highly recommend this well-equipped, great value, family friendly resort, it just needs a few fixes to score a 5. Bottom line though is that we loved it here!
The Condado Lagoon is part of the Caribe Hilton and gets you common access to this expansive resort as a whole. The restaurant selection is very respectable, though very Americanized (a drawback for me personally). The Piña Colada Club family restaurant does serve local food, but it falls short of the quality of the real local food you would find if you left the hotel and went to a real local place. Still, Piña Colada Club is ok in a pinch, the staff is friendly and very accommodating, and it’s welcoming and excellent for kids servicing lots of cold treats. Regrettably, we didn’t make it to the lemongrass grill, although it was on our to-do list based on outstanding reviews.
The resort’s location is above average to excellent. If you like to be able to walk to the action right outside your door, then you might consider that a drawback because the hotel is tucked away, just a tiny bit, however the Condado district starts just a short bridge walk across the bay, about a 3 minute walk actually, then another 10 to 15 depending how deep into Condado you want to go. A cab ride in the opposite direction to downtown San Juan and Old San Juan is only $12-$15 max. A taxi is a wise choice at night to ensure safety, and for $15 it just makes sense to do the same during the day if you want to avoid the 2 mile hot walk.
The beach situation at this resort is excellent. It has a truly private beach, which in San Juan can be very important for casual safety. By contrast, across the bay the Hilton Condado Plaza’s beach is not only public, but its beach is right next to the street and sidewalk, making it ideal for a thief to grab your things and ride off on a bike. The beach at Caribe/Condado resort on the other hand is in a protected cove, inaccessible except by boat or through the hotel, is large enough to accommodate dozens of kayaks, and is protected and enclosed by a man made rock wall that has the added bonus of attracting some interesting sea life for snorkeling fun. There’s about 300 feet of sandy beaches, and several hundred feet of additional rocky ocean front for sunning in view of the beautiful Carribean on the remaining perimeter of the hotel.
It gets crowded by the pool and beach but there is crazy volume of beach chairs on this large property. Sure, we didn’t always get the poolside or beachside chairs, but we never, ever, were unable to find a place to park it for the day with our 3 kids in tow, no matter what time of day. Swimming pools were numerous and varied for different ages, and Condado Lagoon has its own 2 pools plus Jacuzzi in case you didn’t want to do the walk to the pools at the main resort.
Except for ice, pretty much everything is a sometimes annoying walk to the main resort. At the same time, the Condado Villas are away from the hustle and bustle of the main resort, and actual proximity to water view is light years closer. It has a completely different feel to it. If you look at the two hotels on a map you’ll see that the Caribe is set much further back, a few hundred feet, while the Condado Villas are about 12 feet from the bay. It boils down to what you like, a massive enclosed high rise hotel (the Caribe) or 4 story rows of villas with balconies 12 feet from the water. On the downside, it wasn’t until day 5 of 7 that we discovered a short cut to the main resort area, otherwise it’s twice as long of a walk to get to and through the main resort to the pool and beach. I don’t know if the shortcut we found was an official pathway, but it should be, and this seems like a HUGE oversight, not to mention an annoying one.
The fitness facilities are above average to excellent and include Tennis courts, as well as practice putting greens. They are however very strict about the minimum age requirement being 16, even if supervised, which is bit of an overkill if you have a 15 ½ year old.
Three or four resort shops cover essentials, plus clothes to gifts, all excellent quality, and an onsite Starbucks is great for an occasional quick snack at a bargain price compared to all other restaurant and to order food prices.
I read in another review a negative experience with towels all over the place in the pool area, and I did notice the same thing from time to time. But I have to say that I have rarely seen such a rampant case of guests not giving a crap about leaving their crap anywhere and everywhere. Wow. Toward the end of the day it looks like a wet towel graveyard. Unfortunately, it takes them a while to get the towels. Seriously, this was a unique group of guests at this hotel. Still, the towel situation falls squarely on the resort and they need to run more frequent shifts to stay on top of the slobs if that’s what it takes…
I saw comments about the hotel being worn and dated. Dated? We didn’t think so. We had two different rooms and everything about both was contemporary and up to date. Worn? Not really. There were no worn surfaces or baseboards, scrapes, nothing broken, etc., inside or out, and clean clean clean. Mild corrosion and sticking doors because of its proximity to the water? Yes, and a lot of it in some cases. The sprinklers in both our rooms for example were so covered in thick corrosion that we couldn’t imagine that they could possible work. The sliding glass door to the balcony required serious muscle to open and close, and the entry doors wouldn’t close completely unless they were open wide enough to generate enough inertia to slam closed on their own. But what struck me was how easily all of this could have been remedied with about 10 cents of WD40 or Teflon spray. Please, please, fix this. Then, set a reminder to spray all doors once a quarter! :-)
We had one king suite with kitchen (full size fridge, stove top, microwave, but no oven) and one double queen bed room with kitchenette (semi compact fridge and microwave only). Basically, if a full kitchen and a stove top is what you want and need, then expect a cramp bathroom that is difficult to get ready in if someone is showering. For that reason I recommend passing on the full size kitchen, and gain a huge bathroom where one can be showering while 3 others fix hair and brush teeth…
I noticed reviews that mentioned rude staff, yet others that completely raved about the customer service. Whenever I see reviews about customer service that seem miles apart, ranging all the way from condemnation to heartfelt praise, and very few in the middle ground, that usually signals an assimilation challenge to me. This is a great place to be on island time, just don’t necessarily expect the local professional to be. They tend to speak quickly, react quickly, and are to the point when it comes to professional services. They don’t have a ton of patience for drama or pandering to disrespectful tourists. One analogy might be a Midwesterner visiting New York for the first time. A Midwesterner might likely consider a New Yorker rude and curt for their pace and volume, but a fellow New Yorker might view the same person as typical and charming. Here’s an example, call the hotel operator, ask for the front desk, and you will probably hear a click that sounds like you were hung up on, but the next sound you hear is someone answering saying “front desk, can I help?” What’s missing is the, “please hold while I transfer you, thank you and have a wonderful day.” It’s just different is all, in fact I’m a big fan of the approach (probably because I resemble the New Yorker type of person!). If you’re one of those folks that thinks it’s their job to smile and take it when you get rude (and we saw plenty of these guests), you’re creating or at least contributing to your own bad experience (hospitality industry or not). Be respectful and you will encounter a culture that is eager to help you anyway they can, fix whatever you need fixed, and talk to you about their island.
The “children’s game room” serves absolutely no purpose, and in the 7 days we were there we never saw anyone using it, ever. First, lights are always off and it’s locked 24 hours a day. You have to get an attendant to let you in. That means standing in line at the rental desk, and then waiting some more until there is no one in the line at all so that the attendant can come downstairs to let you in. That’s just step one. All the games are locked up. The attendant asks which game you want, turns on the console, pops in the game for you, locks up the console and games again, and then leaves. Having trouble starting the game? Picture not right? Want to switch games? You have to trek back upstairs stairs and stand in line, again, to an attendant that gets annoyed that she has to come back down again to help you. We tried it again a second time (at my son’s behest), and it was the same routine. It was challenging enough that even my video junkie son didn’t want to check it out anymore, at all, for the remainder of the vaca. The children’s game room is useless and should be boarded up and removed from the hotels’ website and media, or alternatively they should put in games with controls and selections that are accessible even when secure from theft.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Enjoy the freedom and flexibility offered at Condado Lagoon Villas at Caribe Hilton in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Part of the Caribe Hilton hotel complex, these spacious San Juan villa accommodations offer flexible units perfect for family retreats or large groups or gatherings. Set on an exclusive peninsula, made up of 17 acres of lush tropical gardens, this acclaimed San Juan resort offers a secluded beach and amenities tailored to families, couples and business travelers alike. The Condado Lagoon Villas at Caribe Hilton are located just a 15-minute drive from Luis Munoz Marin International Airport (SJU). Condado Lagoon Villas at Caribe Hilton can be can be divided into three separate units or combined into spacious suites with a master bedroom, living room and fully equipped kitchen, many expanding up to 1,800 sq. Ft. Admire the ocean view from your villa with private balcony. Relax with a body massage at Olas Spa or indulge in a full spa package with a combination of treatments like massage, facial, and manicure. Take advantage of all that this Caribbean resort complex has to offer, including beach and water activities and dining at Morton's Steakhouse or just lie in a hammock with a drink, listening to the sound of the waves. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Condado Lagoon Villas At Caribe Hilton Hotel San Juan