We just stayed at the Caribe Hilton for 6 nights from 08/28 to 09/03 with our 9 years old daughter. It was our fifth trip to Puerto Rico and third time staying at the Caribe Hilton in 10 years. Needless to say, the hotel, while still a 3 star hotel with fantastic beaches and some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean, is starting to dramatically fail in terms of what you would normally expect from a "4 star" Hilton hotel.
The ride from airport to the hotel is about 20 minutes and $24. We arrived before check in time but George, a very nice guy at the front desk didn't keep us waiting. We got a room in the tower building on the 8th floor. Everything in the room was so worn out and cramped. You couldn't even open the safe without the door banging into the bed. You would think that Paris Hilton spent all the money on a shopping spree for the renovations that this hotel so desperately needs. The view that we had was not an ocean view and after looking at it, we started to get very depressed. We went back to front desk and an angel Angel helped us to upgrade for an additional $20 a day to a much better room in the Hilton "Villas" The Caribe Hilton has a main building, the Tower and the Villas which is actually a multiple storied building with better rooms and is only 5 years old unlike the other older buildings. This room was a much needed improvement with a vastly superior view of the Condado Lagoon.
The room was big enough, has a balcony with a view of the Condado Lagoon and the bridge. The beds are very comfortable, LG flat screen TV, safe, Internet access for $8 per 24 hours, a/c worked perfectly and the bathroom is a good size too. There was a mini kitchen counter with spacious cabinets, a decent size refrigerator and huge microwave. There is also a connecting door to the next door room which is convenient for large families.
No bathrobes, Q-tips, cotton balls, shoe polish, sewing kit or tea bags in the room. There is a coffee maker in the room but you can only brew coffee from custom made small bags which are provided
Also, the Hilton is cheap with toiletries. They leave you only one bar of soap for the whole family and if you don't run after the maid for a new one they keep the same bar for the rest of your stay. There are two pieces of machinery behind the kitchen cabinets which could be a potential danger if you stay with little kids because its not locked. There is an extra locked refrigerator in the closet which consumes a good chunk of space. Minibar? But no price list.
All the restaurants are so overpriced that even we new Yorkers can get offended. The same with room service. The breakfast buffet is a total disaster and the menu has only cereal, oatmeal, bagels, scrambled eggs (add $5 if you want eggs cooked a different style), muffins and danishes. There are no cold cuts, no cheeses, no smoked salmon, etc. For a whopping $25 for adult and $11 for a child. We ended up with $70 total with tips. Do they add gold powder in the oatmeal? No wonder people go to eat somewhere else.
God bless Starbucks as there is one conveniently located in the lobby. They have four types of hot sandwiches, baking goods, oatmeal, yogurts and of course coffees. So we paid twice less for our breakfast and felt much more filled and happy. Another breakfast option is the Subway restaurant right on the corner outside of the Hilton. They serve all the breakfast items you would expect. For lunch and dinner a couple of new places next to Subway just opened. One is "Ikura" with Chinese and Sushi. Another one is "Nativa Sauce" with local cuisine. Both places are reasonable in terms of prices and have very fresh and tasty food. the service was kind of slow but this is common for all the Caribbean islands . For more options we recommend Old San Juan or walking over the bridge into Condado. Old San Juan is a small and beautiful town with tons of restaurants so you can walk around and find a place that you feel like having dinner in. It's worth to mention Barrachina Restaurant in Old San Juan to add some spice to your trip. They have a Flamenco show on Fridays and Saturdays. Better make a reservation ahead of time to get a better table. We chose this place over the trendy "Dragonfly" because food and prices are better. The show is free.
The nearest Walgreens (24 hour service) is a 25-30 min walk the opposite way to old San Juan (over the Condado Bridge on Ashford Avenue). There are also a couple small convenience and souvenir stores just outside of the Hilton and a car rental also.
There is a "mini zoo" behind the main building with two small ponds with a lot of fish, peacocks, turkey, swans, ducks, geese, chickens, turtles, lizards and iguanas. A lot of fun for children! There is also a small playground for kids , basketball ring and volleyball court. A major plus for the Hilton is it has one of the only private beaches on this part of island and it has a man made reef which protects the beach from the rough Atlantic waves and "unwanted ocean creatures" The water by the beach line is very shallow and is ideal for little kids. For older children and adults the reef is a PERFECT snorkeling adventure. So many different kinds of fish and marine life. You can also rent snorkeling and SCUBA diving gear on the beach. The beach and pool are right next to each other AND the hotel which is very convenient.
People are smoking on a beach even if they are hiding and as a result it smells and there are a LOT of cigarette butts in the sand.
We didn't do any field trips except to Old San Juan because we've been to Puerto Rico so many times but if you are in the mood to explore the island then plan a
trip to the Rain Forest; it is interesting and beautiful but the road to get there is kind of bumpy so keep the Dramamine handy!
Most of the guests are families, a lot of them with small children and couples.
Puerto Rico is a beautiful place and the people are very nice. You fall in love with it under the magic spell of the island almost immediately. Hope you enjoy your trip!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
September 10, 2012
Thank you for staying at the Caribe Hilton during your recent visit to Puerto Rico.
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We thank you for taking the time to share your feedback and overall experience while staying at our property. I would like to apologize to you for any inconvenience we caused to you during your visit. We take your feedback very serious and will share them with our team members and Management. Feedback like yours help us to evaluate ourselves and see the areas of improvement.
Again, thank you again for staying with us and we look forward to your prompt return.
Nelson Torres, Hotel Manager
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.