The Marriott Surf Club is a large destination resort with every amenity you could ever want. It features several restaurants and multiple pools: the lazy river, adult only Serenity pool, two jacuzzis, a water slide under a waterfall, three children's pools (one with a small sand beach and others with waterfalls and water guns), and two zero depth free form pools, one with a swim up bar/restaurant. There is also an upscale spa, a brand new fitness center, children's playground, teen game room, and children's club with scheduled activities. Other activities include beach volleyball, shuffleboard, ping pong, 2 tennis courts (lit at night), oversize chess and checkers, billiards outside, and 1/2 basketball court. All water sports have onsite rentals of equipment. There is free WiFi everywhere including in the units, lobby, and by the pools. There is also wired high speed internet in the room for a computer. There is still more but you get the idea - so much to do and so much is free for your convenience.
As a special note, the Surf has completely redone the health and fitness center with state of the art equipment, weights, & machines, and free classes like Zumba and yoga.
Pool / Beach Tips
Here's a good TIP: They allow rafts and tubes in the lazy river and pools and many people leave theirs behind when they leave so look around and see where abandoned toys and floats are. Check behind the children's pool area or behind the bushes. Often they are left by elevators too. When you leave you can follow suit as everyone appreciates a freebie. Also by the towel hut on the beach is a box with left over sand toys you are welcome to take for your little ones.
Chairs are always available but if you want to be right by the lazy river or front pool then the early morning rumors are true. I personally don't care so I never have a problem getting my lounge seating, even the ones with the canopies to keep off the sun.
Another TIP: Go to the beach in the afternoon when many people have left for the day and you will find many empty pilapas (huts with shade and a place to put your things) and chairs. That gives you time in the cooler morning to tour or shop or enjoy the pools.
Due to the popularity of the lazy river, Marriott gives out wrist bands to guests to wear when using the pools and beach. That keeps other guests from the Ocean Club or Stellaris hotel from using the facilities and making it too crowded. These bands change colors on Wednesdays so be sure to get those new ones sometime that day. I have quite a collection from my years of going to the Surf!!
This links to a larger version of the buildings.
The villas in the Surf Club, just like the ones in the Ocean Club, are all identical. The only difference is the location and floor which is determined at check in by view and availability at arrival.
The view categories are garden, ocean, oceanside and ocean front. The last two are upgraded views located in the front building closest to the beach called Lighthouse Tower which is also very close to the adult pool and lazy river. This building has been completely redone inside and out in Nov. 2014. New stainless appliances, carpeting, furniture, etc. Ocean front has only 24 units so are harder to find. Oceanside is the whole rest of this building in the best location at the Surf.
Compass Tower will be renovated in Nov. 2016 and the following years Spyglass Towers will be redone. They are the newest so the last to need updating.
Marriott has a unique way of determining their view categories in Aruba and they can be misleading. I don't want anyone to be disappointed when booking a particular view and it not being all they had hoped. I will say views are only seen when on the balcony, and in Aruba, where the weather is always perfect, you will mostly be outside enjoying the beach and sun and pools and the view becomes much less important. Marriott has total control of room assignments and although they accept requests they make it clear they do not guarantee any particular location.
They do their best to make everyone happy but someone has to get the lower floors and it sometimes happens. You can ask to be switched the next day and often they can do that when a room opens up but you may not know until the next day. I have no control or power over Marriott and cannot get your room changed for you, unfortunately. I do not work for Marriott and timeshares work differently than a hotel.
Garden view can be either the first 3 floors of Compass Tower (main lobby and Marketplace) or Spyglass Tower (back building) or any unit in the garden view Spyglass Tower (see building plans for locations of towers). If you are on the first three floors, you will have a true garden like view, but when in the Spyglass garden building, floors 4 -14 will have a lovely pool and ocean view. I always request that building but again, it is just a request and never guaranteed.
Ocean view can be in either Compass Tower or Spyglass Tower and is guaranteed to be 4th floor or above. When on the pool side of Compass Tower the views are great but when on the other side you may see some parking lots of the Ocean Club or Marriott Stellaris hotel when looking in one direction but of course the ocean can be seen the other way. When in the back Spyglass Tower you are parallel to the ocean, the pools are below you, and the ocean stretches ahead in a panoramic setting. It is beautiful, but some people feel the building is too far away. I personally find the views breathtaking and don't mind being further back. And there is no back side to that building so never a parking lot in sight.
Oceanside view is only in the Lighthouse Tower, front building closest to the beach. Most views are excellent on either side but because you can get floors 2-14, the lower two floors will not have the same ocean views as the higher floors. You will still have the convenience of being in that renovated front building but might be disappointed if assigned a low floor.
Ocean front view is in the same Lighthouse Tower but directly faces the ocean. Again, the same problem occurs when you get floors 2 or 3 with limited views and you were expecting fabulous ocean front vistas. Floors 4-14 are spectacular but Marriott reserves the right to assign the best floor that is available at the time. Often clients with low floors are upset the first day but then appreciate the easy access to the room and not waiting for an elevator so it works out. And again, the building location is superb.
Prices are determined by view as well as by season with the most expensive times of year being Christmas/New Years, Presidents week, and Easter weeks (right before and after). Summer of course is very popular too.
Marriott furnishes and maintains the units so you can expect the same look in every one. They maintain them extremely well and if you ever have a problem a simple call to housekeeping or the front desk will bring someone from maintenance immediately.
2 Bedroom Villa
The two bedroom unit consists of a full kitchen stocked with all the essentials for cooking and serving, down to the wine opener. A large refrigerator, microwave, stove and oven, dishwasher and even a Washer and Dryer are in the unit. There are granite counters with a bar and stools, a dining room table with 6 chairs, and a living room with a queen sleeper sofa, There are three flat screen LCD TVs throughout with a DVD player in the living room. There is a nice size balcony off the living room with a table and chairs which we enjoy every morning with our breakfast and every evening with some appetizers before we go out for dinner.
That same balcony has an entry from the master bedroom also. The Master has a king bed and cozy chair and TV, along with a large soaker tub for two, and a vanity and sink separated by a half wall. Then a door leads into the bathroom with a glass shower, another vanity and sink plus the toilet. An advantage to this arrangement is that there is another door to this bathroom from the entry area so if anyone is sleeping on the sleeper sofa in the living room they do not need to disturb anyone in the master suite if using the bathroom. It affords great privacy when sharing the unit.
Lockoff, 1 Bedroom Villa, Studio
The second bedroom is also called a lockoff because it can be locked off by a door in the dining room area and rented/used as a studio unit. If "locked-off", the unit just described above is a one bedroom unit. When put together they become a two bedroom. The lockoff has a small kitchenette with a bar sink, coffee maker, small fridge and toaster. There are silverware and dishes for 4 people and a small table plus another balcony with a table and chairs. There is a queen bed and a queen sleeper so four can easily occupy this room. The bathroom has a tub/shower combo and a sink and vanity. There is a flat screen TV in this room too so it can be used on its own with its separate entrance. Great for families and friends with privacy for all.
3 Bedroom Villa
The three bedroom unit is similar and different. In addition to being HUGE (around 1800 sq ft) it has a full laundry room (great for storing luggage), sleeps 12, and has a different bed configuration. The Master is the same but the second bedroom has two queen-size beds and the lockoff is double the size with a king bed and a queen sleeper sofa and is situated privately off to the side of the unit down a hallway. There are only 18 of these in the whole Surf Club so are hard to get. All three bedrooms are ocean views but the lockoff is on the island side rather than ocean side. So your confirmation will read "partial ocean views" because of that.
Marriott provides the necessities like toilet paper, paper towels, dishwashing detergent and dish soap. They provide the filters for the coffee maker and a couple packets of coffee to start you off. They also give you small hotel size soap, shampoo and conditioner, lotion and a starter pack of Tide for the laundry. You can go shopping once there to get what you like or pack your favorites.
TIP: those laundry detergent pods are easy to pack for your laundry needs and you can request extra shampoo, etc. if you run out.
Both resorts have pack and plays (no cribs) and high chairs available on a first come basis for free. Be sure to tell me if you need that and I will put it on your reservation. Same for a handicap accessible room. They have some and we need to note it on the reservation. Clean towels are provided during the free midweek cleaning on day 5 of a week's stay. If you are staying less than a week I suggest asking them to change the midweek cleaning to a day actually in the middle of your particular stay. They then change the towels and sheets and do an excellent job of making the unit look great. Extra cleanings are available for a fee. You are given pool/beach towels (2 per person) in the unit that can be exchanged at the pool hut as often as you like. We use them sometimes for the room rather than washing. This is an eco friendly island and they ask you to reuse your towel rather than using new ones. Just be sure to have the right number of towels in your room before leaving at the end of your stay or you will be charged for them.
The concierges are on duty from early to late and will help with any questions and all reservations. They have menus from many of the popular restaurants and you will get a great table if the concierge calls for you. Marriott has a respected name in Aruba! The local restaurants know the Marriott is large and upscale and want to cater to their guests so I have found they treat you quite well when they know you are a Marriott guest.
TIP: Use those magazine coupons for free appetizers, a glass of wine, or a discount on your dinner. They are all over in the ads in each tourist book and are worth cutting out!