Occidental great!- negative reviews not called for
Just got back from our 25th Anniversary trip to the Occidental Grand in Aruba. We absolutely loved the place. Do not believe any of those who reviewed it poorly. I can tell you what we experienced. We were greeted with open arms, made to feel special and given drinks and cool towels within minutes of walking into the lobby for check-in. Next we were upgraded to an ocean front room with an in room jacuzzi and sitting balcony with turn down service and in room beach/pool towels. We had booked a Grand Romance package for our anniversary and the only thing they got wrong was that they kept calling us honeymooners, lol, and this was perfectly fine by us. They took the liberty of pre-booking all of our restaurants so we did not have to wait on line or get frustrated as others wrote about. In fact, we visited the concierge a couple of times to re-schedule some of our restaurants days and times as well as our couples massage. We never had to wait too long and were accomodated every time. The restaurants are all very nice, the service was great, the wait staff very friendly. The buffets were fairly standard and palatable and the theme restuarants had ambiance and tasty food. Perhaps they aren't 5 star restaurants but they were very nice, lets say 4 star. The bar service everywhere was great and again, very friendly. If you are worried that they will harass you for their vacation club (another name for time share), don't. As long as you make your point of view known, they won'y bother you. We actually did sign up for the 60 minute presentation because we were genuinely interested and figured that an hour isn't too much time out of our vacation and they were going to give us a free gift. Sheena who signed us up for the session was very nice and each time we ran into her in the lobby was pleasant and offering to help us in whatever we were doing. Unfortunately, when we did go to the appointment, we left after 20 minutes. They spent 20 minutes telling us how it would take almost 2 hours to actually get through the presentation. We stuck to out guns and told them we only agreed to 60 minutes. They refused to tell us anything about the "vacation club" and asked us to sign that we weren't going to sit through it, that we were refusing it. No problem, signed it, gave up the "free" gift, and went on our way. They never bother us again and Sheena continued to be pleasant and helpful each time we saw her on the gounds. As far as getting spots by the pool or beach, we realize that September is a slower time but on the first day, after settling in our room, we got changed and walked down to beach at about 3 PM, within minutes had drinks in hand and was under a palapa relaxing. Of course, some of the prime spots need to be reserved early. The sign says nothing before 7:15 AM, howvever, I watched each day as people were down getting their spots at 6-6:30AM. I was never down there before 7, and as I said, we always got a spot. Pretty much the same story for the pool and even though the swim up bar only has a few seats, we always managed one of those as well each time we visited. As far as the activities around the pool and some getting fed up, its really no problem, some of it corny, good for a laugh and Bingo was actually fun. It does not go on constantly and does not overshadow your time. We especially liked playing Bingo in the rain at the pool bar. Not much rain on the trip and none to ruin anything. Hanging at the pool, bar open, wife winning at Bingo, hardly even noticed that it poured rain for about an hour. Some will say that Aruba is not an all-inclusive place but we will disagree. We loved never having to have anything more than a room key with us, once they put that wrist band on you, you are set. I cannot imagine what our drink and food bill would have been had we not done All-Inclusive and All-Inclusive at the Occidental Grand was great. Everyone was happy and friendly, even the dealers and tablemen in the Casino which was also very nice. I could go on and on and never have enough good things to say about this vacation and the Occidental. Thank you Occidental Grand for making our 25th Wedding Anniversary trip simply the best.