My husband and I celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary at the Ritz Carlton Aruba. Upon arrival, we were promptly greeted with Champagne and then surprised with an upgrade to a suite. This is by far, the best welcome we have ever received at a Ritz Carlton (the Ritz Carlton St. Thomas is a close second with cold towels and rum punch upon arrival). Check-in was very quick - we didn't have to wait in line - we arrived around 4:00 pm on a Sunday. The bell hop and our luggage were waiting for us when we got to our room. We were also escorted to our room by a member of the hotel staff and given a mini tour/overview of the resort and its amenities.
The hotel is simpler in design compared to the Ritz Carlton's other Caribbean locations, however, the Aruba property has an understated elegance about it. In honestly, I found some of the decor of the main corridors of their Grand Cayman property to be a bit gaudy. So this fresh, modern take on luxury was quite nice.
Our suite was gorgeous and very spacious - we had Parlor Suite (one bedroom with living room, foyer with wardrobe, a good size work/desk area, and had a large balcony that could be reached from both the bedroom and living room areas.). The large room made our 9 day stay very comfortable. The wardrobe in the foyer and the dresser in the bedroom provided plenty of space for us to unpack all of our belongings. Housekeeping was fantastic. The room was always spotless and we always had plenty of fresh towels, and bottled water. Housekeeping went so far, as to hang up items that we forgot to, and organize items on the vanities and night stands. Everything was always in tip top shape and turn down service came like clockwork each night while we were out at dinner. There was always chocolates waiting when we got back. The bed was also very comfortable and was set up with extra down pillows as requested. My only complaint would be the in room entertainment options. Yes, we do not go on a beach vacation to watch TV/Movies, but we like to watch some TV or a movie before bed. The hotel does not have pay-per-view (this is the first hotel I have ever been to without it) and the TV service was very spotty and quite often was not available during our stay. We were told that engineering would look into it, but it never improved during our stay. Also, we were unable to watch any of the west coast baseball games. On the east coast games were broadcast. What gives?
We spent all of our time at the beach and the beach service really needs to improve. Right now, Grand Cayman takes the cake for best beach service. There were some days when we had to go back and fourth to the bar ourselves in order to get drinks because the beach wait staff did not come around to check on us (even with our flag up, which is supposed to signal that we need service). Other days the service was great. I would like to thank Essmainlin and Danny for their excellent service on the beach. When these two gentlemen were around, out service was astounding. Also Arturo at the beach bar made great drinks and was fun to talk to. He provided some great tips on places to attend for nightlife.
We also had a small problem one day with our beach chair set-up. We reserved/had them set up in the morning (7:00 am) and during the time while we were eating breakfast (1 hr), all of our belongings were moved without our knowledge. Apparently, the beach/towel hut double booked our chairs and they were already set up for another set of guests. This is interesting since the chairs did not have any towels on them until we asked for them to be set up. Anyway, after 10-15 minutes of trying to find our stuff and sort out the issue, we were told that other chairs were set up for us and we were taken to them. These chairs were behind a grove of trees and the view of the ocean was completely obstructed. Our original chairs were in the second row and had a clear ocean view. This solution was not acceptable to us (especially since we were not even informed of the move) and we asked to speak to the beach manager. Come to find out this was the manager's original solution to what had happened. I quickly explained that this was not acceptable and he promptly had two chairs set-up in the front row for us with a bimini cover. Now, that is an acceptable resolution to their mess up.
There are two pools; one for adults and one for kids/family. The adult pool was too hot and heated like a hot tub. Also the pool is only 3 to 3.5 feet deep across the entire pool (I am 5'9" and my husband is 6'3") and we found it to be too shallow for swimming. We didn't really come to use the pool anyway, but when we tried it, we found these issues.
We never had dinner on property, however, we did eat lunch on the beach each day and had breakfast some mornings. Overall, the food choices for lunch are very limited. The all day room service menu provides better choices. Let down and bored by the beach lunch menu two days into our trip, I asked if a turkey club sandwich from the room service menu could be prepared by the beach restaurant. My request was happily granted and this is what I proceeded to eat for lunch each day at the beach for the remainder of the trip. The daily specials offered were blah and expensive. Yes, I know this is a Ritz Carlton, but $30 for a quesadilla without any sides is really pushing it. I found $22 for a sizable turkey club with french fries or a side salad to be a much better deal. I would really like to see more options added to their menu (e.g. more sandwiches and healthy options preferably).
Outside of the breakfast buffet there is complimentary coffee set up each morning from 7:00 am to 9:30 am. Coffee ran out of couple of times before the 9:30 ending time, however, the restaurant was more than happy to pour a cup for me. The breakfast buffet itself was very good - better than St. Thomas and Grand Cayman. The buffet at this property is larger and offers more options. Service as also quick and friendly.
We ordered room service four times during our stay; once for breakfast, once for a late night snack, once for desert and once for a bottle of Champagne. Each time our orders were delivered in under 30 minutes and the room service staff was friendly and eager set up everything for us and to make sure everything was to our satisfaction.
The hotel is located at the very end of Palm Beach and is very peaceful and quiet compared to the other resorts located along the beach. Due to its location the foot traffic is pretty limited, as everything else is located in the opposite direction. This is by far the best hotel in Aruba hands down. We walked down the entire beach one day and in and out of all the resorts and nothing even comes close. Also, the Ritz Carlton is the ONLY hotel that provides cushions for the beach chairs (this is a must for me, and a deal breaker if the resort does not offer this). The rest of the resorts (Marriott included) have beach loungers without cushions and dilapidated palapas. The sand at the Ritz is also nicer, nicer in that, it is free of debris. We were only approached once, by someone trying to sell something, however, most of the time, the Ritz Carlton has security walking up and down the beach to keep non-guests and potential peddlers moving along.
Spa: I visited the spa once during our trip to have a massage. I had a 50 min signature massage and it was nice. My only complaint is that my massage therapist (a male) was quite chatty. I'm on vacation to relax, not chit chat. Other than that, the spa facilities were nice. Compared to Grand Cayman, this spa is pretty run of the mill.
Fitness Center: Overall, I was not impressed with the fitness center nor the classes offered. The fitness center is very small and the equipment was limited. Yes, they had exercise bikes, but not spin bikes. I was looking forward to spinning during vacation, as they mentioned it on their website. There is a small room off to the side in which you can stretch, however, I am also really into pilates and found their equipment to be lacking (e.g. no bosu balls, mini/squishy balls, resistance bands or toning rings).
Cabs: Despite calling down for a cab 10 minutes before we needed to leave the hotel, we found the wait for cabs to be a bit long. We were late for our dinner reservations twice due to having to wait. Also, even though we would call for a cab and literally run down to the lobby, our cab was given away to whatever guests happen to get their before us. The system of calling and reserving cabs for guests needs to be improved.
Wifi: The wifi is free and the service inside the hotel is great, however, the service on the beach is very poor. I wanted the connection to steam music, however, it wasn't possible due to the connection. Suggestion - add additional wifi routers and or hotspots by the beach/pool area. The login process is very easy and I only had to login on the first day of my stay. This is great, as I have stayed at other hotels that require new complex daily logins every 24 hours.
Overall, we very much enjoyed our stay and can't wait to return. I would tend to say that I favor the Grand Cayman property in terms of amenities and service, however, we enjoyed Aruba as an island much much more than Grand Cayman (better food, nicer people, etc.). This property is still under a year old and you can tell that they are working hard to resolve any kinks. However, they do need to improve their service on the beach (currently inconsistent IMHO), expand their lunch menu, figure out how to keep guests happy during loud events that are being hosted at the hotel, offer better in room entertainment options and better manage the cab situation.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba's 320 stylish guestrooms, including 55 suites, all boast private balconies with sweeping views of the Caribbean Sea and design elements that blends the island's relaxed aesthetic with incomparable Ritz-Carlton character. Two Ritz-Carlton suites deliver panoramic oceanfront views with outdoor showers, while the expansive Club Lounge sits atop the building on the seventh floor with 34 rooms and an endless array of cuisine, beverages and personal service throughout the day to a backdrop of Aruba's extraordinary seascape framed by floor to ceiling glass windows. For an unrivalled retreat of relaxation and pampering, The Ritz-Carlton Spa will be the largest on the island revealing a 15,000 square foot tranquil oasis complemented by 13 intimate treatment rooms, salon, boutique and a variety of naturally-influenced indigenous services. Signature island-inspired treatments incorporate the natural elements of Sky, Water, Earth and Fire, infused with locally grown ingredients native to the island of aloe, coconut and cactus, all enhanced by the healing components of herbs and rich earth minerals. The hotel's culinary offerings display a selection of four savory fine dining experiences that reflect Aruba's oceanfront backdrop coupled with authentic dishes and rich flavors. Madero Argentinian Grill features an assortment of specialty cocktails, light bites and poolside seating overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Solanio offers an all-day trattoria with outdoor terrace seating or dramatic open-air kitchen views, Les Crustaces pays homage to impeccably prepared seafood in a fine dining setting, while hand-crafted cocktails and flavorful small bites are presented at Divi Bar & Lounge, the resort's lobby lounge bar named for Aruba's wind swept Divi Divi trees unique to Oranjestad and the island. The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba introduces exceptional meeting, corporate retreat, and special event space with a selection of indoor and outdoor venues, including a 7,500 square foot ballroom divisible into three salons, three meeting rooms and a selection of outdoor locations, including poolside decks, manicured lawns and a beachside reception area. The beach resort also features a 24-hour 15,000 square foot vibrant casino in an island paradise paired with an assortment of casino games ranging from traditional table favorites to over 300 slot machines. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba Palm - Eagle Beach