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“An Awesome Hotel and a Wonderful Vacation!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of El San Juan Resort & Casino, A Hilton Hotel

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El San Juan Resort & Casino, A Hilton Hotel
4.0 of 5 Hotel   |   6063 Isla Verde Avenue, Isla Verde, Carolina 00979, Puerto Rico   |  
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Special Rate
$179 (USD)
Ranked #9 of 14 Hotels in Isla Verde
Alrington, VA
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
“An Awesome Hotel and a Wonderful Vacation!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 21, 2012

The El San Juan offers an awesome vacation! Their staff is exceptional, including Carlos, who checked me in and Maria, who handled the keeping of my room. Both were attentive and caring to any needs. Take Carlos. Upon checking in, I told him that I had read some concerning reviews about what it was like to have a room close to the infamous Brava, the nightclub at El San Juan. I told him that 30 years ago, I would haven been partying at the Brava, but that I was 60 now and was looking forward to a peaceful and relaxing time at the El San Juan. Bless his heart, Carlos found a room for me on the eighth floor. He’s the best. Although even on the eighth floor I could still hear the base beat from Brava, it wasn’t that much. (For those who are unaware, Brava is the happening nightclub at El San Juan that appeals not only to guests, but to many locals in San Juan. They’re open Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights starting at 10:30 p.m. and are open all night long with the music cranked up.)

My room was beautiful and very clean. The colors ranged in a compatible spectrum from cream to green, and the look was very sleek. The floors were tiled and had a striated surface to make them slip resistant. It’s easy to see why this flooring works for the El San Juan since it is easy to track sand into the room from the beach, even with the beach showers. The bathroom was adequately sized, and very quaintly decorated with small hand laid tiles throughout. Hand laid tiles is a lost art since they take an exceptional amount of workmanship, time and patience, so it was very warming to have the experience of having a bathroom with such wonderful workmanship of a prior time. One tip is to keep the folder that your room key comes in because it has a map of the El San Juan property on the back. I could find no literature in the room about what El San Juan has to offer, so I used this map as my guide.

Dining at El San Juan is wonderful, although I must admit that I only ate dinner at The Palm while I was there. The bartender during the week at The Palm is wonderful and makes a great margarita. The Palm also has a satisfying menu of happy hour “bar bites” for $5.50 a plate, such as steak sliders, chicken parmesan sliders, and other offerings. The Palm also has a great Arugula salad that I ordered each night, and wonderful crab cakes. There are a lot of people at the bar during the week, which is a lot of fun. The pool bar (Aquaire) is also wonderful. Eric there makes a great margarita, and Aquaire also has a bar menu during the day.

El San Juan has three higher-end restaurants (The Palm, which offers steak and seafood; La Piccola Fontana, which offers Italian food; and Koco, which is Japanese.) El San Juan also has a small, attached shopping area to the left of the entrance to the hotel called the Galleria. In the Galleria is Galeria Pizza and Trattoria, which offers more moderately priced breakfasts, lunches and dinners. The attached Galleria also has a convenience store and souvenir shop (Viaggi) that sells everything from clothing souvenirs, to sundries, small cups of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, to a small selection of wines and beers. You name it, and Viaggi has it.

For breakfast El San Juan has La Terraza, which is a relaxing restaurant with both an enclosed dining area and a dining area in an open air terrace that overlooks the ocean and pool. I really enjoyed the experience of having breakfast on the outdoor terrace, looking out at the ocean and enjoying the wonderful ocean air. As others have noted, the full buffet is $25, but I decided it was worth it with the tropical feel. As with any outdoor restaurant, however, you get to share it with any birds or other wildlife wondering by that are interested in eating breakfast, too. They won’t come to your table unless you leave, so if you leave, be sure to put a napkin over your food and you’ll be fine. A chameleon may also cross your path at El San Juan as you are walking around the pool area. It all adds to the experience, and I found my leisurely breakfasts at La Terraza and the tropical wildlife around the resort area one of the best parts of my trip. For those who want a more moderately priced breakfast, there are two Starbucks at El San Juan, one to the left as you enter the hotel, and one in the Galleria area. The Starbucks in the lobby is open during the morning and offers breakfast sandwiches and oatmeal. The Starbucks in the Galeria is larger and open all day. The pool area and ocean are beautiful, and be sure to see the Banyan tree that is to the left as you enter the pool area. It’s so incredible.

The only final comment is that anyone who visits the El San Juan needs to remember that this hotel is a very happening place, both for visitors and locals alike. It’s a very popular place to see and be seen. As with any such place, noisy neighbors, people coming back from partying (and having had a very good time), are very much a part of the fabric of being at El San Juan. The fact the floors aren’t carpeted and there isn’t sound proofing in the Brava or elsewhere (such as sound resistant wall fabrics or paint), means that there isn’t anything to minimize the sounds of other vacationers and nightclub attendees who are having a wonderful time. I got used to it after my second night, but if you are looking for a quiet, peaceful, low-volume vacation, a quiet boutique hotel may be more suited to you.

Room Tip: Rooms higher up and more towards the ends of each hall are quieter than lower level rooms and rooms...
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  • Stayed February 2012, traveled solo
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (576)
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San Juan, Puerto Rico
Senior Contributor
37 reviews 37 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
50 helpful votes 50 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 21, 2012

I didn't stay here but we came to drink, dine, and gamble. The lobby is beautiful and the wood work is impressive.

My out of town friend wanted to dine at the Ritz Carlton but he was glad I talked him into going to the local, almost historic El San Juan.

We walked around the grounds and the pool area and it also seemed very nice with direct access to the beach.

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Cambridge, Massachusetts
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 21, 2012

My boyfriend and I stayed for a week at the El San Juan (in a one-bedroom suite) and had a great time. We loved the pools, the gardens, the banyan trees, the Old World lobby (especially when it was filled with live music), and the view of the ocean from our window.

The members of the staff were very friendly and capable. In particular, we're grateful to Frances Adorno, a representative at the front desk who located information for us and solved several problems; and to Jossie Abru, our housekeeper, who greeted us with a smile every morning and kept our room spotlessly clean.

The restaurants -- Koco, Yamato, The Palm, and La Piccola Fontana -- were all good, but we liked Yamato best. The food was light and flavorful, and made with very fresh ingredients. We were disappointed that Brother Jimmy's on the tenth floor was closed, and hope it will reopen soon.

If we have any complaint, it's that the hotel mattress was uncomfortable. The layer of padding on top was too soft and gave us backaches, but it couldn't be detached from the mattress. Guests who need a firm mattress should have the option of removing the top layer of cushioning.

Overall, we were very pleased with the accommodations and look forward to spending our next vacation at the El San Juan.

--MLA2012

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Edison, New Jersey
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 20, 2012

We came down to San Juan, PR for the first time and based on other people's reviews- we stayed here. There were 6 of us between two rooms so we all had plenty of space. We did not have an amazing view outside of our window, or a balcony which was a little disappointing. We loved being able to use our ipod to play music and never got any complaints about the noise factor in the room. The bathrooms were disappointing as they were small and the shower head was difficult to manage. We did not like the lighting in the room either, but other than that we were comfortable while staying there. We even asked for additional foam pillows and ice buckets, which did not pose a problem. The elevators did slow down from time to time and we did take the stairs once or twice. We liked the Japanese restaurant on premises as well as the Italian place. The food was delicious. The poolside bar/rest. was also very convenient. Service can be a little slow though. We liked the option of a quieter side of the pool and then the "party" side with the swim up bar. The beach was also nice as we were able to rent umbrellas and get service out there. We loved the club inside the resort, as we went there all the nights. The lobby has a great party every night. People are always dressed up, so don't plan to walk around in shorts and a t all day long! Overall, we would go back here on our next trip down to San Juan.

Room Tip: Do not select the garden view rooms. They are in a seperate, smaller building.
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  • Stayed February 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 20, 2012 via mobile

The lobby and weekend atmosphere are the best part of this hotel. The pool area n rooms are not impressive. The beach is nice and relaxing. The Palm Restaraunt is great and worth the money. Overall it was a nice time but I wouldn't stay here again. Having said that it's still the best hotel on the strip of hotels in that area.

  • Stayed January 2012
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Top Contributor
163 reviews 163 reviews
95 hotel reviews
Reviews in 111 cities Reviews in 111 cities
521 helpful votes 521 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 17, 2012

We are HH Gold folks and really looked hard to find a property on San Juan to use our points for an award stay. Reading reviews, it really seemed like a crapshoot as all had mixed reviews. We initially booked Caribe but the reviews were continuously pretty bad and then I noticed that this property was downgraded to a 4-Star Level from previously being Waldorf Astoria so would be a savings in points from Caribe. I also noticed I could reserve a Junior Suite as part of my cheaper award reservation, so I cancelled Caribe and booked here. Note there is a resort fee like all PR resorts, but we didn't pay that since this was an award stay.

POSITIVE
- Awesome beach. We thought the calm and large beach here was much better than Condado. We thought Condado in general felt like a cruise terminal.
- Great pool area. They have a lot of little cabana areas where you can lay down under a canopy by the pool for free. Nice busy bar by the pool with reasonable priced food and overpriced drinks. Pools were plentiful and very nice and surprisingly not used much.
- Junior Suite was very large with nice sitting area and big desk. Room has nice big flat screen TV and the bed was nice and comfortable with plenty of good pillows.
- Continental Breakfast provided without asking for Gold HH members, as well as free Wireless Internet (will be reversed from your bill at checkout).
- Starbucks in the hotel AND 25 steps away in the interior mall attached. Side note, they don't accept the Starbucks Card here but will give you a 10% discount if you present it.
- Property lobby and ground floor is very nice and popular with locals.
- Nearby to local restaurants (loved Metropol and La Playita....Platos just OK...see yelp for reviews posted)
- Susan Wilkerson did respond promptly to emails although....

CONCERNS
- When I contacted Susan about request for high floor, etc....my room was downgraded from my booked Junior Suite to a regular room. I noticed and then had to talk with corporate to get my original reserved room reinstated....which it was. According to Susan, this may be a HH website glitch being able to book the Suite.
- The rooms and amenities definitely reflect why this was downgraded to a 4-star property. First impressions matter and upon entering our very big room, the first thing we noticed was the large crack in our room window. The rooms are very bare and basic - no in room coffee or tea, small bathroom with no tub, no balcony (although our window had a door you could open), and most criminal of all is 4 straight days of twice daily warm showers. We took showers at all hours of the days here and never had a hot shower.
- Major elevator issues at this property. First of all, there are only 3. Secondly, they were never all working and one day all of them were out so everyone was climbing up a set of staff staircases to get around. Average wait if they were working was probably 3-4 minutes.
- As others have said, noise is an issue here. Honestly, I don't know how to advise getting a room that would be quiet. Based on reviews here, I requested a high floor (to be away from the club) and away from the elevators. Unfortunately, the end of the hotel away from the club is near the entrance of the hotel where everyone stands outside to drink/ smoke/ arrive as well as near the airport. So, while we avoided the club noise, we listened to all that noise every night and had to sleep with earplugs which reduced most that noise.
- Not a huge deal, but it was interesting there was no guide to hotel services/ amenities in the room.
- We had false minibar charges on our final bill which were promptly removed without question at the front desk (just make sure you review).
- Concierge wasn't particularly helpful with explaining how the local bus works (bring quarters, they require exact change!) and we got much better info and maps from the Intercontinental concierge next door.
- While we appreciated the HH Continental Breakfast....upgrade to warm foods is $10 more (plus additional taxes)...and really the whole breakfast area and selection is fine and basic but not like you would have at a 5-star hilton property.......and unfortunately their outside seating area is like being in the movie The Birds - many, many (25++) black birds (grackles?) and pigeons congregate in the outdoor seating. They perch on chairs and tables (yes, even the "clean" tables and dishes you eventually eat off of) watching you eat, and if you get up, they all get all over your table, in your food, in your napkins, etc. I guess it is nature but just not very sanitary.

SUMMARY
The outdoor part of this property is awesome and the location very good. Inside, I would say it is an average 4-stoor property with the type of issues you would expect there. I feel it was a decent value for my points, but I would likely try elsewhere next time.

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stone Ridge, VA
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 16, 2012

A total of 8 of us flew down for my brother's bachelor party. We had a great time at the hotel. We had 2 rooms, with 2 beds in each room. The beds were very comfortable and the room was big enough for 4 of us. As others have said, the bathrooms are a disappointment. Very small and a shower that needed a lot of TLC. I give the rooms a 4/5 just because of the bath issue.

Checking in was a breeze. Mara was awesome and was very nice. We got in early, so she had us check our bags and we waited for the rooms out by the pool and grabbed some lunch.

The lobby of the hotel is amazing; huge and spacious with dark mahogany wood throughout. There are 2 bars and plenty of places to sit down and relax. At night, it turns into one big party and his packed with dancing and mingling. Also off of the lobby is a nightclub where hotel guests can get in free. You'll need some nice close toed shoes to get in though. FYI, the drinks in the night club are quite a bit cheaper then those out in the lobby bars.

The pool area is what sets this place apart. It's awesome. 2 huge pools, plenty of lounges and chairs, 3+ hot tubs, swim up bar. It's awesome. Plus, you have direct access to the beach where you can rent jet skis, pick up some food from local vendors, or just veg out. I"ve seen some folks complain about the beach, but I thought it was fine. The seaweed can be a bit rough on the feet, but they can't help that.

Lastly, the casino is a lot of fun. Don't expect Vegas, but it was clean and had a good vibe to it.

All in all, we had an excellent time and I would recommend it in a heartbeat as a cool place to hang out.

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about El San Juan Resort & Casino, A Hilton Hotel

Address: 6063 Isla Verde Avenue, Isla Verde, Carolina 00979, Puerto Rico
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > Puerto Rico > Carolina > Isla Verde
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Casino and Gambling Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#4 Spa Hotel in Isla Verde
#4 Luxury Hotel in Isla Verde
#5 Casino Hotel in Isla Verde
#7 Business Hotel in Isla Verde
#7 On the Beach Hotel in Isla Verde
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — El San Juan Resort & Casino, A Hilton Hotel 4*
Number of rooms: 386
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Oceanfront hotel surrounded by 15 acres of landscaped grounds in fashionable Isla Verde district - 15 minutes from Old San Juan. El San Juan Resort & Casino, A Hilton Hotel presents a perfect blend of tropical splendor, Old World elegance and vibrant culture. Redesigned guest rooms are bright and inviting- ideal for a retreat. Lounge at the beach or on the expansive Encanto Pool Complex featuring flowering gardens, and spacious sundeck, Olympic-sized pool, Fantasy swimming pool with swim-up bar, waterfall and whirlpools, private cabanas for rental or relax and rejuvenate at the Edourad de Paris Day Spa. Enjoy a vibrant and varied nightlife, choosing from nine on-site award wining restaurants, a world-class casino, plus 15 lounges, bars and nightclubs. One life to live? Live it up at El San Juan! ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
El San Juan Resort And Casino
El San Juan Hotel Isla Verde
El San Juan Hotel Casino
The Waldorf Astoria Collection Carolina
El San Juan Hotel Puerto Rico
El San Juan Resort & Casino, A Hilton Hotel Puerto Rico/Isla Verde

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