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Part of our strategy to happily make it through winter this year was to plan a points-fueled January escape to Aruba. It doesn’t get that cold where we live, but it does get chilly, grey, wet, and nasty. We took advantage of a long weekend in mid-January to pack up the family up for a short trip to Aruba where we split our time between the Radisson Aruba on Club Carlson points, and the Hyatt Regency Aruba using Hyatt Gold Passport points (and Chase Ultimate Rewards points transferred in 1:1 from our Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card). Rates at both properties were $400-$500+ on our nights, so being able to use points was crucial in making this vacation affordable!
You can read all about our time at the Radisson Aruba here, and this post will focus on the the room, basics, and a few amenities at the Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa and Casino. I’ll do a separate post on the pools, beach, palapas, and food options at the Hyatt Regency. Both hotels are just a short distance apart on Aruba’s picturesque Palm Beach. You can easily walk from one to the next, but when we switched hotels we took a very inexpensive ($5ish) cab ride from one to the next due to our luggage and tired kid.
Here is where I risk sounding a little “points snobbish”, but if I want the reviews to be 100% truthful…The Radisson Aruba was totally fine for some family beach time and a great value on points, but we walked into the lobby at the Hyatt I just felt a bit more comfortable and “at home”. In part, I’m just more used to Hyatts, have lounge access thanks to Diamond status, etc. However, I think the Hyatt Aruba property is also just a notch nicer overall than the Radisson. I would return to either, they both have access to the same beach, they both offer multiple pools, and they are both 100% fine, but the Hyatt just made us relax a little bit more. In other words, I was glad to be there.
Hyatt Regency Aruba Lobby and Check-In:
We couldn’t get late check-out at the Radisson, so we arrived a couple hours before the official check-in time at the Hyatt and hoped for the best. We were offered a king room with an ocean view or a room with two queen beds without an ocean view. Since we were traveling with our daughter, we opted for the two beds without the view, and the room was ready pretty shortly after we arrived.
The entrance to the Hyatt reminded me strongly of the Grand Hyatt Kauai as you can see through the open-air lobby all the way to the beach.
Via Diamond status you can receive the 1,000 points amenity or a choice of the food/beverage amenities shown below. Since the hotel has a lounge that provides food and beverages already for Diamond members (or those that book club rooms), we opted for the 1,000 bonus points.
Hyatt Regency Aruba Standard Room:
We traded our king bed with a view for a room that had two queen beds and was ready pretty shortly after arrival (which was great), so we got a standard room that is available to anyone on points. The rooms at this property were pretty recently renovated, and the beds were two distinctly separate beds (by a little) unlike at the Radisson.
The bathroom was nice with a tub, which is far preferable with young kids to a shower stall, and it appeared very clean and modern. We also made great use of the retractable drying line that you could pull out over the bath tub for all our wet bathing suits and beach clothes!
There was a decent mini bar in the room that we avoided, but that was available in a pinch if you needed it. Snacks started at $3.25, soft drinks at $3.50, juices at $4.00, beer at $6.50, and spirits at $8.75.
Be aware that even the water bottles sitting out in the room were far from complimentary. Lucky for us we were able to head up to the club and stock up on waters and other drinks, but if you don’t have club access plan ahead with a grocery stop or similar.
We found the room at the Hyatt Aruba to be standard, but totally fine for meeting our needs. The only sounds we really heard from the room were the parrots right outside the window that would start talking as soon as the sun came up in the morning!
Hyatt Regency Aruba Club Lounge:
A very nice perk at this hotel for us was club access thanks to Hyatt Diamond status. If you don’t have diamond status and want club access, you can book club rooms for 33,000 points per night instead of the standard 25,000 points. As to whether or not that is “worth it”, it really comes down to how you value your points, the number of people in your room, and how often you think you will use the club.
Food in Aruba is pretty pricey, and with young kids the convenience of being able to get something to eat in the hotel shortly after getting up is very important, at least for us. We ate breakfast in the lounge both mornings, had heavy snacks in the early evening, and got an assortment of water, drinks, and snacks from the club during the day. As you would probably guess, the food in the club is far from amazing, but it did the trick to stop us from being hungry or thirsty without requiring us to go and spend more money.
I found the offerings in the lounge to be a step above some of the clubs in the US we have visited, and I like that there was something available throughout much of the day (and the waters/sodas weren’t locked up during the day!).
One stellar component of the club was the view down to the pools and beach!
Hyatt Regency Aruba Camp Hyatt:
One morning while in Aruba we planned to utilize Camp Hyatt for a few hours for our five year old, in part so we could get a couple’s massage, and in part because she loves Camp Hyatts so much that she always asks if the Hyatt we are visiting has one.
There had been a bit of a snafu with our Camp Hyatt/spa plans when the Camp Hyatt instructor was out sick one day, but they rearranged it for the last morning of our stay without too much difficulty. Our daughter ended up being the only one at Camp Hyatt that day (which seems to happen for us about 50% of the time), so we essentially had a private babysitter for the price of a group Camp Hyatt session.
The Camp Hyatt room is located on the bottom floor of the hotel and is filled with crafts, toys, a TV, and a playground just off the back porch.
Prices for Camp Hyatt are $40 for half days (9AM – 12PM or 1-4PM), $75 for full days (lunch included), or $50 for evenings from 6PM – 9PM with dinner included. Kids need to be 4-12 years old and fully potty trained.
While she was there our daughter got to go and visit with the parrots around the property, play on the playground, make a t-shirt, do a craft, and more (those were just the things she remembered to tell me). She had a great time, and is again looking for her next chance to visit a Camp Hyatt for a few hours!
Hyatt Regency Aruba ZoiA Spa:
While our daughter was at Camp Hyatt we headed for the ZoiA Spa for a couple’s massage, with mine being of the prenatal variety. As I’m sure you know, spa visits are not cheap, but they are something we love to indulge on from time to time on vacation. I love massages very much, so am always looking forward to a spa visit.
In this case the ZoiA Spa had a nice waiting room with outdoor patio and well appointed treatment rooms. The massage therapists were very polite and prompt. If you have never had one, take my word for it that almost all prenatal/”Mommy to Be” massages are not as good as normal massages, if you like any pressure at all. I’m sure it is a combo of the therapists not doing as many of them, and also being very conservative with what they do to ensure your safety, but they across the board have never been as enjoyable for me as normal massages. In fact, I actually prefer chair massages while pregnant as opposed to prenatal massages lying on my side.
All that being said, I think this is likely my last massage in the Caribbean. I’ve tried a number of times at various spas in the Caribbean and I am pretty much universally leave feeling somewhere between luke-warm to disappointed about the treatments I receive. They have never been horrible, I just never feel like it was worth what I spent in the end. If you don’t care as much about the actual massage and just want to relax for an hour or so, the spa can still be a great place for that.
Hyatt Regency Aruba Casino:
The hotel also features a casino with both slots and table games open from 12PM – 4AM for adults 18 and up. I didn’t get a chance to visit on this trip, but my husband spent a little time in there and got some free match play and other coupons that he was able to utilize to win a few bucks.
The casino looked nice enough from the outside, and can be a fun way to inject some “adult time” into a family vacation.
Since this post is getting a little lengthy, I’ll save the really good stuff for part 2 (the pools and beach!). I will say though that overall we found the Hyatt Regency Aruba to be a very good stop for a family beach vacation. The beach is very calm, the water slide was a lot of fun, there are restaurants in walking distance, and it was all just pretty easy. I personally don’t think this is the spot I would go to for a romantic couples getaway, but for our purposes it was a very solid property. Stay tuned for more details on the Hyatt Regency Aruba!
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