Posts Tagged With: Marriott

If I saved more money, I would……buy a Marriott Vacation Club timeshare

View from our room's balcony at the Marriott Surf Club Aruba.

View from our room’s balcony at the Marriott Surf Club Aruba.

Earlier this August, I spent a week of relaxation and fun on one of my favorite islands, Aruba.  Their current “One Happy Island” marketing campaign portrays the island and its feeling perfectly. I was definitely happy the entire time while there, and as the campaign states, their weather is ideal. This was my second time on the island, and it rained for about an hour and was cloudy for a total of maybe four hours.  The rest of the time, the weather was PERFECT. A breezy 90 degrees and mostly sunny during the day. Cooler, breezy, and probably close to 80 at night. Last time, it didn’t rain for a single second while I was there. You gotta love an island with amazing blue waters, white sandy beaches, and palm trees that’s also a desert that hardly ever gets hurricanes!  I love the Bahamas too, but hurricanes would be the one thing deterring me from planning an August trip there.

Enough small talk about the weather.  This spring, while driving around the Boston area and listening to my favorite top 40 radio stations, with commercials about “One Happy Island” reminding me how great the island is every 10 seconds, I made the decision that I would just HAVE to go.  Who says traditional advertising is dying?  That radio commercial worked just fine on me.

I was very lucky to stay in a family’s suite at the Marriott Surf Club, which is a villa timeshare resort located in the same complex as a Marriott hotel and the Marriott Ocean Club villas at the northern end of Palm Beach.  Featuring a number of nice amenities, including a large pool, lazy river, swim-up bar, free wifi, sunset views, daily activities for both kids and adults (everything from Zumba to Iguana Interactions) and more, the hotel was the ideal place to spend the week.  Although we spent a couple of days sightseeing on the island and on a snorkeling trip, the rest of our time was spent laying on the beach reading, cooling off in the ocean, or aimlessly floating around the lazy river during “happy hour” while sipping refreshing Aruba Breezes.

The bedroom of the 1 bedroom villa.

The bedroom of the 1 bedroom villa.

Since the Surf Club is an easy walking distance to the hotel strip with lots of restaurants, shops, and bars, most nights we wandered out for some dinner, drinks, or souvenirs.  A perfect location in case you ever get bored of the tons of amenities the hotel offers.

Decorated in a casual, beachy blue theme,  the rooms inside the resort are ALMOST as amazing as the pool and lazy river outside it.  Our group stayed in a studio and 1 bedroom villa that were connected with a conjoining door.  So, two couples got to sleep on the luxuriously comfortable Marriott beds, while the other couple struggled through the night on a pull-out couch. I mean the couch wasn’t that bad, but the big beds are so much better. If I could squeeze one of those white comforters in my carry-on, I totally would steal it. Between the two rooms, we also had two large bathrooms, a kitchen with a dining table, a small kitchenette in the studio, a living room area, and two balconies with ocean views. Having our own kitchen was great because we were able to buy groceries for breakfast and lunch, helping us save a lot of money AND calories. As I’ve written before, bringing food on trips or buying groceries for breakfast or lunch can help you stay within your budget and allow you to splurge on nice dinners and desserts! Perfect, because in my next post you’ll see just how much I splurged both financially and calorically.

One of my favorite parts of the trip was getting into the routine of waking up leisurely, heading down to the fully-equipped gym on the first floor (which I surprisingly actually did a few mornings), returning to the room for a quick breakfast, and having to make the difficult decision of whether I would sit by the pool or on the beach for the day. Tough life.

Now, my stay at the Aruba Surf Club was great, but it’s not the only reason why I want to own a Marriott Vacation Club timeshare.  If you’ve spent more than two seconds on my blog, you know I love travel (and ice cream but I guess that’s besides the point).  With Marriott Vacation Club, I could choose a resort in a location where I would want to travel to often, most likely somewhere in the Caribbean or Hawaii for me. And then, the best part, on years where I don’t visit my timeshare I could try one out somewhere else in the world. Florida, Vail, multiple Hawaiian islands, Myrtle Beach, St. Thomas, St. Kitts, France, Spain, Thailand…the list just gets better and better! And those are just the locations in the “collection”; it seems that with the timeshare you can also visit other Marriotts and various different hotels around the world.

Come on bank account, start growing! Fast.

The beach at the Surf Club at sunset. Such amazing views!

The beach at the Surf Club at sunset. Such amazing views!

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Review of the Marriott Aruba Ocean Club

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Palm Beach, Aruba

Last month, my parents, sister, and I took our first family vacation in four years (and definitely the biggest family vacation that we’d ever taken) to Aruba.  The trip began filled with stress and featured me running frantically through the Miami airport in search of an outlet to charge my laptop and deal with some work issues, only to finally find one, after walking past every gate in the terminal 5 times, and realize the wireless fee was something ridiculous, like $7.  So, of course, I, like my usual self, slammed my laptop shut, threw my phone in my bag, and complained until our flight was ready to depart. Typical.

When we arrived in Aruba a couple of hours later, my stress had subsided, but I still wasn’t feeling the Aruba “bon bini” welcome and was unsure that I was on “one happy island,” as all signs and carpets in the airport were telling me.

After we got to our hotel and I spent some relaxing time by the beach and pool, though, all of that began to change.  Like your typical Caribbean beach vacation, Aruba makes you forget about your life at home and allows you to relax, while you soak up some sun and sip a cocktail.

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The Pool

The Marriott Aruba Ocean Club is a suite/villa timeshare resort located in the same complex as a Marriott hotel and the Marriott Surf Club villas, at one end of the “high rise” hotel area of Palm Beach. It features a number of nice amenities, including a large pool, swim-up bar, free wifi, restaurants, sunset views, a spa, etc. It was also within an easy walking distance of the hotel strip with lots of restaurants, shops, and bars.

The room was the perfect size and included a full kitchen, living room, dining table, and large bathroom.  Having our own kitchen was great because we were able to buy groceries for breakfast and lunch, helping us save a lot of money AND calories. As I’ve written before, bringing food on trips for breakfast or lunch can help you stay within your budget and allow you to splurge on nice dinners and desserts!

Overall, the trip was definitely one of the best that we’ve taken as a family…I don’t think we ended up fighting or arguing at all! Some of our past highlights include my sister and I getting into a big fight at the Lincoln Memorial, one of us running off at Epcot, as well as countless more I can’t remember. This trip flew by without issues.

Aruba was the ideal destination for some fun and relaxation, and the Marriott Aruba Ocean Club was the ideal hotel to visit.  I’d definitely recommend it, and hope to return in the future! Out of the resorts I’ve stayed at in the Caribbean, in Cancun, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas, this hotel is definitely toward the top of my list.  The only one that beats it, is, surprise surprise, Atlantis, which I will always love.

Stay tuned for my take on the food/fun on the island and my thoughts on my first trip to Asia (I’m heading to Tokyo and Hong Kong on Monday)!

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Review of Toronto Marriott at Eaton Centre

lobby

lobby

It’s been awhile; I’ve been busy enjoying my summer. July was a crazy month for me, with my 21st birthday, work, and my trip to Toronto and Niagara Falls.  I barely had time to even think about writing in this blog.

Anyways, I went to Toronto at the end of July with two of my friends. My friend Ashley, who enjoys planning vacations at least as much as I do found us a great deal at the Marriott in downtown Toronto through expedia.com.  We stayed for 4 nights an only paid $168 each.  A great deal for a 4-star, roomy, comfortable hotel located in the bustling Dundas area of Toronto, right in the middle of numerous shopping and dining options.  It was also less than a 5 minute walk away from the subway, which was really convenient when we wanted to explore the city.

Our room in the Toronto Marriot at Eaton Centre was perfect for the three of us.  It probably could have even fit four. We stayed in just a regular room with two double beds, but there was a great deal more walking space than in most hotel rooms.  There was a comfortable armchair and a large desk in the room, which added to the room’s appeal.  We also requested a mini fridge, when we booked our room, and it was there waiting for us when we checked in.  When we arrived, we also asked about a microwave, and the woman at the front desk sent one up for us for no additional charge.  We definitely saved a lot of money by bringing snacks, breakfast foods, and easy meals (like PB and Fluff), instead of going out for every meal, and having a place to store the food was great.  The free Wi-Fi from the lobby also somehow worked in our room, probably because we were only on the 4th floor.  So, we didn’t have to pay to go online.

the room

the room

The beds were beyond comfortable (and big enough to fit two people).  The down comforters and pillow-top mattress pads made it easy to drift off to sleep every night.  Just don’t lay down during the middle of the day to watch TV… You’ll probably be too comfortable to get up and go experience what Toronto has to offer!

The hotel itself had all the amenities a 4-star hotel should.  A clean-smelling, elegant lobby, a business center, an18th floor indoor pool with a hot tub and an outdoor deck that has a nice view of the city, a nice restaurant (which looked good, although we never ate at it),a  friendly, helpful staff, and a functional fitness room.  Although I only used the gym at the hotel once (I’m not a big exerciser while I’m on vacation), it was one of my favorite amenities.  You didn’t have to pay to use it, it was rarely busy, and they had a good amount of treadmills, ellipticals, and free weights, as well as a few machines and some big stability balls.  There was also filtered water, free ear buds for the mini TVs on the treadmills/elipticals, and a basket of apples.  Not bad for a hotel gym!

the gym

the gym

Another plus, if you like shopping, the hotel is connected to this HUGE mall: Eaton Centre, through a hallway on the second floor.

Overall, our stay at this Marriott was very enjoyable.  The only thing that could have been better would have been free breakfast. Even a free continental breakfast.  Free food attracts a lot of people, and I know it’s always part of my decision making process. That said, I don’t stay at a Marriott too often, but I will definitely keep the brand in mind when booking my next trip. I had a great time.

Up next: hopefully sooner rather than later, Where to go/What to do in Toronto!

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