We just completed a 5 night stay at the Aruba Marriott and had and absolutely terrific time. Everything was perfect! Following is a review of the property and several of the key features.
Room Type: We had an ocean view room on the top floor of the hotel. Our room had recently been renovated with a new bathroom including a two sink 8 foot long vanity, walk in shower with sliding glass door, new furnishings and decor which included Marriott's "infinity" style king bed, room safe, coffee machine and fridge. The balcony was a nice size looking out to the pool and ocean. We used points for the room and upgraded to the Tradewinds Club with cash.
Hotel Lobby: The entire lobby and all the retail spaces off the lobby have been completely renovated in the past year. The lobby is very large, bright and airy. The lobby features a vaulted ceiling that goes up four stories. There is a large open Starbucks as well as a very nice lobby bar and lounge area. This lobby bar also features sushi where you can get a good variety of sushi, sashimi, and various rolls. There are two high end gift shops and jewelry stories off the lobby, a convenience store, the casino, a gelato shop, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse and the Tradewinds Club.
Tradewinds Club: This is an optional club lounge that you can pay for. We did and we were very happy with it. The Tradewinds Club was recently moved to the first floor in a brand new and larger space. It is very convenient to come in and out several times a day from the pool or beach. This club features three meals per day with snacks, desserts, soft drinks, beer and wine all day long. There is a free full bar service late in the afternoon. We ate breakfast and lunch in the club every day, had appetizers late in the afternoon and also had dinner there once. The for is plentiful and quite nice. Breakfast featured scrambled eggs, which I usually pass on, and various daily featured items which change each day such as omelets, eggs benedict, pancakes, and off course bacon and sausage. There is a wonderful fresh fruit bar that also features meat and cheese as well as smoked salmon. They also had the usual breads, muffins, pastries, yogurt and so forth. There is an espresso machine for fresh coffee. Soft drinks, beer and wine is available all day. In fact, we had a small soft sided cooler with us that we kept stocked with ice, water and beer all day for the beach. If you opt for the Tradewinds Club, prior to your arrival the hotel sends you special luggage tags to place on your luggage. Upon arrival at the hotel you are immediately recognized as a Tradewinds Club member and are escorted into the club where you have your own private check in and concierge service. The folks that work in there are very nice and extremely helpful and welcoming.
Casino: The casino is located right off the lobby. The only thing I didn't like about it is that they still allow smoking in there. It is a full casino with plenty of slots and table games including blackjack and craps. They want to make sure you have very opportunity to leave some money behind!
Beach & Pools: There is a terrific white sandy beach right outside your backdoor. There is no need to catch a shuttle boat to a private island beach, it is all right there. There are palapos (thatched umbrellas) that can be reserved for the entire day if you so wish. There is waiter service on the beach. If you are into water sports, every imaginable "water toy" is available. The rental place is right on Marriott's beach. You can jet ski, tube, wind surf, parasail, etc, etc, etc, or if you're just there to relax, simply veg out on the beach and watch it all happen (with a cocktail in your hand of course). Do you like taking long walks along white sandy beaches, well you're in luck. There are several miles of beach that you can walk. The other nice thing about this resort location is that you have nice warm blue calm water to relax in. Also, you are surrounded by other Marriott properties- the Ritz Carlton on one side and two MVC's (Ocean and Surf) on the other. As for the pools, there are two to choose from. The adult only pool if you need quiet time and the main pool which is where the action is. For me, the "action" was at the swim up bar! The best part is that this bar features two happy hours each day from noon - 1 pm, and then again from 4 - 6 pm. Happy hour features two for one drinks. My theory is if you like one pina colada then why not double up on your pleasure!
Dining: As I previously mentioned one evening we dined in the Tradewinds Club which was very nice and relaxing. We also ate at the Ruth's Chris Steakhouse and the food was terrific. If you like this restaurant in the States, then you will like it here with its similar menu. This restaurant was also renovated in the past year and they did an awesome job. The lighting and decor is very attractive. If you like eating at a bar you are in luck. They have a bar with full dinner service. The bar seats about 10 people. One night we ventured next door to the Ritz for the evening. We had a drink in the lounge and then ate at BLT Steak. This restaurant is a bit more expensive than Ruth's Chris and I felt the food wasn't quite as good. I also found the overall design and decor to not be as pleasant as Ruth's. They do however have a very nice bar that seats about 10. Earlier in the day we did try the poolside bar at the Ritz and found that to be quite nice. They have a number of great hand crafted cocktails. If you are interested in venturing off site for dinner I have two "Lazy Man" recommendations. I say lazy man because when I go on vacation I like to put mu mind in neutral and not have to thing too hard about anything, including what I'm going to eat for dinner. So what better restaurant than one that is strictly prix fixe! That restaurant is The Kitchen Table by White. It is an open kitchen 7 course prix fixe with 5 optional wine pairings if you so choose. You sit at a three-side bar area that seats 18 people and that's it. The dishes are prepared in front of you and explained in extraordinary detail. The chef by the way is an Aruba Iron Chef. The food, wine, and atmosphere were terrific. I should also mention that they have you arrive in time for sunset and champagne that is enjoyed on their outdoor terrace. Reservations are absolutely required due to the limited seating. As I said, no thinking involved! Another evening we dined at a related restaurant run by the same head chef, White Modern Cuisine. At this restaurant you can order from a menu, but as we did once again opted for the prix fixe. Here it is a 5 course prix fixe with 5 wine pairings. Great food, terrific wine and no thinking involved!
Conclusion: This Marriott Resort exceeded my expectations in all regards. If you are considering an island getaway I would suggest that you give the Aruba Marriott a try. This resort works well for both couples and families traveling with children.