Our Holiday Inn Aruba Vacation

Hey Guys!! We recently took a vacation & I wanted to share it with you here.  When we decided to head to Aruba for our trip - I must admit that Holiday Inn Resorts was not the first place that came to mind! But....thanks to Holiday Inn, Mat and I got to visit Aruba and right up front it defied pretty much every expectation.

Aruba is a small island right off the coast of Venezuela. With a slogan like “One Happy Island” you can pretty much envision festive Caribbean fun which isn’t necessarily what we look for in a vacation so we weren’t quite sure what we’d find. But Aruba is much more than that and most definitely the highlight of the island are the beaches. Pristine, soft, white sand with beautiful turquoise-looking  waters. We flew down during the shoulder-season so it was quite hot and humid but that was all forgotten once we woke up the first morning.

The hotel - Holiday Inn Aruba Resort - retains a lot of the basic elements that you’d expect from Holiday Inns like clean and efficient rooms and easy-access restaurants. We arrived at night so we didn’t get to see much ......but we woke up to a gorgeous BLUE sky with a balcony facing the ocean...OMG!!! The view was straight out of a movie as you'll see in the pics below!  Our room was a corner room with a balcony over the beach, mid-size fridge and all the amenities you’d expect.

The resort is laid out in 3 sections with guest towers breaking breaking up the activity areas. This is AWESOME because most of the family activities were happening on one end, leaving a much quieter and relaxing section for adults seeking a bit of solace. That was something we really liked since we visited without our son.  There were several interconnected pools as well as hot tubs, but I have to admit.....we didn't get in any of them because the ocean was much more inviting!!

Right on Eagle & Moomba Beach, the resort has 100 palabras - straw covered umbrella huts - but even in the 90°F sun, we didn’t really need one. Being our first vacation at a beach location in years, we took advantage and spent plenty of time just reading and relaxing within feet from the ocean.

So, the most challenging thing about being on vacation for me is trying to find a Vegetarian  restaurant with some gluten-free & sugar-free items. The restaurants at the Holiday Inn offer a fairly diverse menu that I would call “local meets corporate” with of course the expected beach-type foods, but there were a few items that I was able to enjoy.

We looooved the Sea Breeze - an open restaurant right on the beach with a good lunch menu & even better dinners, and the staff was SUPER friendly & helpful! My favorite meal, though, was a sunset, beach-side romantic dinner with my husband where we enjoyed a chef’s-choice Vegetarian menu (note, just ask the front desk if you’re interested in getting the sunset dinner package).  I had never done anything like that before, so this was very special!

As I said, we didn’t head out beyond the resort much.... but for those on Vegetarian diets, there’s a couple of places you could check out!  On our second day we hopped in a cab and ate at Green Food Service, a luncheonette with only 5 tables featuring a very cheap daily menu of pescatarian/vegetarian items.

The other is Eduardo’s Beach Shack which is on the boardwalk just to the south of the Holiday Inn Aruba Resort which offers healthy options like smoothies, wraps, and CocoWhip - a soft-serve “ice cream” made from just whipped coconut water (no added sugar) and served with fruit! I swear I almost didn't believe it....but this place was AMAZING!

For me, a vacation wouldn't be a vacation until I've gotten a massage...or in this case, two! The Etnika Spa is right on the Holiday Inn resort grounds and has a full menu of spa treatments. I got the Hot Stone Massage which is my all time favorite....& the next day I convinced my husband (who normally doesn't go for spa stuff) to join me for a couple's massage - so relaxing! Aruba is colorful, gorgeous & full of friendly people! The sunsets were such a blessing to watch every night - especially from our room.

All in all we had a lovely vacation & only wish it was longer. We would gladly go back to visit Holiday Inn in Aruba!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Holiday Inn. The opinions and text are all mine.
Comments submitted may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand.

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Noah's Room

Hey everyone!

Welcome back and thank you for coming by to view the living & dining room reveal last week! This week I wanted to share a bit of my son's room. I wanted to focus mostly on one side of his room because I honestly haven't decided to put anything above his crib. The reason is because he's a toddler and if I add any artwork, he may actually touch it & knock it down! -  I know other moms can relate to this.

I thought about some vinyl stars again, but just felt it would appear too cluttered. I already think it has a lot and that's due to the open West Elm Parsons shelf we added. BUT don't WORRY...the shelf is securely bolted to the wall! So remember, I would not recommend adding this to a toddler's room unless it is securely bolted, so safety first! My son is also NOT a climber thankfully!

So here it is, his little space that he enjoys and I think his favorite part is the table + 2 stools we got him from Sprout Kids. We also added two more chairs from Oeuf NYC which I absolutely love! We chose the Eco-Friendly Bear Play Chair set of 2 in Birch. You can also add these fun play stickers to your purchase as well! However, if you're feeling creative you can certainly purchase some craft paint & paint some faces yourself! Hope his space inspires you! 

-images by jen ramos


'lion book ends' not available but recommend these or these
Oeuf Nyc Bear Ear chairs set of 2 via Barneys
beaumont white book ledge via Land Of Nod.  
Star Lamp by Fromage La Rue 
sensory play space divider by Edu2Toys

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Living & Dining Room Reveal

Hey everyone!

So, we moved to another apartment a couple months ago & I finally finished decorating a couple of the rooms!  The main space I am sharing with you today is of our living room/dining area.  This is where we spend most of our time reading, hosting friends or watching a movie! To be honest, I was SO tired of the previous decor here  - that freshening things up made sense!  The new apartment is still a 2 bedroom but it's actually SMALLER than our previous place.  Smaller or not, I really think I made it flow quite nicely for our family.

This time around,  I opted for more contrast patterns with a few hints of pink. You're probably wondering.....why PINK?!?? I know, I know.....well, it's not the first color people seek out when they're decorating but I really wanted a SOFTER tone that felt a bit more relaxing. Plus, it won't make the space feel dark & small.

As for the pink, I ended up incorporating it with two pieces of artwork. Both pieces (which I painted) had very subtle tones of pink.  The first one is the LARGE scale artwork behind our sofa. This piece was inspired by a beautiful vision God showed me with 4 BIRDS. It has a very special meaning to me.  I saw these four birds from our bedroom window & even though the sky was blue that day, I decided to place the birds against a pink sunset sky.  I also decided I wanted a busier-looking rug so I chose the Linden Outdoor Rug patterned rug from Frontgate which provides lots of interest & contrast to the living room. Although it says outdoor, it can DEF be used indoors!  Don't be fooled, it is soft & comfy just like any indoor rug. I always choose the thickest rug pad I could afford for all my carpets because I prefer a more cushion-y feel!

It seems that with EVERY single apartment I've decorated - I was always drawn to adding a rectangular or square table. However,  this time I really wanted to make the most of the space. Because we have a 2 1/2 year old boy - space is essential.  My son was basically the deciding factor on getting the round coffee table, and we are SO glad we did!!  It gives our family a lot more leg room & in a smaller apartment - this is a WIN!!!! 

Although there were many round coffee table options & it took me three days to decide, I finally chose the Hammered Metal Accordion Coffee Table by West Elm.  It is a metal-wrapped engineered wood table in an Antique Brass finish! It's got a nice gold brass finish to it without being so bright & tacky.  It's not too low & its a great solid piece that cannot be easily tipped over. Ideal if you have kids.

Vase on dining table from Flair Home Collection


Below you'll notice that we kept our IKEA floating cabinets that we made awhile back, see post here.  Anyway, we shortened it to fit our current space by removing a couple cabinets & then added legs to it for a more GLAMOROUS look!  The legs we got are solid, with a brushed gold finish which we purchased from Balasagun - an overseas company that makes custom metal pieces for furniture in a variety of finishes!  The legs we chose are 8".

Plants are not my specialty. Although I love them, I am just not that skilled in caring for them! Because of that I decided to get a faux tree......something that was large & realistic-looking. I knew I had to invest a little money for that type of plant, so I went with the Majestic Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree from Houzz which also brought it's own Seagrass basket! 

Other large Fiddle Leaf tree options you can check out are here from Pottery Barn and here from World Market.

The luxurious candles like the skull & the Back Elephant (which smell so good) are by Thomas Ferrier NYC  - they have a wonderful selection of scents and high-end candles with some unique designs that I really like! Many of their candles are available in a variety of finishes like gold, black & more!

As for the side chairs - I was debating back and forth whether to get white or black leather chairs - but in the end I chose WHITE because it made the space appear larger & more open!  Because they are leather.... they are easy to CLEAN, so I'm NOT worried with my son.  He knows he's not supposed to eat on them, although he tries to sneak food there every now & then!  The White chairs are by All Modern - you can get them here.

The lovely Grey Cotton Knit Jacquard throw over the white armchair is by my friend COCOCOZY.
This throw is so soft & comfy! 

We decided we didn't want to have people staring into the living room the minute the front door was open, so I thought of a creative way to block some of the view by using this tall Parsons Tower from West Elm and filling it with books to make that happen. we anchored it safely into the wall - so now it's super sturdy and my son cannot tip it over.  Remember safety always with children! 

Art by Jen Ramos via Made By Girl
Worlds Away Biggs Stool by Candelabra

Cushions are so important when decorating. I've had so many people tell me how they are really bad at selecting different cushions and how they end up settling for 2-3 solid colors. I know how they feel! Selecting a variety of patterns for a sofa can be very challenging but I tend to select one common color among all the pillows (in this case black) and then choosing patterns I feel compliment each other.

Trust me, we don't all have the same tastes and my selection may not appeal to some people. But the key is to make sure YOU LIKE IT!  So unless you're competing in a design contest or posting it on your blog etc...... make sure you're happy with it!! I love how different the cushions are but how well they feel together!

I ended up keeping a few cushions from before but I selected new ones from a shop called Stuck on Hue. The owner, Hollie has a great selection of chic-looking pillows and so I went with these:

Dining chairs are from West Elm - but no longer available. The Marble tulip dining table can be purchased here. We have the 40".  Art by Jen Ramos via Made By Girl.

This Swerve End table is one of my favorite pieces of furniture in our living room. It is nestled between the two white leather armchairs and it really warms that area. This table is sturdy and heavy......the color is beautiful and rich. We got ours from Houzz, but you can also get it here at HayNeedle.

Original Art by Jen Ramos via Made By Girl 

 After recently spotting this bench in the one room challenge - I fell in LOVE!!! -  I realized I had seen it before but not in a room setting.....& that made all the difference! Thanks to Candelabra - it's now part of our decor! It comes in 3 different colors, red, wood & black! It is delivered with a linen upholstery but can easily be re-upholstered in any other fabric to suit your families needs!

Below was the original plan I put together, as you can see..... it developed slightly different! I'm def happy with that final outcome!  Stay tuned for next week when I post pics of my son's room!



-images & post by jen ramos

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