by Michael Blanding
The Marriott’s Aruba Ocean Club sits smack dab between two other Marriott properties: the bustling Aruba Marriott Hotel, and the even busier Aruba Surf Club, popular for its lazy river pool and waterslide. And yet somehow, this timeshare property seems to be an oasis of calm and luxury that provides a relaxing home base for exploring all that Aruba has to offer. You won’t find in-your-face amenities for kids at this resort, which caters to as many couples and seniors as it does to families, but what isn’t here is easy enough to find next door on either side, whether it’s the selection of restaurants at the hotel or the outdoor fun of the Surf Club.
What you will find at Marriott’s Aruba Ocean Club is a beautiful and luxurious property with a high level of service. With 218 rooms, it is less than half the size of the Surf Club next door, which shows in the level of attention to guests. Built in 1999 and last renovated in 2011, the lobby area wows with a vibrant tropical color scheme of aqua, orange and yellow, accented by blown glass light fixtures by whimsical artist Dale Chihuly. The rooms, on the other hand, are decorated in a chic urban style, and feature all the perks you’d want in an apartment, including a full kitchen and spacious living room. Then, of course, there are balconies that look out onto Aruba’s famous white-sand beaches. Palm Beach, where the Ocean Club is located, is at the far-end of the island’s high-rise hotel district, with all the frenetic energy that implies.
With so many tourists looking for a piece of that perfect Caribbean experience, the area can get crowded, especially in high season, so be prepared to fight for elbow room on the beach and at the pool. All the activity, however, will make you glad you have a comparatively quiet place to stay.
Our Editor Loves
- Spacious suites with full kitchens
- Quiet hotel experience just steps from Aruba's high-energy tourist area
- Lagoon-style pool for kids & nearby beach with gentle waves
- Free Wi-Fi
- Kids' Pool
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
The Ocean Club's 218 guestrooms and villas strike a balance between tropical ambience and urban sophistication, with dark wood and earth tones, highlighted by pastel accents that subtly call to mind the blues and greens of the ocean outside. Rooms feature free Wi-Fi. Laundry facilities are not available inside the units, but can be found on each floor. Additionally, kids stay free in all rooms.
Both one- and two-bedroom suites or villas are extremely spacious; they feature foldout sleeper couches and large flat-screen TVs in the living rooms, as well as smaller TVs and plush king-size beds in the master bedrooms. Rooms also include a DVD player, and family-friendly flicks are available at the main desk. Bathrooms have double marble vanities and stand-up showers, along with Jacuzzi tubs. The Villas also include full kitchens with flat ranges, microwaves, full-size refrigerators, dishwashers and other appliances. A wraparound counter includes several breakfast stools, while a larger sit-down dinner table accommodates more formal meals.
The guestrooms feature a sitting area with a sleeper sofa, a microwave, mini-fridge and a small table for two. A flat screen television and a DVD player can also be found in these rooms.
Arrived to be told we have been assigned the last room available - giving a view of a dusty piece of scrubland where the advertised label of “ocean-view” is sadly an impossible dream. Instead, the room is dark and dingy, with sad & tired furniture. Oddly, you can still book rooms here despite being told there are none available so overall rating of the resort and its management is sliding inexorably to well below the standard Marriott vacation club properties achieve.
by Laura B
We stayed in a 1 bedroom 1 bath on the 5th floor unit 5531. Nice unit over looking the Marriott Stellaris adult pool. The ocean view was nice would like to be ocean fro t next time as the sunsets are breath taking.
We were very happy with the hotel and beach is beautiful. You can get chairs and umbrella easily, unlike the Marriott ocean club which is VERY busy. We did not reserve the day before and never had a problem finding the day of. We did not realize it cost money to get.
We went to beach later one day and were able to get without paying for the umbrellas. Many people did this daily... I would recommend.
We ate at pool restaurant and Juice bar and both were really good.
We really liked location and found that it was easy to walk to the Times Square plaza which has lots of restaurant and bar options. Taxi there are $7 each way or a 10-15 minute walk. The price rises after 11:00 pm.
We did eat at the Surf club and go in pool. Lots of activities if you are interested. We prefer laid back and less kids so Ocean was better for us.
We will be back for sure!
The Aruba Ocean Club centers around a sizeable pool, which meanders through a garden courtyard with a waterfall and swim-up pool bar at depths from 3 to 5 feet. A separate large wading pool for kids is less than a foot deep, so toddlers can splash around safely, while a more secluded hot tub can accommodate more than a dozen people at once. Guests also have access to the slightly larger pool at the Marriott hotel, which has its own waterfall and swim-up bar. As a rule, Ocean Club guests are not permitted to use the more substantial pool at the Marriott's Surf Club on the other side. Depending on the time of year and capacity of the hotels, however, guests at Ocean Club can request a pool pass to the Surf Club, which allows access to all its facilities.
The beach is only a short walk from the pool area, and features Aruba's beautiful white sand and azure blue waters. The beach has a shallow draught and few waves, making it an ideal place to bring small children (though older kids and teens might wish for the more rugged waves on the other side of the island.) Perhaps because of the smaller size of the hotel, the beach in front of the Ocean Club seems less crowded than that on either side, which is not to say it is less crowded. Snagging a coveted palapa (thatched beach umbrella) is something of a blood sport here, with guests required to line up before 4 p.m. the afternoon before or by 7 a.m. the afternoon of the day that they are hoping to secure spots, which are given away on a first-come, first-serve basis. The resort also reserves palapas in advance for up to three days for a $15 fee; paying it is worth avoiding the headache.
Kids ages 5 to 12 can enroll in the Bon Bini Kids' Club in the Aruba Marriott next door, which offers arts and crafts, face painting, scavenger hunts and other activities in a big clubhouse by the hotel pool.
The Aruba Ocean Club has two main restaurants on the premises. While neither restaurant has a specific kids' menu, there are plenty of appetizers and entrees that will please young palates, including chicken tenders and hot dogs.
The Sands Eatery Pool Bar & Grill
The Sands Eatery Pool Bar & Grill is a poolside bar that serves lunch and dinner, including salads, wraps and sandwiches.
Champions Sports Bar
Inside, Champions Sports Bar offers standard American bar food, such as burgers, fish tacos, sandwiches and quesadillas. More substantial entrees, like BBQ ribs and chicken, are also included on the menu.
Ocean Club also has two small cafes: the Ocean Cafe, which serves pastries, sandwiches and salads throughout the day, and a Lobby Cafe that serves coffee, ice cream, sandwiches and salads.
Guests can also dine at the restaurants at the Aruba Marriott, which houses the family-friendly La Vista restaurant. This Italian restaurant is very welcoming to children, who are accommodated in a special "children's corner" with activities during the meal. The Marriott also features Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, which caters to kids, as well as a pool bar, beachside restaurant, lobby sushi bar and cafe.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Complimentary Wi-Fi access can be found in the guestrooms.
Ocean Club does not have its own fitness center, but guests are welcome to use the impressive fitness center at the Marriott, which has a full complement of exercise machines, personal trainers and Zumba and yoga classes.
The resort does not provide babysitters or referrals.
Excursions and Water Sports
In the lobby of the resort is a desk for De Palm Tours, which can arrange sightseeing trips of the island, snorkeling, sailing, or underwater submarine expeditions. Red Sail Sports, also located in the lobby, rents out small sailboats, windsurfing boards and other watercraft on the beach, as well as guided parasailing and wild rides towing rafts behind speedboats on the ocean.
The resort features a range of shops as well, including a convenience store where guests can buy snacks and beverages.
The Art of Smart Timing
Aruba sees a steady influx of tourists throughout the year, owing to its regularly balmy temperatures and popularity amongst Americans, Europeans and Latin Americans, all of whom have different tourist schedules. The low season, from April to November, sees a slight dip in occupancy, along with slightly lower rates, though many hotels are still at or near capacity at this time. The high season runs from mid-December to March, during which time hotels charge their highest rates and see their biggest crowds.
Flights to Aruba land at Aeropuerto Internacional Reina Beatrix, located about halfway down the west side of the island, just south of the capital city of Oranjestad.
Ocean Club does not provide transportation from the airport, but taxis are available to make the trip for a flat, one-way fee. Travel time is about a half-hour, sometimes slightly more if there is a cruise ship in town.
For Mom and Dad
Ocean Club is home to Mandara Spa, arguably the premiere spa in Aruba. The Balinese teakwood decor sets a beautiful and peaceful atmosphere for treatments that tackle the whole body, from teeth whitening and microdermabrasion to age-defying facials, body wraps and more traditional individual and couples massages. Guests are given the option of scheduling their appointments for a special beachside cabana that feels both private and open to the surrounding beach environment.
For more raucous fun, hit the hotel's Stellaris Casino, the largest on the island, with slots, poker, blackjack and roulette.