El San Juan Hotel...Is it really that bad?

Feb 23rd, 2011, 09:14 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2011
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El San Juan Hotel...Is it really that bad?

My husband and I are going to Puerto Rico May 30-June 4. I have tirelessly explored our hotel options. I have read reviews, looked at pictures...

I was pretty much sold on booking the El San Juan Hotel but now I am very hesitant. I have read some horror stories about it.

I would really like some feedback from travelers who have been there recently.

Thanks so much!
travelintami is offline  
Feb 24th, 2011, 03:43 AM
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OK, haven't been there "recently" but when we HAVE stayed there, here were our experiences (and you can compare this to those "horror stories" you have read and if there are similarities, well...)

Great beach location. Great breakfast on that verandah overlooking what were nicely manicured/kept grounds. Nice pool. Rooms...especially the bathrooms needed serious renovation. Lots of "high end" attitude in general...trying to be "the" place to be and be seen.

Most recent visit to San Juan we opted for the Marriott...great beach, great pool (despite some of the noisy and "I don't give a damn about ANYBODY else" New Yorkers and their kids) and more up to date rooms.
Dukey1 is offline  
Feb 24th, 2011, 04:31 AM
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Dunkey1...What type of room did you stay in?
travelintami is offline  
Feb 24th, 2011, 09:08 AM
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My Husband and I are going to PR in april, and we rented a 3 bedroom house right on the beach for about 300.00 for 7 days, you should check out VRBO or turnkey, these are vacation rentals by owner. We also went through VRBO when we went to the Bahama's last year, it is a much better value.
missybug is offline  
Feb 24th, 2011, 10:01 AM
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Where are you reading "horror stories"?

Have you asked your question on Trip Advisor (not the hotel reviews section, but the forum... like this one)?
suze is offline  
Feb 24th, 2011, 11:21 AM
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I did read some pretty negative reviews on the Trip Advisor site. I also did post on their forum.

My husband and I are not hard to please and are not picky when it comes to hotels...I just don't want to spend $300+ a night at a hotel unless I am sure it is going to be enjoyable.

We have an 8 month old son and we are really looking forward to this vacation. : )
travelintami is offline  
Feb 24th, 2011, 11:35 AM
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If people are registered on TA you can write them (private email thru the website) and ask about what they posted. People often do that to me for the hotel reviews I have posted there. Personally I prefer the actual forums because then you can ask your question and have a back & forth conversation, not just a one-time rant (as is often true of negative reviews, they are "one time wonders" not regular contributors).
suze is offline  
Mar 1st, 2011, 02:05 PM
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Be sure you check the right hotel in the reviews. There is a San Juan Beach Hotel in Condado which is really bad (althought they are doing renovations), then there is the San Juan Hotel (Waldorf)in Isla Verde which is a really nice 4* hotel recently renovated. I'm pretty sure they might be others with similar names. El SJ in Isla Verde has always been one of the top Hotels in the San Juan Metropolitan area. Good Luck!
Sosa is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2011, 08:04 AM
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I have stayed at El San Juan many times, the most recent being last week (6 nights over President's Day week). I love this hotel but it may not be for everyone, although I am a little skeptical of "horror" stories about it. It is one of the best hotels in San Juan, along with the Ritz Carlton.

Here is my take on the hotel:

Rooms. The rooms in the main hotel were recently renovated (last few years). They are modern looking, white and beige furnishing and walls, with vibrant accessories. Good bedding and pillows, LCD TV. The tiled bathrooms are pretty small and have a walk in shower (no tub). A negative is that when they renovated, they expanded the size of the room by getting rid of the balconies. Most rooms now have a wall of windows and a windowed door that you can open to look out. Another negative is that the way the hotel is situated, there aren't a lot of rooms with truly good ocean views. If you book in the main hotel, I would suggest request the side of the hotel away from the airport (pool side rooms). Additionally, the rooms in the three story garden lanais (separate from the main hotel and located facing the pool) have NOT been renovated. Those rooms have balconies and terraces but they are worn and out of date. There is also a line of 11 or so "casitas" the face the pool area. When I was there last week, it appeared that they are currently undergoing a much needed renovation.

Pool. The pool area is very nice. There are three different pools, including a free form pool with swim up bar. Very nicely landscaped. The best chaise lounges I've seen at any hotel.

Lobby. Beautiful, grand and a meeting place for locals and tourists alike (although I see you are going there during the week so you probably won't get the full effect of a Friday and Saturday night).

Casino. One of the bigger casinos in Puerto Rico (don't think Vegas sizes). Very nice, has all of the usual table games and slots.

Beach. The hotel is located on Isla Verde beach, which IMO is the best beach in the San Juan area. Very wide, great walking and people watching beach. Sand is brown and water is not Caribbean blue as this is the Atlantic side. However, water is clear and clean. Two of the days I was there, however, there was a lot of seaweed in the water and on the sand. The rest of the days, no seaweed. Just depends on the winds I guess.

Restaurants. Really good choices of restaurants right at the hotel. La Piccola Fontana for Italian food (I had a very good meal there this last trip); Koko's for asian-latin fusion type food (another very good meal this trip). Other restaurants include The Palm, Yamato, and Brother Jimmy's (southern BBQ on the rooftop). There is also a more casual pizza place (in addition to pizza, they serve salads, paninis, pasta dishes). There is also a Starbucks on premises.

Service. Spotty. Always has been and I predict it always will be. If you want more info on this aspect let me know.

Cost. Resort prices for drinks and food. If you sit at the Lobby Bar, expect to pay $10-12 for a glass of wine,$6-8 for a beer, $11-12 for a top shelf mixed drink. Expect to pay $100 and up for dinner for two at most of the restaurants at the hotel. The breakfast buffet is $25 per person (I think kids are half price). I thought the food at the pool was pretty reasonable - around $10 for a wrap or sandwich.
tom42 is online now  
Mar 2nd, 2011, 08:08 AM
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Wanted to mention, regarding costs - there are cheaper options walking distance from the hotel for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
tom42 is online now  
Mar 2nd, 2011, 08:38 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2011
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Thank you so much for your very informative post. I really appreciate it. My husband and I truly are not that picky and it doesn't take much to make us happy so perhaps the ESJ is just right for us.

We are torn between the ESJ and La Concha. Do you have an experience with La Concha?
travelintami is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2011, 06:23 AM
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Yes, I'll answer on your new post.
tom42 is online now  
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