Aruba Trip Reports

Have Baby Will Travel’s trip reports for Aruba are organized alphabetically by city or region within the country. Simply scroll down to read them all. Each trip report has been provided to Have Baby Will Travel in hopes of giving other parents a clearer picture of what to expect when traveling to Aruba with a baby or toddler.
(9 reports)

April 2006
Alicia & family (baby 13mos.)

La Cabana was a nice resort and I would stay there again and recommend it, especially for families (not for younger couples or honeymooners, though, IMO). There were lots of families (and lots of extended families) there with babies and very young children. It wasn’t super-crowded either, but my husband still made sure he got down to the beach by 7am to get us a palapa. That wasn’t hard since Chloe woke up very early most days!

Our suite was perfect for us, with the exception of the sofa bed, which was truly awful. But we wanted to give Chloe the bedroom so she would get her sleep (and she slept like a champ). The view of the ocean from our room (307A – an owner time share) was pretty.

The beach was beautiful, and the sand was so soft. Other than the plethora of cigarette/cigar butts and pistachio shells in the sand, it was very clean. The water was also beautiful, if a bit chilly. We both expected it to be warmer, but it was still nice. It was a bit wavy, not as tranquil as I expected, either, but Chloe liked the waves, too.

We pretty much ate at two restaurants because they were within walking distance – La Petite Cafe and Tulips. They were both really reasonably priced, good, and just across from the beach, so we walked the beach afterwards, watching the sunset. I think that was my favorite part of each day.

The pools were beautiful and not crowded – we even went on the water slide (not with her, obviously) a couple of times and that was fun.

We’ve been to Hawaii and the Turks and Caicos, and although we prefer those islands over Aruba, it was still a nice vacation. And we’ve stayed at the Four Seasons in Maui and some other very high-end resorts, and we still found La Cabana to be just fine. It was clean, it seems they work hard at keeping it attractive, the staff was very friendly, etc. And they are going through a major change of management right now, which seems to be making things a lot better (for ex. they’ve just acquired 250 more lounge chairs).

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February 2008
L.M. & Family

After reading some posts online, I was a little nervous about this hotel…All my fears were put to rest the minute we walked into the beautiful lobby. We were upgraded to an ocean view room in the new Bonaire tower with no wait at check in. It was perfect. This hotel is working very hard to update and renovate which is a wonderful thing. The people were kind, helpful and friendly. The property was clean and kept up well.

We were traveling with a young toddler and this resort was perfect for our family.

I would stay here again, the location was great…across the street from the new outdoor mall and amazing restaurants, and just a short cab or bus ride away from other wonderful restaurants. We will be returning to Aruba for many years to come!

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July 2008
Rosemary & Family (babies 2yrs & 7mos.)

I recently stayed at the Hyatt for a week with my husband and my 2 young children (ages 2 and 7 months).

I can’t say I did a lot of research about where to stay as my husbands company had picked this hotel as to where to have their annual retreat for this year. We had 3 days of of staying at the hotel with his company paying for basically everything and then the rest of the week was our own spare time so I had 2 different views of the hotel.

The Hyatt is beautiful as all the reviews say that I had read. The lobby is beautiful and the ground is maintained really well. There are birds in cages which they let out during the day and iguanas running around the grounds as well. Great things to keep little ones amused if you want to take them for a walk. One morning while taking my 2-year-old for a walk (after she had woken up way too early) one of the staff let her feed one of the birds, which she thought was very cool.

The first 3 days staying at the resort we also had a friend who had traveled down with us to look after our kids while we had to attend work functions so I had no experience with the kids club or babysitters. I do agree with one poster here who said it would be nice to have more information about the kids club or any of the extra activities in the room.

For the first 3 days the company provided breakfast and lunch in the ballroom, which was very good. At night when we had functions on, my friend took the kids to the Palms restaurant which has a kids menu and to me was the most kid friendly restaurant in the resort. . I was actually surprised at how reasonable the Palms restaurant was compared to some of the other places we ate outside of the hotel (more on that later).

We had adjoining rooms while our friend was with us and then when she left we just had the one room. I had requested a crib to be put in the room when the booking was made but when we checked in and asked if the crib was in the room they said they had no knowledge of it. I find this quite common with all hotels. You ring up to request a crib and then when you check in they act as if it is the first they have heard of it. I used to work in housekeeping in hotels years ago and so I have some behind the scenes knowledge of how these things work and it never fails to amaze me when this happens. Anyway, back to the Hyatt. When we checked in the lady was very friendly and when we requested the crib she offered to put a fridge in the room as well which was great. Funny I had rung up the week before when ringing up about the crib to request a fridge and was told in no uncertain terms that they do not put fridges in the room! Strange.

We had a queen room, which had a bath. Only the queen standard rooms have a bath, the king standard rooms do not. The adjoining room for my friend was a king room. It had more space in it and was not as squashed when you put in the crib as the queen room was. So unless you want to get a suite then the trade off is a bath or a room with less space. The light in the bathroom does light up the bedroom area when switched on. The only time I found it painful was when putting my 2-yr-old to sleep because I had to sit in the dark. Normally when I am getting them to sleep in hotels I have the bedroom area dark and sit in the bathroom but because the bathroom light lit up the whole room then I was unable to do that.

The room had no balcony either which I would have liked but was kind of glad that I didn’t cause I think with a toddler it may have been a nightmare safety-wise. Some of the larger rooms and suites must have balconies cause I saw them from the pool area.

A word of warning though… We had a room that overlooked the deck where they have wedding receptions. There was a wedding on the Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday we were there. Wedding receptions have bands and the bands were quite loud. Luckily my children were so exhausted from being on the beach all day and I have brought them up with the philosophy that ‘the world is a noisy place so get used to sleeping in noise’ that it wasn’t much of an issue. If you have kids that need quiet to sleep (or yourself) then you had better ask for a room away from that side of the hotel. The bands did finish by 1030pm every night though. I also noticed that the walls in between rooms do carry noise. We had some not so quiet people in the room next to us (after my friend left).

The beach was beautiful as was the pool. I had booked a palapa every day (for $35 a day) but I need not have as the hotel was quiet when we were there and I could have got a spot under the large palapa they have for everyone without a problem. The water was calm and great for little ones to swim in.

The pool area is lovely too. We never had problems getting a chair but I can imagine it does get busy. The pool has a large shallow area, which is great for little ones to swim and play around in.

They did close the pool early 2 of the nights we were there for functions (one of the functions was ours so I can’t complain too much). I think that this hotel hosts a lot of groups and the pool area is a popular place for functions so you may want to check that out before you book).

I had brought down with me my own buckets and spades, which I recommend. I saw nobody selling that sort of stuff. I also brought down my own swim diapers, normal diapers and wipes etc etc. The Hyatt has one little shop that sells a few sundries but I think it is best to bring your own.

The water slide was fun. Depends on who is manning it you can either take your toddler down on your lap or not. One guy did let me do take my little one down and one did not

so just try it and see what they say. The height requirement is 46 inches, which my little one is nowhere near.

As I said we ate at the Palms restaurant with the kids. I found it to be very reasonable (similar to what you would pay at a Chilis, O’Charleys etc). We did eat out of the resort at Smokey Joes (not great) and TGI (VERY expensive). The couple of times we ate out we paid more than if we would have stayed in the resort.

My one bad experience at the hotel was on our last morning. My husband and 7-month-old were sleeping so I took my 2-year-old down to the Palms to have breakfast. They have a buffet or a la carte option. I told them very clearly when I sat down and when they took my coffee order that I wanted a la carte and not buffet. Well we were ignored for 20 mins until I finally walked out in disgust for not being served. I complained to the manager of the restaurant on the way out who was very nice and offered to comp anything I wanted but by that stage I was over it. I want back to my room and told my husband what had happened. He rang down to speak to the general manager who apologized and put a $100 credit to our room. The manager of the Palms then rang us back and offered to send up breakfast for my 2-year-old for free. I ordered a waffle, which arrived promptly along with my sunglasses that I had left at the Palms that morning without knowing. So all is well that ends well. But it just left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth after the week we had.

Overall this is a great hotel. Good for kids (it was more kid friendly then I thought it was going to be). I would recommend it.

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September 2007
J. Yang & family (baby 2yrs)

Stayed a week with my wife, 2 yr old daughter, mother-in law and sister-in-law in a 2 bedroom condo (timeshare owner). We were on the 5th floor facing the construction. Honestly- it was not an issue. We were out of the room most of the day- and even when we were there- it was pretty hard to hear anything (we’re from NYC so maybe our ears are de-sensitized).

Food- Breakfast is ok (buffet twice- a la carte twice and cooked twice). I think a la carte is a decent way to go- same price as a diner in NYC. Lunch we ate by the pool or cooked and the food was pricey but that’s the norm when you go on vacation. Dinner I think is the most expensive- but honestly- probably the best.

The pool- nice. Pretty big and there’s a kiddie pool. Plenty of chairs- not too many umbrellas and they are strict about towels- but I understand since its not really a full service hotel. We went to the Surf club and the pool is nice- but its only 1/3 opened and already it’s impossible to find chairs. I have no idea what it will be like once the other 2 towers open. The least crowded was the Marriott Stellaris pool since half the hotel is under renovation. But it has the nicest chairs so it’s a nice place to lay out. All three pools are close to each other.

Beach- nice. The sand is not powder and the water is not crystal clear- but it’s still nice. I think The Bahamas/Cancun has much nicer water/sand. However- we drove to Baby Beach twice because the sand and water is what you would think a postcard of the Caribbean would look like. 40 minutes by car- but worth it. For $50 you can rent 4 chairs and a portable cabana. Not bad.

Casino- I think the nicest in Aruba. I only saw 2 others- but there was such a difference, I just went back to the Marriott. No poker and dealers hit on soft 17- but the live music is good and the drinks are quick. A good time if that’s what you’re into.

The best part of the hotels is the fact you can buy a cup of coffee or ice cream at midnight and during the day there are other convenience stores that are a little pricey – but not crazy- to get necessities. We rented a car since we were a large party and we needed to go to the grocery store etc., but I don’t think its necessary- and if you change your mind- every hotel rents cars at reasonable rates so you can just do it for a day and see what you think.

Writing about this- I already miss it. Not a 5 star vacation- but still in the top 1/3 in my opinion. You can’t go wrong if you go to Aruba or the Ocean Club or Stellaris. Because of the overcrowding of the Surf Club- I can’t recommend that- but honestly- I saw plenty of people have a great time there (more kids there since its a larger property- and they have a kids camp for older kids there). Have fun.

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December 2008
L.L. & Family (baby 17mos.)

Just spent the last week of 2008 at the Marriott Casino in Aruba with our little 17-month-old boy.

Overall we had a great experience, the hotel staff was friendly and helpful; on arrival we were upgraded from a Garden View to an Ocean View room and this was supposed to be high season. The hotel is clean and well maintained, the room was spacious and the room service was efficient and discrete.

There was some annoying noise in the balcony of our room (but to be fair, you could not hear it inside the room; from a power generator or something similar) so we requested a room change to the other side of the building that was quickly granted.

Having a jetlagged toddler with us we had no problems getting a beach cabana and chairs any day, but it was full rather early in the morning (9-10 am). The chairs at the pool were also nice, but in our opinion, a bit too many chairs in the area around the pool, so little privacy.

Contrary to other reviews I had read, this hotel was VERY child friendly and most of the people while we were there were families. However, and contrary to the information provided to us by our travel agency, this hotel does not offer babysitting services any longer and therefore we could not do the things that we were planning to do on our holiday: diving, kitesurfing etc etc. Very disappointing.

The beach was nice, white sand and warm water, but a couple of things made it not quite perfect: the water is not crystal clear, it is a bit murky and as soon as you walk into the water there is a sudden drop of around 30 cm that makes it dangerous for little children; in this area there are stones so getting in and out the water is a bit awkward.

We tried the restaurants of the hotel, the Steak House, Simply Fish….very nice.

We also hired a car and drove around Aruba: Baby Beach was great and worth a visit: shame about the view of the oil refinery in the background. In general, very pleasant first experience in Aruba and will probably not be the last.

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December 2008
Julia & Family

I read a lot of reviews on this hotel and Ocean club before choosing Surf Club. We ended up choosing Surf Club. And our experience was way above expectations. We had a 1 bedroom in the Lighthouse Tower (closest to the beach), on the 9th floor, facing Ocean Club. View was very nice. Suite was great. Big kitchen, king size bed, very clean, everything worked. All new appliances. Free internet in the room if u have a laptop. We traveled with an infant. They brought us a crib and high chair and we did not even have to wait.

The lazy river is great – somewhat crowded but manageable. Buy your own float ($5-7) and enjoy. Getting a spot next to the pool was a bit difficult but possible if you get there around 8:30 – 9 am. Beach is also very nice. There are a lot of cabanas and we never had a problem. To get the ones closest to the water u had to get up very early. But anything more then 10 steps away from the water was available at any time of day. We came at different times of day and never had a problem. They had a storm back in September that brought lots of weeds to shore. And the water stank terribly so we spent most of the time in the pool.

Restaurants were not the best. Simply Fish was very good and very romantic. La Vista was horrible. We did not try Ruth’s steak. Cafe at the surf club serves nice burgers. Hotel is 10 min walk from main area and there are few good places there: Smokey Joes, Gianni’s Italian. We also went to Papiamento (7 min drive). Hotel has books with all restaurants and their photos. They will make reservations for you.

There is a big supermarket nearby to buy groceries – Ling & Sons (10 min drive). For families traveling with infants – they have everything – diapers, formula, baby food. Even soy milk, though no other soy products, so if your child is allergic to milk, think in advance.

Overall it was a great experience. I would come back any day.

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May 2008
E.B. & Family

Just back from a week at the Surf Club with my husband, 3 year old son and sister, we stayed 4/25-5/2. The hotel was beautiful! We scoped out many of the other “high rise” hotels while we were there, and were happy that we chose the surf club.

The pool is amazing and perfect for little ones. There are two zero entry areas as well as two 1′ kiddie pools, the kiddie pools were great for my 3 year old and really allowed us all to relax. He also loved the lazy river.

The beach wasn’t as great, so we didn’t spend much time there. It seemed overcrowded (with empty chairs, not even with people) and small given the size of the resort. We had stayed at the Stellaris years ago and found that beach to be much less crowded and more enjoyable.

This was our first time at a timeshare resort and it is ideal for families, we had plenty of space, and the washer and dryer were awesome to have. We did go to the grocery store to stock up on supplies, but ended up eating most of our meals out. It was nice to have milk and some basics in the room though. We also picked up take out a few nights and were happy to keep it warm in the oven until our little guy fell asleep.

Overall, we would definitely go back, it honestly felt like a home away from home!

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September 2006
C.C. & family (baby 1yr.)

We went to Aruba with our 1 year old daughter for her birthday. I have to say that I was concerned about traveling with an infant but the hotel staff was awesome!

We arrived in Aruba at 12:35pm and were concerned since check in wasn’t until 4pm but the minute we arrived at the Radisson the staff was so helpful. We were able to check in early and they even provided a mini refrigerator and crib when we requested them at no additional charge. The staff throughout the resort was so friendly and they really go out of their way for you.

The 2 zero entry pools were great for our little one. She had so much fun. The beach was beautiful and the water was so clear. It was also very easy to reserve a palapa I guess since it was off season (there are also a lot of palapas here). We sometimes went to the beach in the afternoon and there were plenty of unoccupied palapas to pick from.

The rooms aren’t huge for what you pay and they are a little dated but we felt they were comfortable and pretty quiet even though you could hear the nice music from the restaurants in the evening. The plumbing was a little noisy too but that’s not a big deal.

With a baby, we didn’t want to go too far for food so we actually did room service a few times. The prices are reasonable (yeah, it’s a little high but not outrageously so) but the food is actually very good and portions are generous.

We tried out Salt and Pepper for lunch one day which was good and very close by. We also had lunch at Gilligan’s by the beach which was pretty decent. I would not recommend them for dinner though as the mosquitoes come out in full force there in the evening time and had a feast on our legs.

Within walking distance, there was also Dunkin Donuts, Subway, McDonalds, and Sbarro. Though don’t expect the same Dunkin Donut flavor you get back home…there’s also a Dunkin Donuts on the beach next to Palapa #1!

One other thing which was nice is that we actually saw a few families with young children as well. If you don’t plan on renting your own car and plan to travel with a baby, it’s probably a good idea to have your own baby food.

All in all, it was a great time. We really enjoyed our stay.

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October 2007
Kleko & Family (Baby 9mos)

My family and I were initially concerned to bring our 9mo old to Aruba after reading reviews on the Internet, but we were presently surprised the moment we arrived at the Riu.

Check In: Our check in went great. We took a taxi from the airport to the hotel and just beat the buses by a couple of minutes. There was a desk in the main lobby that took our information and we were sent to the main bar area and greeted by refreshing fruit drinks. Once we arrived into the hotel we were checked in to our room 40 minutes after. It was really amazing that the bellboy brought our luggage within 20 minutes. When we arrived into the room we noticed that the room did not have the baby playpen that we originally reserved. All it took was one phone call and a lady came knocking on our door with the playpen. Talk about good service, and considering that there were about 50-100 people checking in at the same time.

Room: The room was great, Jr. Suite, with nice view of the beach and pool, Room # 623 in one of the new towers. The beds were comfortable. We had two double beds and we pushed them together so the baby could sleep in the middle. We were three adults and a baby, and we all loved the comfort, although they were a little harder than back home, however our baby loved the bed much better than her play pen. The beds are as bad as we had read, and we did not have any extra padding. The air conditioning worked too well and we had to have it turned off because the room got too cold. The coolness of the rest of the hotel kept our room cool for the duration of our stay. A warning – Do not leave your door open because your room will literally flood because of the humidity and the air-conditioning – keep the door closed. It took us a day to figure this one out, after the floors were filled with water and the walls doors and mirrors were bleeding water.

Food: The food was great at the buffets, a good variety and it did vary from day to day, however some of the main dishes were repeated. Service was unbelievable, we could feel that the staff put a lot of heart into what they did. For example, we noticed that before dinner time (6:30PM) the staff gathered together each day for a staff meeting, and they cheered the guests once they come in for opening. There were always two to three people by the door to ask you how everything was, and if we needed anything more. Our water and wine glasses always got refilled, and we did not have to wait for our requests. You always noticed two to three waiters working around your tables clearing tables filling drinks, and making sure the guests are satisfied. The food was great value for the money.

Service: Service in the hotel was great. Two times during our stay we received a call from the front desk asking if everything was ok with our room, if we needed drinks, and if we were happy. Once we had a staff member knock on our door and he asked us if we needed any drinks made, and if everything was ok. We noticed that there was always staff around the hotel working and we felt that there was a good ratio of staff to guests. We tipped a lot of people and were happy to have interacted with them.

Before we came to the Riu we did a lot of research, and were glad that we looked at the big picture, and not listened to some of the reviewer we had read. When we visited the other hotels and toured island, we had the urge to go back to our hotel because if was much nicer, and there was always activities to do. The hotel itself stands out from the rest of the hotels, and you can notice the “wow” factor of the design and the way the place looks and feels.

We had two complaints about the resort.

First we were not happy that they gathered all the people at the bar area because we had an infant and a lot of people were smoking. We knew that there was smoking in the main lobby area and some parts of the hotel but it did not bother us because we had a choice to pass through there. We did not like the fact that we were expected to stay in the bar to listen to the speaker and to fill out the paper. This should have been taken into consideration, especially with parents with young children.

Secondly, the worst part of the trip was at the check out when we went to pay our bill and received a phone bill for 69 US dollars. This was a big shocker to us, especially because we only called Canada for less than five minutes on two different days combined. This felt like a big rip off and robbery. When we received a receipt there was no buck up just the two different charges. We talked to the General Manager and expressed our disappointment. We don’t mind paying the big bucks once we are prepared ahead of time. Other places we stayed at never charges us high prices as at the Riu. When we visited Tahiti on the other side of the world, we talked for much more and were only charged $1.0/min US.

We would definitely return to the Riu because we had a great experience, but would expect that the hotel updates their policy and incorporates some kind of warning for other tourists for the telephone charges.

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