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“A quiet, beautiful retreat”

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Casa Grande Mountain Retreat
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Utuado
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersSilver level
boston
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“A quiet, beautiful retreat”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 7 May 2009

The enduring image I have is of an exquisitely beautiful well-tended place nestled in a valley in the hills north of Utuado, Puerto Rico. It is incredibly quiet during the day, and as the night falls, the sounds of the night -- coquies ( tree frogs) crickets, a variety of nightbirds, fill the night. There can be a torrential afternoon or evening rain, then by morning a dazzling light pouring through the green scenery and through the carefully cultivated gardens of the grounds of this group of cabins.
Each unit is very modest, simple, and clean. No air conditioning, but an overhead fan – a hammock outside on the porch of each unit. This place suited me / us as a perfect place to leave the city, and crowded work schedules behind. No radio or TV here ...an abundance of nature; a walking trail through the thick woods and hills of the driveway, and a more substantial 3 hour hike to a secret waterfall.
Steve, the host and owner, has been there for many years, and has been prompt and responsive to ay of our inquiries or requests, and the restaurant waitstaff were equally responsive. Meals available were breakfast and supper, I found the menu to be varied, flavorful and well-cooked. Much of the fruit even came from the grounds of Casa Grande. Each morning before breakfast I had (beginners) yoga lessons with Steve, who is a certified Kipalu yoga instructor. The swimming pool was a refreshing change
to cool off after a hike…
I hope, selfishly, that the long and winding roads that eventually bring the visitor to Casa Grande do not get enhanced soon, so that the quiet privacy of this retreat is preserved. (Roadside bar-restaurants with fresh-grilled food and local jibaro music appear in the last stretch of road from Utuado to Casa Grande)
I have returned many times – and each time have found new qualities to appreciate -- a place where I read, wrote, meditated, hiked, rested… breathed… and it was not too far by car tlako drive to the nearby lake and towns to explore.
I highly recommend Casa Grande for individuals, couples, groups wishing to conduct a retreat – there is a meeting hall available. –“super tranquilo” is an adjective
I have heard other Puerto Rican residents use on several occasions to describe Casa Grande Mountain Retreat….

  • Stayed May 2009, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank acuerdo1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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494 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (81)
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English first
San Juan
Level Contributor
8 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 May 2009

Casa Grande is a small mountain inn situated in a lovely valley among the Utuado mountains (central Puerto Rico). The inn is quite small - only about 20 rooms spread among 5 cottages. The best part is, if you travel in the "cool" time of year (Nov - April) the fact there's no A/C is wonderful. We stayed over Easter weekend and the temp at night would easily go down to 55deg. When you're surrounded by mountains and dense vegetation - it's wonderful!

The rooms: small, thin walls (speak low and mind the neighbors, and they'll return the favor), and a very basic bathroom. This Inn has been voted best "green" in numerous times, so the soap is eco-friendly and they don't provide shampoo. Likewise towels are thin, and no extra blankets provided. We live in San Juan, so I brought my nap blanket, which came very handy around 2am.

The balcony - so (wonderfully) deceptive! This simple balcony and hammock will take hold of you and you will find yourself napping quite a lot. It's great! We had cabin # 8, which is the most private. It has a lovely giant fern outside the balcony next to the hammock. Awesome.

Food was nice. Local cuisine. They don't serve lunch, so make sure to plan activities ahead of time. Morning yoga classes offered daily. When we were there a lovely young girl offered a number of spa treatments and massages, very nice when you're in such a relaxing location! We'll definitely return to Casa Grande.

  • Stayed April 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank dcc524
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New York
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 14 April 2009

It seems that some others on this site have already eluded to this but I want to also confirm that you will be nickel and dimed at this location. My friend and I paid almost $14.00 just for coffee one morning during a lesser busy day of our stay. I have never stayed anywhere where they literally charge you for every cup of coffee, especially when the cups are miniature size, so of course you are going to drink more than one cup. The next day we noticed a buffet with all you can drink coffee. When we confronted the front desk upon checkout about the coffee issue, no attempt was made whatsoever to remove or reduce the charges for coffee on our total bill. Since I am in the travel industry I stay all of the world in different types of habitats but I have never been charged $14.00 for my coffee consumption, especially in a locale that grows coffee. While the only dinner that we had on-site had great service, I cannot say the same for the breakfast. Their was one particular female server who obviously did not want to be there for whatever reason and it showed. The only words she said to me during the entire week was an inquiry about my laptop. Of course, I kept my laptop with me during the entire week out of fear it would disappear.

Then there's the phone service. There is absolutely no phone service available. Your cell phone won't work and they won't let you use the only landline available. They will however allow you to use an local cell phone which also seems to have the same lack of coverage but at a rate of 2.00 for the first minute and then an additional fee for each minute thereafter. Since this phone didn't have any better coverage than our own, we chose against it.

Then there's the wireless internet that is limited. When we booked this room, we were told that each room had wireless service. Upon arrival, we found that the only true location for wireless was the restaurant, lobby and pool area. This was very inconvenient, especially since there was no phone coverage. I'm not big on talking on the phone, but when you're trying to make appointments for outings such as fishing, boating, rock-climbing or any other local adventures, you need to have some sort of phone coverage.

The first night we were there, I noticed no hot water. So the next morning, we made sure we were the first to shower so that we weren't forced to take cold showers.

Overall, I found that there were indeed other hotels that we could have stayed but were not listed on travel sites, so I am taking every initiative to make sure these other locations are listed so no one feels that Casa Grande is their only option. We certainly felt this way when it came to the restaurant. We found numerous restaurants that offered much better service and a broader menu. One of our favorites was lakeside in Utuado called Rancho Marina which is run by Vivian and Harry. They offered great service and a very nice setting as well as a great menu.

  • Stayed April 2009, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank sdunlap
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
proprietor44, owner at Casa Grande Mountain Retreat, responded to this review, 1 May 2009
Coffee is $1.75 per person with generous refills. Upon request we serve a large pot which makes about 6 cups for $5.25. The reviewer ordered coffee for two, then order a large pot and yet another order for two thereafter. The total was $12.25.

We recently contracted with Centennial for a cellphone exclusively available for the use of our guests. To offset our rental expense we charge $1.00 for the first two minutes and 20 cents for each minute thereafter.

We do not advertise wireless internet as its main function is operating our front office. The router provides coverage around the hacienda, not to the guest rooms. We would never tell anyone there is wireless service in each room.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Draper, Utah
Level Contributor
10 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 April 2009

Disclaimer: My wife and I were put in a room right above the road, which means every 2-3 hours, when a car raced by, it was very noise. I imagine other rooms would yield a better experience than ours. If you stay here, try very much to get a room away from the road!
I think 3 1/2 stars is more accurate, but I'll have to settle for three. My wife and I are not too picky. We pretty much keep to ourselves and don't require much attention in terms of service and we certainly don't demand 'fancy' accommodations.
I really like the location of Casa Grande, it really is in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by lush rain forest. The roads are extremely windy in the area, but I thought it was fun (in our rental car :) If you like to sit around and look at the rainforest and read a book, do yoga or maybe go on some hikes, then this place will be great for you. My wife and I stayed here two nights and went to Arecibo Observatory (which was cool) and Rio Camuy (which was also cool). Other than that there is nothing to do around here. The closest town, Utuado, is also small with nothing to do.
You can pretty much plan on eating at the restaurant in the hotel, unless you want to adventure to Utuado and dig something up (probably 20 or so minutes away by car). The service was slow and carefree (as they say in Fiji: "no hurries, no worries"). We thought the food was decent though, and slightly overpriced.
The room was basically like a Motel 6 (hey you're in the middle of the rainforest), but the windows aren't covered in glass, only a screen for insects and shutters that close to block light. That means if you are in the room next to the road, any cars driving by are VERY loud, and I'm a moderately heavy sleeper. Also the walls are super thin, so be prepared to hear everything that your neighbors are doing, as well as their screaming children. Maybe bring some Ambien.
In Sum:
I liked the location (I think rainforests are cool)
I would like the room if it was away from the road
The service was poor, but that's just a Puerto Rico thing, so deal with it

I would probably recommend it to a friend just for the one of a kind experience. Just get a room away from the road! Also be prepared with what you want to do all day in advance, you will need to entertain yourself here. Oh, did I mention get a room away from the road?

  • Stayed March 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank metamer6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Boston, MA
2 reviews
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 28 March 2009

We stayed at Casa Grande for 3 nights in March. We really enjoyed our stay there and would come back, without a doubt.

The sounds at night are wonderful; something we'd expect to hear only on a National Geographic special. The room was clean and pleasant, and the hammock on the little balcony was a very nice touch. Staff were friendly and helpful, and arrived to tidy up our room every day. The breakfast was very good. The dinner menu was a little limited, but also good and, again, we very much enjoyed the setting in the evening. Another nice touch was Toupinou (sp?), the proprietor's very friendly dog who greeted us and other guests, was great with our 1 1/2 year old son, and even saw us off.

We concur with other reviewers that the cabin walls are thin. There are four units per cabin, and I'm sure our neighbors heard our son complaining one morning. We certainly heard one of our neighbors "doin' it"; however, they also caused the entire cabin to shake, which was a little unsettling at first. Ultimately, neither the noise nor the motion were a big deal. The road to the Casa Grande was winding and narrow, but more fun than frightening even when we were arriving after dark. Just drive slowly, as appropriate, and do not be afraid to announce your presence at blind corners by beeping your horn (the local residents certainly do).

We only have a couple comments regarding ways our stay could have been improved just a little. First, because the first evening we were there it was a little chilly (for Puerto Rico), it would have been nice to have access to an extra blanket for the bed. Second, in addition to the offer to prepare sandwiches for the guests, offering recommendations to guests for additional lunch options in the area for when they are out and about.

Otherwise, we had a great stay and we look forward to staying at Casa Grande again!

  • Stayed March 2009, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank 2_5travellers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
B.C., Canada
Level Contributor
15 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 27 March 2009

My husband and I spent our first night in Puerto Rico at the Casa Grande Mountain Retreat. Yes, it was quite a drive to get there, but well worth it. After a long flight, we enjoyed the beautiful scenery, had a swim in the pool and thoroughly enjoyed our dinner and breakfast on their deck. I loved the Pina Coladas! We had booked our next night in Ponce, but looking back, I wish we had stayed another relaxing night at Casa Grande. It was wonderful!

  • Stayed March 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank JanandDan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Buffalo, NY
Level Contributor
32 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 22 March 2009

If my wife and I had even one AVERAGE meal out of two this place would get a 4 or 5. More on this later.

An "I Survived Getting to the CGMR" badge should be awarded to all guests for completing the near death-defying, white knuckled drive up here. I found the drive to be fun for about the first 10 minutes. Hint...there was one confusing turn getting to the CGMR. Take the low road.

Stayed one night in room #4. Front Desk service outstanding. Found room spartan, but clean, airy, and comfortable. Gorgeous, well maintained gardens. Incredible views of lush, jungle mountainsides. Good views of mountains from only a few rooms. Request rooms #4 or #5. This will cost you $5-10 more but worth it as this is by far the best feature of the CGMR. Small porch allows for a relaxing, meditative, experience for views. Hammock on porch more of a hindrance than convenience and should be detatchable from one end so it can be stowed up in porch rafters. Spring Fed onsite pool was refreshing to me. Too cold for wife.

Now for the food and service at the restaurant. Horrible. Maybe they just had two bad days, we ordered the wrong things, or it was just the luck of the draw. First off you should understand that my wife and I felt trapped here for meals. I saw no other place for meals within proximity to CGMR. I'd advise you to eat at one of the route 10 roadside vendors on the way to here (about 30 min. out from CGMR...we did as I had a sneaky suspicion that the food was going to be below average) or bring your own food and grill/prepare for yourself (if this is allowable). We tried to enjoy Dinner /Breakfast at the CGMR restaurant. Dinner started with the fried combo. appetizer ( I think they are all fried) the only decent thing was the fried cheese. I had Mahi-Mahi, Wife had Salmon. Both specials. Nothing special about them. Both fish dishes were overcooked , dry, hard, and tasteless. This, after I specifically made a point of telling waitress not to overcook fish...twice) Each bite of my Mahi-Mahi could have been used as a sling shot projectile to kill chickens with. Waitress inattentive and indifferent. Never asked about meal.

Breakfast. Ordered fresh fruit plate and the yougurt with raisins and walnuts. Tough to screw up yogurt. They didn't. Fresh Fruit? Wouldn't you expect, especially in PR, a sizeable and delicious plate of fruit? Not here. What arrived was a smallish single layered plate consisting of 1 thinly sliced banana, rindy, seedy, inedible grapefruit wedges and about 10 tiny pieces of an orange colored substance that was tasteless.

One last note that the CGMR probably can't control but still annoying. This place bills itself as a QUIET, secluded retreat. It's really not as secluded as they would lead you to believe. I settled into the porch to relax after our disaster dinner to have a Manhattan and smoke a cigar. Within minutes a radio blared form a dwelling 20 feet below the resort. This lasted for an hour until 8:30PM. I wouldn't have minded if music was playing, but the radio seemed to be playing the calling/anouncing of a horse race.

Because of the negatives the CGMR rates a 1 1/2 out of 5 to me. I'll give it a 2 because my wife is incredibly forgiving and there are no half ratings here.

I could'nt stay here again unless I could make my own food or there is evidence that the restaurant has been rescued.

  • Stayed March 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Sleuthe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
proprietor44, owner at Casa Grande Mountain Retreat, responded to this review, 1 May 2009
The reviewer indicated that the two pieces of fish were overcooked but apparently did not ask the waitress to take it back and either have it prepared again per the reviewer's request or to order a different main course. Likewise, with the morning fruitplate.

Regardless, I'm meeting with the kitchen staff tomorrow to address the issues raised by the reviewer.

I appreciate this review as it enables me to monitor the quality and consistency of our restaurant food. I'm sorry the experience left the reviewer with a bad taste.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Casa Grande Mountain Retreat

Property: Casa Grande Mountain Retreat
Address: Road 612, Km. 0.3 | Barrio Caonillas, Utuado 00641, Puerto Rico
Phone Number:
Region: Caribbean > Puerto Rico > Utuado
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Parking Restaurant Spa Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Utuado
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:2.5 star — Casa Grande Mountain Retreat 2.5*
Number of rooms: 20
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Set in a valley in Puerto Rico's central mountains, Casa Grande is an oasis of peace and tranquility. 20 rooms scattered up the mountainside, each with private bath, balcony and hammock. Freshwater pool, restaurant and bar. The Café serves comida criolla, contemporary dishes and vegetarian options. Fully equipped yoga facility offering morning class, birder's paradise, botanical gardens and woodland hiking trail. Near Camuy Caves, Arecibo Observatory, Caguana Ceremonial Park, Toro Negro and Rio Abajo Forests. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Casa Grande Mountain Retreat Hotel Utuado
Casa Grande Mountain Retreat Puerto Rico/Utuado

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