By Vince Font
Now may not be the time most people are planning their summer beach vacations. The winter’s still got a long way to go, and when it comes right down to the way that Mother Nature conducts her business, it’s usually best not to argue — she’s going to have her way whether we like it or not. But if you’re feeling particularly pent up this winter and sense the end of your proverbial rope approaching far too soon, setting the plans in motion for an all-inclusive vacation or spring break vacation can’t happen fast enough. Leave it to to the Occidental Grand in Oranjestad, the capital city of Aruba, to take the frostbite away.
The Occidental is an all-inclusive resort that typically averages in the upper $300s for an overnight stay, but that I managed to secure for four nights at around $1,800 per person — including round trip airfare. To be honest, I’d have paid that much just for the 80 degree weather.
But alas, the tropical weather’s not the only reason that the Occidental is the perfect winter getaway location for you and your family. If you’ve got kids under 12, you’re in luck. The resort has a family-friendly policy where children under the age of 12 can stay, play and eat free.
The roster of available activities by day are impressive — there’s crystal clear water snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing, and even private tennis lessons for the less athletically-inclined of us (the lessons improved my game, but I still struggle with what my mother always called “two left feet”) — but the Occidental really comes alive at night. This is where the invaluable babysitting services the resort offers really came into play, allowing the grownups to have an evening on the town without leaving resort grounds — dancing, shooting craps, and taking in the free nightly entertainment. Once the fun was done and the children collected, a night of sleep was in order, a welcome respite made effortless by the comfortable king size beds of our marble-floored retreat.
As far as beach vacations go, the Occidental is one of those places that’s got so many on-site attractions that you may end up missing the beach altogether. But if you ask me, that’s far preferable to the kind of resort you simply cannot wait to leave.
The price of all-inclusive vacations at the Occidental includes not only the round-trip flight to and from your destination, but hotel costs, meals, drinks, activities and tip. When it comes down to saving money and convenience, there’s no other way to go.
Vince Font is a freelance writer born in Puerto Rico and currently escaped to Utah. When not dreaming of interstellar travel, he’s on the hunt for weird, wacky, and off-the-beaten-track vacation destinations. Next stop: The Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast.