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Secrets Excellence Riviera Maya or Marriott Aruba/Curacao?

Secrets Excellence Riviera Maya or Marriott Aruba/Curacao?

Old Sep 24th, 2005, 04:13 PM
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Secrets Excellence Riviera Maya or Marriott Aruba/Curacao?

We are debating on our honeymoon for next May and I have narrowed it down to the following options:

1. Secrets Excellence Riviera Maya, Mexico
2. Marriott Stellaris in Aruba and Curacao (to be split in 4 days Aruba and 3 days Curacao)

Has anyone stayed at any of these? I know the Secrets is relatively new. I ruled out Secrets in DR because although the reviews are good, I'm all about the ocean and want to try snorkeling, which I hear is not good in that area.

Thanks in advance!!
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Old Sep 25th, 2005, 07:25 AM
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I have only been to the Aruba Marriott Stellaris.
It is a very nice hotel with a large property surrounding it. The water is turquoise and the sand is white. It was a lot of fun. There are swim up bars in the pool. There are a ton of watersports available right in front of the hotel. This made my husband, our biggest kid, very happy!!
We went with our children. I would avoid holiday breaks because there will be a number of children in the hotel. I would stay there again with or without children.
As far as snorkeling, we are amatuers. So, we enjoyed our snorkel trips. I have heard there are better islands for this.
Just looking at your post, I see that you are planning on may. May should have less children and crowds in Aruba. The restaurants are excellent all over the island. There are no issues with drinking the tap water either. There are fun things to do if you don't have kids, party buses and boats,gambling
etc...
I have heard wonderful things about the marriott in Curacao and I am hoping some of the posters here who have raved about it, post.
I have also heard wonderful things about the Riviera Maya area of Mexico. You may want to post on the Latin America board also(if you haven't already) and ask about Secrets!
Have fun planning.
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Old Sep 25th, 2005, 03:40 PM
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May I suggest either Aruba OR Curacao, not both. You will just get unpacked and know your way around one Hotel and Island, then have to pack up and fly to another Island, losing one whole day, to only unpack and get to know your way around the new hotel and island. It is your honeymoon, relax and enjoy each other. Traveling is tiring and you will be tired from all the wedding activies. If you want an All Inclusive, then go to Secrets Excellence. If you want to try different restaurants, then try Aruba OR Curacao. One week will go by sooooooo fast. I have been to both Marriott's and both are fine.
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Old Sep 26th, 2005, 05:33 AM
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I have never been to Secrets, but I have been to Curacao and Aruba. I agree with Shirley. I think to split is just too fast of a pace for a honeymoon. Having said that, I would choose Curacao over Aruba. The accommodations at the Marriott are very nice with large bathrooms. The pool area is luxurious. The island itself is enchanting and you will spend many unforgettable days there. The locals are wonderful!
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Old Sep 26th, 2005, 08:53 AM
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I have been to both destinations. I haven't stayed at either resort you mentioned, but I would recommend Mayan Riviera over Aruba simply because it is less Americanized than Aruba. Aruba has lots of fast food chains and some American restaurants such as Hooters and Tony Romas. There is so much more to (or not if you wish) in this area of Mexico and is more tropical and lush than Aruba. In Mexico there are Mayan ruins to explore, cenotes to swim/snorkel and eco/water parks to visit as well as quaint Mexican towns to visit. Aruba is a tiny island that measures 19.6 x 6 miles. It is basically flat and there is very little vegetation and it is desert like and it is always windy (not breezy).

Secrets is all inclusive and it is a very relaxing way to vacation, while the Marriott is not and could get expensive, especially for drinks and some food choices. You may want to check out tripadvisor.com hotel hotel reviews for all your hotel destinations. The sand is white in both destinations and the ocean turquoise in both destinations, but we found the water clarity better in the Mayan Riviera than in the Palm Beach area (Marriott located on Palm Beach) of Aruba. We could not see our toes in the water at Palm Beach even near the shoreline. We also found Palm beach not very romantic because of all the highrises on the beach and we personally felt like we were on a beach somewhere in the States with lots of motorized water activity and busy with lots of people. We found snorkeling is better in Mexico compared to Aruba. Gambling is the main form of entertainment in Aruba and almost every hotel has a casino, so if you are into gambling big time, you would enjoy Aruba. The weather should not be a problem in May for either destination.

It depends on what you are looking for in a honeymoon. I found if you want to feel you have visited somewhere different go to Mexico, but if you want to feel you have the familiarity of home visit Aruba.

Have a wonderful honeymoon no matter which destination to choose. 8-)
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Old Sep 26th, 2005, 09:19 AM
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Forgot to say, I have not been to Curacao, so I can not comment on that destination.
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Old Sep 27th, 2005, 06:08 AM
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I have been to both Aruba and Curacao Marriotts recently as well as the Riveria Maya (but not Secrets Excellence). Aruba Marriott is okay, but very large and not what I would want for a honeymoon (very family oriented). We loved Curacao Marriott and found the island more interesting than Aruba. The Curacao Marriott is a great value, I recommend getting an Executive Suite on the ground floor to be right on the beach with a great view (and the room is a bit larger with a sofa and a coffee table). We liked the Riveria Maya as well, however, I did not like the large AI resorts that are one after another (although Secrets may be off by itself). It really comes down to, do you want AI or not? Neither Aruba or Curacao have good AI resorts and the fun of both those destinations is trying all the great restaurants. Agree with previous poster, don't split your week.
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Old Oct 1st, 2005, 11:20 AM
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Okay, based on the replies, Aruba is out. We are into gambling, but I wouldn't want my FH to spend our wedding gifts at the blackjack table!!! That, and we prefer local restaurants over American chains.

As for as AI or not, I've been told that it's not worth it unless we're big drinkers (which we're not). My only reason for picking Secrets Excellence was I thought being on a Honeymoon, we should be pampered and have a lot to do, and I thought this was a good place for that.

I've read all the reviews, which is why I had the choices narrowed now to Curacao Marriott and Secrets Excellence Riviera Maya. I know Secrets only opened last Nov. so I figured they might try harder to get repeat clientele?

We're into nightlife, watersports, beaches and general exploring.
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Old Oct 1st, 2005, 04:30 PM
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Hello,
After reading about your decision on where to honeymoon. and the great replies i felt compeled to reply. We spent our honeymoon On Aruba at the Marriot 6 years ago - it was a great trip. i thought the best. But when we went to Cancun a year later and we saw these great, exquisite AIs in the rivera Maya area as our tour bus picked people up to go to some of the Ecoparkes - i went home and investigated the AIs we were seeing. So the next year we went to Bahia Principae and then a couple of years later to the Grand Paladin - there is nothing like staying at a AI - i recommend AIs to all my friends for their honeymoon - this form of vacaction - is alot less stressful - once you are there - there is no worry about paying - even drinks - it is fun to taste the different foods (rather than just ordering one meal) you can sample foods. and then there is no worry all day long with paying for anything. These places in the Riveria Maya are almost all brand new - all very large and all very beautiful. Another thing to consider is the direct fly (i live in Chicago area and we have a direct flight a early morning flight will have you on the beach with (what will seem like a free drink in hand by 2 PM) The ecoparks here are just as good as Disney or better - they are great - especially Xacaret and Xha-ha (then there is the (little lagoon) in Akumul - if you get there early in the morning you have the whole place to your self for snorkeling. Currently My husband and I are looking into going to either Curacao where we will stay at the marriott or the Grand Caymens (we love snorkeling) we are doing this to try something different from Mexico - but, we keep thinking of Mexico and the AI,s the seclusion on the beach (these AIs are very secluded from each other) the what seems like (free food and drinks all day) trying different foods, and how large and beautiful these resorts are. I loved that fact that you could walk around the resort and see so much at a hotel on a beach you just have the hotel - where you spend your time or on the tours. Even the cost is cheaper in the Rivera Maya for the most part. both hotel/Ai and food/drink is cheaper than staying at a hotel property on a island. Also - we are coming up with bad or rather all day flights to these places even to the Grand Caymen. A direct flight after a busy wedding is alot less stressful. Anyways - i am not sure where we will end up - but i have a feeling we might end up back on the Riveria Maya and loving it. - a very stressfree vacation. I know that where ever you will decide to go it will be great - all of your decisions are good. - just different things to consider...... Good Luck and best wishes
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Old Oct 1st, 2005, 04:45 PM
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Hello,

Just thought i would add that a really great place for a honeymoon might be a "Palace Resort" they have one for just couples. I think it is the one in Puerto Adventuras. I always thought that this one might be a good place for a honeymoom - plus it is a little closer to the town - where people visiting the Rivera Maya go - to "go out"
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Old Oct 2nd, 2005, 07:40 AM
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I have been to Aruba, Curacao and the Riviera Maya.

My favorite by far is the island of Aruba (been there 5 times) although I did not stay at the Marriott there. I found the people to be extremely outgoing & friendly and the local food was fantastic. Thet do a have few American chains on the island, but they have many more local restaurants to choose from. Some people on this board just love to bash Aruba so you have to take it with a grain of salt. I was able to see my toes in the water on Palm Beach each time I was there unlike what someone else said. Neither my husband nor I are gamblers and we had no problems finding other things to do at night.

I also enjoyed Curacao. We did stay at the Marriott there and found the property to be breath taking. The food at the local restaurants was fabulous. And by the way...when I was there 2 years ago they did offer a package called "Total Escapes" at the Marriott which was their form of an AI so it may be an option there. Plus they very well may have a breakfast and beverage package. Check with your travel agent.

I also loved the Riviera Maya (my 3rd trip is next week). I have never stayed at Secrets there, but we have stayed at the Royal Hideaway. Have you considered this property? It is all inclusive and is also adults only. The dinner restaurants are all ala carte and the food is the best (by far) of any AI I have ever stayed at. It is listed as one of the Leading Hotels of the World. I have some great pictures of this property and if you'd like to see them send me an email by clicking on my name in blue at the top of the post.

Of the three locations I'd have a difficult time deciding too!
Good luck with your decision.


Nancy
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Old Oct 2nd, 2005, 08:07 PM
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Thanks for all the replies!!!

The Marriotts do have a meal option. We were considering that.

Royal Hideaway was also on my short list, the only thing is we would have to get the cheapest room there in order to stay in our budget. However, according to a friend she said it doesn't matter what class of room you get, they're all luxurious.

(The other benefit to Royal Hideaway is another woman I know getting married the same day as me is going there for her honeymoon, so I would already know someone there!!)

We're still debating, because this seems to be the hardest decision to make, but we want to book soon before things get sold out. One of the places I considered (Ti-Kaye Village in St. Lucia) is not even available until a week after we want to leave!!
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Old Oct 2nd, 2005, 10:43 PM
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We went to Secrets Excellence last year. It was a nice vacation however, you couldn't really enjoy the beach as the water was all weedy and rocky. We spent most of our days at the pool. The spa was really nice. I also got a stomach virus of some sort and so did a couple we met. I suggest you stay away from the salad...it's the only thing that could have caused this. The food was really good...believe me the virus didn't stop me from eating just encouraged me to run really fast after every meal....hehe!
We did goto Aruba years ago and the beach was so beautiful.
Have you considered Turks and Caicos...the beach is breathtaking there!
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Old Oct 3rd, 2005, 11:04 AM
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Hi again -- I have also been to Royal Hideway, it's a beautiful resort and the food was superb (just about best food I have ever had on any of my trips in the Caribbean and Mexico). However I would probably not return because I didn't like the beach very much, it's beautiful but narrow and you are literally "chair to chair" with people. I just don't like to be crowded on the beach. So if that's an issue for you, my vote would be Curacao Marriott (also less expensive).
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Old Oct 4th, 2005, 03:01 PM
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My husband and I stayed at Secrets Excellence in the Riviera Maya last year, just 1 month after it opened. What a terrific vacation. Our room was breathtaking, and the private hammock, patio jaccuzzi, out door couch, sunning lounge chair certainly added to the atmosphere. I'd never done an AI before, and I've read that other's who've been to other resort AI cannot compare to Secrets. Top shelf drinks, excellent food from a huge selection of restaurants. (I'm not one who really like buffets, and I never ate at any). The only draw back is the water at the beach at Secrets. It's not terrible, it's just not a beautiful carribean blue. There is seaweed sometimes as well. The beach sand is very soft and the Palapas are plentiful. There are numberous pools, so you feel like you have your own pool. Sorry, I can't comment on the Marriott. Happy planning
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Old Nov 18th, 2005, 09:23 PM
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Thanks all for your replies!!!

We booked Secrets Excellence Riviera Maya this week for 8 days / 7 nights. We booked an Ocean View Excellence Club Jr. Suite and the total cost will be about $3900 with airfare. We can't wait!!
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Old Jul 24th, 2006, 10:07 AM
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Where do you fly into for the rivera maya? I'll be coming from saint louis,
Thanks
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Old Jul 25th, 2006, 08:11 AM
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vetteman,

You fly into the Cancun (CUN) airport if you're staying somewhere in the Mayan Riviera area. Then, your ride to your resort will be anywhere from 20 minutes to 1.5 hours (give or take), depending on where your resort is located (i.e. about 20 minutes to Secrets Capri) (i.e. about 1 hour to Aventura Spa Palace).

Jackie
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Old Jul 25th, 2006, 04:09 PM
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Secrets Capri is better. It's smaller and it's on a better beach. It's also closer to PDC.

We stayed there last October. Highly recommend!

Aruba is nice too though. We didn't stay at the Marriott. But I would choose something closer to the high rise section. The Marriott is sort of at the extreme end. I'd choose something closer to the Hyatt or the Radisson.

Peace, Greenie
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