Firstly I am well overdue in writing this review!
I stayed here as a pre-cruise hotel, on Sat 11th Sept 2010. Travelled with family consisting of - Mum, Dad (mid-late 50s), Brother (23yrs) & me (28yrs):
Transfer from the airport was fairly painless, drivers were waiting at the luggage collection point. It was about 10-15 min ride, very smooth on the motorway, down to the port area.
We got to our hotel 'Caribe Hilton' about 9pm, and the first thing you notice is that the lobby is open spaced & bathed in pretty blue light - nice touch for weary travellers! Check-in was quite busy despite the time of night; seemed quite a few cruise passengers we checking in. Service was swift, but front desk staff seemed indifferent & devoid of any real welcome or warmth... We made our own way to our room - there was a bell boy service for those that wished to use it.
Our rooms were a decent size & spotlessly clean - we were on the 15th floor which allowed for amazing views of the private beach, the sea/coastline & lake/bay area - this is what makes this location! As there really isn't much else to looks at...
We had two lovely double beds, tea/coffee facilities, built in wardrobes, seating area with a flat screen tv & a desk area. Had a nice size bathroom with crab tree & Evelyn goodies, walk-in shower with two types of head - one massive one attached to the celling and another more standard one on the wall- water pressure was ok - expected it to be more powerfull.
we were too tired and hungry to really appreciate or explore the area, we weren't missing much since there wasn't really anything nearby - a pretty lake/bay - but no bars/entertainment. And besides, after nearly 12hrs travelling, we could not be bothered to take a taxi to Old San Juan; plus we had torrential (albiet warm) rain within half hour of our arrival, so that further put us off going anywhere.
Decided to just grab something to eat & then chill in the lobby area/oasis bar for a while. We ate in the Piña Colada Club, attached to the Honours towers - decent latino based food, watered down & wasn't spicy AT ALL - didn't have time to check out the Steakhouse Morton's, but it seemed that non-guests can also make reservations there & come quite dressed up...
I woke up early to catch the sunrise over the beautiful grounds - it was worth it! The tropical garden, sun deck, cabana's, hammocks, pool area and beach are amazingly peaceful and empty at 6am so you can really explore & enjoy without anyone else there, only me & a few keen joggers. By 7:30-8am it started to come to life a bit.
Note about the beach - there is two sides to the 'coastline' one side is rocky & a bit rough but it's not easily accessible to guests, there is a old fort there as well so makes for good scenic pics. The other half, is a small but nicely sectioned off & therefore makes for a calm, still water, sandy beach - yes, good enuff to build sandcastles!!! There were plenty of loungers available even at 11am.
The hammocks were a quirky addition - I had a giggle with some random american chicks when we were all trying (not to elegantly) to get in them!
The cabana's were nicely set apart from the beach, but close enough to all amenities, these are charged per day ($90) - good cross-breeze...
Tropical gardens are very small & are situated out the back near the childrens pool, cool peacocks, lovely flowers & a lil pond area, got some nice pics.
By the lobby there is a parrot cage - lovely birds, good temperment & caged was being cleaned out; they weren't there upon check-in so assume they only come out for the daytime.
Met the rest of the family for breakfast in the Palmeras Restaurant - think this is the main restaurant. Nice views over looking the main pool & beach. All four of us had the buffet breakfast, that was a bit pricey $26 !!! Was just ok, usual fare to be honest, my dad said the coffee was amazing! It was puerto rican, but can't remember the name of it though...
Had to leave the hotel quite early as we needed to get to the port & officially start our cruise. Shame really, as would have liked to have seen what the spa was like.
Overall Caribe Hilton was a lovely stay, a beautiful, compact hotel & the staff were pleasant enough.
However whilst I found it to be an asthetically pleasing hotel to stop at for one night, given the lack of entertainment (not even a singer or piano?) & the prices - I would be less inclined to stay there for a full two wk vacation, as I know I'd probably get bored! And realistically could find something with more variety, that's more holiday orientated & just as lush for the prices they were charging - I mean come on for $595 for a night & $26 for breakfast! Really?!? All I can say is I was extremely glad it was part of our cruise package!
Read my full review for Serenade of the Seas (Royal caribbean) at: http://www.cruisecritic.co.uk/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=72795
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The historic and iconic Caribe Hilton offers an ideal combination of leisure facilities and activities and is home to Caribar, the birthplace of the pina colada. The resort is situated on a private 17-acre lushly landscaped peninsula with a secluded beach and is located near the Old San Juan historic district and many of the destination's top attractions. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Caribe Hilton San Juan Hotel San Juan
- Hilton Hotel San Juan
- Hilton Hotel Caribe
- Hilton San Juan
- San Juan Caribe Hilton Hotel