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“One hour outside of San Juan”

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El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort
Ranked #2 of 4 Hotels in Fajardo
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed April 7, 2013

We love to travel and try new places and this year it was Puerto Rico for spring break. We really liked El Conquistador overall. When we arrived on Easter Sunday we did feel as though we were overrun by families with young children which we had not anticipated nor did we desire. The resort is quite large and has a wide variety of activities, pools, restaurants, etc. We enjoyed going to Palomino Island and my son and husband went scuba diving two days.

The resort itself seemed 'dated' and worn in some areas as in the building in which we were staying. I think we would stay in Las Casitas next time or in another of their many buildings; this time we were in building #4. We did expect more upscale amenities from a resort attached to the Waldorf Astoria name.

We felt that having a rental car was important and cost as much as getting shuttle service to/from the airport. It took us one hour to drive from San Juan to Fajardo. We also used the rental to tour Old San Juan and to go off the resort for dinner at La Pasion.

We were hesitant to stay outside of the San Juan area but are glad that we did as overall it was very relaxing and enjoyable.

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled with family
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Thank markandjulie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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4,625 - 4,631 of 7,755 reviews

Reviewed April 7, 2013

This is a resort hotel with resort pricing for food and recreation, but well worth the price in our mind. It is a beautiful property and we enjoyed our 5-night spring break stay immensely. As others have noted, the hotel tried to place our family of four in a room with a king bed and sleep sofa. We stated that was unacceptable, especially given our Hilton Honors membership level. I pulled my wallet out and played with it while the front desk clerk quickly upgraded us to a marina level room with two queen beds. Well worth the modest tip I gave her for her help. I highly recommend getting a marina level waterfront room as it was more convenient for the beach and water park. We stayed in room 1133 which faces the water park which closes at 6pm, so we avoided the noise of the restaurants and trams. You will hear the small tree frogs until 11pm or so, but this is part of the experience of a Caribbean island. We had no problem falling asleep while they chirped outside.

Our hotel room was spacious and very comfortable. This is not a new hotel, so there were a few minor items showing wear but nothing disappointing. The marble tile in the bathtub was clean and in good if not very good condition. The platform beds were luxurious and we appreciated the small refrigerator in our room. We had a private patio (1st floor room) with two chairs and a gorgeous view of the ocean. Our first day, they forgot to clean our room, but they immediately serviced the room after we called and it did not happen again. Our safe wouldn't lock one evening and again, someone was at our room within 5 minutes to fix it. All staff were friendly and helpful with the exception of one or two wait staff who were fine, just not smiling much.

The hotel ferry to Palomino Island operated about every 20 minutes with the last ferry returning from the island at 5:30 pm. You must show your room card to board the ferry. Sit outside or the ride will be stuffy. Kids enjoy the bumpy ride at the front of the boat - it is much smoother as you sit farther from the back. The island was very nice, with a variety of snorkel, kayak, inflatables and related gear available for rent. There were always plenty of lounge chairs available, although most did not have umbrella shade cover. The beach has soft sand and you can wade out in the water 10 feet or so and stay on sand, but there are rocks and shells in much of the shallow waters, so you must wear water shoes if you want to wade or swim out further from shore. The water is shallow so I could walk out 25 yards from shore and still be in water less than 2 ft deep. We could see see urchins and conch, but few fish except one nice coral area straight out from the beach bar. The island has a hiking trail up the small mountain for gorgeous views and photo opportunities. There is a beach bar, one restaurant (salads, burgers, fish and chips, $12-$14 p/p excluding drinks, tax and tip - very crowded if you try to eat at exactly noon so go early or a little late for lunch), a store and first aid station. The island also has mini golf, horseback riding, horseshoes and chess. Our boys enjoyed seeing the iguanas near the restaurant and the chicken and hermit crab that are also in the vicinity.

The hotel has limited restaurant offerings. The nicer restaurants require reservations if you want to ensure seating. We skipped these and instead ate at the restaurant by the marina and the pizza place for most meals. The salads, burgers, and brick oven pizza were great. Both restaurants were willing to create dishes that weren't on the menu, so ask if you don't see what you want.

All purchases while a guest at the hotel can be made as a charge against your room or by credit card. This includes the stores, restaurants and activities on the island.

The hotel provides free wifi via AT&T. Worked great on the island and on our sailing trip, too.

Tips:
- Make your own reservations for the bio bay lagoon tour or sailing. The hotel charges extra for these offerings.
- Rent a car and drive to the hotel from the airport. You will pay for daily parking at the hotel but have the luxury of easily going off site for breakfast or dinner. We made the mistake of paying for the hotel shuttle from the airport which was great but much more expensive than a cab. We reserved a cab for the return trip to the airport and paid a flat rate of $100 for our family of four. We also took a cab to the Villa Marina in Farjardo for a day sailing trip and paid $20 each way for our cab.
- For cab service to/from the airport, local restaurants, or sightseeing I highly recommend CRTransportation.pr@gmail.com, 787-614-8874. Text the owner, Carlos Rivera, with you reservation request and you will hear back quickly.
- Purchase breakfast sandwiches or pastries at the hotel Starbucks or the small store by the marina for a cheap, fast breakfast versus the hotel breakfast buffet.
- Despite signs saying otherwise, you can bring food and beverages on the ferry to Palomino Island. Buy your stuff offsite or at the main hotel and spend less than on the island. Buy large bottles of water to refill your small ones.
- Bring lots of sun lotion and aloe vera for sunburns, and any medicines you might need. Prices at the hotel are very expensive for toiletries. I paid $16 for a bottle of aloe vera.
- The ice cream shop is great but has long, slow lines at peak times.
- The hotel has several arcades for older kids.
- The water park is $20 p/p for the day, but only $5 p/p from 4-6pm. Eat lunch at the hotel, go to the island around 1pm, take the 3:30 ferry back to the hotel and enjoy the water park until time to clean up for dinner.
- The brick oven pizza is delicious with a thin, crispy crust. Three pizzas were sufficient to feed our family of four.
- There is little entertainment at the hotel in the evenings other than dining and bars. We booked the bio bay tour one evening, and made a point of having a late dinner most nights. They do have a DVD rental machine on the marina level and of course cable TV in all rooms.
- If you are adventuresome, you can walk out of the hotel at the marina level heading away from the water park. You will walk along sidewalk and road that is the employee parking access, and after about a quarter mile you will reach the neighboring village where the biobay kayak tours depart. When the tours are operating in the evening, there are vendors selling goods to tourists and one vendor selling wonderful chicken or pork BBQ kabobs, rice and beams, veggies, etc. along with adult and nonalcoholic beverages. This was our 12 and 15 yr old sons' favorite meal of the trip. Delicious! We also walked further into town one night and ate at a small restaurant that the locals frequent. The food at the Costa Linda was good and reasonably priced, but a bit too off the beaten path for most folks. The walk was not far but passed by some trashy buildings that made me question if we would be safe. It was fine, really, but extremely casual and off the beaten path.
- Resort attire was casual for all venues except the nicer restaurants needing reservations. While women wore shorts, swim suits with cover ups, or sun dresses at other times, they wore more sophisticated beach dresses with heels at the fine dining places, while the men wore polo shirts and khakis.
- Plan on $15-25 p/p for lunch or dinner at the sandwich/pizza places, $35-50 p/p at the fine dining places excluding drinks, tax, and tip.

Room Tip: Ask for a waterfront room near the water park for a convenient and quiet room. Be prepared to tip t...
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  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled with family
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1  Thank PatriciaC155
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 7, 2013

We stayed at this property for four nights. The property is beautiful and sits on top of a mountain looking over the sea. There is no beach on the property but you can take a 15 minute ferry over to Palomino island which is owned by the hotel. The island is beautiful and has a restaurant, bar and water activities. As for our room it was spacious but needed to be updated. It appears the hotel is short staff so in the mornings you can see wet towels around the pool areas. Overall this hotel is great for its value. The hotel is rated a four star so if you are expecting a five star resort don't stay here.

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled with family
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1  Thank Lee M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 7, 2013

From the El Conquistador website - "When you arrive at a Waldorf Astoria Hotel or Resort you can expect exceptional restaurants, luxurious spas, and unparalleled service". They are right, that's what we did expect, that's not what they delivered. This property is tired, broken down, worn down and dirty. What a huge dissapointment. Every where you look, it's either broken, tattered and always dirty.

We were here with our company on a awards trip. When the elevator opened to our floor (1) we were greeted with the dirtiest, filthiest, most worn out carpet any of us (all seasoned travellers) had ever seen. It literally made your skin crawl. I've never seen anything like this at a major hotel. We were all sickened by the filth. When we got to our room, it was clean, so did not mirror the filthy, disgusting, hallway, but it was tired. Dirty white sofa, broken towel rack in the bathroom, funky tub with multilple caulking attempts, etc. Simply tired with a great ocean, marina view.

We complained to the front desk and our corporate travel coordinator about the filth in the hallway and they sent a cleaning crew the next day, and the next day, and the next day. It was as if they were trying to make up for the year or so that they hadn't cleaned it once. Cleaning the carpet did help but it's beyond saving. Patches everywhere, stains, and bleach spots.

It's obvious that maintanance is being deferred all over this property. Every where you look something is patched, tattered and dirty. So either they're just about to renovate (which still doesn't excuse the general condition) or they don't have the money. Either way this is a 2 star property, only for the views and location.

The private island, Palamino Island, is very nice, probably the highlight of this property. The staff are very friendly and a always ready to help, with a smile.

This propery is 1.5 hours from Old San Juan, so once you're here, you're probably not just popping over to the old city.

Strip Steakhouse is a bust, mediocre food with a premium price tag. The Stingray restaurant by the marina was very nice with good food.

The casino has been removed and replaced with a wierd assortment of games, now called the Ultra Lounge, this place looks like an arcade threw up and the Ultra Lounge is the result. Another haphazard effort in this broke down palace.

If you get the right rate and want to take a vacation with the family and don't mind the general condition, the El Conquistador will work. If you're looking for a first class experience at a world class resort, look elsewhere. They need to spend millions here and should not be associating this property with the Waldorf name or re-position the brand along side La Quinta and Holiday Inn.

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled on business
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Thank Scott P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 6, 2013

Just got back from 4 days at El Conquistador/Waldorf Astoria at Fajardo, Puerto Rico. I was a little bit apprehensive about going there (after reading some of the negative comments) but we went anyway and I certainly am glad I didn't heed those overdramatized reviews. I've worked in the tourist industry,and my husband is a Cuban-born naturalized American citizen, and so I think we're both pretty qualified to objectively judge Caribbean hotel amenities. El Conquistador more than fulfilled our expectations and we plan to return.

We could not have been happier with the entire experience. There was something breathtakingly beautiful to see and photograph each and every day, something interesting and unique to experience, something delicious to eat, and we were never bored. Everything was as good as we could have hoped for...the food, the service, and the property which is just awesome. The front desk staff, especially Marilyn, was helpful and very nice. Jessica at the Concierge desk was nice and made sure we got where we needed to go. William in Guest Services, Alexander at Cafe Caribe, Angel in Ground Transportation and Jose in Hotel Transportation...all of them were really good to us.

We stayed in room 4321 which is at the top of the hotel overlooking the plaza. The view from the sliders is nothing short of magnificent, and I do mean postcard-type perfection. Two nights while we were there the hotel was hosting a business convention which meant music and partying on the plaza until about 10 PM. We put the TV on mute, opened the sliders, and just listened to the Caribbean music and experienced strong evening tropical breezes. The only reason we were watching TV at night in the first place was that some stormy weather was coming our way and we wanted to be on top of what was happening regarding our flight back home. We did close the sliders at nght and turn on the AC just because we don't like humidity when we sleep.

Some people have complained about the fact that there is no beachfront right on the property. The ride over to Palomino Island is fun! Who would not want to pretend to be taking a daily boat ride over to "Gilligan's Island"? You get to take fantastic photos as the boat is coming up to the dock. So what if the boat rocks a little bit? Well, duh, it's a boat, on the ocean, and there are waves. Take some Dramamine. It was a blast.

My husband was born in Cuba but left while still fairly young and he had not been back to the Caribbean in over 50 years, even though he had many memories. So back around Christmas I decided I would plan a perfect Caribbean getaway for him as a surprise. I'm sure it helped our interactions with the staff that my husband is fluent in Spanish, with a Caribbean accent. But I also feel that we had the perfect time because we are not what anyone would typify as "ugly Americans". We truly appreciated everything that was done for us. As a matter of fact, the only unpleasantness we experienced on the entire trip were many of our fellow American tourists.

And yes, we did see plenty of "ugly Americans"......loud, rude American tourists and their equally rude and entitled kids, whining and complaining about the least little thing, expecting everything to be like it is back "home". We heard them complain about the food, the heat, there was nothing to do...etc., etc. On two occasions we had to leave the pools because their bratty teens threw footballs and hit people with them; I'm talking about in the beautiful infinity pool, not the big one at the plaza, but the one with the once-in-a-lifetime view where you go to have an hour of tranquility, supposedly. And we literally got stampeded and mashed against the rails in the funicular on two occasions when it was already full and we had waited our turn to get on. Some other people felt like they couldn't wait 90 seconds for the next car and just shoved on in. One fat guy had a cigar in his mouth as he shoved his fat self inside. Unbelievable. I remarked to my husband that it is no wonder people from other parts of the world hate Americans if this is the way most of them behave overseas. The fellow tourists were the only damper on what would have been an absolutely perfect experience.

Anyway, to sum it all up; if you're a perfectionist, and feel entitled, and are impatient and rude, you probably would find fault with El Con, as you probably would with anything else. But if you approach it with the attitude of being a visitor in a foreign land, eager to see and do new things, and eager to stretch outside your comfort zone, you'll love it. And don't be afraid to go off property to the little village right outside the employee parking lot, the park at Las Croabas, for some real Caribbean food, at half the hotel price, by the way! We did and we loved it.

Room Tip: If you want to see and hear lots of activity, get Building 4 and ask for an ocean view room. All th...
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  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Icelandic1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 6, 2013

This is a family resort that attracts many families. The resort knows they can not accommodate all families with rooms having balconies and two queen size beds. However, they don’t want to lose business so they do not allow you to specify in your reservation if you want two queen beds or a room with a balcony. I have stayed at many hotels around the world and have never encountered this problem. Even though our reservations indicated we were traveling with 2 children and we needed two beds and a balcony. We checked in and this was not what we got. We were informed they had no rooms available of this type which was BS. Look at the reviews on tripadvisor this is the hotels scam to increase bookings since if most families knew they would encounter this problem they would stay elsewhere. The second day they did move us to the room we needed. However, I give no credit or thanks for a hotel moving us to a room we should have gotten in the first place. This made us so upset the first day that it put us in a bad mood for the first half of our trip. This was not a problem unique to me. Several families were going through the same ordeal at the same time. I think they try to screw all the families that prepay. This is clearly the hotels business model. Besides this, the hotel was amazing, the food was good and I would have given this hotel a 5 star review otherwise. But there is a reason you can not specify a room with two queen beds vs a king and why you can not specify an actual balcony vs a French balcony (door that opens to bars).These type of rooms are extremely limited. If you do not need a balcony or two beds this place is great. However, If you are a Family and do not want to pay top dollar for a room to have your kids sleep on an air mattress together for 8 nights, book at a hotel that will allow you to reserve a room with Two Queen beds. Besides this, the resort was beautiful, Food excellent and everything was amazing. But you do not want to start off a vacation with sort of BS.

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled with family
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5  Thank jamesh369369
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 6, 2013

We decided to go to Puerto Rico on our Spring vacation. I chose the hotel because I saw it advertised as a prize on Wheel of Fortune. I figured it would be fabulous! After I booked the trip, I started reading the reviews on Trip Advisor and was very concerned about my decision. I feel if you disregard the fact that it is a Waldorf Astoria property, then your expectations will be a little lower and you will be fine with everything. We were met at baggage claim and the bus ride was pleasant, air conditioned,and cool drinks were provided. We were allowed to check in early. We asked for an upgrade from our garden view room. I do not know if we actually got an upgrade, but we did have a partial ocean view. Rooms did need some renovating. bathroom was not luxurious and TV screen was small. On the whole, the room was bright and cheerful.There are many restaurants at the hotel, some expensive and some less expensive. If you plan to go to local restaurants, make reservations the first night you are there because they are small and fill up fast.Taxi cabs are always outside the hotel waiting to pick up guests. There is a listing of the prices to the various restaurants. $15 to El Veradero and $20 to La Estacion and Las Vestas. Take the cab to Las Vestas and then you can walk back to the hotel by entering the back gate. You can see the hotel property from the restaurant. You enter the property through an employee parking lot at the marina. Definitely go to Las Vistas for breakfast or brunch. It is 5 stars. We found everyone at the hotel to be very pleasant and courteous. We ate at several restaurants at the property and found the service to be quick. Towels were provided everywhere, pool, beach, and waterpark. There is a kid's camp run by the hotel. We did not have small children, but it looked like the employees were very involved with the children and activities were planned for day and evening.The beach is beautiful, the singing frogs are amazing, and overall a wonderful place to spend a vacation. Lastly,check your bill halfway through the stay so if you have charged incorrectly then you have time to get it corrected.

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled with family
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3  Thank Jennie J
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

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: $197 - $468 (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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