This June marked my fifth anniversary with my wonderful boyfriend. Now that I was finally done with school and we both had good full-time jobs with paid vacation days, we decide it was time we really celebrated our relationship. After much discussion and research, we decided on a 5-day, 4-night trip to Aruba, staying at Manchebo Beach Resort and Spa.
This was, quite honestly, the most amazing vacation I have ever been on. I’ve been lucky to travel to several really interesting and beautiful places over the past few years, including London, but this was by far more beautiful and relaxing than I could have imagined.
Our view from the plane – love at first sight!
When I was researching which hotel to stay at, I had trouble finding information other than just the reviews on Tripadvisor and similar sites. So I thought I would share our experience for other potential guests. I only wish I had taken more pictures of the hotel itself!
Manchebo in General
Manchebo Resort is located on Eagle Beach, which from what I’ve read (and seen) is the nicest of the beaches on the island. It’s a cheerful and luxurious resort. We were greeted at the front desk by a friendly staff and welcome mojitos – yum!
I loved the resort but I will admit – it’s not for everyone. It is located in the low-rise portion of the island. This area is generally quieter, without a lot of restaurants, shops, nightclubs or other activities in the area. This was great for us, as we were looking to mostly just unwind and just relax. The hotel was very peaceful, day or night, and with just 70 or so rooms, we never felt like the beach or restaurants were overcrowded.
If you’re looking for more activity, the high rise area might be a better option for you. We went to that area once and it was much to busy and crowded for my taste. The beaches are also much smaller and not as nice. And with 10 or more times the people, you don’t get the privacy of the low-rise beaches like at Manchebo!
We chose an ocean view room and were very happy of it. I completely forgot to take a picture, but the ones on the hotel website are accurate! We had a king bed, tv, safe, small fridge and a balcony. We had plenty of space for the two of us and felt very comfortable.
The bathroom wasn’t huge but was large enough. The rain head shower was a cool feature! I had read in some reviews that the shower caused the entire floor to get wet, but that was certainly not the case for us!
Our view (seen below) was quite nice. It got a little loud one afternoon since we overlooked the Pega Pega bar and it was during a big World Cup game, but other than that we heard hardly any noise. The only downside to the balcony was that the furniture was dark, so it was too hot to sit on until well after sunset.
We chose to do the all-inclusive plan and were very happy with it. I actually did out the math after the fact and it was indeed worth the price, so it worked out in the end. You’re given a bracelet and an all-inclusive number that you put on your check. All service fees (an automatic 15% of any bill) are also included, as well as room tax and any other fees. The only out-of-pocket expense we had was the tips we chose to leave. They aren’t required, as the 15% covers tip, but we had such great service we were more than happy to tip extra.
There are three restaurants total at the resort itself – Pega Pega, Ike’s Bistro and the French Steakhouse. Pega Pega is a beachside bar that is open at lunchtime. The food is nothing fancy but was always delicious. We had burgers, a lamb sandwich, quesadillas, spinach dip and other similar lunch options. The great thing about Pega Pega is you can get beachside service as well. Once it opens, the waiter drops a flag off at your palapa (adorable straw huts) and you just stick it in the sand when you want to order. Not the fastest service since the beach is quite large and there’s usually only one waiter, but it was nice when we just wanted to order a drink but didn’t want to leave the sun.
Ike’s Bistro is an open-air restaurant open for breakfast and dinner. Tables are also placed poolside, which is makes for a beautiful setting during a sunset dinner. Breakfast is from 7-11 with a buffet or an a la carte menu. As my boyfriend is a late sleeper, we often didn’t make it down to breakfast until after 10a. By that point, the buffet was a bit picked over so we generally went with the a la carte options. We had one dinner at Ike’s and really enjoyed it. I had a delicious shrimp risotto and he had the special of the day. The service was friendly and the setting incredibly peaceful.
The French Steakhouse is the nicer restaurant at the resort. They have an indoor dining room and a small outdoor patio. We chose the outdoor seating both times we went as there were large groups dining inside and it made it a little loud. The service here was a bit slow and hit or miss. The first time wasn’t bad but the second it was almost like they forgot about us. This was frustrating as we were trying to head to bed early before our flight the next morning and ended up spending well over 1.5 hours at dinner. The food, however, was always delicious. We left both meals at the Steakhouse completely stuffed and satisfied, at least with the food.
One other note about the all-inclusive plan – you’re entitled to an appetizer, meal and dessert EACH, which leads to a lot of food, but also additional value! When you combine that with unlimited drinks, I personally think it’s money very well spent.
Weather in Aruba is generally in the 80’s, sunny, humid and windy. I had read about the wind beforehand but I don’t think I realized how strong and constant it would be. It’s not necessarily bad, as it keeps you cool and prevents the humidity from feeling oppressive, but sometimes I felt like I was getting whipped by the sand! We only had one drizzly day, the day we were leaving, but our cab driver said it was very rare for it to rain that time of the year (June/July).
The island is full of all kinds of activities. Right down the street from Manchebo is a cute shopping center, which is where I purchased my beloved Aruba Aloe products. There are lots of casinos all over the island which is a fun thing to do in the evening.
We chose to do horseback riding and a sunset cruise as our two big activities. We did a fun and beautiful 2 hour horseback tour through Rancho de la Ponderosa. The sights were amazing and it was a surprisingly good workout as well! We did a sunset cruise on our last night through Jolly Pirates. It was a little cloudy so it wasn’t the best sunset to see, but our crew was very entertaining and we had a nice relaxing night on the water.
Manchebo Beach Resort and Spa was an incredible experience and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a beautiful and relaxing vacation on the beach. To learn more about Manchebo, I’d suggest checking out their website and the reviews on TripAdvisor.
I think I’ve covered just about anything, but if you have any questions about the resort, feel free to leave a comment. I’m already counting down until our next visit – less than 10 months!!