First of all, I knew I wasn't staying at the Hyatt or one of the super fancy places. I expected this place to be middle of the road, and I think it really met my expectations, as far as how fancy it was. I would never expect an all-inclusive resort to have awesome food. In my experience, buffets are rarely phenomenal, and I knew none of their restaurants were internationally renowned. I am a big foodie, so again, I had moderate expectations, and the Occidental Grand met them all.
So that being said - I thought the food was a good quality, with plenty of variety and substance. Although I expected the cocktails to be watered down (again, this has to be how all-inclusvies work, I assumed!), my pina coladas were delicious. But yeah, the wine was not high quality. Just basic cheap wine, although they had several varietals. The staff was almost always good to very good and welcoming. In fact, the first night I got there from the airport and checked in just minutes before the buffet was closing and had had no dinner. I was lost as I was trying to find it and asked some guy as he was walking somewhere, and he stopped what he was heading off to do, took me to the buffet, sat me, got me water and didn't say anything rude about them closing in minutes. That's the kind of service that you'd expect, but you could easily not get at some places. Their dinner reservation system, where you are supposed to go to the lobby and talk to this one lady, is kind of a pain. Seems like you should just be able to call her or the restaurants from your room. I didn't really want to trek all the way to the lobby as I had no other reason to go there.
The rooms - very comfortable. Large towels, A/C works well, bed is fine. The one thing is that there is that underlying faint mildewy smell that I often detect in international humid places. Running the A/C helps. It's pretty minor, but otherwise I found the rooms to comfortable and pretty good looking. The one thing is the TV was awful, from the 80s it looked like, but I didn't watch it at all, so I almost forgot about that.
The pool was in good shape, as were the chairs, the palapas on the beach, other water-related amenities. Although there was only one medium sized pool, I never found it to be too crowded and there was always space on the beach as well, whether I was looking for shade or sun.
There were two significantly annoying things: First, there was only ever one person at the front desk. Which was fine when I checked in because I was the only person there, but when I went to check out, which took me all of 1.5 minutes, I had to wait in line for like 15 minutes behind one other group. And the one time my key demagnetized, I had to wait almost 10 minutes behind two other people asking questions. They need to have a second staff member there, or someone that can come over to the front desk from the bell desk or another location to help speed things along when it gets jammed up. While I was standing there forever, there were like 3-4 bellhops doing practically nothing the whole time. It would be very efficient if they would cross train these employees to help out with some simple tasks, at least!
Secondly, the internet was deplorable. First, they need to make it clear that you just can't even bother getting on in your room. Or maybe my room was a dead zone and they just need more routers or whatever to strengthen it throughout the towers, but I spent a long frustrating time trying to connect there. So then I realized I had to go sit in the lobby if I wanted to do anything on the internet, which is really annoying, because you'd probably rather take care of some stuff in the comfort of your room. And on top of that it was still slow. And you pay anywhere from $13-20 per day for this service! WAY too expensive for not being able to access it except for in the lobby. I probably would not have paid for it had I known how slow it was and that I would have to sit in the lobby torn between feeling like I was wasting my vacation and wanting to give a particular page two more minutes to finish loading. This should really be improved.
- 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
- Reservation Options:
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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