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Sorry to report a bad experience at the El San Juan Hotel, Puerto Rico

Sorry to report a bad experience at the El San Juan Hotel, Puerto Rico

Aug 1st, 2006, 11:27 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 231
Sorry to report a bad experience at the El San Juan Hotel, Puerto Rico

I am usually quick to recommend a good place at which I've stayed in response to questions I've seen, but I wanted to be sure that those interested also learn about a "problem" stay I just experienced. I've read many good things about the El San Juan Hotel on this board and in other places; I stayed there this past weekend to attend an event that was being held there.

Some of the great things I read about were true - the lobby is magnificent and a great social scene, and the pool areas are also beautiful.
However, I learned the hard way that the hotel is undergoing renovation. My room was right next to a construction elevator outside the building that was extremely loud (when I called about it at 7:30pm, the front desk staff claimed it ends at 6:00pm every day - hmmm...). The room itself smelled very musty (there was a locked door to what seems to have been at one time a balcony - now it is just a door to the outside that lets in the wind and dampness) - I had to request new pillows b/c the ones in the room smelled so badly. Additionally, the carpet was very dirty. All this after having to wait until 5:30 to check in. The next day they moved us to another bad-smelling room. Besides the problems with the room, of the three jacuzzi/whirlpools, only one was hot - and that one was dirty. We asked for it to be cleaned and 1/2 hour later no one arrived to do so. From there we went up to have a massage and use the spa facility - only to learn there that the sauna was not operating.

I'm sorry to report this, but I wanted those planning a trip to San Juan in the near future should be informed. Most of the staff were very pleasant and helpful, though we did find the front desk people to be unaccommodating, unwelcoming, and unempathic. I understand the hotel construction is due to be completed by the end of the year; perhaps all of these issues will be resolved by then.
RobinBinNYC is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 11:54 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
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Very disappointing to read your report. I've stayed at the El San Juan numerous times and never had an experience like yours but I must admit it's been almost 9 moths since I was last there.

I'd be interested in hearing other reports of recent stays as I was contemplating staying there again in November.
A_Traveller is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 01:29 PM
Join Date: Jun 2005
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I just checked Tripadvisor.com and found several recent reports with comments similar to Robin's. Obviously there has been some deterioration in the facilities at this once fine hotel.
A_Traveller is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 02:26 AM
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That's surprising to hear. Sorry you had such a bad experience.
Carrybean is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 08:30 AM
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I stay at El San Juan just about every year, the last time being last month. All of the rooms are undergoing much needed renovations. The renovations started at the end of June (actually, they started on the first day of my visit). The top three floors of rooms at the hotel are closed. Construction noise could be problematic, especially if you are in a room on a floor right below a construction floor.

The first room that I was given sounds like the one that Robin described. I complained and was given a much better room. Be aware, though, that with about one-third of the rooms closed for construction, there may not be a lot of excess rooms to choose from.

Unless you are getting a very good rate at this hotel, it may be wise to avoid until the renovations are completed. I am really looking forward to staying there again when the rooms are done - judging by the sketches, they will be quite nice.
tom42 is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 10:36 AM
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Yes, I did hear that the post renovation plans are quite lush (I heard something about plasma screen tvs). Unfortunately, the first night when we asked to be moved, there were no available rooms. I left out the part about the filthy dark grey water that I only learned about while brushing my teeth. Still then, no real explanation besides, "sorry, we're under construction." I called again the next morning to confirm my room change - and that person knew nothing about it. I had to plead my case yet again. They came to move our belongings to the next room...at 5:30 p.m.. Luckily we were out at El Yunque all day and didn't need access to a room. Our rate was good because we were there for a group - but beware - when we checked out, there were charges they hadn't made us aware of - a $10 "porterage" fee that they automatically tack on, and $2/day tip for the maid. We had already left money in the room for the maid. Luckily, the maids were very nice, so I don't begrudge them the extra $$. Vale, thanks for the recommendation - I will be writing to the El San Juan, and maybe also to the tourist board. Thanks to all of you for your sympathetic notes!
RobinBinNYC is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 11:15 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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You should post your comments at Trip Advisor www.tripadvisor.com.

There is a listing under "Puerto Rico Hotels" and you should be able to find the hotel you stayed at. Post your comments there as they will help the many people who rely on Trip Advisor.
francophile03 is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 11:18 AM
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BTW, I am very sorry to hear about your awful stay. Hotels should be honest and upfront (but are not always) to potential guests if they are doing renovating. It's very unfair to go with high expectations of having a relaxing vacation only to find you've been pretty much duped.
francophile03 is offline  
Aug 5th, 2006, 04:51 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
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Although I've never stayed at the El San Juan, I have used the facilities( casino, restaurants,etc.) and was completely satisfied.
This was 4 months ago!
dontbecoy is offline  
Aug 30th, 2006, 01:29 PM
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I'm happy I saw this posting before I booked a stay at El San Juan Hotel. I will be in San Juan in October and I'm assuming the construction will still be going on. Can you recommend a comparable alternative to El San Juan Hotel?
kamgab is offline  
Aug 30th, 2006, 02:11 PM
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Check out the Intercontinental. It's next door to the El San Juan.
A_Traveller is offline  
Aug 31st, 2006, 05:03 AM
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I think that assumption would be correct. The removations are scheduled to be completed by the end of the year, but having experienced the way things sometimes move in Puerto Rico, I wouldn't be surprised if it takes even longer than that.

In addition to the Intercontinental, I would check out the Ritz Carlton.
tom42 is offline  
Nov 20th, 2006, 12:04 PM
Join Date: Nov 2006
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Tom42/RobinBinNYC...we are heading to Puerto Rico the end of January and I'm having trouble selecting a hotel. We are going with another couple and no kids. Both of the wives will be pregnant but want a hotel that has it "all"....beach, spa, restaurants, etc. We are only visiting for a few nights so ideally nothing too far out from the airport. So far I've come across El Conquistador, Westin and the Marriot but all have poor reviews when it comes to quality of rooms. which hotel do you reccomend as far as amenities on site?
cdmr is offline  
Nov 21st, 2006, 05:25 AM
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Westin and El Conquistador are very different than the Marriott. They are more self-contained and further away from the airport and San Juan. Depends on what you are looking for. I have stayed at El Conquistador and thought the rooms and grounds were very nice (I haven't stayed there in several years, though). It is perched atop a cliff and the views are outstanding. To get to the beach, you have to take the resort's ferry to a private island. It is quite nice but some people find it inconvenient. There are several restaurants on grounds, all of which will be pretty expensive.

Never been to Westin but I believe it is about 1/2 hour or 45 minutes from the airport.

Marriott is in Condado, about a 10-15 minute drive from the airport. It is close to Old San Juan and is in an area which has quite a few restaurants to choose from. It has a smallish but nice casino and a lobby bar with live entertainment. It is a good hotel. Again, it has been a few years since I have been there, but I thought the rooms were fine - typical Marriott room with good sized balconies.

Quite honestly, if the renovations at El San Juan Hotel will be completed when you go, I would choose that one. It is in Isla Verde - 5 minutes from the airport, on a nice stretch of beach, two pools, lush grounds, several very good restaurants (The Palm steakhouse, good Italian restaurant, Japanese, ribs place, Mexican) a beautiful lobby area with a main bar, a cigar bar, a sushi bar, live entertainment and a casino.

Hope this helps.
tom42 is offline  
Nov 21st, 2006, 10:04 AM
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CDMR the reviews of the Westin Rio Mar puzzle me. We stayed there one week ago pre-cruise and the place was excellent in every respect. The room was large, well furnished, had the updated Westin bedding, and was immaculate. The hotel grounds were great, the beach clean with good sand, and the pools and hot tubs were in great shape. The casino, which we did not use, was small but busy. We did not eat at the hotel but the posted prices were par for any hotel/resort of this class. The hotel is within 10 minutes of El Yunque and there are many excellent places to eat just outside the entrance road.

Maybe the hotel got its act together recently - I do not know. I do know that while we were there it was excellent in every respect (well I did not like paying $15 a day to park but again that is typical big hotel pricing).

We drove down to El Conquistador and looked it over. Lots of construction going on and it was just too big and too spread out for our taste. Showed lots of wear and tear but it looks like they are working to correct that. Of the two we though the Westin was much, much nicer. Note that Conquistador does not have a beach - you must ride a ferry to an island. They are in process of building a beach but it will be some time before it is complete.
Curt is offline  
Nov 21st, 2006, 10:06 AM
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Forgot to add - takes about 30-45 minutes depending on traffic to Westing from airport...try to have rental car outfit give you directions to use Route 66 to get there - it appears to be a fairly new freeway and is much better than the other route (23 I think) which is one stop light after another.
Curt is offline  
Jan 4th, 2007, 09:34 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 24
Has anyone been to El San Juan hotel recently, that can verify whether the renovations have been completed? I'm travelling to PR at the end of March, and am strongly considering staying there. Thanks!
sonnygen is offline  
Jan 5th, 2007, 11:46 AM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 245
Sorry to read about your negative experience. It is the exception rather than rule.

I had a friend who stayed at El San Juan last week and said it was fantastic...He stayed at Interconrinental next door 3 months ago, and was not impressed at all.

If you had a problem, contact El San Juan Hotel public relations person,
Ms. Casper. She might be able to help.
[email protected]

marbleheadguy is offline  
Jan 6th, 2007, 10:31 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 10,212
You might also check out the Paradisus--between San Juan and the Westin Rio Mar. . .it's a Sol Melia property--all-inclusive.
shillmac is offline  
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