It sounds like you need to qualify the terms used in the feedback that sparked your question. Can you get those people to show you examples of websites that they feel are 'stunning' or 'attracting'?
The aesthetics of an app or site, the way it looks, do need to form around the content, but they also need to fit the audience. Some audiences like more elaborate and glitzy aesthetics, some prefer something plain and organized, others want something stylish while still others love a retro feel.
It's very true that some products can overcome bad aesthetics or even thrive on an ugly look, but aesthetics are much more than a first impression. They will support or work against the overall experience you're going for, and that is defined by the product's vision and the relationship with the audience.
As Don Norman famously explained in Emotional Design, aesthetics are an aspect of usability, not something done after or instead of usability, and work hand in hand with the other aspects of the overall designed experience.