We rented a condo from Marbella owners. They were not completely forthcoming about the details of our arrangements, with enough inaccuracies to warrant a less than satisfactory rating. For example, their listing included pictures and repeated references to the beach at Marbella. In fact, there is no beach here. Ocean encroachment appears to have occurred some time ago. We took pictures (attached), looking up and down the ‘beach’. A Beach Club adjoins the Marbella property. It has no beach either, and built long retaining wall to keep the ocean at bay. The listing also says ‘golf course view’. See the picture and judge for yourself. Listing does not say ‘cockroaches visit’. See the picture of Charlie, just before he died inside the condo.
The ‘Marbella Club’ is a gated community of five five-story condo buildings. It was virtually deserted during our stay. If you’re seeking quiet and solitude, this is a good place! Got a little busier on the weekends, when owners/families came in. There are two pools – the dragon and the dolphin. No one used the dragon pool; it gets no afternoon sun. Dolphin pool works as a cool-off pool but is too shallow and too segmented to serve as a swimming pool. The plastic pool chaises are very uncomfortable. You must bring your own towels to the pool during the week, but towels are available on the weekends – a perk for the owners that benefits tenants – i.e., us and other renters.
The grounds are nicely landscaped. Grounds’ staff work hard! Birds and lizards aplenty. Surf sounds and ocean views with Vieques in the distance. Nice!
There is a massive set of gates at the entrance to Marbella, electronically operated by guard staff, 24/7. In a car, they let you in and out. Pedestrians have their own locked gate, which also requires admission by the guards. We were here for 11 days. By day 2/3, we were familiar to the guards (and they were to us), and no longer required to show our faces to the camera, announce who we were, and where we were staying. Each of the guards were friendly and courteous. Toward the end of our stay, we were informed that the condo association president had ordered the guards to check all non-owners closely and to follow the strict procedures outlined above. Reportedly, the condo president told the guards that she was concerned that tenants (that is, us!) would try to sneak people into Marbella under a blanket in the back seat. Guards were apologetic about the treat-you-like-a-criminal procedures, but were threatened with termination if they didn’t comply. Since anyone can come onto the property from the ocean side, from the adjacent golf course, or squeezing through shrubbery, the whole process seems very silly – and personally offensive to us and other renters.
Marbella is prone to frequent blackouts – we had one on our last night. Fortunately, our specific building had a generator – which worked perfectly. Not all Marbella buildings appear to have one. If this is a concern for you, check before you go!
Palmas del Mar is a 3000 acre planned residential community. It was/is designed to be a haven for property owners, not for tourist/outsider use. Owners still take precedence here; visitors are mostly tolerated. Entry is through a gatehouse complex. Palmas is comprised of a few dozen gated communities. There are miles of paths/roadways to walk or drive – tho’ you can only enter the community you are staying in. There are a few restaurants on the property – some of them quite good. There is a marina – a self-contained operation. There is a distinctly deserted feel to Palmas overall. More typical resort-style, tourist-oriented facilities are 45-60 minutes away – in Fajardo, Luquillo, San Juan – and elsewhere on the island.
The golf courses, tennis club, fitness club and beach club on the Palmas property are all owned and operated by the Palmas Athletic Club. Only Palmas del Mar property owners can be members. Non-members can use these facilities if sponsored by a member. Expect to pay exorbitant prices - $60 an hour to play doubles at the tennis club; $15 per/person, per/day to swim in the beach club pools on the weekdays – the beach club has a members-only policy on the weekends. Golf is available to the public: $135 until 1pm; $100 thereafter.
In addition to the tennis club rates, we encountered blatant, active bigotry as non-members every time we played. Workmen sent to operate machinery on adjacent courts (twice!), assigned to an unplayable court, kicked off our assigned (and paid for) court because members wanted to use it, kicked off court before our time was up, etc.
Marbella reportedly has a concierge to help arrange activities, provide guidance and assistance, etc. He was nowhere to be found during our stay. We had no difficulty making our own arrangements for restaurants and activities. Guards at the gate were a good, helpful resource.
Our perspective regarding a stay here: check things out carefully before you book. As reviews suggest, Marbella/Palmas clearly works well for some, but not for all.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Marbella Club is an exclusive beachfront boutique resort with beautifully appointed within Palmas del Mar, a resort community in the southeastern shores of Puerto Rico. At The Marbella Club you will find a relaxed atmosphere and a beautiful natural setting. Idyllic views of the Caribbean Sea and the sounds of the waves crashing on the shore complement its unique architecture to create a unique heaven. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- The Marbella Club Hotel Humacao
- The Marbella Club Puerto Rico/Humacao