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“Wow. And not in a good way. At all.” 1 of 5 stars
Review of El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

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El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort
4.0 of 5 Resort   |   1000 El Conquistador Avenue, Fajardo 00738, Puerto Rico   |  
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Ranked #2 of 3 Hotels in Fajardo
Atlanta, Georgia
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
“Wow. And not in a good way. At all.”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed July 29, 2014

Like most of you reading this, I read the reviews of this resort and saw quite a mixture of reviews – a love/ hate thing. If you are at all skeptical – trust that gut feeling. Run.Far.Away.Fast.

I think part of the trouble I had with this place was I expected waaay too much. The get there is about 45-50 mins of a very non-scenic drive from SJU airport. Upon arrival at the property, you are given great hope: a guarded gate, a very large expansive property, pretty decent looking golf course, and a ½ mile drive to the hotel. And then it begins.

Unfortunately, we picked a local holiday weekend (so I was told) as our time for vaca. The line to check in was INSANE. Slow. Disorganized. Even the Hilton Honors line was a mess. Place was a madhouse – 20-25 mins to check in. (and our room ended up still not being ready!)

Remember those phrases: SLOW. DISORGANIZED. It is your theme for the trip.

We stayed in Las Brisas wing as an upgrade, and I can only shudder to think what a non-upgraded room was like. The baseboards were moldy, the décor dated, the room – very “blah”. Nothing at all that indicated “nice” room. The walls were thin – which didn’t bother me so much (as I had my family with me), but a quiet solitude retreat in the room should not at all be expected.

You wait for nearly everything at this resort. Long wait to be seated for breakfast. Long wait to receive your breakfast. Want water? Guess what? WAIT. 15 mins for water at b’fast – an addition 5-8 mins to get coffee. Food was slow to arrive. Inattentive waiters post taking the order. Twice, I had to get the hostess for a coffee refill, and again to request the bill.

The funicular sounds great, doesn't it? (Are you kidding? An inclined cable car to bring you up and down the hill?! COOL!) Weeelllll, that is until you see the line that you have to (say it with me folks) WAIT in to go down to the marina area. It wasn't too terrible – we only had to wait for one load before we made it down. But then you have to (c’mon, you’re rolling now!) WAIT to get on the boat ferry to the beach. We made the mistake of arriving to the ferry at like 9:58. Ha – not even a shot of getting on. So, WAIT for the 10:30. But of course, everyone is trying to go. So you can’t just roam around in shops for like 20 mins – you have to stay in line (or wait for the 11am!) Ok – so no problem. The loading finally starts at 10:25. But – hold on – THEY’RE CHECKING BAGS! (You cannot bring any outside food or beverages to the beach! – you have now been warned!) By time loading and checking is done, we leave at about 10:35ish. (So, you’re wondering “well, if you were just standing in line, why didn’t they start to load the boat earlier if they were going to search everyone instead of waiting and then leaving late?” Silly you… that would make sense. Or be organized. And you are clearly in the incorrect place for that.) I dunno, folks… a 45 minute commute time to the beach when you have chosen a vacation in the Caribbean… well, it kinda kills your mojo. (btw – first boat shuttle is at like 9am and last is at 5:30pm. So no early morning strolls/run on the beach… no evening sunset walks… do consider this before you book this property. I missed it more than I thought I would)

Anyhoo… you get to the island, and now you’re ready for some beachin’ it up! The beach is very rocky (well, technically, very coral-ly). So BRING WATER SHOES. You will hate yourself (or buy a pair on the island) if you do not. It was a different type of beach for our family – but very enjoyable. Small sharks in the coral (non-biting type!), conches, coral… cool stuff. (Ok – I was happy for a bit – but let me get back on point here!…)

It’s lunchtime. We go to Iguanas to eat, of course. Aaaaaannd…. 30 minutes to get water, and a total of 1hr 15min for 2 burgers, a hot dog, and a salad. Seriously. (I must say, however, that the mgr at Iguana’s was very apologetic and nice, and comped the lunch, after my wife simply refused the salad that we saw sitting and waiting in the window for 20-25 mins without being brought to us.)

More enjoyable beach action. At final ferry departure time (5:30pm!!!), we jumped in line early this time so as to get a seat with a view (unlike the ride in). OK – now this is more like it! Untiiiiiilllll….we get back to the funicular line – which is insane. INSANE. 30 minutes to get on the funicular (remember – you’re just stuck. There is no “stairs” option). And the process is a complete mess. The guests staying in the Marina board from the second level – and once they are loaded, only 5 people from the “beach” line can load each time. (You truly are treated with second priority as a guest staying in the upper lands.) Everyone was pretty upset. Many vows never to come again, to call their travel agents, etc.

And on and on. (but you get the point by now.) Oh – wait – almost forgot! The water park! Went there on a Friday. Pretty packed. A ½ hour wait in line to get lunch – but, best of all -- one of the lifeguards wanted to have a fight with me because I would not give him my double floating tube that he accused me of not using (as my 6 yr old went to the restroom). I requested a manager. They sent a manager and security. We talked, and upon explanation, both apologized to me profusely, and said it was the kids 3rd day. But who wants to deal with this on vacation???

Oh, another thing: If you choose not to valet, you are in for an experience. The self-parking lot is down the hill – a decent hike – it is fairly rundown and very, very packed. There is not a paved sidewalk the entire way from the hotel to the lot, so walking it at night – esp. with your family – becomes a journey of concern. The trek is not lit, either, as I used my iphone for our illumination (and so drivers coming behind us could easily see us). Now, you don’t have to walk -- there is a shuttle service of the ol’ 9-passenger white van (semi-run down) with drivers that do not open nor close the door for you. (but tips are appreciated, of course!) But as we were so sick of waiting for everything at the tail end of the trip, we were happy to just walk. Just would've been nice to have a sidewalk.

So, there you have it. Look, once you’re on the beach, it’s nice. Once you’re in the pool, it’s nice. Once you’re on the waterslides and such, it’s great. If you’re in a lounge chair and looking out at the expansive views, it’s all good. It’s just the service and lines and completely chaotic logistics in getting to these items that will – absolutely – drive. you. nutty.

A couple of final items:

1) I did talk to a hotel manager about the experience, who could not have been any nicer. He offered what he could – but honestly, it wasn't a money thing or room thing… the service and logistics of this resort are simply just out of whack with what you expect for what is supposed to be an upscale property. Which brings me to point #2..

2) Kill any notion that you have of the Waldorf Astoria brand and this hotel. This is not a prestigious, luxury, service oriented hotel. (A horrible representation of that brand!) This is more of a very large, fairly decent Hampton Inn. Waldorf should seriously remove their name from this place.

Lower your expectations, anticipate some slow, disorganized-ness and lots of time down, and for you it might be just fine. For me – yeah… not so much so…

Good luck!

  • Stayed July 2014, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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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
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
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English first
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 29, 2014

Was looking for a little peace and quiet for the weekend and definitely got exactly that. The hotel is so pretty so are the rooms. It was very big with the most amazing view and balcony. Ordered some room service for breakfast and it was nice, not great but nice. (didn't take too long which is a plus)

The pools are great, big and clean. Had some appetizers and drinks at the bar by the pool. Menu is not that big over there, very few options and a bit pricey but for the hotel you're staying at it's not a surprise. Waitress was very nice and attentive. (sorry I cant remember her name)

Another plus the hotel has its the ride to Palomino island, honestly its one of the best beaches here in PR. Water is crystal clear and white sands, just beautiful.

Also if you're travelling with children they have Coqui Water Park so that should be a plus for the kids.

  • Stayed July 2014, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Memphis, Tennessee
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 28, 2014

My wife and I stayed at eh El conquistador Resort July 15-19, 2014. I received an email from Guest Experience and VIP Manager Maricely del Rio Santiago prior to our trip there. She booked restaurants, an excursion in the bio-lumninescence bay and put is in an awsome room on the 3rd floor with an ocean view and easy access to the pool, Las Brisas Restaurant for breakfast and the elevator to the tram down to the marina. Not only was Maricely great, but all of staff from the hostess and waitresses at Las Brisas to the other hotel staff. Would definitely recommend it highly and can't wait to go back.

Room Tip: 3rd floor ocean view.
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  • Stayed July 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
2 of 5 stars Reviewed July 27, 2014

My husband and I chose to come here for our honeymoon after being married in Condado. After being here for 24 hours we both decided we should have just stayed at the Condado hotel where we were married. Out side of the friendly girl at the front desk and ONE bartender the rest of the staff was rude and dismissive. I don't know if this has anything to do with the fact that we came during a Puerto Rican holiday and the place was packed with locals or if that was just a coincedense. We ended up spending most of our time at the pool in lieu of spending an hour in lines to use the other amenities. And even at the pool one of us had to stay at our chairs at all times or our towels would be moved and our chairs stolen terrible experience would not recomend this place for a romantic get away.

  • Stayed July 2014
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Matt L, Manager at El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, responded to this review, July 28, 2014
I really want to apologize for the inconsistent service that you received during your stay this past weekend. Our goal is for all guests to leave the resort with a satisfied feeling and we certainly fell short of our goals during your stay. Yes, this past weekend was one of the busiest weekends of the year, but it does not excuse our lack of attention to detail. I do invite you to return again if your travels bring you to Puerto Rico in the near future. I would be happy to personally assist with your stay to ensure a romantic and relaxing stay. Thank you for staying with us and hope to see you again.

Matt Leavitt
mleavitt@luxuryresorts.com
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Greensboro,NC
Top Contributor
188 reviews 188 reviews
187 hotel reviews
Reviews in 101 cities Reviews in 101 cities
181 helpful votes 181 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 27, 2014

To start, the El Conquistador is absolutely a stunning resort. Set on a cliff overlooking the ocean on one side and the rain forest on the other, it is hard to find a much better setting. And less than an hour to El Yunque National Forest - fun.

The hotel is upscale throughout - with a Caribbean feel yet still posh. The self parking area is a hike and a mess - so consider the extra fee for valet. Service was as expected.

This time our room was overlooking the ocean at the Marina. Benefit is that you are close to the ferry to Palomino Island (the island with their beach) and also close to a quiet pool (Las OIas). Bad part it is a long trek to the main hotel.

Ate at Blossoms (at sushi bar - very good) - this place, while upscale, is very kid friendly with hibachi tables as the draw. Did not eat anywhere else this time - left the resort - had two meals as the Kioskos in Luquillo (El Oceano Mexico #32 - excellent and Ossobuco #29 - just OK); fantastic breakfast Las Vistas Cafe - food and Gladys are wonderful; great Mex at Blue Iguana; upscale great Caribbean at Pasion por el Fogon.

Played pool and enjoyed cocktails at Bar 21 (kid friendly), Iguana's (on Palomino) and Drake's Martini Bar (also allows kids in).

So, on the kid-friendly thing. You will find kids at the bars - including using the stools in the pool bar as jumping boards and even the upscale restaurants. I believe kids should not be sitting at bars and in the upscale restaurants late - but that is just me.

So, if you have young kids, this place is great (5 stars). If you have teenagers, this place is decent (4+ stars). If it is an adult-only vacation, my recommendation is stay clear of the resort.

  • Stayed July 2014, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Matt L, Manager at El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, responded to this review, July 28, 2014
Thank you for taking the time to provide a thorough review of your stay at El Conquistador. Yes, during the month of July and during other major holiday weeks, the resort certainly hosts a large number of families. The resort is kid-friendly with Coqui Water Park, Palomino Island, and Scout About, to just name a few of the big attractions for children. But it is not always this way year around, especially during the traditional school year, when the resort does carter to adults and couples. I thank you so much for choosing to stay with us and look forward to your return visit. Thank you!
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TOA BAJA, Puerto Rico
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 27, 2014

This is the first time me and my family stayed at El Conquistador, eventhough we live in Puerto Rico. We really loved everything about the hotel. Excellent staff and service for locals and from tourists.

  • Stayed July 2014, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service

Review collected in partnership with Waldorf Astoria

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Matt L, Manager at El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, responded to this review, July 28, 2014
Thank you for choosing to stay at the El Conquistador. I see this is your first visit and hope this will become a more frequent get away for you and your loved ones. I appreciate the kind feedback and look forward to your return again soon.
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1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 26, 2014

The girls at this coffee shop are amazing!!! I just got back from vacation with my family and we had an amazing time at el conquistador!!!! Before we came to puerto rico a few friends from work who are Puerto Rican told me that while we were there we absolutely must try one of the local fruits called canapes. Well we had a hard time finding any because we really weren't sure where to look so we decided to ask some hotel employee's for advice. The girls at la marina cafe were so friendly (they make amazing lattes too!!) So we asked them if they know where we could find this fruit. The girls were so unbelievably sweet that they offered to go out that night and bring us in some the next day! When we came back in to pick up the fruit and we tried to pay them for their sweet gesture, they wouldn't take the money. It was a gift from them to us, they told us they wanted us to get to try a taste of the island. This was so sweet it melted my heart, these women are angels!!!! Things like this made the trip even more special and memorable. I wish I could remember all their names but I can only remember Nina and Nuvia. Everyone should definitely make a stop in La Marina Cafe the girls are so helpful, kind, beautiful, and make some delicious espresso!!!!!

Stayed July 2014, traveled with family
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

Address: 1000 El Conquistador Avenue, Fajardo 00738, Puerto Rico
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > Puerto Rico > Fajardo
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 3 Hotels in Fajardo
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4 star — El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort 4*
Number of rooms: 918
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Award-winning oceanfront resort perched atop cliff, overlooking Caribbean Sea on one side & Atlantic Ocean on the other. Check out the dramatic views, the private island or the brand new water park - it's all part of this Caribbean paradise. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
El Conquistador Resort, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel Fajardo
Waldorf Astoria Fajardo
El Conquistador Hotel Puerto Rico
Conquistador Hotel Puerto Rico
El Conquistador Puerto Rico
El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort Puerto Rico/Fajardo

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