I toss my things in the corner as to not muss up the bed, take a few photos, throw open that balcony and admire that incredible view of sand and sky. By far the best part of my travels is that massive, stylish, cozy and empty hotel room. After a long and thrilling day of touring, activities and marathon meals I love that feeling of taking off my shoes and settling in for the night in peace.
The game changes when my mother is following me around that beautiful hotel room, picking up my strewn clothes and asking 27 times why her iPad won’t connect to the Wifi.
I still was in paradise, but this time my mom came along. I think the last time we got on a plane for something just for fun together was….never. Either I was young and being dragged on a family vacation, or we had to go see family somewhere that was alright but also involved a lot of sober conversation about when the hell grandchildren were coming (hint: not for a long, long time).
This was a welcome opportunity, especially while we’ve been in the throes of extravagant wedding planning. On Mother’s Day we flew out of Boston, making a beeline for Aruba. As one of the Dutch islands near the coast of South America, it’s well-known as being one of the most scenic hotspots in the Caribbean. My Mom and I couldn’t agree more.
Ready for it? The Aruba Marriott Resort and Stellaris Casino – situated on endless miles of soft beach, covered in thatched roof cabanas and smiling faces of tanned vacationers. The property itself is wound around turquoise blue pools you can peer at from the balcony – a few for everyone and one just for the grown-ups that’s a little quieter. Take a chance at the big casino inside, graze a top-notch seafood buffet or do absolutely nothing for a hot minute and stake your claim in the sand for the week. Yeah, I was sold in seconds too.
I do love a good lounge, but we were off for adventure. Along with other ladies celebrating that mother-daughter bond, we hopped on a catamaran for a day of sailing, snorkeling and the best dance/reggae soundtrack I’ve ever heard on a boat. Red Sail Sports hosted us with plenty of green and blue colored drinks, a light lunch and all the sun we could soak up. Although I’m pushing *cough* thirty, my Dad still gifted me with a special snorkeling mask so I could see perfectly, which was a first for me. It helped me see crystal clear all the darting fish just below the surface. A highlight of the dives was the 100-foot shipwreck in shallow enough water you could almost reach the mast. Guess who was the first one off the back slide of the catamaran to check it out? Not me – but my Mom.
Next up was something far away from the ocean – or as far away as you can get on an island only 20 miles wide. We took a super rugged, really bumpy jeep adventure with De Palm Tours. Again, if you’re a sun worshipper and don’t often leave the shore on your vacation I challenge you to explore a little more next time – there’s so much to see. Such as, much of Aruba inland is covered in wild cacti. It’s like a desert that’s surrounded by an oasis of ocean instead of containing one inside.
We bounced our way to the Aruba Aloe Factory, visited the Donkey Sanctuary then headed off to Arikok National Park. At first, we spotted only one goat roaming through the dusty park, but once you see just one, they all start to appear. The occasional donkey also trotted through the protected land, and later we explored caves covered in endangered bats. Not crazy about it, but the excursion was well-worth the natural beauty brought about by such a tranquil, colorful cave.
We’re all born barefoot, and I think we should all indulge this simple pleasure more often. I was thrilled to find out that the Aruba Marriot Resort offered a chance to not only kick our shoes off, but also enjoy a high-class dining experience at the same time. While the sun sets, the Simply Fish restaurant crafts some elegant outdoor seating right on the beach. Remove sandals, squish your toes in the sand and sip that perfectly blended pina colada – nothing could be better. Most menu items are super fresh, especially the tropical fish paired with tostones (fried plantains) or crisp veggies. Finish it off with some ice cream to cool down after a hot day and be transported to heaven.
It was weird after all the excitement to wish Mom well and have the final hours alone at the resort. But having her there was an amazing chance to show someone from home what I do best, and have them completely love it too. If you have the chance to try mother daughter trips, or any trips with your family as an adult, do it. No question, it’s worth it, even if you have to share a hotel room.