Overall, great stay. Had done the research on this site before I left so my expectations were managed vis a vis condition of the property. Our rate would be considered very cheap for a 5 star resort but for this property was probably priced about right. The service was very pleasant and good and our experience was good. However, generally speaking the property is in need of renovation. Infrastructure (5 star) vs upkeep drops it down to a 3 star. First time to PR so no context of other properties on the island. Came with our kids so were looking for something convenient.
Property: Gorgeous location on a cliff with phenomenal views of blue water, sailboats and islands. Isolated from other properties so very private. Very peaceful (as long as you come with your family and don't mind that it is clearly oriented towards kids and they're everywhere). Lobby is nice and airy, plenty of seating to hang out and relax. Clean, well kept lobby gives good impression. Stores on property to buy souvenirs, clothes, convenience items. SInce situated on a cliff, you take a funicular from the main level (where there are most of the shoppes, restaurants, the game room and the main pool) to the Marina level (where you take the ferry to the private island beach and water park). It is kind of entertainment in and of itself if you have little kids but I have to admit after a few days I got a little bit tired of the constant up and down. But it comes often and is only a few minutes - and has absolutely stunning views from it.
Rooms - this is where they really fall down. We were originally put in the Marina section which is at sea level. Our room was in need of renovation in particular the bathroom. Grout and rust abounded. Also, the decorating was a little spare. We were on ground level which was nice for my kids as they could wander off a spacious porch and I could still see them. It was very conveninent to the ferry and water park and even though we had no view (view of another building), the property is laid out with pretty grounds and we had booked a garden view so it was fine. Given the condition of the room, I called to request a new room. We were put in the main building with a phenomenal ocean view. Bathroom was in better shape and really the view and sun took over the room and it was gorgeous. I was given no grief about the room change; in fact was done without hesitation. Note that we had arrived late so I didn't change rooms till the next day. My son has asthma and he had no problem in the marina room - so I don't think it had actual cleanliness probs per se, just was not what I would think one should get for hundreds of dollars a night. We played in the pool at the Las Olas (middle) level. Not sure why they keep it open but the restaurants/concessions on that level are closed and it seemed a little desolate and sad although the pool was nice because it was empty so we liked using it more than the main pool. Beds comfortable, sheets clean.
Palomino Island: pretty cool concept - a little island getaway and it's set up with a beach huts and lots of little activities everywhere. The beach itself is kind of small so it does feel crowded. The ferry comes often and the ride is about 15 minutes. However, if you have little kids having a beach a ferry ride away is a little bit of a hassle, since if someone freaks out over sand or has a sun exhaustion meltdown you can't really run up to the room. Also, if you don't like boats...note the weather. We had one rough ride through a rainstorm - from then on I checked the cloud cover before I took any ride and sat by the captain where I could run for cover.
Restaurants: there was a good variety of price points - cafe caribe wasn't a bad place and price point although we went to other places as we tired of it. Bella Vista the service was horribly slow - an hour for the food to arrive. The fine dining - not really fine dining but phenomenally expensive with good service. We only tried the Chinese place. It was standard westernized chinese food - very sugary, gloppy sauces, but fine. The sushi...not a sushi chef. We didn't get much - but it literally was the most amateur and worst sushi I have ever witnessed and been forced to ingest. Not a freshness issue, more the actual ability to make the sushi + something was wrong with the rice - not sushi rice, it was crusty and tasted like basmati rice. Breakfast buffet was fine. Room service menu very limited.
Water Park: great fun - stayed there all day. Not huge which actually made it manageable when trying to keep track of your kids. Clean and surprisingly not overrun. Little food stand there so you didn't have to move to feed your kids in the middle of a good pool day. (and fyi, admission is only $5 starting at 4pm).
Location: 1 hour from the airport...near El Yunque. But not near San Juan. We rented a car for one day to go to explore a little and then drove ourselves to the airport which saved money on the air shuttle. Also if you rent from the car rental agency on the property, ask to park in their lot and yo don't have to pay for parking.
Overall good experience but couldn't help but think it felt like they were letting a stunning property go on the edges.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Award-winning oceanfront resort perched atop a cliff, overlooking Caribbean Sea on one side & Atlantic Ocean on the other. Check out the dramatic views, the private island, relaxing spa golf course or the water park - it's all part of this Caribbean paradise. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- El Conquistador Resort, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel Fajardo
- Waldorf Astoria Fajardo
- El Conquistador Hotel Puerto Rico
- Conquistador Hotel Puerto Rico
- El Conquistador Puerto Rico
- El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort Puerto Rico/Fajardo