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The Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino is one of the premier resorts on the island of Aruba. I got the chance to stay there in August 2017 and the hotel lived up to my expectations in many ways. It’s got a great staff, exceptional views of beautiful turquoise waters, and a lot of things to do for all different types of guests. Here’s a look at my recent stay at the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino.
Aruba Marriott hotel area
The Aruba Marriott Resort is located on Palm Beach which is one of the top beach hotspots in Aruba and where you’ll find the majority of the high-rise hotels. On either side of the hotel are other Marriott hotels: Marriott’s Aruba Ocean Club, Marriott’s Aruba Surf Club, and the Ritz-Carlton.
The hotels are just north of Eagle Beach, which is a beach that many reported was an even better beach to visit but we didn’t get a chance to check it out. You can see picturesque waters of Eagle Beach pictured below with Palm Beach a little further in the background.
The hotel is located directly on Palm Beach so it only takes a quick walk for you to place your feet in the sand from your hotel room and offers you a true beach experience, unlike some Caribbean resorts where you don’t really have a beach area to walk around on.
We paid $25 USD for the taxi ride from the airport (where we breezed through customs) to the Aruba Marriott but the taxi price will be slightly higher on some days, such as Sundays and holidays. We entered the hotel through a wide hallway with realistically molded decorative fish hung along the sides of the wall.
We arrived during peak time around check-in (3pm) and all of the reception desks were open with staff members working to check people in so that the lines never grew long. There was a dedicated Marriott elite member line but like at many hotels, I don’t think only elite members were allowed to use it.
The staff members at the reception desks were very professional and we were served a complimentary glass of (non-spiked) punch during our check-in, which was a nice surprise.
The lobby/atrium that connects the two towers is long and open. In different sections of the lobby you can find some of the restaurants, the gelato shop, gift shop, jewelry store, and entrance to the casino, and the lobby bar and lounge area. There are plenty of signs posted on the walls to point you in the right direction of where you need to go.
All of the rooms look out to the ocean or to the pools/gardens with partial ocean views so you won’t get stuck with a view of the interior of the island (which isn’t that bad as you can see below).
The lobby is home to the “Great Room” which offers tons of comfortable and cozy seating options for you to relax in.
There were plenty of great places to enjoy a nice cup of coffee in the morning like these seats that look out to the pool area.
Although we didn’t try it out, there’s a nice bar area in the lobby offering meals from lunch to dinner and of course plenty of cocktails.
Behind the bar there’s a large multi-panel LCD screen which displays beautiful scenes while you relax at the bar which I thought was pretty cool and unique.
There’s also a Starbucks that occupies a lot of room in the lobby. It’s actually a beautiful area and one of the prettier hotel Starbucks coffee shops that I’ve seen (for what it’s worth). The lines can get long so you want to try to get down there early in the morning or else you’ll be waiting as if you were going to Starbucks during rush hour in a major city.
I thought it was really cool what they did with the Starbucks logo mermaid art on the wall.
We stayed in a Junior Suite during our stay. The junior suites are corner rooms and are absolutely beautiful with the curtains pulled back. The floor to ceiling windows open up to an amazing view of the beach and pool areas, and it’s a great way to relax in style.
The wrap-a-round balconies are also very nice and perfect for getting great views of the sunsets, which dropped below the horizon right in front of us. Even if you don’t get a corner room though, all of the balconies are pretty spacious on this property so you should have plenty of room to relax on your balcony and catch the sunset.
I would try to go for a room on a higher floor to take advantage of the amazing views this hotel has to offer. The color of the ocean changes throughout the day (and even throughout the year) but for us it was a stunning turquoise color down the entire stretch of Palm Beach.
You’ll be able to watch people partake in jet-skiing, parasailing, kite surfing, paddle boating, tubing, and all sorts of other water activities from your balcony with a high enough ocean view. The only drawback to the rooms on the top floor is that you don’t have any shade on your balcony and so it can be a little tougher to beat the heat. The good thing about Aruba is that they are known for getting strong winds and those winds coming off the ocean can do wonders to cool you down when outside.
Fitness Center (“Health Club”)
I was very impressed with the gym at this hotel. It’s a two-story facility with loads of different equipment. Everything from free weights, benches, and tons of cardio equipment can be found there. At around 7am it was a little busy with most guest upstairs on treadmills and other cardio equipment, but there’s so many different exercise options to choose from that I doubt crowding becomes an issue there.
From the upstairs there’s also a great view of the H2Oasis pool.
There are two pools at this resort: the main resort pool and the adult’s only pool. The main pool area is open to all guests and was pretty lively throughout our stay. It’s found right in the heart of the resort and surrounded by tall palm trees. It wasn’t quite the loud party atmosphere that I’ve experienced at some resorts but plenty of people were enjoying the pool throughout the day and there were still some music playing and activities taking place.
There’s a nice relaxing waterfall at the end of the pool with plenty of chairs to relax on.
These pods hanging below these two beautiful trees were popular relaxation spots for many guests.
Adult’s only pool
The hotel has a second, newer pool called the H20asis Adult pool with lush Royal palms towering over the pool. There are plenty of chairs around the pool to relax on along with a few wooden cabanas that you can rent. This pool also has a bar. If you’re wanting to catch a few drinks at the pool bars, be sure to check to see which time happy hour is during your stay for discounted drinks.
The rooms on the first floor have direct access to the pool from their patios.
There’s a lot of open beach landscape at this hotel, which helps to disperse the crowds and open up the beach areas. Pictured below is the are dubbed “West Beach.”
The sand is very white, clean and gorgeous, as you can tell by the photo below of the area called “South Beach.”
They have this cool little machine called SnappyScreen which applies sunscreen to your body in only 10 seconds. You can use purchase your use at the towel hut or with your credit card at the machine.
You also can rent palapas at the various beach locations for $30 a day
If you have Tradewinds Club access, you can get a palapa for free based on a first-come, first-serve basis. You’ll need to inquire with the Tradewinds Club station on the beach to see what’s open and I recommend you doing so as soon as you can in the morning to lock down a spot.
The interior of the property surrounding the pool area is nicely kept with clean walkways to get you around. It’s also not overwhelmingly sprawled out, which is really nice when you want to get from point A to point B without breaking a huge sweat.
There are tons of dining options at the hotel to choose from.
- La Vista (breakfast, lunch, and dinner)
- Atardi (beachfront dinner)
- Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse (dinner)
- The Lobby — Shake and Roll (lunch and dinner)
- Waves Beach and Grill (beachfront lunch)
- Gelato & Co. (ice cream)
- Resort Pool Bar and H2Oasis Pool Bar (lunch)
- Champion Sports Bar (lunch and dinner)
We didn’t get to try out all of the different places because of our short stay and the fact that we hit up the Tradewinds Lounge (discussed below) for most of our meals since I wanted to review each meal offered by the lounge.
We did try out Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. Brad tried out the New York steak and I tried the barbecue shrimp. The barbecue shrimp is nothing like you’d expect but it was still delicious.
Brad’s steak unfortunately had a lot of tendon in it to the point it became uneatable. But the staff was tremendous and worked with us to fix the problem. They offered Brad an even more expensive filet at no extra cost but since we’d already filled up quite a bit, they took the steak off the bill after apologizing profusely. I was thoroughly impressed.
They also served a fantastic mojito.
We also tried Gelato & Co., which is located within the main lobby area. They’ve got some delicious options for gelato and we opted for some with melted Nutella inside and it was perfect.
The Tradewinds Lounge
I really wanted to see what the Tradewinds Lounge was all about, so that’s where we ate for most of our meals. The lounge is only accessible to guests who book Tradewinds level rooms or who pay extra for access. Depending on the going rate and your elite status, access could cost $150+ per night if you don’t book a Tradewinds room.
Here are the hours for the Tradewinds lounge:
- Full American breakfast buffet: 7:00am-10:00am; Weekends 7:00am-11:00am
- Light lunch: 12:00pm-2:00pm
- Teatime: 3:00pm-5:00pm
- Discovery hour hors d’oevres: 6:00pm-9:00pm
- Premium open bar: 6:00pm-9:00pm
- Cheese and pastries: 8:00pm-9:00pm
- Non-alcoholic beverages and coffees available all day
The breakfasts up there were solid with typical offerings of bacon/sausage, potatoes, and eggs that came in different forms, such as scrambled and burritos. They also offered plenty of different options with fruit, cereal, pastries, etc. The only staple missing was some form of pancakes, waffles, or french toast.
The lounge also offered lunch where we were treated with a tasty beef dish and rice and “tea time” where we enjoyed the sandwiches and wraps and thought they were a great way to appease our appetite for a while.
During discovery hour, we sampled different platters from the chefs. These were delicious dishes like grilled sea bass, mango chicken, sushi, and other dishes. I filled up pretty quickly on these and ended up being very impressed with the food offerings of the lounge. I imagined snacks and very light dishes to be offered, not tasty platters that could replace entire meals.
And of course the lounge also offers a range of beverages that you can choose from. There are different beers, sodas, waters, and fruit drinks you can choose from.
And then there’s the evening happy hour where all the rums, whiskeys, and vodkas and other liquors are set out for the open bar.
The Tradewinds lounge also has some great views from its two balconies.
There are a ton of things going on at the resort to keep yourself occupied. We spent a lot of our time diving while in Aruba but if you just want to hang out around the hotel you can find plenty to do. In addition to the all of the water sports described above there are daily activities offered that range from things like:
- Beach walks
- Iguana interactions
- Tennis clinic
- Hula Hoop Contest
- Cotton candy and popcorn social
- Face painting
And the list goes on. You’ll be given a booklet at check-in that will give you all the information about the activities taking place. They also offer comedy shows during certain times and they have one of the best casinos on the island. I’m not very big on gambling, so we didn’t spend time in the casino during our stay.
The service at this hotel was some of the best service that I’ve received at a hotel, especially in the Caribbean. They were willing to do whatever they could to make the stay better and fix any issues that we faced during our stay. I also witnessed them bending over backwards for other guests on numerous occasions. This hotel has stunning views of the ocean and plenty to do so I would definitely recommend the hotel to people for looking for one of the best hotels in Aruba.
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.