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“Will Definitely Return!”

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El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort
Ranked #2 of 4 Hotels in Fajardo
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed March 2, 2013

I was going to title my review, "My wife got sunburned, and it's all Conquistador's fault," but, with some of the reviews on here, people would have actually believed I meant it. My wife and I absolutely loved this place. It was a great vacation. I'll do my best to sum up an amazing vacation, provide responses to negative reviews, and mention some things to be aware of.

Treatment/Service: Everyone at this resort was amazingly friendly and went out of their way to ensure you had a great stay. Our trip started with a free upgrade. I booked an Ocean View room on top of the hill, but was upgraded (two levels) to an Ocean View room in the Marina Village. The rooms were bigger, and it was nice to be so close to the ferry and water park. Thanks El Conquistador! The staff always greeted you with a smile, and said, 'hello' as you passed them. You will generally get out of people what you put into them. Be friendly to them, and you will get friendliness in return. All in all, 5 stars for service.

Food/Restaurants: There are an amazing amount of food options here. In our five days, we were not able to eat at all the restaurants. For the negative reviews about food prices - they act like someone held a gun to their head and made them eat the most expensive food at the most expensive restaurants on the property. There are plenty of choices across the board, and if you want to save money on food, there are options available. And the drinking water in Puerto Rico is very clean and safe, so no need to order bottled water. Save the money and get the tap. Here's what we did try, and the results:

Café Bella Vista - A great restaurant for lunch and dinner! We really enjoyed the pizza there. A sizeable (and delicious) pizza will run you between $12-16 at this restaurant. I found that if we weren't completely starving, my wife and I could even split a pizza. Either way, you could eat for between $6-16/person here.

Starbucks - Fairly standard products and prices, and many very happy people to have it on site.

Café Caribe - It's a great place for a relatively inexpensive family meal. It's open for three meals a day, so if you don't want a full buffet, Café Caribe was a great option. I got a huge breakfast here (bacon, eggs, French toast...all in large quantities) for around $13 here. My wife got a fruit plate that fed two people for $10. All was delicious, and, as with many of the restaurants here, we had leftovers for the fridge in our room.

Iguana's (on Palomino Island) - This place was just ok for food, but the prices were reasonable. It's a good place to grab a mid-day bite on a long day on the island. Two good-sized meals (sandwiches, burgers, etc) came to $26 here for two, so $13 a person.

La Piccola Fontana - This is the nice Italian place on site. Nice restaurant, with excellent service, but my wife and I thought the food was just average. We are lovers of Italian food, so perhaps went in with very high expectations. A lot of people really like this one though, so don't go by just one review. Two large meals (with leftovers) came to $58 total here, so $29/person.

Blossoms - This is the nice East Asian restaurant on the property. We only tried the Teppanyaki grill, so I can't speak to the Chinese or Sushi portions of the restaurant. The Teppanyaki was excellent! I've been more entertained at Teppanyaki grill's elsewhere, but the food here compared favorably with any I've ever had. We had huge portions here (leftovers for both) and paid about $36/person. Spendy, but delicious, and we each got two meals out of it.

Ballyhoo - This is the Marina level bar and grill, and is a very relaxing place to sit right along the water and have a laid back meal. We ate two meals here, and really enjoyed both of them (quesadillas, pulled pork sandwiches, etc). Our meals came out to about $12/person here.

Las Brisas - We did the breakfast buffet here one morning. There are tons of options in the buffet, so something for everyone. The food overall was standard breakfast buffet food, but not bad at all. Some of the items were very good. We paid about $26/person here (but I ate well).

The Sweet Shop - We just got some cookies here, but I thought I'd mention it, because it's another relatively cheap option for breakfast. You could get breakfast sandwiches, omelets, etc here for $6-8. Probably one of the better deals on the resort.

All in all, I'd give 4+ stars for the restaurants (combined quality, quantity, choices, and setting).

Rooms: This is where I would ding the resort, but only slightly. Our room was spacious, and clean, but certainly not five stars. The bed was large and comfortable. The bathroom was huge, but very standard in quality. The television was nice, and had a good programming package. There was plenty of closet and drawer space. The carpet was well-maintained, but they should definitely go with tile flooring when they redo the rooms. Tropical environments are not conducive to carpeting, being more humid, so the room itself did feel a little damp (we were right on the water though). The balcony was really nice for relaxing in the mornings and evenings. Overall, it was a pleasant room, but more like a 3 star Holiday Inn room than a 5 star Waldorf room. 3+ stars here.

The grounds: The grounds were spectacular! The landscaping is absolutely beautiful here, with incredible attention to detail. We found everything to be well-maintained. It's just a pleasure to stroll around a property like this. 5 stars for the grounds.

Other: There are so many things on this resort, that you'd have to be here for a while to get bored. While it was just my wife and I staying, I thought it would be an excellent family resort. There are five total pools on the main property (plus 1 or 2 more in Casitas). The upper level pools (three in all), were large, rarely overcrowded, and one did have watersports during the day. They also will give you a 1-hour scuba lesson there, if you've never been scuba diving, then take you out to the open water. Can't beat that.

Las Olas seemed like the quietest place on the resort. It has it's own pool and hot tub, but not much else there, so not many visitors outside those staying in those rooms. If you want the quietest stay possible, that's probably the place.

The waterpark was great at the end of the day. You spend only $5/person to get in after 4PM, and it's well worth it. It has three fun slides, with fairly short waits for all of them, and a lazy river. It also has an infinity pool, and activities for the kids, as well as a restaurant.

Shops - There is a lot of shopping here, both indoors and out. We browsed, but didn't buy. We did make use of the convenience stores (there are a couple of them) to get snacks for while we were out and about. The convenience stores also sell hot dogs and sandwiches, if you're looking for cheap meal options on the go. There were also several ice cream shops and sweet shops on the resort, if you have a craving for something sweet.

Activities - There are kids camps and activities happening all over the resort and island all day (but out of sight, and out of the way), so plenty for the kids there, without disturbing the adults. They also have two arcades on site, and one teenage club running in the evenings. There are also a couple of adult bars, and one of them had nightly entertainment. They had dive-in movies almost every night we were there, which was fun. They also offer dance lessons, water sports, and other activities during the day and early evening.

We did not golf, but the course looks beautiful and challenging, and that's the review I got from the people I spoke to who golfed as well.

Funiculars - We actually enjoyed them. They are running constantly, meaning you never really have to wait more than a few minutes for one. And they offer a beautiful, scenic, panoramic view of the resort and Atlantic Ocean during your ride, so enjoy it!

Palomino Island - We loved it! The ferry leaves for the island every half an hour, so if you just miss one, another will be along shortly. They actually dock about every 10-15 minutes. The ride is only 8 minutes, so very quick, and very enjoyable. The island itself is beautiful. The sand is great, and the waters are quite calm, even on a windy day! I heard some people complain about rocks. I was barefoot the whole time I was there, and didn't have a problem. There is a 2-foot section in the water, where the waves gently roll ashore, that has coral fragments. They are all rounded, and not sharp. Anything before that stretch, or farther out into the water, is almost entirely sand, and very easy on the feet.

They rent a lot of equipment there, from basic inner tubes, to larger family ones, to kayaks, sailboats, and wave runners. Most of the pricing there seemed reasonable. There's also a volleyball court and small basketball court there, as well as a restaurant and separate bar. We rented kayaks, and paddled to the small island that was featured in the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie. It was just my wife and I. It's an easy paddle (less than 10 minutes over unbelievably crystal blue waters), but when we got there, we felt like we were in a world of our own. We stayed on the island for 2 hours, just the two of us, and loved it. The resort only charged us for an hour, so thanks again, El Con!

We also did horseback riding on Palomino Island. We did the first tour in the morning (around 1030). We were the only two people on the tour, so it was another private tour for us! The guide did a great job of leading us around the island, up to the highest point, and then along the white, sandy beaches. He took time out to take our picture several times as well. Great tour, and you don't have to know anything about horses to participate and enjoy it.

I give this resort 5 stars for activities, pools, Palomino Island, etc. If you're looking for a place to spend a few days, and not have to go off the resort to be entertained, this is a great option.

Outside activities - The resort tour desk makes it very easy to book outside activities. I won't review the actual activities here, other than to say they were enjoyable, and worth the money.

One suggestion. If you are a morning person, or if you don't mind getting up in the mornings, get up and watch the sunrise from a hot tub, pool, or lounge chair on top of the cliff in the morning. This is a sleepy resort, that doesn't really wake up until after 9AM, so those first couple of hours in the morning are wonderfully peaceful and relaxing. I highly recommend taking advantage of that.

Sorry to be so wordy, but there is so much to do here at this great resort, and some people have really short-changed it. I wanted to provide some reality behind the story. Hope that helps. Enjoy your stay! I know we did!

Room Tip: Marina level for ease of access to the ferry and waterpark, and to be close to the ocean. La Marina...
  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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31  Thank YourNameHere007
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed March 2, 2013 via mobile

After a 4 hour flight which landed at 1 15 pm we had to walk very far to catch a "bus" which costs us 75 to the hotel that we booked through concierge. We figured it would be a typical hotel shuttle but we were wrong, it was a bus with little to no A/C and packed with 80 people. It didn't even leave for an hour and it took an hour to get to the property, which would have been fine had they told us in advance that the bus leaves every hour on the hour. It actually left at around 2 20 and we weren't checked in until 4 30 pm. The entire day of sun was gone.

When we finally checked in, we were given an ocean view room on the 1st floor over the pool. At around 6 pm we decided to go back to the room to relax before dinner. This was impossible with a mariachi band playing very loud for 4 hours, literally right outside our window. The hotel staff is not accommodating at all, they all need a lesson in customer service and hospitality aka the business they claim to be in. The rooms are gross and property dated. We were booked for 4 nights but cut it to 2 to go back to San Juan to stay somewhere nicer and more fun for adults. There is literally nothing to do here at night for adults.

On our second night we made reservations at 1 of the hotel restaurants through concierge. When we arrived at the restaurant we were told they were closed and had no idea why concierge had given us reservations. There were people eating in the restaurant so it didn't look closed. We went straight to the hotel manager who had no idea the restaurant in his hotel was closed. We told him how poorly his hotel was run especially for a Waldorf Astoria.

I never ask for anything but was not offered anything either.

When we finally got back to the room to go to sleep there was jazz music playing literally the entire night and morning for some reason.

To put it nicely, this hotel should be shut down. The manager, Angel was very nice though, but the rest of the staff had attitudes.

  • Stayed: February 2013
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7  Thank David2280
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 1, 2013

First family stay at this wonderful hotel. The ride from the Airport was 100% percent worth it. When we finally arrived to this hotel you go through the property and first see the golf area. Once we arrived we were greeted by a the staff member which informed us were to check in and were to park the car. Once at the front desk we were welcomed by Rubin who was very nice and pleasant and showed us on a small map exactly where our rooms were located. We stayed at Las Marinas with walk out patio. Beautiful view of the ocean and dock just right infront of our rooms.Walking distant to the water park, ferry that takes you to Palomino Island. Beautiful Island just for their guest.All pools are open 24/7 which is ideal for the kids. Visited the front desk for some questions and met Marisol Bosque who answered all my questions gracefully. When I checked out Marisol was there again and remembered me and ask me if i enjoyed my stay. I felt like i was home. My family and I did not want to leave but we had reservations to stay in San Juan for the remaining of our vacation. I had such a fantastic stay here that I already booked for next Feb 2014!

Room Tip: Rooms at Las Marinas
  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled with family
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1  Thank Maureen D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 1, 2013

We love this hotel. It is an adventure for the kids just to get to the beach...a long walk, a fundicular ride and then a ferry ride. for some I am sure this would not be ideal but I have to say we loved it. We also love the birds in the lobby and the scout game for the kids. Although the scout sites were often missing the wrist band prizes and that was disappointing. The biggest issue is that the restaurants are terrible and Extremely overpriced. There are several restaurants nearby that are fantastic and close but the staff is not very willing to tell you about them. Try la Estacion, and El Varadero.

Rooms were nicely updated with a great view. Kids loved the poolside movies at night but I think that was just a special they had for 1 week. Water Park is over priced and small but nice. I thought the service was a bit lacking considering the Waldorf name and the price.

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled with family
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3  Thank Cobo418
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 28, 2013

I stayed in Las Casitas, a small room in a village-like area, very quite and cozy. Near all the facilities of the hotel. Nevertheless, the acommodation were average considereing the price, but not bad at all. Next time I will try a biggest villa or stay at the main hotel.

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Manuel S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 27, 2013

I visited the El Conquistador with a friend. We had been watching the rates and booked a 6-night trip with non-stop airfare for $860/pp. The property is stunningly beautiful. As per the usual at vacation destinations, there are palm trees but the upgrade here is that a gardener has grafted/assisted orchids of various varieties in taking up residence all around the resort.

I had written to the resort in advance asking for a room on a higher floor since i was traveling with another female friend. At check-in, we were given a first floor room. I told the clerk about communicating with the woman who does room assignments and he promply reassigned us to a room on the fifth floor (4533) which included a partial ocean view...which was amazing since not only did we see the caribbean, but we could see the bioluminescent lagoon, and mountains. The room rate posted next to the safe said our room was $850/night.....wowza! I know those rates are inflated but we did have a lovely view and didn't have any noise from the elevators or ice machine. Oddly, each night we heard what sounded like someone directly above us moving furniture....but it didn't bother us and usually ended by 9pm.

The room was incredibly spacious. We had a double queen room. Our bathroom was large and had the usual stone countertop and tile. Oddly, the grout on the tile was something of a cakey-mess (i'm a diy freak so little details stand out to me). The art-prints in the room were a bit out of balance as well. A large expanse of wall was left barren with a small-ish (by american standards) flat screen tv....which we never turned on. These are just details that don't really distract from my enjoyment of the resort.

We rented a car in san juan and drove ourselves to the property. It's about an hour drive but is only about 35 miles. There's a lot of traffic on hwy-3. We did the "self parking" and i believe this is an area that could use some improvement. You had to present your parking ticket at the parking desk to have is signed and then put it in the automatic machine to get out. Usually, there was someone posted next to the ticket machines who would hand you your new ticket or take your old one. Of course the one day the guy didn't come over to our car, my friend hit the curb trying to reach to get the ticket in....the machines are unually high if you're in a regular car rather than a suv.

The resort doesn't have a beach on it's direct property. There is a marina and you have to take the cattamaran/ferry to palimino island. Before visiting the property, i liked the idea of taking a ferry to an island. After visiting the resort, i'm less in love with the idea. The ferry stops taking people to the island at 3:30pm so the day you check in (when you're most ready to hit the sand) you don't get to go to the beach....at least not at the resort. That's a bummer. The ferry takes people over to palimino starting at 9am...which seems a little late to me. I think the last ferry off the island leaves around 5:30. That sounds like a lot of time untill you're on vacation and want to sort of do your own thing and relax, I felt like i was having to be overly aware of the time.

There are several restraunts on the property and all of them charge a premium for food. You'll do better to eat at the various restraunts outside the resort. Frozen drinks are plentifly, but small, and expensive.

I couldn't ever get a good feel on night-time entertainment. There's a large "lounge" in the resort but it's filled with kid games like foos-ball. There's a bar inside that space and supposedly there's music for adults but i tried to hear music 3 nights and it never seemed to work out. One night, the band was a bit "lame" and i left. Two other evenings, i waited until 45 mins after the supposed start time and there wasn't any band to be seen. Considering the vibrant music of PR, this was disappointing. If my friend and i had felt more confident about driving at night in PR (they drivers are pretty agressive), we would've went out in town.

There are a lot of kids at this resort. I would probably label it as being a "family resort."

If you go out the gate at the marina (next to the dive shop) and walk about half a mile along the ocean, you'll end up at the park where the tours for the bioluminescent kayaking leaves from. The hotel charges $75/pp for the tour but if you book the tour yourself and pay cash, it's $40/pp. It's incredibly easy to get there. You don't need a car to do that tour from this hotel.

Palamino island is stunning! The side of the beach were the ferry comes in has less wind and is more crowded. Further around the beach is more secluded and more windy. I hiked around the island and was rewarded with amazing views. I stumbled upon a "naturist" refuge. As i hiked farther down the trail, the beach was labeled as being "clothing optional." Oddly, the first day on the island, i was given a map and i could clearly see a second secluded beach and asked about it at the information hut. The man at the hut said there wasn't another beach and that the other side of the island was simply cliff.

On the naturist beach, i met a man named Brian who said he was something of a caretaker. He said he was a retired navy guy and a life-guard. He was cultivating palm trees and had lounge chairs set up in pairs. We were the only people on the beach....it was heaven.

Overally, i was happy with my stay.

Room Tip: As for a room on one of the higher floors.
  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
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9  Thank oriahlee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Matt L, Manager at El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, responded to this reviewResponded February 28, 2013

Thank you for the thorough review of your stay at the resort. We really appreciate you taking the time to provide feedback of the highlights of the stay. I have to agree, that Palomino is stunning and a great place for our guests to visit. You cancertainly have a full day on the island and have several different activity options while you are there. Thank you for your stay with us and we look forward to a return visit in the near future.

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Reviewed February 27, 2013 via mobile

Loved this place. Janae at concierge was very helpful and informative. She booked the bioluminescent tour before our arrival February 12. Loved the private island. We also Went to culebra on the a local ferry for a couple bucks it was about 50 minute ride but beware, about 30% people got sea sick. The beach there was gorgeous but bring your own food. We took a shuttle bus that is there when u get off of ferry, to flamenco beach. i wanted to snorkel so we also went to a different beach on Culebra that had reefs and a lot to look at, we even got to see a stingray. . The bio bay tour is n the dark thru a thick forest of trees. We rented a car which made exploring easy and fast. We bought food because our room had a fridge and a pineapple juice at palomino was $4. We went to la Mina falls it was a bit of a hike but nice to see. Not the biggest but pretty plus u can swim in the tiny pool of water under it. We ate at passions down the street very good. Our waiter was Emanuel his son is also a baker there and so friendly. We stayed couple days in san juan which is nice but the beaches in fajardo are prettier. The palomino island is easy to get to and has a secluded beach where clothing is optional, but buy water shoes. We bought ours at Walmart for $5 it's only 10 miles away plus the surf shop at the Waldorf has them for $25 which isn't bad but we will probably never use them again. I highly recommend this place. I was scared after reading so many negative reviews but I fell in love with this hotel and will be back.

  • Stayed: February 2013
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4  Thank Mwesen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Matt L, Manager at El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, responded to this reviewResponded February 28, 2013

We are happy to hear that your stay in Puerto Rico was an awesome experience. You certainly took advantage of all the natural beauty and activity options that are available here on the island. I think this is what makes PR such a great destination. The resort's private island< Palomino, is amazing and has amazing beaches. Our guests truly love this about the resort. We are happy to hear you'll be visiting again soon, and look forward to your return.

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Additional Information about El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

Address: 1000 El Conquistador Avenue, Fajardo 00738-3711, Puerto Rico
Location: Caribbean > Puerto Rico > Fajardo
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 4 Hotels in Fajardo
Price Range: $179 - $534 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort 4*
Number of rooms: 918
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

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