Recently, my husband and I enjoyed a kids free trip to Aruba with a bunch of our friends. A close friend decided to go the destination wedding route and we were thrilled when they landed on Aruba, and more specifically the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris. While we’ve been to Aruba many times in the past, we have never stayed at the Marriott — most recently we stayed stayed at the Hilton twice (both when it was a Hilton property and the former Radisson). I’ve heard great things about the Marriott resort and it definitely lived up to our expectations.
This property requires 50,000 points a night for a free night, which is definitely a lot of points, but during peak times, this property can easy go for well over $500 a night. And if you are looking to stay 5 nights or more, remember you receive your 5th night free on a points redemption which definitely brings your points per night down a ton.
We personally opted to pay for our stay since we were able to get a rate of $199/night (wedding rate), but the taxes and fees definitely added up. If you are looking for a deal, I recommend visiting in the Fall to find a reasonable rate per night.
Even though we were there during an off-peak time in October, the resort was 100% full. Due to the high occupancy rate, we were not upgraded to a suite (we are Marriott Platinum members), but they did manage put us in an partial ocean view room. Initially I was a little disappointed since in my experience “partial” ocean view rooms mean if you stand on your balcony and pretty much wrap yourself around you can see a slice of the ocean. However, I was quite wrong! At the Aruba Marriott Stellaris, we had a fabulous view of the ocean, despite the “partial” name in the room description. From my understanding, there are no parking lot views so all rooms have some sort of picturesque view.
The rooms were quite large and welcoming. In addition to the King size bed in the room we had a pull out couch. Although this was a parents only trip, this would have been great if we brought our kids along! The rooms could easily fit a family of four without an issue.
The resort includes two entirely separate pool areas — an adults only pool and a family pool. We stuck to the family pool area, despite having no kids with us, as it had more of a lively and fun vibe. There was a swim up bar where you could order drinks and food and never really have to get out of the pool! You could even bring in your own floats, which is nice (and super fun for kids!). There were plenty of lounge chairs available and it never felt too crowded, even though the resort was at full occupancy. There were also plenty of servers coming around asking for your food and drink order and offering to help with your towels. I definitely felt taken care of while relaxing at the pool!
While there was a volleyball net set up in the pool and a cascading waterfall, which is great for kids and adults alike, I didn’t find the pool to be great for younger kids. With my toddler, I prefer a zero-entry pool or at least some sort of kiddie pool. The shallowest part of the pool was 3ft, which is by no means deep, but it definitely doesn’t allow a toddler to play in the pool so easily. Just one thing to keep in mind!
The beaches in Aruba are top notch. The Marriott is located on Palm Beach in the “high rise” area where you have a bunch of hotels in a row along the same exact beach. The water is warm and crystal clear. The actual beach is also pretty wide allowing enough room for plenty of fun in the sand. Marriott also has their own Palapas set up, which you can rent in advance for around $25-$30 a day. Or, if you’d prefer a free Palapa, you can stand in line the day prior at 4pm or the day of at 7am. The Palapas are given out on a first-come first-serve basis and even standing in line might not score you the beach umbrella. Folks definitely line up an hour or so in advance, so it is up to you whether or not that is worth it. When I was there I didn’t see any crazy lines and getting a Palapa seemed quite easy, but during school vacation weeks you will probably encounter something total different! If you reserved a Tradewinds Club room, you’ll receive a complimentary palapa — which can be a big perk.
Although Marriott now gives Platinum members access to lounges even at resorts, this property does not have your standard lounge. Instead they have a Tradewinds Club which requires special purchase. You can either book a Tradewinds Club room which will get you automatic access or upon your arrival ask about the daily charge. Friends of mine opted to pay around $100 a day to upgrade their room to the Tradewinds Club when we arrived and they felt it was well worth it. I personally did not access the club so I am not sure of the extra benefits and whether or not it was worth it. Being a Platinum member, I still received complimentary breakfast at their restaurant, so the Tradewinds Club wouldn’t have been as worth it to me.
Platinum members receive complimentary continental access for two guests at La Vista Restaurant. If you’d like to upgrade to their hot breakfast, it was an extra $12 per person. We ended up sticking to the continental breakfast every morning as there was still a huge spread, so our only cost was the tip we left for the waiters. One warning though, you need to make sure to select the breakfast as your check-in amenity with the front desk. There was definitely a huge disconnect between the restaurant and what was supposed to show in the system and many mornings we ended up being charged for breakfast. This happened for many of my friends that had Platinum status so it seems like it is a universal error in the system. The front desk, however, quickly took these charges off our bill at the end of our stay, but it was imperative that we double checked our final bill or else we would have been charged.
There were plenty of other restaurants available such as the beach bar, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Starbucks, and the Gelato Bar (which was great for a late night snack!). Although, Aruba has some amazing restaurants so this is definitely one of those island destinations where going off resort is recommended for eating out, at least in my opinion. There are many restaurants walking distance or if you prefer you can take a 20 minute taxi into town. I personally prefer the beach side restaurants for that island feel!
Other Amenities and Activities
Despite being there without our kids, I did check out to see how many friendly it was. There is no kids club, although I did find a pirate ship playground. There is also a game room with arcade games and a teen center with video games.
From what I’ve seen in Aruba, most hotels actually do not offer too many kids activities, but that is fine since Aruba in general has so much to offer! There are a ton of beach activities, such as parasailing, banana boats, catamaran rentals, etc. — you will find many private vendor huts right on the beach to reserve these activities. And then you can also book a ton of various tours with De Palm Tours in the Marriott lobby — we went on an awesome UTV tour which I highly recommend, but more about that in another post!
The hotel also offers a spa with both indoor and outdoor massages and a fitness center. A few of my friends had a massage on the beach and really enjoyed it, but for some reason I am not a massage person. Another popular attraction at the Marriott amongst many of my friends was the Casino — if that is your thing since not all the hotel have a Casino onsite. Fortunately though, you can avoid the casino at all costs, if you prefer, as it is tucked away in the back of the hotel lobby in an entirely separate room. Unlike Vegas hotels, you can vacation at the Marriott and not even know the Casino is there!
Things to Know
One of my favorite aspects of Aruba is the weather. The temperature is pretty consistent only ranging a few degrees in either direction, so you’ll never be too hot or too cold. The breeze is also in your favor to keeping the temperatures moderate, although sometimes the beach can be a little too windy. Aruba is also outside of the hurricane belt so is a popular place to visit in the Fall. Due to the location and weather, Aruba is a great destination throughout the entire year.
The Marriott is about 20 minutes from the airport and no prior transportation arrangements are needed. Upon leaving the Aruba International airport terminal, you’ll see a taxi line which can take you to the Marriott. The taxis are regulated and charge around $30 to get to the High Rise hotels. On Sundays and other peak time holidays there is a slight surcharge, but overall, it is generally a very inexpensive way to get to the hotel — there is also a maximum of 5 passengers allowed in taxis.
Renting a car is also very easily in Aruba. This will allow you to easily explore the island and parking is free at the Marriott. There is also a big grocery store between the airport and hotel and seems to be a very popular way for families to grab snacks for their hotel room.
I absolutely would recommend the Aruba Marriott Stellaris to anyone! It definitely gives you that luxury vacation feel with beautiful grounds, updated and spacious rooms, and a relaxing time at the pool and beach. This was an awesome vacation for a large group of friends and I am looking forward to bringing my kids back at some point as well!