I hesitate to write this review, not because Arias' doesn't deserve it, but because I would rather preserve the oasis that is Arias' Bed and Breakfast from the flood of people looking to replicate the marvelous time I had at Arias' (June 2-9). Without a doubt, you should book this trip.
Aruba is separated into two separate areas - the north and south. The north is for couples/families/singles that essentially want to enjoy a hassle-free, protected, secluded mini-America, all-inclusive, where everything is within walking distance, you don't ever need to mingle with the natives, and you can hire out tour-guides to take you around the island - with a billion other people. If this is your thing, then stop reading and book another location.
If, however, you like adventure, amazing and personalized customer service, daily chats with the owner of the place, an intimate tour of the island on a 4x4, trips to local hang-outs, minutes from secluded beaches... then read awhile, because Arias might have the place for you. The moment you arrive, you meet Arias, a comic mix of impassioned Gene Wilder and surfer bum. Simply put: he'll take care of you.
Accommodations: I loved our room. It had two large beds, a living room, and a kitchen. It was like a home away from home. The kitchen was a huge bonus (mini-fridge, microwave, etc.). Very relaxing. Warning: there is no hot water in the room showers. For that, you need to go to the two outside showers (there is really nothing compared to taking an open-air (open ceiling) shower under the Arubian sun). There are two pools and a large Jacuzzi on the premises in case you get beached-out. You'll definitely want to rent a car! While there is ocean in walking distance, a car is where it's at. Arias and his lovely wife can point you to local hang-outs, supermarkets, beaches, etc. Everything about the accommodations is set up to meet your needs - Arias has got your snorkeling gear, beach chairs, and a cooler. Talk about no hassle! Listen, pack up that cooler with some libations and snacks, and just hit the beach! It's going to be awesome. Arias lives on the compound, so he or his wife (Florie (sp?)) are around to answer any questions. We're from NYC - so we had a billion (how do you get to this dilapidated ore mine, where can we go for rough waves, etc.) Again, if you're easy-going, like to travel, and are interested in adventure, this is your place. For those of you interested in going SCUBA or snorkeling, you can go it alone, or Arias has the hook-up. Again: what you want, Arias can get you. Stop worrying.
Beaches: A.MAZ.ING. There's a private beach that's minutes away in the Spanish Lagoon. It's nice, but by Aruba's standards... there are far, far, far better. Get in your car and go to Baby Beach. There you can snorkel (hint: DO NOT start snorkeling from the beach. Beach snorkeling is for granma and the kids. Walk to the closing of the horseshoe, where the ocean drops to about 14 feet, and go there. The current is strong, waves break, but that's where you'll encounter massive brain coral, schools of fish, etc.) But if having 50 people on a massive beach is too much for you, there are plenty of beaches right close for you to go to that might not have ANYONE on them. I won't name them... because I'm selfish, and I like them people-free.
Food: The breakfasts are solid. They are essentially different variations of the same theme, but they are better than what you are going to get at an all-inclusive, with all the watered down eggs, etc. Gabriel is very accommodating - he was nice enough to go out and buy tomatoes for my omelette - which was consistently DELICIOUS. I don't know if it was by design, or what, but breakfast is such that it is carb and protein heavy - a GREAT start to a day at the beach. That way you don't even need to worry about lunch - breakfast keeps you until dinner. And you can do some serious beach drinking with all that food in your tummy. Gabriel also throws pizza nights, etc. where you can get some grub (we didn't go - having too much fun exploring the island). Also, if you do happen to be chilling at the pool and need something to nosh on, Gabriel has a take-out menu to buy from. Get out and try the local food - it's delicious.
On our way over to Aruba, my girlfriend and I noticed a young woman (we are 28 and 33) standing in the customs line, pouty as all get-out, completely ticked-off that she had to spend a week in Aruba. If you're like this, please, please don't go to Arias'. If, instead, you're up for adventuring, exploring true Arubian flavor, have a positive outlook on life, and are here in Aruba to have FUN, then look up Arias. I assure you, you won't be disappointed. And at the end of the trip, don't be surprised to be thinking, "Yeah... maybe I should stay for an extra week..."
See you there!