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“Fantastic Vacation in Puerto Rico -- Tips”

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Las Casitas Village, A Waldorf Astoria Resort
Ranked #1 of 4 Hotels in Fajardo
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed March 31, 2013

We just returned from one of the best vacations we have ever had – staying in Fajardo, PR, at Las Casitas Villas. Our group consisted of two families traveling together from Mar 22 to Mar 29 with children ages 9 - 13. Here are our tips:
1. Room – We booked two garden view guestrooms initially with the Best of Waldorf promotion ($50 per day resort credit). We were luckily upgraded to a 3 bedroom, room 5600, at the end of the South Village for 3 nights which fit the 7 of us perfectly. The views were astounding from this room. However, the owners had booked the other nights so we moved back to our guestrooms for the rest of our one week stay. Room 5223 has a great view of the gardens whereas 5352 is less ideal as it faces the parking lot. Thank you to Wanda, Lily, and Blanca for assisting with the rooms.
2. Butlers – Thanks also to Juan Carlos and Eddie who were very helpful with luggage, recs, and water.
3. Transportation – We recommend renting a car (we had a minvan) so that you can go off site for groceries, restaurants, and touring.
4. On-site restaurants – We chose one restaurant (Stingray) for our special dinner based on other reviews and confirmed that the meal was scrumptious, yet pricey. The best breakfast buffet is at Las Brizas and is a great deal for the children (thanks to Jose for great service). The smoothies were refreshing at Iguanas on Palomino Island.
5. Off-site restaurants – Le Estacion (reservations recommended) and Varadero Seafood Grill (arrival at 5:30 pm or else expect a long wait) were close by. Don’t miss the banana empanada like dessert at Le Estacion!
6. On-site activities – Palomino Island is beautiful. Rent a floating device if you have children to get to the little island off Palomino. Bring water shoes as coral and sea urchins in the sand.
7. Off-site activities – El Yunque and Old San Juan are worthwhile day trips. Remember to look at lunar calendar and book well in advance for Biobay Tour. The week we went the moon was full so there were no good nights for the tour. However, the lovely moonlight made swimming at night and walking grounds very pleasant.

Room Tip: We stayed at both South Village and North Village during the stay. We prefer the South Village as ne...
  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Thank KatBenChen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed March 29, 2013

The good is really good: the place has beautiful views and beautiful rooms; the Casitas property, unlike the main one, is in great shape and not overcrowded; and the beach island is lovely, by the time you get to it. There is lots to entertain kids.

BUT

(1) About half the people who helped us did it scowling, including the woman who checked us in, the woman who didn't apologize or offer to help when the internet didn't work, and most impressively, the woman who checked us out and didn't provide the $50 credit per night included in our deal until we checked over our bill, which did contain every charge we had made. (Waldorf-Astoria, $600 per night, seriously?)

(2) The food is overpriced and mostly bad. The fish items were the best, but it is pretty shocking to pay $12 for a special salad that doesn't have the special items (hearts of palm etc.) and doesn't even have much romaine lettuce. Kids pizza good. Puerto Rican specials bad.

(3) The main hotel is a little run down and a lotta Vegas. Big spaces with loud tacky furnishings.

(4) When they say the boat to the beach takes 15 minutes and runs every 30 minutes, beware: It may be 15 minutes from the moment it leaves to the moment it arrives, but with the line etc. it takes 45-60 minutes. Plus when we left one morning you could see one of the boats sitting there and the other was running every hour.

If you book on line in the main season and you aren't getting a deal--so you are paying, say, $600 for a 1BR after the resort fee--you are getting ripped off.

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled with family
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1  Thank joral50
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 28, 2013

Just returned from 6 days at Las Casitas (March 2013). It was a terrific place for our spring break - 2 adults and a 7 year old. Here are the pros, cons and tips from our trip:

Property: the property is beautiful, caribbean architecture and colors, tiles everywhere and gorgeous views of the sea or the golf course/mountains. It's beautifully planted. The property and rooms are a little worn - this is not 'brand new' so some paint is scraped, some tiles chipped, some signs of humidity on the outsides of buildings. If you don't look too too closely, lovely. We were up in the 'north village', which was a terrific location for us - close to the gym, the upper Casitas pool.

Pools: there are 7 pools - 3 at Las Casitas, 3 at the main level of El Conquistador, 1 at the interim level. This doesn't include the pools of the Coqui water park. The pools at Las Casitas are meant only for the guests of the casitas - the other pools can be used by any of the guests. The Casitas pools are quieter, but smaller and it can be hard to get several chairs together, unless you go early. Pools are all between 3' and 4' deep, so great for kids. One of the El Conquistador pools has 4 swim lanes, they were often busy in the early morning.

Clean towels can be tough - I realize it's hard for staff to keep up with the towel situation, especially as there are few places to leave used towels, so they're often scattered about the chairs, even when guests have left. There are hot tubs at all of the pools, some hotter than others. Never too full, based on our experience.

For of the nights we were there, they showed family movies at the north pool at El Conquistador - a fun way to see a movie, even if sound isn't perfect (so it's more enjoyable if you've already seen the movie once so you know the general plot). They even offer pop corn - a nice touch. We hit Walmart for a floating seat type thing and enjoyed the movies from the water.

Rooms: we booked a room through Expedia (the smallest room) and were very pleasantly surprised that it was a 1 BR, with a full kitchen (that's not what we expected from the room description online and the person who checked us in didn't mention that we'd been upgraded or anything). Lovely balcony with a lounge chair and table w/ 4 chairs overlooking the grounds and El Yunque. Open concept kitchen (with island for 3 to eat at), dining area and couch and chair around TV. We also had a washer/dryer - you can buy laundry soap at one of the stores at El Conquistador. Cleaning staff was good, once they got going - somehow we missed their rotation for the first 36 hours of our stay. One con - the beds were soft! If that's what you like, you'll be delighted. It wasn't great for us.

Eating: The kitchen in our casita had all the basics - including dish detergent and dishwasher soap, and even a blender! There's a Ralph's about 10 minutes from the resort, so it was nice to have supplies on hand instead of always leaving the resort for meals or eating at the resort (we saw the reviews and chose not to eat on property). Things we didn't pick up on our first food run and wish we had: sponge, coffee and coffee filters (coffee pods included in the room, but not if you want decaf or go through a fair amount of coffee), gladware (for leftovers). We found all of that at Ralphs - very much a complete supermarket, even if you can't find absolutely everything you'd find in the States (e.g., almond butter). There is a Starbucks at El Conquistador - full service (tho they don't take the Sbux loyalty card) and open at 6am. Seems they serve local coffee -- which we prefer to the usual Sbux, so we were pleased.

Beach - other reviews have commented about travel over to the beach (the island 7-10 minutes away by ferry). We really enjoyed our time at the beach - plenty of chairs, a fair amount of shade from trees or umbrellas, a place to rent water equipment, and soccer, basketball, ping pong, chess, casual minigolf, beanbag toss all right there. Can snorkel from the beach to some dying reef and see fish - not a ton of great fish to see, but entertaining and gives you the feel of snorkeling. Some cons: there's not much beach for distance walking, if that's your preference; the ferries can be a real bear in terms of getting over there -- on a Saturday morning, we easily made the first boat at 9am (we showed up at 9.05 grabbed some of the last seats and by 9.10 it was pulling out). Then, the full-on spring break crowd arrived! Combined w/ an unfortunately timed coast guard inspection on Monday morning, we waited about 40 minutes for a ferry (we arrived at 10.15) , and had a similar wait Tuesday morning (we arrived at 9.10). Others experienced even longer lines those mornings. To the resorts credit, they did hand out water to some waiting in line and called in the dive boat to help ferry people across, but still, a wait of over 30 minutes to get on the ferry over to the beach isn't a great start to anyone's vacation day.

Water Park - Coqui seems to fill up! We always went at 4pm ($5/person until it closes - around 5.15 for the slides, 5.30 for the rest). There's not a ton there to keep an active child busy all day, so an hour plus in the afternoons was perfect for us. Three slides (one w/ tubes) and a lazy river were our focus. There's a smaller, shallower pool area for younger kids.

Gym - as guests at Las Casitas, you can use the Golden Door Spa gym for free. It seems to open at 6, although the spa doesn't open until 7. Much better facility than the hotel gym. 3 elipticals of varrying types, 2 stair masters, 1 spin bike, 2 recline and 2 seated bikes, and 3 treads. Then there's plenty of weight equipment as well - a wide range of free weights and about a dozen machines. Most of the cardio machines have their own TVs. Not brand new equipment, but we were really pleased with it!

Other: for kids, we didn't try the camp, but we did have fun doing the ScoutAbout activity. A map with 12 'look outs' across the property, including the beach island. Collect a band when you read about each of the topics (e.g., Coquis, conchs, parrots, the labyrinth) and turn them in for an official Scout Band and your name on the bulletin board.

Overall, we were really happy with our experience. It's not a 5* but it was great for our purposes and we'd certainly go back.

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank ld18
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 26, 2013

We enjoyed our stay at the casitas .... especially the fabulous view from the infiniti pool and the deck off our casita! The grounds and landscaping were lovely and our room was nice and clean though nothing special as far as decor. The casitas were very quiet at night (besides the coqui frogs that we LOVE!) ... we were relieved that it's not a "party" hotel but mostly families. We appreciated the free wifi and the staff was always friendly and helpful. The ScoutAbout program for the kids was fun and we had a beautiful day at Palomino Island.... and we didn't mind the trek to get there. My only complaint is the food. I don't mind paying top price for top quality but the food was WAY overpriced for the quality and selection, especially breakfast. If I ever return, I will use the kitchen to make our own breakfast and try some dinners in town.

Room Tip: Ocean view room near the infiniti pool!
  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled on business
    • Value
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Thank Penny H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 24, 2013

The Casitas are part of the very large El Conquistador resort. This mega resort includes golf course, spa, private island beach, marina and many shops and restaurants. The Casitas are rooms/suites in a village type area as opposed to the El Conquistador which are hotel rooms. The Casitas somehow seemed a bit more quiet and pleasant and separate from the huge hotel areas of the El Conquistador. The resort is too big with too many people. The boat to the beach was pleasant but after you arrive on the island you have to hussle to find a chair and a spot on the beach that is swimmable. The island is large and surrounded by the great Puerto Rico water however a large part of the beach is hard to swim in without beach shoes as there is a reef surrounding the island.
We ate at the Italian restaurant at the hotel.It was great and I would certainly recommend it. The breakfast buffet was huge with lots of choices and I would also recommend that. The other restaurants that we tried were just average. My husband said that the golf course looked good and he would have liked to play but we didn't have enough time.
We were upgraded to a 1 bedroom casita without a view. It had a wonderful balcony with a table and lounge chairs, a kitchen/dining/living room section and separate bedroom. It was nice and if the beach and size of the resort were more to our liking we would think of returning but only if we were looking for a place to bring kids. There seemed to be a lot of kids activities however, it wouldn't be a place my husband and I would go back to.

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Orleans
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 22, 2013

House keeping is terrible and they move stuff and damage them. When you approach them they deny it. I lost my $180 beautiful butterfly item. Its not at all worth the fat money that you pay. I am so very disappointed and upset with this place. Totally ruined my vacation.

  • Stayed: March 2013
    • Value
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6  Thank Diashaa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 21, 2013 via mobile

We checked in late... There were no ocean views available ... But we got such a great. Deal we didn't complain.

This resort had amazing grounds to explore. It was fun to walk around grab a drink and enjoy the outstanding views from the many vistas . Mango mojito... Yum!

I agree it is a bit worn in places but the staff is so nice and the locations was great. Drive to Yunque, a near beach, monkey island so much more

Location is out of San Juan but after a couple of days in that city you want to enjoy the culture and restaurants around Fajardo
Estacion is right outside the gates and will give u a meal to remember

  • Stayed: February 2013
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1  Thank Tkdela
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Las Casitas Village, 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 Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 4 Hotels in Fajardo
Price Range: $237 - $944 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Las Casitas Village, A Waldorf Astoria Resort 4.5*
Number of rooms: 110
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Las Casitas Village is an enclave of private villas that enjoy sweeping ocean views, fully equipped kitchens, personal concierges and butler service. Among many pleasures, enjoy an expansive waterpark, scuba dive, ride horseback, golf or choose from a renowned menu of soothing treatments at the Waldorf Astoria Spa. Las Casitas Village has long been known as the jewel of the Caribbean and has accumulated a list of prestigious awards and accolades including a 4-diamond rating by AAA. Welcome to Las Casitas Village, a Waldorf Astoria Resort. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Las Casitas Village, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel Fajardo
Waldorf Astoria Fajardo
Las Casitas Village, A Waldorf Astoria Resort Puerto Rico/Fajardo

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