It’s not an easy stretch of the year to take time off — holidays have many of us working overtime to prep for the days we’ll be spending out of the office. Of course, this is also when we feel in desperate need of a vacation between the election results, the cabin fever of daylight saving time and this season of obligations. So we asked: Can you refresh with a getaway that only lasts 48 hours?
To find out, we went to Aruba with JetBlue for a two-night stay at the Aruba Marriott Resort and Stellaris Casino in Palm Beach. This means a four-hours-and-change flight from Boston for an epically burned out editor with less than two full days of soaking up the sun, sand and beachside cocktails. Doesn’t sound relaxing enough? Believe it or not, it was. Here’s how we found Zen in a weekend.
Upgrade your flight
It’s pricey, but upgrading your ticket kick-starts your vacation the minute you board the plane. And when you have only two days, you might as well make the most of it. We flew JetBlue Mint, a new premium domestic service that kicked off a Boston to Aruba service this month. Fares start at $599 each way with seats that recline fully to become 80-inch beds, Hollywood-inspired toiletry kits from Hayward & Hopper and a menu of small plates straight from New York’s chic comfort food restaurant Saxon + Parole and takeaway desserts by Tom Colicchio favorite Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery.
Call it over-the-top or an indulgence, but there’s something to be said when you leave a long flight feeling even more refreshed than when you boarded.
Ask the locals
Once on the ground, we turned to food editorial duo The Curious Pear for our game plan. Writer Meg Abbott and photographer Issy Croker travel the world capturing beautiful places, people and culinary delights, on tight deadlines (and budgets) to create stories that truly take you away. So how do we get a satisfying taste of a place in 48 hours or less?
“We usually start by asking our taxi driver, Airbnb host or a shop owner where their favorite place to eat is — more often than not, that always leads to somewhere unique and delicious,” says Abbott.
So we asked our taxi driver, who recommended our first stop: Madame Janette, a lively, fairy light-lit al fresco restaurant in Noord that blends Caribbean and Dutch cuisines. Plate-size pork schnitzels and their signature almond-crusted grouper — an enormous flaky fish coated in tender almond slices with a spinach cream sauce — are served alongside frosty coupes of Frosé. The next night, wanting to eat like locals, we wandered to Juanchi’s, an outdoor burger stand in Palm Beach with crispy onion cheeseburgers, plump saucy chicken wings, sweet papelón con limón and great nighttime people watching.
Our driver also took us along the scenic route (don’t worry: Most cabs are flat-rate, agreed to upon entry) to drive by the aloe fields of Aruba Aloe in Hato. While we didn’t have a chance to take the tour (they’re free and offered every 15 minutes), we did purchase bottles at their Palm Beach boutique to cool sunburns and as gifts.
Don’t adjust your sleep schedule
The obvious advice is to not sleep your vacation away — with only 48 hours, you should enjoy all of them. The plush embrace of a resort makes sleeping in or conking out on the beach easy temptations, but oversleeping can actually cause your body distress by confusing your circadian rhythms. We decided to keep to our regular weekday schedule, hitting the hay around midnight, and waking just before 8 a.m.
The result? We felt refreshed and energized for the duration of our two-day trip. Not sleeping in gave us a chance to hit the hotel’s extravagant La Vista breakfast buffet before the crowds, and first dibs on the complimentary cabanas that we camped out under through sunset with fish tacos and fruity rum cocktails.Just like in regular life, the days seem endless when you wake ready to embrace the world, and it seems pretty foolish that anyone would ever go on vacation to sleep.
Once we landed back in Boston — which had just suffered its first hail of the season — there was a sigh of relief. While there’s always going to be the desperate melancholy of a vacation ended, there’s a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction from efficiently spent time that the neurotic and work-obsessed thrive on. And honestly, for some of us, that’s pretty relaxing.