I am in the process of planning a trip to Aruba using MR points. I'm torn between two properties The Ritz Carlton Aruba and Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino. Has anyone visited these properties? If so, please offer up any assistance/recommendation that you can.
This is an excellent topic to pose to the Insiders community, Hardworker60!
Undoubtedly, as other members of the Insiders family see this thread, they'll chime in with thoughts, insights, and recommendations. In the meantime, Here is a thread from one of our most beloved and respected Insiders, erc, regarding one of the properties you're considering:
Hope this helps!
First and foremost-you will absolutely love Aruba; laid back, great food; put work on the back-burner as they say
We own Marriott Aruba Surf Club timeshare which is one of 4 Marriott properties in a row. The Ritz is the newest property.People have said that the beach area is so-so; The Aruba Marriott Resort and Stellaris Casino is the more popular of the two due to the cost; The Resort is always busy with various restaurant choices; My only negative thought toward the hotel is the Casino which was renovated several yrs ago but the smoke finds its way into parts of the lobby; The RC while lovely seemed a bit sterile; limited restaurant choices; I think you would be best served at the Resort rather the RC-less points
I would check TripAdvisor to get some other opinions. Also compare the amenities that each offer; Also which Marriott brand to you use on a regular basis-this would help you choose the right property
In terms of food greats restaurants on the island including Barefoot, Quinta Del Carmen (same owners) Screaming Eagle and Flying Fishbone (same owners) Arubaville less expensive food fare; many restaurants are within walking distance of the resorts
A final note-you can't go wrong no matter where you stay ENJOY!!!!
Considering renting a car to get to some of the restaurants, go into town, take a ride for the day; cabs are $9.00 min. so for example to go to Quinta Del Carmen which is a 7 min ride from the hotel would cost $18 plus tip
Cab fare to the hotel from the airport is approx. $30.00 plus tip; going anywhere else
I go to Aruba every year and it is my absolute favorite place. I own a week at the Ocean Club next door to the Stellaris and then usually extend my trip and stay at the Stellaris. I November, I walked through the Ritz hotel. I can't say that I was that impressed with the beach area but the pool is very nice.
If your using points, my opinion is I do not think it would be worth using the many additional points it would take for a stay at the Ritz. A better choice if you want a more exclusive experience would be to use points for the Treadwinds floor in the Stellaris. This may require points plus some cash upgrade. Personally the Treadwinds is not worth the cash upgrade for me but many of my coworkers think it is an outstanding value. You will get breakfast, lunch and light dinner and you can take beer out of the lounge and I believe at dinner time they have mixed drinks, beer, wine etc..
I guess it depends on how many points you have and are willing to give up. If you have plenty of points and want to use them then maybe the Ritz would be a good choice. It is a brand new hotel and the pool area looked very luxurious. The beach area would be okay. More secluded and only knee deep for most of it. Less crowded then the Stellaris but no Palapas at the Ritz (they will set up a umbrella).
I value my points and for me, the Stellaris would be a better use of my points since the Ritz will be 60,000 points a night.
Either way, you will love Aruba !!!!
We stayed at our MVC-Aruba Surf Club this past Sept. I'm told by our daughter and son-in-law (who tagged along for the trip...lol) that the beach area by Ritz is "private" and very well maintained. They did a lot of walking around to check out both the Marriott hotel and the Ritz.
The Marriott Ocean Club is terrific & I go back there every couple years! Be warned though of the Marriott Surf Club next door....too crowded, lots of children & too much noise for me (so maybe ok for a young family). The rooms are nice but I felt like the service & quality at the bar & restaurant was lacking! Ritz is great as well but I wouldn't necessarily say it would be worth the extra points vs the Ocean Club. You will love Aruba my friend!
P.S. At the Ocean Club you can go anywhere beach, pool, etc) within the Stallaris. However not true if at the Surf Club.
We stayed at the Marriott in 2003 - our first trip to the island country.
We are now owners at Surf Club-family LOVES the villa versus hotel stay.
Marriott hotel was very nice...definitely "Marriott" presentation.
Ritz-Carlton was initially having 'staff issues' a/k/a training up to "Ritz" standards of service.
Heard things were getting better now.
I agree - for the points expenditure - I'd stay at the Marriott hotel.
The Marriott Aruba Resort and Stellaris Casino is a beautiful property. I stayed here for a week in 2012 and loved it. The hotel is toward the end of the island so its a little quieter and secluded than others. The Marriott property that joins the Stellaris usually has lots of families and is quite busy and can be loud at times during the afternoon. You can easily walk to anywhere you would like to go from the hotel. Great beach, food and staff. You will love this choice!
I would highly recommend the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino and its Tradewinds Club. If you combine points and cash, it becomes quite the affordable vacation, with lots of perks in the Club that we find well worth the cost. Palm Beach also is a lovely area and Tradewinds (adults only) has its own separate beach area. The food and drink in the Concierge lounge is quite substantial although we cannot resist going to some of our favourite restaurants for dinner while there. We will be there in November this year. Can't wait.
We will be there in November too addieoc !!!!!! Like you can't wait ! What dates in November?
We have stayed at the Marriott Stellaris Resort at Palm Beach for years - always in Tradewinds Club. It is our home away from home and always one of the most relaxing vacations we can find. We always look forward to seeing the Club staff and it is nice to be remembered each time we visit.
We are avid cruisers, but have found that a week long land experience is a necessity every year. Tradewinds gives you an exclusive, adult only experience. It addresses all of our R&R needs, including having the option of eating in some of the finest restaurants in the Caribbean. We have priced out Tradewinds versus our suite level cruising costs, airfare, etc. and it works out to be about the same. Of course, when we use points it helps a lot. Another plus is that we can get a non-stop flight from Dulles to Aruba, but only on Saturdays. Unlike flights to other islands, you can be on the beach on the afternoon of your first day, and have a morning to lounge around on your last.
Tcooper14, I think United is the only carrier with a direct flight to AUA from IAD, and I think those flights are limited and/or seasonal. aruba.com has some good info and a chart showing flights and schedules.
Sorry, just now reading some of the questions here. I previously responded that I walked through the Ritz and was not that impressed with the beach area. I go to Aruba every year and will be there in a few weeks (Can't wait !!!).
The Ritz beach area, in my opinion, is to shallow and is closer to where boats and other recreational craft launch from. In addition, there are no Palapas at the Ritz although they do have free umbrellas. The beach area seemed to have more grass, seaweed etc .. It was a quiet beach so if your looking to just to relax on the sand and enjoy the view with no noise (other than the boats) this may be the place for you. I just enjoy the beach in front of the Stellaris and the Ocean Club. Even better, you have to spend a day at Eagle beach. There are venders there that will rent chairs and /or Palapas and Eagle beach is so much clear then any of the beaches in front of the Marriott's.
As I said, for me the extra points it would take to stay at the Ritz vs Stellaris would not be worth it for me but it may be worth it for you if you are looking for a more, upscale and quitter vacation. When I walked through the Ritz there was no music at the pool. It was just to quiet and boring for me but that may be what your looking for.
There are two Fb pages for the Aruba Surf Club; I keep trying to paste the official page but without success; the post changes the info
if you type in the search box on FB Marriott's Aruba Surf Club you should find the official page
The unofficial page (I am one of the admins of this page) is https://www.facebook.com/groups/37866230142/
We just returned from our 5th stay in Aruba. United has non-stops from IAD/AUA only on Saturdays. The beauty of that is that you arrive at the Marriott Stellaris by 3 PM - just in time for check-in. Also, taxis are readily available a the airport and the fare is only $25.
Tradewinds at the Stellaris is our favourite destination. The entire staff is like family to us. We always look forward to returning. The concierge level is generously supplied with food and drink throughout the day and usually hosts an enjoyable cast of characters who frequent the lounge. This time we had one evening with a very rowdy group and the inexperienced concierge did not know how to handle the situation. After expressing our concerns to management, we feel comfortable that his training in this area will be enhanced.
I took a walk over to the RC. The beach sand is like powder and the pool area rather quiet. The casino was especially nice with great ventilation and not very much action during the day. I was rewarded with a generous jackpot at the slots. Two couples who we talked to and who had stayed at both RC and Marriott Stellaris said that they preferred Stellaris. I wouldn't mind trying RC, but it is rather pricey.
Aruba has the most amazing restaurants and the Palm Beach area is close to everything. I'd go back in a heartbeat.
We own at the Surf Club and I do not believe that lifetime status would help; the pools at both have security; you need chair tags and towels specific to each property plus wrist bands; you can go onto either property; you may be able to get away with going into the water but be warned that owners may identify you as outsiders and security will ask you to leave; SC is always crowded especially from now thru the end of March (Easter)
ggltp, coupons is 100% correct. We just returned from a week at Aruba Surf Club (ASC). ASC has blue and white striped chairs and towels, and the palapas have blue numbers. Ocean Club has green versions of the above. Stellaris has completely different towels - white with thin navy blue stripes. ASC will kick you out of its chairs, palapas, pools and the lazy river unless you have an ASC wristband, and the same could be said of AOC and Stellaris. However, you can still charge drinks, food, etc., to your room at either ASC, AOC or Stellaris - no problem there. ASC was very full and crowded last week when we were there, but we really didn't have problems finding chairs or space on the beach, although it was very bustling and energetic, so not quiet and peaceful. If you want quiet and peaceful, the RC is the way to go. If you want action-packed, families, tons of beach activities, boats buzzing around, lots of swimmers/floaters in the swimming areas, and people all around you, ASC or AOC or even Stellaris fit that description. All of the Aruba Marriott properties are packed with tourists from Northeastern US (NY, NJ, CT, PA, etc.) and they are not shy. It would not be unheard of for people at ASC and AOC to swap towels/wristbands for the day - kind of like that wife swap show only it's resort swapping for a day except that everyone goes back to his respective villa. So you might be able to strike up a deal to use ASC for a day or two if you make friends with some AOC owners who are looking for a change of scenery.
Simply answer...no. You "get what you pay for". Book at ASC-swim at ASC. Book at RC-swim at RC. MVCI owner and Lifetime Platinum Plus, Plus, Plus. It's all the same. But I guess it makes sense. Why would you want someone who paid $$ to use the pool where you paid $$$$. Sorry! the facts of life.
pointjunkie, I think the reason why people are confused about this is that the Aruba Marriott and MVCIs are all side by side on the beach, and they used to have shared privileges but no longer do. Many MVCIs are next to or on shared property with a Marriott hotel, and it's pretty common for them to have shared privileges so you can use any of the pools, etc., regardless of whether you're at the MVCI or the Marriott. World Center and St. Kitts operate this way. But Crystal Shores and Marriott Marco do not operate this way. It depends on the location. The 2 RCs in Naples, FL also have shared privileges even though the golf one is $$$ and the beach one is $$$$.
I cashed in points for 9 nights at the Marriott Stellaris in early February. I toyed with the RC as points value was not a lot more but figured that the incidentals would be heftier. I did hear from someone that beers were about 50% more.
Very nice and well maintained property. It seems that, due to the way that the hotel is constructed, all of the rooms have ocean views. My room had 2 queen beds (not doubles) and fit 2 adults and 2 children well. The bathroom was very large and had a walk in closet. Would just like it if the sinks and shower area were separated to make getting ready more efficient.
The main pool is very nice and large. They have a swim up bar. You do need to go put towels on chairs between 7 and 8am or you will not have a place to sit.
The adult pool on the other side is like an oasis and was a great place to relax although some of the poolside masonry needs some repair.
The beach is nice and the water is beautiful. It only gets up to about 5 feet deep out at the ropes. The palapas are a pain to reserve and we skipped them. There are more than enough beach chairs and the staff will set you right up.
I did walk next door to the RC one night. The pools look neat, they are narrow and sort of snake through the pool area. Their beach is smaller. The property seemed nice and their casino actually had better (and cheaper) machines than the Stellaris.
There is a Ruths Chris in the Marriott. We ate there one night for a special meal and it was typical excellent Ruth's Chris. The price for dinner wasn't too much more than you would find elsewhere on the island.
There is one place that serves a breakfast buffet but $25 a head for breakfast doesn't do it for me! There is also a beachside restaurant that puts tables on the beach at night. Looks nice for couples for a romantic dinner.
I used Trip Advisor and other people's recommendations for restaurants with decent success. El Gauchos steakhouse in town was decent but I felt was overrated. Giannis and the adjacent casual pizza restaurant Amore Mio were outstanding!
One other commenter mentioned the large number of people from the Northeast. They were right on. Everyone was from Boston or NY/NJ it seemed. I am from the Boston area myself and felt like I could have been on Cape Cod by the crowd (not the weather) and bumped into two (2) people I knew. While there was nothing wrong with the crowd, it just missed the exotic feel of getting away.
Would I return? Yes I would. Will I return? Maybe. I would like to try other islands, perhaps Curacao in the future for a more "away from it all" atmosphere.