More about La Concha Resort: A Renaissance Hotel
Never returning to La Concha
What a nightmare, and surprising as this hotel is part of Renaissance, so that means it is part of Marriott. While the staff at the pool and bar could not have been any nicer, every day there was a problem - one day no housekeeping, one day they forgot to leave towels, we had similar things in our hall as a previous poster wrote (exposed outlets, etc). The two rooms next to ours were under construction, and that started early and ended late. Our room didn't even have real numbers on the door until just before check-out.... we had a sticky-note thing on the door with the room number. There weren't even pens in the room, no guest directly (I never did find the ice machine or figure out how to use the phone or what TV channels were what).
The worst part was that I tried to contact the hotel's GM, and he never got back to me. Nice.
Perfect Oceanfront Hotel
La Concha is an absolutely beautiful beach front hotel in the community of Condado just east of San Jaun. Every room has spectacular, head-on ocean views and the facilities, including two pools, two hot tubs and a posh pool deck, are very modern. But the most important amenity is the gorgeous beach that is the hotel's backyard. While all beaches in Puerto Rico are public, the beach at La Concha is about as private as it gets. The hotel also provides beach chairs and umbrellas free of charge.
Another plus about the hotel was the surrounding neighborhood. A lot of oceanfront hotels in the Caribbean are in secluded areas but this one has plenty of shops and restaurants within a block or two ranging from Wendy's to Gucci. If you are looking for Puerto Rican food, nearby Latin Star is hard to beat. If you are looking for non-Puerto Rican food Mike and Charlies, which serves Italian, is a cheap and delicious stop worth making.
While it is easy enough to take a cab into Old San Juan (which takes about 15 minutes and cost around $15) there is also a free public bus that departs from the bus stop just to the west of the hotels main entrance. There are two buses that go to Old San Juan from this stop, the B21 and the C53 and it takes about 25 minutes. The cab from the airport was $20 and took about 15 minutes.
The only odd thing about La Concha is that the lobby becomes a very trendy nightclub in the evenings that just oozes hip. This is great if you don't want to go far for nightlife, but the blaring music can be startling as you make your way to your room. Another minor drawback was the hotel casino that was being constructed adjacent to the hotel. The project was supposed to be finished in Fall 2008 but its looks more like Spring 2009. While I'm sure the casino will be great when it is done for now it is just a noisy eyesore.
Overall, I can't imagine a better place to stay in Puerto Rico. For more info about our trip to Puerto Rico visit our travel blog at http://patrinadoestheglobe.blogspot.com/
Old or New San Juan ???
No decent information (at least I couldnt find any) about the difference between Old San Juan and San Juan and what it means for your holiday.
Old San Juan
Hotels here seem few and far between. In fact I can think of only two, El Convento and The Wyndham. Many of the tourists in Old San Juan are probably sleeping on board one of the large cruise ships that have docked. Warren of little cobbled streets, with most of the businesses are aimed at tourists. By day antiques, cigars, fashion & jewellery. At night seemingly inconspicuous doorways and shop fronts open up into some of the most inviting bars and clubs I ever seen, many of which would easily hold their own in New Yorks trendy Meat Packing District. Calle Fortaleza seemed one of the best streets, but a lot of places were only open at the weekend. Lack of any beaches however means this area is more suited to couples than families. Great selection of restaurants that range from simple local Caribbean / Puerto Rican cuisine in a traditional setting, through to expensive scene style restaurants. Surprisingly most of our drinks / meals in Old San Juan were more expensive than in New York a few days earlier. If youve got a sense of adventure theres plenty to keep you occupied, especially at night, although some of the better clubs had horrendous queues to get in. Reminded me a little of Ibiza town, both in looks and character. San Juan
Where most visiting tourists will stay due to plentiful number of hotels. Stretches from La Concha, through to the end of Isla Verde. If Old San Juan is Ibiza town, this is San Antonio - minus the vomit muddles. A main road separates the beach and chain hotels from small Americanised retail parks with fast food outlets (Dominos pizza, Burger King etc) and small 24hr stores and local businesses. With the exception of The Water Club, nearly ALL the hotels are mini Vegas style ie completely self contained with their own bars, restaurants, nightclubs, shops and casinos. Most hotel pools back onto the beach with free loungers / towels for guests. Seem fairly easy to sneak in especially if you buy a drink or two. Better holiday for families or people who dont want to venture further than their hotel lobby. What little nightlife is outside of the hotels consists solely of small bars, some reasonable, some barely more than shoddy huts.
Cant put it any simpler than this...
For beaches and hotels with great facilities including pools choose San Juan.
For shopping, restaurants, bars & clubs choose Old San Juan.
I stayed at La Concha Feb 16-19, 2008 and had an enjoyable stay. You can't beat the location if you like the Condado area. It's right in the middle and within walking distance of some great restaurants (Cafe de Angel across the street and Ropa Veija near Condado Plaza). The staff was very friendly and the grounds were always well kept. The rooms were nice and had some nice electronics (plasma TVs, Sony Stereo and an iHome system). I would definitely stay here again and I'd say its worth the extra $ you may have to shell out, although I wouldn't pay over $300 per night.
Only a few negatives. They are still doing some contruction so some things are available (spa, a restaurant here and there) I overheard some guests complaining about noise and dust. Our floor on the 9th was fine. Also, the maid service comes very late in the afternoon (after 4pm). And you can forget about a late checkout. I do think the hotel is busy and not all the rooms are open so when they said they couldn't do a late checkout, I understood somewhat. Also, they didn't call when our room was ready at checkin.
Overall, its a cool hotel in a great locale. I would definitely reccomend it. Have fun!!!
Our 3 night stay at La Concha for vacation:
We were aware of the construction issues/noise in advance so we were well prepared for that (ear plugs and sleeping pills, which you will need unless you sleep like a rock). Tip: Request a room on the west side of the hotel if possible. Most of the construction is to the southeast in the building next door.
In light of the construction issues, I was rather expecting all other details to be impeccable considering the price point and the market this hotel is going for. Here is a list of the annoying problems we encountered:
Missing From Room:
- Do not disturb sign
- Hotel Directory
- Directory of services/ List of amenities offered by the hotel
(this is particularly annoying because it's unclear what is open and not open at the hotel right now)
- Soap dish
(once you open the soap, there is no place to put it but on the counter, where is slides around and gets all slimy)
- Area guides, information of area restaurants, etc.
- Requested list of hotel amenities from bellhop and he brought area/restaurant guides (and appeared to expect a tip)
- We called the front desk twice to arrange for taxi for dinner (we dialed zero since there was no hotel directory). The front desk assured us a cab would be ready both times. BOTH times, there was no cab waiting or called and the valet indicated he didn't receive a request. The second time, when my boyfriend told the valet that they need to talk to front desk about them not relaying the requests, the valet said "you really have to call us directly", rather than apologizing or indicating he would communicate this to the desk and/or management. (And of course there is no directory in the room so we would have to ask the front desk to transfer us...I was appalled that the valet was basically putting responsibility on us to resolve THEIR problem. This is not the level of guest service I would expect at a hotel like this)
- We requested a late checkout since our flight was at 3:45. We were generously granted one hour (1PM) and the desk was not very friendly about it. Not only did housekeeping arrive before even the original checkout time but after we returned to the room from the pool to collect our bags (at 12:30), our room keys no longer worked. Clearly, the front desk had not amended our checkout time in their systems.
- Concierge - Not knowledgeable about area. We asked about restaurants and clubs in the Condado/Isla Verde area and she literally read from a guide book, and the place she "recommended" was in Old San Juan, not the area we requested. We basically disregarded her "advice".
General Hotel Issues:
- Open junction boxes in hallways
- Elevators were slow, dirty and seem old
- Construction on lower level is visible from beach area...just unappealing
- Hertz counter did not call or follow up on our request for a rental car. We had to keep asking and our rental car delay made us over an hour late for our plans. (I realize this is not La Concha's employee but it's something to note when staying at this hotel. Use another car rental agency, not the one at the hotel)
The hotel renovation is beautiful and a fresh, modern take on the tropical resort look. We loved the style but it's not worth the aggravation. In hotels, the devil is in the details and the management and staff do not have it down.
Will be better eventually
We just got back from 2 nights at La Concha and have mixed reviews. The property is beautiful. Has the style of boutique hotels, but on a larger scale. Beautiful lobby, nice pool areas and great beach views. We had a beautiful ocean front view room and could not have asked for more in the room. The only thing that could be a little better was light in the bathroom. I did like the call your cellphone feature when you arrive prior to check in time. That worked very well, allowing you to go wherever you want until your room is ready. The front desk also called shortly after we checked in to be sure all was well.
Now for the downside. There is construction on both sides of the building AND they start working at 6am (as I discovered on Friday morning). Since all of the hallways are open air, nothing stops the noise of rebar banging, welding etc from entering your room in the wee hours of the morning. Once they are done (schedule says next December), this issue will go away, but beware until then.
Also, lots of little things are missing...like "do not disturb" signs for the room, or the ink cartridge on the printer in the business center where they send you to print out your boarding passes.
While the staff was very friendly and helpful, I would wait until construction ends before staying there again.
Our Stay at LaConcha Puerto Rico 3/15 - 3/18
I went to La Concha with a girlfriend celebrating our birthdays.
The Staff was very friendly. The pool area and beach were just wonderful. I especially like the fact that the hotel would set up an umbrella for you on the beach so I could get out of the sun when I wanted to. Also, there were plenty of umbrella's by the pool area so you can choose when to sit in the sun and when to not.
We ate lunch most days at the restaurant by the pool. The food was very good. Pina Colada's were $9.00 and Mojito's were $12 - a bit pricey so we limited ourselves to 1 or 2 a day by the pool. We went to the Walgreens down the street for some snacks and bottled water.
We were taking taxis each day into Old San Juan until we found out about the bus. Getting the bus back from Old San Juan is a little tricky..
I loved this place - I only have 1 minor complaints - music at pool area/lobby bar each night very very loud. We weren't the only people that thought this - even the staff agreed with us. It was difficult to sit there at the Lobby Bar due to the volume of the noise. When we went to bed, the music could be heard in the hotel room thoughout the night.
Like a teenager - pretty but moody and pimply
This place is a curious blend of so many things, kind of like a teenager - potentially pretty, but moody and pimply. It will be better when it's all grown up.
THE CONSTRUCTION NOISE is nothing compared to NYC - but it is constant. And I did have one slightly disturbing construction-related experience. I was on the 9th floor and the fire alarm lights were blinking (no sound though). I was afraid to get on the elevators (which were so annoying, by the way - took forever to come) so I walked down the stairs. They were unfinished and littered with construction debris and garbage, kind of scary, and they did not seem to let me off in the lobby. Finally, I wandered back up to the 2nd or 3rd floor - total construction zone - and a very nice worker led me to the elevator.
FOR SWIMMERS: The pools are beautiful, but very small and seem almost more decorative (for the functions they hold in the pool area almost every night). And the ocean behind the hotel is impossible - or at least unpleasant - to swim in. It's very windy, and the water is shallow way way out, with constant and kind of rough ways breaking so often you don't really even have a chance to recover if you do drop down and try to swim out. Also, the strip there looks like some kind of warzone, building after building right on the beach boarded up and covered with graffiti. Kind of spooky and strange.
The hotel did seem to be kind of a destination place - lots of cars pulling up to be valeted every night, and pretty people getting out. ("Oooh, VIP," our cabdriver said when we got in at the airport and told him where we were going.) You feel almost as if you should apologize when you're cutting back through the lobby like a frump with your bathing suit and flip flops on - it would be nice if there was another, non-lobby, entrance just to the pool area. Lots of business meetings in the lobby, or in the comfy, couchy nooks around the pool area. Music blaring from the pool area every night - not too late, though, kind of nice.
SERVICE is La Concha's main problem, I think - kind of a combination of a lack of finesse, and general (albeit good-natured and usually friendly) cluelessness. E.g., waiters wander through the pool area with a tray once in a while, but it's impossible to get their attention even if you're waving furiously and screaming. At $10 a pop for pina coladas, this is just completely dumb on their part.
THE ROOMS are nice (part. comfy beds) - but yes, the oft-mentioned lack of any guides, either to the hotel itself or the area, is curious and frustrating. You have to find and figure everything out yourself. Not that it's so hard, but just FYI:
To get to THE BEACH, walk out from the lobby to the right of the pools and then go right, through the broad and breezy outdoor passageway and down the stairs. You can get beach chairs from the guy at the entrance to the beach (they're free, but he sets it up for you so bring some money for a tip). Umbrellas cost $10 for the entire day. He pulls the chairs back in at 5pm.
THE FITNESS CENTER is right there as well, just to the right of the back (higher) pool. I loved the gym - nice cardio equipment with TV monitors on each machine, a view of the ocean, etc. It was always basically empty.
FOOD: Wasn't overly impressed with the food at the hotel, either from Solera (famed Latin sliders just tiny grisly meatballs on boring buns with a little seasoning and some mushrooms or blue cheese, no big whoop) or the pricey room service. You can at least find some affordable, fun and authentic - if not exactly gourmet fare - at the restaurants across the street, the Puerto Rico Cafe, Ikakos (seafood/tapas), or even the extremely divey Latin Star a bit further down (good coffee and basic but tasty egg sandwiches).
Ajili Mojili, which I'm probably spelling wrong and which is a few blocks in the opposite direction, was probably the best and prettiest restaurant in the immediate Condado area. And we took a cab one night ($10 each way) to Pamelas in Ocean Park one night - heard it was a total gourmet destination, and they present themselves as such (and charge accordingly) - but were decidedly underwhelmed. They really pushed the halibut, the "house specialty," which arrived so overcooked and dried out at the edges we could barely cut it with a steak knife! Sitting out by the beach, though, was beautiful - if slightly too windy... (If you go there, too, be sure to get your cab driver's card on the way there, so you can call him to come pick you up. It's at the end of a one-way, dead-end street; the cab will have to reverse out when it comes.)
Oh! Your CELL PHONE will work there! At least, if you've got Verizon. I haven't seen my bill yet, but this was very convenient...
OLD SAN JUAN - A cab is completely unnecessary. Take the bus (B21) to Old San Juan (if you're walking out of the hotel, you need the bus that goes to the right). It's just great to walk around here. And we had a delicious lunch at Aquaviva, our best meal of the trip - which included watermelon sangria made with Reisling. The bus takes just a few minutes, is interesting, and costs 75 cents. There are stops every few blocks.
SUNDRIES: If you want just some quick snacks or water or something (the hotel has no small concession shop in the lobby - also frustrating), there's a Walgreens and a few places to buy booze, etc. a short walk away to your left. I could never really find a good selection of books or magazines, though - so be sure to stock up before you leave or in the airport, if you're looking for something to peruse by the pool.
I will be staying at the Marriott, La Concha Hotel and need information for travel to Old San Juan. Please state travel time and best mode of transport.
Re: La Concha
A taxi will take you there in about 10-15 minutes at a flat rate of $12 (http://www.gotopuertorico.com/images/interior/mapa-taxi-rates.jpg). It's also possible to use public transportation (buses B21 and C53 go to Old San Juan) - it only costs $0.75, but schedules are not the most reliable. If you decide to walk, it should take you about an hour to get to Old San Juan. Hope this helps!
Re: La Concha
B21 runs every 20-30 minutes Mon-Sat and hourly on Sunday. Take off at the terminal where you could find free trolley going to almost every attraction.