We are looking at getting married in Aruba next April and we are having a hard time trying to decide between the Marriott and the Radisson. Any input would be greatly appreciated. We have never been to Aruba and we are not going to be able to take a trip to check out the hotels in person. Looks like both have some pros and cons. We are looking for a nice hotel with a good beach and close to shops and restaurants. We are going to have people ranging in age from 3 to 76. The majority being in their early 30's. At night which resort as more things to offer and going on ? I have spoken with the wedding coordinator at the Radisson a few times and she has been wonderful-very prompt with responding to emails. It looks like the Marriott may be a little bit more expensive as far as wedding packages go. Anyone here been to a wedding or had their wedding at the Radisson ?
We are getting married at the Marriott this fall and visited in May. We love the property but didn't visit the Radisson (we ended up torn between Marriott and Westin). Marriott is defintely going to be more expensive but they did a fantastic job with their renovation - very contemporary - its like a new hotel. Unfortunately I (and others) find communication with them to be VERY difficult at times. I've been talking to another bride who was also debating Marriott vs Westin and finally chose the Westin because they were so much better a communicating with her. Really, how are you going to have confidence planning a wedding from afar if you can't trust the communication?
When I started considering them I dealt with a woman that is 'sales'. She frustrated me to no end. She also coudn't meet with during our site visit so we just ruled them out. (Somehow I got the impression she is part time and not that invested in her job - don't know if that is right or wrong - just the impression I got. Maybe she's just over-extended - seems every company wants their employees to do more and more in less time.)
The week before our trip a travel wedding planner suggested I reconsider. This planner made arrangements for the manager, her (the Marriott sales woman's) boss, to come in on her day off and meet with us. She was wonderful and we dealt with her from there on out. Once the contract is signed though, you get passed on to their wedding planner. The Marriott wedding planner seems like a nice lady but I wonder if she is part time because she is out of the office a lot. Now I do think she is on site during your wedding, so maybe she's working over the weekend and that's why she's often unavailable certain weekdays. Still, she does follow through (eventually). She said she doesn't dive deep into wedding planning until the event is 3 months out and ours is still 3-1/2 months away... When I came back I coudn't remember the layout of the reception sites very well and they didn't have good photos to send me, so she took her digital camera and went up in a room to get 'ariel' shots of the sites for me. I really appreciated that!
I also struggled with communication with the Hyatt. Really, when dealing with the hotels, if I was communicating with three people, it seemed like at least one of them would be out of the office. This has all been a real exercise in patience. We're also working with an independent wedding planner who is also super-busy but she's great about at least letting me know when she'll be able to work on my requests. So, I might not be able to get instant answers but my questions have been acknowledged and that I'll hear back from her. Marriott is really great about letting you use outside vendors and decorators. You certainly don't have to, but I wanted more options than what they can provide.
Anyway - now I am wishing we had also visited the Radisson. I've heard great things about it and am sure its more affordable than the Marriott.
I really liked that the Marriott had all of the recent renovations and it looks beautiful. It's possibly that some of our guests would be staying at either the Ocean Club or the Surf Club because they have timeshares and that was another reason I was considering the Marriott. But the Radisson so far is more affordable and I'm thinking I would like to use the money saved towards a event for all of the guests coming.
I don't blame you. It really adds up, especially if you also want to host a welcome party and organize a group excursion and maybe a farewell brunch.
One thing I REALLY don't like about the Marriott -- they add a 19% service fee on top of everything, even services they don't provide. For example, they would hire a third party for things like floral centerpieces, bouquets, entertainment... and they add their service fee on top of those fees - a service fee for services they do not provide. At first I thought this was the norm - that it was just a charge for handling the arrangements, however I found out that Hyatt and Westin place this service fee ONLY on their food and beverage. For us that service fee on those 'outside services' amounts to an extra $1,000+. The principal of that bothers me so much that I'm handling many outside vendors myself through an independent planner. We're not necessarily going to save money that way, but expect to get more for our money.
I have been trying to choose which resort to have our wedding at next summer. We have narrowed it down to the Westin and Marriott and to be honest due to the lack of service and poor communication from the Marriott we have been leaning towards the Westin. I did get a preliminary informational email from the Radisson and I haven't explored it further. You have motivated me to look into it more before making a final decision.
I have spoken with Lisa and emailed her at the Radisson and she's usually gotten back to me the same day or the next day. She also sent me photos and I really like their set up. You can do the reception around the pool deck and it looks really pretty at night. And I think their pricing is slightly less than the Marriott's. I did see that about the Marriott when I was looking through their information that they added that fee to services they don't provide. I haven't really looked at the Westin mainly because I didn't know what their room rates we're going to be. Looks like the pricing for the week we are looking at in April just came out last week. That has been another source of frustration-Trying to get everything planned and booked but not having pricing information out. Makes it hard when your trying to stay on top of everything. I guess I like the location of the Radisson but on some posts on Trip Advisor some people had mentioned some of the rooms we're a little run down and needed updating but then it said it was just one the buildings that was that way so I'm really not sure-I like that the Marriott seems like a brand new hotel now.
Well the Westin is nice and their pricing might surprise you. Probably more than Radisson but definitely less than Marriott. The person you deal with is awesome and they'll do a lot to accommodate special requests. The rooms are nice but bland (sage drapes and beige carpet), though I believe all rooms have balconies. Property is 'ok' but the reception locations are great.
I think things were easier for us because our date was less than 6 months away so they were able to negotiate. Everything I've read says start plannning at least a year out, but that been causing trouble for several people. I've talked to a few different people that are stuck with negotiations for that very reason - that pricing isn't published yet.
Good luck! Aruba is awesome! When we go back in October I'll be stopping at the Radisson to satisfy my curiousity. I might have dismissed them too quickly.