Hyatt Regency Aruba Family Suite – Review

Earlier this month we stayed at the Hyatt Regency Aruba as part of our May 5-day vacation. I had read great reviews about the hotel on TripAdvisor, although being a Category 6, either 25,000 points per night or 12,500 points and $150 in cash at the cash and points rate the price was too steep for my liking. Eventually I was able to find a $233 Costco rate, which after all taxes and resort fee added up to $292 per night. I booked the hotel for 4 nights and I reserved by taking advantage of my Citi Prestige 4th night free benefit and then used a Diamond Suite Upgrade to book into the Family Suite. So we paid in total $876 for 4 nights in a suite, which was a pretty good value after all.

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Arrival and Check-in

Getting to the hotel by taxi is a flat rate of $25 plus tip, so we used this option. Driving is pretty easy too as long as you hug the Aruba west coast and follow the signs for the high rise hotels.

When arriving the valet guys took our bags and delivered them to our room while we did the check in. The lobby was beautiful and being a common theme for lots of Caribbean hotels, the main lobby was open air. While the breeze in Aruba is pretty constant, I personally dislike this type of set up. Caribbean islands heat can get pretty oppressive. Give me air conditioning anywhere I go please.

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Check in was somewhat awkward. The front desk clerk was very friendly and welcoming, but she also asked me to write on a piece of paper what I liked most about Hyatt. I wrote that I really liked their customer service and then paid a compliment to the clerk by just writing she was awesome. She thought it was funny but then handed back the piece of paper to me and insisted that I write more about what I liked about Hyatt, my favorite drink, etc. It was just weird overall, but ok regardless. I never checked the welcome amenity since the hotel has a club lounge, so I chose the get the 1,000 welcome points and went on my way. I asked for 4:00 p.m. late checkout in advance, and was told to check back and request it again the day prior to departure, which was odd since Hyatt Diamonds are guaranteed late checkout. Eventually the day before checking out I returned to the front desk and the front desk clerk told me she had to check back with her manager, because late checkout was subject to availability. Eventually she came back and told me the manager would be able to grant me late checkout, which felt like they were doing me a big favor, but I still got it nonetheless.

Family Suite:

Our family suite was in a corner of the hotel on the 7th floor. What I found most impressive about the suite was the number of windows facing 3 different directions (west, north and east), although the windows were all pretty dirty from all the nearby salt water and they were in desperate need to be cleaned from the outside. The suite was pretty spacious and had plenty of furniture, although way too many ceramic and glass decorations for my liking, which normally would be fine, but traveling with an 18 month-old requires me to start baby-proofing everything as soon as we get to any hotel room. I never understood why hotels offer ADA rooms but it has never occurred to them to market and sell baby friendly rooms with less furniture and padded wall edges that can better protect toddlers. I suppose they have thought about it but won’t do it for liability reasons. Anyway…

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The bedroom was very spacious and it even had its own dining table.

Hyatt-Regency-ArubaHyatt-Regency-ArubaHyatt-Regency-ArubaHyatt-Regency-ArubaHyatt-Regency-ArubaOverall I was pleased with the suite, although it was showing its age a bit. There were a couple of things I didn’t like. The bathroom door had a foggy glass door and a foggy glass window that faced the bedroom (although the window had a blind), which not only offers less privacy, but also creates the problem of the entire bedroom getting lit up in the middle of the night if someone needs to use the bathroom at 3:00 a.m. and turns the light on. The other thing I didn’t like was the weird set up between the bedroom door and the closet door behind it. The bedroom door opened in, and the double closet doors opened out, which constantly required opening and closing one when you needed to open or close the other. Other than that, it was great to have plenty of space for our toddler to move around and extra room for when my in-laws visited from the Hilton down the street, and the suite served its overall purpose.

The minibar was pretty well stocked, but we didn’t have the need to use it.

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The crib was giant. It was the largest hotel-issued crib I’ve ever seen, although apparently I never took a picture of it. I loved that they provided full-size complimentary baby products. Other Hyatt Regencies I’ve stayed at usually provide small toiletries to get you through a short stay, but these were full sized bottles.

Hyatt-Regency-ArubaHousekeeping and maintenance service wasn’t the greatest when we opted to have the room refreshed. I found the housekeeping work to be pretty relaxed, mostly limited to changing the towels, making the bed and taking out the trash, but basic things such as taking away wet beach towels on the floor weren’t done, and a clogged sink took 2 days to get repaired.

Regency Club:

The Regency Club lounge was on the 9th floor, and it was relatively small for the size of the hotel, but was never too crowded. The hours weren’t very vacation friendly, since breakfast ended at 10:00 a.m. every day (compared to the Hilton down the street which stayed opened until 11:00 a.m.). The breakfast spread was pretty predictable each morning with just about the same items each day, except the eggs Benedict, which were missing one of the mornings we had breakfast there. The food quality was pretty decent although the boiled eggs one morning had been cooked at least the day before based on how hard the shell stuck to the eggs when pealing them. The staff was pretty friendly and always kept the food and drinks well stocked.

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During the day there were midday snacks, which consisted mostly of cream filled pastries, fruit and cookies.

Midday snacks

Midday snacks

Happy hour was from 5:00-7:00 p.m., which again was on the short side, with appetizers and desserts served together. The food was nothing to write home about, with some of the items not tasting so great and some better than others, but were pretty decent overall and we saved quite a bit of money most nights we stayed there (we did go out to dinner a couple of nights to try some local cuisine).

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Doing shrimp shots

Doing shrimp shots

Through my experience I found wine to be complimentary but beer to be for a charge (I ordered a Corona for $4 so I’m not sure if it was the same for the local beer).

Amenities:

The hotel has 2 main pools, which we found pretty full during the weekend but quite the opposite Monday through Wednesday after the U.S. crowd flew home. The pools were always warm and comfortable and the main pool has a swim-up bar, although I didn’t like that the bar stools are above water, so when you sit at the bar your body and most of your legs are above the water, which kind of defeats the purpose of being a swim-up bar. The food and drinks at the bar were pretty good.

Hyatt-Regency-ArubaHyatt-Regency-ArubaThe main pool also has a water slide that has a pretty generous length and we never found crowded, so I went down the slide quite a few times.

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The hotel has easy access to the beach (all Aruba beaches are public) and if you are staying at the hotel you can reserve a small palapa umbrella for free after 4:00 p.m. the prior day, with the most desirable ones being reserved in advance, but you could also take whatever else was available on the same day for free without a reservation, and we had no problems finding one (again, on a Wednesday when the hotel was less crowded). Hotel guests can also reserve water rafts and towels, which are included in the resort fee. We enjoyed both the beach and the pools quite a bit, with the beach being one of the nicest and with finest sands I’ve ever been on.

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The resort grounds are very nice and everything is nicely decorated, plants are nicely trimmed, and overall is a pleasure to walk around.

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I got yelled at for taking this picture, even though no signs are around

I got yelled at for taking this picture, even though no signs are around

We also had dinner at one of the hotel’s 3 main restaurants, Ruinas Del Mar, on lobster night, with the chef preparing lobsters in 4 different ways (steamed, grilled, blackened and thermidor). The price was $59 for one lobster entree and 2 side dishes. My wife had the grilled lobster with a side of the best spinach risotto we’ve ever tried, and I had the lobster thermidor. Our son had a steak for a kids meal which was also excellent. Skipping the Regency Club was well worth it for this particular dinner.

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Overall Impression:

While we really enjoyed our stay at this hotel, especially the beach and pools, I really don’t feel like this property calls for a category 6 award price. I think this hotel is more of a category 5 or even a solid 4. The room freshness, the lounge food quality and the staff’s attention to detail just isn’t there. Then again, I personally think there’s a bit of an island laid back culture there that you have to take into account when you stay anywhere in the Caribbean. Regardless, it’s one of the best properties to stay at in Aruba, so I wouldn’t hesitate to stay here again, but only if the per night price is right.

 

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