We stayed for the week of June 10-17, 2013. This was our second stay at the Riu Palace Aruba and we look forward to a third visit! Everything was up to the same standard we remembered on our first trip here in May 2009 for our Honeymoon. This time was a little different as I am 5 months pregnant.
For anyone wondering, this hotel and this island is EXCELLENT to stay at while pregnant. I felt completely safe with the food, the water, the people/staff and touring the island as a whole.
ROOM - Last time we stayed, we had a full ocean view junior suite in the middle building. This time we had a partial ocean view junior suite in the new building and loved the view 100 times better. The balcony was smaller but spectacular. The beds are hard so if you are not used to it, it may cause a problem for you. You can ask for a pillow top from the front desk but my husband and I opted out. The housekeeping staff are wonderful and very courteous.
FOOD - Still absolutely amazing! I was not disappointed. The buffet is delicious morning, noon and night. The one thing I don't think anyone prepares you for are the birds during breakfast/lunch service. If you are not a fan of birds being around your table while you eat, I would suggest you eat inside for those two services. We did not have a problem with it but some guests definitely did. We went to all the reserve only restaurants and they were absolutely wonderful as well. The seating times are 6:30pm and 9pm. You do have to reserve them between 8am and 11am on the day of but to me it's worth it. The best one by far is the Nautilus restaurant (steak house). We went to this one twice and both times ordered the surf and turf. Their medium cooked tenderloin is to die for. Perfectly cooked so much so that you can cut the steak with a butter knife. The only issue is that they do serve you A LOT of food so come prepared to eat.
BARS/ALCOHOL - Since I'm pregnant I was not able to indulge in alcohol however the staff and bar tenders were VERY helpful in making me drinks that were non-alcoholic and delicious so I didn't feel left out. My husband never had a complaint about a drink and there a tons and tons of alcoholic beverages to choose from. They do not skimp out on the alcohol at this resort. If you are there to drink, you wont be disappointed. The mudslides from the terrace bar were amazing. I had a little sip of my husbands and would highly recommend. There is one bar tender at the swim up bar that stands out named Felix. Absolutely wonderful guy and extremely friendly.
POOL - Last time we were there I had no complaints however this time, the pool did not seem as well maintained. They definitely do need a little more cleaning maintenance. My husband and I spent most of our pool time in the upper level as it was cleaner and warmer. It's hard to get two lounge chairs side by side at the pool unless you are up early enough to put your stuff on it. We are not the type of people that lounge on the pool chairs anyway so we had no problem finding just one chair to share and set our stuff on.
BEACH - The beach is beautiful. Once again, we're not lounging people so we didn't worry too much about the chairs however, if you are a lounger, you will want to be there early to get beach chairs. The sand is a little rough but you get used to it.
HOTEL - Overall the hotel is absolutely amazing. The WiFi needs to be updated big time. They give you a code but it's incredibly glitchy and I wouldn't rely on it. If you're someone that needs to be connected to the internet 24/7, I would suggest upgrading your data plan here at home instead. Or just relax, forget about the internet and be on vacation! :) We did not find the front desk helpful at all. We once asked the front desk to call somewhere for us to make sure they were open and she told us she was not customer service and carried on a conversation with one of her colleagues. When we politely asked her again, she rolled her eyes, made a scene about it and told us what we were asking her didn't exist. We were heading to place called "Philips Animal Garden", I assure you, it exists (and wonderful, go check it out). Please keep in mind again, I'm noticeably pregnant and did not want to venture 20 minutes out of our way and pay for a taxi to take us to a place that was closed. We finally got an answer out of her but not until after 15 minutes of aggravation and unwillingness to help. This was our third run in with the front desk. All different staff members. Be aware, front desk is not always helpful.
ARUBA - The island itself is amazing and friendly. Taxi service is very convenient. They are always parked outside of the hotel. Taxi's are all a fixed rate controlled by the Government. A trip to Downtown Oranjestad will cost you $11 US. There are tons of shops and little vendor huts for souvenirs along the main road in Oranjestad. It's quite easy to bargain with the vendor shops. Since most Jeep tours are incredibly overpriced, my husband and I rented our own Jeep for a day from Budget for $95.00 US and toured around the whole island. This is the second time we've done this and it's completely safe. I would highly recommend it. You can tour at your own pace and see everything listed on the Jeep tour brochures for more than half the cost (the tours generally cost you $95 per person). We brought our own water bottles from the room and the sandwiches from the sports bar in the hotel for snacks and refreshments. Just make sure you bring a map with you. Make sure to take a trip to Philips Animal Garden as well. Philip rescues the animals and keeps them in a safe environment/habitat suited to their needs. You can feed the animals from your hands and pet most of them. It's absolutely wonderful. A trip here will cost you $13 US by taxi, Just make sure you ask the taxi driver to pick you back up in an hour. It's not on a main section of town and would be hard to flag down another taxi otherwise.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.