Radisson Aruba Resort, Casino & Spa Rating: 3.0 Pearls
Sporting two large pools, exotic landscaping (with caged parrots), a top-notch spa and fitness center, and a long beach where kids and teens run wild, the Radisson is an excellent value, especially since its $26 million renovations in fall 2011 which brought updates to all guestrooms, the casino, and common areas. The location is ideal; there are ample restaurants and places to party, on-site and off.
Boardwalk Hotel Aruba Rating: 3.0 Pearls
For those in search of a truly intimate boutique experience on Aruba, the affordable Boardwalk Hotel in Aruba is an excellent mid-range choice. This peaceful 13-casita property, tucked behind three massive Marriott properties and situated on a former coconut plantation, remains an oasis of calm. Casitas are spacious and bright with fully equipped kitchens, fine linens, and private patios. Snorkel gear is provided to guests, as are beach towels, coolers, chairs and umbrellas -- all of which adds to the value. There's no direct beach access, but guests can walk to nearby Palm Beach (full of restaurants, casinos and nightlife) or get in the car and head to a hidden beach recommended by the owners -- they know the local scoop, so guests should be sure to ask their advice.
Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino Rating: 4.0 Pearls
The Aruba Marriott Resort is fancier than its neighbor, the Marriott Surf Club, but paradoxically, it costs a whole lot less. It has bright, airy rooms with fast Wi-Fi, a superb beach with clear water, one of Aruba's best casinos, a fitness center, spa, and a lagoon-shaped pool with a waterfall and a swim-up bar -- all for a great price. The only downside it's a bit of a walk to the restaurants and bars of the High-Rise complex; on-site options include a 24-hour cafe, the delicious (but pricey) Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, a lobby bar, and beach snack bars Waves and Simply Fish.
Tropicana Aruba Resort & Casino Rating: 3.0 Pearls
For such low prices, the Aruban has some great features, including kitchenettes in the rooms, two great pools (one with a 150-foot waterslide for kids, one with a waterfall for adults), a gym with state-of-the-art cardio equipment, and five lighted tennis courts. Rooms are outdated and Eagle Beach is a 10-minute walk away, but it's hard to complain when the price is this cheap.