This was my sixth year in a row return to the Stellaris. Overall, the hotel does a nice job. I will begin with the positive. I love the location of this property. It is the last hotel on the high rise strip but very soon it will be second to last as the Ritz Carlton is estimated to be finished later in the year. I prefer a less crowed beach which makes this property more attractive to me because if you walk towards the area where the Ritz is being built you really have the area to yourself. The water there is wonderful too. I did not find the beach area of the Marriott to be overcrowed. I think they have done a nice job with palapa placement as there are some hotels on Palm beach that people seem to be almost on top of another.
The palapa employees have once again made my stay special. Hermina who mans the Tradewinds is a delight to all she comes into contact with. She really has to be one of the biggest assets to this property. Kudos to Jeremy and Henel as well. They are wonderful!
I love the breakfast buffet at La Vista. The chefs are all wonderful! Specials thanks to our waiter Augusten...he is the best!!!!! The buffet has wonderful fruit, delicious made to order omelettes and a bunch of hot dishes. People may think the price is high at about $25 a person but a) it's Aruba and b) it's so good and c) you can eat on the patio watching the ocean.
Waves is a great choice for lunch. It sits on the beach between the Ocean Club and the Stellaris. The food is so good. I had the grilled grouper sandwich and fries almost every day and it never disappointed me. The french fries are awesome too!!!! You can eat at Waves outside under an umbrella or the servers will bring the food right to you at your palapa.
We had dinner 2 times at the LaVista Buffet...the food is good and there is always a made to order pasta station. For the carnivores, there is always a pork tenderloin that is sliced to order amongst various other meat dishes. The salad station is wonderful with great Italian cheeses, cold roasted vegetables and other Italian staples! Dessert is really good and quite a variety as well. I believe the buffet is abot $40 a person which is not outrageous for Aruba.
Last but not least, the cafe in the lobby is a nice alternative for a lower cost breakfast, delicious sandwich for lunch or dinner or have one of their outstanding desserts. The new gelato is superb!
We stayed on the 7th floor facing the adult pool. The view is simply outstanding. The rooms are nice but nothing spectacular. The Marriott may have a hard time measuring up once the Ritz is finished. I know the Marriott underwent a total renovation in 2006 or 2007 but the furniture and rugs are starting to look warn. The bed was not your typical plush Marriott king size bed. I felt like the mattress was bought from a furniture discount store....there was nothing plush about it and actually I didn't sleep that well. I'm thinking the mattresses have been replaced but with cheaper quality mattresses because I don't remember the mattress ever being a problem in the past. The bath towels are average....they may have been plush at one point but not anymore. The maid service was always top notch.
The lobby looks a bit tired as well and the not so nice smell of smoke does flow through the air because the Casino is an open entrance. It's a stale not so nice smell but not so strong that you totally avoid the lobby. Strong enough to notice it but not a deal breaker.
Although Marriott elite status doesn't do much for you at this property, it does entitle you to a 10% discount on all food purchases. The pools at this property look lovely but I do not go into them because they are not heated. I find the ocean to be warmer than the pool water.
Also, people in other reviews complained about the palapa availability. Honestly, we have never encountered a problem. You have three choices. 1) Reserve one for 3 days at a slight cost...not sure what it is. 2) Go down at 7:00 am and get in line to reserve a palapa for free for use that day. I never did this so I can't comment on what the line was like. 3) Reserve one at 4:00pm for free to use the next day as long as you are at your palapa by 10:00 am next day. This is free and althought the line starts to form around 3:45 pm. it really is not the hassel other people have said it is.
The Marriott is nice....it's not a knock your socks off over the top property in my opinion but nothing on the island really is. The Ritz may be the answer to that but I'm sure it will come at a significant cost. I go to Aruba for the weather. I don't go to stay in a plush, luxiourous hotel because I have yet to find one. I spend the majority of my day outside so the weather is very important to me. The weather is wonderful and so is the ocean.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.