, juices and yogurts.  If I listed everything I remember, you’d probably think I was exaggerating.  Suffice it to say, it was impressive and a fabulous start to each day! What made this a terrific value for us is that by finishing our huge brunch by 11:00, we never needed lunch.

IMG_7481
Fresh papaya, eggs benedict, potatoes and bacon!
IMG_7195
Bagel with lox, cream cheese, capers and red onion with pineapple and melon.

9. Location – We loved the convenience of this location.  It was close to the Alhambra Casino, a short, easy walk away, with nice shops and a market, several neighboring hotels – one of which, Manchebo Beach, has two great restaurants – The French Steakhouse and Ike’s Bistro. The low-rise hotel area is quieter and more laid back than the high-rise hotel area.

10. The rooms, amenities and eco-friendly policies – We opted for a “green stay” which meant twice weekly full maid-service and a daily discount for each day here. The engraved aluminum water bottles (to save on plastic and take when we go) were easily refillable at numerous water coolers on the property.  The bath products, liquid hand soap, lotion, shampoo/conditioner and body wash were provided in dispensers and were Aruba Aloe products – excellent and high quality. As a blogger, one thing I loved was the use of an iPad, courtesy of the hotel, during our stay. The rooms were designed with comfort in mind – robes, fridge and microwave, air purifier, humidifier, mini-bar snacks, wines etc, lots of closet space.  The beds and bedding were comfortable and the decor was beautiful. We loved the quality furnishings, especially dressers which afforded lots of drawer space. The hotel had provided a chilled bottle of chardonnay, gouda, crackers and Dutch chocolate for our arrival gift as well as a chilled bottle of pink champagne and champagne flutes as their gifts to us.  And it was quiet – again, adults-only equaled no noise.  We slept well here.