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“Enjoyed our stay at the Occidental Grand Aruba – RCI Exchange” 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   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #23 of 24 Hotels in Palm - Eagle Beach
Fleming Island, Florida
15 reviews 15 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
“Enjoyed our stay at the Occidental Grand Aruba – RCI Exchange”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 24, 2012

Enjoyed our stay at the Occidental Grand Aruba – RCI Exchange
We are RCI members that exchanged our week (six nights seven days) for one at the Occidental Grand Aruba. So much has been said in past post that we hope ours will help answer some of your questions. We very much enjoyed our stay!

Also, I stay in Hilton (Diamond HHonors member) and Marriott (Gold Elite member) properties about 90+ nights a year so am kind of particular about my accommodations and we are both foodies. Therefore our expectations for our vacation may be higher than others (just to let you know who and where we are coming from in our review).

We exchanged for a “1 Bedroom” as listed on the RCI web site. Even though it was just two of us we wanted a bigger room and this qualified us for a two room suite (King Bedroom and second living area) plus had a few points to burn. Also two bathrooms which was great for both of us!

As an RCI guest we were included in the “First Club” which is very similar to the “Royal Club” (from what I could tell) that you will see others have the option of upgrading to. The First Club is managed by Ivette Croes icroes@aw.occidentalhotels.com that was fantastic in helping us confirm our accommodations and directing us to Paola Garcia pgarcia@aw.occidentalhotels.com who made our restaurant reservations prior to arrival (also fantastic gal and very helpful during our stay)!

Hotel Layout: Basically all rooms are in two towers (Tower 1 is the south extension hosting the First Club on the 2nd floor and Tower 2 is the north extension hosting the Royal Club rooms top three floors and Royal Club itself on the top floor I believe [we never went into tower 2]) that extend from the boardwalk along the beach inland and then connect to the business/front desk/casino/lobby bar/restaurants/First Club/Ballroom and gym. I will post an image of the layout of the resort that we were given upon check in that I hope helps!

Arrival: Took a taxi with a cost of $25 US cash. When entering hotel does not look like much from the outside but once in the doors very nice and clean. Tile floors, fountain and check in on the right. It was a Saturday and Bell Captain took our bags from the cab and held them until we received our room info. As RCI members we were directed through the lobby down the hallway to the left to the First Club where we met Ivette in person. She did our check in, had our package ready and put on our “Green” resort bracelet that we wore the entire trip for access to the resort. There are multiple colors or bracelets issued. These indicate to staff if you are in the Hotel, Timeshare Exchange, Timeshare Owner and much more. I also believe this indicates the type of room you got with some possibly getting better rooms than others. Also as RCI Members we were not bothered with their sales efforts to buy into their program.

Room: We were assigned room 2909 in Tower 1 (South tower) and had a top floor center room (two doors to enter from in the hallway). I will post photos but as we entered the Bedroom it was fantastic! Clean and ready to go! As we explored we found the connecting door with the living room area, again clean and ready to go. We also had two balconies both with two chairs and table and ash tray (if you are a smoker). Everything seemed to work and no complaints. Cleaning staff were in the hallway most of the morning and I did tip them $20 US the first morning. That seemed to be a good investment as they made up the room every morning, new towels and stocked the coffee packages each day and cleaned the glasses we used each day. No complaints.

The four bottle Liquor Bar (hanging on the wall) was full on arrival and only partially used by us so did not need restocking. The refrigerator had various sodas and bottles of water upon arrival including mini Balashi Beer (basically the only beer the resort has and made in Aruba – as a Guinness drinker it took some getting used to but worked fine – drink what the locals drink). I did find the guy that restocked each day and tipped him $10 US the first afternoon and each afternoon after he came by, knocked and gave us whatever we asked for in the quantity we asked for with no problem (we did not over request quantity).

Internet: We did sign up on-line for internet service the entire week for about $70 US. Internet worked great all over the entire resort including all the way out to the water. Very happy with this service as we did not use our cell phones while there!

First Club: OK, not much to this but it is included. For us we did not really use the area but for check in, a couple of drinks when passing by and printer to get our Boarding Pass when leaving. Also a good spot to ask questions about anything you may need answers to. Always helpful and nice! They have several tables to sit at, Ivette (and staffs) desk and computer, couch sitting area and bar. Also there is a food area (along a wall) that seemed to have snacks and stuff at different times of the day. Not very crowded but we did see some regulars there often. Also TOP SHELF alcohol there but all other non “Club” bars were generic liquor. Clean and friendly staff but kind of out of the way for us when we are there for the beach, pool and eating, but it was included and a nice benefit for RCI members (and/or others that qualified for that amenity).
Staff: All in all everyone was very nice and friendly! Of course there was one or two people we may have run into that may not have been super friendly but that is life and fortunately it did not really affect us. All in all we were pleasantly surprised in lieu of other posts of their vacation here.
Resort: I have to say that we were very impressed with all aspects of the physical resort itself. One thing we mentioned to each other several times was there was always multiple people cleaning, painting, and maintaining something somewhere all day, every day all hours of the day and even evening. There also was plenty of security off to the side and non-obtrusive. It was nice to know and we felt very safe all the time (even up and down the boardwalk of the beach away from the resort).

Beach: Very nice (of course – it’s ARUBA)! Lots of lounges and chairs, but as you read to get a “Great Spot” for the day you do have to get down there early with your towels and set up camp. We did so even thought it says you are not supposed to but no enforcement. I will tell you that about 5:30 AM each morning over half a dozen people claimed their regular spots. Then others came out about 6:00 – 8:00 where there were still a few good one’s to grab. A good one is closest to the beach, but all day there were always some along the boardwalk available but we were also told the time we were there it was not “booked” and the next week (Christmas week) it becomes packed. We ended up getting our spot about 6:00 AM next to the Beach Bar which was perfect for us! On the way out to the beach is the Towel building for everyone. You are given two yellow credit-card material cards to check your towels in and out or refresh. They take the card from you and your room number and give you your towel/s. Don’t lose the card when you don’t have a towel checked out or it could cause a charge (from what I understand).
Excursions: There was a De Palms Tours desk in the lobby that could get you whatever you wanted to do booked. The gal there was very nice and informative. She was there from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM (long hour job for her).

Casino: Dropped a few bucks on the slots but did not do anything else. All slots are one cent ($0.01 US). They had Bingo and table games going on. Nice and clean. Some drinks are included in the all inclusive but others (probably Top Shelf) you had to pay for. Good Luck if you play!

Pool: Beautiful fresh water and clean! Lots of lounges but could become quite crowded as people finished the morning along the beach and came back to the pool area. Swim up bar (also could sit on the opposite side not being in the pool) was cool. Two spas in the center and pool is tiled so nice on the feet. There were daily activities like bingo, exercise with Staff motivator, DJ on and off during the day and volleyball. We did not participate in any of the pool activities ourselves but many others did and seemed to have a good time.

Restaurants: Ok, saved this for last. As foodies we became concerned when reading other reviews. They were right, not very good! OK, but nothing special overall. There are four restaurants (require reservations). Only two of them are open each evening for dinner and that rotates. You apparently need to make reservations immediately upon arrival but we were able to coordinate that through the First Club as RCI members and as stated above with the help of Paola Garcia. Once each week they have a dinner Seafood Buffet and a dinner Beach Party, then it is up to the four restaurants for dinner (or off property not included in your all inclusive of course). All day The Palm Buffet has Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner and what they call late evening snacks with no reservations needed (you can basically wear anyting clothing wise as long as you have top and bottom on. They also try to dress up the area for dinner with cloth table covers and chair covers. They try but it is a Buffett all day, ready anytime with no reservations, so what more could they really do (I guess). Yes, breakfast is the same thing every morning but they had basically anything you wanted for breakfast including cooked to order eggs/omelets. Lunch changed up a little and dinner was themed to change things up a little but always much of the same thing, generic but eatable and only option.

Without going into details about the four restaurants; Zen – Asian, L’Olio – Italian, El Olvido – Mexican and Desire – Caribbean. They certainly try to make it seem like an event for dinner (different than the Palm Buffet) but in my opinion the food is pre-made for the night (like as if for a convention), kind of dressed up and reheated and served to you (nothing was HOT but luke-warm). Presentation was ok but absolutely NO BELLS or WHISTLES! Not all you could eat like the buffet as you were limited to one of each course offering. Décor and theme of the restaurants were very nicely done but other than that nothing was memorable. They get you in and out quickly as the food is basically already done and almost instantly servable. We tried hard to not go out on the town as the all inclusive fee was so much but by the last night we gave in and went across the street to Daniels’s Steak House (Wonderful) as many of the other restaurants across the street seemed to appear. Gosh we needed a good, filling, “hot”, made to order meal by then. It is really too bad as a vacation to us has high priorities on food and the experience we don’t get at home and this was very disappointing and did not happen here! If they had a fifth restaurant that we had to pay an up-charge for and was like the ones out in town we probably would have done so. This was really the only thing about the Occidental Grand Aruba that we were disappointed with.

Room Tip: Tower 2 Pool/Ocean view and Tower 1 South (overlooks neighbor hotel and parking lot) will get Sunset...
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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3,581 reviews from our community

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  • 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 (856)
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English first
Norwood, Canada
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 23, 2012

Nov 10-17th 2012...Best Trip Ever! Hot, bloody hot and there were NO tradewinds that week!! Be sure to upgrade to the Royal Club, it is sooo worth it. As soon as you arrive, the place just feels friendly and homey! Staff all go above and beyond to welcome travellers starting with Hazel @ RC reception, Fanny in the RC dining rm with Melvin....oh & he " likes to talk alone!!!!" haha. In the Italian rest....incredible food and presentation, Francesco is just such a professional waiter in every way and he has a lovely wife...Fanny! Dale was sooo friendly in Desire's rest, dinner or buffet lunch, great steak and lobster....Enrique looked after us at the swim-up bar, Michael liked his Xmas music at the beach bar. The hotel needs some upgrades, a bit 'tired', but getting past that.... the food was increible everywhere and all the Staff made this just a perfect holiday in every way for us! Thank you! Will DEFINATELY RETURN....
Elly and Glenn Ontario, Canada

Room Tip: Royal Club section - higher floors, 7/8 or 9th floor
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
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Perth Amboy, New Jersey
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 20, 2012

We came back from Aruba last week and can't wait to go again. Unbelievably calm waters, beautiful white sand and good food (not sure what everyone is complaining about). We traveled with another family, for a total of 4 adults and 4 kids. All kids under the age of 5 (including two 1 year olds). The hotel was very accomodating with the sleeping arrangments for the children. Every morning our room was cleaned by 10AM (we left tips every morning, so not sure if that made a difference). Very friendly service, everyone speaks English so no miscommunications any where. The rooms really need an update. We staid in a standard room, no upgrades, so can't judge if the rooms are better in the Royal Club. Old furntiture, bulky old TV stand and old TV. But everything is clean so we did not have a problem with that. We had a gorgeous view of the ocean. We have been going once a year to an All Inclusive resorts (Mexico, Punta Cana)since the kids were born, and I think next year we will be returning to Aruba. A fun, safe island.

Room Tip: Rooms overlooking the pool have a better view, but more noise on pool party days.
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Top Contributor
87 reviews 87 reviews
18 hotel reviews
Reviews in 31 cities Reviews in 31 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 20, 2012

The Occidental Grand Aruba is an all inclusive resort. The entire family went and it is a family friendly place. I will share the negatives and positives. I rated it average for the following reasons:

1. My husband has MS and he walks with a cane. There were absolutely no handicap accessible rooms. The shower/tub combo has an 18 inch step up. It was even a bit difficult for me to get in and out. Also, the doorways are not wheelchair friendly. One of the guests said they had to order a 21 inch medical wheel chair just to get in and out of the bathroom door way. So if you are handicap, you might look for an alternative location.

2. The cleanliness is just so-so. The bathrooms have mold along the caulking. So if you are allergic to mold, be prepared.

3. There are 5 restaurants on site, however, only two are open each night. They rotate. The food is pretty good. However, there is no room service, and the midnight snack bar is a joke. We were expecting an open grill or something, but it was just leftover fruit and pastries.

4. The majority of the staff is friendly. We only experienced one or two people being unfriendly.

5. The resort itself is nice and the beach is very close. Very accessible. Plenty of chairs.

6. We went in December which is the rainy season. The rain did not impact our trip at all. The weather was high 80s low 90s. The a/c in the rooms worked perfectly.

There are probably better all inclusive resorts for the money. Aruba is a very fun place and I would recommend visiting the island.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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york, pa
Top Contributor
94 reviews 94 reviews
36 hotel reviews
Reviews in 31 cities Reviews in 31 cities
92 helpful votes 92 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 19, 2012

i've been to many all-inclusives and this one is acceptable. I just don't think there is a real need to stay in an all-inclusive in Aruba. The island is safe and food and drink can be found in many price ranges. We stayed in the Royal Club section and the staff--especially our consierge Veronica was wonderful. I had a rental car problem and she helped tremendously with that (even though it never got resolved). Her help was appreciated. Melvin and Maria, staff members of the Royal Club lounge, were wonderfully hospitable and were great to talk to. I really enjoyed seeing them every day at breakfast and/or lunch. What a bright start to the day!
The rooms were very clean and all our needs were met in that area. Turn down service was spot-on, with new towels and a chocolates on the pillows. The food was just ok. Last year, I stayed at Majestic Elegance in Punta Cana (club level) and their food was great...so one can get really good food at all-inclusives. I thought the Zen Restaurant was the best. We also dined at the Royal Club, Mexican (very lacking), Caribbean and the Palm Buffet.
The pool area was clean and the pool bar was fun and very efficient. Chairs on both the beach and pool were plentiful and it was easy to find one whether in the sun or shade. The beach is beautiful and clean.
The entertainment was very cheesy so we opted out of that. I probably would not stay here again unless I got a great deal. Don't get me wrong, I had a great time, I have not real compaint about the running of this resort, it's just not worth the money that I spent.

Room Tip: You may not need to upgrade to Royal Club. Choose a lower upgrade and you'll be fine.
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Massillon, Ohio
18 reviews 18 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 17, 2012

This is my second stay at this resort. Staff was very polite and always willing to help. Grounds are in good shape. Restaurants are nice. The italian place was our favorite. The resort is beginning to show its age. Only complaint was the A/C system in tower 2 was barely enough to keep the place cool.

Room Tip: Try to get poolside in tower 2. The sun beats on the other side in the afternoon.
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Moonachie, New Jersey
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 17, 2012

My family and I just returned from our trip (last week of Sept) and thought it best to break out our opinions of this resort to kill any misconceptions. To put my cards on the table upfront, would I go back to this hotel..."no" I wouldn’t and I would never say this is a four star hotel and this is why:
Resort Property - Other than Iguana poop river, which is a artificial dirty, smelly river that runs along the outdoor dining area of the main buffet, the grounds are maintained but are nothing special.
Pool Area - It's a nice pool/jacuzzi area with a waterfall in the middle. The music is loud and the pool bar is crowded. Reminded me of a mini-spring break hangout. The only issue is the pool and jacuzzi are closed after 8pm and the pool chairs look like they need to be replaced.
Beach Area - Where we spent all our time. You can't beat Aruba's water and weather (not under the resort control). I called it a lazy ocean because the water was really calm and blue. The weather was amazing! 90’ every day with a hot sun so please use sun block. I only have three complaints about the beach area. The first, if you want to get a good seating area you need to be down reserving your area no later than 7am or you're going to be 3 rows back. The earliest I went down was 6:25am and I still wasn't able to get front row seating. The second complaint, the beach bar doesn't open till 11am. If you want a drink you need to walk to the pool bar. Lastly, the beaches aren’t combed so you’ll find cigarette buds and some trash in the sand.
Bar Drinks - All artificial and overtly sweet drinks. You can drink till your heart is content but the alcohol isn't that great and it's watered down.
Restaurants - Where do I start! Upon arrival we were told the hotel was sold out, which translates to not getting into a hotel restaurant for the first couple days so you’re limited to the buffet only. A guest we met said it best, "at the buffet you’re eating to eat only and not for the experience" and reminded me of an upscale college buffet at best. Additionally, you’re only allowed to make reservations 4 days at a time even if you’re staying for 7 night. The Italian Restaurant – in our opinion the best of the restaurants. The Japanese Restaurant – the second best restaurant. The Mexican Restaurant – the third best restaurant and is boarder-line average. The Caribbean Restaurant – Horrible. If I were to do the reservations again, I would use two of the reservations for the Italian and two for the Japanese restaurant. To be honest, we ended up leaving the resort the last day to eat out at an AMAZING Restaurant called Gianni's Ristorante across the street.
Hotel Room – The hotel room was an average nice room, nothing to go crazy about other then the view of the sunset (if you’re on a higher floor). We were on the main building side and the only complaint we had was the very loud music that can be clearly heard till late into the night and we were up on the fifth floor. If you’re a light sleeper or want to just relax in your room expect to hear the lounge music.
Service – Sucked! Don’t get me wrong, there are some very nice people who go out of their way for you but on average the service at this hotel was not four star or four and a half star service depending on what review you’re reading. We joked around that the workers at this hotel mastered the art of being able to walk right past you without even noticing you and on average are just not nice at all (and we tip on average even though it’s “all inclusive”).
To close, don’t book this all inclusive. You’re better off booking at another hotel (like the Marriot where we ended up having drinks or some other hotel) and just walking across the street to all the great restaurants.
Honeymooner - If you’re a honeymooner, so are like 50+ other couples that are clearly named on the welcome sheet so don’t expect any extra treatment other than a breakfast. We had the pleasure to chatting with a very nice couple who had the same complains about not getting into resturants, etc.
All in all, we had a nice vacation because we managed to make it a nice vacation. I hope you take my comments into consideration and plan accordingly or have your expectations set before becoming disappointed. Good luck!

Room Tip: I would suggest staying in a higher level room so you can enjoy the sunset and be futher away from t...
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
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

Address: J.E. Irausquin Boulevard 83 | Palm Beach, Aruba, Palm - Eagle Beach, Aruba
Location: Caribbean > Aruba > Palm - Eagle Beach
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 Business Hotel in Palm - Eagle Beach
#10 Luxury Hotel in Palm - Eagle Beach
#16 Spa Hotel in Palm - Eagle Beach
#16 Top resorts Hotel in Palm - Eagle Beach
#20 On the Beach Hotel in Palm - Eagle Beach
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Occidental Grand Aruba 4*
Number of rooms: 368
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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Also Known As:
Occidental Grand Aruba Hotel Palm/Eagle Beach
Occidental Aruba
Aruba Grand Occidental
Occidental Hotel Aruba
Grand Aruba
Occidental Grand Aruba Palm - Eagle Beach

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