This hotel has undergone significant renovations since our visit.
We will update our photos and review as soon as we can.
Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
With plenty of beachfront, the hotel is a prime spot for families toting kids and young teens. Guests head to the sand early in the morning and stay there all day, availing themselves of the outdoor Iguana Pool Bar and maritime-themed Sea Breeze Grill. On the beach, four-post thatched structures give shelter to fully reclined blue-and-white beach chairs. Some guests migrate to the two connected pools during midday, either to be closer to the restaurants or to soak in the twin bubbling whirlpools.
The lobby, an open-air ode to light pink tiles and waist-high crowd-control stanchions, is not air conditioned. The Canastas Lobby Bar is the hotel's most popular spot for Aruba's native Balashi beer.
The Holiday Inn also gained considerable notoriety for being the hotel where Natalee Holloway was staying in when she disappeared in 2005.
The Aruba airport is farther from the Holiday Inn than it is from most hotels -- about a 30-minute, $30 cab ride (depending on traffic).
The hotel's main entrance is just seconds off Aruba's main road, the thruway that leads directly to downtown Oranjestad, 15 minutes away. The beach is in back of the property, while Tony Roma's restaurant -- highly recommended by locals -- is across the street.
The location feels very safe. Between foot traffic from the High-Rise complex and tourists from a number of neighboring hotels -- the Hyatt, Occidental, Radisson, and others -- the area is well populated at night. For added security, hotel personnel frequent the street outside the hotel.
The High-Rise shopping complex is directly across the street. The High-Rise has many restaurants, including the fabulous Hostaria da Vittoria. There are also a number of nightlife haunts, such as a movie theater and a samba club misleadingly named Mr. Jazz.
The beach is the Holiday Inn's main attraction. Families spend the day sunning on the hot, fine sand and wading into the warm water. The water is clear and clean but surprisingly aggressive -- every third or fourth wave bowled over at least one hapless kid (or the sand castle thereof).
Plastic lounge chairs, available all over the beach, are set in full recline underneath the hotel's numerous thatched cabanas. Drink service was pretty slow during my visit, but most guests simply get their own drinks, rather than waiting for a staffer to come around.
The view of the horizon from the sand is excellent. At night, as lit cruise ships pull away from shore, the oval yellow glow of the cabin lights recedes like fading stars.
The 2011 renovations brought some modern touches to rooms, which now feature a more standard yellow, green and white palette instead of dated tropical prints,a swell as up-to-date technology, such as flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi.
The pool area is split into four sections -- two separate Jacuzzis, a shallow family pool, and a standard pool. The standard pool has a small circular island with beach chairs on it. The chairs are deep enough to get wet, but shallow enough to keep drinks chlorine-free. The Jacuzzis bubble like stew pots, and many guests rotate between both tubs. Why choose? You're on vacation!
The resort also has a business center and kids club.
The casino is a popular attraction, booming at all hours.
During my visit, the Excelsior casino, a one-room gaming spot, was swarming at midnight. Blackjack and craps drew the spectators. The meditative poker section was filled but nearly silent, with one table spilling over with 10 players.
There is a buffe-stylet International cuise at Corals Restaurant, and the restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Cafe Da Vinci serves Italian for dinner.
Tony Roma's restaurant, advertised as "famous for ribs," is right across the street. The High-Rise shopping complex is also across the street and has a number of places to dine, including the excellent Hostaria da Vittoria.
Wedding options are a bit limited here, and although the hotel is affordable, the quality of service, the food, and the beauty of the location matches the price tag.
The Holiday Inn is a family-friendly beachside resort with a decent fitness center, day spa, and nice pool. It could be a bargain, but the rooms are a little basic and the service is definitely hands-off. Fortunately, the upscale High-Rise shopping complex, just across the street, has loads of great restaurants and bars.