If you have read my blog over the last three years, I think you will notice a trend. I tend to review Hyatts in great locations and virtually nothing else. I travel for business outside of my assignments or vacations and as much as I would like to stay in Hyatts all the time (though I have two fairly bad reviews for Hyatts coming up) their coverage is sparse in certain place. There are less than 600 Hyatts in the world right now, compared to more than 4,500 IHG hotels (primarily in the United States and the Americas) and several thousand for Marriott and Hilton each as well. This means that I often find myself in Hampton Inns, and Holiday Inns, and Courtyards all across the Midwest, and I actually have status in both Hilton and IHG from work stays.
When taking my wife for her 30th birthday to Aruba, I shopped hotels and found that the Hyatt Regency Aruba seemed overly expensive (understatement) and I had difficulty justifying the points (the same as the Park Hyatt Maldives, a $1000/nt hotel). I was sitting on hundreds of thousands of IHG points and thought I would try the brand for a leisure stay. I selected the Holiday Inn Resort Aruba for 25,000 points per night, which seemed like an average value for their point system.
I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived at the resort. The hotel lobby was well appointed and could have been any island resort, certainly not what you typically think of when Holiday Inn comes to mind. Check-in was quick and easy. The front desk handed me bottles of water, wifi codes, a map of the resort, and about half a dozen other items that I struggled to hold on my way to the room.
We parked the car close to the third tower added in just last few years and walked into the building. The decor was much more in line with the Holiday Inn brand I have been familiar with in the past. The exterior matched the previous two towers. They were designed and built in the 1950s and follow the traditional Holiday Inn model that hearkened back to palm trees and coastal hotels. It could have been a postcard with the Holiday Inn building in the background, the pool and ocean in sight, the only thing missing was a classic convertible with fins. There was something charming about that bit of American nostalgia.
As we are Platinum and they had space available (now Ambassador Spire), we were given a full ocean view room one of only 63 on the property. There are nine such that are also walkouts straight on to the beach and may add another element to your stay. Our room was updated and fine. It might have been about what to expect for a Holiday Inn on the beach. The design of the room is American hotel standard, rectangle leading from hallway to window with the bathroom on the right followed by two beds on the right and a desk or dresser with TV to the left.
The bathroom was a little nicer in that there was no shower over tub, a huge pet peeve of mine and there was plenty of space. It wasn’t fancy, but it was clean and updated.
The room was recently painted however the TV while new, did not have one channel that came in clear. Why bother to install brand new LED HD TVs if you won’t hook the cable up right? But you don’t come to paradise to watch TV so what about the view?
It was stunning. From just three floors above the sand you are high enough to roll over in the morning and see nothing but beautiful turquoise Caribbean water. The balcony was safe for kids and offered a breath of the salt air without the sand of the beach. We were floored by what we saw.
Other Rooms, Other Views
We were staying on the property with friends and they had a separate room with a partial ocean view. While our room would be worth paying to upgrade if you are not a Platinum member or did not score that room by luck of the draw, the others give a decent view of the sea and of the grounds where you might find your kids playing in the pool below.
Mall and Restaurants
Whether you are an adult couple, traveling alone for work, or with your family, the convenient restaurants and shops across the street make you feel like you have access to things without having to drive across the island or leave the area.
I’ll have more in upcoming posts about the family options of the property and why I would return there over the Hyatt Regency Aruba.