- 20-minute drive to Oranjestad
- 30-minute, $35 cab ride from Aruba airport
Just short of chichi family hotel that offers a warm welcome and doesn't cater to rowdy guests.
The Marriott is a family hotel, just short of chichi. All the parents I met were professionals and their kids showed the right mix of excitement and well-behaved restraint. The hotel follows suit with large, open public spaces and touches of edgy, modern design. The hotel is classy, and the service is warm and friendly. Unlike most resorts in Aruba, the Marriott didn't cater to roving bands of children running wild or parents getting blitzed on Bacardi.
Friendly, obliging, and professional staff.
The Marriott staff was unfailingly polite and helpful throughout my stay. My waiter at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse cheerfully demonstrated the art of laying the perfect table-cover. The waitress at the 24/7 lobby café obliged my 3 a.m. coffee runs without complaint.
A (30-minute) $30 cab ride from the airport, near a complex with many restaurants, a movie theater, and a samba club.
The airport is farther from the Marriott than it is from most hotels -- about a (30-minute) $35 cab ride (depending on traffic). Downtown Oranjestad is about a 20-minute cab ride away. The beach is in back of the hotel, while a row of houses sits opposite the front parking lot.
The Marriott Resort is immediately off Aruba's single main road, which is lined with resorts. It is one installment in the Marriott's Vacation Club resort -- to its left is the Marriott Aruba Ocean Club, and to the left of that is the Marriott Surf Club.
The High-Rise shopping complex is a 3-minute walk away. The High-Rise has many restaurants, including the fabulous Hostaria da Vittoria and a number of nightlife haunts, such as a movie theater and a samba club misleadingly named Mr. Jazz.
The location feels very safe. Between foot traffic from the High-Rise and tourists from a number of neighboring hotels -- the Holiday Inn, Occidental, Radisson, and others -- the area is well-populated at night.
The Marriott Resort, which received a complete renovation in 2008, has one of the most tech-savvy, hooked-up rooms that I've seen in Aruba. Both the wired Internet hookup and Wi-Fi in the lobby are fast -- though there is a daily fee for both. The room even has a nifty console in the wall used to connect laptops to the LG flat-screen TV. Perfect for presentations, photo slideshows, or just watching movies off of your computer.
The beds are very comfortable, but I found a couple of ants on my pillow (these were the only insects in the room). I emerged unbitten from a night's sleep.
The balcony is quite large, with enough space for a couple of chairs and a table. It gets plenty of sunlight throughout the day, and is a great place to tan in solitude. But in my oceanfront suite, I could barely see the ocean -- a broad lawn and a hedge was in the way.
The bathroom has a double sink, great water pressure, and enough space to swing my arms around. Everything in my room worked perfectly, except for the tub's stopper, which I had to pry open from its closed position with a penknife.
On check-in, I was given a free -- and totally unasked for -- upgrade to an Oceanview Double. On my way up in the hotel's glass elevators, the bellman told me it was one of the best rooms in the hotel. Large, with a ton of light streaming in from the floor-to-ceiling windows by the balcony, I was suitably impressed.
With a bar and a 24-hour cafe, the Marriott's soaring lobby -- renovated in 2007 -- is where I spent most of my time. There are also some pricey jewelry stores selling diamonds and Cartier' that made for tempting eye-candy. If I'd had better luck at the Stellaris Casino around the corner, it might have been more than window-shopping!
Out by the beach, the Resort's two-tier fitness center is hands-down the best of the three Marriott hotels in the compound. While you can no longer drop the kids off at Bon Bini Kids' Club on the way to your workout...you can take part in some complimentary activities like pilates, yoga or a tennis clinic with your teen. The Marriott offers special activities for younger children as well including an air hockey contest for children six and up, a scavenger hunt for those five to fifteen, face painting for all ages and a slew of other fun activities.
Adults may also pay an additional charge to become Tradewinds Club members, that is, for additional amenties and breakfast, lunch and dinner (hors d'oeuvres for the latter two), private beach area, and a separate concierge service. The hotel also offers an adults-only pool.
The Stellaris is one of Aruba's best casinos, but it's not terribly impressive. Slot machines far outnumber tables and the Stellaris is only marginally larger than other Aruban casinos I have visited. The Crystal Casino at the Renaissance Hotel is much larger, has many more tables, and has a distinctive charm.
The hotel in general is clean and well-maintained.
I found a couple of ants making their way across my pillow, and the corner of my carpet was duct-taped to the floor. But the hotel in general is so clean and well-maintained that I feel bad complaining about these minor issues. After all, insects are a part of a tropical vacation, and the tape did keep me from tripping.
The 24-hour lobby café is a blessing -- coffee, sandwiches, fruit, and pastries. In the afternoon, a small sushi bar is open on the neighboring counter until 11 p.m.
If it's pouring outside -- which only really happens about five days a year -- the lobby bar is the only place to get a drink. There are top-shelf liquor prices, but not quite top-shelf brands. But the drinks are good! Tried and tested.
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