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ReneeS Aug 7th, 2012 08:00 AM

El Conquistador Resort - horrible? Cancel?
On our way to Puerto Rico next week (family of three with an 8 year old). We have booked four nights at the El Convento and 8 at the El Con. Now I am having second thoughts. The reviews of El Con for the past couple of months on Trip Advisor aren't just bad - they are horrible. Dirty rooms and pool, bad or non-existent service, no security, rooms stuffed with huge families with shopping carts full of food at the pool, gouging on everything, poor internet, broken fridges in rooms. The El Con is sold out when we are there which makes me think there is some special local deal this month.
Any opinions here on the El Con? I am ready to cancel and go elsewhere. We are far from snooty people. Please don't think we are anti-local. I am just looking for a fun, clean, family resort with good service. We like the idea of the island and water slides at El Con. We have a car and plan to explore the island and see the biobay, caves, observatory.

We don't need five star but this sounds like a nightmare at any star. Opinions appreciated.

Continental_Drifter Aug 7th, 2012 09:37 AM

We were there over spring break in April this year. We were a family of five with two adjoining rooms. This was our sixth or seventh trip to Puerto Rico.

We had a WONDERFUL stay and have no complaints. We simply had a relaxing and wonderful time. In fact, my only negative observation was that one of our rooms was equipped for a handicapped person and the tile work in the bathroom for the accomodations could have been better done. The internet was fine. Both of our refrigerators worked, although they were unplugged when we arrived. We plugged them in and both worked - one in each room. We took a few items, such as cereal for the kids and picked up some lunch items at Costco one day when we went searching for snorkel gear. This was not cost related, but more that our teens had no interest in sitting down for lunch every day and wanted to just grab something and go.

We did not find gouging. It's a Waldorf Astoria, not a Holiday Inn. The food is good at the cafes and casual restaurants, but better in the better restaurants on property. Make dinner reservations when you check in. Expect to pay an extra $5 to $7 per person for dinner, but that's related to you being on a hotel property and that happens everywhere. (Ex: $15.95 for a Caesar salad with shrimp instead of perhaps $11.95 at home.)

Leaving a gratuity for your housekeepers brings additional attention to detail.

If you'd like to dine close by off property, be sure to have a reservation.

There are some deals, but it's through the bidding site on Priceline, not necessarily a "local" deal. (And who on earth would suggest that Puerto Ricans should not visit their own resorts?) In fact, we did not see any Puerto Ricans at the resort other than the staff. Staffmembers were very surprised to learn that we speak Spanish, so I'm relatively certain that they don't see many Latin clients. We were able to get two rooms at a great rate each per night on Priceline. As we are Hilton Gold members, and showed our card at check-in, we were afforded the Gold amenities, which included access to the Golden Door Spa, tennis and a discount on golf club rental. I'm sure that many of the Priceline customers are not able to take advantage of those items without the Hilton Gold membership level, and that could have been annoying to some.

Here's a hint - the water park has a special deal for hotel guests. At 4:00PM, the fee for the park is only $5 each instead of the $25 or $30 for the day. We found this to be the perfect amount of time there. ... Just enough.

The pools were clean. We did not see families with "shopping carts full of food." The ferry to the private island, Palomino, was excellent and the resort is beautiful.

If you plan on driving to see other areas of Puerto Rico, keep in mind that the Rio Camuy caves and Arecibo observatory are really a day trip. It's only about 75 miles across the island, but plan for 2.5 hours each way due to traffic, perhaps a bit more if you don't go early. Be patient at Rio Camuy, as there is a "lottery" system to entering the caves and if school groups are there, it could take a while. Always call ahead, because substantial rains will flood the caves and they will be closed. You can easily do the caves and the observatory in the same day.

Go to El Yunque early in the morning so that you can avoid the tours and tour busses.

There are other things I'm sure to have left out, but I hope you keep your reservation, and enjoy this beautiful resort.

Oh - It's good enough for a couple of celebrities we saw there in the casino!

Continental_Drifter Aug 7th, 2012 10:01 AM

Well, I did go and read the Tripadvisor reports. I'm very surprised and wonder if this "deal" is something they're offering during hurricane season.

We saw NONE of what the posters write about on Tripadvisor.

Very concerning, though. I'd call the hotel and ask the manager some very direct questions.

ReneeS Aug 7th, 2012 11:59 AM

Thanks Drifter. I appreciate your response. Thanks for reading Trip Advisor too - those reviews really are something.
We have stayed at several Waldorf properties - Hawaii, CA, Arizona, NY - so I get hotel prices. And, I take reviews with a grain of salt. But these ... I will call the hotel directly - good advice!

Thanks too on the tips. We will get to places early for sure and make some dinner reservations.

Continental_Drifter Aug 8th, 2012 09:18 AM

One more thing I forgot to mention... there is a 14% resort fee. However, we knew about this when we booked and did not consider it to be an issue.

StanKase Aug 8th, 2012 12:40 PM

It depends on what you are paying. The El Dorado is far and away much nicer and classyier but when we went it was 30% more expensive but we felt worth it.

tom42 Aug 9th, 2012 04:58 AM

Stan - are you referring to the Embassy Suites on Dorado Beach?

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