I've admitted this many times and I'm honestly not afraid to say it - my boyfriend and I are insane. Now that I've made that disclaimer, I'll mention that we took a quick weekend trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico in June. We flew out of SFO on Friday night, arrived in San Juan on Saturday morning, hung out for the day, and were back on the plane home on Sunday afternoon to arrive at SFO on Sunday night. Yeah, okay, flying over 7,000 miles for a 24 hour stay is a bit ridiculous.
That said, it was a really fun trip and it was awesome to visit Puerto Rico for the first time! I love that you don't need a passport, but it absolutely feels like you're in a totally different country. Since we were in town for a very short while, we decided to book a room at the Ritz Carlton San Juan, which is conveniently located very close to the airport (with that, keep in mind that the hotel is actually quite far from Old Town San Juan and necessitates a $25-30 cab ride each way).
Our flight arrived a bit before 10AM, so we arrived at the hotel shortly after. Chris booked our stay through American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts, which offers a 12PM early check-in benefit, so we figured we wouldn't need to wait long for a room. Unfortunately, we were quite wrong. Our room didn't end up being ready until almost 2PM, which was a huge disappointment when we had less than a day to enjoy our mini vacation. The front desk agent offered to hold our bags for us and said that we could use any of the hotel's facilities, but after an overnight red-eye, we really wanted a room to change and leave our things in. Because of the extremely late availability of our room, we were hoping it meant we got a good upgrade for our room (another benefit of AmEx FHR is a complimentary room upgrade). Again, we were wrong. We ended up in a standard king room with no view to speak of except for a small sliver of ocean if you leaned against the glass. Oh well. Since we were in Puerto Rico for 24 hours, we didn't plan to spend much time in the room anyways.
As I mentioned, our room was a standard king room and, despite this being a Ritz Carlton, which I always associated with the epitome of luxury, it wasn't much different from any other hotel room I've stayed in. The room had a bed, a love seat, and a desk. The bathroom was nice and had double sinks with a separate enclosed toilet area.
The toiletries were Asprey London Purple Water branded.
To the left when you entered the room, there was a chest of drawers with an ice bucket and a couple of complementary water bottles next to the closet with the standard amenities.
The mini bar and coffee bar could be found in the armoire beneath the television on pull out drawers. There was the standard fare with some small bottles of wine and snacks in the mini bar and a very small coffee maker along with two more complementary water bottles in the coffee drawer.
Overall, the room was quite unexciting. I will say, however, that the best part of the hotel itself was the evening turn-down service. We left in the evening to visit Old Town San Juan for a walk and to have dinner and when we returned, the room was softly lit, our bed was turned down, there were chocolates on our pillows, water bottles next to each side of the bed, and there was soft mood music playing from the clock radio. The turn-down service was honestly the only way I was able to tell that the Ritz Carlton was a "luxury" hotel during our stay. Everything else, from the decor to the service, was average. I do understand that the Ritz San Juan is one of their lower-end properties, but it was still a bit disappointing if I'm being honest.
I think what you really come to the hotel for (and what you come to Puerto Rico for) is the outdoor space. The hotel grounds and the pool area were absolutely beautiful. The Ritz Carlton San Juan is located right on a private beach and has a wonderful, large pool with a bar, which is great if you don't want to get covered in sand on the beach.
One thing that I really appreciated at the pool was the availability of two bottles of SPF 15 and 30 sunscreen and one bottle of aloe vera available for guest use. For anyone who has ever forgotten sunscreen or aloe on a beach vacation, I am sure you will join me in my adoration of Ritz Carlton for providing those simple luxuries.
On Sunday morning before we had to fly out, we were able to enjoy a complementary breakfast buffet at Mares, again, thanks to AmEx FHR.
The buffet was great and had tons of selection, including eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, tons of pastries, meats, cheeses, smoked salmon, museli and even some yogurt parfaits. I really love getting free breakfast because honestly I am not looking to spend $31/person no matter what the selection was. My favorite part was the option to eat outside by the pool, which was nice since we had such a limited time to enjoy the weather.
Overall, our stay at the Ritz Carlton San Juan was nice and the resort was a great option for us when we had such a limited time in San Juan - the pool area and beach access were key as well as the proximity to the airport. Not to mention, the hotel grounds and pool area were beautiful and the rooms were nice enough.
Being a Ritz Carlton property however, I did expect a five star experience and unfortunately, I wouldn't say that's what we received. Not to be a snob, but as I said, the service was fine, but was not a five star standard and the rooms certainly didn't have a five star feel. I would say this hotel is a strong four star and I still maintain that it's a great option if you're visiting San Juan.
Just a twenty-something with a full-time job and a full-time obsession with traveling. It's best to LiveTraveled.