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Marriott's Aruba Surf Club
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Reviews (2,980)
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Reviewed May 19, 2013

My dh and I stayed at the Surf Club for a week, Saturday to Saturday. The resort is massive. Our first night we got a little turned around and ended up asking for help figuring out exactly where our room was. Disclaimer there, we had been drinking, and it was only our 2nd time even walking to the room. We rented a studio lock off from an owner on redweek. The room was just what we needed for the two of us. Our room was on the 7th floor of the building furthest from the beach, overlooking the pool with the little waterslide. All rooms are non-smoking, and the paper when you check in says that includes the balcony, so my dh had to walk down to the smoking area a few times during our stay. He didn’t mind and as a non-smoker, I loved it! The furnishings and beddings were all up to Marriott standards and very comfortable. Our studio had a queen bed and a sleeper sofa. The room description says sleeps 4, but I would not recommend more than 2 adults and 1 child (not teen, but child) in a studio unit (also called the lock-off unit). You would be very cramped with 4 people or even 2 adults and a teen. Think of the studio as a slight step above basic hotel room. There would not be enough closet space either. We had a sink, small fridge, microwave, coffee pot, and toaster in our room.
The Surf Club property is very nice, clean, and well kept. I really can’t say anything bad about the resort. The staff is very friendly. There is a noticeable security presence, which I found comforting. The marketplace store near the lobby has everything you need, but you do pay extra for the convenience of purchasing it right on property. I wouldn’t do a week’s worth of shopping here for a family but it was nice to get a few things here and there. The restaurant near the pool was just okay, we ate there for convenience when we didn’t feel like walking but like most hotel restaurants, the food was overpriced and just okay.
Every morning the beach was cleaned and raked while we were there. This is a nice stretch of beach. The water was a little cloudy, I assume from the boat traffic but it was still such a pretty blue color. I think Marriott has one of the best palapa reservation systems. You have options, you can wait in line and reserve in the afternoon for the next day, I believe this line forms around 3pm, but I am not sure as we are early risers and chose to go down around 6am to wait in line to get a front row or 2nd row. Reservations start at 7am. If you don’t want to wait in the afternoon or the morning for the free palapa reservations, you also have the option to pay to reserve 2 days at a time. I think this gives an option for everyone. There are also plenty of chairs for people who don’t care if they have shade or want to find a spot under a tree. They also have some chairs with shade attachments but they must be kept on the back row at the beach. We saw beach attendants asking people to move them back a few times when people tried to move these shade chairs up close to the water. It was also nice having the option of ordering food and drinks from servers who made their rounds on the beach.
We don’t usually use pools much at the beach but we made an exception for the Surf Club. The pools are great. We usually eat dinner fairly early, so a few nights we came back when most people were out at dinner and ended up having the lazy river and hot tubs almost to ourselves. Keep In mind this was late April/early May and not peak season. We did not go to the adults only pool, but appreciated the option. We never used the pool during the day, except to go to happy hour at the pool bar one day. We enjoyed the happy hour drinks in the pool but some of the other guests were really into a basketball game on tv and a little annoying so we didn’t stay long. We had no problem finding a chair, but I could see where this would be an issue during peak times at the resort. I do like the chair tag system that is in place. Guests should be more considerate with chair reserving but what can you do, people sometimes feel entitled on vacation with no concern for others. I don’t know what it was the week we were at the Surf Club but there we a lot of people from NY and NJ who just had harsh attitudes and a sense of entitlement and were just plain rude to staff and other guests. That is not a reflection on the resort, but a few times it was embarrassing as an American. I am not coming down on all NY and NJ folks, but the ones that we encountered on our trip definitely were not relaxing and pleasant to be around. We are from Virginia near DC, so we do identify more with a laid back southern lifestyle, with just enough urban experience to know what to expect.
I did love the Surf Club and if we ever have children, we will stay there probably every trip. Also if we went with a group of family or friends, I would stay at the Surf Club again. I liked the option of the grills to cook out as a group. But for us, traveling as a couple, I am not sure the Surf is for us. We don’t cook on vacation, so we really don’t need a timeshare unit. We don’t drive on vacation because we like to drink and also we don’t want to even think about where to go and how to get there, and without a car you either walk a lot, or spend a lot on taxis. The Marriot properties seem a little cut off when you want to walk on the street side of the hotel row on Palm Beach. The Beach side walk is fine, once you get around Moomba and the Holiday Inn you can get back on the paved walkway. In the hot afternoon sun it can feel like a long walk just to get off the property and down to the areas we wanted to be. Granted, I am not in the best shape, but even my husband felt that way a few days near the end of the week. He got to a point where he just didn’t want to walk anymore, and he is used to being on his feet all day every day. So after all this, my final thought is, if you want to be pampered and lazy and be in the middle of the action, maybe rethink the Surf Club. But if you want a family vacation on a budget where you do some or most of your own cooking and just want nice pool, activities and a beautiful beach - this is the spot for you!

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Traceysmiles14
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 18, 2013

We are leaving today and I will definitely miss it here! This is a great resort for families and couples and we can see ourselves coming back here. I was really worried about some of the negative feedback I read, but after staying here I think most of it is untrue- some people just love to complain.
the rooms themselves are immaculate. We stayed in a one-bedroom on the 5th floor of the spyglass tower and it's the perfect size for a couple. We cooked most breakfast and lunch, then went out for dinner. We did have a great view of the ocean and loved watching the sunset every day.

The pool/beach chair reservation system seems insane at first, but we didn't have any issues. Some days I was up by 7:00 to reserve a better palapa, other days we didn't a get out there until 10:00. Either way we always found a place to sit. Keep in mind that even if the good palapas on the beach are taken, there are still tons of open chairs, many of which have little awnings attached for shade. We would move to the pool after lunch and also never had any problems finding chairs.

I recommend coming in the off-season. Many of the complaints I see could easily be solved by simply avoiding the busiest weeks. Yes, there are lots of families with kids here, but we are a young couple without kids and weren't bothered at all, mainly because the resort wasn't at full capacity. I can imagine if all 600 rooms were occupied it could get a bit crowded!

Overall I can see us returning here. This resort has some of the nicest pools we've seen and having a full condo was a really nice change from our usual all-inclusive stays.

  • Stayed: May 2013
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2  Thank Kscallion
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 17, 2013

My husband and I stayed at the Surf Club for our honeymoon. We really enjoyed having access to a full kitchen. We only ate out 4 times over the entire week long stay! This worked out well as most restaurants in the high rise strip are closed during the lunch hour. We ate at the Captain's Gallery beachside restaurant and it was pretty good and not extremely over priced.

We stayed in a one bedroom which was more than enough space for two people. Plus, the hotel has free Wi-Fi!! Additionally, the largest tour company, De Palm tours is located in the hotel lobby which makes it a breeze to book any tours.

There is a path from the hotel that leads you to the strip and the mall. It does look a little seedy, but it is quite safe. Everyone at the Marriott uses it, and if you hear a rustle in the bushes, don't get scared, its just an iguana.

Just steps off of the property is the beach. We used the pool primarily to relax and play, and just walked the beach at night.

Overall, the property suited our needs. It is well maintained. You will constantly see workers cleaning the grounds. Please note: ocean view doesn't guarantee you will see the ocean. Apparently any room above the 2nd floor is considered an ocean view. We were on the 4th floor, and the tops of palms trees blocked our view. If you really want an ocean view You probably need to be on the 6th floor.

Room Tip: If you want a true ocean view, you need to be on the 6th floor or higher. However, you will want to ensure that you get a full size kitchen. Some of the higher level rooms have smaller kitchens.
  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Smileshee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 16, 2013

I have to begin by saying my wife and I are not picky people. I really don't understand some of the people who write bad reviews about this place. We just returned from a week at the Marriott Surf Club in Aruba. We traveled in May with another couple.

I will begin by responding to other people's complaints. Yes...you have to tag your chairs. And we were poolside everyday by 9-10 AM. If you don't care to have the very first row of chairs in front of the lazy river or the various pools then you will not have a problem. If you don't mind sitting in the second row or little further you will find chairs. We never had a problem finding chairs for 4 people.

People complained about the lack of poolside service for drinks and food. This is true and I wish they had more waiters walking around to serve you. But the plus side is that they allow you to bring your own drinks poolside and they do not bother you. They know many people who are walking around with coffee mugs are actually drinking their own alcohol and they never stopped or bothered anyone. So I am guessing the amount of people drinking and cooking their own goods results in the less poolside staff.

The oceanview rooms are not a true oceanview. It is difficult to see the ocean from the sides of the hotel. But every resort has this problem all over the world and this resort is no different. If you are traveling to Aruba to sit on your balcony you might as well stay home. We had a regular queen bed room and had no problems. If you travel with a family you will need he larger rooms.

We loved the nice service and hospitable staff. The lazy river is amazing and I think a lazy river will have to be a factor for all resort vacations for our future travels. The other pools are really nice and the beach is amazing. The water is blue but not really clear. But they have no control over the ocean water.

We were not bothered at all with children at the resort. It is a perfect mix of couples and families.

The downfalls of the resort are the following:

There is no nightlife activity or shows at the resort. But this seemed to be the same at all the resorts on the beach.

There is not a full service restaurant on the resort. But you can use the other Marriott facilities next door for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The surf club does have buffets. And some of the other hotels have great restaurants for dinner that are all walking distance on the beach. Walk on the beach is almost all paved for a beautiful walk to dinner at any other resort on the beach.

Drinks and poolside food is expensive. But you are allowed to bring your own drinks and food. They even have BBQ grills available on the property.

Overall....traveling to Aruba is not cheap. Neither is this resort. But.......if you want to be somewhere that they speak darn good English, accept US currency, not worry about the quality of water and food, enjoy the sun but not be overwhelmed (there is a nice constant breeze to keep you cool), have free wifi and enjoy the lazy river......you will love this place.

Like is said in the beginning.......we are not picky people. But we do accept a certain standard for any vacation as we work hard to be able to enjoy ourselves and vacation. We have traveled to Hawaii, Riviera Maya and Cabo San Lucas most recently.....and this is just another destination on our list that we loved and will visit again in the future.

Stayed: May 2013, traveled with friends
5  Thank T K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 16, 2013

I have to tell everyone that when I found out there was no Hilton property in Aruba I was so mad, but the Surf Club is making me think strongly about changing my preference to Marriott. This place is clean, great for kids, and the staff are very friendly. Keep in mind that if you are not going in a timeshare deal it is expensive but you get what you pay for here. Room was immaculate, pool area is amazing. If I had to make one complaint, I would not go to the breakfast buffet outside, but that is it. Stay here if you are going to Aruba (ask for a high floor for a better view).

  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled with family
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2  Thank lakrav
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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