The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba
What We Love
- Private dinners on Palm Beach
- “Weightless” hammock massages at the onsite spa
- A beachfront outpost of the New York City steakhouse, BLT, complete with a raw bar
- The 24-hour casino
What To Know
- The hotel is located on one of Palm Beach’s quieter stretches
- For access to the Club Lounge services (complimentary breakfast, cocktails, a dedicated concierge, etc.), guests should book rooms on the 7th floor
- All rooms offer at least partial ocean views
- Guests can take yoga, Zumba, and/or Tai Chi classes on the beach
- Free WiFi
- Kids Club
- Parking On Site
Even when it’s at maximum capacity, this sprawling seaside haven never feels crowded. The thoughtful public spaces, which range from separate children and adults-only pools to a 15,000-square-foot spa, which pampers guests with a tropical island-inspired menu, are to thank for that accessible tranquility. It’s a similar brand of stylish seclusion that the 320 contemporary rooms here, all with spacious layouts, exhibit—for an outdoor shower with Caribbean Ocean views, splurge for the Ritz-Carlton Suite. Fortunately, the entertainment options, from a hopping round-the-clock casino to a thoughtfully curated Kids Club, are just as available as the pockets of peace. If it’s paddle boarding and kayaking you’re after, look no further: the resort offers easy access to one of the calmest patches of sea on the entire isle. And though the aforementioned BLT remains one of Aruba’s most coveted spots, the hotel’s more low-key dining options, including Solanio, a casual Italian eatery with an open kitchen (and one of Aruba’s best breakfast buffets), and the poolside grill, which fires up burgers on a wood-fired parilla, make for tasty competition.
In the Area
The adjacent ocean and its white powder sand beach give you little reason to leave, though the resort is only eight miles from the bustling harbor city of Oranjestad and attractions including the Aruba Aloe Factory and Museum, which traces a 160-year-old cultivation process, and the island’s Archaeological Museum, which showcases the meticulous recreation of a maloca, or a native communal hut. The concierge can help plan trips to other local attractions like the Bubali Plas, a fresh water lagoon that doubles as a gathering place for the island’s many bird species, or Arikok National Park, a lush 7,907-acre treasure full of native wildlife.
How to Get There
First, the positives. The location is perfect. It is at the end of the hotel row on the beach and is much less crowded and less noisy than all of the other spots as you walk down the beach. The beach itself is wonderful and the chairs are spread out and not too crowded. Breakfast was good every morning. The staff was friendly. Lunch out by the pool was good. But if you are used to the white glove approach of a Ritz, this is not quite up to that standard. Hotel is ok, rooms are ok, getting someone to help you with towels and an umbrella on the beach is sporadic. Upon check-in, they were very appreciative of our Platinum status and immediately talked about finding an available upgrade, which was very positive. After waiting 10 minutes at the counter, the upgrade turned out to be an upsell. We could get a suite for 'only' an additional $700 a night. Or we could grab the 'wonderful offer' of having daily use of the Lounge for 'only' $300 a day for the two of us. Such a deal! The reality was that we received no upgrade at all and took the room we had reserved with nothing added in, like a breakfast from time to time or a even a drink coupon. This hotel does have the art of the upsell down pat.
We haven’t come to Aruba before, so maybe this is the best Aruba has to offer relative to other resorts here. But comparing the small details at this Ritz to others like St Thomas, Amelia Island, Sarasota, Boston,etc., this one comes up short. It feels like an over-priced Marriott. One caveat in its defense, we are here during February school vacation week and it is very crowded. The staff seem over-stretched.
A few details. This Ritz is larger than most and the beach and pools are too small for the size of the resort. The beach and pool chairs fill up early and the umbrellas (so windy they don’t have additional ones to offer than the permanent ones) are limited in number. The service staff zip around on Segways on the beach, so they are faster than usual.
We stayed in an “executive suite” - it is roomy with a nice deck, half bath, and full bathroom. There is a small dining table and a sitting area. Ours is a bit worn and with a couple rug stains, but not drastic.
The staff are a bit stretched this week, so the service level is lower than I’m sure is typical. There have been waits to get seated at restaurants and to get meals. We are a premium loyalty member, so usually we get a nice welcome treat upon arrival in the room but not here.
Finally, I’ve had several instances where there is a mandatory “15% service charge” on the bill, but then there is a gratuity line to be filled out as well, without calling it “extra gratuity.” In my experience, they should either embed the service charge in the price and ask for a gratuity, or call the request “extra gratuity” on top of the service charge. Seems cheap for an expensive resort.
We walked over to the Marriott next door and in hindsight should have stayed there - a relatively better value for the price paid.
This hotel is not worthy of the RC name or the term luxury. We stayed here for our honeymoon and I have to say, this experience ruined it. First, small point, but just shows the difference when going above and beyond which is what you should expect from this type of hotel, we mentioned at check in that this was our honeymoon and received a congrats, but that was it. The whole stay no other mention of it. We are platinum Marriott so any upgrade would come from that, we werent looking for anything of that nature, similar an acknowledgement, maybe some flowers on our bed or something alittle special but NOTHING. I wish that were the worst, but the hotel has sold out to sales trips, the trips that sales people get for doing well.... these are probably the people leaving good reviews because they are on a free vacation. Well not only did these groups treat the hotel like a giant party at an all inclusive, but EVERY night was a planned party either taking over the pool, beach or another restaurant with very loud music. Like, I could hear the music from our 5th floor room set back at the center of the hotel. When i called the front desk to complain, they said they would be done by 10pm. This is just unacceptable, couldnt even enjoy sitting on our balcony because the party music was playing and at times, the music from the lounge below could also be heard so you got the fun contrast of party music against acoustic guitar and singing amplified. Not very relaxing! The second huge issue was the breakfast, now the actual food was fine, what you would expect, but they have a massive bird issue. It was disgusting, birds would land on plates and glasses even while people were at their table. Totally unsanitary and the sidewalk was full of bird poop. I wish we didnt have breakfast included, but we went every morning since it was. Also, there is really only one pool, theres a kids pool which is way less nice and has a bunch of old toys floating around in it and then the 'adult' pool which is supposed to be a quiet pool however, back to the party zone with multiple different people playing music from their own speakers and getting trashed. The beach area was trash as well, overcrowded and not well maintained. Service was very spotty out there as well. Overall would never stay here again and would never recommend to anyone. Please save your money and choose another hotel (unless of course you are on a corporate holiday, then by all means, head there!)
Especially loved that the hotel beach was more private than other locations. The rooms were nice, but the hallway AC was out. Service was friendly. Many great dining options on property. The attached casino was a bit of a sad scene. Would recommend staying here if you can find a good rate.
Here are my my thoughts on our recent vacation. We were very disappointed with the level of service we received. Although everyone we encountered was courteous, they lacked the professionalism and polish that I have come to expect at the Ritz Carlton. It has always been evident that Ritz Carlton employees receive a very high level of training; this was lacking at this hotel. Additionally the concierge in the hotel lobby was not very efficient at handling our dinner reservations each evening. Overall the service was haphazard.
The guest rooms, even on the Club Level were dated and generic looking. I have seen prettier guest rooms at a Holiday Inn. I was disappointed in the overall appearance of the hotel. I have been a guest of the Ritz Carlton in Boston, Atlanta, Palm Beach, Naples, and Sarasota. In each location the hotel was elegant, beautifully furnished, stylish, warm, and welcoming. I found the Aruba hotel to be drab, tired looking, and dated. The hotel is entirely lacking in pleasing ambiance. Nowhere was this more apparent than at the Club Level. The lounge resembled an airport cafeteria, the food was repetitive, unappetizing, and poorly presented. Instead of a gracious entryway, the door is hidden away in a corner and gives the impression of an afterthought.
The Ritz Carlton brand has always been associated with ultra luxury and service. This is not the case in Aruba.
We did find the housekeeping staff to be excellent, and the guest rooms spacious.