Staying with my husband and 3 kids at Marriott Surf Club Aruba -- nice 2 Bedroom unit with full kitchen, 2 Baths, washer dryer. Furnishings great, resort is clean, really nice lazy river and waterslide and the service is quite good.
However we would never return because of the situation with chairs on the beach and at the pool. Upon arrival, each guest receives a chair tag which you can use starting at 7 am to reserve a chair at the beach or the pool. Also, palapas (little thatched huts with tables) are available for rent or for free at the beach. However, the beachfront is quite narrow, and the "first row" of the beach is controlled by local umbrella guys who set up umbrellas overnight and in order to sit near the water you MUST rent an umbrella at $40/day. If you want a palapa with an ocean view (which most people with kids require) you might have to stand in line for 2 HOURS EVERY DAY to secure it. Otherwise, you are sitting 50-100 yards away from the ocean and you can't even see the water.
And the pool situation isn't any better. Unless you want to spend your vacation getting down to the pool well before 7 am, you won't be able to find a chair.
Granted, we are here the week before Easter and that's probably one of the busiest times. And the Marriott doesn't have control over the umbrella vendors as Arubian law states that all beaches are public and the umbrella vendors are allowed to operate like this. But if sitting near the water is important to you, either at the pool or at the beach, this is not the resort to come to during a busy week. Aruba.
My husband is a Gold Marriott Rewards member and we try and frequent Marriotts when we travel. This one was a mistake.
Thanks for sharing your experience with us, mrshoho. I've had a similar experience when traveling to popular beach destinations abroad, and it is definitively frustrating. And I'm from Oregon - so I'm very used to having the beaches alllll to myself without paying a dime.
I understand that Marriott can't solve some of the public beach issues, but our team may be able to help in other ways. If you'd like me to pass specific feedback on to the property, I'd be happy to do so! Feel free to DM me with details.
Thanks for sharing with the Insiders family!
I travel to Aruba every year and own a week at the Ocean Club next door. I am sure that the Surf Club is the same with regard to their policy on reserving the palapas. You can pay and reserve a palapa for three days in advance. I think the charge is $15 or less depending on the location of the palapa and I find it well worth it. I never have to worry about getting up early and my palapa is always available anytime I want it. My advice is to pay the $15 and reserve three days in advance. I do realize the Surf Club is much busier then the Ocean Club which is one of the reasons I purchased a week (from a reseller and not directly from Marriott) there instead of Surf Club.
Don't let this wreck your vacation. Aruba is my favorite place in the world. Go down to the palapa hut and reserve one for the next three days. The small charge is well worth it.
Also, take a day or two and drive or cab the short distance to Eagle Beach. You will find vendors there where you can reserve a chair or palapa for about $15 and Eagle Beach is usually less crowded (no hotels directly on the beach) and it is crystal clear water. One of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen.
I have a Feb. 8-15 reserved there next year which is the week before President's Day. I'm nervous about this beach chair situation. This year we spent this week at the MVCI in St. Kitts and had no problems whatsoever finding pool or beach chairs. Last year, we were at MVCI Ko Olina on Oahu and again had no problem at all with chairs. I'm worried about a week of misery fighting for chairs which does not sound relaxing. My kids love the pool and the beach so I doubt a palapa will solve this if those are only on the beach. Maybe we will go to Marco Island which is a favorite, or St. Thomas instead. Or back to Hawaii or St. Kitts, both of which were wonderful!
What kind of reservation do you have? We own at the SC and only go in Spring or Fall to avoid crowds. One year we went in July. Big mistake. Like being at an east coast beach on 4th of July week. I asked about your reservation because one advantage of Ocean Club is that its smaller and you can use the full service hotel pool and facilities as well as the OC. Drawbacks: No washer and dryer, no lazy river.
We have a week reserved from Feb. 8-15, 2016. I still haven't booked airfare as I'm just not sure I want to go to this resort. I can't get over the idea that we'd have to get up at the crack of dawn to reserve pool/beach chairs. And what is this nonsense of bringing your own tube for the lazy river? Is that a normal thing at this type of resort? Seems odd. I'm just worried that Aruba is overcrowded and over-commercialized. Last year we did St. Kitts Beach Club, and it was just wonderful and not crowded even though it was full to capacity. Flights are a lot cheaper to Aruba, though, so that is one benefit. I guess that goes with the fact that Aruba is overcrowded- haha!
We own at Surf club. We've been back 3 times (daughter loves it). She is an early riser so she is the one to volunteer to sit by the adults only pool to 'tag' the 4 chairs we will be using. She does this every morning...even sitting through a morning rain shower. Security is very strict about 'tagging' chairs. Must be done at exactly 7 am. she then does her walk down the beach and back. Chairs tagged but left vacant for longer than 2 hours gets the tags pulled. When she gets back from her 1.5-2 mile walk in the sand she will stop for a few minutes...then comes up for a quick breakfast with the family and off we go to the pool.
So your group either needs a daily 'volunteer' or a rotating 'volunteer.