Executive Group Travel Blog

Aruba Group Travel Hotel Reviews

[fa icon="clock-o"] May 9, 2016 1:37:00 PM [fa icon="user"] Marci McCormack [fa icon="folder-open'] Travel Recommendations, Incentive Travel

Hotel Competition:

Executive Group Travel's Review of Four Aruba Hotels.  Stay tuned for upcoming reviews on Aruba group restaurant options and DMC's 

4 Hotels Compared (From Most Recommended to Least):

1.  Ritz-Carlton Aruba - The Ritz Aruba is the perfect option for your next incentive trip.  The beach is pure white sand, water is crystal blue and the service was wonderful.  The gym has new equipment and is well serviced each day, complimentary bottled water and headphones for your workout.  The hotel provided live music near the fire-pit to enjoy at sunset and the lobby bar Divi has great outdoor patio.  Drinks are reasonable for a high end property and the casino on property gives a late night entertainment option.  Also BLT Steak is located at the hotel and you can't go wrong with dinner there.  They do have a separate adults only pool and three sections of the beach for overflow.  Unlike most properties in Aruba there is not the battle for umbrellas or beach chairs given the space they have as they are the last property on the strip.  Another plus is that it is located only 5 minutes from the golf course!

    • Highlights include:  Beach service included cold towels, food and beverage delivery, complimentary sunscreen and complimentary non motorized watersports.
    • Room:   The rooms are like many other Ritz properties, new, clean and an impressive bathroom.  As with most Ritz properties the in room amenities and bath products are extensive and nightly turndown includes chocolates and water.  The best part of the rooms are the great outdoor patio to enjoy the sunset or amazing views of the ocean.  When booking make sure you understand the difference of Oceanfront and Oceanviews, unfortunately one wing of the Oceanviews face the outside of the property and are less desirable. 
    • Food:  The breakfast buffet and al la carte menu was impressive.  They have a separate juice bar menu that was also a highlight with smoothies and healthy options for breakfast.  As mentioned the dinner at BLT Steak did not disappoint.  The only main complaint we had with the Ritz was the quality of food at Lunch by the pools which was disappointing.   We left our sandwiches barely touched.  The Marriott beachside lunch was MUCH better at 30% less the cost.  There is also a sushi bar in the lobby for those looking for to stay close in the evenings.
    • Value:  The Ritz is the premium property in Aruba currently so expect to pay for that.  With this said though the beverage pricing is very reasonable in comparison to similar incentive destinations.  The Fontainbleau in Miami, Viceroy Anguilla, Atlantis Bahamas, and Four Seasons Costa Rica cocktails cost almost 40% more and lunches 20% more.  The buffet breakfast is similar in cost with some of the resorts above as it is $35 per person.
    • Ritz_Aruba-1.jpg

Overall I would highly recommend Ritz Aruba.  If you are a company coming from the East Coast there are many direct flight options and even options for European employees to fly direct on KLM from Amsterdam.  The beach is one of the beach I have ever seen (despite being shallow water, waist high), and the location provides a privacy and intimacy that the rest of Aruba does not offer.  Given it's growing popularity be prepared to share the resort with other groups between Jan-June.

2.  Marriott Stellaris Casino - The Marriott would be my top option for an incentive trip for a young group or a company just getting started with their President's Club.  I like to think of it as the budget option to the Ritz.  It is located right next door to the Ritz, about a 2 minute walk along the beach away so it shares the same beach but just with more people and activity.  Unlike the Ritz they do have the daily battle for Palapas for shade during their busy season (this is an issue throughout all of Aruba).  The Adults-Only pool area is much quieter and has its own bar which provided friendly service.  Again seats are first come first serve so there's still a competition for chairs.  The Gym is definitely older but has everything you need from cardio to weights. 

    • Highlights Include:  Adults-only pool area, three properties in one, beach-side lunch, sushi bar in lobby.
    • Room:  Standard Marriott room, good space, nice bathroom, but somewhat thin walls (could hear other guests in hallways some evenings).  The Marriott rooms also have great balconies to enjoy an evening cocktail or take a break from the beach/pool. 
    • Food:  We found the food to be some of the best we experienced during the trip.  The lunch on the beach was fresh and tasty and the service was friendly but slow.  They also have some great happy hours throughout the three outdoor bars on property and each at different times (beach bar, pool bar, and patio at the main restaurant).  Ruth Chris is located in the hotel but unfortunately does not have any outdoor seating options and for that reason we recommend walking the 3 minutes next door for the BLT Steak outdoor patio.  The breakfast al la carte menu and buffet was good but if you sit outside be prepared for the black birds to be a nuisance (this is even worse at Hyatt).  They are adding a Starbucks in the near future
    • Value:  For the price for groups in April/May/June, the Marriott value is extremely high.  Lunches range from $12-14 and the endless happy hours keep the beverage spend low (ex.  2 frozen drinks for $15).  The beach is still beautiful (yet crowded) and the water still crystal clear.  The main pool is definitely bustling with music playing each day but the adults-only option offers a more quiet sanctuary.  The buffet breakfast is $25 per person.


Overall the main complaint for the Marriott Stellaris Aruba is the building look and feel.  When you pull up to the property it is the least impressive of all four discussed and once you enter the lobby it still does not have that Caribbean outdoor feel.  It has more of a convention feel.  But the beach is still beautiful and the water still crystal clear.  The main pool is definitely bustling with music playing each day but the adults-only option offers a more quiet sanctuary.  The food is good with plenty of options, the happy hours keep the costs down for guests drinks, and rooming prices are hard to beat.

3.  Hyatt Aruba - The Marriott's main competition for group travel is the Hyatt and currently the Hyatt is the more selected property for group travel.  The Hyatt's biggest selling point is the wow factor when you are pulling up.  It is the more impressive lobby of all four properties with open air and great views.  It makes you truly feel you have just arrived to the Caribbean.  Unfortunately once you enter the Run of House category rooms you quickly lose that open air feel.  The rooms are on the small side, bathrooms are nice but there are no balconies to sit and enjoy a cocktail.  You can open your slider to a small (barely step out) balcony but that's as good as it gets.  The second complaint for the Hyatt property was the beach location.  The competition for shade and beach chairs was all anyone talked about and the ocean floor felt slimy.  Almost all people were enjoying Hyatt loungers in the water for this reason.  It's location right next to the pier also meant the water was not as clean and there was more foot traffic on the walkways.  One selling point for the property is the location to the "downtown" area so guests can get off property each evening and explore the shops, restaurants, and bars.  The Gym is clean and very consistent with their "Stay Fit" brand but it is separated into two separate rooms. 

    • Highlights Include:  Water-slide, Location to Downtown, Casino, Starbucks
    • Room:  Standard Room with nice bathroom.  Good sound-proofing between rooms and hallways.  Run of House does not have balconies you can sit out on, only small number of upgraded rooms do. 
    • Food:  The breakfast and lunch was okay, the least favorite breakfast of the above resorts.  They do have a dinner on the beach option which is recommended (did not experience personally). 
    • Value:  Overall this hotel usually comes in slightly more expensive than Marriott so if budget is important than Marriott will be the better option.  For the outside it looks more impressive and from the views in the lobby, etc but for functionality and overall experience it falls short in some ways.  The biggest advantage is location to bars and restaurants so if this is important, Hyatt might be your preferred hotel.  If you are a party group who likes to be in the thick of things the Hyatt might be the best option for you with a great swim up bar, water-slide and proximity to shopping, etc.


4.  Riu - Overall Riu was disappointing and our company would not recommend the property to any groups.  The biggest issue was the strong smell of must in each of the two rooms I viewed (suite and RoH) along with the strange odor in the hallways.  The second issue was the quality of the food.  From the outside the property  and the views of the pool/beach from the lobby look extremely impressive but once you walk around you realize it's a very difference experience.  Each pool chair was taken and they were hosting loud games by the pool.  The bar was non-stop commotion and it was not the relaxing Caribbean vibe most companies look for.   It might have the biggest pool in the Caribbean and a very nice beach but the rest needs much improvement.  Just the quality of the food alone would leave your guests venturing off resort for food options after only a few meals.


One Happy Island:

Overall Aruba is a great option for incentive travel and each of the hotels mentioned above have hosted successful President's Clubs in the past.  White sand beaches, crystal clear water, warm weather, very little rain, great restaurants and plenty to do makes Aruba one of the top choices for incentive travel in 2017.  


If you have any questions on incentive travel in Aruba feel free to reach out.  

Incentive Travel Success


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As is standard practice, our group of talented and experienced travel agents will often accept hosted stay invitations and hosted dinners and activities within destination in order to facilitate more detailed reviews.  

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