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Reviewed August 27, 2009

Me and my boyfriend have just returned form the Marriott Aruba Surf Club and we had a great time. I was a little worried because I read previous travelers' reviews, and because we were a young couple going, I was starting to worry that the crowdedness and many kids at the resort would be annoying. Also, we were staying there under my mother's timeshare as we did an exchange through Interval International and peole complained their rooms weren't that good. Wellllllllllllllllllll.....I HAVE NO COMPLAINTS!!!! The resort was nice and VERY clean. The staff was helpful. We arrived on a saturday afternoon around 2 and there wasn't a long line at all. We walked straight up to the front desk and was checked in with no problems. When we cheked out, we used the express check out and did it over the phone...SIMPLE. The room was very clean (I think we were given one of the renovated rooms) as we stayed in a studio which was fine since it was just us two. There was a mini fridge, dishes, a microwave and a toaster so that was helpful also when storing snacks and drinks. Too save some money on lunch we brought bread and sandwich meat, etc from the local deli in the mall area and made sandwiches for lunch. We always slept in past 10 so we never had to worry about breakfast. As for Dinner, yes...it is true...the prices at the Aruban restaurants are pricey BUT we never spent more than $65 on a meal. The people who order, wine, drinks, dessert..the whole 3 course meal..are the ones who result is ridiculous bills. We just focused on drinks and our entree (thats all that was needed).

RESTAURANTS: I recommend for dinner Flying Fishbone (went there for my birthday and it was GREAT). Romantic dinner on the beach. Make reservations ahead of time at their website. Also the Ruinas Del Mar at the Hyatt Regency resort was GREAT as well. Another romantic dinner. This restaurant is just BEAUTIFUL. Especially at night. You must sit outside by the water. Great ambiance. Iguana Joes in downtown was great as well. They had a extensive selection of food for lunch. Iguana Cantina at the mall across the street from the Marriott had GREAT Mexican food. And lastly, the Captain's Galley on the Marriott property near the pool was great as well. We ate there for lunch almost everyday, and ate breakfast there the day we were (sadly) leaving. As I said, the food is pricey, but definitely good.

As for the pool chair issue, we never REALLY had a problem finding chairs at the pool, just make sure you always tag your chairs. And we reserved a palapa the first morning at 7am and got it for free. Thats the ONLY day we REALLY relaxed and LAID out on the beach for a few hours. If you really don't care for having a palapa protecting you from the sun, then you can just ask for a beach chair without having to pay for a palapa. The palapas you do have to pay for if you come at 8am, but if you reserve them at 7am or 4pm, they are FREE.

ACTIVITIES: The Jolly Pirates tour was alot of fun..snorkeling, food, music, tanning, drinks, swimming, rope swing. It was I believe $55 and it was worth it (9:30am-2:30pm). There are ALOT of water sports options right on the beach so be adventurous and try some. We rented a speedboat and drove it for 40 minutes ($130)...but there are other water sports that are much more inexpensive. There are many places along the beach to sign up so you have many options (jetskiing, speed boats, boat cruise, party boats, banana boats, wind surfing, parasailing, scuba diving and much more.)

TAXI: I used Bully (the Auban taxi driver) for transportation. Google him and you can find his contact info. He is VERY NICE, INFORMATIVE, and CHEAPER than the other local taxi drivers. $20 from the airport to the Marriott. Just contact him ahead of time. And if he is unavailable, he will send one of his other family members who is in the taxi business with him. There's night life along the strip, which is walking distance so you do not need to take a bus or cab unless you are going into downtown ($11 taxi ride).

Aruba was great. The beach water in front of the resort is nice but not as crystal clear as other places I have been too. And I have come to the conclusion that the reason being is there are always people in the water and speed boats, jetskis, etc in that part of the beach. But when we went snorkeling on the Jolly Pirates ship...the water was crystal clear. Probably because those areas have less activity. I wanted to go to baby beach (supposed to be the best beach in Aruba) but according to our cab driver..its all the way at the opposite end of the island and kind of far...so we skipped it as our beach was just fine.

Lastly, just be aware that the Aruba Surf Club is definitely a family oriented resort with alot of kids. We were a 25/26 yr. old couple looking for a fun filled, relaxing, romantic trip. If you like kids, then stay here, but if you don't...stay at one of the Marriott resorts next door (Marriott Ocean Club or the more high end Marriott..the Stellaris Casino). We did not let the many kids affect our stay. Actually, it was kind of entertaining to watch them enjoying theirselves. They brought energy to the resort. I know this is long but hopefully this will help someone decide on their Aruba trip. Next time, I go to Aruba though..I would like to stay at either the Hyatt Regency (SUCH A BEAUTIFUL RESORT) or the Riu Palace. But thats only because I like to stay at different places when I travel.


***People have such high expectations, you just have to enjoy yourself as things will not always be PERFECT!***

  • Stayed: August 2009, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank Luv2vacay82
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed August 27, 2009

Just returned from Surf Club and had at fabulous time with our four "young adults" with us. We own at Marriotts Ocean Watch in Myrtle Beach and this was our first trade to Aruba. Our villa was awesome--in the Spyglass Tower overlooking the pool on the 5th floor. I have to agree that the check in took much longer than we would have liked especially after a long day traveling there. I wish they had taken the time to explain a little of the surrounding area to us. We had no idea until midweek about the mall area within walking distance of the Surf Club that has tons of restaurants and things to do. We discovered it on our own. We did not rent a car and are glad we didn't. We did take a cab out to Flying Fishbone one evening and it was well worth the $26 each way to get there. We also ate at Wacky Wahoos, Smokey Joes, Madame Jeanettes, Moomba Beach, Casa Tua and Champions. I would highly recommend all of those except Moomba Beach--food was terrible there, but atmosphere is nice. Our kids did parasailing and LOVED it and we also had a blast on the Jolly Pirates morning cruise with a good lunch included. The older kids really liked doing casinos at night and liked the one at the Holiday Inn property next door. We spent all of our time on the beach and did not have that much trouble getting a free Palapa each day, even though they were back from the water--it was not bad. You definitely need a Palapa--the sun is scorching hot. We did not even try for pool chairs but saw people out there at 7 am claiming them for the day. We did the lazy river, which is awesome, mostly late afternoon or later at night. The Surf Club was extremely crowded last week, but it was okay. We slept 6 of us very comfortably in the villa. We only had one problem--our refrigerator froze everything we put in it, so we had a lot of ruined food. Shopped early in the week at Ling and Sons, which was a smart move, even though the prices are very expensive--we would have spent a lot more buying beer, wine and food on property. On a side note, our daughter ended up going to the hospital midweek with a throat infection and we were very happy with the service we received. FYI--you pay cash at the hospital, but get reimbursed at home by your insurance company. The prices were nothing like I expected--cheap for an emergency room visit, specialist care and medicine ($220 total) The weather was gorgeous, but HOT, all week. Everyone had a blast, despite our foray to the hospital!!! Checkout was painless and quick.. You need to get to the airport three hours ahead during the busy days (Saturday being one of them). You have to go through two security checkpoints, two customs and checking in with the airline--a hassle! We would definitely go back to the Surf Club.

  • Stayed: August 2009, travelled with family
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2  Thank thegreendoor
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed August 24, 2009

I just read through the reviews and found them to be very thorough and accurate so I won't repeat what they said! Just adding a few tips and hints especially for the budget-conscious. We didn't rent a car so we learned to get around by walking, taking a cab or the bus. If you like cooking definitely go visit Ling and Sons - cab is $10 to get there from the Surf Club, $12 or $13 going back because you are bringing bags back with you. Quality food! The prices are not too bad either and you will definitely save a lot by eating in for breakfast and lunch and just go out for dinner (or eat in, then go bar-hopping later). Later in the week, we discovered the L10 bus that takes you from the Surf Club to Downtown Aruba where you can shop for cheap souvenirs. A lot cheaper than those booths that are walking distance from the Marriott and are open at night. $1.20 one way, $2.30 for a round trip. The concierge will be happy to point to you where the bus stop is. Coming back, you have to watch out for the Acqua condos sign as the bus stop is easy to miss and it's right after Acqua. Midway are more grocery stores (Superfood, Certified True Value) that seem to be cheaper than Ling and Sons but do not have the good quality meats and produce, in my opinion. But they were ok. We noticed, however, that milk gets spoiled easily in Aruba, maybe because of the weather, or maybe because it is imported? Not sure. We had to throw a lot of milk away that was supposedly 5 days away from the expiration date. We didn't get the chance to eat at La Vista but a friend ate an all-you-can-eat dinner for $33 and thought it was fantastic. It was Sicilian night and he had osso buco and risotto that would have easily been a $50 dinner in the US. Saturdays I heard was eat-all-you-can lobsters. I found Aruba to be safe for the teens to go around on their own at night. Aruba has less than 1% unemployment so crime rate is close to nothing. Agree to the comments about the long lines for checking in. During these times, too during the week we could not get in touch with the front desk for questions. We never met the concierge assigned to us. It wasn't enough of an annoyance, however, for us not to like the Surf Club. We definitely will go back.

  • Stayed: August 2009, travelled with family
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4  Thank Momfixit88
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed August 23, 2009

My wife and I are Marriott advocates and as a matter of fact are Marriott time share owners (MVCI). Ft. Lauderdale is our home base. Just returned from a week at Marriott's Aruba Surf Club. It's too big and too noisy. Also, if you don't like too many kids around, little ones, medium ones, or big ones, this is not the place for you. BTW parents: try and remember when you DIDN'T have kids so those of us who don't or who have them now or have already grown ours up, are not subjected to the whining or carrying on of your little ones. To boot, we stayed in the Lighthouse tower (1 of 4 huge buildings). The middle elevator was out until very early on August 22 and I was told by staff that it had been out for 3 weeks. Do the math: about 336 rooms at 85% occupancy at 4 persons on average in a room. That's about 1144 people using two elevators. Come on Marriott! Where are the parts coming from, Antarctica? Anyway, overall I think the staff tries, and everyone is really friendly. But it's a mass of humanity and overwhelming. So stay at the Marriott Ocean Club timeshare next door which is smaller and more intimate, or the Marriott Hotel and Casino.

  • Stayed: August 2009, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank bbillmm
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed August 16, 2009

Our family just returned from a week long stay at the Surf Club and enjoyed our entire stay. We traveled with three teenagers who were very content to wander the area and grounds, work out in the gym, enjoy the pool and beach.

We didn't participate in too many organized resort activites but they are available if desired. We did the water aerobics a few times which was fun and the kids fed the iguanas at 10 am between the Ocean and Surf Clubs. There is some type of sanctuary where the iguanas are supplied with water and fed lettuce every day.

The kids went tubing off the beach. They enjoyed it. It was $20 for 20 minutes per person.

We all did a catamaran sunset sail which was great. I booked thru the resort with DePalm. It was $35 per person and that included open bar and snacks. It was a great trip and I would highly recommend it.

As far as the pool, we loved the lazy river and enjoyed the entire pool. It is very windy by the water slide. RE seating. I am an early riser so by 7:45 most morning I would go down to the pool to place our tags on chairs. The resort gives each guest a plastic tag which is to be attached as a "hold" for your chair. They are supposed to remove the tags after the chairs are unoccupied for 2 hours. Never saw this done. My advice would be to save chairs by 8:30 the latest. The pool area now has many bimini covered chairs ( like an umbrella over the top part of the chair) which was great. The resort also requests that guests wear a bracelet so that only Surf Club guests are allowed in their pool. No problem. It worked great. The pool seemed less crowded than our last visit 3 years ago so it must be working.

The beach is beautiful. The huts are close together but I thought it was fine. You were given a chance everyday to reserve a free hut at 4pm and then the next morning at 7 or 7:30( can't remember which time). They released 1/2 each time or you could pay for 2 days at a time. Anyway we paid for 2 days ( $10 each day, $15 if it's first row) and I was able to reserve the remaing days free of charge. They suggest you occupy your hut by 9:30 or they can give it to someone else. I never had a problem with them giving my hut away. We went between the beach and pool all day.

As far as check in, it was very long. We checked in on a Saturday. Our flight arrived at around 1:30 and we weren't in our room until after 5. We waited about an hour to check in. Very long line and packed lobbey!!!! Check out was a breeze. They slide your bill under the door and you telephone when you check out. Check out is 10AM.

I would not stop at the supermarket directly from the airport. We waited a long time to get into our condo and milk, etc would have spoiled in the heat. The best supermarket is Ling and Son.

The condo itself is beautiful, clean and spacious. We stayed in a 2 bedroom/2 bath. Everyone was very comfortable. The full kitchen and fridge was great since we ate breakfast and lunch in. The washer and dryer is great too and seemed to be in constant use!

We enjoyed dinner out each evening. These are my suggestions:
Texas De Brazil- go to their web site and sign up. They'll send you coupons which can be used. Beautiful place. Kids though it was lots of fun to have so many gauchos around the table. The meat was cooked perfectly. The staff was very attentive and they had a very nice salad bar too. About $40 per person (without the coupon)

Passions- low rise section across from La Cabana. Delicious and very romantic. You sit on the beach with your feet resting in the powdery sand. Coconut grouper was wonderful! My hubby had the filet mignon and lobster tail. $26- $45 per entree. Share a salad. they are too large for one person. About $6.

Champions: The night we went to PAssions the kids ate at Champions and enjoyed ribs and a UFC fight. $15- $25 per entree

Casa Tua: Delicious pasta dishes. About $15 per pasta. Also serve pizza.

Gastoso: This was a favorite. It's a little hard to find. It is across from the old hospital in town. It was a very comfortable homey atmosphere and the food was delicious. The owner, Jose, comes out to the dining room to explain the menu and make suggestions. It is also immacualtely clean! Try the quesillo for dessert.

We also enjoyed Iguana Joe's in the center of town. The coconut shrimp, jerk chicken, grouper and ribs were all great . About $20- $25 per entree

We wanted burgers towards the end of our trip. Try Burger and Burger. Really enjoyed a perfectly cooked burger and fries $8-$15 per entree.

The Prominade: It was OK. Don't think I would go back again.

Had breakfast on the day we left at La Vista in the Marriott Hotel. Excellent but pricey.
$15 for pancakes.

We rented a car through Thrifty which was great. We liked exploring the island on our own and it also gave us the ability to get to restaurants that weren't in walking distance. Parking at the resort was never a problem.

Hope this helped you plan your vacation. Enjoy the beautiful weather and warm and friendly people of Aruba.

  • Stayed: August 2009, travelled with family
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10  Thank RRRC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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