Hilton Aruba Guide for Club Carlson Bookings

The former Radisson Aruba rebranded to Hilton Aruba. Many of us booked Club Carlson award stays because the credit card devaluation and are hoping to have those stays honored. Both Deals We Like and Mommy Points have been tracking developments. I am back with a Labor Day stay with my wife and can provide this firsthand report.

At night the Hilton logo is projected over the faded marks of the removed Radisson logo

Q: Are Club Carlson award stays being honored?

A: Yes. Club Carlson did email me ahead of time. If you haven’t gotten an email, easiest course of action is to call the hotel itself and verify your reservation.

Q: Do I have to pay anything?

A: I was only billed a per day ‘environment levy’ of a couple dollars. (Note: on the check-in rate sheet it looks like Radisson is paying Hilton $135 per day, at least for my stay.)

Q: Are Club Carlson status benefits being honored.

A: I don’t think so. That will probably take some advance work to attempt to get honored.

Q: Are Hilton HHonors status benefits being honored?

A: Yes.

Q: How to get a HHonors number on the reservation?

A: I called the hotel direct. My number was there at check-in, however the front desk said they are not fully linked up with Hilton yet so see the numbers but not the status. I told them I am Gold and they honored it, for them to verify later.

Q: Are room upgrades being honored?

A: Yes, I got upgraded to a room where I could not perceive what had been upgraded.

Q: What tower should I stay in?

A: According to Tym2Trvl, who I met in the Aruba departure lounge, the main Aruba tower is best. I was out on Curacao.

Upgraded room in the Curacao tower

Q: What toiletries will I have?

A: Radisson, until they run out. Shoe mits are Hilton.

Using up the old Radisson toiletries

Q: Is there an Executive Lounge for Diamonds?

A: Yes, though I did not see it. As a Gold, I was not given access.

Q: How is the Gold Continental Breakfast benefit handled?

A: Poorly. The main breakfast spot is Laguna, which is full buffet only. They do not honor Gold breakfast or even allow upsell for the difference. It is $22 plus 15%. There is an outside bar by the lobby where you can get a sad continental breakfast from the case. We never saw anyone eating there for breakfast. Down by the beach of Gilligan’s which has the continental plus a la carte entrees. The continental is $15, the entrees are a few dollars more though exclude juice and coffee/tea. The manager agreed to allow us to order entrees after seeing the fight my wife and I were having about me wanting to use the benefit and she wanting smoked salmon over at Laguna. We were supposed to pay the difference, but she could not find a way for the system to process it, so we got off with no surcharge. I expect this to be one-time, so rather than hassle the restaurant, please contact Hilton and the hotel with feedback that they should allow upsells to Laguna.

Sad continental breakfast at the bar

Gilligan’s breakfast menu

Gilligan’s Eggs Benedict

The buffet at Laguna needs more attention to be worth full cash price

Q: What is the condition of the hotel?

A: Radisson let things slide. When we checked in, and again the next day, the power was out in half our room until we got engineers to reset the circuit breakers. The room was fine, though unremarkable. Our building had a guest lounge with 4 computers and no power. Another Hilton Gold we ran into at the front desk had plumbing problems 3 times that needed repairs.

The main lobby has been refreshed.  The pools and grounds are good, with the interior gardens a nice bonus.

Multiple pools for adults and kids

Gardens in the interior grounds

 

Q: Is there direct beach access?

A: Yes. All the beaches in Aruba are public access, so you leave the hotel managed grounds and then it is a free-for-all of local vendors, weddings, and activities. No hard sell. This is the busiest beach, lined with major resorts.

Public beach outside the gates

Beachside weddings at sunset

A thin band tattooed around the chest?

Q: Did you know Aruba is a desert?

A: When I think Caribbean my assumption is jungle, which is hardly the case for many islands. This was an unhappy surprise to my wife who does not like dry climates.

Aruba is a hot and windy desert

Anything I missed?

Rapid Travel Chai newsletter ¦ Twitter ¦ Facebook ¦ Instagram

Pingbacks

  • KBR

    Thanks for the report!!! I have an upcoming stay and this is very helpful.

  • DL

    I was there at the same time – wish I would have known you were too so I could have said hi! They gave us the continental breakfast free with the HH Gold status that I have, as well as am upgraded room. The continental breakfast was definitely lame (juice, coffee, two croissants and a couple of pastries and fruit salad). That wedding you took a pic of was a vow-renewal wedding (hard to miss that mop of pink hair hahaha)

  • AndyTLe

    Q: Did you know Aruba is a desert?… That’s funny. That is why I like the ABC islands. Was in Bonaire and Curacao recently and loved the weather (nice to get away from the humidity that is Florida). What is nice is that the ABC islands are so far south, tropical storms/hurricanes rarely head that way.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @DL – sorry to have missed you, vow renewal makes sense, I came in at the end and it was so casual. I had been up the beach at the Chinese wedding where everyone was trying to get out of the blazing sun and to the buffet.

  • JB

    Thanks! I’ll be there in November.
    Any off site food options?
    Or, said another way… where do I go for the best food?

  • Vern

    Where is the continental breakfast served? Do they tell you at check in about the breakfast for Gold members?

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Vern – make sure they know you are Gold, you can see above in the post, you can have it at the bar outside the main lobby or at Gilligan’s by the beach.

  • Vern

    If i go to Gilligans do I show them my gold card? How will they know- do they charge you and then it gets taken off at checkout? If i go to gilligans what will they serve for the continental Gold breakfast?
    Does the bar area near the lobby serve something different?

  • Vern

    What is served at Gilligans for the continental breakfast-the menu above doesnt list continental? Is something different served at the bar for continental? Do i have to show Gilligans my gold card or at check in ?

  • Cj

    Do diamond members get free breakfast ? Perfect timing post as my dates are beginning Dec – thanks awesome blog

  • ucipass

    I have a reservation for Dec/2016. I have called several times but apparently they have a backlog to migrate the reservations. When did you get the Hilton Reservation number? Did you have to talk to the manager?

  • ucipass

    One other question: How good and/or expensive is the local restaurant? Best outside option?

  • Mike

    Do you know if we are able to change/cancel award bookings? Would we get hhonors points back, or club carlson, or what?

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Mike – must be Club Carlson, I would start with calling Club Carlson rather that trying to cancel with Hilton or hotel, don’t touch it until have guarantee to get points back, they did this last year with St Martin so must have contingency.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @ucipass – I will get up a follow-on post tomorrow. Lots of chain restaurants, prices 15-30% more than US, a handful of local restaurants in town and near the airport, like Driftwood and Zeerover. Less dinining options than I expected, but more than the ‘chicken or fish’ islands.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Cj – yes, Diamonds will get their full breakfast, however I am not Diamond so can only speak to my Gold experience.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Vern – at check-in you get a meal plan card with your keys that you show to Gilligan’s. Many guests are on paid meal plans so the tickets are commong.

    Continental is on the menu first item, albeit small print on the photo: basket of breads, juice, coffee or tea.

  • Murtuza

    Do you have email contact of the hotel? I would rather email them instead of calling.

  • Puckjeff

    Loads of restaurants in walking distance of hotel. Agree that prices are about 30% higher than US. There is also a Ruth’s Chris steak house in the Marriott further up the beach. Personal favorite is Madame Janette’s (check website for menu) about a 7 minute cab ride away.
    Radisson also had the small environmental levy on award stays.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Murtuza – I did not locate one.

  • Pingback: Aruba - Rapid Travel Chai()

  • Pingback: Radisson Aruba to become Hilton - Page 4 - FlyerTalk Forums()

  • Marvin

    Definitely disappointing that they don’t offer the upsell for Golds. I wonder if this is just a matter of letting them get their ducks in a row or… I was planning on getting Hilton Gold before my visit in November but not pleased that I’d have to content myself with a continental breakfast when a “real” breakfast is only $1 more!

  • Pablo

    I love this blog post/report in the form of Q&A! I am sorry that ur wife did not enjoy aruba as much as she expected it to be. How are your recent travels? Any place exotic on the radar?

    Pablo

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Pablo – yes, October will be so.