Arriba Aruba…

Don’t let the cacti fool you, Aruba is far from a desert, or at least not when you’re staying at the oasis that is the Ritz Carlton, overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Just like the island itself, the hotel is very manageable in size. The adults only pool area is surrounded by tented pool cabanas and buffered from the sand by a lush green hedge. On the other side of that hedge lies miles of azure waters to explore, but if you’re more inclined to chill between moments of drenching your body in the Caribbean Sea, the beach cabanas aren’t a mirage, they are yours for the day. Book one for a few days during your stay because there’s more than a great view of the water while being shaded and pampered by the beach concierge. More than all the attention and service, there’s one eye-catching activity that seems part circus and all efficiency. That would be the drink delivery. Order a soda or an adult beverage, it doesn’t matter. The beach waiter delivers your beverages via Segway. On the sand, one hand holding a tray of drinks, at almost breakneck speed…your drink arrives, without him having spilled a drop. You’ll want to set the camera to video from the second you order.

While awaiting your drink order (He will also bring you beach fare, but the drinks being delivered on Segway, on the sand, is the real treat.) you’ll be able to get loads of images for your social media feed. Brilliant white sand being lapped at by the clear blue sea. The shape of the beach, caused by the natural curves of the island, is cozy and when I was there, the waves were so minimal that they barely left a trace of seafoam as they rolled ashore. The island gets its fair share of wind, so don’t hold me to the same wave conditions when you visit. It’s a perfect beach for families and couples alike. The Cabanas are for the latter, in my opinion.

Being one of the newest Aruba luxury hotels to rise along the island’s spectacular Palm
Beach, The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba has modern amenities and great service. If you like your beds as soft as a cloud, then you’re in for a treat. Some days we lingered just a bit longer under the sheets. The bed was so inviting. Eventually, I slipped into my robe and onto my private balcony. Every room and suite offers private balconies, so not to worry. You’ll be able to replicate this part of my trip. Stunning ocean views aren’t reserved for a special few. I spent all my mornings looking out to sea before heading on my island adventures. After a great dinner at Casa Nonna New York, I wanted a lighter breakfast to take on the day. The name is literally translated to grandmother’s house, so you know what that means. The rich authentic Italian fare, punctuated by homemade pasta, held me over and kept me fueled for my day around the art scene of Aruba. So instead of heading to breakfast in Solanio, I ordered a fruit plate to the room, then I set out to discover Aruba’s Sunrise City. This was once a bustling part of the island, when Venezuelan oil flowed freely and the island was benefiting from working with the oil industry. When the oil went, so did the jobs, the ability to upkeep the buildings and the desire for many to even venture to this part of the island. Artisa is changing that. More than an art gallery, this space functions as a classroom where I painted the most interesting “owl” anyone has ever laid eyes on. It was also the launching point for the street art tour. Artisa has taken on the task of bringing the community back together through art. The new face of the area is beaming with color and matching its name up and down every street, all driven by art. Functional, and evocative, Sunrise City is a must visit when in Aruba.

Then follow my lead, once again, and grab lunch at The West Deck. The Amorettorita is served in what I thought was a vase. The owner swung by and encouraged me to have two. The claim is one will make you lean so two balances you out. I could only manage one as I chowed down on some amazing seafood. I went for the whole fried snapper. It’s the only thing I want when I am sitting outside, directly over the water, watching the planes come in. It’s an island thing…check it out! This spot is really fun and the staff is extremely friendly. By the time you leave, you’ll want to make plans to come back. I say sadly, half-jokingly, because after lunch I was headed to the spa back at The Ritz. My one piece of advice on the spa is to get there early. Add about 45 minutes to your appointment time. Enjoy the amenities. I arrived just in time, so I missed the steam room, scrubs and the sauna. My treatment was a soothing aromatherapy massage. It was exactly what I needed. I destressed just in time to make it to the casino and learn how to play a few games. The casino gaming clinic didn’t stress me out because I was losing their chips at blackjack and roulette. Different story had it been my cash on the line.

This is the ultimate feeling of walking away on top. I gained tons of knowledge (beyond learning how to count to 21, quickly) in how these table games wok. I had always been a slot machine patron with a self-inflicted cap of $10. Needless to say Vegas never called to offer me a surf & turf dinner, thankfully! I’d rather do it my way. Here, I could sit on the terrace with a few other guests, and watch the sun set, sip on a Cadushi (signature cactus cocktail) and sample some of the yummiest sushi ever. I knew “sushi night” at Divi Sushi Bar & Lounge was going to be a good idea, but what made it great was starting off sampling some of the menu offerings while sipping a few sundowners and staring at the unobstructed (save a picture-perfect sailboat crossing in front of the sinking orange orb) view of a perfect sunset. If I am painting a picture for you, its because it felt as though I was in a Rembrandt. This Dutch master, of the Dutch Golden Age, came flooding to mind, fittingly, while in Aruba.

Artisa set the tone for seeing the vivid colors of this arid, desert-like island. The Discover Aruba Tour had me exploring the island’s land wonders a little more closely. Hitting the most popular of attractions, the famed lighthouse (Yes, I climbed to the tippy-top.) I got to visit the aloe factory and learn so much more about this versatile plant. The collapsed natural bridge ws still a wonder to me as my eyes panned back to the new baby bridge. Thinking about the forces of nature and how impermanence is built in to our very existence. The lasting memories, for a long as we are blessed to roam this earth, are draughted on my soul. The island is alive and in constant motion. Yes, I had been to Aruba on multiple occasions, but this visit was a little different than those in the past. I wanted to stay in luxury at The Ritz and delve deeper than ever before. Easily accomplished! I even decided to mix it up and trade a luxury yacht sail for a
Palm Pleasure’s Sunset Sail. Do not think that sunsets are only enjoyable from the beach or from the ever so comfortable terrace at the hotel. They are even more spectacular when viewed the sea. Now I was in the Rembrandt, I was the sailing ship cutting across the horizon and happily creating that perfect picture for those lucky enough to be watching the end of another gorgeous day.

For me, this would be the final Aruban sunset of my trip. I ended my last evening at the Ritz Carlton at BLT Steak. It was a way of easing my transition back to the US in the morning. The modern interpretation of American steakhouse restaurants that combined classic bistro ambiance, made me feel more like I was back at home rather than on an island in the Caribbean. It was a good choice as it made my farewell a little easier. The traditional level of Ritz-Carlton service coupled with an island vacation was a nice blend. I called this getaway my

Dushi, Cadushi Ritz Carlton getaway…

Dushi:

‘Dushi’ is a common word in Papiamento/Papiamentu, the native language of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao.

What does ‘dushi’ mean? 
The word ‘dushi’ has a variety of meanings: calling someone ‘dushi’ means “sweetheart”, “babe” or even “sexy”. You also use it for tasty foods or to describe good things in life.

Cadushi Recipe:

This locally inspired cocktail is the signature drink at the Divi Bar & Lounge, located in the opulent Ritz-Carlton Hotel’s main lobby. According to award-winning bartender Danovick (Dan) van der Linden, “The best way to describe it is ‘you’re getting a detox and getting tipsy at the same time.’”

1 oz. cactus purée
½ oz. lime juice
½ oz. simple syrup
1 oz. white rum
½ oz. triple sec
2 oz. club soda, or 1 oz. soda and 1 oz. Sprite
Wedge of lime and a maraschino cherry, to garnish

Combine the cactus purée, lime juice, simple syrup, rum and triple sec in a cocktail shaker with ice.
Shake and strain into a glass of ice. Top with soda (and optional Sprite) and garnish with a wedge of lime and a cherry

http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/caribbean/aruba

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