Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Modern, upscale, and distinctly divided -- one side for adults with a casino; one side for families with suites.
An upscale Marriott property in downtown Oranjestad -- one of the wealthiest and most modern cities in the Caribbean -- the 556-room Renaissance resort is divided into two distinct sections: the "adult-exclusive" Renaissance Marina Hotel (where I stayed) and the more family-oriented Renaissance Ocean Suites. If you happen to visit the Ocean Suites, write us a review and tell us all about it.
Due in large part to its Crystal Casino, one of the best casinos in Aruba, the adult-exclusive side of the resort largely attracts singles and couples who come to the Renaissance to shop at the Renaissance Mall (attached to the hotel), dine at the sleek L.G. Smith Steakhouse, or just lounge by the pool or on the hotel's own private island (the hotel provides a free boat shuttle) or while looking out over the harbor.
Evening turndowns, room service (from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.), poolside and island-side drink service, and a concierge desk to handle the rest -- service rivals the best in Aruba.
In keeping with the service standards at most other Renaissance hotels throughout the U.S. -- or most other Marriott properties, for that matter -- the service is functional, professional, and leaves little to complain about.
In particular, the waiters and waitresses are great. They spent a lot of time giving me their recommendations and helping me pick the best cocktails.
The Renaissance is in downtown Oranjestad, overlooking the marina where humongous cruise ships come to port. There's no beach nearby, but the resort makes up for it with its own private island and a lagoon on the Ocean Suites side (the family side) of the resort.
Guests can take a free water shuttle to the private island, which, like the rest of the resort, is divided into two areas -- one for adults only; one for families staying at the Ocean Suites. On the adults' side, flamingos trail the grounds, and on the families' side, there are the friendly iguanas so popular throughout Aruba (and the Virgin Islands).
The resort is divided into two distinct sides -- the adults-only Marina Hotel and the family-oriented Ocean Suites. I stayed on the Marina side, so I can't speak for the overall condition of the Ocean Suites -- in general, they start at a 430-square-foot junior suite, which includes a king-size bed (for parents) and a pullout sleeper-sofa (for kids). Larger, one- and two-bedroom suites are also available on the Ocean Suites side.
On the Marina side of the hotel, the rooms, though clean and entirely comfortable, are not particularly inspiring. Simply put, if I hadn't looked out of the window, I would have thought that I was in some sort of anonymous, upscale business hotel in the U.S. Still, there is comfort in familiarity, and the golden-yellow walls and muted lamps did the job. The bed was also predictably plush and comfortable.
The bathroom was a little on the small side, but it was smartly done up in black-and-white tile. The illuminated makeup/shaving mirror also gave it an edge over most Aruban hotel bathrooms. The shower and sink worked perfectly, but it was the toiletries that impressed me the most (I took the Lather's conditioner home).
On the adults-only Marina side of the hotel, there's a small pool (be sure to snag a chair early), a great casino, a modern, well-equipped gym and spa (the sauna and steam room are free for guests), and a tiny computer center.
On the Ocean Suites side of the hotel, you'll find more family-friendly features, like its winding free-form pool with a swim-up bar and a tiny, saltwater lagoon (not quite a beach, but close).
Just outside the resort, you can take a free water shuttle over to Renaissance Island, a sandy island exclusive to guests of the Renaissance.
This is the best and busiest casino in Aruba.
The Crystal Casino, whose old-world décor belies the casino's 10-year history, is definitely one of the largest, cleanest, and busiest casinos I visited in Aruba. There are machines and card tables to suit any fancy. During my stay, they were even auctioning off a car!
Though I was unable to visit the Ocean Suites, it's worth noting that it's an all-around solid option for families. All the Caribbean essentials are there -- a winding free form pool, a Patamingo Kids Club, a lagoon (rather than a beach), and access to a family-focused fraction of the private island (with iguanas wandering the grounds). Rooms start at a junior suite, which is large and includes a king-size bed and a pullout sofa for kids.
The hotel is perfectly clean.
I didn't find a spot of dirt anywhere in my room or around the property.
I found plenty of places to eat at the Renaissance Mall -- from sushi bars and sandwich eateries to cafés and chocolatiers. But when it comes to the restaurants more in line with the Renaissance hotel -- and advertised on the hotel's site -- I had eight options. There's also a Starbucks -- a huge perk.
There's Blue in the courtyard between the pool and the lobby. It's a decent place to pick up a snack when Aquarius and L.G. Smith's Steak House are between meals. While you're munching at Blue, you might as well pick up a drink at Captain's Corner. Steer clear of the intensely sugary Electric Iced Tea, though (unless you love Blue Curaçao, that is).
Aquarius serves an eclectic menu from breakfast to dinner. I recommend the breakfast buffet -- everything from sushi to turkey for $25 (a reasonable price in the inherently price-gouging world of Caribbean resorts).
A swanky restaurant that's only open for dinner, L.G. Smith's steaks are as expensive as they are tasty -- which is to say, very. The back-end of L.G. Smith's Steak House is a room with a view of the Crystal Casino.
Located in the bustling cruise-ship center of Oranjestad, the modern, upscale 556-room Renaissance hotel (a Marriott property) offers an exceptional casino (one of Aruba's best) and its own private island (an alternative to a beach). It might not feel exotic -- it's attached to a shopping mall -- but it has great food and retail fun.