I typically stay in a hotel once a week for business and/or personal trips. I've stayed at both mid-range properties (Marriott Courtyard, Hampton Inns, etc.), to higher-end locations (Intercontinental, Four Seasons, Waldorf, etc.). Based on my years of experience with hotel stays, I can honestly say that my experience at the Hilton Caribe San Juan was one of the worst hotel experiences I've had in about 10 years.
My first complaint is regarding the service my family and I received upon arriving at the hotel. We arrived on a Sunday, which I later found out was typically the hotels busiest day. It was a madhouse, but this was no excuse for the lax attitude of the staff. After a long 3.5 hour flight and 35 minute drive to the hotel, we were greeted by a traffic jam of cars and buses at the hotel lobby entrance. I saw more than enough adequate staff to handle the volume of cars and visitors, but no one seemed to be leading the staff or the guests. I saw some bellhops helping guests, but no one ever came up to our car to assist, so I finally just hopped out of the car and unloaded my own luggage. While my wife went to check-in, I walked over to the valet and requested that they park my car. Isn't the valet supposed to greet you upon arrival and offer this service? I would expect better service for $20/day parking. Once we checked-in a received our room number, I then had to walk over to the bellhop station and request luggage assistance. Again, I thought the bellhops were supposed to great the guests, not the other way around! The bellhop supervisor didn't even ask for my room number. I had to ask him if he needed it. Had I not done this, I don't know how we would have gotten our bags.
Prior to leaving for San Juan we were somewhat concerned about the quality of the rooms based on many of the Hilton Caribe reviews on tripadvisor.com. Thus, my wife had exchanged several emails with Hilton Caribe and Hilton Corporate staff to request a clean/upgraded room. This also includes several email exchanges with Nitzamarie Escalera, who you can see has responded to many posts about the Hilton Caribe on tripadvisor.com. We were assured that we would be booked in a clean/upgraded room. My wife is a bit picky about hotel room cleanliness. I am not as picky (I travel too much for business to worry about that kind of thing), I still prefer a clean room.
So with that in mind, after spending about an hour in the lobby, we were finally able to go up to our room in the Hilton Caribe tower. What a disappointment! The room was filthy, even by my standards. Specifically, the baseboards were caked with grime and dust. I wiped one down with a wet wipe and it was black with months of gunk and grime. The rug clearly and not been vacuumed. The room had a tile floor that had obviously not been mopped. There were large food crumbs in corners. There were visible crumbs and dust on the entertainment system under the television. The air conditioner vent leaked water from the ceiling to the floor of the room. Overall, this room was not representative of any Hilton property I'd ever stayed in. When we called the front-desk to complain, they did immediately send a supervisor from housekeeping to inspect the room. She gave the room a quick once over, and sent someone up to clean the room. The guy they sent, did a quick spot clean on a few areas on the floor, vacuumed the rug with an ancient vacuum that spewed toxic fumes/dust and left. I still ended up wiping down the base boards and surfaces of the room myself (he couldn't be troubled to do that). Even the hallway entrance leading to our room was filthy. There was debris all over the floor. It was as if the vacuums that housekeeping used didn't work at all. This whole process had wasted about an hour of our time and we still didn't have our bags! I had to go back downstairs and again ask the bellhop captain to send someone up with our luggage.
I should also mention that just about everyone we encountered at the hotel (valet, bellhops, housekeeping) I found not to be very friendly or helpful. Whenever we requested assistance it seemed like we were "bothering" the hotel staff. In our previous emails with Nitzamarie Escalera and Hilton corporate, we'd gotten the sense that the staff would really go out of their way to make guests feel welcome. However, this was not the case at all.
To sum-up our nightmare at this hotel, after our experience at check-in we finally decided to throw in the (dirty) towel. We ended up driving across the bay to the Conrad Hilton to see if their rooms were any better. Of course, before leaving, it took us about 30 minutes to get our car out of the Hilton Caribe valet. We found that the Conrad Hilton, while also showing it's age, was quite a bit cleaner and more organized than the Hilton Caribe. After speaking with a helpful manager at this property we were able to get one of their few remaining double rooms. We then went back to the Hilton Caribe, packed our bags, and checked-out. This whole process took about 4 hours, note that we'd been up since 5 am to catch our flight to Puerto Rico. What a wonderful way to start our first trip to Puerto Rico!!
Overall the Hilton Caribe is a very old property and is showing it's age very badly. Having an older hotel does not have to be a bad thing, if the owners of the property keep the hotel in good condition. This hotel is falling apart. I will say that they have one of the better locations/beaches in the area, but I still would never stay here again.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.