Crows and iguanas are common (uninvited) breakfast guests
Small pool area
Toward the southern edge of the Low Rise hotel zone with garden grounds and the beautiful the backdrop of Eagle Beach's widest stretch of sand, Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa feels like a true getaway. It's only got 72 rooms, but this upscale boutique has gaggle of space and features that could cover a large resort -- from a mini-market and restaurants, to yoga, car rental, and a spa. However, more features for fewer guests translates to a pretty big nightly price; you can grab rooms at boutiques like Amsterdam Manor or even some High Rise hotels for less -- although, Manchebo's uncrowded, wellness-oriented vibe is tough to top.
Small wellness resort with surprisingly spacious feel -- even when full
Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa isn't technically a wellness resort, although it is trying to move in that direction. And compared even to some of the smaller boutiques we've seen on the island, it is on the right path. Thanks to this plus the resort's slightly removed location and Southeast-Asian Caribbean decor, it's hard not to feel a million miles from home right away. Guests are greeted in an large, open plan alfresco-style lobby -- complete with relaxing koi fish rock pond trickling in the background and welcome mojitos. The entrance and lobby areas are where most of the action happens; the mini-market and gift shop, concierge, car rental, front desk, three restaurants (with two bars) are all within a few paces from the center of the high-ceilinged room. Otherwise, the grounds are full of thoughtfully placed succulents, rocks, waterfalls, statues, upscale expedition furniture, and various cement or thatched huts -- and a long white stretch of arguably Aruba's most beautiful beach. It's clear that the resort has chosen to forgo packing its grounds with block after block of room units in favor of creating a serene landscape. Although, while this move may decrease stress on your mind, body, and soul, your pocketbook may pick up the difference.
Located on the southern edge of Low Rise zone against a wide band of Eagle Beach
Although not entirely remote, Manchebo is on the southern outskirts of Aruba' Low Rise hotel zone. There's only a handful of things in this area, mostly the Costa Linda Beach Resort and its small plaza, Alahambra Casino, and other (older) island hotels along the road. However, the tradeoff is an enviable stretch of Eagle Beach's powder sands, quiet neighbors, and a resulting relaxing and romantic vibe on-site. Aruba is a small island, so if you are looking to be social, try local bites, or feel different sands between your toes, the main area of the Low Rise area is only a five-minute ride away, the Palm Beach High Rise hubbub of shopping, dining, and foot traffic is just 10 minutes by car, and downtown Oranjestad can be reached in 10 minutes. Queen Beatrix Airport is a 15-minute drive south.
Contemporary rooms have private outdoor space with views.
The relatively low number of rooms at Manchebo -- 77 -- is one of the resort's main draws. Most rooms are either Deluxe Garden View or Deluxe Ocean View (with only the view changing), but a few One-Bedroom Suites are also available. Rooms are decorated in simple but upscale decor featuring dark cherry wood furniture topped with black marble, as well as an understated, mostly neutral color palette with cream fabrics and earthy color accents (yellow, brown, and green in most rooms). Bathrooms have large cream tiles and are probably the most cramped spaces you'll find at the resort, but have hairdryers and makeup mirrors, as well as walk-in showers (with curtains). One notable feature to the Deluxe Garden View rooms is the garden. While many hotels dub a patch of grass or peep toward a courtyard a "garden view," Manchebo's Deluxe Garden View rooms look out onto (and have private terrace space spilling out toward) an actual landscaped, secluded garden area with iguanas, rock waterfalls, flowering plants, and buddha statues. All rooms have free Wi-Fi, big flat-screen TVs in every room, coffeemakers, microwaves, mini-fridges, utensils, and a few dishes. Luxury items include iHome docking stations and deluxe, environmentally friendly toiletries. You'll also find robes in the closet.
As many features as larger resorts, but fewer guests
As a growing wellness facility, Manchebo has a few health features hiding up its sleeve. First, there's the Southeast Asian style Spa del Sol with views out toward the ocean and entrance through the beach. Here, a large wooden teak deck has a few padded loungers facing the horizon and a spa with fish massage area to the left. Most of the spa is outdoor, which could cause problems during the typical (but short-lived) fits of Aruban downpours, but at least massages are conducted in private, standalone palapas surrounded by flowering and verdant gardens. You can also pick up fresh-squeezed juices and smoothies from Ike's bar or work out at the state-of-the-art gym (which has three beach-facing glass walls). Free Introduction yoga and Pilates classes are given to each guest, although all levels of classes are offered daily in the dedicated beachfront pavilion or Pilates hut. And for those who like their food locally sourced, there's an on-site greenhouse that grows all the herbs used in the restaurant dishes -- including mint for the welcome mojitos.
Unfortunately, the resort's pool is a bit smaller than expected with only a handful of loungers. Plus, since Ike's patrons can dine poolside, it can feel a little strange to be sunning on display during lunch. Other typical resort features include laundry facilities, lending library, concierge, and a car rental agency.
Four restaurants and three bars, including a beach bar and sushi station
With the exception of Pega-Pega Cafe and Beach Bar, Manchebo's restaurants and bars can all be found off the lobby. Ike's Bistro is home to the breakfast buffet and an a la carte dinner service accompanied by live music most nights. There are comfy wicker couches and chic safari tables and chairs in the bar area, and dark marble-topped tables with basic wicker chairs in the dining area. A few chairs are set up along the east perimeter of the pool and are totally uncovered, while the rest of the space is open-air with a ceiling. Breakfast is mostly self-serve continental with pastries, cold cuts, oatmeal, and a made-to-order omelet station. Beware: crows and iguanas will try to join you and sometimes will steal food right off your plate. The resort's other alfresco option is the beach bar which serves pub-style food alongside cocktails and beers with a beachside view. The vibe here is highly social, with interaction between both guests and staff. The indoor Chophouse at Manchebo is a formal fine dining option, outfitted with a piano. The bar area is home to a small dedicated sushi bar section, Omakase, that is open for dinner five nights a week.
Super fine-grain sand on a wide stretch of Eagle Beach with more than enough space to lounge
Not only does Manchebo have direct access to Eagle Beach's widest stretch of powder soft sand on the island, but they don't leave you in cold when it comes to places to soak up the sun. Guests have free use of the plethora of lounge chairs scattered across the beach, as well as the 55 shady palapa beach huts dotted along the beachfront. Loungers have sturdy plastic support and towels are free. If you post up near Pega-Pega, you'll be able to get drink service from the sands of your palapa.
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