Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Outdated property with much-needed renovations still underway
Once a part of La Cabana, Tropicana is now its own entity, but some signs of the mid-2000s separation can still be seen, like the “La Cabana” branding on jetted bathtubs. While the four building property hasn’t been fully renovated in about 20 years, some refreshments have taken place and further upgrades are on the books for 2015 -- starting with opening up an additional 74 rooms on the upper floor of a mostly unused block on the east side of the resort. But, for now, with the casino closed, the biggest gamble is the rooms: some have peeling cabinets, box televisions, and dated furniture. However, there have been selective upgrades that impress such as dual door refrigerators and microwaves, although they're not in all rooms.
The biggest improvements to look forward to in and after 2015 -- in addition to the complete gutting, renovation, and first-time opening of east block rooms by the year’s end -- are the new, slightly larger casino; remodeled Double Down restaurant; and free high-speed Internet access in rooms. Since this is a time-share property, many of the guests are repeat visitors who are on a first-name basis with staff and fairly chatty, but respectful of privacy. However, until this mid-range property fully renovates to reach its full potential, some guests will feel it doesn't live up to the price paid.
In the Low Rise zone close to the beach and supermarket
Tropicana Resort and Casino is located directly behind La Cabana Resort in Aruba’s safe and touristy Low Rise hotel zone. It’s about a five-minute walk to Palm Beach, lined with divi divi trees, and can easily be accessed off of either of the island’s main roads. The area has a good choice of restaurants (such as Passions on the Beach’s romantic on-the-sand dinner service), hotel bars, beach bars, and a few casinos. There’s also a large supermarket and home goods store with a cafe inside and bank ATM outside just across the main road at the back of the hotel. A slew of restaurants, shops, bars, and tour operator jumping off points are just five minutes north in the High Rise hotel zone, and the airport is roughly 15 minutes south along L.G. Smith Boulevard.
Large units with some upgrades, but a musty smell and dated bathrooms
As of our visit in early 2015, none of Tropicana’s 362 spacious rooms have had a significant renovation in about 20 years -- and some haven't even been operational since the hotel switched hands. Most rooms are in fair (if dated) condition with varying levels of upgrades, particularly in the kitchens. While most appliances -- such as medium- to full-size refrigerators, stovetops, and microwaves -- appear to be newer, some of the utensils and cookware may show signs of use (dishes are typically fine). However, most TVs are tube-style and have frustratingly poor quality and reception. Most rooms have received fresh bedding and paint.
Superior rooms have in-unit washer and dryers, dishwashers, and full stoves, while Deluxe rooms (one step down) have a two-burner kitchenette set-up with microwave. All units have a separate living and dining room areas, private outdoor space with pool or courtyard views, and high ceilings. Some rooms may have a musty smell from years of condensation and faulty air-conditioning. Bathrooms show the most age with pink and sea foam green plastic moldings, “La Cabana” branded shower/tub combinations, and gym-style pump toiletries. Considering the obvious age of the bathrooms, you may want to think twice before soaking in the deep jetted tubs until the renovations are complete. Hairdryers can be found in the bedroom closets.
Room service from on-site restaurants and quick bites, plus nearby eats
Both of the Tropicana’s restaurants, Pizza Bob’s and Double Down, have a room service option, although if you want anything from the mini-market or on-site Dunkin Donuts and Baskin Robbins storefront, you’ll have to head down toward the lobby and pick it up yourself. Since the rooms are stuffed full of equipment for self-catering, hopping across the road to grab ingredients from the local Superfoods supermarket to make your own meals is also an option, as is making the quick jaunt to any of the many restaurants within walking distance along the Low Rise strip.
Waterfall and waterslide pools with barbecue areas and hot tubs
The big 150-foot waterslide twisting its way into the resort’s north-side pool is a big draw for families. This pool area also has a dedicated shallow kiddy pool, large shady palapa hut with a scattering of strappy plastic lounge chairs, adult-only hot tub, and Bikini’s swim-up bar. Guests at Bikini’s pool bar can enjoy live music on Sundays, twice-daily happy hours, and seating in the water or on land. At the other end of the resort, the hotel’s second pool swaps the waterslide and bar for a large, rocky waterfall and small spa, making for a much more relaxed, less rambunctious vibe.
Walking distance or free shuttle to Palm Beach
It is a five-minute walk to the famous white-sand Palm Beach, which is lined with the island’s iconic fofoti trees. Many of Tropicana’s guests can be found there resting on seaside loungers during the day. The beach area is shared with La Cabana (a resort formerly affiliated with Tropicana) and has soft sands, palapas, and loungers. If the heat gets to you, you can snag a variety of frozen drinks at the Oasis Beach Bar at La Cabana hut. The hotel operates a free shuttle if you don’t feel like walking.
Full resort amenities, including spa and casino
Tropicana’s on-property features include a small casino (which was undergoing a revamp during our visit), big fitness room with glass walls and a solid selection of equipment (though cardio machines lack individual TVs), large picnic and barbecue area off the lobby, and tiny but efficient spa with head-to-toe treatment options. Off the parking lot, there’s a multi-court area for beach tennis with a plastic kids' playground and the Double Down Restaurant and Bar. There is no real lobby, although an outdoor (but covered) lounge area with cushioned wicker furniture flanks the entrance path to the hotel. Inside by the front desk, there’s a telephone with a direct line to AVIS car rental (an actual desk is across at La Cabana) and a concierge desk where you can also print boarding passes.
Until the new wireless service is set up in 2015, guests will either have to purchase an Internet card from the front desk or stick to the lobby or Bikini’s bar for free Wi-Fi -- either way, service isn’t guaranteed. There’s lots of free parking surrounding half of the property, but be sure to grab a parking pass from the front desk.
Tropicana Resort & Casino is a mid-range resort property with 362 kitchen-equipped suites and a location a five- to 10-minute walk from Palm Beach, restaurants, and bars. With waterslide and waterfall pools, a small spa, small casino, glass-walled gym, beach tennis courts, and two on-site restaurants and bars, this resort is geared toward families on a budget. However, despite some renovations, this property is fairly dated, with musty rooms and plastic bathrooms (further renovations are scheduled for 2015). It’s a borderline decent budget option (for the price) though it's also worth considering the Divi Village Golf & Beach Resort and La Cabana Beach Resort & Casino.