We just finished a two-week trip to Puerto Rico, including nine days at the Hacienda Bona Vista. This place is off the beaten path and a bit of a challenge to get to but we found that there were some very nice compensating factors. The overview photos of this place do a reasonable job of showing you what the area looks like but I think some of the views were better in real life. I have one particular photo taken from an adjacent mountain looking back toward the hacienda that has elicited ooohs and aahhs from everyone I have shown it too. They all ask how I found such a place.
February was a great time to be there. We were able to walk out the door and pick grapefruit, tangerines, oranges, and bananas to our hearts content. The oranges did not have that perfect look of fruit in your average U.S. grocery store but they were more interesting. So much juicier and with a sharper flavor. I really wish I could have brought some home (but for USDA regulations).
One reason I rated this place as a four and not five is that it is a bit rough around the edges. Maybe not the place for someone that will only accept a five-star hotel. The interior was VERY spacious. The floors are tile and beautiful old wood planking (as are most of the walls). The kitchen has a bit of a 1970's look but it does the job and is plenty big. The refrigerator was old-school but kept our food plenty cold. No nasty smells inside either.
The dining room is huge and is a highlight of the hacienda. Lots of table space between the kitchen, entryway, and dinning room tables. The living room is very nice and properly appointed for this old house.
There is a clothes washer that is adequate but no dryer during our stay. But given the frequent breezes and ample space on the veranda, we made do with clothes lines.
The internet service was adequate for most tasks but maybe not for sitting around streaming movies night and day. The internal Wi-Fi network was fine but I think the ISP that serves this area is less than stellar. There were a few times when I needed to cycle power on the modem and router to re-establish the connection to the ISP. But the power plug was conveniently located in the dinette.
The immediate exterior is a mix of nice back yard, interesting old foundations, and some spots that are not as glamorous. Very nice veranda out front and also narrow balcony on two sides. The views from the veranda can be spectacular at certain times of the day as you are overlooking a deep valley and mountain range rising up from it. Pretty much great mountain and valley views 360 degrees. I was able to take some impressive photos around this property.
I am not much for listening to roosters crowing all the time as is so common in PR. Staying at the hacienda gave me some relief from that as you have to be outside and listening at the right location to hear them. At other places we stayed we could not escape the noise. Here, they are far enough away that I was able to deal with it.
Very few cars will pass by this place. You will enjoy a sense of solitude that is just not possible in the touristy areas. The farm that is part of this hacienda is around 40 acres (per Luis, the care-taker). It might be much larger though. We took some time and hiked around, picking fruit along the way. I was able to find some bananas that were perfectly ripe right on the tree. First time ever for me, eating tree-ripened bananas. Be advised, this hacienda is right on the top of a mountain. If you go for a walk, you will usually be going up or down. I offer this as a good thing.
During our stay in February, temperatures were around ten degrees cooler than on the coast. If it was 85 plus on the coast, it would be mid 70's at the hacienda, and then as low as 65 at night. Much more comfortable for someone from the frozen North like me than I had imagined for the tropics.
We would drive to Lares for groceries as needed. This was a long haul though and it might have been better to go to Castaner. But Lares is a larger town and serves as a better jumping-off point for attractions to the NW part of the island. I had read some reviews of Puerto Rico that cautioned tourists about being out on rural roads at night. I went into our trip concerned about this, not knowing any better for myself. After having driven these roads a great deal during our two weeks and spending a fair amount of time in Lares and other small towns, I must say that such warnings now sound like gibberish. Everyone we came into contact with in this area seemed to have a heart of gold. We felt very welcomed and cared for.
During our trip we had a car battery go bad. We were near Cabo Rojo at that time. I popped the hood open and locals started showing up, each offering some kind of help. But nobody had cables. One guy made a call to his brother in law 20 minutes away. He then drove there and back retrieving some cables to jump my car. He gave me his number with strict instructions to call him should I need any help at all during the remainder of my trip. And he meant it!
After several hours of driving, the battery would still not hold a charge. I did not realize this until the next morning when we were at the hacienda; now more or less in the middle of nowhere. I started walking down the lonely mountain road and encountered a young guy driving up the mountain in his old Ford van. He did not speak a lick of English (and me little Spanish) but I got the point across. He pointed to his passenger seat and drove me back up to the hacienda. He did not have cables either but took his battery out and flipped it upside down onto mine and touched the terminals together. He gave me a shocked looked when I offered him $5 for his trouble and he would not accept it. I hope I did not offend him. There are some really great people out in these small towns of PR.
Our dealings with the manager for this property were cordial and business-like. We did not have any problems getting our damage deposit refunded after our stay. Overall, staying at the hacienda was a great value for the dollars spent, which was important given the number of days we stayed there.
In the interest of full disclosure, my wife and I are rural people. We own our own hobby farm in West Michigan and are perhaps more comfortable in a tent or rustic cabin than in some hotels. So we are just more mentally prepared to deal with minor things that might bother someone else (like needing to hang your clothes out to dry on the front porch). We just deal with things rather than making a stink about it. The hacienda might seem a bit rustic to some. It was very comfortable for us.
My boyfriend and I stayed in this house for our anniversary weekend. It is a truly magical place, brimming with rich history that stirs the imagination. The old part of the house is made entirely of old wooden boards. There are breathtaking views and cool mountain breezes. My boyfriend enjoyed fishing for bass in one of the nearby lakes. We are both photographers and also enjoyed taking landscape photos of the surrounding area. We will definitely be back soon!