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Marriott Frenchman's Cove or Marriott Aruba Surf Club

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posts: 45
reviews: 5
Marriott Frenchman's Cove or Marriott Aruba Surf Club


We're planning our next vacation and we've put down a deposit to go to either Frenchman's Cove or the Aruba Surf club. We will be traveling with our 8 yr old in November. We typically prefer quiet resorts so I'm leaning towards Frenchman's cove, but we also enjoy nice beaches and thought that the Aruba resort might have a nicer beach. I was wondering if anyone had recently stayed at these two resorts and what their impression was (comparing one resort to the other). Thanks for your help.


17 replies to this topic
Olathe, Kansas
posts: 292
reviews: 118
1. Re: Marriott Frenchman's Cove or Marriott Aruba Surf Club

I've been to both resorts, though I haven't been to the Surf Club since 2006, I have been to St Thomas each of the last 2 years.

The Surf Club has the really nice pool area with Lazy River. It has the 3 resorts right next to each other, the Surf Club, Ocean Club and Marriott Resort, so the overall complex is quite large, and I thought felt more crowded. The Surf Club has a much larger and nicer beach than the Frenchman's Cove, though at the Frenchman's cove you can go over to the Marriott's beach which is nice, but not as nice as the Surf Club. Nobody really hangs out at the Frenchman's cove beach, everyone is by the pool, whereas the Surf Clubs beach is packed, which also makes it extremely difficult to get a palapa on it.

St. Thomas is much more scenic than Aruba as it is more lush and mountainous where Aruba is flat and a desert. The water seemed to be warmer in Aruba (though check this out for certain as I did go at different times of the year), however the water in St Thomas was more clear, though the water in Aruba was pretty clear as well, just not as clear.

Statistically, Aruba is more safe than St. Thomas, though as the local experts will definitely point out, St Thomas has been safe for tourists. Also, depending on the time of year you are going, Aruba as a general rule does not get affected by hurricanes where St Thomas does, and has had close calls each of the last two years when I was there.

I personally much prefer St. Thomas. Aruba was great, just not much to see outside of water activities. Last year I had the choice between Aruba and St. Thomas, and even though it was Hurricane season I chose St. Thomas. Incredible water, nice beaches, great scenery and access to St. John and the British Virgin Islands make it the choice for me.

Voorhees, New Jersey
posts: 7
reviews: 166
2. Re: Marriott Frenchman's Cove or Marriott Aruba Surf Club

My first trip to St. Thomas is in six weeks, to the Frenchman's Cove, so I can only comment on Aruba at this point.

My family stayed at the Marriott Ocean Club in April 2012, and so we were in and around the Surf Club grounds quite a bit. I found the property to be overly busy, bordering on chaotic, particularly when compared to the more manageable (and upscale) Ocean Club. There were more kids running around (I have two small children, so no inherent bias) but the entire atmosphere was much more bustle than I would appreciate. Grabbing a chair around the Ocean Club pool and on the beach was a challenge, so I would imagine its even more difficult at the much-larger Surf Club.

I love Aruba, though - we always felt very safe, even driving across the island at night and venturing into places slightly off the beaten path. The dining options were great as well. It is very developed and commercial, though (compared to my first trip there 8 years prior), but I might have the same opinion after visiting St. Thomas.

posts: 287
reviews: 7
3. Re: Marriott Frenchman's Cove or Marriott Aruba Surf Club

I would pick Aruba if it were me. Yes, the pool is very busy but even without kids we loved it and I know your kids would love it. The main reason I like Aruba vs. St Thomas is getting around. We like to walk and on St Thomas it is really hard to walk places because of the narrow/busy roads.

posts: 45
reviews: 5
4. Re: Marriott Frenchman's Cove or Marriott Aruba Surf Club

Thanks for all the excellent information. I think they both sound like wonderful locations, my gut feeling right now is if we were going during off-peak season, Aruba would be a great choice, but because of we will be going in November, I'm leaning more towards Frenchman's cove. How accessible are some of the better "quiet" beaches on St Thomas from the resort? In the past we have been to Grace Bay in Turks and Caicos and we thought that beach was ideal for both us and kids. BTW, if people think that I'm off base regarding Aruba or if you have more input, it is VERY welcome. Thanks again!


Olathe, Kansas
posts: 292
reviews: 118
5. Re: Marriott Frenchman's Cove or Marriott Aruba Surf Club

Although very late in the hurricane season, November is still in hurricane season, and Aruba as a rule of thumb does not get hit by hurricanes. Just an additional thought, though like I said November is very late in hurricane season.

posts: 919
reviews: 8
6. Re: Marriott Frenchman's Cove or Marriott Aruba Surf Club

I think one of the biggest things you need to think of is transportation. In Aruba you can walk to a wide range of activities and places to eat. In St.Thomas you really need a car to go anywhere...taxis are to expensive for an entire week. I was in Aruba in Jan. 2013 and St.Thomas in July 2012...I like Aruba but I love St.Thomas due mainly to the close proximatey to St.John and its beaches and natural parks....but you really do need a car. Aruba is like going to Myrtle beach because of its americanization, the USVI are still instilled with that Carribean/island feel. JMHO

Edited: 10:28 pm, February 15, 2013
posts: 458
reviews: 22
7. Re: Marriott Frenchman's Cove or Marriott Aruba Surf Club

This might affect your decision:

Surf Club: 450 rooms, 450 suites, total 900, which is immediately adjacent to the Ocean Club, 93 rooms, 218 suites, total 311.

Cove: 221 suites; more construction is planned but delayed due to economy

As previous reviewer stated, Aruba is very "Americanized". You might just as well go to Florida. Marriott over-built for the footprint it had on Palm Beach. I stayed there when there were just 2 buildings, now there are 3. And, you basically have to pay for the palapas (umbrellas) unless you happen to get a free one. You'll also have to get up before 7 AM to "stake" a lounge chair.

We own at the Cove and are going for our 7th visit next month. Love the area, just do not like the cruise ships, but we have learned to work around their schedules.

posts: 45
reviews: 5
8. Re: Marriott Frenchman's Cove or Marriott Aruba Surf Club

Thanks! I think the posts here have reinforced my gut feeling. While the convenience of walking versus driving is certainly attractive, I think we'll prefer the lower key resort. Thanks again.


Glen Mills...
posts: 549
reviews: 14
9. Re: Marriott Frenchman's Cove or Marriott Aruba Surf Club

I have stayed at the Surf Club every year for the past seven years. I will be visiting St Thomas for the first time in March. I will gladly post my feelings upon my return. Something tells me that whatever you decide will result in a wonderful vacation.

Arlington Heights...
posts: 196
reviews: 34
10. Re: Marriott Frenchman's Cove or Marriott Aruba Surf Club

We've been to both, and I think the reviews of each in this thread are spot on. We liked the terrain and feel of St. Thomas more, and as others have pointed out, there's much more to explore on St. Thomas than Aruba. Again, agreeing with the group, a car is essential. You can also take most rentals on the car ferry over to St. John, which is lovely. If you want to go somewhere and not really leave the resort that much, lounge by the pool, and try to get a chair on the beach, go to Aruba. If you want to really explore an island, go to St. Thomas.

As far as beach accessibility, request Bill's List on this forum - it's an excellent guide, and points out some of the best beaches for lounging, snorkeling, etc.

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