by Michael Blanding
The high-rise district of Palm Beach, north of Aruba’s capital city of Oranjestad, has fast become the high-energy center of tourism on the island. Situated at the far end of the district, the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino towers literally and figuratively over the competition. In fact, the Marriott Aruba is one of the most luxurious hotel on the island. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t welcoming to families though. With a gigantic pool as its centerpiece and immediate access to a beautiful beach, it’s a great choice for those looking for family amenities without sacrificing upscale refinement.
At first glance, the hotel impresses with its “Great Room,” a two-story lobby filled with fancy pillars and couches, along with two bars and a cafe. Right off the lobby is the Stellaris Casino, the largest on the island, but the kids will likely make a B line for the enormous serpentine pool that fills up the courtyard between the hotel’s two wings. The hotel was built in 1996, but underwent a major renovation in 2008 that overhauled everything from the rooms to the casino.
The resort is filled with perks to keep everyone in the family happy, including seven restaurants, fitness room and spa. If there is one area the resort fails in, it’s the lack of onsite watersports, considering the ocean is at its doorstep. The resort is still able to refer guests to a local tour operator, as well as private vendors on the beach.
Our Editor Loves
- Huge pool and access to beautiful beach
- Teen center
- Epic breakfast buffet to start the day
- All Inclusive Rates
- Water Sports
- Connecting Rooms
- Game Room
- Onsite Dining
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The rooms at the Aruba Marriott Resort are some of the most attractive on the island, done up in impressive dark wood and gold and crimson furnishings. Each unit features a large 37-inch flat-screen TV, refrigerator and coffee maker. Each room also has a desk with a state-of-the-art video center so you can play movies through your computer onto the TV with supplied cables -- a godsend for those times when the kids need to get out of the sun and relax. A rollaway bed and crib are permitted in the guestrooms at no extra charge however they are not available in the suites. Kids stay free at all times.
While the resort has 411 rooms, it has only 30 suites, so book early if you want to snag one. In a pinch, some rooms have connecting doors so you can double your space. A sofa is also featured in the suites. Bathrooms are particularly large and gorgeous, with marble tiles and a vanity with two sinks, frosted glass doors for a shower and separate toilet area and Bath & Body Works toiletries.
My wife and I just went for our honeymoon during October 2019. There are alot of options for hotels on the island, and I honestly believe this is the best one. The staff could not be more friendly and willing to help with anything at all that you need. The hotel was very clean, the food was great at the bar and at the restaurant outside next to the pool.
Please do yourself a favor and make sure that you have Danny as a bartender at the hotel bar. As someone who has worked in and managed customer service related teams for about 15 years, Danny is exactly what I would look for in a worker. He is friendly, hospitable, and funny. He is an excellent bartender and a genuinely nice person. He was incredibly professional, and still made us feel not only welcomed, but comfortable being there.
Shawn in the Lobby Bar was great with service. He was always friendly and responsive
Jorge on the beach is excellent. he was always there when we needed hims.
The entire staff is always friendly and smiling
Prepare to set up base at the Aruba Marriot Resort's enormous pool, which features a winding lagoon shape, as well as a cascading waterfall, volleyball net and a swim-up bar for the grown-ups. Depth at the shallow end is 3 feet, while the deep end goes up to 5 feet.
The beach is just a few steps from the pool, but be forewarned: If you want to score a much-coveted palapa (thatched beach umbrella), you have to reserve one ahead of time. Half of the palapas are given away for free at 4 p.m. daily, and for use the following day; the other half are given away starting at 7 a.m. the day of use. A limited number are also reserved for a fee, which you can reserve several days in advance. The beach is perfect for families, with beautiful white sand, azure blue waters and a shallow grade that makes it safe for even small children to play in the warm Caribbean water.
The resort also has a game room with arcade games ranging from Ms. Pac Man to Dance Dance Revolution, and a separate teen center called The Den, complete with video game consoles and hang out space for teens ages 13 to 17.
The resort doesn't offer any formal activities on the beach, but there are more than enough private vendors with a bewildering variety of ways to get out onto the water, including parasailing, pirate ship rides and power rafting, wherein an inflatable raft that looks like a giant couch with seatbelts is towed behind a speeding power boat. The resort also has a desk run by De Palma Tours, which can arrange everything from snorkeling trips to an expedition to the surprisingly desert-like Arikok National Park.
The resort features eight onsite restaurants, guaranteeing something delicious for every taste. At all restaurants, kids up to age 5 eat free, and kids 6 to 12 eat half price. The resort also offers several all-inclusive meal plans.
The best option for families is La Vista, an excellent Italian restaurant with pastas, seafood and favorites like Chicken Parmigiana, all in enormous portion sizes. The restaurant hosts several theme nights, such as Rome nights and Lobster nights every Saturday. It also has a special Kids Corner, full of games and activities so little diners have something to do while the rest of the family finishes dinner. In the mornings, La Vista becomes the site of a legendary breakfast buffet, which includes a mouth-watering spread of fresh fruit, pastries, omelets, pancakes and more.
During the day, Waves restaurant, appropriately located on the beach, offers up a range of wraps, salads and sandwiches, both at sit-down tables and under palapas on the sand.
At night Waves becomes Atari (formerly Simply Fish), a "barefoot elegant" fine-dining restaurant focusing on (what else) seafood; it is one of the most popular restaurants on the island.
Ruth's Chris Steakhouse
The Aruba Marriott Resort's other fine-dining restaurant is Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, a branch of the acclaimed chain. Well-behaved kids are welcome at either eatery.
The resort also has several restaurants in its lobby, including a casual Lobby CafÃ© offering sandwiches and pastries.
Ketsu Sushi Bar
Ketsu Sushi Bar serves sushi and sashimi.
The adults only Lobby Bar, serves cocktails and light snacks and at the adult pool is the H2O pool bar, which also serves light meals along with potent cocktails.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
The resort does not recommend babysitters, so if you need one, you'll want to arrange that before you arrive. On certain nights, the hotel offers evening childcare from 6 to 9 p.m. so parents can enjoy a quiet meal for two.
Amongst all the lobby shops for luxury watches and jewelry is a great sundries store called The Bazaar, which carries a full complement of beach toys, sunscreen, baby products and snacks, along with swimsuits and other clothing.
Wi-Fi is free for Marriott Rewards members.
The fitness room is state-of-the-art, with weight and cardio machines, a personal trainer on call and classes including yoga and Zumba.
The Art of Smart Timing
Aruba's weather is amazingly consistent, hovering only a few degrees between its maximum and minimum over the course of the year. Thus, there is no bad time to visit, and even during the slow seasons of summer and fall, hotels are usually close to fully booked. That said, accommodations are cheaper during the low season of April through November. Most expensive (and crowded) times are, not surprisingly, over the holidays through February. If you are traveling in the fall, keep in mind hurricane season in the Caribbean runs from August through October, though Aruba's sheltered location keeps this less of a concern than other destinations in the area.
Aruba's international airport is Aeropuerto Internacional Reina Beatrix, located on the south side of the island, a 10- to 15-minute drive to Palm Beach (without traffic).
The resort does not provide shuttle service from the airport; however, taxis are available for a flat fee of $25 to the high-rise hotel area. The hotel does offer free parking.
For Mom and Dad
The Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino is chock full of extra perks for adults.
In addition, the resort is home to a branch of the much-adored Mandara Spa, which features beautiful Balinese teakwood design, along with massage rooms for couples, Jacuzzi tubs, Vichy showers, a steam room and a nail salon.
The resort also features a separate adults-only pool, located in a peaceful gated garden and complete with cabanas. Don't leave the resort without a trip to the Stellaris Casino, the largest on the island, which features poker, blackjack, roulette and plenty of slots.