**Friendly word/warning, in addition to this being a review of the hotel I do address my visit to the nation of El Salvador as well.**
My family loves to travel; I found a super deal and so took my Mom to El Salvador for her birthday. (January 2012) We had never traveled anywhere in Central America and this was to be a great adventure for both of us.
First, a quick word about El Salvador. I must say, some of what I read about the country (gang violence, the country's history with people of African descent, etc.) made me a bit skittish initially but I am adventurous and was glad for the opportunity to explore a new country and region. I also kept in mind that often what you read about a country and what you experience can be very different! Grand kudos to the nation of El Salvador! All in all, we were very impressed with the country and with the people that we met and interacted with. They were very kind. We even made friends who helped us celebrate my Mom's birthday. Moreover, we did not see or experience any violence of any kind (perhaps due to the locations and attractions we visited); and, we completely enjoyed our stay.
Specifically regarding the hotel, it is in a prime location for those looking for the comforts of home. Conversely, if you are looking to "get away from it all" this might not be the location for you. There is a mall & food court, Wendy's, Pizza Hut, Wal-Mart, Starbucks and shopping center all within a 5-7 minute walk from the hotel. For those who are curious, my mother walked to and around the mall (although given the heat it would probably be good to have a hat particularly for any elderly, children or otherwise sensitive visitors) and she is in her seventies. For those needing to know, the sidewalks were well made and level and so there probably aren't insurmountable difficulties for someone who is elderly, in a wheelchair (although I can't recall whether there were ramps for the sidewalks -- I believe there were but I'm not certain), on crutches or with a stroller, etc. So, if you want to travel and want/need access to stores/restaurants found in the US (or that are similar) this is the location for you. I did not choose the location for those amenities as I typically like to get away from anything that smells of home when I travel abroad. That said, it was very convenient; and, I believe, made the trip very easy for my Mom, it was HER birthday celebration after all; and, it was very easy on our stomachs (no TD while there, etc.).
The hotel employees made the stay! Everyone was always eager to help, to answer any questions and to make suggestions. Our room was in very good condition, very nicely decorated and it was kept very clean during our entire stay! We are sticklers for a clean room and we really appreciated this and tried to make sure that we tipped our room attendants accordingly. Kudos to them, however, as they took good care of our room before the first tip was ever left! I have previously been a platinum member of Marriott's elite program and I've stayed in some of the best that Marriott has to offer. Although Courtyard is not Marriott's luxury brand, this location was super; and, all of the hotel's staff behaved as if the hotel was top of the line. Many of the employees tried to learn and use my name. They prepared a special desert for my Mom's birthday and made her feel very special. I was very impressed; and, even now (Dec 2012) I compare every other Courtyard Hotel to this location. Also, for those wondering, there was an in room safe. Moreover, I did take a little work with me and so the hotel's solid in room wireless internet connection was very helpful (although I can't recall whether this was included in the price of the room -- perhaps someone else can comment on this). Additionally, the hotel maintains a very nice business center for those who prefer to travel without a laptop. A possible downside, however, the business center was located on a wall in the bar/restaurant area and so it probably isn't a good location for any serious work. However, it was convenient for flight check-in, printing itineraries and checking emails and/or Facebook, etc.
Also, our flight arrived in the middle of the night and so I made arrangements with an assistant manager at the hotel for transportation from the airport. The taxi driver he sent was waiting for us with a name placard when we came out of customs. He put the luggage in the car and we were immediately on our way. If I recall correctly, the driver even tipped one of the airport attendants who had helped us (and we reimbursed him) so that we would not have to dig deep for cash.
Additionally, regarding transportation, there are taxis at the hotel's entrance and so it was very convenient to obtain a driver. The hotel staff introduced us to Oscar (who also introduced us to his partner, Jorge) and we utilized their services for the rest of the trip. Like the hotel staff, they were very kind and conscientious. Moreover, they were very prompt. Their cars had a/c and were comfortable; and, their prices seemed competitive. Additionally, and again this might be important for those traveling with the elderly, kids, etc., when we traveled out and my Mom needed to rest in the car (while I shopped or whatever) this was not a problem for either of the drivers. In fact, they were both good company for her during the wait. Moreover, they made any trip pleasant, were informative and seemed to know where to go. All in all, they were very good drivers. Oscar seemed a bit shy because he didn't know very much English (and we don’t know very much Spanish) but it was fun to practice our language skills with him on trips out. We had Jorge take us on a day trip to Guatemala and he helped make the trip for us. He escorted us through the stops at the border (coming and going); and, made things quite easy. Also, Oscar invited us to his church and we went. It turned out to be great decision. The people were very friendly and welcoming. The name of the church is Tabernáculo de Avivamiento Internacional (Pastor Carlos Rivas). As I said, I love to travel and have moved around quite a bit and have at times found it difficult to find a church to visit but this is definitely somewhere I'd return; and, I'd recommend it as well! Also, regarding the drivers, they were able to find locations that were easy for my Mom to visit given her age. This is always potentially a concern with older travelers but they were able to accomodate her.
Overall the country was great and my visit to the hotel was impeccable. I plan to return when I can and probably would have been back by now but I've relocated outside the US and am too far from the region at the moment. My one recommendation to avoid any pitfalls is to be certain not to come to the hotel breakfast on the late side. I only went one day during our stay and it was late. Consequently, most items were a bit picked over. My Mom went on more than one occasion and seemed to enjoy it so I may have chosen a bad day/time to go. Additionally, I ate at the hotel’s restaurant on other occasions and enjoyed the service and food.
Last but not least, I used program points to pay for this hotel visit; and, in using points there can be the concern that since you are not actually forking over cash for a visit/service, employees might not have the incentive to serve you as well as someone actually spending cash. I can say without hesitation that there was no reason to be concerned here. In every interaction with hotel staff I was treated as courteously and professionally as possible. All in all, the hotel is a solid choice, the staff is great and I'd definitely recommend a visit to the hotel (and nation)!
(My review is long overdue but as accurate as possible.)
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Experience the best of San Salvador, El Salvador when staying in the Courtyard San Salvador. Our contemporary hotel is located within close proximity to the area's most popular attractions, dining, shopping and entertainment, such as El Salvador Modern Art Museum and La Gran Via shopping mall. Take advantage of our free high speed Internet access, comfortable guest rooms, state-of-the-art fitness center, Centro Restaurant and relaxing pool. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Courtyard By Marriott San Salvador Hotel San Salvador
- San Salvador Courtyard
- Courtyard San Salvador El Salvador