We arrived in Puerto Rico today and took the taxi to the hotel because when I called, they said there was no shuttle service (for a Marriott? That was odd). Oh well, we took the cab and in Puerto Rico the airport personnel give you a paper which states how much you are supposed to pay. The taxi driver asked for mine and it said $16 and I saw the sadness in his eyes, and so i said not to worry and I will double it. His face lit up because he said he had been in line for 2 hours!!! The Marriot is very close to the Ritz, in a nice area and beachfront property.
But the hotel was really just less than 10 minutes from the airport - I think I even got a shot of the airport from our 9th floor room. The check -in was at 430PM and ours was stil not ready so we went out to eat first.
The lobby is okay and the valet were not too helpful in carrying our bags, maybe I didn't look like I would give a good tip, hehehe...but the reception was nice and when I returned for the room at 430PM, gthey had lost the copy of my credit card so they asked for it again.
While checking in, I went to the travel agency beside the reception and booked a tour for the rainforest.
I was supposed to get two queens but they had only as kindg bed...okay. Well, the room was huge with a sofa and a patio and a separate window with a great view. Flat panel TV was good because twins like LCD clarity, and the bed was very comfy -- my wife slept while we took a swim at the very nice pool which has a depper 5 ft part by the bar and a 3ft area which was huge and the twins enjoyed swimming in that - perfect for these 5 year olds. No lifeguard on duty.
Nice loud live Latin music at the lobby which was beside the casino which I am going to try later when the twins are asleep...(update: I did go and won $10). The atmosphere is great because you even see kids in strollers by the ice cream bar (Banana). People everywhere (even myself) dancing to the dancing salsa music.
There is also a small fitness room but loaded with equipment.
But the main feature of the hotel is being on the Isla Verde Beach which is rated as one of the best in Puerto Rico - the coveted "Blue Flag" for its distinctive qualities. This is one mile in length and witnh many activities ranging from beach volleyball to water sports.
Isla Verde Beach direct access
I absolutely loved staying at this great little guest house. The owners, Esteban and Emeo, have got to be the friendliest and most helpful people on the island. Let me tell you about our room first. I slept so well when I was here that I didn't want to leave. I had a wonderful view of the hot tub from my window. We had a deluxe room which had a small refrigerator and basic cooking and eating supplies (coffee pot, toaster, plates, cups, silver ware). One of the first things you notice is that the rooms are simply decorated but very pretty. Esteban and Emeo even put together a small guide of restaurants they love (this comes in handy). The room was bit on the small side, but hell, I only needed it to sleep in so who cares. I loved the shower in the bathroom. Our hosts were quick to satisfy any request we had from more pillows to extra towels. My one dislike, was that the neighborhood wasn't so great, definately not a place I would walk around in after dark alone. The guest house was about 3 blocks away from the beach, which was perfect for me.
If you need it, they have it. Esteban and Emeo offer guests everything from beach chairs and umbrellas to sea grass mats and coolers. They also have on hand sunblock, aloe, bug spray etc, just in case you run out. There's an outdoor shower to keep all that sand from getting in your room. The outdoor hot tub was a great way to relax and settle down at the end of the day. If you need directions, places to see outside of the ordinary tourist crap or just want to shoot the ***, Esteban and Emeo are more than willing to accomodate you.
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.
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.
Had a 5 night stay at the Water Club, San Juan in March 2006. If a hotel were to undergo a refurb by MTV's "Pimp My Ride", this is what it would look like. Basically they have taken a very average 3 star hotel (sort of thing you find in any main Spanish / Greek resort), and pimped it to maximum effect. The result is a hotel that on first impression looks both luxurious and incredibly chic. The design and imagination that has gone into the hotel and its aquatic theming is striking, with a waterfall on every corridor, illuminated by blue neon lit Mediterranean-style drapes and scented vanilla candles. The blue glow continues into the very large bedrooms, with good views of the beach through white venetian blinds.
The bathrooms are a little less inspiring however. With a name like The Water Club, you would think the bathroom and shower would be the talking point of your stay, but unfortunately they are decidedly ropey, with dodgy tiling and decoration, and a shower that looks and operates like it was reclaimed from a 1970's Russian guest house. Rooms certainly AREN'T dirty as some reviewers on TripAdvisor have commented. Another sore point for me was the guest parking which is valet only and an uncomfortable $20 a day. Few rooms have balconies, and no fridge in the room, meaning chilled drinks have to be purchased from the bar for an extortionate $18 for a beer and one G&T ! I suggest buying some from the supermarket and keeping them chilled in an ice filled sink...
If you weren't staying here, like many of the evening bar guests, your journey upstairs would take in the best bits of the hotel - the lobby, Tangerine restaurant, the elevator and the roof top bar. For that reason many people who haven’t actually stayed here might have a misleading or better impression of the hotel than it actually deserves.
The roof-top pool, although small and dated looking, is saved by the adjoining bar and double bed loungers. This place really comes alive at night and turns into one of the hottest venues in San Juan with a young, moneyed crowd listening to resident DJ's play house. Most nights this bar hosts parties (Moet champagne promotion party when we were there), and the 2nd floor occasionally has local bazaars. Like most trendy businesses in San Juan, The Water Club have nailed the soundtrack, and EVERYWHERE you go in this hotel, hidden speakers pipe either whooshing wave sounds, Cafe del Mar chill out beats, or in the evenings, soft beach house. (You can buy their own CDs from reception).
Free towels and loungers are available on the beach adjacent to the hotel, and all the staff are professional, helpful and generally affable.
Close to airport (10mins & $12 in a cab), but the trip into Old San Juan, home to the best restaurants and clubs that will make you feel you are REALLY in Puerto Rico is a little longer. Either take the A5 bus on the main road ($0.75 coins only), or take a cab for about $25 plus tip. Buses take about 30mins depending on traffic, but finish at about 8.30pm, so a round trip in two cabs can add $$$ to your night out.
The Water Club have realised they can't compete with the large chain hotels that dominate the San Juan area. Because of this, they are offering a completely unique style of accommodation and experience. It works well, but not at the price you will pay. For us, a crazy almost 200 UK pounds or $350 a night - simply too much for the quality of room we received.
Most hotels charge extra fees for extra guests if you register them (meaning, if they know) - which means that the hotel have to put in extra bed and extra pillow, etc.
I think it also apply to El Convento, which is one of the nicest hotels in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
To ask inquiries about charges of extra guests in the room and other fees, here's their address:
Hotel El Convento
100 Cristo Street
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico 00901
Toll Free: 800-468-2779
My husband and I stayed at the Andalucia Guesthouse from November 11th-14th. Initially, we didn’t know what to expect. Our reservations faded when we met our hosts. We were greeted by one of two of our hosts, Esteban. And soon later Emeo joined us. From the very first moment, Esteban treated us like old friends reuniting after a long time apart. We felt right at home. It was great. We are budget travelers, so when looking for an accommodation, we look for a place that has character. Andalucia Guesthouse not only has character but it has charm!!
From the outside, the guesthouse doesn’t look impressive. In fact, the house across the street looks more impressive than the guesthouse. But boy were we fooled. Once you step inside, you transcend into a whole new world. The décor is simple but close attention is paid to details. A cozy safe haven, you are met with warm vibrant colors and lush green plants dispersed in various places throughout the accommodation. With its’ open air style, you are never deprived of sunlight, moonlight or rain. This style gives it a dreamy feel, especially while sitting in the Jacuzzi in the courtyard at night...how lovely. The ambiance was perfect. They thought of everything.
After climbing a few stairs, our room awaited us. Our room was clean and inviting. The cable t.v. came in handy at 1-3 am (I’ll explain later). The mini kitchenette added a nice touch. And I absolutely loved the shower curtain (ok so it’s the little things). Esteban and Emeo provided us with all the information you could possible want to know. And they didn’t mind repeating themselves even though they had already laid it out for us or had already stated it (Okay, so I was too lazy to read anything.). From beach towels, suggestions on where to eat, directions, things to do, extra rolls of toilet paper etc. they had all the information available at your bedside. In fact, before you could ask the questions, they had already answered it. Also, internet access is at your finger tips. Our hosts were always around somewhere. It’s funny, it seemed one of the two would just materialized out of thin air. The hospitality was truly genuine.
The location is so convenient to everything, especially the Ocean Park Beach and Dunbar. Kasalta bakery, a 1 minute walk is a must. 24 hour Walgreen’s, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, KFC and every other fast food place is just around the corner. We are not fast food junkies, so we stayed away.
I booked through Travelweb, but they never got a reservation; fortunately, they had a free room.
This is a renovated building near Plaza de Armas, right in the center of the city. The room (the cheapest one) was quite small. The bed was twin, but was as comfortable as a twin bed could be. Bathroom was big enough, but the sleeping area was cramped. The only window is a small window above the door which opens into an interior courtyard. The hotel offers a continental breakfast free, as well as wireless internet (which only works on the first floor for some reason).
The staff was very friendly and helpful. Basically, this hotel is in a good location, relatively inexpensive (hotels in San Juan are somewhat pricey for the Caribean), has good service. If you want luxury, quietness and polish, prepare to pay a lot more at another location. If you want a reasonable accomodation for a decent price and in a good location, this is the best place.
Once again we headed into San Juan a day early before our cruise to avoid any potential weather delays and so that we could see a little more of San Juan. Knowing that we were only going to sleep at the hotel, we used Priceline again and bid 3 1/2 *. It took me a couple of weeks of bidding to finally get a hotel and ended up at the Verdanza in Isla Verde for about 1/2 the price of any other hotel in that category booked direct. At 1st I wasn't thrilled with the location but it ended up being the perfect area to stay in for what we were doing as we didn't have to try to drive in old San Juan or even Condado to get to El Yunque and there was a car rental location within walking distance of the hotel. A taxi from the airport to this hotel was $13 ($10 fixed rate, $1 night charge, $2 for 2 bags)
This hotel wasn't nearly as nice as the Caribe Hilton which we got the prior year for the same price ($90 + taxes), the room was smaller but once again it was just for sleeping. I'm not sure if I would want to stay here for a long period of time. I was a little surprised to get socked with a 10% resort fee of $9 as it didn't seem like it was a resort like I'm used to.
The room, with a king size bed, which was on the ground floor near the pool was on the small side but as all we needed it for was sleeping it wasn't a big deal. The photos on their website aren't very helpful as our room looked nothing like the photo for the cheapest room available. There was a coffee maker, complimentary water, a small refrigerator and a TV in the room.
The bathroom was fine and the shower had hot water with shampoo, lotion and soap provided. There was a hair dryer in the bathroom, not that I needed it in that climate.
We didn't spend a lot of time walking the grounds but there is a pool, jacuzzi and spray park. In the main building there are a few restaurants but there are also lots of restaurants along Isla Verde
If you are going to spend a period of time on the island, get a rental company to find an apartment. Mine was just one short block from the ocean along Calle Mcleary. I was on the seventh or eight floor. The apartment faced the ocean on one side and the downtown area of San Juan on the other. Air conditioning was not necessary. There was always a breeze blowing through the apartment off the ocean.
Nice hotel, very clean. The lobby is very nice as is the pool area. We got a suite and it was very spacious. The staff were very friendly and helpful as we planned out our stay here. They were more than happy to recommend restaurants and to set up tours. The downfall is the rooms are quite pricey. The other downfall we had was we had very noisy neighbors. We slept in the living room area and the walls are paper thin. However, you can't hear the noise as well in the bedroom. We did call and complain and the hotel staff promptly took care of our problem.
The pool bar is very nice and they offer a grill of which the food is quite good and moderately priced.
I read a review that just panned this hotel in every way. This was not my experience. This hotel meets the description "upscale," but not for people who wear white gloves just to find dirt or for people who try to find something to insult the waiter about. I would use the words "flair," "different," "kinda subtly sexy," and "relax in your room." The rooftop attracts with its pool, cafe and great view. Yeah, you do have to WALK across a not-busy rode to access the wide, gently-curved and beautiful beach. Nice fancy restaurant on the second floor, service ok, good food. But for my money, the room was the best. Too bad I didn't snap some pics. It was VERY roomy, just laid out by someone who knew how to make a sexy room if you wanna stay in for a while, y'know.
See above. This is not a cookie-cutter place, if you are bored with the perfect paradise room. It has a "younger" feel to it. Even the elevator shaft has a wierd electric-blue light. Pricey, but glad we went.
I rented a villa on this property on http://www.vacationrentals.com/vacation-rentals/26139.html and it was exquisite! There is the actual hotel and the villas that share the same property as the hotel. There are seven clusters of villas on the same property as the hotel and I rented in Cluster 2. Security is VERY tight. This place had better security than the airport. I would advise renting a car for sure because the area is so remote from San Juan. At the 3 leaving the hotel, if you make a left and drive for 10 miles, you will find Walmart and lots of restaurants in Fajardo. 3miles in that same direction is a nice clean coin operated laundromat directly across from the Esso gas station and Amigo grocery store. The two high rises are your landmark. That is actually Luquillo. This is also the area where Eco Tours and other agencies meet at the marinas for snorkeling trips, fishing, etc. The staff is wonderful at the hotel. There is direct beach access from the Beach Club before you get to the hotel. Right now there is construction in that area and the workers park there but thats the area to get to the beach. There is a pool and the pool bar then a pathway down to the private beach area.
I spent 2 weeks here and this place had everything. The business center is only open until 5pm if you need to fax or make copies. One word of advice. The hotel has free wifi access directly in front of the front desk. So ensure your laptop is configured before you come. Mine was not and I paid the $10 for 1 hour in the business center because it was imperative that I get to a computer. I also went to an internet cafe in Isla Verde which is 30miles away from the resort until I got my laptop configured for the wifi. (turns out, my radio was turned off). But the amenity is there in an emergency. You can receive faxes there as well. There is a very lavish spa and gym on the 2nd floor, the ATC (ATM) is on the main floor, there is a great bar on the main floor and Ded the bartender is very good and nice!
Check out the views in my pictures attached. This was absolutely exquisite. It can be inconvenient however if you need to conduct business in San Juan. It is 25-30 miles away and there is a 1.50 toll each way. The Esso gas station was my favorite because they take credit card at the machine outside like in the states. Not all gas stations in PR do that.
I probably would not reserve this hotel myself, but Stephanie picked it out, and we went along. We got in early evening and left for the cruise early the next morning, so we unfortunately didn't get the most from our stay. Nevertheless, we had a fine time here. Steph had arranged for there to be champagne and a chocolate dessert in the room, and that was elegant and fun. Both the evening view of the patio and the morning view of the bay were excellent; we were up high, on the seventh floor I think. The band on the patio was quite loud, but then people were celebrating the holidays.
The fact that the hotel is so close to Old San Juan gave us an excellent opportunity to explore this area in the early evening hours. We found an outdoor restaurant with a patio and lots of people and had a nice dinner. So, location, location, location. But comfort, too.
Best Western Hotel or Ritz Carlton Casino.
Quite expensive, but you can find lot of good hotel for $80-$140.00 in San Juan or Isla Verde.
Hotel Best Western (De Diego avenue is very for a good price)
depending of your choice, period and size...
BEST WESTERN: $80-$140
RITZ: good hotel just in front of beach, with all services; beautiful swimming pool and casino.
BEST WESTERN and RITZ: The staff is very kind, good swimming pool, good restaurant and bkfast.
I like to recommend friends try the Casa Caribe Guesthouse
Last time I checked the average high season rate was about $75, plus taxes
Casa Caribe is a small (15 roooms?) place but very well located and on a quiet street. It offers a modest breakfast included in the room rate and is a secure one story building in its own tropical garden. The owners are relaxed and open, and their are few 'house rules.'
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