Easter Week At Marriott Ocean Club
We also spent Easter (Spring break) in Aruba. We left Newark, NJ on Good Friday and arrived at airport at 5:15 am for 7:00 am departure. Our flight was delayed 1 1/2 hours due to fact that flight attendants had to get 8 hours rest. We
arrived in Aruba before 1:00 pm (no time difference) and had to be bused to airport. Since the plane was so full, not everyone (including our two teenagers) fit on the bus and had to ride another bus. All worked out well although lines
at customs and waited over 1/2 hour for our luggage. They don't tell you what luggage terminal your bags are coming on so you basically have to watch all three of them. It was very crowded and busy (I was there in November during
Thanksgiving week and there was hardly anyone there). We took a van to the Marriott Ocean Club (MOC) and it only took about 15 minutes. Our room was ready but we were disappointed that our oceanview was too far back and on the 2nd
floor so all you saw were big palm trees.
Our Marriott two bedroom, two bath timeshare unit was a lock off unit that slept eight. They are luxuriously appointed with tile floors, carpet in the bedrooms, a full kitchen with refrig., microwave, d/W, oven, double sink, etc. The dining room/living rooms, with TV/VCR, balcony (which can also be accessed from bedroom). The master bedroom had a King bed, nicely appointed furniture and TV, chair, whirlpool tub, safe. The bathroom was small (for Marriott standards) and had a dual entrance from MBR or from kitchen area. The 2nd bedroom could be locked off for privacy and they had their own entrance from hall. The 2nd entrance also had their own microwave, small sink and small refrigerator (like a wet-bar set-up) They also had a full bath about the same size as the Master Bath but no whirlpool tub. All bathrooms have hair dryers so you don't need to pack one. There is no daily maid service or fresh towels daily. They come once in the middle of the week to replenish supplies. Whenever we needed fresh towels, we would just sign out a few extra clean beach towels. The only thing we were not happy about was that the washer/dryer units were not in the room. Most Marriott's we've stayed at (Florida, Hilton Head, have a washer/dryer right in the unit. You can use laundry facilities on each floor (2 - 4 per floor) which are free but you need to either bring your own laundry detergent or buy the little box for $1.50 (quarters only) per load. The Marriott is adjacent to their
Hotel and adds to the amenities available as you can dine there or use any of their facilities and charge it to your room. A covered walk leads from the timeshare to the hotel and is adorned with a lovely mosaic of the ocean with a
fountain incorporated into it. The hotel has two restaurants. Tuscany's - which has northern Italian and probably the best service you will get on the island, and LaVista - which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner (breakfast buffets
as well as theme dinner buffets i.e. Italian Night, Mexican night, etc.) You can also eat at the pool bars or at the beach restaurant. We ate at all of the above, and all were excellent. Make reservations at Tuscany's - I had the pasta
with chicken dish, my husband had the chicken special and my boys had veal dishes - all were excellent - we all had appetizers, no alcohol, one dessert and coffee and bill was $137 for he four of us but food and service well worth it!
(Without tip) Nice piano music as well. However, we did eat breakfast in and as well as a few lunches and dinners because it gets expensive eating out in Aruba (minimum of $40.00 for lunch for the 4 of us and $100.00 for dinner without any alcohol. If you are traveling with a family, it pays to bring food from home. You can get some of the essentials like bread, OJ, milk, etc at the Marriott but you will need a car if you want to travel to the grocery stores in Aruba. We brought frozen chicken, London broils (they have gas grills at Marriott if you want to BBQ) as well as frozen spaghetti sauce, and it really saved us a lot of money. Had no trouble packing it frozen and checking it. It was still frozen when we got to Aruba. We ate our Paparazzi (expensive and not as good as Tuscany's) Don Carlo (in town) had a nice view and food was OK but $14.95 for a pasta dish at lunch was a bit pricey! We made reservations at El Gaucho early in the week but did not expect an hour wait with reservation. They wanted everyone to wait across the street in the cigar place (which I refused due to my asthma and glad I did because after an hour wait, we started to get antsy and as I waited closer to the desk, I noticed that people would walk in and say "hey, I know the owner, can't you seat us and they would say "sure". Meanwhile people with reservations had been waiting well over an hour. The steaks were GREAT, but the ambiance was nothing and the service was no better than Tuscany's. In my opinion, it was NOT worth the WAIT.
Having been to Aruba once before with my daughter, I was attracted to the lack of crime and feeling of safety the island offered. Everyone is friendly and with 100% employment, Aruba pays a premium for its help and the islanders appear to be happy with the conditions there. The people were all very friendly, helpful and very delightful to talk to. They did not hurry you if you had a question or a problem. The Marriott Aruba Ocean Club is located by itself at the end of what could be called "hotel row" (after the Holiday Inn) at the end of Palm Beach. The location is ideal and private although it is between two campgrounds (never noticed them when I was there in November because they weren't used then). Locals use them no weekends mostly especially during Holidays, which makes the
beaches somewhat crowded. However, we never had any difficulty getting chairs at either the pool or the beach or getting a hut at the beach (no matter what time of day). The property has a huge freeform swimming pool with swim up bar, and
waterfalls. It also has a huge 3 tub hot tub area that is on top of a rock structure with a massive Jacuzzi with private areas for three or four couples with separate controls for each nook. The Marriott hotel has a Casino which (in
addition to the Hyatt) was one of the nicest and cleanest in my opinion (very little smoking done compared to Holiday Inn Casino which was filled with smoke. I'm asthmatic so smoke bothers me tremendously.
We rented a 4 x 4 jeep for the day for $80.00 and had to leave a $500.00 deposit on our credit card (no bargain) because we thought our two teenage sons (16 and 17) would join us sightseeing the island. (It turned out they would rather spend the time at the beach with their friends) so my husband and I went alone. The island is not really big but there aren't many street signs either. We went to the rock formations, natural bridge, St. Anne's Church, Lighthouse, Caves, and Baby Beach, but could not find the Natural Pool. There was one small wooden sign about 1 x 1 with an arrow. However, when we followed it, we came to a "fork" with no further directions. We tried each way to no avail and finally gave up
when we saw a group of jeeps who said they couldn't find it either and had been looking for hours. I would highly recommend the DePalm Island Tour for only $32.00 each air-conditioned bus and no hassle and picks you up and drops you
back off at your hotel).
The temperature was hot (90 every day - maybe 75 at night). Pack light because
Aruba is very casual and you can go to the nicest restaurants in your shorts. Also, you won't need long pants, sweaters, etc. I was there both in November and April and the temperature is the same year round. The American dollar is
accepted everywhere. The public transportation is $1.15 each way ($2.00 for a roundtrip voucher which you must buy when you first board) and gets you downtown for shopping, restaurants, clubs, etc. They run until midnight, and are very
safe to ride.
Marriott's are 5* quality resorts and ideal for families that want more than a hotel room. We purchased because we have three teenagers and needed the extra space and bathroom. It a few years, it pays for itself because for what you pay for hotel rooms, you can have 1400 + sq. ft accommodations.
Our two teenage sons had a blast in Aruba and can't wait to go back! But, be forewarned if you have teenagers - islanders do not following a minimum drinking age and will gladly serve your teens alcoholic beverages at the pool, casinos, and especially at the clubs downtown at night such as Carlos and Charley's, etc. Just be sure your kids know your rules and their limits!
Overall, we had a wonderful trip. We walked down to the Holiday Inn and there always seemed to be some activity and entertainment going on there. We saw the Hypnotist Show which was very entertaining for $5.00 each. You can do as much or as little as you want to (it's YOUR vacation) but after a day of touring, another of snorkeling, scuba etc, after a week, there really isn't much more to do. It is VERY RELAXING. ENJOY!It's my favorite
place to go (next to Hilton Head, South Carolina) and We've been on 2 cruises, and to many islands, in addition to Italy.