Trip Report Dec 8 -15 Finding local flare
We booked our first couple of nights at the Renaissance Marina Hotel Oranjestad. We wanted to experience the downtown, local culture and visit the Renaissance Island that I had read so much about. The taxi arrived at the hotel at half past 3:00pm – we were greeted by the bell staff who took our bags and we rode the escalator up to the hotel lobby. As you ride up you can feel the hotel vibe – music is playing. On your left is an open air bar with traditional high top tables, bar stools and chill seating areas to just kick back and enjoy a cocktail. Steps on the far right of the bar lead to the infinity pool that sits just above the bar area.
The hotel reception desk is just ahead with its welcoming blue ceiling and walls. It was well staffed and we were greeted immediately. Check in was smooth and soon we were in our room changing in to our suits.
We decided on the pool for this afternoon to cool off, take in the sights and sounds and decide on our dinner destination. The pool area had many seating areas, it was crowded – but we did not have any trouble finding a shady couch to sit on, order a cocktail and within about 30 minutes 2 lounge chairs became available. We settled in sun for an afternoon snooze. One thing to note about the pool – it is right next to the Main Street (L.G. Smith Blvd) – so you do hear all of the traffic as it passes. The music does drown out some of the noise and the people watching can be quite good. Happy hour starts at 4pm and half price drinks makes this a great spot to have a couple cocktails, take a dip and start the vacation off with a energetic vibe.
We left the pool to head up to our room to clean up and dress for dinner. We decided to explore the Renaissance Marketplace across the street and find a spot for a light dinner. Because the Renaissance Ocean Suites is the sister property they do run a golf cart from the Marina to the the Ocean resort. We chose to walk as it is about 2 – 3 city blocks, and the night was warm and breezy making it quite pleasant. In the Marketplace there is a variety of restaurants, a Starbucks and a Dunkin Donuts – depending on which side of the coffee argument you fall on. There is a movie theatre and because it was December there was a holiday festival happening with live music, a “synthetic” ice skating rink and little huts making Olliebollen – a traditional Dutch treat (fried donut balls) – and others were selling cute little holiday items. It was a lively Friday night – and we enjoyed watching the island children put on ice skates and attempt ice skating.
We continued on to the Ocean Suites hotel to have a look around and see what restaurants were there. Near the pool we found a small Italian restaurant where the cool breeze and smiles front the staff drew us in. A couple that was leaving told us that the carpaccio is delicious and we could smell the wood fired pizza being made so we took a table ordered some wine and enjoyed those exact menu items for dinner.
On our way back we decided to stop at the casino and check it out. It was a bit crowded and there was a lot of cigarette smoke, so we did not stay long, we walked through and out to the boardwalk next to the marina over to our hotel for a restful night. On our way home we saw where the Dutch Pancake House restaurant was and decided we would check that out in the morning for breakfast before heading over to Renaissance Island.