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“Nice experience despite the obscene resort fee”

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The Ritz-Carlton, San Juan
Ranked #7 of 13 Hotels in Isla Verde
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 11 May 2012

Let me start with the conclusion: I would most certainly return for the right price. It is a very nice upscale resort and offers a beautiful beachfront location that is a short distance to Old San Juan and most of the destinations you want (business or pleasure).

However, I did not feel that I was at a top luxury resort. If you changed the brand name to Marriott I probably would not have noticed the difference. However, my personal experience is that luxury levels in the Caribbean are lower than most of the world and against those lower standards the Ritz Carlton San Jan counts as a luxury resort. Otherwise, imagine a very nice four star resort. The staff are wonderful in their attitude, always pleasant and helpful and yet many lack polish with ties poorly tied, jackets threadbare and presentation styles that are at times almost comical (but sincere and well intentioned).

The arrival was just plain poor - we had made a request in advance which was first declined and then after a second request it was granted. However, upon arrival there was no evidence they had received the request! No one greeted our taxi and we lugged our bags to check-in without comment from any staff. In fairness, our future interaction with the door staff was very positive. At check-in the GSA made a big mistake by ignoring my wife - I am still hearing about it!! But that is poor and we had to ask to add her to the reservation despite a call to ensure it was done earlier that week.

None of these things would ruin a stay but they certainly don't indicate a luxury hotel. On to good things - the spa was nice although difficult to book (we would have booked at least two more treatments but couldn't get appointments). The beach service was great and the Ritz team there very friendly and helpful. The restaurant BLT Steak was MUCH better than than the NYC version. We stayed on one of the club floors and the Ritz team in the club lounge was wonderful. We might return just for them!

One more issue - we paid a $45 PER NIGHT resort fee (16% of room bill) which I find obscene. This was to pay for access to the fitness center, selection of fitness classes, wifi in rooms and public spaces, limited business services, and use of float mats and snorkeling equipment. Thus I paid $45/night for wifi as I didn't use the other items (and could have lived without wifi!). I understand the fees and how they help hotel profitability but 16% is just obscene. All of those items offered are normally complimentary at most hotels with the possible exception of wifi, and that is normally only $10!!

We enjoyed the Ritz Carlton San Juan but all of our stories will revolve around that resort fee and the lack of value offered. Was that what they really wanted? I can see myself returning as we truly enjoyed our visit but will assume a room rate 20% higher than quoted when comparing prices with other destinations.

In summary, a nice four star resort with wonderful, friendly staff and an incredibly greedy, soulless owner.

  • Stayed: May 2012, travelled on business
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3  Thank mikeandnoemi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 11 May 2012

What can I say? The Ritz Carlton never disappoints! Pristine accomodations. Excellent service, and I mean EXCELLENT! Although I loved the service on the beach, I would have liked to have seen my server more frequently. Can get quite hot and thirsty in the sun!
The Spa was wonderful. The masseuse I had, provided an invigorating massage that relaxed months of NYC stress. Literally 5 minutes from the Airport. Perfect for a 4-day weekend getaway. Excellent restaurants in the hotel. But also enjoyed many in Old San Juan. Definitely worth the trip.

Room Tip: Rooms are always better facing the ocean. Go for it.
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  • Stayed: December 2011, travelled with friends
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Thank Marinela2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 May 2012

It is difficult to rate this hotel (or should I say resort?). There are parts that are 5 star rating and others only 3. Generally the layout of the hotel is first rate with a beautiful pool area (although smaller pool than other R-C hotels) that leads out through glass doors onto a perfect beach.
Bundles of clean towels are enthusiastically handed out my friendly pool/beach staff (although some may ponder on the environmental impact of this service). However, the food at the pool side restaurant was very poor.
Th hotel itself is very smart with elegant bars and restaurants. Pricey, but you should expect that at a R-C. The staff seemed generally customer focused and helpful. On the negative side there is a noisy casino full of slot machines that seems to detract from the relaxed, elegant interior, but I suppose they try and cater for all tastes.
I thought the Spa was very nice with a cosy, candle lit jacuzzi room and smart locker-changing rooms. The actual gym room was basic and a little crowded. Yet the fitness class room was lovely with high a ceiling, large glass windows letting in plenty of sunshine and giving chic, colonial feel to this large room.
The hotel WiFi was also excellent for hotel standards.
One strange thing was the lift was operated with your room key, but would only allow you to go to your actual floor. If you wanted to visit friends or colleagues on another floor you were stuck!
My room was described as ocean facing, but you had to lean our of the window and look to your left to see the sea. The main view was the car park!
When you Google the location it looks from the map as if you are at the end of the airport's runway, which is alarming. However, in reality the close proximity to the airport was more advantageous (more pool time on departure) then negative, as there were no real plane noise nuisance.
On a different note, I was extremely impressed with Puerto Rico. Much cleaner than expected and the Old Town of San Juan is stunningly beautiful.

Room Tip: Go to the Old Town.
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Stayed: May 2012, travelled as a couple
1  Thank Rob T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 May 2012

We visited San Juan in early May and had a great trip with a so-so experience at the Ritz. The hotel is far from awful, it just lacks some of the charm and quality of traditional Ritz Carltons. The property was quite small, definitely a hotel as opposed to a resort. Parts of the property, such as the lobby, have clearly been renovated and are stunning. But, for example, our “view” was of the dilapidated blue shingles on the roof of the entrance awning. Thankfully someone thought to install thick glass in for our windows, as the only time we heard airplanes was when we were at the pool.

Rooms are tiny, and the entire place is a bit confining, as opposed to sprawling and open like I’m used to at Ritz properties. We enjoyed meals at the poolside restaurant and Mares. The food was good, but expensive as has been noted. We skipped the high-end places in favor of local fare, some of which can easily be found within walking distance from the Ritz.

Our time at the pool and beach was limited because of the rain, but our only complaints have to do with feeling squished in. I received an incredible massage at the spa from Damina, but overall, the facility was kind of embarrassing. Changing rooms were teeny-tiny, and the relaxation area is steps away from the treatment rooms. My mom has knee issues, so we asked to take the elevator upstairs rather than the stairs. Turns out the only elevator available is the staff one, which was being renovated. Knowing that we were paying Ritz prices, the lack of frill was a bit frustrating.

We received excellent service at the hotel throughout our stay, though we did have some issues with check in and check out. We also spent quite a bit of time and money at the casino. I preferred the machines at the Ritz to the ones at the El San Juan Hotel, but the other casino is much nicer overall. There isn’t much of a point in playing for points or comps, so I’d suggest giving both a try if you enjoy gambling. The El San Juan is within walking distance and worth checking out regardless.

We had a great vacation in San Juan, but it had much more to do with what we did then where we were staying. The Ritz is more than serviceable, but as many have said, it doesn’t quite feel like a luxury hotel or beach resort despite its price. If you’re looking for a relaxing vacation at a place with tons of amenities and little reason to leave the property, I’d consider a different destination.

  • Stayed: May 2012, travelled with family
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Thank courtney7888
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 May 2012

I really enjoyed the service we received at the hotel from first welcome to our final goodbye. The concierge was knowledgeable and helpful. We were able to check in by 1pm even though check in is not until 4pm. We had a late flight out and The Ritz staff was happy to hold our bags for us while we enjoyed the beautiful beach and ocean side food and drink service. The location offered a great beach but little else to do in the immediate area, which resulted in having to take taxi rides into Old San Juan often. I loved the Ritz Carlton and hope to visit another one in the near future.

  • Stayed: May 2012, travelled as a couple
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Thank hendos1997
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 May 2012

My husband and I stayed at the R.C. for four days, as a long weekend get away. It was part of a jet blue package

The positives:
*Clean beach and pool
*Towel huts by both the beach and the pool
*FREE Cold face towels and fruit by the pool
*Good wifi connectivity throughout the hotel
*Tasty food - lots of options
*Quick taxi service to anywhere
*Safe
*Friendly service from all staff
*Close to the airport (10 min), but you dont hear planes from your room or at the pool
*Lovely spa

The negatives:
*As other reviewers have said, EXPENSIVE. $15 bloody mary, $50 ravioli at il mulino that was undercooked. There is a Walgreen's pharmacy (large) that is only 3-5 blocks or so down the street. Highly suggest going there upon arrival to pick up snacks.
*Rainy season, which means daily rain starting at 3 pm, and lasts for the evening
*Our room wasn't ready for SIX hours upon arrival, making us look like homeless vagabonds by the pool with back packs. They said they would call one of our three cell phones when it was available. We went to the desk and were told they tried (no missed calls). That said, we were comped for lunch. Then we were moved to a room overlooking parking. Switched rooms, but waited on the porter for an hour and a half to help us

  • Stayed: May 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank sheilaandjon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 May 2012

This was our first experience at a Ritz Carlton and we thoroughly enjoyed it! I was a little nervous because other reviewers said not to expext the same level of service as other Ritz's. Well if this is the lowest level of service, I'm certainly looking forward to spending vacations at other Ritz Carltons. I thought the service was terrific!

Our room did have a partial view that was just perfect! We were able to see the sunrise if we got up early enough. The rooms were great. Comfy bed and huge bathroom with a separate room for the toilet. Perfect! The maid service was great and they continually stocked us with water and lotions.

The pool was a bit small but it was ok as we switched our time between there and the beach. The crew at the pool and beach were terrific. They were always around for help and we could use as many towels as we needed. The only complaint I have is that there were always children in the hot tub. Shouldn't they not be allowed at all w/ parent or not? It would have been nice to relax in the hot tub a bit with my boyfriend without children and all the sand they brought in there.

We only ate at the hotel during the day and at the pool. It was decent, not a lot of choices and pricey. Otherwise we ate off the resort. There are lots of great area restaurants.

  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled as a couple
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Thank jb0228
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about The Ritz-Carlton, San Juan

Address: 6961 Ave of the Governors, Isla Verde, Carolina 00979, Puerto Rico
Phone Number:
Region: Caribbean > Puerto Rico > Carolina > Isla Verde
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Casino and Gambling Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#3 Business Hotel in Isla Verde
#3 Family Hotel in Isla Verde
#3 Spa Hotel in Isla Verde
#5 Luxury Hotel in Isla Verde
#5 On the Beach Hotel in Isla Verde
#5 Romantic Hotel in Isla Verde
Price Range: £269 - £551 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — The Ritz-Carlton, San Juan 5*
Number of rooms: 416
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Also Known As:
Ritz-Carlton San Juan Hotel Isla Verde
Ritz-Carlton San Juan Hotel, Spa And Casino
Ritz Carlton Carolina
Carolina Ritz Carlton
Ritz Carlton Puerto Rico
Ritz Carolina
The Ritz-Carlton, San Juan Puerto Rico/Isla Verde

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