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How I booked a penthouse suite at Aruba's newest hotel using points

Oct. 13, 2021
11 min read
Pool and Radisson Blu Aruba building
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As summer drew to an end, I wanted to book one more vacation ahead of my children heading back to school. That's when I recalled seeing an email in my inbox from Radisson Rewards America that the Radisson Blu Aruba just opened. The hotel looked sleek and modern, plus it had an infinity-edge pool that overlooked the beach.

I thought that Aruba would be an amazing vacation experience for me and the kids, but what really sold me were the room options available using points. For only 105,000 Radisson points per night, I was able to book a massive three-bedroom penthouse suite for us, which made it an even more memorable stay. Here's how I did it and what the experience was like.

At Palm Beach with my kids. (Photo by Lee Huffman)

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A new Caribbean points option – Radisson Blu Aruba

The Radisson Blu Aruba opened to guests in April 2021. The property is split into two buildings – a three-story building with entertainment venues and a 14-story building for the guest rooms.

The front building holds the lobby, gym, restaurant, and a rooftop, infinity-edge pool overlooking the beach, while guests stay in the taller building at the back of the property. In between the two buildings are a curviform pool, a large hot tub, a pool bar and several covered seating areas for guests to get some shade.

(Photo by Lee Huffman)

While at the main pool, you can order food from the adjacent bar. I recommend heading upstairs to the infinity-edge pool to catch the afternoon sun and watch the sunset. There's a full-service restaurant called Sunset Bistro Terrace offering food, drinks, and gorgeous ocean views.

(Photo by Lee Huffman)

Some travelers may complain that the hotel is not directly on the beach — but it's easy enough to get there since the hotel offers an on-demand covered golf cart that takes about 30-seconds to drop you off. It is just around the corner, so you can also walk there in less than five minutes. Still, if you hope to stay right on the beach, you might opt for another resort.

Complimentary golf cart to the beach. (Photo by Lee Huffman)

The hotel partners with the Moomba Beach Bar & Restaurant to offer free reserved seating and umbrellas on the beach. I recommend getting there early in the day or arriving in the later afternoon so that there are plenty of seats available.

My kids loved that the water was calm so that they could play without worrying about crashing waves.

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(Photo by Lee Huffman)

Related: These are the best times to visit Aruba

Booking a 2,150 square-foot, three-bedroom penthouse

As I looked through the room options at the Radisson Blu Aruba, the hotel offers only two-or three-bedroom units with either an island or a beach view. With so much space, these rooms are great for a family vacation or a trip with friends.

The two-bedroom units are 1,143 square feet and can be booked with cash, points, or a combination of points and cash. During the dates of my trip, I could book one of these rooms for 75,000 Radisson Rewards points per night, or $233.40 and 25,000 points. With cash rates available for less than $300 a night and Radisson points worth 0.4 cents each based on TPG valuations, it didn't make sense to book a points and cash reservation, though. That's why I opted to use points in the end, but not for one of these rooms.

Current rates for a 2-bedroom stay.(Screenshot courtesy of radissonrewardsamericas.com)

Instead, I focused on the three-bedroom accommodations. These suites are 2,147 square feet and feature a full kitchen, dining room, living room, and 3.5 bathrooms. After I saw that the three-bedroom suites were nearly twice as big as the two-bedroom units but only 30,000 more points a night -- so 105,000 total -- I decided to book one. I considered that an excellent deal because cash rates were starting at $500 per night.

What's more, the three-bedroom suites are located on the 13th and 14th floors of the guest building so they have some of the best views, especially from that top floor.

Rates for my July 2021 stay. (Screenshot courtesy of radissonrewardsamericas.com)

While ocean-view three-bedroom suites are available when paying cash, only island view rooms can be booked with points. I have Radisson Rewards Gold status from a credit card, but that wasn't enough to receive an upgrade to an ocean view room during our stay, unfortunately.

Prices have gone up a little since Radisson Rewards split into two rewards programs earlier this year, with one branch for folks based in the Americas and another for international travelers. At the time of writing, three-bedroom suites at the Radisson Blu Aruba were available for 112,500 points per night (a seven percent increase in cost from my stay). Regardless, it's a reasonable price for such a huge room in a Caribbean island paradise.

Related: Here’s what you need to know about the new Radisson Hotels Americas

My suite at the Radisson Blu Aruba

With such a good points redemption to get us there, my family was excited to finally arrive at the resort. When we got up to the suite, it was incredibly spacious. As we walked around, I felt like we were shooting an episode of MTV Cribs. As you walk into the unit, the large living room is immediately in front of you. The couch was large with fluffy pillows, but it was actually much firmer than it looks. I love the floor-to-ceiling windows and big screen TV.

(Photo by Lee Huffman)

The dining area was large enough to cook a family meal and invite a few friends over. As you can see, the furniture was modern with a minimalist feel, which made the rooms feel even bigger. Natural light from the windows also contributed to the bright and airy decor.

(Photo by Lee Huffman)

The modern design continued into the kitchen with all-white cabinetry and hidden appliances. It does give off a bit of the Ikea vibe, but I prefer this decor much more than the kitschy beach knick-knacks that some hotels use to decorate their units.

Behind where I took this photo is a glass stovetop and drawers containing pots, pans, and other cooking utensils. There was a market just a couple of miles down the street, so you could save money by cooking some of your vacation meals here.

(Photo by Lee Huffman)

The master bedroom features a large walk-in closet, a nice sitting area, and a bathroom with a shower, bathtub, and bidet. Each bedroom has a large flat-panel TV, but we didn't use them since we were at the pool or beach the entire time.

(Photo by Lee Huffman)

The second bedroom has a king bed, floor-to-ceiling windows and its own en-suite bathroom.

(Photo by Lee Huffman)

The third bedroom was designed with kids in mind. It has two twin beds, a small closet and a wall-mounted TV. It did not have its own bathroom, but the third full bathroom was just outside the bedroom door. This room had a peek-a-boo view of the beach through its windows.

(Photo by Lee Huffman)

Related: Best points hotels in the Caribbean

How to earn Radisson Rewards points

While I thought 105,000 Radisson Rewards points was a bargain for such a big suite, it's still a lot of points to burn through. There are some good ways to rack them up again, though.

Radisson Rewards is not a transfer partner of any transferable points programs, but you can earn Radisson points in several other ways:

  • Staying at any of the Radisson family of hotels -- members earn between 20-35 points per dollar depending on their elite status
  • Signing up for a Radisson credit card -- the program fields two personal credit cards (and a discontinued business one) in the U.S., which make it easy to accrue points on everyday spending
  • Using your Radisson credit card for purchases
  • Rental car partners -- earn bonuses when renting through Sixt and Europcar
  • Shopping at a Bicester Village retail outlets in Europe or China
  • Booking a meeting or event at a Radisson property

My favorite way to earn Radisson points is through the U.S. Bank Radisson Rewards Premier Visa Signature Card. This card earns 10x points at Radisson hotels and 5x points on everything else. Plus, new cardholders can earn up to 85,000 bonus points with their new card. They'll receive 50,000 points after the first purchase and another 35,000 points after making $2,500 in purchases within 90 days. You'll also receive another 40,000 points when you renew your card each year.

The information for the Radisson Rewards Premier Visa Signature has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuers

I also have the business Radisson Rewards credit card (no longer available to new applicants), so I earn a combined 80,000 points each year when I renew both cards. And with 5 points per dollar earning power, it is easy to accumulate bunches of points from everyday spending.

Related: Best hotel credit cards with annual fees under $100

Aruba entry requirements

If you're planning on visiting Aruba, check out the Visit Aruba website to view the latest entry requirements.

At the time of writing, the country requires that all travelers ages 12 and up have a negative COVID test (PCR or rapid test) taken within 72 hours of departure. Otherwise, they can test upon arrival and have to quarantine in their room until the test results are finalized.

At the airport, you'll share your test results and passport to receive one blue and one pink card. Before you can exit customs, you'll provide the blue card to an agent. The pink card lets your hotel know that you have passed all of the COVID requirements for your stay and do not have to quarantine.

(Photo by Lee Huffman)

Related: When will international travel return? A country-by-country guide to coronavirus recovery

Bottom line

My kids and I had a blast in Aruba, and we'd love to go back someday to explore more of the island. It had amazing weather during our visit and we spent nearly the entire trip in the pool or at the beach, though we were amazed at how large our suite at the Radisson Blu was. While it was a lot of points to spend, then opportunity to book a 14th-floor penthouse was incredible an incredible redemption and I wouldn't hesitate to do it again.

Feature photo by Lee Huffman.

Featured image by (Photo by Lee Huffman)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
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  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees