Nice hotel overall. It's clean and the staff are exceptionally attentive and friendly -- but, it's the Ritz and it's expensive. The pool area is moderate in size, the lounge chairs are somewhat dated -- the blue foam pads do not drain well and any rain makes them sopping wet; every day we had to discard them and just lie on the plain slingback portion of the loungers with our towels. Since there's only one pool, that means, families with kids and if you just want peace, solitude and quiet, it might be challenging. Conversely, there's no loud pounding island music, or drinking/bingo games to sit through. The beach is pretty typical of other destinations -- not terribly dirty but not clean either, plastic straws, cigarette butts . . . stuff just floating on the surface of the water.
The restaurants are pricey. Two entrees and 3 glasses of wine at the Italian restaurant was $140+ and that's without salads, appetizers, dessert or coffee; also, the bill suggests a waiter and a captain's tip(s), so, $140++. The food is good and the service is good, but it's a premium price. A full breakfast is an easy $40+ for 2 people. The poolside bar is disappointing; so dated (could really use at least some new paint and new pads on the chairs) and so expensive, just not worth it. ($19 for 2 fish tacos and $14 for a plastic cup pina colada). Take a 3 minute walk outside the hotel to Piu Bello or Las Caranias for reasonably priced breakfast (and lunch at Piu Bello) meals. There's also a coffee bar with muffins/pastries inside the hotel if you're inclined to stay at the hotel but want to avoid the premium breakfast prices.
The spa is nice, I used the health club a couple times. Nice equipment.
But, it's the location that's most disappointing. You're a stone's throw from the airport, everything else, forget it. The surrounding neighborhood of the Ritz is very dingy and but for the visible police presence for the tourists, may be not advisable in the late evenings. Taxis have standard fares; $21 one way (w/out tip) to Old San Juan, which is just less than 15 minutes. Old San Juan is really wonderful, however. Cab it there and you can tour the city on your own terms, it's completely navigable and fun. Don't miss the fort(s), cemetery, old churches and charm of the cobblestone streets, stores and eateries. Just get a map from the concierge of the area, it's not big at all -- you'll get the hang of Old San Juan quickly.
Restaurants to hit: Cafe Puerto Rico -- excellent local food.
Casa Lola : Excellent food; skirt steak was unbelievable, skip the chicken shish ka bobs, everything else was delicious.
Restaurants to miss: El JIbarrito -- read about this place on Trip Advisor and I wasn't impressed. Yes, it's very local and quaint -- that's where it ends. Had the chicken "filet" with rice [their description, not mine]. It was a pounded out white chicken breast that was grilled /overcooked and hence, very dry; the rice tasted like it was cooked in chicken broth with peas and mushrooms added. I'd skip this place.
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- Also Known As:
- Ritz-Carlton San Juan Hotel Isla Verde
- Ritz-Carlton San Juan Hotel, Spa And Casino
- Ritz Carlton Carolina
- Carolina Ritz Carlton
- Ritz Carlton Puerto Rico
- Ritz Carolina
- The Ritz-Carlton, San Juan Puerto Rico/Isla Verde