Moving on to the Ritz Carlton Aruba
We moved to the “high rise” hotel area after 2 nights in downtown Oranjestad. We chose the Ritz Carlton because we were able to find a very good rate through our AAA membership at $327.00 per night plus taxes etc (total at about $390 per night). We took a cab from downtown to the Ritz at a cost of about $20 with tip. We arrived about 3pm and our room was ready. We had been upgraded to an Ocean View on the 4th floor. In the lobby there was a huge gingerbread house that was placed there for the holidays. It smelled delicious and the design followed a traditional Aruban Island Hut. There is a casino in the lobby, a bar overlooking the pools with the ocean just beyond and a few shops including a coffee shop and resort apparel store.
One of the front desk employees walked us to our room on the 4th floor explaining the hotel features and amenities. As we walked in the room we could see that this was going to be a lovely place to spend the next 5 nights.
We did have a great stay at the Ritz, but want to add a few notes to the stay that might be helpful to some readers.
We have Platinum status with Marriott which usually provides breakfast in the morning and we have been offered this perk at other resorts and truly enjoy starting our day “on site” with a nice breakfast and coffee. In Aruba – there is limited added value if a guest has status. None of the Marriott branded resorts offer breakfast as a perk. After researching prior to the trip I learned that Marriott had the Tradewinds Club level for incremental cost and The Ritz offered the “Club Level”. We chose the Ritz based on prior stays at other Ritz properties and the “feel” we got staying there -over our standard hotel stays that usually happen at Marriott hotels.
Club Level Upgrade/Offerings
The Ritz has a Club Level which has food offerings from Breakfast through Evening desserts. We hold a credit card that allows access to the club level so we inquired about using a certificate. We made several inquires to the hotel, Ritz Customer service and we also reached out to the Marriott Platinum customer service because we hold status. But the information we received was confusing and we were not able to redeem our certificates. The stipulations were as follows:
1) To use our certificate we could have chosen another room through reservations – but the only “available” choice was a 1 Bedroom suite at $760 per night plus tax. (A Difference of +$430.00 per night)
2) I wrote the hotel to ask about buying an upgrade (not using any certificate) – they offered me the opportunity to do this for $400.00 per night .
3) Upon Check in the hotel offered to do the upgrade for $300.00 per night, and then a supervisor said that the very lowest they could go would be $125pp or $250.00 per night.
We opted to NOT take the Club level. There were a few things that drove our reasoning. First, we wanted to experience some of the local and resort restaurants. If we paid for the club level we would have felt obligated to eat most meals in the club. There is beer, wine and alcohol offered in the club but the idea of going up to the 7th floor each time you wanted a drink at the pool just because we paid for the club was not our idea of relaxation.
Our approach was to order the drinks we wanted while at the pool, have lunch at the pool or in the Mediterranean Restaurant each day, and our last day we ate breakfast in the Solanio Restaurant ($366), and we did have dinner at the BLT Steakhouse ($236) one of the nights we were there. Over all this added about $600 to our hotel bill – much less than the $1250 the club lounge would have cost.
There is a lot of talk on TA about the Marriott Tradewinds Floor and it seems to be very popular, and the cost is at about $200 per night. We were able to walk through the Marriott property several times during our stay and there were some really nice things that we noted for potential future trips to Aruba. As the week went along we truly felt that the Marriott might be a better choice for trips to Aruba over the Ritz Carlton.
We have stayed at or spent “spa” days while vacationing at other Ritz Carlton Hotels including -Fort Lauderdale – St. Thomas – San Juan and Naples FL. While each property has it’s own style there is a “branding” that goes along with the Ritz Carlton name. Some hotels carry out this branding better than others. The Aruba Ritz Carlton has the features of any nice property, the pools, the beach, the towel service and extra touches that help make a guest feel like they are getting good service. In the courtyard each evening there was entertainment and we could sit on our balcony watching the sunset and then enjoy some nice quiet music performed by duo’s and trio’s of musicians. A very chill atmosphere and a great way to relax before heading out for dinner.
The Ritz Aruba missed the mark for us by just a tiny bit – At other Ritz properties the staff work hard to recognize guests, learn their names, and not just say hello – but actually seem to care how the vacation is going. The Ritz Aruba feels like a regular hotel stay (like a Marriott) – the staff at the front door were almost never there upon leaving or returning to the hotel. Other properties the staff is right there saying “Welcome Back”! How was you day? The Front desk staff at the Aruba Ritz seems to be “intern” heavy – and this should not be something that a guest could identify – but the inexperience of the front desk staff shows in very small ways. On other properties we would always see the hotel managers circulating and greeting guests asking about their stay and how their day or vacation is going. We did not see a manager the entire 5 days we were at the hotel. These are not things we are fussy about – just differences we noted during this stay.
The Ritz is a nice hotel – but we did not feel like it was a place that we would want to return to again.