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The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico
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Reviewed 5 December 2010

The check-in was fantastic - champagne offered, butler showed us the room, made us Mojitos, emptied the mini-bar so we could use as a fridge, left us the Fiji water free of charge. This met my expectations on service, but unfortunately they didn't keep it up for the balance of the stay. When you pay a $60 per day resort fee, on top of whatever rate (we were there on points, and it seemed everyone we talked to also was, so maybe that is part of the issue - that no one is actually paying to stay here yet). More on the positives first - the pool was very nice, hardly anyone was there, they have a nice "beach entrance" to the pool for the kids to play in. The beach is beautiful and you can walk very far. The rooms are great - we had a small upgrade, just one level, and it gave us a little extra space by the closet and bar/fridge area, which was perfect for our crib. The bathrooms are huge - huge rain shower with separate hand shower, and extra large tub. We slept great in the beds (with ear-plugs, the air conditioning is a disaster as was mentioned in previous reviews). You need a car, but you have to pay $22/day for parking (which we were surprised by, as we never saw this on the website and thought it was part of the $60/day). The food at Fern is amazing, and worth every penny.
The negatives:
1. The pool is difficult for a stroller. No ramps to get around, and several areas with stairs, and no other way around. Could be difficult for disabled people. Also the pool is not heated and is colder than the ocean. Suggestion to hotel, you could heat one section of the pool since they are all separated, this would allow one warmer area, without heating the whole thing.
2. Not sure what you get for the $60/day other than internet access. The "frozen grapes and fruit kebabs" consisted of, once per hour starting at noon (but never at a consistent time, i.e. not on the hour or 1/2 hour), someone would bring a small tray of the "amenity" that was either a small iced tea, a small frozen grapes (about 5 grapes), or a small fruit smoothie (about the size of a shot). We never saw a fruit kebab. They were very good, but if you missed it because you were in the bathroom or something, you missed out, often we had to ask for the amenities because they didn't show up, we never got one every hour. We got a cold towel once, on one day (and we were there a week and at the pool for 5 days solid). They only offer tap water, you have to pay for bottled water. Hint, you can get all the bottled water you want from the workout room - which is also very nice - and fresh fruit, so we just went there often and grabbed some. But if they are giving it out for free (you can also get from the butler free), why not offer it free at the pool too, and in the restaurants? If you want at the pool you either bring your own, or have to pay $6 for the Fiji water. I think they should offer this with easier access for everyone - it is just their own private label bottled water. They could leave out bottled water and fresh fruit at the pool and it would be a really nice touch and great for the kids. The boat house is nice, the bikes have no gears so aren't great (these are also included in the $60/day fee)
3. Their tap water is drinkable but heavily chlorinated. You can really taste the chlorine. It wouldn't take much for them to filter this, at least in the restaurants. It would be a nice touch and something I would expect at any upscale resort but for sure a St. Regis. It is annoying that they seem to want you to pay for the Fiji water instead of offering a decent tap water, or their private label bottled water as an option in the restaurants.
4. The food and drink prices are insane. The wine at Fern is marked up easily 3-5 times retail. For example, the Caymus Special Select, which retails for around $90-$100, sells for $600! The Caymus regular, we pay $75 for, they were selling for $229 - at any high end restaurant in the US the most we have seen it for is $150. Hint - You can get Carry Out from Fern, buy wine at the grocery store, and have a great meal in your room on your patio, with good wine for retail and avoid the room service charges (the Fern food isn't on the room service menu either). You have to ask the butler for plates and silverware, they didn't provide with the carryout. The prices at all the restaurants are equally insane, so just eat at Fern if you have to eat at the hotel.
5. The kids club isn't finished yet. When I inquired about it before we arrived, they didn't tell me, and were hesitant to tell me when we got there. They still offered that their guy could play with the kids for a fee and would do games or things, but I mostly just wanted to use the facility with my kids - which the in room book says is something you can do (kids are welcome to use with a parent free of charge), but there was no facility. I have no idea when it will open, so if you want this, you should ask specifically if the facility is open.
6. They had some children's amenities which were great, small bath robe, small slippers (great for our 5 year old), a diaper genie for the baby - but others they mentioned in the book in the room, they didn't have (a baby bathtub, baby shampoo). Hint, instead of a bath, we used the hand shower and put the baby on the shower floor, it took two of us, but worked great, and better than the sink. There is no way you could use the regular tub, and warning, the water in the regular tub is very hot - we put on all cold, and just a 1/4 turn of hot, and it was still too hot. They really should provide outlet covers too - the crib was right by two outlets (and it was a strange place to have outlets), so we had to keep it away from the wall.
7. They are supposed to be very environmentally conscious, but the only recycle bins we saw are in the room (which is great). They might have them in the pool area, but they aren't marked at all, so we had no idea where to put our water bottles.
I think that is enough for now - I just expect a St. Regis to wow me with service, and I wasn't wowed, except at check-in. They should think about those extra touches they could do throughout your stay that would really make a difference and wouldn't cost much. An evening cocktail reception or happy hour (to relieve you from the $15/per cocktail prices), bottled water and fruit at the pool, one restaurant with a little more reasonable pricing, and other things I am sure they can think of.
My other tips to you: You must have a car. Hit a grocery store (Ralph's is really close by), and buy milk and cereal for breakfast, have coffee delivered (this is free too), and enjoy breakfast on your patio. Buy Lunchables for the kids at the pool, and all the snacks, beer, liquor etc. Pack a small cooler to bring these to the pool. Eat dinner offsite (FYI - Fern is closed for dinner on Sunday, and the only place open is Seagrapes, which is average and overpriced, so you should plan to eat offsite on a Sunday). Offsite places - the Kiosks are great (head Left on Route 3, up a few miles, you will see a sign on the right for the exit for the Kiosks, #2, and #12 (I think) were great. Pasta Y Pueblo is great too (closed Monday-Tuesday), search Loquillo restaurants for reviews here and location.

  • Stayed: December 2010, travelled with family
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3  Thank Kristen H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 November 2010

My fiance and I stayed the week of Thanksgiving to get away and relax.

What we liked:
- The rooms were very well appointed and lovely
- Fern restaurant was fantastic, food and service were excellent
- The pool was beautiful, and there were plenty of chairs both on by the pool and by the beach. Service in the pool area was great
- Overall the grounds are very beautiful and plush

What wasn't so great:
- The resort is fairly isolated (which is great if you want to stay on property the whole time) but less great if you want to eat off property, pick up snacks, etc. There are nice restaurants in the other resorts, but expect at least 30 minutes drive each way.
- The concierge service was mixed, depending on who was working. We asked the concierge to book a biolumenescent bay tour for us. It was never confirmed, and when we finally called back the next day, a different person told us the tour had been cancelled. Noone had bothered to tell us that, and by the time we were informed it was too late to make other plans.
- The concierge printed the price list for golf for us, and we made our tee time accordingly. When we went to the golf course, they informed us that the price quoted was not correct (raised from $115 to $185, which was an unexpected 60% increase per person). As amateur golfers, we felt this was a bit much and went back to our room; Eventually, the front desk told us that they would honor the price and we trekked back to the course. The course is lovely (and very difficult) but we were a bit frustrated at the pricing mishap.
- SeaGrapes restaurant (by the pool) hasn't quite worked out the food and service kinks yet. The second time we ate there, we ordered nachos, a burger and chicken fingers. We waited for 30 minutes without any waiter service (I had to refill our water glasses myself). When the food finally arrived, they brought the appetizer with the food and the chicken fingers were raw inside. The manager was very apologetic and comped the meal, but the service was not up to my expectations for the St. Regis and the prices of the food.

Perhaps when the hotel has been up and running a while and things are smoother, I would recommend. While the property is beautiful, I think its still a bit early and not quite up to my expectations for a Starwood Category 6. Also, if I went back to Puerto Rico I might choose a resort less isolated as we like to venture off property and explore when we travel.

  • Stayed: November 2010, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Erin C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 November 2010

We stayed here Thanksgiving Day weekend and are checked in right now. So far, everything is fantastic! It's a bit off the beaten path and driving here we were a little nervous about being to close to the city but the property is truly an oasis just outside San Juan.

  • Stayed: November 2010
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Thank eluv9966
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 November 2010

Bahia Beach Resort takes you away from the mainstream city of San Juan with just a 20 minute trip to the northwest side of the island. Nestled away in a manicured nature preserve, it offers the selective traveler a unique island escape, with endless amenities.
Although a newly opened resort, the staff and personnel go out of their way to ensure your stay is memorable, and that you will desire to return to this island paradise retreat again and again.

  • Stayed: November 2010, travelled with friends
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1  Thank GinaHopen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 November 2010

We stayed at this property within two weeks of its opening. It showed in some of the imperfections on the grounds and with the staff.

Let's start with the positive. It's a beautiful resort, and as we traveled around Puerto Rico we grew to appreciate how beautiful it was. If you're looking to get away and don't plan to leave the resort, I don't think you could do better anywhere in Puerto Rico (but there are also much better choices for that type of thing that aren't in Puerto Rico). The pool and cabanas are great. Seagrapes restaurant right on the beach was a hit--we ate there several times for lunch and had great service each time.

The rooms are gorgeous and even still smell new. The valet service, when we could reach them on the phone (more on that later), was always prompt. In general, the employees seem to want to be helpful. My wife raved about the spa.

Unfortunately, we had a very uneven experience with the level of service. In a five-day stay, we never got the concierge on the phone once. This backed up our pre-arrival experience, when it often took them two days to return emails. On one occasion, we left a pair of voice mails with the concierge that were never returned. We stopped by the desk the next day to inquire and were told, "We were too busy to check voice mails." This was on a day when I would estimate there were about 10 other guests on the property (it did get much more crowded over the weekend). I'm not sure if they're understaffed or undertrained, but for a property of this supposed quality, it needs improvement quickly. The service everywhere we went was consistently inconsistent, to the point that an entree we ordered on our first day and again on the last day was prepared completely different on the two occasions.

A couple other minor complaints: the front desk attempted to overcharge us by approximately $1,000 at checkout, the air conditioners in the room are incredibly loud (as I heard one person at the gym say, "It was like having an extra person in my room"), and the much-hyped butler service was uneven although much better than the concierge.

When they get it all together, this is going to be a terrific property. But if you're traveling in the next two or three months, I'd consider staying elsewhere to avoid some of the start-up jitters.

One another note: their website estimates a 30-minute drive from the airport. Maybe in a helicopter. There is significant construction between the airport and the St. Regis, and you should allow at least 45 minutes, and it could easily take an hour depending on the time of day.

  • Stayed: November 2010, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank DeanDome
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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