Walkable location near restaurants and shops, 10 minutes from the Palm Beach Mall
Attractive guest rooms include private balconies or terraces; some rooms have jetted tubs
Royal Level rooms have a private restaurant, lounge, and reception
Lagoon-shaped outdoor pool with two whirlpools; pool aerobics and volleyball
Seven restaurants offer cuisines ranging from Japanese to Italian, plus a buffet restaurant -- all-inclusive
Refurbished casino with five gaming tables and over 100 slot machines
Bright fitness center with a variety of equipment
Free Wi-Fi in common areas
Kids' club has supervised activities for little ones
Finding a spot on the beach can be challenging during peak hours
Pesky plastic wristband requirement
In-room Wi-Fi costs extra
Some complaints of bland food
Some rooms overlook the parking lot
Reservations required for all dinner a la carte restaurants
The Barcelo Aruba is an upper-middle-range all-inclusive resort located on busy and beautiful Palm Beach. The hotel’s 373 rooms have an ocean-inspired color palette, and offer minibars as well as narrow balconies or terraces -- and some have ocean views. The decor could use a refresh in some areas, but on the plus side, the hotel features a gorgeous beach, full casino, lovely pool complex, and all-inclusive access at over a dozen restaurants and bars. Note that reservations are required for dinner (except at the buffet). Expect to pay extra for Wi-Fi in the rooms. Many more dining and entertainment options can also be found in the surrounding High-Rise Hotel district. For travelers who aren't interested in all-inclusive options, check rates at the nearby Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino.
The Barcelo Aruba attracts the usual crowd one would expect to find at a big beach resort: There are vice-minded couples, groups, and friends ready to unwind, drink by the pool, and maybe gamble at the casino, along with a few families taking advantage of the restaurant variety and overall value offered by the hotel’s all-inclusive packages.
The resort is well-maintained and an army of staff works constantly to clean up after guests. The palatial lobby features an indoor water fountain and comfortable seating clusters. Some areas pay more attention to design, such as the Japanese restaurant, Zen, which features bold red tablecloths and an elegant little indoor garden. Although the Barcelo Aruba lacks a certain “wow” factor, it does offer direct access to a prime stretch of sand, a great pool, and free-flowing drinks -- and that’s exactly what many of its guests are looking for. One pesky requirement is plastic wristbands.
On Palm Beach in the bustling High-Rise Hotel District
The Barcelo Aruba is located on the island’s northwest coast in the busy High-Rise Hotel District. With other big resorts like the Hyatt and the Hilton as its neighbors, the atmosphere on the beach is usually lively. Vendors roam around, but they don't aggressively push products. There are plenty of restaurants and bars found within a five-minute walk in either direction. The shops at Palm Beach Mall are a 10-minute walk, and restaurant options range from locally owned eateries to chains like McDonalds, Hard Rock Cafe, and Hooters.
The hotel backs onto Palm Beach, and Eagle and Malmok beaches less than a 10-minute drive away. Downtown Oranjestad and Queen Beatrix International Airport are less than seven miles away. Parking at the hotel is free and easy.
Ocean-inspired color palettes with furnished balconies and some ocean views
Guest rooms at the Barcelo Aruba are decorated with dark wood furniture and bold blue accents. Aside from dramatic two-poster headboards, rooms are simple and business-like with basic desks and a few pieces of modest nature-inspired artwork. Large cabinets hold flat-screen TVs and hide the minibars, while additional squat cabinets are topped with coffeemakers. Wall closets hold hairdryers, robes, and personal safes. Wi-Fi costs extra in the guest rooms.
Large bathrooms are decorated with pale marble tiling and stocked with hotel-branded toiletries. Long countertops include tiny sinks, and shower/tub combos offer shampoo and shower gel dispensers. All rooms include narrow terraces or balconies, but many have uninspiring views of neighboring buildings or parking lots. Some suites feature bathrooms with walk-in showers, as well as jetted tubs in the bathrooms and on the balconies. Views range from ocean to garden to parking lot vistas.
Royal Level rooms are on the highest levels and feature the same decor throughout the rest of the resort. However, they come with access to a private a la carte restaurant, lounge, and reception staff.
Direct access to Palm Beach, large pool complex, fitness center, and full casino
The best feature at the Barcelo Aruba is the location -- the hotel backs onto a picturesque stretch of Palm Beach, with palapas and loungers available for guests. The palapas are widely spaced, giving each set of loungers some breathing room, but it also means guests need to arrive early if they want to grab one that's available. Guests from nearby hotels stroll by, as do vendors selling scuba diving lessons and boat rides (which are some of Aruba's main draws, thanks to its pristine, hurricane-free waters). The all-inclusive package includes activities at the pool and beach, such as volleyball and water aerobics.
The lagoon-shaped pool is surrounded by palm trees, potted plants, and arched bridges. There are a few rock and waterfall accents, including a central island with two hot tubs. The pool is surrounded by a stone deck with navy blue loungers and beach umbrellas, along with a few canopied daybeds. There’s a swim-up bar, which serves as a party hub throughout the day. The full casino offers five table games and well over 100 slot machines.
Evening entertainment is fun and ranges from the animation team dancing with guests to a full-fledged Cirque du Soleil-style show. Staff also organizes games and dance contests by the pool throughout the day.
There’s a modern fitness center with a good selection of cardio machines, free weights, exercise balls, and yoga mats. Tennis courts are available outdoors. The business center is located in a corridor near the lobby. It consists of a few personal computers set in niches around a circular table, along with a printer. Wi-Fi is free in the lobby.
The hotel’s flexible meeting and event space can accommodate groups of up to 750 people. Wedding planning services are also available. The Barcy Club offers supervised activities for children age 4 to 12. Parking is free.
Six restaurants and three bars included with the rates
All of the restaurants and bars (plus tips) are included in the room rates. Note that the a la carte restaurants are only open for dinner and reservations are required. The hotel’s main restaurant is The Palm, an international buffet open for breakfast, lunch, and theme night dinners. It’s a fairly average-looking buffet with white tablecloths and wooden tables. Seating is available in the sprawling interior or out on a overlooking the pool. L'Olio serves Italian cuisine and a range of wines. Mexico Lindo offers Tex-Mex items and a wide variety of tequilas. Kyoto is a fun spot with Japanese food, private tatami-style tables, a huge sushi bar, and show cooking on two teppanyaki tables. Aruban Seafood is the beachfront spot for Caribbean-style cuisine with seafood and prime cuts. Finally, the Beach Club Restaurant is an informal spot for buffet breakfast and informal lunches. Room service is available, though the menu is limited and it incurs fees.