Travel

Aruba Trip at the Bucuti & Tara Resort

Aruba Trip at the Bucuti & Tara Resort

For most of us Boss Gals, working our booties off is quite the norm. Isn’t it? We are busy building our careers, our families, our little empires as we strive to create our most exceptional lives. But, if we don’t also take the time out to enjoy this lifetime, to explore, and broaden our horizons, and open our eyes to the vibrant cultures surrounding us, then no matter how much we build, no matter how much we conquer, we will inevitably miss out. Traveling is essential to our growth, our expanding wisdom, and to the nourishment of our soul and spirit. As they say, it is the one thing you buy that actually makes you richer.

 

And so, last week this Boss Gal and my beaux did just that. We went on an adventure full of exploration, relaxation, and luxury at its finest. Jeff and I had the pleasure of visiting the island of Aruba for five glorious days, and let me just say that the #1 Romantic Caribbean resort, Bucuti and Tara, did not disappoint!

IMG_7083.jpg

 

The island of Aruba, just off the coast of Venezuela, might be small in size, only 75 square miles with only 5 miles wide at its widest and 19 miles long—but it is Super-Sized when it comes to charisma, charm, natural beauty, and island hospitality. With its desert climate, Aruba’s weather is pretty much 85 degrees year-round. The white sand beaches stretch out for miles, palm trees blow in the trade winds, and the warm night air makes evening strolls a delight.

IMG_7001.jpg

 

And while the scenery and island-scape are spectacular, what struck me most was the joy of the island people. It is no wonder that Aruba is called the “Happy Island.” (It’s even on their license plates!) The locals and those that work at the luxurious Bucuti and Tara are personable, hospitable, and you can hear them laughing their notorious belly-laughs throughout the day. In the U.S. we laugh, yes. We giggle, yes. But in Aruba it is a deep and hearty laugh that starts from their toes! It became music to my ears.

IMG_7170.jpg

 

When Jeff and I landed in Aruba (after a flight from LAX to Miami, and then Miami to Aruba) we rented a Jeep since we knew we wanted to explore the island and see some of its rougher terrain. With our fiery red Jeep, we headed to Bucuti and Tara to check in.

IMG_7014.jpg

 

And what a greeting it was!

The concierge and bell hop met us as we pulled up. Stefano, our concierge gave us a glass of champagne, and immediately escorted us up to our room for a full resort and room tour. And this was not some VIP service, this is for EVERY GUEST! Wow, right? I know!! I have to say a heartfelt thank you to Suzanne, Susan, Amie, and Mitchell for coordinating all of our accommodations. Their attention to detail was remarkable!

Suzanne & I…. Thank you Suzanne!

Suzanne & I…. Thank you Suzanne!

 

You’ll have to make sure that you check out my resort and room tours on instagram, because words just don’t do it justice. It’s a must see. My favorite touch was the rose petals in a heart shape on the bed awaiting us! No wonder this place is the #1 most romantic destination resort in the Caribbean!

 The bathroom showcased a beautiful shower and a small digital touch screen on the vanity mirror so that you can play music or watch tv while showering and getting ready! HOW AMAZING, right?! I am blown away by this place!!

 Oh and they give you an iPad that is yours to use during your trip with free wifi in the room, throughout the resort, and even on the beach. And of course, no detail is too small for #BucutiandTara because they even made sure the iPad had a screen greeting me with a friendly, “Welcome Karen!”

 While the room was a luxurious haven, what we saw outside our balcony was spectacular! It is that kind of to-die-for view that takes your breath away—clear blue skies, the bluest ocean, and crisp white sand! And btw- there are more chairs and lounges than guests so you never have to worry about getting a spot! No waking up at 6am to set a towel down to secure your place. Just wake up leisurely, enjoy your complimentary breakfast at their oceanfront restaurant, then head down to relaxation on the sand when you’re ready.

IMG_7474.JPG

 

The resort offers different activities such as #movienightsonthebeach (they showed Martian while we were there) They also have a Wellness area with a smoothie bar so you can stop in during happy hour and get your #SmoothieMockTail.

 

Sitting on lounge chairs on the white sand beach, it is impossible not to relax! Our waiter on the beach, Oroville, was attentive, fun, and lively. I told him that I didn’t want to swim in the ocean for fear of sharks, and he kept saying, “Nah, no sharks here!” So from that day on, he earned the nickname Sharky.

IMG_7281.jpg

 

The water was so clear and beautiful, that I did manage to swim in it a few times. When there’s no murkiness to the ocean, I don’t start to hear the Jaws theme song in my head….

 

Jeff and I enjoyed a much needed couples massage in the beach cabana our first day. After moving boxes and more boxes from California to Arizona the week prior, we both were in seaside heaven to get massages!  I highly recommend a couples massage as a solid transition from airport stress to island tranquility.  

IMG_7079.jpg

 

The highlights for me beachside were the delectable ceviche which they serve with plantains (mouth-watering), and the distant “Whaddup!” From their pet parrot, Paco who hangs out in the outdoor bar area. I discovered that the owner had found Paco on the streets of Aruba. Apparently he had been brought to Aruba from the Rainforest of Venezuela, but had gotten separated from his family. Mr. Biemans took him to his hotel, and Paco has been with him for over 32 years! Well, let me tell you—Paco is an adorable and relentless flirt! He loves the ladies! When I went up to his cage, he walked on over, kind of showing off, and put his soft furry head to me so that I would pet him. What gal could resist that? He’s more like Paco Suave! Paco likes to mimic guests’ laughs, do a head-swerving dance to the happy hour steel drum music, and yell out his signature “Whaddup” to the guests. I will certainly miss that charming guy!

 Happy hour is a daily ritual with half priced drinks and complimentary snacks, and it is a nice gathering place for all the guests.  Whether you choose the circular bar or the lounges, you can relax and enjoy a magnificent sunset outdoors.

IMG_7182.jpg

 

One day, Jeff and I set out for some serious exploration. We took the Jeep and went all the way around the island. We traveled north past the California Lighthouse where we stopped into the Faro Blanco Restaurant with its breathtaking view of the coastline. And later, we headed past that to the rocky bad-ass terrain! While the western coast of Aruba is calm waters and picturesque sunsets, the eastern coast is like a fiery Latin temper! The highways and roads end, and you rough it on dirt roads with rocky outcroppings. The ocean waves crash against the land like angry outbursts. It is a spectacular sight, full of fury and strength unlike anything I had ever seen. Every once in a while we would see another ATV tour battling the terrain,  but for the most part it was just Jeff, me, and the tempestuous sea.  We stacked some zen-like rocks which seems to be a local ritual since you see these small rocks placed in various balance-defying formations. That was quite an adventurous day!

IMG_7252.jpg
IMG_7255.jpg

 

Dinner at the Resort’s Elements restaurant was always a treat, especially because you can’t beat the view from their dining deck. I couldn’t believe how attentive to each guest their staff is. Those of you that know, I have a handful of allergies which I cannot take lightly. Well, mentioning it to them only once, it seemed like the entire staff knew and was vigilant about it for me. That is what truly sets Bucuti and Tara apart from any other resort I have visited. They know their guests, they enjoy their guests, and creating a memorable stay for their guests is priority ONE. And their guests truly appreciate that attention to detail and personal touch, which is why the resort boasts so many repeat visitors year after year.

 

 

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting the owner Mr. Biemans, a delightful man who knows the names of his entire team. He makes it a point to greet each member of his staff personally, ask how their families are, and shows them genuine care and kindness. According to one of our beachside waiters, that is why they love working there. Mr. Biemans is also environmentally conscious, bringing the first net-zero resort to the Caribbean. Bucuti and Tara is not only environmentally conscious, but recently received Silver Leed certification. Sustainability, sincerity, and outstanding service seem to be his trademark—and it shows!

 

Our last night, we enjoyed a private cabana dining experience at the beach. The food was to die for. The chef put together a delectable meal with unique flavors and stunning presentations that made us feel even more pampered than we already did! We watched the sunset, sipped wine, and relished every little moment.

IMG_7429.jpg

 

Now as I am sitting on the plane on our return flight to the U.S. I am sad to see our experience come to an end. But, I feel like Aruba made its way into my heart. Its beauty changes you and its island joy seeps into your soul. I feel refreshed, renewed, and ever grateful for the experience and like one of their waiters, “Happy Vincent” likes to say, “Be happy, be smiley, and be romantic. They are all free!”

“Happy Vincent”

“Happy Vincent”

IMG_7274.jpg

























XO,

Karen















Valencia

Visiting Valencia Spain

 

Valencia is one of Spain’s best kept secrets. Most people tend to visit Barcelona, Madrid, and the Southern towns such as Malaga. But, this past April, Jeff and I traveled to Valencia and were instantly enamored with this beautiful city.

first or last 2.jpg

 

Located on the eastern coast of Spain, Valencia is well known for its architecture by world renowned architect, Santiago Calatrava. His futuristic design of the City of Arts and Sciences buildings is a must-see. His space-like forms and intensely stretched tensile elements are unlike any other. I was awed by his creative genius, which has left quite a powerful legacy for Valencia. The interactive nature of the City of Arts and Sciences was remarkable. It was fascinating to see families with young kids enjoying it all.  My favorite attraction was the big bubble balls that float on the water of the reflecting pool that kids get to play in.

Park.JPG
santiago replace.JPG
Santiago2.JPG

 

It is situated in the Turia park which was once a riverbed for the Turia river. This park was full of people strolling, playing, skateboarding, biking, and exercising stretches lengthwise along the city. When we visited the park it was a Sunday afternoon.  The park was bustling with local residents enjoying the weekend sunshine. This is definitely a must-do outing. With all of its bridges and water elements, Turia Park has stunning photo opportunities.

Turea.JPG
Park Turea.JPG

 

I also highly recommend the little café located at the center of the park.  The “tortilla” was delicious! It’s not what you would consider a typical tortilla—it’s more like an egg quiche. And the sangria was just right. You order by the pitcher, either ½ or whole liter. We typically shared a liter, and it soon became our new favorite drink.

Pic 1.jpg
Pic 2.jpg

 

 

We were thoroughly impressed with how clean the city was.  There was no trash strewn on streets or sidewalks. The Valencian people definitely take pride in their surroundings. We walked all throughout the old part of the city, enjoying wonderful architecture, and beautiful parks.

clean city.JPG
city clean and pretty.JPG
city clean and pretty 2.JPG
cleancity2.JPG

 

We even came across a huge marketplace with all kinds of goods, artisan wares, and cafes inside. It’s the perfect place to pick up fresh flowers, gourmet items, and some pretty jewelry too. The architecture of that space was quite spectacular with its classical, almost Baroque, exterior in contrast to its modern interior that boasts high ceilings and network of steel trusses.

Market2.JPG
Market.JPG

 

 

We went to a phenomenal authentic Valencian restaurant that I want to share with you called Raco del Turia. It was so utterly delicious that we went back the very next night! But—you MUST make reservations because it is always sold out. The staff was friendly and went out of their way to make our dinner spectacular. We enjoyed the Valencia salad, a mouth-watering ribeye and roasted vegetables. And the Cabernet was flowing. Oh, and they even had gluten free bread for me! That seriously put it over the top!

Restaurant.JPG
Pic 5.jpg

 

 

One other site not to be missed are the puente de las flores, the bridge of flowers. All year long, the flowers are maintained and it creates a beautiful photo opportunity. The urban planning of Valencia is spectacular with well-thought out parks, greenbelts, and bridges.

Pic 3.jpg

 

 

 

 And if you are looking for some great fashion shopping, Valencia has beautiful leather goods not to be missed. In fact, at the airport as we left Valencia, I bought a stunning red leather jacket for a fantastic price!

 

And then—there is the beachfront.  It is a bit separated from the center of the city, but definitely worth seeing. There is a luxurious upscale hotel right on the boardwalk, Las Arenas. We walked along the boardwalk and by chance came across a great little café called Pura Vida. We ordered our liter of sangria and a tortilla which as we had figured out is that egg quiche with different meats or vegetables. It was a perfect respite from sightseeing!

 

After several days of thoroughly enjoying this picturesque city, we took a quick 1 hour Vueling flight to Barcelona. Goodbye Valencia, you have stolen our hearts…and we plan on returning soon!

 

first or last.JPG