Anniversary Trip to Aruba
Anniversary trip recap, plus a review of the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino.
As I sit here thinking back to our anniversary trip from 2 months ago, the weather here is turning sour in the coming days. Cold, rain and *gasp* possible snow on the horizon. So, this is the perfect time to recap and review our anniversary trip to Aruba! Warm sunny days on the brain…
We spent our honeymoon in Aruba 10 years ago, so when I began researching places to go for a special 10 year anniversary trip, Aruba was still at the top. I fell in love with the island on our first visit. It’s hard to not love it. It’s so simple but so full of life. And big bonus, it’s perfect for vacationers of all varieties.
On our honeymoon, we roamed the island by land and air (yes, we took a helicopter tour of the island – pretty neat and I totally recommend it), shopped, ate and lounged. But this trip we specifically wanted to sit back and do nothing at all. Just lounge. Parents with three young children, celebrating a milestone anniversary, just wanting to relax for a few days in the warmth and sun that Aruba has to offer.
We stayed at the same hotel as we did on our honeymoon, the Aruba Marriot Resort and Stellaris Casino. It’s located at the end of the island, away from the hustle and bustle of the shopping district and nightlife. They had done some major renovations since our last stay. I mean major. We loved it last time but this time it was gorgeous. Hard wood floors in the guest rooms, bathroom updates, a new adults only pool and completely made over lobby.
The pros and cons:
We loved our room, especially with the beach view and wrap-around balcony. The view was incredible. But, because the regular/family pool was immediately below our room, it was noisy. They have a live band daily, so if you have young children that need to nap or you need/want to nap midday, good luck. It’s loud. They should really let guests know this when booking and give you options. That’s not to say I wouldn’t book the same room again, just something to be aware of. If you’re in an exterior room, adjacent to the adult pool or hotel next door, you won’t have this sound issue.
I absolutely loved the bathroom upgrades, but there were some things they could have put more thought into. The downside, from a girls perspective, they didn’t put a lot of thought into the shower. Work on your balancing act before booking a room here, because there isn’t a stool or shelf to put your foot when needing to shave. Also, that mirror in the shower – useless. It fogs up within .5 seconds of the water being on. Not a single rack or bar to hang a towel either. Everything is on the outside of the door and wall.
The weather really can’t be beat. It’s gorgeous every day. It’s typically well beyond the hurricane zone too so it’s a a fairly safe bet travel wise any time of the year. The trade winds give a constant breeze keeping the bugs away. The downside to that is it may deter you from hanging out on the beach on windier days. It was especially breezy on this trip, so we opted to lounge by the adult pool the entire time. Trust me, there’s a definite up side to that!
Whether you opt to hang out by the pool or on the beach, either way you’ll enjoy warm yet refreshing water. The pools are cleaned daily and the ocean is crystal clear. If you’re looking for shells, take a walk further down the beach. In front of the Marriott there are fewer shells, which makes for a more comfortable barefoot walk on the beach!
The adult pool requires key access. There is limited lounging in comparison to the family friendly pool and obviously the beach, but there still seemed to be ample room most days. The key is to try and get there early and just hang out. Bring a bag with plenty of sun screen, books, water etc. Lounge, swim, nap, eat, drink and be merry.
Speaking of sunscreen. Pack your own! Because you’re on an island and on a resort, it’s expensive. You’ll be paying at least double for sunscreen here. I opted to not pack anything large so we didn’t have to check our bags. I paid for it, literally, in the end. Also, reapply reapply and reapply. You’re close to the equator here.
Happy hour was always a hit, at the adult pool. You can order food from the bar as well and it will be delivered to your chair. There’s basically zero reason to ever leave the adults only area. It’s perfect.
The only downside here… the adult pool gets locked around 6 or 7pm, even your keycard won’t unlock it. Also, adding additional umbrellas would be handy as those were a hot commodity. Laying in the sun is fine and dandy, but some shade is also nice.
The family friendly/general access pool is open 24 hours and is lit up at night. We opted for an evening swim on our last night. You’ll find most people are at late night dinners or putting kids to bed, so the pool will be very empty…and quiet! Sadly, the bar is closed by this point.
If you plan on swimming at night, be sure to grab a new towel or save the one you have, before heading to your room, dinner etc. The towel hut and bins are closed late in the afternoon and aren’t restocked until morning.
Iguanas of all sizes are everywhere. They’re fascinating and fun to watch. They’ll even jump in the pool on occasion… intentionally or not.
The only time you’ll see a lot of birds is near the beach and outdoor restaurants. They won’t land on you and will fly away if you want them to. I just didn’t care here because at home, birds don’t ever get this close to you.
Instead of fancy overpriced food, we opted to keep things simple. We couldn’t justify $50 (or much MUCH more) on a tiny slab of meat or lobster tail when it’s far more reasonably priced at home. I get that it’s a vacation and again, you’re on an island so things will cost more but there is no reason to overpay when there are other options that are just as tasty!
Instead, we enjoyed the family friendly options that are more reasonably priced. There are buffets, sports bars, the lobby bar, pool bar and more that won’t give you sticker shock over a single meal. Chicken, burgers, sandwiches, salads, pizza, fresh seafood, decadent desserts and much much more.
We really enjoyed the buffet breakfast. I highly recommend going this route as you have a wide variety of options to choose from. Classic French toast, pancakes, eggs, cereal and granola bar, pastries, bacon, carving stations etc. I grabbed an apple each day, along with my breakfast, to take with me. Perfect for a mid morning snack by the pool!
Next to the desserts and awesome breakfast potatoes, my favorite food from the entire trip was the Southwestern taco salad. I ordered that two days in a row at the pool. Totally delicious and not at all heavy, a perfect lunch in the sun. Psst…you’ll be seeing a recreation of that Friday!
And psst… if you just can’t go without your Starbucks fix, there are now three locations on the island!
All in all, even with the typical downsides of island resorts, I highly recommend visiting Aruba. There is so much to see and do… or nothing at all but lounge in the sun. A relaxing destination, less than a 5 hour flight from Boston.