By Ian Ross
When it comes to vacations, for my family (which includes two teenagers), everything begins with the beach. We’ve gone on many different types of family vacations over the years; however, it always comes back to the beach. We just love sitting, playing, walking and just being together on the beach.
Our Caribbean vacation destination of choice is Aruba. Our beach and home-away-from-home (for five years), is the Aruba Marriott Resort and Stellaris Casino (which was renovated two years ago). We feel that it offers something for all of us, in addition to it being very comfortable and spacious.
In the morning, our teens are not quick to get up for a family breakfast. No worries, and it actually works better that way. The Marriott has a terrific Lobby Café, where they can grab a muffin, bagel, juice and/or coffee, and meet my wife and me out on the beach. (We usually grab a quick breakfast there as well, so as not to miss any sun time!).
We think the Marriott has the best, cleanest and biggest beach around. As my son and I can only sit in the sun (even under the famous palapas) for only so long, there are a number of water sport activities which we take full advantage of. On our last Caribbean vacation, we got on board the Jolly Pirates ship for an afternoon of great snorkeling. The pirate ship takes you all the way out, where you can swim or dive near a wrecked 400-foot WWII German freighter called the Antilla. This is an awesome experience for older kids. The ship also has a rope swing, and everyone onboard takes turns launching into the water. While we’re snorkeling, my daughter and wife take a break from sunning to do some shopping. Other family vacation activities include banana boats and jet skis.
Lunch under the palapa on the beach is great, and we usually opt for either the grilled chicken or tuna clubs. To break it up, we’ll also walk over to Waves (on property) for lunch. No one ever goes hungry.
We usually head out for dinner around 8 p.m., and as part of the family vacation planning process, everyone has a hand in choosing a restaurant. (If you’re planning a Caribbean vacation around the holidays, I suggest making dinner reservations well in advance of your trip). Our favorites include Madame Janette (my wife’s favorite), Smokey Joe’s Island Grill (my son’s favorite for ribs), Blossom’s in the Westin (my daughter’s favorite for both Japanese and Chinese food), and Sole Mare (my favorite for Italian food). There are so many great well-priced dining options, and all are within a very short cab ride from the Marriott.
After dinner, we usually head for the casino in either the Marriott or the Hyatt Regency Aruba. Our kids are of gambling age, and it really is fun to play a family game of roulette and/or blackjack. After a while, we and our kids go our separate ways, for obvious reasons. My wife and I catch up with friends at other nearby properties, and our night-owl kids find their own friends to hang out with.
Our family vacation lasts a week, and it goes by too fast.
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Ian Ross is the father of two children ages 19 and 21. His family loves beach vacations, especially in Aruba, Cabo San Lucas and Florida.