The Renaissance Aruba deserves more pictures than any hotel I’ve stayed at. It wasn’t the swankiest hotel but the private island made it the perfect hotel for a 24 hour visit to Aruba. Come, drop your bags and get shuttled on a boat (free) from the lobby to the private island.
We spent most our our time on the little island as the area directly around the hotel was beachless. If you want a hotel near the airport, and in this case we did, this seems like the best option. I’m sure there are much better beaches in Aruba but the convience of the entire thing was awesome. The boat shuttle comes right into the lobby area. Well, right down the escalator.
- Where and how we booked it
- Renaissance Aruba
- Radisson Decapolis Panama
- Exploring Old City Panama
- InterContinental San Juan
- Exploring Puerto Rico
- Gran Melia Golf Resort Puerto Rico
- Radisson Ambassador Plaza Hotel San Juan
The layout of the hotel is oddly spread out. Not like many beach resorts, including the InterContinental Fiji, where it’s a large beach property and is not built up vertically. More so that the hotel just has different pieces of property in different areas. First, you have the main building, where we checked in. It has a mall attached and a casino. Luckily it’s seperated enough that you don’t feel like you’re2 in a mall or even have to know that there’s a casino.
Then you have the building with “island rooms” located a block away, more or less. It’s a little more secluded and has much better views and a man-made beach. Then there is the island itself.
On the island there are iguanas, lizards, pelicans, tropical fish swimming right under the dock and flamingos on one of the beaches, (but those things are pets). There are two main beaches that are barricaded by rocks to make the beach area calm and clear. There are often only a few people on the beach, which makes it feel even more private. The island closes by 6:45 p.m., which is stupid-early in my opinion but I’m guessing they’ve tried keeping it open and feel that too few people show up… but still!
They also have a gym and little nature trails where you’re sure to see lizards and feel mosquitos like never before. It’s worth a walk towards the north end to see a private beach with tiny little islands separated by shallow water. But move quickly and shake your eyes like cows do or the mosquitos will eat you alive!
Is it rude to decline an upgrade?
As previously mentioned, we were only allowed a layover under 24 hours but luckily our flight was super early. Still, we didn’t want to mess around and we wanted to get right to the beach. Also, to give some context, while in line to check in, this guy with a Platinum-member-complex is throwing a genuine temper tantrum. Without boring you with details, he is blowing up over the poor condition of the hair dryer and they are offering him the nicest island room suites but nothing appeases him. (Goes to show that the complainers get the suite upgrades but they are in Aruba spending their precious hours yelling about hair dryers, *rolls eyes*).
So we go to check in and the front agent informs us that we’ll be upgraded to an island room, the one in the nicer building. Sweet! Then she informs us that the room won’t be ready until 4 and it’s not even 2. I felt kind of bad but I thanked her for the upgrade and asked for a room ready right away and explained that we were in Aruba just one night.
Luckily we caught this hotel before it was moved up to a category 6 and we used a category 5 certificate for the free stay which can be earned from the Megabonus promo and the annual bonus from the credit card. (Although currently it’s discounted 25% as a “Seasonal Award”).
The hotel is like a 5 minute taxi ride away from the airport or a 7 minute bus ride. A taxi will run about $20 but we showed up and asked a local where the “local buses” can be found, which are more like white vans. Pretty much, we walked across the street from the tiny airport and waited a few minutes for a white van with “bus” written on top to pass. The trip was $1.50. Totally worth the extra few minutes to save $18.50 but honestly, I can understand wanting to hurry when you only have 24 hours. But for us, figuring out the local bus is a part of travel.
My biggest suggestions
1) The island dining. When we arrived the front desk agent told us they serve breakfast and lunch at the private island restaurant. Well, imagine our surprise when we got there in the morning to find out the restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (and the bar from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.). No breakfast, just one lunch menu and it’s bar food.
What kind of resort is this? I expected honeymoon quality romantic beach dining instead got a bar food menu. Don’t get me wrong, the food was fine. But what they need to do is offer fine dining and keep the place open much later. At night close the trails and close the overwater massage bungalow and put out tables that require reservations. I don’t care if the chef has to stand in the water and the menu is whatever they brought in the cooler, they need to do it. A romantic candle-lit dinner, overwater on a private island in Aruba with great food is something to write home about. Even a cheapo like me would shell out for an anniversary meal like that.
2) It’s amazing how much they don’t tell. They give a map, which is good. But I’m pretty sure if I just booked the hotel because I like Renaissance hotels and just showed up I would have had no idea that:
- There was even an island at all! Yes, I’m sure someone at some point in time has had a one night stay and had no idea there was a private island. I’m sure; I had to ask.
- What times the private island was open and how often the shuttle ran. Every 15 minutes. I had to ask.
- That there was a restaurant on the private island and how late it is open.
Yes, the map shows an island but it’s kind of confusing when you first look at it as it has all kinds of buildings on it. They need to go a little further with the service and really introduce you to how awesome the hotel is upfront.
There was no hidden resort fee, which is good as hidden fees are my biggest pet peeve. Yet, they have a “service fee” for the food, which is not the tip and is not optional. How goofy. Shouldn’t they have a fishing fee? So after taxes, a “service fee” and a tip, your bar food should be be $15 to $20 a plate.
Though my suggestions would make the hotel experience better, at least in my opinion, in no way was there anything wrong with my stay. It was great. Although I would really have loved to explore the other parts of the island if I had a longer stay. The snorkeling wasn’t great off the private island and I’d be curious about a trip to other parts. As is, I doubt I’ll be back anytime soon but the hotel was awesome.
One other bit about the hotel, it’s definitely a late night area. The music was getting started when we went to sleep, not that it bothered us from the room. But there was no one up in the morning. We had the hotel to ourselves it seemed. Similarly, there was a restuarant nearby that closed for dinner and reopened at midnight. Definitely a different culture, eh? Am I wrong or is this an island thing? I feel like I’ve noticed the late night culture other places too.
Also, is it awkward to decline an upgrade? Ironically, it feels like I’m being picky but this time for a downgrade.