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El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort
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A TripAdvisor Member
San Francisco, CA
19
Reviewed September 18, 2005

We had a wonderful time at this resort. Like many other of the guests on this site, I was expecting a bit of a rundown place or a property of neglect upon check in. Mind you, I travel a lot and have seen my share of reputable establishments as well as places no better than shanty towns. This by far is one of the grandest and the nicest resorts I've been to. I am hard pressed to suggest anything that needs improvement. The service was excellent, the facilities very well-maintained and the food was great.

We landed in SJC on a Sunday evening close to 11 pm. We took the airport shuttle (not complimentary but totally worth it) to the resort and were pleasantly surprised and greatly relieved to partake in the complimentary Bacardi Rum and Coke cocktails available on the bus. Since we were the only ones on the shuttle, we had the driver's undivided attention. We were able to ask him all sorts of questions about the resort, the island, and the people.

When we arrived, the bell hop was efficient in collecting our bags and waiting while we checked in. At the front desk, I asked if the hotel was sold out for that particular week. When she said no, I asked if it would be possible to be upgraded to an ocean view room. She readily agreed and put us in a room on the fifth floor of the La Vistas wing. The ocean view was breathtaking. We could see Vieques Island and the Wyndham's private island, Palomino. All I could think about as I was drifting off to sleep was how spectacular the view would be when the sun rose.

The next morning, after picking up some coffee and pastries from David's coffee (good enough even for coffee snobs) we had breakfast on our balcony and counted our blessings. On our first day we toured the resort to check out what facilities were available. We took the ferry over to Palomino Island and lay underneath one of the beach huts for a quick nap. The last ferry shuttles you back to the resort at 4:30 pm. It's too bad that they don't extend Palomino's hours into the night. It has the potential to be a popping hot spot if given the chance.

We rented a car from the resort (Avis is on site) and found the local strip mall. There was a Wal Mart, a Walgreens, McDonalds, Pueblo (grocery store) and even a Payless Shoe Source.

I had seen reviews about Fajardo itself and that there are certain areas that would make you step on the gas pedal. We drove through Fajardo Centro at night and everyone was nothing but friendly. We also drove through Luquillo at night and found the same thing. Looks can be deceiving and I think if you look for trouble, eventually, you will find it. We went to the local bars and hung out there at night. It was just my boyfriend and I; and I was probably the only Asian in Fajardo and maybe only one of three on the entire island. One El Conquistador drawback, the nightlife is lacking. The casino is a happening place on the weekends, and Casablanca's has good music, but no one is there to enjoy it. So, we did the next best thing, we hung out with the locals. Our favorite hot spots: El Rancho and the Brass Cactus, both in Luquillo. One night we drove to Old San Juan and went bar/club hopping but the drive back was torture because it was real late and you just wanted to be home.

Musts in PR: El Yunque Rainforst, Luquillo (food kiosks), Playa Azul or Costa Azul (in Luquillo), Old San Juan, Plaza Las Americas Shopping Center, and the Bacardi Factory (even though you will find that Don Q rum tastes SOOOOO much better).


Overall, we would come to the resort again. Definitely felt that one week was just enough to figure your way around and get into the swing of things. If you can do two weeks, you're better off.

  • Stayed: September 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
9  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 16, 2005

This is our second stay at El Conquistador. I have seen many negative reviews of the hotel and I am surprised. I think the hotel definately can make improvements but overall, it is aboove average.

WYNDHAM BY REQUEST MEMBER- If you are planning on staying here, enroll in this program. It's free and you get to set some preferences on your room and get a complimentary snack and beverage at arrival.

ARRIVAL FROM AIRPORT- The hotel provides a shuttle, we rented a car at the airport. It is very easy to get to the hotel and it is only about a 45 minute ride. You get there via a major road (rpute 3) with MANY shops and restauratns. It's a good opportunity to scope out the area for places to eat since it is very expensive to eat at the resort.

CAR RENTAL- Highly recommend. Yes, expect to pay $10/day for self park or $15/day for valet (we did this) but the fact that you are able to got out to eat and get snacks at Walmart instead of eating at the resort makes up for the cost.

ROOM- We were happy with our rooms. We reserved run of the house and so were a bit nervous about where we would be assigned. The Wyndham by request members benefit allows you to select the type of floor you want to stay in. We selected higher ground floor and so we got the top- floor #6 on the Vistas wing off the main lobby. Absolutely stunning! We had room #4627 overlooking the cliff,, palomino island, Las Casitas and the ocean. Wonderful breeze and breathtaking sunrises. My parents were accross from us in #4639, also breathtaking views of the golf course, mountains and El Yunque RAinforest, stunning sunsets and beautiful at night. The rooms were cleaner than when we stayed the first time. Pleasantly surprised with the size, separate toilet area, huge closet in bathroom, vanity and sink and tub. Our room had 2 double beds, with a table and desk and patio also with table overlooking the ocean. Room had snack bar and an additional refrigereator in the bathroom. THIS IS WHERE RENTING A CAR COMES IN HANDY! There is a Walmart and Walgreens about a 10 minute ride from the hotel. We stocked up on soda and snacks and packed them in our fridge. Prices are outrageous at the resort. If you are on a budget, recommend you go out on your own to eat and also sightseeing.

SERVICE- Mixed emotions about this one. Very slow pace in Puerto Rico, prepare to wait! We called housekeeping for towels and have yet to get them. Expect to wait 5-15 minutes for valet. Keep in mind we went in September which is slow season. Called the concierge desk, phone rang and rang, no one ever answered. Tried to rent a movie, system was down and had to call the front desk after 3 attempts and about 10 minutes later we got through. Really, not efficient service. We arrived early and waited in line to check in- we were told to come back to get the keys which is fine but we had to wait in line again. Had some money to change and were told they could only change $50.00 for us. The Bell services is great, seems this is the only area in the hotel that is efficient and quick. Overall, everyone is pleasant.

RESTAURANTS- Cafe Caribe is affordable and they are the only ones to offer authentic Puerto Rican food. Dinner for 3 including something to drink was $66.00 with the tip. David's Cookies is a good place to get snacks and coffee. Ordered room service on one day, delivery was pretty quick and the burger was very good. Paid $15.00 for a burger and fries. For breakfast, we did not want to pay $20/person for the buffet (we did last time and were dissapointed; flies on the food). So we went to David's and got a huge croissant, ham and cheese sandwich for $3.75, this was very reasonable for us. The rest of the time we went out to eat. Metropol Restaurant at the plaza offers great Cuban food. ANCHOR'S INN is a must- owner Pedro is a great guy. We go here whenever we stay in PR. To get here, leave the hotel and at the main entrance/exit take a left. Follow the road for about 1/2 a mile, Anchor's inn will be on your right side. The Camarones al Ajillo or shrimp scampi is very tasty. The best entree was the Chillo (Red Snapper) cooked to your liking, we had it fried. Remember, food is prepared fresh so there will be a wait. For breakfast there is also the local panaderias or bakeries. For $7.00 four of us bought, sandwiches a la plancha (ham and cheese on bread flattened on the grill; like panini), a loaf of bread and butter, 4 coffees and 2 juices. YOU WILL NOT GO HUNGY IN PR- there is food everywhere and vendors line up the streets. Luquillo Beach, right after El Yunque has the famous Kioskos (Kiosks that line up the beach). Here for $15.00 4 of us ate chicken on the grill, fried plantain, 2 empanadillas, green bananas, and drinks.

PALOMINO- This is the hotels private island. We cold have stayed here all week. It is very relaxing and convenient. Only about a 25 minute boat ride from the hotel. There is a restaurant that offers food and drink. Lunch for 4 was $66 for chicken tenders, fish and 2 chicken sandwiches- very different from our lunch at Luquillo beach, A beer and 3 pina coladas totaled $26.00. Two years ago when we went we bought a cooler at Walmart and packed in drinks and snacks. The resort seems to be more money hungry and now prohibit coolers. We still packed snacks and warm soda and water in our back packs and asked for ice at the restaurant. BRING YOUR WATER/ROCK SHOES. Some of the beach areas are rocky.

SIGHTSEEING- Do it on your own! We were shocked to see that the hotel charges about $65.00 for the El Yunque rainforest excursion. We went there for free. Just drive down route 3 for about 20-25 minutes and drive through the forest. We went to Viequez for a day. The ferry leaves the Fajardo marina which is about 10 minutes from the hotel at 9:30 (there are other schedules but if you want to spend time on the bech, you have to get there early in order not to miss the ferry back; the last one leaves Viequez at 6:00 pm). Tickets are only $2.00 per person, ferries are big with some areas airconditioned. Takes about 1 1/2 to get to Viequez. When you dock there will be taxies waiting for you. Ask for Fernando from El Ardillo Fast Driving. Nice guy with lots of knowledge of the island. Showed us 2 beaches so we could pick which one we wanted to stay in. We were pressed for time so we went to the only beach with public toilets and showers and a small snack bar. Fernando asked us for a pick up time and came and picked us up. We went to Sun Bay beach or as they know it SOMBE; half moon beach lined with palm trees and wild horses. WE WERE THE ONLY ONES THERE! The water is rougher than Luquillo and definately Palomino and get's deep only after a few feet so stay close to shore as there are no life guards and in our case, no one around. Viequez is very relaxing and the peopl are very laid back. Very small and everyone know each other. Economy is suffering because of the removal of the US Naval base. You can also get to Viequezs via a car Ferry that takes about 2 hours.

ADVICE- If you can, check the internet for hours of operations on places you want to visit. Many places are closed on Monday and Tuesdays like Luquillo beach. Remember thought that unlike the US, all beaches in PR are public it's just a matter of whether you can get in. We went to Luqillo on Monday the gate was closed but we parked where the Kiosks are and just walked down the beach. Some places I tried calling nver answered there phones and some published schedules had changes. Just ask the locals. BUY PUERTO RICO by Lonely Planet tour book, is the most comprehensive I have seen and we have found places that even us as Puerto Ricans did not know about.

  • Stayed: September 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
16  Thank kakuct
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
215
Reviewed September 15, 2005

I read all the reviews about rude staff, expensive meals and marginal accommedations. My wife and I experienced nothing but rest, relaxation and good food. Not once did we come in contact with any member of the staff that were rude or impolite. Service was top notch.

Was the food expensive. It sure was but I found it no more expensive than the trips I've taken to DisneyWorld in FL. Anyone who thinks they are not going to spend serious money on food should not go to first class resorts. We paid $50 every morning on breakfast. Was it worth it? You bet! Patrons were treated to a first class resturant that offered a beautiful view of the water no matter where you sat. The tables were covered in white table cloth with good china and utensils. Anything you can imagine for breakfast was available. Gut busting omlets, fresh fruit, freshly made waffles, fantastic coffee and it was all you can eat!

Dinner was equally great. We ate at the stingray cafe and at Isabella's. Both resturants rated five out of five stars in my book. Was it expensive? You bet your butt! However, seeing the look in my wife eyes as she enjoyed her dinner and fine wine was well worth the price. If you plan on eating at the better resturants be prepared to zip the numbers off your credit card. We spent $150 at the stingray and about $200 at Isabella's, including the tip.

For those who do not like to spend money on pricey food I would suggest the Carribe Cafe next to the casino. They have great local food with the kind of prices you would pay at IHOP or a TGIFridays. We ate there a couple of times with no complaints. I really enjoyed the local dishes. They tasted just the way my mom made them. As a matter of fact I could have sworn my mom was in the kitchen! It was great.

The room we had was clean, roomy and comfortable. The furniture was clean and recent. From my wife's point of view, the room itself was a little dated and it needed attention to detail but stuff like that don't matter to guys. Consider to that the resort has been around since when my mom was a little girl in Puerto Rico. She is in her sixties now. The room was good to go in my book. The private island was great and my wife and I had a great time.

Bottom line, the place is on the expensive side but worth every cent. If you don't want to spend money on a nice vacation, don't go to the Conquistador. And just in case you are wondering, my wife and I weigh 135 and 180 respectively. :)

  • Stayed: August 2005
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
13  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Long Island, NY
16
Reviewed September 6, 2005

Beautiful resort with exquisite views and vistas. The staff was cordial and accomodating. Beware thoogh that you will be paying a pretty penny for any services. Don't even think about eating or drinking anything from the refrigerator or snack bar. It is $6.00 for a quarter of a container of pringles! If you consume any of these snacks or drinks they will happily refill it for you the next day but be aware when you check out you will be hit by a bill of a couple of hundred dollars, for what might have costed maybe $50.00 in a supermarket. My tip is go to a local supermarket and buy snacks and drinks for a fraction of the cost and put it in a second refrigerator in the bathroom. This will save you lots of money especially if you have hungry kids looking for a snack like we did.

  • Stayed: August 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
6  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Long Island, New York
16
Reviewed September 5, 2005

Read the reviews before I went and got a bit nervous. From check in with Alex V. who upgraded us to a fabulous room to the young man who brought our luggage - it was perfect. Every member of the staff was polite and incredibly helpful even going out of their way to help. Vivian P. at the concierge desk is a gem!

In 5 days we waited only once for the funicular and the wait was under 2 minutes. Several great pools to choose from but we spent most of our time at Palimino Island. The service in both Otellos and Isabella's was outstanding and the food excellent. Buffet breakfast was good and there was plenty to eat. The staff was terrific and kept our coffee cups filled! Loved the 2 for 1 at the Golden Door Spa so much that we went twice for the "Golden Door Spa Massage".

Stop at the grocery store in order to save money on the booze or your Grey Goose martini at Drakes Cigar Bar is going to cost you $20.

Although it was considered the "rainy season" the weather could not have been more beautiful.

Go! Relax! Indulge! Enjoy!!!!

  • Stayed: September 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
6  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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