Our stay at the Ritz-Carlton, San Juan from June 18th-22nd, 2014 was absolutely amazing from start to finish. We arrived at around 3:00 AM, exhausted after a frustrating day of travel delays and complications, and we were warmly welcomed by the Ritz staff. At such a late (or rather early) hour, it was amazing to note the flurry of silent activity around the hotel. Maitenance workers were buffing the marble floors, tending to flower arrangements, and gererally working to ensure that the hotel was pristine when guests awoke. The desk manager who checked us in, Elliott, was so friendly, pleasant, and understanding as we told him of our travel troubles which included missing luggage. Although none of our travel woes were in any way linked to the Ritz, Elliott offered us complimentary breakfast buffetts and told us that he would send someone up with extra toiletries.
Within minutes of walking into our room, the night housekeeping staff brought us a bag full of toiletries and expressed their regret as to our missing luggage. They also went out of their way to make sure that we had pajamas to sleep in, and they offered to clean the clothes that we were wearing so that we would have fresh attire in the morning. It was so kind and thoughtful (and above and beyond what was expected), that it definitely started our vacation on a very positive note.
Our room itself was pleasant and clean. You can tell it has been renovated, yet it still retains some of the old charming touches such as the marble bathroom floor and granite vanity. The bedding was soft and comfortable. We were on the 5th floor (520) overlooking the front of the property (city view). To our left was a rooftop, but straight ahead was the long driveway lined with palm trees. For the low rate we paid, the room was more than adequate. The housekeeping staff throughout our stay made sure our room was well-stocked and clean.
The grounds and property of the Ritz-Carlton, San Juan are gorgeous. Everything is well maintained and immacuately trimmed. The pool area is stunning. The palm trees, the comfortable chairs and umbrellas, the lion statutes spouting water...it all creates a comfortable yet luxurious setting to relax, sunbathe, swim and enjoy delicious tropical drinks. There were ample pool towels, and refreshing citrus water dispensers througout the area.
The pool/beach bar (Ocean Bar and Grill) was so much fun! The bartenders made excellent drinks and had larger than life personalities. :) The newly renovated setting is beautiful as well, with a modern yet casually breezy feel to it. We had a few appetizers (truffle fries...yum!) but never ordered a full meal there, preferring to eat a big breakfast and dinner rather than lunch. The pool area was well-staffed. Once the servers knew we were there, they were very attentive to our needs (you may, however, have to give a bit of a smile and a waive to have someone come over initially, especially if the pool area is full).
Speaking of full, the hotel was at full capacity for our entire stay (several conventions and weddings), yet it never felt over-crowded. We were always able to find pool/beach chairs...maybe not in prime locations if we slept in, but we were definitely able to find something.
The beach is small but beautiful, and the staff was available to help with setting up umbrellas and towels any time we asked. The sand was kept free of debris, and the area was very clean (which is more than I can say for some of the other hotel beaches that we walked through).
San Juan itself is rather dirty and jumbled, but the moment you step onto the Ritz property it is as if you are in a luxurious little bubble. We would have been happy remaining on Ritz property the entire time, but we had friends staying at a hotel down the road (the El San Juan Hotel and Casino) for a wedding so we walked through the streets/beach and visited their hotel several times. The difference between the two properties is astounding. The funny thing is, we didn't pay significantly more than our friends did for their hotel rate, yet the Ritz was FAR superior. Even the cost of drinks was roughly the same ($15-$20 per drink...ouch), yet the quality of the drinks at the Ritz was undeniably better.
As to quality food, we enjoyed the breakfast buffet at Mares every morning. The setting is lovely (sort of an old Carribean plantation type feel to it), and the food was good. The buffet included fresh fruit, pastries, bagels, yogurt, deli meats, salmon, cheeses, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, and breakfast potatoes, plus a station with made-to-order eggs or omelettes. The employee manning that station was so friendly and funny! The coffee was strong and smooth...just like I like it.
Due to friend/wedding obligations, we only were able to eat dinner one night on the property, and we chose BLT Steak. It was AMAZING. Our servers were fantastic, and the chef sent out several complimentary dishes for us to try. We ordered the thick-cut bacon as an appetizer, which was saltily (I know that's not a word, lol) flavorful, but the chef sent us the pork belly special appetizer as well. The pork belly was DELICIOUS. Crispy and soft at the same time, with amazing creamy potatoes underneath. It was SO good. I ordered the sea bass special, which was to die for. The buttery yet firm texture of the fish was perfect, and it was complimented by crisp baby sprouts on top and a sprinkle of something crunchy (I don't know what it was and forgot to ask, but it was great). My husband had a filet which was also cooked perfectly. It was an entirely enjoyable and memorable meal.
I can't begin to say enough good things about the staff at the Ritz. Everyone we encountered was over-the-top friendly and accommodating. From the front desk workers, to the housekeeping staff, to the spa technicians (we had wonderful massages and pedicures), to the waitstaff...everyone was amazing. We enjoyed every minute of our stay and would return in a heartbeat. Five stars all the way!
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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