Just returned from 6 days at Las Casitas (March 2013). It was a terrific place for our spring break - 2 adults and a 7 year old. Here are the pros, cons and tips from our trip:
Property: the property is beautiful, caribbean architecture and colors, tiles everywhere and gorgeous views of the sea or the golf course/mountains. It's beautifully planted. The property and rooms are a little worn - this is not 'brand new' so some paint is scraped, some tiles chipped, some signs of humidity on the outsides of buildings. If you don't look too too closely, lovely. We were up in the 'north village', which was a terrific location for us - close to the gym, the upper Casitas pool.
Pools: there are 7 pools - 3 at Las Casitas, 3 at the main level of El Conquistador, 1 at the interim level. This doesn't include the pools of the Coqui water park. The pools at Las Casitas are meant only for the guests of the casitas - the other pools can be used by any of the guests. The Casitas pools are quieter, but smaller and it can be hard to get several chairs together, unless you go early. Pools are all between 3' and 4' deep, so great for kids. One of the El Conquistador pools has 4 swim lanes, they were often busy in the early morning.
Clean towels can be tough - I realize it's hard for staff to keep up with the towel situation, especially as there are few places to leave used towels, so they're often scattered about the chairs, even when guests have left. There are hot tubs at all of the pools, some hotter than others. Never too full, based on our experience.
For of the nights we were there, they showed family movies at the north pool at El Conquistador - a fun way to see a movie, even if sound isn't perfect (so it's more enjoyable if you've already seen the movie once so you know the general plot). They even offer pop corn - a nice touch. We hit Walmart for a floating seat type thing and enjoyed the movies from the water.
Rooms: we booked a room through Expedia (the smallest room) and were very pleasantly surprised that it was a 1 BR, with a full kitchen (that's not what we expected from the room description online and the person who checked us in didn't mention that we'd been upgraded or anything). Lovely balcony with a lounge chair and table w/ 4 chairs overlooking the grounds and El Yunque. Open concept kitchen (with island for 3 to eat at), dining area and couch and chair around TV. We also had a washer/dryer - you can buy laundry soap at one of the stores at El Conquistador. Cleaning staff was good, once they got going - somehow we missed their rotation for the first 36 hours of our stay. One con - the beds were soft! If that's what you like, you'll be delighted. It wasn't great for us.
Eating: The kitchen in our casita had all the basics - including dish detergent and dishwasher soap, and even a blender! There's a Ralph's about 10 minutes from the resort, so it was nice to have supplies on hand instead of always leaving the resort for meals or eating at the resort (we saw the reviews and chose not to eat on property). Things we didn't pick up on our first food run and wish we had: sponge, coffee and coffee filters (coffee pods included in the room, but not if you want decaf or go through a fair amount of coffee), gladware (for leftovers). We found all of that at Ralphs - very much a complete supermarket, even if you can't find absolutely everything you'd find in the States (e.g., almond butter). There is a Starbucks at El Conquistador - full service (tho they don't take the Sbux loyalty card) and open at 6am. Seems they serve local coffee -- which we prefer to the usual Sbux, so we were pleased.
Beach - other reviews have commented about travel over to the beach (the island 7-10 minutes away by ferry). We really enjoyed our time at the beach - plenty of chairs, a fair amount of shade from trees or umbrellas, a place to rent water equipment, and soccer, basketball, ping pong, chess, casual minigolf, beanbag toss all right there. Can snorkel from the beach to some dying reef and see fish - not a ton of great fish to see, but entertaining and gives you the feel of snorkeling. Some cons: there's not much beach for distance walking, if that's your preference; the ferries can be a real bear in terms of getting over there -- on a Saturday morning, we easily made the first boat at 9am (we showed up at 9.05 grabbed some of the last seats and by 9.10 it was pulling out). Then, the full-on spring break crowd arrived! Combined w/ an unfortunately timed coast guard inspection on Monday morning, we waited about 40 minutes for a ferry (we arrived at 10.15) , and had a similar wait Tuesday morning (we arrived at 9.10). Others experienced even longer lines those mornings. To the resorts credit, they did hand out water to some waiting in line and called in the dive boat to help ferry people across, but still, a wait of over 30 minutes to get on the ferry over to the beach isn't a great start to anyone's vacation day.
Water Park - Coqui seems to fill up! We always went at 4pm ($5/person until it closes - around 5.15 for the slides, 5.30 for the rest). There's not a ton there to keep an active child busy all day, so an hour plus in the afternoons was perfect for us. Three slides (one w/ tubes) and a lazy river were our focus. There's a smaller, shallower pool area for younger kids.
Gym - as guests at Las Casitas, you can use the Golden Door Spa gym for free. It seems to open at 6, although the spa doesn't open until 7. Much better facility than the hotel gym. 3 elipticals of varrying types, 2 stair masters, 1 spin bike, 2 recline and 2 seated bikes, and 3 treads. Then there's plenty of weight equipment as well - a wide range of free weights and about a dozen machines. Most of the cardio machines have their own TVs. Not brand new equipment, but we were really pleased with it!
Other: for kids, we didn't try the camp, but we did have fun doing the ScoutAbout activity. A map with 12 'look outs' across the property, including the beach island. Collect a band when you read about each of the topics (e.g., Coquis, conchs, parrots, the labyrinth) and turn them in for an official Scout Band and your name on the bulletin board.
Overall, we were really happy with our experience. It's not a 5* but it was great for our purposes and we'd certainly go back.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Las Casitas Village is an enclave of private villas that enjoy sweeping ocean views, fully equipped kitchens, personal concierges and butler service. Among many pleasures, enjoy an expansive waterpark, scuba dive, ride horseback, golf or choose from a renowned menu of soothing treatments at the Waldorf Astoria Spa. Las Casitas Village has long been known as the jewel of the Caribbean and has accumulated a list of prestigious awards and accolades including a 4-diamond rating by AAA. Welcome to Las Casitas Village, a Waldorf Astoria Resort. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Las Casitas Village, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel Fajardo
- Waldorf Astoria Fajardo
- Las Casitas Village, A Waldorf Astoria Resort Puerto Rico/Fajardo