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“The hotel will grow on you.”

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El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort
Ranked #2 of 3 Hotels in Fajardo
Certificate of Excellence
Alexandria
Level Contributor
269 reviews
30 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 287 helpful votes
“The hotel will grow on you.”
Reviewed April 5, 2013

As many people before me have stated this is not like any other Waldorf Astoria I am familiar with. If you go in thinking that it is going to be a five star establishment then you will be in for a rude awakening. The grounds themselves are beautiful and lush. The entranceway to get to the actual hotel is truly beautiful. The pool area is okay, but the main plus for this place is the private beach. I tried to go every day but unfortunately that was not possible as other things were planned. The rooms and the inside of the hotel are very run down. The room itself reminded my of the Holiday Inn Express. There was no color, bleak, and if you looked closely very run down. Housekeeping was prompt everyday, but how well it was cleaned varied. There were several days where we were not given new towels, trash was not taken out, etc. I did know that they came because the beds were made. I went to several places outside of the hotel and it was the way to go. The food at the restaurant is entirely too expensive. We only ate at one of the places on site. This is truly a place for kids, and everyone that I met and dealt with was extremely nice. We met many people who did not want to say at the other resort in Rio Grande, because it was not nearly as nice as the El Conquistador. As the trip progressed I did start to like the resort more and more. It does grow on you. I loved Puerto Rico, but I will not be staying here again when I return.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
3 Thank Anne J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Houston, Texas
Level Contributor
21 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed April 4, 2013

My husband and I stayed here with our two college students on spring break. I was hesitant to book based on some negative reviews and transportation required to get to the private island beach. But we got a great rate on a room with two double beds on the hotel website so we decided to try it. Check-in and out were very easy...no wait. We paid a small daily premium to upgrade to an ocean view room in the Las Brisas wing (the marina area was entirely closed during our stay), so the view from our balcony was nice. The bathroom was huge with a walk-in closet, but there was no divider, so only one person could use the bathroom at a time...no problem for us, but might be for some. We stopped at CVS to get beer, chips, yogurt, fruit, o.j. etc. for the room (mini fridge in room was very handy), so we never had to waste time or money on breakfast at a hotel restaurant.

During the first three days we were there, I was extremely disappointed with the transportation. The front desk and online information said that two catamarans would be running to/from the island. However, only one was running which means if you missed the boat, you had to wait an hour at the marina with nothing to do down there. Also, only one funicular was running during the first three days as well, so when the catamaran returned from the island with 150 people, they all had to stand in line to ride the funicular up to the main hotel area since only 25 people at a time could fit in it.

So, after missing the boat by 15 minutes on the first day and waiting 45 minutes for the next one to depart, we thought we'd be smart and go down at 9:30 a.m. with a deck of cards and play at a table near the marina bar before lining up to board the 10 a.m. boat. We got in line when it started to get long and noticed about 20 lifeguards cut to the front of the line to board for some kind of training on the island. When we got to the front of the line, the attendant stopped us and said they were full and that we would have to wait another hour for the next boat. Are you kidding? They just let 20 lifeguards take the place of paying guests and left 12 of us (we counted) standing on the dock! My normally very mellow husband was livid and used a house phone to call the manager who said he would arrange for the dive boat to take us to the island. Within about 15 minutes the manager came down to the dock (no apologies were offered) and the dive boat crew got the boat ready after another 15 or so minutes and took the rest of us over to the island. The second catamaran, meanwhile, sat idly at the dock.

Anyway...here's when things turned around. Once at the island and in our beach chairs, a bartender found us and offered a round of complimentary cocktails (not sure how they knew we were the ones who complained). And when we returned to our room that evening, a bottle of wine and a fruit/cheese plate were waiting, compliments of the manager. And miraculously, both the second funicular and the second boat were running the next day! We are very laid back guests and rarely complain, but this time the squeaky wheel certainly got the grease. We had no trouble with transportation thereafter.

We enjoyed the island and rented two-man kayaks twice to paddle 10 minutes out to tiny Palominitos (a scene from Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed there) where we roamed and flopped on the sand. The first time out my daughter and I were the only ones on Palominitos which was neat. We ate at Iguana's cafe the first day and waited about an hour for our food which was decent, but we hated wasting beach time. So thereafter we placed our order with the bartender near our beach chairs and our food was brought to us in 15-20 minutes. Nice! We also reserved a half-day snorkeling excursion at the dive shop, and the boat picked us up on the island where we were fitted for our gear. This was a great option instead of having to go back to the dive shop to board the boat. The water was very cloudy when we were there (and they forewarned us of this), so the snorkeling was not that great and the coral was largely dead, but we still had fun. I saw two small squid, some brain coral, sea urchins, and a few colorful fish at the two locations where the boat anchored.

The hotel became more fun as it filled with guests later in the week. We enjoyed the swim-up bar at the pool, the hot tub, playing cards at the main bar area (bring your own deck), and my son/husband enjoyed two 9-hole rounds of golf. Only $70 to play from 4-6:15 p.m. vs. $170 to play in the morning...good deal for bad golfers!

We rented a car at the airport and used the valet after reading about long walks to the self-parking area. The valet service was great. Our vehicle was always ready and waiting when we gave them a 10-15 minute lead time phone call. We never ate dinner at the resort since so many local places looked great and were less expensive. We enjoyed Di Yukas, La Estacion, El Veradero, El Pasion de Fogon, and Ole Lelolai. We drove to El Yunque one day and enjoyed the hiking. We also booked a kayaking trip through Kayaking Puerto Rico about three weeks in advance, and it's a good thing we did because they were completely booked the whole week we were there. The kayaking departure marina is within walking distance of the hotel, but my husband wanted to drive since we had a car. We checked out of El Conquistador on our final day to stay near the airport (Hampton Inn...great) in San Juan so we could visit Old San Juan then easily head to the airport the following morning.

Long review, but lots to say about this resort. If they can keep their two catamarans and two funiculars running, I would recommend staying here. I thought it was a beautiful resort although fairly empty when we were there (March 13-17). We were happy with our choice after the transportation issues were resolved. An employee told us that the resort was recently purchased and that improvements would be forthcoming. I will go back if visiting Puerto Rico again.

Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
Helpful?
3 Thank UTUVaMom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Charlotte
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed April 4, 2013

We took our four children (ages 9-16). This was our first visit to Puerto Rico and I must say it's one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen -(aside from the crazy/aggressive drivers on some of the highways).

Fajardo is about 40 minutes from the Airport. The only problem we had was a long wait for the bus from the Airport to the Alamo/National pick up, everything was very smooth.

El Conquistador is breathtaking....it sits on a ruggedly beautiful mountain side and has amazing views of the water from most vantage points. We reserved two adjoining rooms (one with a king bed and couch and the other with two queen beds). The rooms are modern & bright decor (white and yellow). We were in rooms 3310 and 3309 and from our balcony could hear salsa music coming from a park near the hotel. In the morning we heard a rooster. Very charming. The views of the ocean, mountains, and terrain is worth a visit in itself.

The Resort is very large, and we were there Easter Break and it never felt overly crowded. We never made dining reservations and were actually able to get into a restaurant every evening (including the Italian Restaurant as well as Blossoms). We spent very little time at the pool, instead we chose to spend our time at Palomino Island. The line for the boat was a little long (maybe a 20 minute wait). You take a glass trolley/elevator to the Marina and from the Marina you take a boat over the Island. We loved the island, it had jet skis (you must be 21 to drive), kayaking, horses, restaurants, chairs, towels, floats, chess, horse shoes, a rustic put-put course, cornhole.....etc. The island also boasts a lot of Iguanas. The kids were very impressed with that. I know some people do not like the fact that the beach is not accessible from the resort, but we felt like it was an adventure to and from the Island.

We were only there for 4 nights over Easter, but we did make it to the El Yunque Rainforest and loved it. I would suggest taking a light rain jacket and change of clothes. It's really worth the trip. It felt very magical. We ate at the Rum House at the end of the mountain and had very nice and lively waiters, but did not enjoy the food...

Over all it's one of the best trips we have ever taken. Our only compliant was with ourselves...we had underestimated Puerto Rico and El Conquistador and thought we could pack in all of our time with our 4 night/5 day stay. For our first visit..... this was just not enough time....so we are planning another trip as soon as we can make it.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank CharlotteAdams
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
12 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
Reviewed April 4, 2013

Although about an hour from the airport, the hotel has so much for kids to do. It has gotten a bit run down since last year and could use some attention, but overall is a beautiful property and offers just about everything. Las Casitas are condos available from 1-3 rooms and regular hotel rooms are both available. Some people may not love the trip on the funicular down the mountain to the ferry (which usually requires a wait in line) - but it's all part of the experience! Great weather too!

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank whenisthenexttrip4me
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed April 4, 2013

This is not a Waldorf property, by any standards. Judging from several of the other reviews, many agree. From the start, they informed us that they were at 100% capacity and they couldn’t give us the room we’d booked. How does that happen? We too, like others have commented had to have our kids sleep on an air mattress. We didn’t come all this way so that our kids could sleep on a dirty floor. They made us wait an additional 20 minutes while they "inspected" our room before going up. Mind you, check-in is at 4 pm and we arrived at 5:30, so any “inspecting” should have already been done. What we found post "inspection" was dirty towels on the bathroom floor, sand in the tub, sink & toilet seat, drinking glasses with toothpaste in them... Carpet pulling up from the floor, stained towels, headboard & sofa... And on and on...We were moved to another room the next day, but it was a view of the tennis courts and we weren’t reimbursed the money we’d spent on an ocean view room. Internet was spotty, service was terrible, many pool towels were faded & stained w/ what I think was mildew. Valet is $25 a day, but be forewarned that they take forever to get your car and if you aren’t there when they bring it, they drive it right back to the lot and you have to request your car all over again. Concierge is hit or miss – very understaffed – and they don’t go out of their way at all to help. When asking for advice for where to dine outside the resort with kids, I was given a smile, shrug and “I’m sure you can find something.” It rained on Easter Sunday and they had several outdoor kids’ activities planned. I inquired if they’d be moving anything indoors. Again, met with a smile, shrug, and a “Maybe. You’ll need to walk around and see.” I feel like the staff should have been aware of any change in plans.
I agree that it's a beautiful view, but this hotel is overpriced & rundown. We left more stressed than when we arrived and laughed that we needed a vacation from our vacation! It needs a complete renovation of both the hotel & the staff. I won't be returning.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank allsgood72
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Newton, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed April 3, 2013 via mobile

We had a fantastic time on our visit to the El Conquistador. The island is amazing and the pools are great. We were very lucky with our rooms, got upgraded to an ocean view which was amazing! The service is slow and the prices are high but that's typical on an island vacation. We will definitely be back!

Our kids, 17, 15 and 11 had a fabulous time. Plenty to entertain them even on a rainy day. Was very glad they opened their game room early!

  • Stayed March 2013
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank girljordan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed April 2, 2013

Went march 16th to 23rd with my wife, daughter and her friend. Got 2 adjacent rooms on the 4th floor. Booked through Apple Vacations. The rooms were clean and "beach modern". Cable tv was good. Wi-Fi in our room was good most of the time. Free Wi-Fi throughout the resort. Our rooms were near the golf proshop and spa. The rooms had a balcony with a view of the ocean, golf course, and the mountains. We had the setting sun which was very nice. The only bad thing was the walk to the main buildings. It was a bit far but didn't bother me because they have nice gardens between buildings. The rooms had nice comfortable beds, large bathroom and shower tub. They have a safe, refrigerator and coffee maker in the rooms. Ice was located near the elevator.
The pools are big and very nice. They provide large towels at the pool and at the beach/island.
The bars are located in the main buildings and around the pools, beach and marina.
We ate at two of the restaurants, sting ray and the strip house. You must make a reservation because they do fill up. The steaks at the strip house were very good and the sea food at the sting ray was very good. We also had lunch and breakfast in the other "grill" areas which were very good.
My general feelings about the food and drinks in the resort were that they were overpriced by 30% and that the portions of food and drinks were undersized by 30%. ($5 beer in a 10 oz can).

The private island was very nice. The 20 min boat ride is fun and refreshing. They leave about every 30 mins. They have 2 motorized catamarans. they give you towels at the beach and there are plenty of chairs to lounge in . They have a lunch grill on the island as well as two bars and bathrooms. They have nice beaches and things for kids to do like mini golf, volleyball ,kids tattoos, bean bag toss, and water sport rentals. They also have a basketball court and a steep walking path around the island. Bring sneakers if you are thinking of doing those things.
The resort is about 35-40 mins east of the airport. They have a bus but I choose a private van through Apple Vacations.(less waiting and more comfortable)
I would suggest renting a car for a day. They have Enterprise at the resort. Reserve it online for the best price plus you get free parking. Go to old San Juan, and on the way back stock up on some things for your room at the Walgreens or Wal-Mart near the resort. Also when you have your car, eat at la estacion (2 mins to the right of the resort) or passions 5 mins to the left.
If you use the hotel "taxi" they will charge you $15 each way plus tip for a 1 mile ride. Have the consuier make the reservations for you.
Make sure you go to the rainforest. We took the 1/2 day tour $50 from the hotel. We had a park ranger (see Frank's People on Facebook) and he took us off the path and showed us the smallest orchid in the world. Bring some food and drink. (40 min bus ride and 2 and 1/2 hour hike). Might be a little muddy.
Didn't play golf or tennis but both looked very nice.
All said I would go back again but we spent $10,000 for four people (2 rooms ) for a week ,air fare, food and drink from Philadelphia.


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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank larryt456
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

Property: 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 3 Hotels in Fajardo
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
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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