I went with husband and teenage son and felt I had really done my homework for this much needed vacation, BUT: I looked at the pretty pictures of this "resort" and ignored all the honest reviews here at Trip Advisor and other places. We had a car and drove in from San Juan -- I thought it an easy, although rather slow drive. When we arrived, there is no clear place to go for check-in -- also, there was no place to park. So we sort of asked around and found out how to check in at the Casitas "Manor House." Very unprofessional and lackadaisical staff there. A good deal of the information they provided was untrue or incorrect. Upon entering our room (at 5 pm), we discovered that it was only partially cleaned. Previous guests' food sitting on the kitchen counters; beds not made up, sand all through the living room. We decided to go to dinner and give them a chance to clean it. We stayed at one of the expensive 2 bedroom Casitas, with a beautiful ocean view -- but as son said "There was not a remotely comfortable piece of furniture in the whole place." Plastic (very small) sofa to stick to; one rattan chair that poked you; beds that were hard and uninviting. Even though we were only party of 3, we could not sit together in the living room due to the sparse furnishings. Balcony had furniture that was torture to sit on. Nothing 5 star in the design, decor, or furnishings here. Old fat tube TV's that were placed so far across the room with no furniture near, you could barely see them to enjoy a movie or TV show -- lousy picture too.
There was no internet service available anywhere. They kept telling us that they were repairing the in-room wireless, but that never happened. Our aircard did not work in the room, and in the business center the internet did not work either. Other reviewers here noted the same -- seems they don't really have any kind of service that works much. My husband is total techie, and he couldn't make anything happen either.
We found nearly everything inconvenient. To get to Palomino Island beach, it was like a 45 minute to one hour ordeal. We had to wait for a golf cart to take us to the main hotel. They told us "Whenever you need a ride, just give us a call and we will get a golf cart right away!" Yea, right! Generally, a 15 minute wait in the sweltering heat and if we called and someone else was more aggressive, they just took your place on the golf cart and you wait for the next. (I will say that all the golf cart drivers were friendly -- we always tipped at least $3 for the short ride. I did not see anyone else tipping them.) After they drop you at the main hotel, you have to slog past the huge long line of tourists constantly waiting to check in. I never saw such long lines in a 5 star hotel. The lobby is a low-ceilinged, dark, depressing place. You have to wend your way past all the shops, then wait in line for an elevator to take you down the cliff. Then, you have to walk a long way past all their other shops. Then wait in line for the funicular to take you the rest of the way down the cliff. You get off the funicular, then get to wait in another line until they decide to let you on the boat that takes you to the island beach. Whew . . . carrying all our stuff in 100 degree heat and waiting in all those lines -- no fun. We only did it once.
Their "fitness center" is in the lower shops area. What a joke! It looked like a couple treadmills sitting in someone's garage. Unbelievable -- 5 star??? Seriously, a couple windowless rooms with no towels or amenities -- not even any kind of decent equipment. I checked it out, but obviously did not bother to stop in for my workout.
The beach was underwhelming. Tons of icky weeds washed up on the shore and in the water. I was grateful for my water shoes. The rest was a rocky dead coral reef. We wanted to get jet skis, have banana boat rides, etc. but even though the island is open daily until 5:30 pm, they took all the jet skis and stuff away by 2 pm, so no chance to do any water activities. It was a big bore.
Housekeeping was an on-going ordeal. The first day our bulter "Carlos" left us a voicemail "Hello, just call if you need anything." We never saw or heard from him again. Calling did nothing. We gave our maids $20 - $25 tips daily in hopes of getting something we requested or needed -- all in vain. Requests for hand towels, wash clothes, bath mats were routinely ignored by the maids, conceirge, Manor House staff, etc. Yes, we did our own dishes, and straightened our own rooms. I noted that they recycled the shampoo and lotion bottles -- they had little paper closures on them and they were always broken, so someone used them before me. Ick. 5 star -- Waldorf Astoria should pull their name from this place
Both my husband and I went to the Golden Door spa. I have been to other Golden Door properties and surprise -- this one was least impressive! The girl at reception ignored me for over 15 minutes as I patiently waited to book five hundred dollars of treatments. She was taking phone calls instead -- one of my pet peeves to handle the phones and ignore folks standing in front of you. The fitness center in the spa was small, but nice -- had everything you need for a good workout in a nice atmosphere. I had a massage/body scrub, which was okay, but the masseuse sniffed really loud the entire way through. I wanted to sit up and yell "Take a break and blow your nose!" Not very relaxing.
Husband and son went to the driving range one day -- no particular complaints. Husband said they had great drivers for use. (I am not a golfer, so I forgot what kind he said they were.)
Pools at the property were nice, especially the infinity pool, but no towels. Again, they seem to have service problems everywhere. No one was picking up the used towels, or replenishing the supply of fresh towels. So instead of feeling relaxed, we just were constantly feeling irritated.
Food was very expensive and very mundane at most of the restaurants and bars. However, we had a good meal at the Steak House and good service. I think it cost around $400 for 3 of us -- no drinks, one moderately price bottle of wine. We had a dinner at the StingRay Cafe which was not great. Not really bad -- but overpriced for what we got. The resort does have a great Key Lime pie, so if you can live off that, you are all set.
We had booked 4 days, and I was happy to leave. Naturally, departure was not smooth -- called for bellman, waited; went to Concierge -- she called, we waited, nothing, nothing, nothing. Finally, we carried all our stuff out and left -- good riddance!!
Pros: Beautiful views from oceanfront casita, infinity pool, golf course. Was nice to have a kitchen so we could make our own breakfast and avoid the $100+ we paid for the one breakfast we did buy at the resort.
Cons: The service was shameful! We are big tippers usually and are happy to compliment and reward good service. There isn't enough space in Trip Advisor to document how lousy their service and attitudes are.
In Sum: The views are not worth the money and frustration of being a "guest" here. This is an expensive place to stay, but not much value for the money. This is the first time I have written a negative review -- beware unless you are the most patient and longsuffering type of person.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.