One Happy Podcast

Joining us on this episode of One Happy Podcast are Debbie and Hank Ecker — longtime Aruba lovers who have been visiting the island for almost 8 years — to share their Aruba story. I had the pleasure of meeting Hank down on the island so we got connected and here we are.

Debbie and Hank are from Pittsburgh, my hometown, so that makes our connection special. But what's even more special is how we talk about the couple's love for Aruba, their favorite place (mine too!)

Debbie and Hank first visited Aruba when it was recommended to them by a travel agent. They wanted to try a new island after visiting so many other islands in the Caribbean and various places. When they got to try the wonders of One Happy Island, they've never stopped returning year after year.

Debbie and Hank are experts when it comes to trying out different hotels in Aruba. They've tried all sorts of places to stay, including both the high-rise and low-rise areas. So they're also here to give a different perspective compared to tourists who have only stayed in one or two places.

We discuss their favorite restaurants in the island, specifics of Playa Linda, and favorite activities or excursions to do on the island.

It's going to be a fun ride with Debbie and Hank, so hop on in!

ON THIS EPISODE OF ONE HAPPY PODCAST, YOU WILL:
- Learn what Debbie and Hank think about the differences between high-rise and low-rise hotels
- Find out the difference between a palapa and a "chickee"
- Discover a "hidden gem" of a restaurant in Aruba and why Debbie and Hank loves it so much
- Hear how Debbie and Hank almost never pay for flights to Aruba using their credit card system
- Discover a unique brand of swimsuits for women that hasn't made its way to the States yet
- Find out what a Tahiti raft is

HOTELS, ESTABLISHMENTS, RESTAURANTS, AND BRANDS MENTIONED:

Direct download: EP104_-_Aruba_Happy_Hours_with_Debbie_and_Hank_Ecker.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:27pm EST

Fresh off an amazing Aruba vacation, Phil Ridolfi, an avid Aruba lover, and listener of One Happy Podcast is the latest guest on the show. Just 6 days back from Aruba we talk about Phil' s journey from a cruise ship visitor to ending up as a timeshare owner on the island.

On their first visit to the island (via cruise ship), Phil and his wife Kaye were already longtime Marriott customers, which prompted them to stop by the Aruba Marriott Surf Club, to see what they thought of the property. Along the way, they fell in love with the island.

This is the first time Phil has been able to spend November on the island, and we discuss some of the differences he noticed, such as the weather being different than usual. Slightly cooler, not much sun, and more humid but still perfect. Well, of course, you should expect nothing less from Aruba! Phil and I both agree there is nothing better than spending time in your favorite place to decompress and that's exactly what they did.

We also discuss the Marriott's Aruba Surf Club in which Phil's family stays at in the island. The rooms are nice and spacious. It works perfectly for them with a full kitchen, laundry, and generous space. The property is cool as well with great pools, a lazy river, and of course a beautiful Aruban beach.

As always, the interview is not complete without asking Phil's favorite restaurants and excursions, among which he talks about his number one restaurant in the island where the guests can dine with their feet in the water. Any idea what this is? Listen to find out.

ON THIS EPISODE OF ONE HAPPY PODCAST, YOU WILL:


- Find out if Phil has ever seen the ever elusive green flash you're supposed to see in an Aruban sunset just as the sun jumps into the ocean.
- Hear why there needs to be a food tour in Aruba, similar to Kukoo Kunuku but with food.
- Hear stories of how Phil meets interesting people during excursions.
- Hear a funny story of their visit to Phillip's Animal Garden

 

 
Direct download: EP103_-_Phil_Ridolfi_from_Aruba_cruise_ship_visitor_to_timeshare_owner.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:02pm EST

On the last episode, we heard from Tammy and Jay Zuschlag about what it's like to move to Aruba and start a business. On this episode, we'll get to hear insights from their kids, Maddie and Morgan.

Making the move from America to Aruba wasn't easy for Maddie and Morgan. They had to move away from the life they've known as well as be away from all their friends and relatives. But they're here to say that everything has been worth it.

The girls talk about what the adjustment period like when they first moved and how they go about keeping up with their studies while on the island. We also discuss their favorite Aruba activities such as exploring the rough side of Aruba.

Maddie and Morgan help out on the family business, Full Throttle Tours, when it comes to guiding and serving guests and managing social media. They also give us an idea of what to expect on the tour. Basically, they fill in any blanks that may have been missed by Tammy and Jay on episode 101 of One Happy Podcast.

Full Throttle Tours can be booked online via www.fullthrottletoursaruba.com or Facebook (Full Throttle Tours Aruba). The 2 and a half hours journey filled with thrills and fun. Snorkel gear, cold refreshments (the rum punch is a must try!), and snacks are fully provided. It's a fun and safe experience that everyone should totally try. This excursion is also available for private group rental.

ON THIS EPISODE OF ONE HAPPY PODCAST, YOU WILL:
- Hear about some reservations the girls had about making the move.
- Find out what's the best thing to eat to get the salty taste out of your mouth after snorkeling.
- Hear cool stories about unique things seen at sea.
- Learn about the favorite restaurants of these nuevo locals

RESTAURANTS MENTIONED:
- Alfie's in Aruba
- Linda's Dutch Pancakes
- Pizza and More
- Baby Back Grill
- Chili's

Direct download: Episode_102_-_Full_Throttle_Tours_-_Maddie_and_Morgan_Zuschlag.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:37am EST

Are you familiar with Full Throttle Tours in Aruba? Whether you are or not, come tune in to this episode of One Happy Podcast to hear more from the couple behind it, Tammy and Jay Zuschlag.

Tammy and Jay have been residents of Aruba for a while now. They've planned to move to an island since long ago. While plans to move to other places like Belize and Barbados fell apart, everything just fell into place with Aruba and thus the whole family is now happily residing in the Happy Island where they started their business.

We find out about how long was the transition phase of fully integrating to the island. This information should definitely be considered as valuable to those planning or dreaming to one day do the same. We also talk about the reason why they decided to start the business, the reason they chose to start a boating and snorkeling business, how they went about getting a boat, and what it was like to take it for that first spin.

Some of the most interesting things we discussed are their thoughts on what are the easiest and most difficult parts of the process of starting up the Full Throttle Tours Aruba.

So what sets Full Throttle Tours Aruba apart from the rest? Well, on Full Throttle Tours you get to experience drift snorkeling at the Arashi Reef. For those not familiar, drift snorkeling involves floating along the current with the boat following you, which is a unique way to observe the underwater life. What really sets Full Throttle Tours apart is the thrill ride you get to experience all the way to Mangel Halto where you can then snorkel around a sunken ship and a gorgeous reef.

Full Throttle Tours can be booked online via www.fullthrottletoursaruba.com or Facebook (Full Throttle Tours Aruba). This is a unique 2 and a half hour journey filled with thrills and fun. Snorkel gear, snacks and cold refreshments (the rum punch is a must try!) are fully provided. It's a fun and safe experience that everyone should most definitely try.

ON THIS EPISODE OF ONE HAPPY PODCAST, YOU WILL:
- Hear a story about a family packing up and relocating to Aruba
- Gain valuable tips and information if you have plans to move and start a business there.
- Know how it's like to start a business in Aruba.
- Be absolutely convinced to go on a Full Throttle Tour!

RESTAURANTS AND PLACES MENTIONED:
- Alfie's in Aruba
- Full Throttle Tours Aruba 
- Renaissance Island

Direct download: Episode_101_-_Full_Throttle_Tours_-_Tammy_and_Jay_Zuschlag.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:50pm EST

Let's get the show going for One Happy Podcast's long-awaited 100th episode, where we turn the tables by having a good friend and guest, Louis Johnson, interview me this time around in what we dub as the "Aruba Curt Special".

 

Louis is actually the guy who inspired me to continue on with this podcast when I was just starting out, so it really is meaningful to have him be with me in this special milestone of an episode.

 

In here, I get asked a bunch of questions about the podcast and myself including what made me decide to a podcast, how do I find guests, and do I have a certain criteria for choosing them. I also relay my Aruba story, and it may come as a surprise to you all that it wasn't love at first sight with the island for me at all.

 

We also talk about my first impression upon seeing the gorgeous sunsets in Aruba, know where me and Maggie usually stay in the island, our favorite restaurants, the excursions I like to go to, and recommendations.

 

One important point in our discussion is how do I convince people to go to Aruba. Among the reasons listed: Aruba is below the hurricane belt, there are direct flights coming from the USA, everyone speaks English in the island, American money is accepted, no one haggles you about anything, and the crime rate is very low.

 

Of course, a One Happy Podcast interview is not complete without the "Eye of the Hurricane", and in addition to that, Louis threw me a curve-ball in the form of a new segment called the "Millionaire's Dream Package". Tune in to find out what that is!

 

The interview ends on a positive note with Louis asking me what my plans are for One Happy Podcast going forward and him offering valuable suggestions.

 

I would also like to take this time to thank each and every one of you dear listeners who stuck with One Happy Podcast all this time. It has been an amazing journey. Here's to a hundred more episodes ahead!

 

ON THIS EPISODE OF ONE HAPPY PODCAST, YOU WILL:

 

- Hear why I decided to start One Happy Podcast

- Hear why I still get nervous before every show

- Have an idea of who would be my ideal guest in a podcast

- Hear about Cheryl Talcof, the woman who encouraged me to go Aruba skydiving

- Hear a great story about an Aruba kindness done to Louis, and paying it forward

 

SERVICES AND RESTAURANTS MENTIONED:

Quinta del Carmen

Yemanja Woodfire Grill

Skydive Aruba

Aruba Ray Comedy

Kukoo Kunuku Bus

CheapAir

Direct download: EP100_-_Aruba_Curts_Aruba_Story.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:17am EST

Strap yourselves in for a holiday season full of raucous laughter as master comedian "Aruba" Ray Ellin joins us once again to discuss the return of Aruba Ray Comedy to One Happy Island this coming 12th of November to the 20th of December.

 

He is truly one of the most passionate Aruba fanatics I've ever met, and soon he'll back to Aruba with his merry gang of excellent comedians to make the entire island laugh.

 

I sure wish I could be down there at the same time. In case you're not familiar, Aruba can get slow around the evenings without a lot of entertainment options to choose from; and no doubt Aruba Ray Comedy is the best nighttime entertainment activity that you can get in the island. I've watched the shows multiple times and every single one of them had been hilarious.

 

Ray and I talk about the comedians that will join him. A lot of them will be first-timers in Aruba so it's bound to be exciting! He's positive that this might end up being the best line-up in the history of Aruba Ray's Comedy. The top-notch comedians are as follows:

 

  • Des Bishop
  • Mia Jackson
  • Don Gavin
  • Tony Woods
  • Anthony DeVito
  • Robert Kelly
  • Tom Cotter
  • Kerri Louise
  • Eric Neumann
  • Christine Hurley
  • Tony V.
  • Pete Lee
  • Joey Vega
  • Brian Scott McFadden

 

For more information about the line-up and shows, you can visit www.arubacomedy.com. It is encouraged for interested persons to purchase tickets online because it's more guaranteed and can save money. As an added perk, there will be a raffle after the show for a few lucky ticket holders.

 

If by some chance you will have to give the upcoming shows a miss due to lack of opportunities in heading down the island (like me), don't worry! Aruba Ray Comedy does a series of shows for about 3 times a year so make sure to drop by in Aruba during one. One Happy Podcast and "Aruba" Ray Ellin himself will keep you posted for any updates.

 

ON THIS EPISODE OF ONE HAPPY PODCAST, YOU WILL:

- Learn why Aruba Ray Comedy is encouraged as an adult-only event; however, children are allowed on the parents' own volition

- Hear about Ray's experience at George Clooney's Halloween party

- Hear about Ray's performance at The Carney Awards in front of big time actors like William H. Macy

 

ESTABLISHMENTS AND RESTAURANTS MENTIONED

Direct download: EP99_-_Aruba_Rays_Comedy_Winter_2017.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:06am EST

So here we are to finish out the last part of our play-by-play October 2017 Aruba Trip Report. At the end of episode 3, we were hanging out at Arashi beach enjoying the sunset but now we're in our living room back in Delaware, where it's a far cry from the nice and sunny weather in One Happy Island.

 

The last time we left off, it was Thursday around dusk. We went for dinner at Twist of Flavors, which was fantastic. We thought we would get food from the Eat Local Restaurant Month menu, but we just got what's in the regular menu because honestly, everything sounded great. Twist of Flavors was really nice. It's a small place but it has good service and tasteful décor.

 

Later on we headed home to unwind and play a game called Chill Out. It's basically a card game with a bunch of peppers on top. The goal is to get rid of your set of cards before anyone else. Maggie personally loves to play games with family, and we really enjoyed this one especially since we turn every game into a drinking game.

 

Friday morning, we woke up early to go to Mangel Halto. It was our first time there. Unfortunately Maggie and I didn't get to snorkel because we forgot to bring our snorkeling gear, but we did enjoy the scenery a lot.

 

Afterwards we found ourselves in one of our favorite spots in the island which we personally call Eagle Beach Adjacent. It's a little clearing between Oceania and Screaming Eagle that no one really goes to. There, we witnessed a lovely little wedding.

 

Following the wedding is our little detour to the Arubian Taste Rum Shop. You can sample more than a hundred different flavors of rum there. Every time we go, they seem to have a brand new flavor for us to try.

 

We had Alfie's for dinner that night. During our last trip to Aruba back in July, we didn't get to have poutine on Canada Day because they ran out, so we made sure we would get some this time and boy, it did not disappoint! It was as delicious as we remembered it to be.

 

As we got closer to the end of our trip, we made it a point to get up earlier so come Saturday morning, we were already at Palm Beach before 8 a.m. and didn't leave until around 5:30 in the evening. The rest of the day was spent with me meeting up with a new friend named Louie, and dinner at Quinta del Carmen's with our favorite waiter, Wilmer. He always takes care of us well whenever we go there. We ended the day on a pleasant note by playing Chill Out again. For us, playing cards with the family is a good way to unwind and look back on the events of the day.

 

Sunday was our last full day in the island so we got up early again and chose Eagle Beach Adjacent as our destination. We had about 3 and a half hours of perfect Aruba weather until it started pouring, so we got out to get pizza at a new place in Alhambra's called Hungry Piranha. It was alright; you can't really get amazing pizza in the island anyway to be honest. We went back to the beach for about 15 minutes until the rain started again so we just gave up, drove around, explored the island for the remaining hours. Dinner was spent on Chicken and Lobster which was pretty decent; funnily enough we didn't get chicken or lobster even though it's the namesake of the restaurant. The best thing about the place is the service, no doubt.

 

Come Monday morning, we had to deal with the sadness of parting with Aruba yet again. We headed over to Eduardo's for some snacks and Eagle Beach Adjacent for the last time to relax then straight home to finish packing before going to the airport. We had a little bit of a delay upon returning the rental car but everything turned out alright in the end. The flight back to the States was uneventful, just how we like it, and we arrived safely home around 7 in the evening.

 

That marks the end of our 4-part October trip series. All in all, it was a great trip and we can't wait to do it again. We hope you enjoyed the ride along with us. Whenever you feel like getting a dose of Aruba sunshine, just tune in to One Happy Podcast's numerous episodes, close your eyes, and imagine you're in Aruba.

 

ON THIS EPISODE OF ONE HAPPY PODCAST, YOU WILL:

- Hear a few more restaurant reviews including a couple of new (for us) places

- Hear about Maggie's experience with fresh aloe

- Hear about an awesome wedding experience we stumbled onto

- Find out what we did during our first ever Aruba rainout

 

RESTAURANTS AND ESTABLISHMENTS MENTIONED:

Twist of Flavors

Quinta del Carmen

Chicken and Lobster

Oceania

Screaming Eagle

The Arubian Taste Liqueur and Rum Shop

Hungry Piranha

Urataka's

Eduardo's

Bananas Apartments

L.G. Smith

Direct download: Episode_98_D_-_Part_4_of_October_2017_Aruba_Trip_Report.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:17am EST

I'm back with Maggie to catch you guys up for the 3rd part of our October trip report. Right now we're at Arashi beach on location to recount what happened after where we left off last time.

 

So the 1st part was all about arrival day which was Sunday, followed by the 2nd day which was Monday, and now we are going to talk about TuesdayWednesday, and Thursday.

 

At the end of the 2nd part, I was preparing to go to One Happy Podcast's 3rd Anniversary Party over at Legends Pub. First of all, I sincerely want to thank everyone who came. The party was great and we had a really nice time. Around 70 people turned up, or maybe closer too 100 at some point. It exceeded all my expectations so I have nothing but gratitude for everyone who took the time to swing by.

 

We stayed at the party until about an hour before midnight, and afterwards we went back to our house to just zone out while sipping some picklebacks.

 

The next day, we had Don Pastechi's for breakfast which is one of our favorite places to eat in the island. If you're planning to head over there, you should come relatively early because the good stuff runs out pretty fast.

 

After that we headed over to Eagle Beach to just hang out. It was pretty busy for a Wednesday. We also had lunch at the Eagle Beach Food Truck. As usual, their food never disappoints.

 

We met up with our good friend Marlene later in the day at the Local Store, which in our opinion has the best burgers in Aruba and makes these amazing deep fried pickles. They also have an extensive craft beer selection — possibly the largest in the island — so if you have a love for craft beers, you should definitely stop by the Local Store!

 

We originally intended to spend the rest of our evening at Matthew's to watch a live performance, but when we got there it was already jam-packed and there were no seats left for us so we opted to just relax at home instead and play a card game.

 

Bright and early the next morning, we finally decided to climb Mt. Hooiberg for the first time. It took us around 20 minutes to reach the summit, which will probably take a much shorter time for folks who are in better shape. I did a Facebook live of my climbing experience if you were able to catch it. The view is  phenomenal at the top. Do try to climb it if you're up for the challenge! The view is worth it.

 

The descent went much faster than the ascent, which took only about 5 minutes. We swung by Bright Bakery for some delicious pastries before heading to the Animal Shelter. All the animals were in very good condition which made us feel happy. It's such a good place to be in, and I urge you all to make a donation if you can. The animals and the workers will truly appreciate every single dollar.  One day we vow to to bring a kitten back home with us.

 

So now we're back to Arashi beach which we went to following the Animal Shelter. It's now time for sunset and whoa, I really have to take a picture of this. Well you know how Aruba sunsets are. They're absolutely breathtaking. It looks like I'm getting mesmerized by the view again. Well, until next time! Be sure to stay tuned to the next episodes!

 

ON THIS EPISODE OF ONE HAPPY PODCAST, YOU WILL:

- Know about this 4 year old kid who was with us climbing Hooiberg. If a little kid can do it, we can to!

- Hear about the jet ski incident.

- Hear why purple food is not for me.

 

ESTABLISHMENTS AND RESTAURANTS MENTIONED:

Eduardo's Beach Shack

Don Pastechi

Screaming Eagle

Eagle Beach Food Truck

Matthew's Beachside Restaurant

Bright Bakery

Animal Shelter

Direct download: Episode_98_C_-_Part_3_of_October_2017_Aruba_Trip_Report.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:52am EST

To pick things up from where we left off last time, I'm here in Eagle beach on record for the 2nd part  of my October 2017 Aruba Trip Report.

 

It's a perfect day out here with minimal clouds, warm but refreshing temperature, lovely breeze, and most of the all, the water feels great. I got out of the water to record this episode but I'm gonna hop back in again after I'm done.

 

Now for the recount of our experiences yesterday or day 2 of our trip. It was a Monday morning filled with busy work and errands. We rented a house instead of a timeshare so we had to take care of stuff for that. Afterwards, I went grocery shopping on Super Food and headed to the digital hotspot center to get my pocket Wi-Fi reactivated.

 

We headed over to Eduardo's for a well-deserved snack. If you haven't tried their Acai bowls, I definitely urge you to get one the next time you swing by Palm Beach. It's basically made up of some kind of puree at the bottom, granola in the middle, and assorted fruits on the top with coconut shavings.

 

Most of the day was spent at Arashi, which was bizarrely empty for long stretches of time so we had the pristine beach to our ourselves during the first and latter parts of our stay. Paradise on earth.

 

We intended to head out earlier for dinner but we opted to relax first at home after coming back from Arashi for some downtime with just us listening to music and sipping wine.

 

Later on we ate at Chihuahua's Fiesta and Grill for some good ol' Mexican food. It has the best shrimp ceviche I've ever tasted on the island and is definitely one of the best, if not the best, Mexican restaurants in Aruba.

 

Topping the day off were some ice cream sundaes from McDonalds which was a pretty decent way to end the day if you ask me.

 

So back to Eagle beach, I'm mostly just relaxing for the fun part later in the day — One Happy Podcast's 3rd Anniversary Party. The party will be at Legends Pub, which if you've never heard of, is the brain child of the geniuses behind Eduardo's Beach Shack and Scott's Brats. It's a cool sports bar that I totally recommend.

 

Be sure to stay tuned to the next episode to hear all about the happenings in the party!

 

ON THIS EPISODE OF ONE HAPPY PODCAST, YOU WILL:

- Get an heads up on why you should always carry an I.D. with you while you on the island.

- Know an inventive way I came up with to open beer bottles at the beach.

- Hear about me being a world class beach napper, or at least I think so.

 

ESTABLISHMENTS AND RESTAURANTS MENTIONED:

Do it Center

Super Food Plaza

Eduardo's Beach Shack

Scott's Brats

Chihuahua's Fiesta and Grill

Hooters Aruba

Cafe Rembrandt

Así Es Mi Peru

Pelican Pier Aruba

Bugaloe Beach Bar & Grill

Barney's Bar & Restaurant

Bavaria

South Beach Aruba

Hard Rock Aruba

Mcdonald's

Legends Pub

Direct download: Episode_98_B_-_Part_2_of_October_2017_Aruba_Trip_Report.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:52am EST

I'm down here on location in Aruba with my ever loyal sidekick Maggie for our October 2017 Aruba trip. This time, Maggie brought her daughter Jess along. The three of us have so much planned for this trip and we can't wait to show Jess what the amazing island of Aruba has in store.

 

What I'm planning here is a blow by blow recap of our experience in this trip. We started it with leaving Delaware for Newark where we stayed on the Courtyard Marriott for the night before heading to the airport in the morning. We arrived smoothly on the island at an ideal time, which was followed by probably the fastest transition we've had from airport to car rental company to our rental house.

 

Like the last time we stayed in Aruba, we opted to go for Royal as our car rental of choice. But don't get me wrong, I like to switch things around with car rentals for the podcast so listeners will get a perspective for each of them. We got an SUV instead of the usual jeep because there's three of us with a lot of luggage.

 

Upon arriving on the island, we wanted to eat at Don Pastechi or  Pika's Corner but unfortunately they were both closed so we ended up at... you guessed it, Wendy's. One really has to wonder why Wendy's is so popular in the island. It's always so crowded. But I digress. We had a nice, pleasant, and quiet evening after that at Así es mi Perú, where the food is excellent. We recommend it.

 

To wrap up this episode, we have so many plans for the duration of this trip like mentioned earlier, including One Happy Podcast's 3rd Anniversary Party that I'm hosting at Legends Pub on the 24th of October. Do swing by at 7:00 p.m. if you're up for it! I would love to see you there. It's going to be a blast.

 

Don't forget to stay tuned for the next parts of our October Aruba trip!

 

ON THIS EPISODE OF ONE HAPPY PODCAST, YOU WILL:

- Hear a funny story of how we initially wanted to rent a Chevy Trax, thought we were getting a Chevy Equinox instead, but ended up with a Kia Sportage

- Know Royal's bait and switch tactic for customers

 

 

SERVICES, COMPANIES, AND RESTAURANTS MENTIONED:

 

Courtyard Marriot Newark

Springhill Suites

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel

Applebees

Aruba Royal Car Rental

Aruba Optima Car Rental  

Tropic Car Rental Aruba

Amigo Car Rental

Pika's Corner

Don Pastechi

Wendy's

Así es mi Perú

Direct download: Episode_98_A_-_Part_1_of_October_2017_Aruba_Trip_Report.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:40am EST