Deck chairs get claimed early making it hard to snag one
Beach, grounds, and pools can become very crowded
Check-in can take forever
On-site dining and drinking is relatively pricey
The always-bustling Marriott’s Aruba Surf Club is one of three huge beachside Marriott resorts that sit side by side in Aruba’s popular beachfront High Rise district. The safe, family-oriented three-pearl Surf Club has 450 clean, comfortable rooms (with kitchenettes) and apartments that are spotless and comfortable, albeit dated. Many enjoy wonderful views of the pool to the ocean. Highlights include the series of pools with a Lazy River (though deck chairs can go fast), a waterslide, and a top-notch fitness center. Plenty of restaurants are located nearby, which is lucky because on-site dining is limited to casual poolside fare and to-go snacks from the convenience store -- and it’s all overpriced. Travelers seeking more on-site dining options could try the Holiday Inn.
Big bustling beachfront resort attracting families and older couples who come for fun in the sun
With the Lazy River (a long, slow-flowing pool), poolside ping-pong tables, and a Nintendo Wii Lounge for 12- to 17-year-olds, the Marriott's Surf Club is as family-friendly as it gets. Screeching kids wearing floaties shoot down the waterslide again and again, while parents keep an eye on their children from the comfort of a lounge chair. Older folks flip burgers on the do-it-yourself barbecues, and retirees lingers around the Serenity Pool. What's missing in this scene is college-age partiers who don't exactly swarm to the Marriott. The largely American crowd revels under blue or green shade umbrellas and canopied deck chairs that give the place a retro feel. The beach is also quite the scene. Palapas and palm trees shade guests on the beach while they read or play with their kids -- enjoying the clear Aruban waters. The wide stretch of sand leads to numerous other high-rise resorts, so the beach feels fairly crowded. A long wooden pier juts about 100 feet into the water, serving as a docking lot for a number of small vessels where some tours depart from, and there’s usually plenty of colorful water-sports action to observe.
On Palm Beach in the High Rise area, near shops and restaurants
The Surf Club is immediately off Aruba's single main road, which is lined with resort properties. This is just one installment in the Marriott's Vacation Club -- to the right is the Marriott Aruba Ocean Club, and to the right of that is the Marriott Aruba Resort & Stellaris Casino, which can be reached in about five minutes on foot. The High-Rise shopping complex is a three-minute walk away, where many restaurants, a number of nightlife haunts, and a movie theater are on offer. The location feels exceedingly safe. Between foot traffic from the High-Rise and tourists from a number of big neighboring hotels, the area is well-populated at night. Downtown Oranjestad is a 15-minute cab ride away. The airport is farther away from the Marriott than it is from many other hotels -- taking about 30 minutes by car.
Comfortable rooms and apartments with cooking facilities, balconies, and water views in many
Accommodations are split between two types: Guest Rooms or One-, Two-, and Three-Bedroom Villas (more like apartments). Villas have supersized layouts with separate living areas and kitchens -- perfect for families and groups. Studio-style Guest Rooms, meanwhile, are more simply decorated and slightly dated but still tasteful with headboards and furniture in a walnut-brown finish. Walls are neutral and undecorated except for large mirrors above loveseats. A teal-blue hue runs through the carpet, cushions, and bed runners adding a hint of beachiness. Comfortable beds dressed in crisp white bedding with striped bed skirts are flanked by dark wooden end tables. With the curtains pulled back, plenty of light streams into rooms which step onto verandas that make the modest layouts seem bigger and more airy. The balconies themselves are fairly small, but they're furnished with two white chairs and circular white tables. Even from a Standard Room, many balconies overlook the pools out to the ocean. Bathrooms feature big mirrors set above granite vanities. Shower/tub combos, hairdryers, and individual toiletries are also provided. The area between the bedroom and bathroom contains a little kitchenette complete with coffeemaker, toaster, and microwave -- the store in the lobby sells a host of microwaveable eats. Rooms also feature flat-screen TVs, safes, extra blankets and pillows, irons, and ironing boards.
The usual resort trimmings plus a Lazy River -- but very limited dining
Arguably this property's best feature is its Lazy River pool, allowing guests to drift along its waterways on inner tubes or other inflatables. There's also a more conventional Natural Pool, a Serenity Pool for adults, a Party Pool, and another for little kids, plus a waterslide -- a hit with the Marriott's youngest guests. Seaworthy’s, the poolside swim-up bar (at the Party Pool), means cocktails are easy to come by. If guests want to snag a good poolside spot, they’ll need to get up super early to claim one -- with the little reservation tag issued to each guest on check-in. The best positions are generally claimed by 7 am.
The beachfront offers plenty of cabana shade, soft sand, and clear water, but drinks service is virtually non-existent as hotel staffers generally stay off the sand. The closest bar is a two-minute walk away at Seaworthy’s pool bar that neighbors Captain’s Galley. Outside vendors offer water sports like jet-skiing, parasailing, banana boating, and deep-sea fishing. The fitness center is impressive, with a sea of cardio machines and plenty of modern weights equipment that should keep health nuts happy.
Food-wise, basic meals are offered at the Captain’s Galley -- an ever-so-casual, outdoor poolside affair, and the hotel’s only on-site restaurant. Many guests eat off-site given the abundance of nearby restaurants. The Marriott Aruba Resort offers a number of other options, such as popular pick, Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Meanwhile, the Marketplace off the lobby sells all manner of gifts and conveniences in addition to drinks, beer, and coffee, plus made-to-order snacks (like sandwiches and wraps) to-go for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The teens-only game room with Wii keeps kids entertained. And there’s a second, adult-friendly game room. There’s plenty of free on-site parking available, and free Wi-Fi is everywhere.
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