This was my 4th year in a row visiting Aruba with my husband. We brought our 8 month old daughter and my sister to help out.
We rented a minivan from Ace which went well. It was a quick shuttle ride to a place around the airport, a quick check-in and we were on our way. The first night we stayed at the Mariott Stellars Casino. We asked for one of the renovated rooms and it was very nice. Staff was wonderful as always. There is construction going on outside the hotel but it did not bother us one bit. Nor did we hear any of it during the day. After that night and a nice relaxing day at the pool, we switched over to the Surf Club to stay there for the week.
I mentioned that this was our 4th trip. We have stayed at the Mariott Ocean Club twice, and the Surf Club once. This trip was our second stay at the Surf Club. Lets just say that we defintley prefer the Ocean Club.
When we previously stayed at the Surf Club a few years ago, only the first 2 buildings were built. They were working on the other two. We knew then that once those buildings were in working order, the Surf Club would be way to crowded. We planned this vacation last minute and were not able to get into the Ocean Club (timeshare) so we took the Surf Club instead. Before we arrived, we sent an e-mail asking for a room in the front building, on the top floor with a nice view. After many years of being stuck on the first floor in the corner, we decided that we were going to ask for a better view this year.
Anyways, we were right about the Surf Club being overcrowded. I had to get up every morning by 7:30am to reserve chairs by the pool. Because we had a baby with us, it was important that we had an umbrella. This was fairly annoying as I was on vacation and wanted to sleep in. You can only leave your towels on the chairs for 2 hours before security would remove them and give the chairs to someone else. I never saw this happen and don't know how strict they are about enforcing this rule but I didn't want to chance it with a baby. I also wanted to mention that we were given wrist bands to wear when we were at the pool. I understand why but I thought it was very annoying to have to do this.
We reserved tiki huts on the beach the day we checked in only to find that we could only reserve 2 at a time for a charge of course. It was $15 for the front 2 rows and $10 for every other row. The lady did say that we could come down every morning to see if they had anything available. She opened at 7:30am but said that normaly people wait in line starting at 6 or 6:30am! Ridiculous! When we went to reserve, there was nothing available. We got stuck in a back row, far from the water. We got the front row our 2nd reserved day but it was way off in the corner by the pier. It wouldn't have really mattered if we did get a better front row hut because people would make rows and rows of chairs in front of the huts.
So bottom line, the Surf Club is WAY to crowded! It was only May, Aruba's supposed off season and there were people everywhere! If we return to Aruba, we will only return to the Ocean Club or possibly another resort.
The trip was wonderful besides that issue. There is a new shopping area across from the Holiday Inn which is in walking distance from the Mariotts. On the way into town, we also saw a few more shopping plaza's going up. One day when we were on the beach, we were approached by a salesman trying to get us to check out the new condo's that are going up next to the Mariott area. The area will then be way to crowded. There was already people everywhere, I can't imagine how many more people will be fighting for chairs and huts once the condo is finished.
The way out of Aruba was defintley stressful. We flew United for the first time and have always noticed the long line for this airline in years past. We waited in this line for about 45 minutes. We then went outside to start the process of leaving to only find another line, outside in the heat. We waited in this line for 45 minutes. After getting inside, things went a bit faster but we still had to wait in even more lines for no less than 25-35 minutes each. When they say go to the airport 2.5-3 hours early, go to the airport that early! It took us 3 hours from when we dropped our car off to when we rushed to get onto the plane that was calling last call for boarding. Previous years, we were able to get right through in probably an hour and we were always waiting around. Another example of how busy Aruba has become.
I have to admit that I am a bit disappointed with this trip. I love Aruba and everything that it has to offer which is why we have gone back every year. But I think our secret has gotten out and more and more people are going there. I think we are going to venture out in the Caribbean and find something a little less populated with tourists. Aruba was perfect for us 4 years ago and I'm sad to see it becoming so over developed. Like I said, we may try another part of the island another time, I'm not completely giving up on it. I love Aruba and wish everyone a wonderful trip!!