June Travel. We wanted something family-welcome but not necessarily kid-centric, off the beaten path and non-commercial but still After canceling Maui, we decided to go in the opposite direction, survived 3 flights (departing Los Angeles, traveling with child), and landed on beautiful Vieques. Worth the hours of travel and thousands of miles.
Weather: we travelled mid-June, very beginning of hurricane season, which was also more off season - hotel was busy on weekends, wonderfully empty during the week (we stayed 6 days, then left for the St Regis Rio Grande, also awesome!); weather was beautiful, with some rain, but always warm and always enjoyable.
Flight: Jet Blue made this trip possible with easy, affordable service to San Juan, Puerto Rico - to get to Vieques, we highly recommend Cape Air from San Juan, traveling on the 6 seater hopper - easy flight under 30 minutes, although can be a bit of a test of nerves for anybody skiddish about small spaces/heights/flying. But it's the fastest and easiest way to get to the island.
Arrival: The W hotel has its own lounge at the airport. Airport is what you might expect for a small island destination. The lounge was air conditioned (the rest of the airport is not), comfortable, and there were bottles of rum on ice and mixers awaiting guests while we awaited the shuttle. Very nice welcome after the red eye a, traveling with 5 yrs old son. Receptionist at the lounge noted our arrival and our volume of luggage, and summoned the large Mercedes Van which was picked us up within minutes. The airport was literally a 5-10 minutes drive away, but don't be concerned, this is not an 'airport' hotel.
The Hotel: wonderful, relaxing spot. You can't help but take a deep exhale upon arrival. The architecture had an eco-Asian/Island feel, and integrated beautifully into the surrounding flora and fauna and beach. The lobby was actually a bit contemporary, with high ceilings and a loft and cement feel - but it worked beautifully, surprisingly, with lots of sexy nooks and living room type seating. This was a popular place in the late afternoons and evening, brief daily happy hour, good spot for cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, dinner. We enjoyed dinner in the 'basket' lounge chairs overlooking the water on several occasions, food and drinks were excellent, my son (age 5) loved that he didn't have to sit at a table. Hotel loocation is on the Atlantic side - 2 private beaches , one for adults, one for families (totally acceptable!) - clean, darker sand, warm water, but a bit rougher than beaches in the state park. lovely spot to dip and relax, enjoy drink in the afternoon. Beaches were not crowded at all. There are towels available to grab at the pool/entry to the beach stairs, sunscreen if you forgot, cold water, plein air shower. Very pleased to report that there was no shortage of towels - an unfortunate experience I've had plenty of times at luxury resorts. Staff was on top of it. In addition, I was happy to see that staff quickly cleaned up left over food from outdoor service - no yucky rotting plates/bird attraction, another pet peeve of mine at luxury locations. Kudos again to staff for paying attention to these type of details which can be a real menace if unattended.
Wild horses do roam the property and island. Wonderful sight to see. Just drive carefully.
Pool area - great lounge area - comfortable ocean front seating, under water music, some loungers actually in the water; attentive service during the day, bar shuts down early at night. Drinks - expensive as to be expected. Just know this ahead of time and plan accordingly. This is not a typical family resort, it's definitely geared for couples, or smaller families - but it was absolutely family friendly - we did not feel out of place or unwelcome staying with our younger son. But, there are no organized kid activities or kid's clubs/baby sitting services. We knew this going in.
Room: we booked a very affordable king room about 4-5 weeks prior to taking the trip itself, and upon arrival, received a lovely upgrade - top floor (ok, there were only 2 floors) king room, ocean front with endless, gorgeous views; small balcony over looking path and ocean with very useful tiered bathing suit and towel rack; outdoor furniture - not the most comfortable, but that would be my ONLY complaint. The room was decorated consistent with the hotel - cement floors (thank you to the architect for putting cement tile instead of carpet in a beach resort - I despite carpet at tropical locations) - kept the room very cool, had a/c which we did not use 100% of the time; the room was very spacious, with a separate large shower (yay for no shower curtain - also yucky in a hotel room) - was a walk in stone shower with sliding door; separate toilet (again, proper planning!); soaking tub was in the center of the room, but with a very cool 3 sided partition, very comfortable king bed (slept like babies), and a large basket lounger that actually converted into my son's nest when he felt like it, spacious desk and discrete TV. Room was fantastic, very comfortable for our family of 3. Although, we spent little time there since the island was so fantastic.
Food: Breakfast: we didn't bother eating at the restaurant - not easy with a 5 yrs old, and we're not big eaters. After hitting the well equipped, busy gym every morning, I stopped at the next door shop/cafe on site, picked up cereal, yogurt, fruit, bottled water, OJ. This was sufficient for our needs, cost efficient. Lunch: we would either eat at Duffy's in Esperanza (great indoor/outdoor atmosphere even in the rain), or at Sol Food, the awesome stationary food truck at the entry to the state park (i believe only open on weekends.) Note - I am not a meat eater or a food truck kind of girl, but it was fantastic. My son fell in love with empanadas on this trip, and he is a picky eater. I benefited from the vegetarian option. On the rainier/cloudier days, we went to Esparanza. Duffy's had great friendly ex-pat staff, we had the same waitress every time we went, lovely young lady. Dinner: we had dinner on property a couple of nights, again, not at the restaurant but ordering from the smaller menu in the basket seating overlooking the fire pit/ocean; but i would also highly recommend venturing out. We had dinner at Next Course - absolutely excellent food! Hard to find, and be mindful driving at night - no road lights, signs, and wild horses roam the island - GO SLOWLY. and designate a driver. don't be stupid. roads get windy, and it can be tough to see in the extreme dark or rain. We also ate at Tin Box - equally excellent. Both nights were magical, with great indoor/outdoor dining, twinkling lights, felt like a tree house, in a good way. Food was sophisticated, but not pretentious, and absolutely delicious, paying homage to the local cuisine.
Activities - First, this is the easiest car rental we've ever experienced - Island Car Rental, through W website. It is on site at the hotel. You go to Black Beard Shop on site, which also has necessities, gifts, and can plan excursions; we picked up our keys, and 10 feet away, got into our jeep. Tip: not a lot of gas stations on the island, so keep the car half full at least at all times. Windows stay down at the beaches to prevent glass break ins, so no valuables left inside. Note - beaches were constantly patrolled by local police, we felt quite safe (low crime, typical petty theft.)
Bioluminescent Bay - we did the tour the 2nd night there - tours depend on location of the moon, look at the calendar ahead of time when booking. We were picked up in a mini van (wear clothes that can get wet), and kayak to the other end of the bay - lovely night kayak, Bay is something to behold (you may not get in the water, it's damaging to the bay); there are tons of mosquitoes, be prepared. Worth the experience.
We had booked a horseback ride on our last day, but it rained, too dangerous, got full refund, no problem.
if you like beaches, this is the place to visit. Untouched, gorgeous. Every day we packed the soft sided cooler we purchased at the W cafe (ice machine outside of our room), we borrowed noodles from Black Beard the activity shop on site (no charge), jumped in our jeep, stopped at one of our 2 favorite little markets, picked up sodas, beer, more water, chips, salsa, pretzels, snacks, string cheese, and headed to the beach (don't forget your beach towels.) you'll notice the other W residents at the different beaches - we all have the same jeep, same towels. Note - you won't have an easy time finding fresh produce at the little bodegas - the only fresh fruit we saw was at the hotel cafe. The bodegas were great for beer/liquor, mixers, waters, and snack/junk food for the beach. Not much in terms of healthy options. But it's vacation...
Beaches: We were loyal to National Park. (if you're there on a weekend, stop at the food truck!) Fantastic. Different beaches had different parking scenarios - some, you park right at the sand's edge; other's, follow a bit of a trail. We visited Bahia La Civa - gorgeous, beautiful beach to swim/walk, no bathrooms, shade under a tree, Pata Prieta- required small hike - not ADA accessible, smaller beach, little shady nooks under trees/brush, not bathrooms, Playa Caracas - we went twice - this one had picnic pavilions providing shade, rowdiest spot in a fun way, lots of loud music, vacationers brought drums, instruments, was a party to behold, some were BBQ'ing, oh the aroma! All were great for swimming, snorkeling, very tiny waves, great for wading and little ones. Clear blue warm water, but very little sea life (you had to go to the rockier areas for the fish.) We borrowed snorkels, masks and flippers from Black Beard, no need to bring anything from the main land. Again, don't expect public restrooms. Plan ahead. The sun gets hold, if you don't have a beach umbrella, find a shady spot under trees.
We had an excellent, memorable 6 days family adventure; we enjoyed exploring the island during the day, and some of the area's most beautiful untouched beaches on a predominantly undeveloped (wonderfully so) island. W would be the most luxurious location to spend some time; staff were attentive, location was excellent, although we used it mostly as a home base, as our trip goal was to truly explore the island, to the best of our abilities. The people of Vieques were everything you'd hope - warm, welcoming, wonderful. And again, the food was fantastic. We did not spend any time in Isabella II, we chose Esperanza as better suited to our needs.
Would return, although the secret is out, as the island is gaining exposure.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located on two private, secluded beaches, the W Retreat & Spa Ã Vieques Island in Puerto Rico provides the perfect getaway for a relaxing and luxurious villa-style vacation with infinite indulgences. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Orbitz, Expedia, Hotels.com, Despegar.com, TripOnline SA, Booking.com and Tingo so you can book your W Retreat & Spa Vieques reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- w Retreat & Spa Vieques Hotel Isla De Vieques
- w Retreat And Spa Vieques