(New) Courtyard Aruba - Lots of Potential, Growing Pains... (and, now, more pics!)

Document created by ssindc on Feb 11, 2020Last modified by ssindc on Feb 18, 2020
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Just back from a short stay at the (new) Courtyard Aruba (for a short work trip, involving a week on the road, far too little sleep, and seven (7) airports), with many, many thoughts ... mostly positive.  I'm hoping that (with time) this will become a popular property - it has LOTS of potential, but they're still working through some of the growing pains.

 

And, yeah, I've included some pics, but they're all from my mobile phone - no camera or big lenses on this trip (which, in retrospect, I regretted, but you can only carry so much)... 

 

[I just noticed that I created this post as a "document" rather than a "discussion" - not sure that it matters... Oh well...]

 

Good stuff:

  • Very good prices, particularly given the location; 
    • Decent access to an excellent beach - free shuttle, but we found the (less than) 10 minute walk was easier (at least for us)...
    • We were (extremely) far away from the popular and pricey Renaissance, which is over near where the big cruise boats come in - for better or worse, while we drove through that area a few times, we spent no time there....
    • Short, easy walk (with inconsistent sidewalk) to the collection of large, diverse tourist-oriented restaurants and bars.
    • Insiders secret - the island is beautiful;
      sunset
  • Very large, comfortable room ... with a terrific (massive) shower and excellent (pump bottle) toiletries;
    • double bonus points - for a pool-and-beach property:
      • drying (hanging) string in shower - super long - sturdy - great for drying bathing suit, rash guard, other wet items - avoids (personal) pet peeve of no place to hang wet stuff (particularly if you'd like to use it again the next day)...
      • towel card (to swap for a full-sized beach towel) at check-in;
  • Superb pool, nice swim-up bar, terrific bar tender (OK, I worked for hours on the other end of the bar, in the shade - and, I've got to admit that a really delicious (alas, non-alcoholic) smoothie made weekend work far more pleasurable);
  • Fun local guests included the property cat (who was highly social) and the property iguana (who was extremely visible, but not terribly social);
  • iguana
  • VERY good (albeit a tad pricey) BISTRO - much better than standard Courtyard - full service for dinner, nice buffet for breakfast - we had an EXCELLENT dinner there our last night...
  • Lots of really nice staff on the property....


Growing pains, etc:

  • Sadly, the property is getting blasted on TripAdvisor - 50 percent of the reviews (as of today) are POOR or TERRIBLE , primarily due to the front desk (see below) and the noise from the disco (again, see below)...
  • The front desk is a work in progress - some serious training is needed there....
    • We waited for more than two hours for our rooms  - we weren't alone - tempers were running high in the check-in area....
    • Once we were assigned our rooms, we were all given incorrect directions to our rooms, which only mattered because there are no real hallways, just three-room room pods (around the central pool area), so we each wandered around the property (with our luggage) until we finally found our rooms;
    • We called down (in advance) for a taxi - yeah, it was a business trip - and folks were waiting for us - and the desk (basically) admitted they dropped the ball and never called for the taxi ... ARGH....
    • No acknowledgement of status (not a really big deal) or breakfast benefits at check-in ... extended (highly irritating) discussions/negotiations (or cross-examinations) to obtain included breakfast rights/benefits...  
    • No e-receipt after check-out - Marriott says they can request one, but it'll take 3-5 days (which is better than nothing)...
    • And, nope, no points/credit received for the stay .... yet.... (although I've already received points for a stay that began AFTER this one)....
  • Online check-in doesn't work.  (OK, I did online check-in on the app, but when I arrived, the guy at the front desk said: "Oh yeah, we don't use that.")
    • This was particularly disappointing because we arrived on one of my colleagues' birthdays - using the online check-in, I'd requested that a bottle of wine/prosecco be waiting for her in her room (and billed to my room) .... Of course, that didn't happen.  Not the end of the world, but ... disappointing...
  • Little stuff that could make you crazy (if the sun and the pool didn't wash your cares away)....
    • in-room single-serve coffee maker, but the coffee packets were the wrong size (square peg in round hole ... also, packets were for larger, four-cup machines)...
    • strange piece of furniture in a strange place - the thing (not a side table, not a small dresser), but which I'm assuming was a permanent (non-foldable) luggage rack? - was strategically placed centrally so that it's sharp edges could best injure your legs on the way to and from  the bathroom/toilet area, particularly at night...
      • Conversely, there was a fascinatingly huge open space ... next to the toilet ... in the standalone "toilet room" ... where you could have put a desk or a couch or a treadmill ....
    • No on-property ATM...
    • Nice gift shop (with good stock, reasonable prices, and nice staff), but you can't charge stuff (including snacks and drinks) to your room... and the charge card reader didn't work consistently - so, without cash (and who carries cash?), you couldn't shop (at times).... and,
    • Here's the big one (let's call it the elephant in the room): ... WARNING: When you check in, be SPECIFIC and request an interior-facing (or rear-facing) room - the rooms on the side of the disco (under the windmill) are a disaster - the disco operates from MIDNIGHT TO 6:00 AM - it opens when the other bars on the island shut down - it's VERY popular with locals, but it's an unmitigated nightmare if you're on that side of the building...

 

Not hotel related, but good to know:  We booked two trips - a morning hike and a late afternoon snorkeling session with the nice (and eco-friendly) folks at Fins and Feet - Fins & Feet Nature Tours – Aruban hiking & snorkeling tours – Unique. Private. Eco-friendly. both trips were great, and we loved our guides - I can't recommend them enough!!!  Over the weekend,  we enjoyed a splendid early morning hike - cactus everywhere ... far more dense, and significantly thinner than I'm used to seeing in, say, Arizona or New Mexico...

cactus

up to the highest point in Aruba, Jamanota, and enjoyed the views

Aruba high point

although, obviously, we were looking into sun as it rose over the small wind farm.

wind farm

In retrospect, I wish I had brought my camera and a long lens, because the early morning bird action was extraordinary! Our excellent guide brought fresh fruit, and as a special (fun and eco-friendly) bonus, we later fed our watermelon rinds and apple cores to the appreciative residents of the nearby (and hugely entertaining) donkey sanctuary!!! (There were 120 donkeys there, but this particular one had some serious personality!!!)

donkey

Ah, and I finally received some snorkeling photos, which (given they were GoPro photos, and I didn't have an underwater camera) - in the most positive light possible - I'll call much better than nothing!!!....  This one gives a pretty good example of the clarity of the water.

snorkel 1

Not sure what this one shows, other than my fully developed bald spot:

snorkel 2

And, my favorite thing about this one, is that I'm (obviously) very excited about the fish that I can see, but ... alas ... the photographer with the (waterproof, but, admittedly small) GoPro can't really identify:

snorkel 3

All of which means that, now, I need to go spend MORE money on camera equipment!!!

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