I’ve been wanting to visit Aruba for awhile, especially given my awesome time in nearby Curacao where among other things like going to yoga classes and swimming, I fed an Ostrich. While I didn’t have time to explore the island in depth on this far too short of a getaway, I did manage to get some long needed R&R at Aruba’s Marriott property on the beach, the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, which is a short drive from the airport.
Set in a modern beachfront building, golf lovers will love the fact that it lies within ten minutes from Tierra del Sol Golf Course.
While this is not a boutique property for those who crave the small and unique, there are plenty of fabulous features that make this hotel a great pick, especially for a getaway from America’s East Coast. Given that it’s close to the airport, but far enough away to feel remote, you can get in and out quickly, even for a long weekend.
If you think the above view from my balcony is amazing, how about this shot taken with a drone?
Photo credit: Aruba Marriott
All the rooms are very modern, have balconies for that morning cuppa Joe, custom-designed beds, flat-screen TVs, wifi and mini-fridges, which is a must if you’re heading anywhere in the Caribbean. Upgraded rooms add sitting areas and/or ocean views and club-level rooms offer access to a private lounge with free breakfast and evening cocktails. Suites offer 4-poster beds and living areas on the top floor.
If you’re traveling with a family in tow, the other nice feature is the hotel’s connecting rooms (we love these when we travel with kids), six on-site eateries and two bars, including one by the pool, which is also a must if you’re heading to the Caribbean. Did I mention that one of those eateries is a sushi bar right in the lobby? It became my new hangout as soon as I arrived and before I left, the staff knew my favorite rolls and preferences. The sushi team’s service was top notch and I rarely say so.
There’s a spa, health club and gym, which is on two levels and boasts a full range of weight and cardiovascular equipment. We applaud the fact that the club is open 24 hours since some hotels close their gyms in the evenings, something I’ve never understood. There are also two outdoor pools, one of which is adult only – bravo!
Below is the adult only pool for when you want silence and serenity, something I only discovered on the second day, but was overjoyed when I did. Oh yeah, and the pool has its own private bar and their mixologist makes great drinks. (take note)
Given that I’m all about balance, whether that be on the road or at home, and having an alkaline diet 80% of the time, I was thrilled by their on-site juice bar, one of my favorite features of the hotel.
So many juice bars only offer those high sugar fruit only options, however right on the beach, they have a juice stand where you could get green juice shakes only or combine the two. Note that my scrumptious concoction below includes spinach, beets, cucumber, celery, kiwi and a protein boost (and yes, you can create your own).
There are plenty of healthy lunch options as well. Dining at open air tables right in front of the main beach is a great option for brunch or lunch; try their seared tuna salad — it was so delicious and so fresh!
The rooms are simple but elegant and the bathrooms are spacious enough to work for a couple with one or two small children; there was a walk-in closet in my room and plush robes to wear to the beach, pool or late night soak in one of their hot tubs which I did nightly.
If you are traveling with your family, rather than do two adjoining rooms (which tends to work really well for us), you can opt for a suite. Below is the oh so luxe Governor’s Suite.
Inside hotel room and suite credits: Aruba Marriott
From your balcony, there are sweeping views of Palm Beach or the resort’s gardens and I’d recommend ordering breakfast via room service one day just to experience coffee and eggs with a spectacular view.
Below, I’m taking in the sky under a palm tree at sunset on the left and hanging out at the over sized jacuzzi near the adult pool on another evening when Aruba graced me with a beautiful dreamy sky.
Whether you lounge by the beach under one of their thatched umbrellas or take a nap by the pool, you’ll find tons of spots to relax in (or out) of the sun. Be sure to bring one of those novels you’ve been dying to read.
As I am fond of saying: be sure to look up!
Ahhh yes, their pristine beach – oh so lovely!
Need I say that my favorite time of day is sunset when I’m in the Caribbean? It sets the mood for any and all ways to unwind after a busy day, which in my case, always involves water activities.
I thought this sign was cute. Very resort-like — you feel like you’re at one of those Club Med escapes one minute and at a luxe family resort the next. We LOVE that there’s so many things to do, especially for kids.
From ping pong and kayaks you can take out to the nearby pier where you can also grab a boat, there’s plenty to do. Paragliding trips also leave from nearby, whether you want the thrill yourself or your kids are dying to try it out.
The other thing worth noting at the Marriott are their cocktails. Happy Hour starts as early as noon (the first one of the day that is) where you can get two for one of the same drink. And, there are countless places where you can enjoy that drink in a peaceful setting even if you want a break from the beach or pool. How about a comfy chair among those lush Caribbean palm trees?
I always order my go-to Margarita since I’m not much of a sweet drink girl, although in my twenties I was known for drinking White and Black Russians and Apricot Sours, neither of which I can touch these days.
The sunsets are exquisite here and remain among the favorite moments of my stay. It’s hard to beat this, wouldn’t you say?
What’s even more magical is that the above moment was taken minutes before a quick change of clothes and getting seated right on the beach for dinner at their flagship restaurant Atardi, the most romantic place to dine on the property.
Simply put, you sit outside with your shoes off, toes tucked into the sand. Can you say bliss, especially with sunsets and ocean views like this? Yup, you’re literally that close to the ocean’s edge.
Dreamy views are sure to put you in a romantic mood and there’s live music behind the tables which alternate between easy listening and jazz to traditional tunes from the 1970’s.
Here’s a few foodie shots from my dinner at Atardi just to entice you into reading my full review on the restaurant. Wow, right? And, remember that while you’re mouth is watering, that you’re dining (and sipping fabulous wine) to the above view with your feet in the sand. What’s not to love?
Their on-site spa, which is the largest spa on the island, has awesome Balinese-style design accents and a tranquil, serene atmosphere. Since I didn’t try the spa, I can’t speak to their services or treatments but a quick note to our wellness readers since we have so many: they have one so you can pamper yourself during your stay.
Getting There: Go Jet Blue
Truth be told, I rarely fly Jet Blue, largely because I have so many miles and status on Delta and Virgin, that they tend to be my go-to airlines, especially for the SFO to JFK leg that I tend to do a few times a year.
Little did I know that Jet Blue has seamless direct flights from SFO to Fort Lauderdale, making it both easy and affordable to get to Aruba from the west coast.
Fort Lauderdale is also where a lot of the cruise ships leave from, so that west coast direct flight from San Francisco was a godsend. Plus, GET THIS — they offer free wifi on their flights and entertainment, which I didn’t realize. How did I miss that memo?
The service was out of this world — seriously, no snarly looks when I asked for tea for the fifth time like I get on so many other airlines. The staff were always smiling and went out of their way to make you feel like you mattered, you know, the way all airlines used to treat their guests before the nickel and diming kicked in.
For East Coast readers, Jet Blue offers two direct flights a DAY from NYC and Boston to Aruba and the rates are reasonable. For example, I checked rates for flights leaving 3 days after writing this piece from both Logan and JFK and they were $500 or less last minute.
In other words, consider Jet Blue as your airline next time you fly to Florida or the Caribbean from either coast. They weren’t on my radar before and now that I know how comfy and friendly they are AND offer free wifi, I’m sold. Woot!