The idea behind this resort, at least on paper or a computer screen, is very appealing but....
I have mixed feeling about our stay at Case Grande Mountain Retreat. The view from the main building is truly amazing. It's a lush mountain side facing you. Early in the morning as the sun rises and starts to crest the mountain, the sunlight begins to bath certain spots on the mountain side making for a great scene! That is truly a nice experience!
The food in the main dining area was better than anticipated, fairly priced and portions were good. No one went to bed hungry. Especially if you order one of their rice dishes such as Chicken and rice. The dining on the patio of the main building was also relaxing and enjoyable. The wait staff was also very nice and aimed to please.
The food and staff really made our stay more enjoyable.
The other positive point I want to share is that at night there was a very nice breeze that create a wonderful sound in the surrounding trees and helped cool the room that made for good sleep.
So why only 3 stars?? The rooms are REALLY basic, the location is WAY OUT of the way, and location didn't support tourists well.
Let's start with the room. It was very basic and furniture and beds were simple low-end pieces. The lighting in the room was a simple bare bulb and a second reading light over one of the beds. The walls are rather thin and you CAN HEAR your neighboring guests quite clearly. So if you can hear them...they can hear you. We were fortunate that the visitors around us were generally quiet. But it was uncomfortable to hear them going to the bathroom.
The cost to stay here was over $130 a night, that's not cheap. In my opinion, it's too much for the accommodations. There are no added amenities for that room rate either. Yoga is offered every morning and taught by the owner of the location. But at an added cost of $12 a class per person. I think it should be included in the room rate and not an added cost. There is no gym, if you chose not to take the morning class. There is an outdoor pool, that is billed as a "fresh water pool" . It's roughly 30'x15' and rather deep on one end at 8'. But it's heavily chlorinated. So not sure about the whole "fresh water" pitch.
The location is a SOLID 45 minute drive AFTER you get off the main highway (26). It's a narrow, local mountain road and a good part of it is WHITE KNUCKLE driving as locals scream down the mountain and around blind corners in the middle of the road!! So if you are coming from San Juan, it's a solid 2.5 to 3 hour drive EACH WAY. The last portion of the drive had us wondering if we were lost and worrying what had we gotten ourselves into. The roads are not well maintained and hitting one of the many huge pothole could easily happen and would put a real damper on your vacation. If you are coming from Aquadilla, it's a short ride but a fair amount of stop and go lights before you get to the highway portion and THEN the 45 minute daredevil climb up the mountain road.
The Casa Grande Mountain Retreat is also not isolated. It's neighbors are lower income homes nested on the sides of the mountain. So you see a fair amount of poverty on the drive up. The other real issue that I did read here but couldn't quite comprehend is that the road that takes you to Casa Grande continues just below the resort and about a 3 miles up ahead is some sort of water plant. Early each morning, large trucks would rumble by and constantly honk their horns as they drove by. It was rather noisy and disruptive. Definitely broke the calm of the night. My guess is the drive honks as he may be approaching a blind bend in the road and letting oncoming cars, pedestrians know he was there. Believe me, they don't slow down. They fly up and down these road like Rally car drivers and will ride you tail. Not fun!
To take full advantage of the area, you need to hire an adventure guide. You need to plan that prior to your arrival. We looked into a few and found that they wanted $109 for a 4 hour tour that included zip-lines and repelling and some kayaking. It was a bit high for us as we had done these activities already outside of San Juan and also on a recent trip to Costa Rica. So we just wanted to hike on our own. There's a short trail that starts on the property. It's a short 20 minute loop. It's decent and enjoyable. The office person told us of another more difficult trail down the road. We couldn't find it. The trail wasn't marked as "a trail" but by a "thrown-out couch" which we missed.
So outside of the pool, the morning Yoga class and the short trail, there's not a whole lot to do on the property. One of their staff leads a 3 hour hike for $25 a person but you need to book it at least a day in advance. We missed on that as we first tried to hike on our own ans when we realized that we could find the trails, the staff person was committed for the day. Understandable but a bummer.
The bottom line for my family and me was as we drove away we all felt it was generally pleasant, very basic and the food was good but too far out of the way from the rest of the island's destinations. We all agreed a similar experience with better hiking and more food options are available near or by El Yunque Rainforest, much closer to San Juan and Luquillo Beaches.
The Case Grande Retreat is the idea of transplanted retired New Yorker looking to have a place he can draw an income from, do something he enjoys (Yoga) and sustain a certain lifestyle without out of pocket expense. I think we'd all like to do something like that. Clearly the location gives a few locals an income and may draw tourist dollars to the area that would otherwise never get anywhere near here. So if you are looking to relax, get away from the heavily congested tourist and city destinations, don't like the ocean, like to drive twisty mountain roads like a rally car driver and want to travel the road 'less traveled'...this may be a place you'll enjoy.
We will not do it again on a return trip to Puerto Rico and would tell our friends, "It's OK but not worth the drive."
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
30 March 2012
Thank you for your comments. Our website describes the guest rooms in detail so the informed traveler will be aware that there are "no frills" to be found here. The place is remote and most of our guests choose to stay here for that reason. There are no "bare bulbs" in the rooms as all bulbs are encased in fixtures. For one day only day we had to use chlorine instead of the usual salt when our filtration broke down. Almost all our guests and visitors find the drive challenging and adventurous. Some call it "fun". Then there are a few who wouldn't return because of the drive even if you paid them.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC