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“Enjoyed our stay” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Occidental Grand Aruba

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Occidental Grand Aruba
4.0 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   J.E. Irausquin Boulevard 83 | Palm Beach, Aruba, Palm - Eagle Beach, Aruba   |  
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Rates From $ 225
Long Island, NY
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
32 helpful votes 32 helpful votes
“Enjoyed our stay”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 21, 2008

Hint: When reading all the reviews for this resort be sure to look at the dates of stay. For someone to write a review now, for a trip took back in April of '07 seems very irrelevant. I had a totally different experience just visiting Feb 10-16 2008.
When we checked in we were immediately upgraded from an ocean view to ocean front, nice way to begin. The room had a super view of the ocean and was spacious. It wasn't the most luxurious room we've stayed in but it was clean and suited our needs. The a/c was somewhat ineffective and noisey, so we slept with the fan over the bed on and left the a/c on high during the day to try to cool the room. The food was fresh and good as far as we were concerned. I took the advice of previous reviews and made the reservations upon check in. We ate at Zen 2X and Desire 2X, avoiding the Italian and Mexican. On Valentines day they had a buffet set up on the beach, and we were looking forward to a romantic table for two. That was not the case, the tables were set for 10 and the line for the buffet was very long, so we left and jumped into a cab and went to El Gauchos for a romantic steak dinner. We took advantage of Desire Lounge every night. Relaxing in bed like couches outside in the beautiful night air was just what we like to do. No one was there so we pretty much had the lounge to ourselves. We've been to Aruba twice before once stayed at The Marriott (very expensive and far removed from the rest of palm beach) and The Wyndam, which is now the Westin (also at the other end of the beach and at that time the rooms were horrible '04) We loved the location of Occidental Grand. We love the beach and my partner was up at 5am to get a front hut, of which most were taken already. The trick is to tip the towel guys $5 a day and they will put a towel under the hut you want.. We did go thru the RUI and to us it was too big and stark, and they have sand constantly whipping by the beach which makes it a pool resort. You can not beat the weather & beaches of Aruba and there is lots to do if you want to. The Occidental resort is the best value we found. We probably will return again in a few years, unless something else pops up. Go and have fun.

  • Liked — Location
  • Disliked — Poor a/c
  • Stayed February 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (666)
Date | Rating
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English first
Ancaster, Ontario
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 19, 2008

We stayed for 10 days with our 2 children. Under Funjet, we were told it was a 5 star rated hotel.
Food is awful - we ate out every night and spent an additonal $1,500.00 doing so. The rooms are nothing like the website pictures and we were infact upgraded because of our dissapointment. You would never know that it went under renovations recently. Every part of the hotel - especially the rooms, show age (cracked walls, old fixtures, cracked and missing tiles, etc.) The only good thing was that it hosted the best beach along the whole strip. We travel twice a year with our children and have only stayed at 4/5 star hotels. We have never experienced this dissapointment. They should either improve their food and ammenities, or drop their ratings and prices. I love Aruba and do plan to return. We have looked at staying at the Radisson or Hyatt instead. Although these are not all inclusive, the hotels are beautiful!

  • Liked — it had the best beach
  • Disliked — quality of food and accomodations, hotel seemed very dirty at all times
  • Stayed February 2008, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Indianapolis, IN
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
39 helpful votes 39 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed February 18, 2008

By far, the most disappointing vacation experience of my life.

First, the good things:

1. The entire place was immaculately clean.

2. Very nice room.

3. Most of the staff was very friendly and eager to help.

4. There were three good food items (chicken wings, bruschetta at L'Olio, sushi at Zen). and one good drink (Balashi beer).

5. Excellent beach, decent pool.

6. Convenient to the Hyatt Regency, which has a very good outdoor bar.

The only bad thing about the place was the food and drink. I know this place gets very mixed reviews on TripAdvisor and I think part of it relates to different people's expectations for food quality. I don’t think I’m a food snob but in any case I was *not* expecting excellent food. I was expecting something akin to Chili’s, Outback Steakhouse, Olive Garden, etc. I was bitterly disappointed.

The dining options at Occidental are: the buffet, L’Olio (Italian), El Olvido (Mexican), Zen (Asian), and Desire aka The Beach Club (standard American fare)

Let us begin with the buffet. This was, simply, much worse than any food I have been served in the past 13 years. The food at my dorm in college may have been worse, but I doubt it. I remember finding several items at the dorm buffet that were pretty good, which is much more than I can say for the Occidental buffet. All the meat was cooked to the point that it simply had no taste. As a vehicle for ketchup, it was passable. Unfortunately, the cut-rate ketchup was not. The scrambled eggs were powdered. The pancakes, literally, would not bend. In all seriousness, I almost chipped a tooth biting into a *boneless* breaded chicken breast.

L’Olio: the bruschetta was good. The “risotto” was, in fact, rice. The rest of the food was a significant step down from Olive Garden. It seemed to comport with what I perceived to be Occidental’s food quality target: you will recognize that it is food, and you will feel somewhat confident that it won’t make you sick. It was nice, however, that men were not allowed to wear shorts here. I mean… shorts… in Aruba? Ridiculous. It was a welcome opportunity to showcase the variety of dressy slacks I had brought along for the trip.

Zen: the sushi was good. Everything else was in the “it is food, and it probably won’t make me sick” category. Noodles tasted like preservatives. Unlike L’Olio, which gives you the opportunity to purchase terrible wine for surcharges approaching $40 a bottle, there is no wine list at this place. I opted for the house red, which tasted like a solvent. My younger daughter was suffering from mild food poisoning and only wanted milk. She asked three times but never got it. She eventually gave up and shuffled off, dispirited, to bed, without the one freakin’ thing she wanted. Dude: I am not exaggerating. She shuffled. She was a trooper as always, and didn’t complain, but seemed legitimately surprised that the grown-ups who obviously had the responsibility for providing milk refused to do it.

El Olvido: My Spanish is rusty, but I’m pretty sure “El Olvido” translates to “The Forgotten.” If you eat at the buffet, and then L’Olio, and then Zen, as I did, you’ll probably do as I did and not give The Forgotten the chance to further ruin your vacation. That is, I didn’t go here and wouldn’t under any reasonably foreseeable circumstances.

Desire aka The Beach Club: chicken wings were good. Hamburgers were cooked beyond recognition, but were a convenient way to get some Royal Netherlands Navy surplus ketchup into my system. Ribs were, …, well, this is a family website, so, suffice to say, don’t eat the ribs.

Now, if I may, let us discuss the beverage situation. I *am* a drink snob, so take this with a grain of salt. Take the Occidental’s drinks with a grain of salt, as well, and you might be able to choke some down.

Balashi was one of the highlights of my vacation. A locally brewed beer, and it’s very good. And the best part is: it’s all you can drink! Yes, for only $4,000+ you too can take your family to Aruba and get absolutely crocked on American-style lager!

Otherwise, the bars stock mid-grade booze, like Johnny Walker Red Label. I think it’s possible to get a decent-tasting cocktail at most of the bars if you tell them not to make it too strong. We tried several standard drinks (Jack and Coke and vodka tonic in particular) and found them undrinkable, but maybe that’s just because they were way too strong.

At the other end of the spectrum, however, is Sound, which waters down its booze. I know this because my friend and I tried Red Label and Jack Daniels at various strengths, including straight up, and could not get it to taste right. The Assistant Food & Bev Manager swore up and down that they don’t water down their booze, so maybe this was just a bad batch. Maybe. I will say this for Occidental: they do not advertise top-shelf liquor. Their website simply promises that you can “enjoy your favorite cocktail.”

The only truly horrible aspect of the booze situation was the complete absence of specialty tropical cocktails. My friend and I were hoping that our wives could relax on the beach and have a quality fruity cocktail with a little umbrella in it. Instead, they were offered a cut-rate Slurpee spiked with Everclear. Bring your own little umbrella.

At this point you may be wondering: did I complain to management? The answer is, I spent a surprisingly large amount of my vacation trying. I will spare you all the details, but here is a brief summary: I walked up to Guest Services. Beautiful young person, beautiful smile, genuinely interesting in helping me. “I’d like to speak with the hotel manager,” I said. She asked why. I said, “To complain about the food.” I was about to go into my complaints in greater detail when she interrupted me and said simply, “I know.” Oh yes - she interrupted me and said, “I know.” That happened!

Apparently customer satisfaction is beneath the hotel manager, because I would not be allowed to meet him. At first, I was told that the hotel manager was in a meeting but would be available in 30 minutes. I came back in 30 minutes, only to find that he was still in a meeting. Another 30 minutes later, same story. The Guest Services lady assured me that it was a busy day, packed with many important meetings. She said that the Food & Bev Manager would meet with me. I said that I just wanted to speak with someone who could authorize a partial refund. So instead I spoke to… are you ready? The *Assistant* Food & Bev Manager! Can he process a partial refund? I asked. “I don’t know. They said he can do something for you,” was the response.

The Assistant Food & Bev Manager (let’s call him Ed) politely launched into a well-rehearsed speech. “The liquor in Sound is not watered down. If you don’t like the drinks elsewhere, maybe they are too strong for your taste.” [Editorial note: so far, so good. He’s meeting my eyes and speaking truthfully.] “If you don't like the food, that's not because the food is bad, it's just because you have different tastes.” [Ed was not able to look me in the eyes on that one. I truly felt sorry for him. He seemed like a very nice guy in an impossible situation.] He offered me this: if I wanted some particular type of food, he would make sure that I got it. I told him: I don’t care what type of food it is, I just want something good. He said he would talk to someone who could process a partial refund. After going back and forth twice more, I got a final answer: no refund. I asked them to state in writing that they heard my complaints and would not give me a refund; they refused. He did assure me, however, that no one else ever complains about the quality of the food, which made me feel better.

After I got back, I priced out the Occidental compared to similar hotels that are not all-inclusive. Eight-day stays at the Occidental, Radisson, and Hyatt Regency were quoted at $4,643, $1,840, and $2,009, respectively. The difference between Occidental and the average of the other two is $2,719, or $340 per day. For $340 per day I could have taken my family to the nearby Texas de Brazil, which is truly excellent, *every day* for dinner, and still have had plenty of money left over for breakfast and lunch. Instead we got prison food and gut rot liquor. And all the Balashi we could drink!

Of all the tourist traps we visited on the island - and all the guys on the beach trying to sell us Snuba, parasailing, inner tube rides, Jet-Ski rentals, etc. - we always got very good value for our money. The Occidental was the only place trying to rip us off.

P.S. some miscellaneous Aruba tips: Garufa is an excellent cigar bar, with live South American music on some weekend nights. De Palm Tours is a good company with reasonable prices but do *not* go to their private island; there is not much to do there and it’s an island so you can’t leave when you want to! If you like bourbon, bring your own; it is almost non-existent on the island. The best place to buy Cuban cigars on the island is La Casa Del Habano in the Royal Plaza Mall. El Gaucho is an excellent steakhouse, but expensive. The people on the Kuku Kanuku party bus seemed to be having a great time.

  • Liked — The beach.
  • Disliked — The food.
  • Stayed April 2007, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Virginia
1 review
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 17, 2008

Stayed at the Occidental from 2/8 - 2/14. We were very happy with the resort and would certainly recommend it to friends.

Ate at Zen for 3 nights out of the 6 (actually only ate dinner 5 nights since I was sick one evening). The food and service were fantastic. Also ate at the Caribbean and Italian restaurants. Good, but not as good as Zen.

Surprised that other reviewers claimed the lunch buffet did not offer variety. The choices were endless. Lots of veggies and fruit in addition to all the meat choices.

Aruba is a great vacation spot. Temps were in the high 80s, but the constant wind made it very comfortable.

Hope to return

  • Stayed February 2005, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Massachusetts
1 review
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 15, 2008

This was our first trip to Aruba and we loved it. It's definitely the place to go to relax, enjoy the sun and the beautiful scenery. The pool and beach are great. The best feature about the Occidental is that their staff is absolutely wonderful. They are friendly, attentive and really make you feel that they are Happy to see you.

The only negative is that the evening entertainment is only fair. Although the themes of the shows differ each night, they are pretty much the same thing set to different music. The quality of the sound is only fair and it's louder than it needs to be. A little variety in the the kind of entertainment might be better.

All in all though, our week in Aruba was great. The rooms were spacious, comfortable and well maintained. Everyone has a view of the water and pool and those wonderful warm breezes and the staff is very helpful and accomodating.

  • Liked — Spacious room with king bed and a fridge and safe are all positive features
  • Disliked — Nothing negative
  • Stayed February 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 12, 2008

Aruba is such a beautiful place. My husband and I spent 9 days at the Occidental Allinclusive. I t was a great deal. The day we arrived there was a glass of champagne for both of us while we checked in. Off to our room after a long day of travel. The room was not made up yet or cleaned. There was blood on the floor. Not pleased at all. Ran back to the front desk to complain. Then they tried to give me a room with 2 double beds not what I paid for. My husband was not pleased. After yelling like a fool they got a superviser. He found me aroom which was great. If you book a oceanview room make sure you ask for a pool side room. Otherwise you will be looking at a parking lot and garbage. The breakfast and lunch buffets had alot of variety. Dinner was a different story the Italian, Mexican and Japanese were the only places I would recommend. the Carribean was awful. You can only book dinner for 4 nights. So we went to the dinner buffet which has most of the stuff they serve at lunch. The alcohol was not top shelf. That costs extra. The beach and pool were very nice. I had to get up at 6 am to reserve a hut at the beach so we wounldn't bake in the sun. They need to do something about that. All and all we had a grea time and will go back.

  • Liked — It was clean
  • Disliked — The gym
  • Stayed January 2008, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
kamdevos
1 review
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 10, 2008

My husband and I usually cruise, but wanted to have a vacation doing nothing! I was very skeptical based on all of the reviews I had read. We had nothing but a pleasant experience at this hotel. The staff, in all areas were very accomodating. Our room was cleaned every morning, while we were at breakfast. Breakfast buffet was typical, had a variety of "breakfast foods". Available to us was the same type of food we would find available if we were to go out for breakfast anywhere back home. The lunch buffet could have had a better variety, but after eating a good size breakfast every day, it didn't bother us! The dinner buffet and or restaurants which we made reservations at were also good. We were not expecting 5 star dining, since at an all inclusive, it is more buffet style. We did enjoy the Japanese Specialty restaurant, which we also had no problems making reservations for.

There was limited seating, as others had mentioned, but never any difficulties finding a chair to sit at or a towel to dry off with. The bartenders were very generous pouring alcohol, and were great at remembering what you were drinking.

We will return again, as we had great experience. How bad can it really be, you are on a beach in Aruba!

Stayed January 2008
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Occidental Grand Aruba

Also Known As:
Occidental Grand Aruba Hotel
Occidental Grand Aruba Hotel Palm/Eagle Beach
Occidental Grand
Occidental Aruba
Aruba Grand Occidental
Aruba Grand
Occidental Hotel Aruba
Grand Aruba
Occidental Grand Aruba Palm - Eagle Beach
Address: J.E. Irausquin Boulevard 83 | Palm Beach, Aruba, Palm - Eagle Beach, Aruba
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > Aruba > Palm - Eagle Beach
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Casino and Gambling Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#7 Casino Hotel in Palm - Eagle Beach
#9 Romantic Hotel in Palm - Eagle Beach
#10 Luxury Hotel in Palm - Eagle Beach
#15 Top resorts Hotel in Palm - Eagle Beach
#16 On the Beach Hotel in Palm - Eagle Beach
#18 Family Hotel in Palm - Eagle Beach
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Occidental Grand Aruba 4*
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Located on the legendary island of Aruba, the Occidental Grand Aruba is an all-inclusive luxury hotel on beautiful Palm Beach. The Grand Aruba Resort features a casino, dining, bars, nightlife, water sports and elegant event space for meetings & weddings. ... more   less 
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