I usually don’t stay at worldwide hotel chains such as Marriott because I equate them with convention centers and business conferences, and I travel almost exclusively for pleasure. Furthermore, large chains usually have entire corporate divisions dedicated to ensuring that the experience is close to identical in each location, so what’s the point of reviewing a “seen one, seen ‘em all” hotel?
Well, after my…uh, rustic experience in Culebra I was never so happy to land in a corporate hotel. I was surprised by the resort format, which I never associated with Marriott before this trip.
Our room wasn’t ready when we arrived so Reception sent us off to the pool with two mini-bottles of rum and a can of Coke. The pool is huge but the deck is organically sectioned off into discrete, more private spaces. We passed right through it though, opting for the beach instead. Hotel employees set you up with complimentary lounge chairs and towels, and in no time at all a server approached us to see if we wanted cocktails or lunch. By the way, it is completely legal to drink alcoholic beverages on the beach in Puerto Rico. Any beach, anywhere, any time. Hey!
We paid extra for an oceanfront corner king and it was worth it. The room was ginormous, with two terraces, floor to ceiling windows, and a bathroom with hot and cold running water! (You’ll have to read my review of Tamarindo Estates in Culebra, PR to understand why the Marriott bathroom was a revelation.) The décor is traditional, but not dated. In terms of amenities the hotel has a casino, restaurant, bar, concierge, and tour concession. We booked a tour of the El Yunque rain forest through the hotel and were very satisfied.
The hotel is centrally-located relative to old San Juan, Ocean Park, and Isla Verde. You’ll need a taxi to travel to and from old San Juan, which costs $15 +tip.
The only negative I can think of is this: Condado beaches are somewhat narrow and all the hotel towers abut them tightly, casting long shadows on the very beaches they’re trying to promote. All day long people are dragging their chairs this way and that to stay in the sun. If you’re a shade person, this is good news for you.
We walked down to the residential Ocean Park neighborhood beaches in order to get a full day’s worth of sun. Only houses front the beach and they’re set back from the beach a little farther than the hotels are. On the down side, there are no concessions on the beach so you’ll need to think ahead and bring your own food and drink with you.
Bottom line: you won’t mistake Marriott for a boutique hotel (the building’s boxy exterior won’t win any architectural awards) but you really can’t go wrong here, and you will be comfortable. If large-scale boutique chic is more your thing though, the new hotel on the block is La Concha, a few blocks away. It’s definitely the hip choice for the well-heeled 35 and under crowd.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Only five miles from Luis Munoz International Airport, located in the prestigious Condado neighborhood of San Juan in a highly desirable beachfront location only minutes from numerous restaurants and bars.The property boasts 513 spacious guest rooms and 12 suites, most with spectacular Atlantic Ocean views; the 24 hour Stellaris Casino on site, two outdoor pools, two lighted tennis courts and Ocean Club Wellness Center that features a wide array of massages and treatments in addition to the health club.Food & Beverage offerings include La Vista Latin Grill, La Isla Beach Bar & Grill, La Isla Pool Bar, Wan Chai Noodle Bar, Coffee Merchant and the ultra chic Red Coral Lounge.Come and enjoy the comfortand atmosphere of everything this "Caribbean Cosmoplitan Beach Club" has to offer. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Marriott San Juan Resort And Stellaris Casino
- Marriott San Juan Resort & Stellaris Hotel San Juan