Resort Spotlight: Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino
By Nancy Schretter, Editor
Looking for a popular place to take your next family vacation? Think Aruba. Families travel here year after year for easy-going family vacations where everyone can count on having fun.
It's no wonder that Aruba has the highest repeat visitor rate in the Caribbean. This laid-back island is blessed with picture-perfect white sand beaches, spectacular sea life, and some of the friendliest residents you'll find. “Bon Bini!” means welcome and you'll hear it called out genuinely as you tour the island. Aruba's residents make guests feel right at home and it's this kind of warmth and ease that makes families return again and again.
Guests also repeatedly return to the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, one of Aruba's most popular family hotels. Travel + Leisure Family named the Aruba Marriott as one of the top 10 resorts for families in 2008 – and with good reason. This newly remodeled resort offers all of the amenities and features parents and kids look for in a great family vacation property.
- The Aruba Marriott has a beautiful white sand beach with lots of palapas for shade. There's a very gradual entry into the sea (perfect for young children) and the water is crystal clear.
- There's a large pool with a waterfall, plenty of shade and lots of lounge chairs. Chairs were always available around the pool during the day.
- The Aruba Marriott's Bon Bini Kids program for ages 5-12 operates from a spacious and well-equipped facility and offers a wide variety of activities. Individual kids' craft projects are also available through the resort's activities program. Check the daily schedule for complete details.
- As part of the resort's recent $50 million renovation, all of the property's 411 rooms have been recently redone and are large and spacious, at well over 500 square feet. Rooms feature elegant dark wood furniture, Marriott's comfortable Revive bedding, LCD televisions, marble baths and rain-style showerheads. Every room has an oversize 100-square-foot balcony – a great place to enjoy breakfast while looking out over the sparkling waters of the Caribbean Sea.
- Families seeking the optimum indulgence should reserve one of the 59 rooms in the Tradewinds Club, an exclusive club on the eighth floor of the hotel. This boutique “hotel within a hotel” provides personalized service and privileges such as private check in, access to an exclusive 1900 square-foot lounge serving five complimentary gourmet food & beverage services daily such as free breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, Discovery Hour featuring drinks and tastes from the resort's restaurants, mid-evening snacks and an open bar. The Tradewinds Club also offers computers with free Internet connections, preferred spa and restaurant reservations, a pillow menu, a dedicated concierge staff, a reserved beach area and more.
- The Aruba Marriott's 24-hour lobby snack bar is great. It serves breakfast items, sandwiches, coffees, teas, and snacks. The ice cream here is a real treat.
- The seven restaurants and cafes at this resort will please a wide variety of palates. La Vista is a good choice for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Don't miss the lobster here – it's fantastic! Simply Fish provides the right setting for a romantic parents' night out dinner on the beach and Ruth's Chris Steak House delivers the beef just the way you like it. Both Ruth's Chris and Simply Fish are very popular, so make your dinner reservations early.
- Spa lovers rejoice - the Mandara Spa is located on the ground floor of the Marriott Ocean Club, a timeshare property next to the Aruba Marriott. The 6,500 square-foot spa offers a spa menu tailored to the resort's theme along with Balinese treatments and classic techniques. A complete menu is can be viewed at www.mandaraspa.com.
- The Aruba Marriott offers an Escape! Inclusive package for those travelers who prefer all-inclusive vacations. The package includes room accommodations, breakfast lunch and dinner at resort restaurants, premium brand liquor, local beer, house wine by the glass and non-alcoholic beverages, complimentary use of the health club and tennis courts, non-motorized hotel sponsored water sports, Kids' Club activities, and discounts for golf, massages and merchandise.
Situated in the southern Caribbean, Aruba is known for its crystal blue-green waters and white sandy beaches. The Aruba Marriott is located on a seven-mile strand of beach and offers a wide variety of water sports. Guests can choose from scuba diving, snorkeling, windsurfing, kite boarding, water and jet skiing, parasailing and other activities. Families who enjoy snorkeling can head to Baby Beach where there's excellent snorkeling right offshore. Alternatively, tours can be arranged to De Palm Island where you can snorkel through schools of brightly colored fish. Other activities, such as water slides, SNUBA (a kid-friendly variation on scuba for children ages 8 and older) and Sea Treks (walking underwater with a specially designed helmet and air supply system) are also available here.
While the waters surrounding the resort are usually very calm and kid-friendly, thundering waves can be found for those who choose to visit the island's rugged northeastern coast. Families can rent their own 4-wheel drive vehicles to explore this area or go on a safari jeep adventure with a tour company. Make sure to stop at the Aruba Ostrich Farm and visit the California Lighthouse, the cute Alto Vista Chapel, and the Bushiribana Gold Mill ruins along the way. Arikok National Park and the caves where native Arawak Indians dwelled are also in this area.
Families who enjoy golf will have their needs met on Aruba. The island's 18-hole Tierra del Sol golf course, designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., offers championship golf along with beautiful sea vistas and lush greens. The concierge at the Aruba Marriott can book tee times for guests.
The island's picturesque capital, Orangestad, is a colorful and charming place for sightseeing and shopping. Families will find vendor stalls as well as stores selling international luxury items including jewelry, perfume, crystal and more. A weekly Bon Bini Festival Show takes place every Tuesday night. There are also nearly a dozen casinos located in Aruba, including the Stellaris Casino at the Aruba Marriott – the largest on the island.
If You Go:
- For more information on the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, visit www.arubamarriott.com or call 1-888-PARADISE. Specials are often featured on the resort's website, so make sure to check before booking.
- The resort offers a special Internet/phone package for $19.95 per day (current rate at time of publication) that allows unlimited Internet access and phone calls to the United States. This package is a good choice for those who need to be in constant contact with the office or other family members at home.
- Since Aruba is located in the Southern Caribbean close to Venezuela, the sun is very strong. Make sure to lather up with SPF 30 or higher. The Aruba Marriott also provides shady areas and palapas on the beach. Get there early for the best spot.
- Make sure to check the resort's daily schedule for free activities for families and kids.
- Bring along drink coozies and inflatable floats for the beach. The water tends to be very calm and floating in the Caribbean Sea is a great way to relax on vacation.
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