To be fair to the owners, Bill and Laurie Humphrey, we are not B&B people. We always thought they would be charming and tranquil and better to put money into the local economy than give it to the big hotel chains. After many, many mediocre to downright unpleasant experiences, we have come to realize that the sterile but professional big hotel chain has its merits. For instance - no geese named Martha and George, biting the guests and pooping everywhere. No mountains of potpourri that trigger bronchitis. No cloying, annoying cutesy decor. No host getting pissed off because you prefer oatmeal to a fancy, heavy breakfast. Or snapping at you when reporting back that a restaurant that he recommended was truly dreadful - as we later learned from reading Trip Advisor. Our comment was not criticism, but so he would know not to recommend it in the future.
So it was our mistake to book here in the first place, and I acknowledge that.
And also to be fair to Bill and Laurie, we'd had a truly horrible vacation up to that point so we arrived defeated and just wanting to go home.
With those disclaimers, I will try my best to be fair and accurate in my descriptions. If you read the other reviews, you will see dozens of glowing reports and fewer than a half-dozen negative reports, so we are clearly in the minority. My goal here is to describe what bothered us so that others who have similar tastes can get the information they need to decide if this is the right place for them.
You will love this place IF you like a new-agey, Zen-centric, practically an ashram atmosphere. If this is not your style, stay far, far away. Seriously. When I saw the Buddha in the driveway, I just wanted to flee. Guarded by not one but two large gates, the grounds are beautiful. The accommodations are attractive but in need of a bit of upkeep (i.e., a very badly rusted fan in the bathroom). However, I would not call the accommodations comfortable. For instance, the seating in the living area was covered with white slipcovers (not shown in the website photos). Not conducive to kicking back with a glass of wine. Maybe white wine. Because who wants to worry about spills on white furniture while on vacation? And you are right to worry. A sign - one of several, each with 3 or more rules - warns that if you stain the upholstery, you will be charged for the cleaning. I assume that if they can't get the stain out, you will be charged for replacement costs. Guess how often we sat on that furniture? Not once. We are not slobs by any means. My home is extremely clean and I take very good care of my things. But accidents do happen and even ordinary dirt will show on white furniture. We made do with the metal chairs in the kitchen and the uncomfortable folding chairs on the deck. Nightstands? No. Two tiny little ledges on either side of the bed - just large enough for your glasses or your alarm clock. If you want to read in bed (as an alternative to sitting in the uncomfortable chairs) you have to get up to put the book away or just drop it on the floor, I suppose. The lights are tap-on-tap-off and they come on the middle of the night even if you haven't touched them. Maybe from the breeze? It is a lovely breeze, but if it turns a light on over my head at 2:30 in the morning...not so much.
There are no hammocks. Huh? A tropical lodge with no hammocks? The ultimate in relaxation. Not one hammock anywhere.
And this is the crux of the thing. You are expected to relax the way the owners think one should relax. Loll around until 9 a.m., when breakfast is served. And no coffee. You can make your own coffee in the kitchen, but they will not serve coffee at breakfast. I'm paying $160/night and I have to make my own coffee? Seriously? Because why? Apparently, they don't think coffee is appropriate to their idea of relaxation. Only someone who has never lingered over an amazing cup of coffee in the morning could see it that way.
And if you are the type who likes to get up early and get your day started, your choice is to skip the breakfast, but of course there is no price break for not having breakfast. I think the place hasn't been around long enough to have amassed a large number of leave-behind books, so the reading choices are sparse. Though there is a hiking trail on the property, we felt strongly discouraged by Bill's description. I didn't mind signing a liability waiver. That seemed a smart thing to do on his part. But then he went on to describe it as what sounded like a form of torture and so we decided to pass. When he asked why we hadn't gone on the hike, I made an excuse about having had an unpleasant trip (true) and not wanting to risk making it any worse. A few reviews back, Bill responded that when it has been very rainy (when is it not very rainy in a rainforest?) he recommends the oxcart trail as an alternative. He never mentioned this to us.
We also found it odd that they call themselves an ecolodge. Apparently, this is because they do not have air conditioning (it isn't needed - in fact it gets very cool at night). But I dragged home a bag full of recycling because there wasn't even a recycling bin. And yes, I did see curbside recycling in PR, so I don't know why they don't have a recycling bin. They don't have a water filtration system so you have to buy bottled water. Oddly enough, the Inn's website claims to have a filtration system, but when we asked, Bill specifically said that he advised against drinking the tap water.
Finally, the one other thing that really ticked us off was his refusal to let us book for only two nights. He insisted that we had to book for three nights or none.
For birders, there are many bird species on the property, including PR Lizard Cuckoo, Antillean Euphonia, PR Screech Owl, Spindalis, and Loggerhead Kingbird. You can chill out on the patio and see most if not all the bird species on the property.
Reading the older reviews, I am stunned to see that the owners say that they never do any construction while guests are on the property. Several other people reported that they were disturbed by construction and indeed, there was construction on Saturday morning (not too early) including hammering and the delivery of wood for the floor for their yoga room.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Stay in the El Yunque rain forest of Puerto Rico. We have hikes to secluded swimming holes and mountainside waterfalls right in our backyard. We have no air conditioning, radios, or TV but we do offer quilts on the beds (it's cool up here in the mountains). If you are a nature lover you will love staying here. Two bedroom chalet and villas with baths and complete kitchen. There is a tremendous view from your window. Close to Luquillo Beach. Only forty minutes from the airport. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Rainforest Hotel El Yunque National Forest
- Rainforest Inn Puerto Rico/El Yunque National Forest