Picking the Destination
We wanted to plan a Caribbean paradise vacation during Charlotte’s spring break. With our first anniversary after getting married in February of 2017 coming up, we had to decide. Charlotte being a teacher could only really go during spring break. After looking at numerous places to fly to, we stumbled upon a deal for flights from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Aruba on Southwest Airlines. We found round trip airfare for $350 total for both of us. Southwest gives everyone 2 free checked bags rather than charging the typical $25 for first bag and $35 for second bag like most airlines so that was another win in our books. We had flights ready to go now we just needed to find out where to stay and what to do.
Aruba Marriott Resort
It may not be the best deal to buy points, but there was a SPG sale to buy points. For this promotion you would receive a 35% discount on the price of the points when purchasing over 5,000 points. SPG had a limit to buying 30,000 points each year. There was a promotion to buy up to 40,000 points in 2017. We took advantage of that as well as buying some more beginning of 2018.
SPG points transfer between them and Marriott since the merger between the two organizations. Each SPG point transfers into 3 Marriott Rewards points. For a 5 night stay we needed 180,000 Marriott points (or 60,000 SPG points). Any Marriott Rewards redemption receives the 5th night free. Purchasing the 60,000 SPG points cost approximately $1365 for a 5 night stay at the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino. The going rate was about $650 per night at the resort, which after taxes and fees, comes out to about $4000. For the 5 nights we received 66% off by buying the points instead of booking the room for the going rate.
Again, I know it usually isn’t the smartest to buy points, especially all the points for a redemption, but for us it worked and we think we got a great deal.
Planning for the Beautiful Island
When we visit a place for the first time, we like to have a plan. After reading and watching numerous reviews and videos we narrowed down our choices. The place we wanted to visit was Arikok National Park, and places we wanted to eat, Zeerovers and Flying Fishbone.
We had dinners booked for 3 of our 5 nights there so far, including two nights at our hotel. The two at our hotel were La Vista, an Italian and international cuisine, and Atardi, a signature seafood restaurant. The other was Flying Fishbone where you dine on the beach looking out to a beautiful Caribbean paradise as the sun sets over the crystal blue water. We left our first night and our last night there open. Those days we were going to play by ear since one is a travel day and one is our last full day
Activities for Aruba
The only activity we have planned right now is a Natural Pool Safari with ABC Tours. They were highly recommended on TripAdvisor, which is always a good sign. After emailing with them, they convinced us on the Natural Pool Safari. On this tour we will be visiting The Natural Pool at Conchi, the Natural Bridge, and Arikok National Park. We are super excited for this trip to go around part of the island that not many get to see.
The only other thing we are on the fence about is taking a sailing and snorkeling trip. The water being so clear and blue it is only right that we should be in the water and on a boat. We are just looking for some good tours to go on, which right now we are checking out De Palm Tours. We are most likely going to use them for our transportation to and from the airport, which is $20/pp round trip. Only downside is that it’s a bus that basically will drop people off down the main strip of hotels. There is a chance you could make multiple stops before getting to your hotel. For us it just means more time to look at the window at the beautiful island!
Stay tuned to hear how the trip went! If you follow us on instagram, then you may have already got a sneak peek into how our trip went! If you do not follow us, go check out our Aruba: Caribbean Vlog now on youtube!If you aren’t currently a follower go follow us on instagram @travelunpackrepeat
Also feel free to check out our other posts like one of our posts about part of our Alaskan Honeymoon!