Puerto Rico/San Juan - Caribe Hilton Resort*

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Charles2529
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Charles2529
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Joined: January 13th, 2002, 12:38 am

September 12th, 2002, 7:48 pm #11

The Pina Colada was invented at the Hotel Caribe
Hilton in the mid 50's.

The inventor was a bartender who entered a world
competition, and won for this drink. I believe his name
was Monchito.

I felt it was my obligation to consume several of these
delicious prize winning tropical drinks in honor of Mr.
Monchito. Cheers.



Charles
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hlitner
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hlitner
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Joined: February 19th, 2003, 11:50 pm

March 13th, 2003, 5:24 pm #12

We stayed at this property for 3 nights from 3/1 to 3/4. We bid $70 per night (about 2 weeks prior to our trip) which we thought was a great price compared to the normal $300 plus rates. At arrival we were told that our room would be a third flood garden view in the tower building. I asked if my Hilton Honors Card could help me get an upgrade and the clerk checked in the computer and immediately said he could give us an beach/ocean view on the 5th floor of the Main building (the best location). Since the room would not be ready for a few hours (about 3 pm) we used the changing facilities (we always carry our swim stuff in a carry-on) and spent a delightful afternoon on their small private beach. The room was great, and we liked the location. It is an easy walk ( 1/2 - 1 mile) over to the Condado Beach area (many restaurants) and the walk seemed to be pretty safe. It is also possible to walk to Old San Juan which is about a 2 mile trek. They have a small "quick cafe" in the lobby where you can buy continental breakfast-type food and take it back to your room. This keeps the breakfast prices down to about $10. The pool cafe was pretty reasonable for a major resort (lunch costs $10 - $12 per person) but the hotel restaurants were "resort outrageous." We would return to this recently renovated property in a heartbeat.
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tozz
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tozz
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Joined: February 7th, 2002, 9:23 am

May 14th, 2003, 11:11 am #13

Caribe update:

I've stayed here several times now and will venture a generalization:

Priceline customers most definitely receive the worst rooms, even if the hotel is not at capacity. It is apparently policy. However, they are fairly gracious about changing rooms if you ask. I travel often and rarely change hotel rooms. However, at the Caribe this just seems part of the package. Or maybe I have just had bad luck.

Room #1 was at the northern (skinny) end of the main building. It was on the 3rd floor, directly over the roof of the restaurant. This was not terrible, but it was one of the dozen (that I counted) rooms out of several hundred in the hotel without a balcony. The windows also appeared welded shut (to prevent break-ins from people accessing via the roof?). Maybe I am fussy, but if I travel to a resort, at the very least I need an opening window.

Room #2 was on the 5th floor in the tower facing east. This would be wonderful except for the fact that the Caribe is adding an addition to the garden wing. Jack-hammers and pile-drivers started at 7am. They were loud enough that they were constantly setting off car alarms in the parking lot. You get the picture...

Room #3 was on the 5th floor in the main building facing west. Finally! However, it was about fifty feet from the Morton Steakhouse exhaust. This was no ordinary kitchen exhaust. It was a huge contraption that apparently was designed to shoot the exhaust high into the air so that hotel residents would not be subjected to steak odors (I didn't smell a whiff, and I was close). However, it sounded like a jet turbine. It was quite loud. The fan is on from about 4pm to 11pm. It wasn't annoying enough to change rooms, but sitting on the balcony during this time period was unpleasant.

Additional tip: HHonors members can check in at the business center on the second floor. This is helpful since the lobby check in can get busy at times. Although I didn't partake, free continental breakfast and happy hour libations are also offered.
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tozz
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tozz
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Joined: February 7th, 2002, 9:23 am

May 14th, 2003, 11:22 am #14

One other thing: The hotel automatically adds a $1 per night charge called K.I.D.S. This apparently stands for Kindness In Donation and Services, which is directed to "local non-profit organizations which devote to children's needs." You can ask to have this removed, however you will get a look like you are certified baby-killer or child molester.

For some reason I now feel the need to state that I do give fairly generously to charities.

Dunno if it's me or not, but isn't this crossing some sort of line? If the hotel wants to donate to a charity, that's fine. So is a jar at the check-out counter. But an automatic charge? This effectively precludes instant check-out if you object to their choice of the charity that you will donate to. Yeah, it's only a buck. But...
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Turbokitty
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Turbokitty
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Joined: September 29th, 2003, 12:46 am

September 28th, 2003, 5:46 pm #15

I would like to add a quick note. I stayed at this hotel this spring.
The hotel's beach is on a private little cove that's teeming with garbage. It washes up on the beach all day. The paint on the concrete barrier surrounding a sunning area is pealing off and large chunks fall into the cove's water as well. This also washes up on the beach. People drink from plastic cups on the beach and simply leave them in the sand. This would be fine if the staff actually picked them up. It's all quite sick.
The public beach that the Inter-Continental is on is far cleaner.
Lots of kids at the Hilton as well. Seems popular with familes.
Our room was in the "Garden Wing". It sounds like Priceliners are always put in this wing. This wasn't really a problem as the room was very nice.. it's just a long walk back to the lobby.
It's a long (30 min), hot walk to Old San Juan but the Hilton is the closest 4 star to it. I highly reccomend bidding on a 3-star in Old San Juan for at least two nights of your stay instead of travelling there from your beach hotel. Old San Juan is gorgeous and is the only reason I'd go back to Puerto Rico. We got the Wyndahm which I far prefered to the Hilton.
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Guest
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September 28th, 2003, 5:56 pm #16

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I highly reccomend bidding on a 3-star in Old San Juan
There's only one San Juan zone on priceline - there's nothing that's limited to just the Old San Juan area.
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MPileggi
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Joined: November 23rd, 2003, 11:34 pm

November 23rd, 2003, 4:34 pm #17

I just wanted to post a short note on our Nov 9th, 2003 stay at the Caribe Hilton. We liked it very much, though we had to change rooms. Our first room, in the tower, was a smoking room and I had requested non-smoking. Tony turned on the a/c hoping it would dispell the smell, but when we returned in the afternoon, it still smelled. No problem. I called the front desk and they moved us to the main building, room 823. Our room was very large and had great views of the Condado area. The bathroom showed it's age, but the rest of the room was clean and neat.

Although we enjoyed our stay, I preferred to be in Condado where there are numerous restaurants at reasonable prices (Tropical Restaurant - very good Puerto Rican food; and Danny's International - excellent pizza). At the Caribe Hilton, there is nothing in the area except the hotels very expensive restaurants. We did dine in the Madrid restaurant and had an excellent meal. I had their delicious Asopao de Mariscos while Tony had the veal chop. Luis, our waiter, was exceptional.

Overall, we were pleased with the hotel, especially being able to get a room for $65 plus taxes via priceline.
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luckydog818
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Joined: March 4th, 2004, 11:28 am

March 4th, 2004, 4:28 am #18

We stayed the weekend of Feb. 27-29 for two nights. Was kind of scared after reading all the mixed reviews but I have to say I was quite happy overall with this hotel, especially for the price of $85 (did not get charged a resort fee). The previous weekend we paid $149 for a much lower grade hotel in Condado because we could not get anything thru Priceline or anywhere else for less. I'll list a few of the good and the bad though overall our experience was good and we are not all that picky. We checked in earlier than 3pm, about 1:30pm, and it was no problem. I had a Hilton Hhonors Silver VIP card but it did not matter. I asked if the room we were getting was good and she said yeah and asked if we could have better but was told "no". Tried sweet talking the clerk who was very friendly and mentioned Hhonors program which doesn't count for Priceline. She smiled and said I made her feel guilty and she tried to find another room but after checking on computer said she couldn't change but that she gave us executive lounge privileges which included continental breakfast and such througout the day so I thought that was nice. We got a garden wing room 250. The room was nice though someone smoked a lot before us or the a/c circulated the smoke(seemed mostly thru a/c though not certain). I thought about asking for another room but after travelling all morning from Vieques via ferry/taxi/rent-a-car I needed to go eat then and not later. The room was very spacious, king bed and all the regular Hilton amenities, and this being the fourth place in PR we stayed that had the unusual combination of both water pressure and hot water, so our first real showers and nice big towels in PR. We bought room odor neutralizer at Walgreen's which helped the smoke smell. Later on I realized we had the only level of rooms with no balconies, much to my chagrin. However the room was larger because where a balcony would be was enclosed. The room looked over the garden with geese and other birds, ponds, flamboyan trees and off through the foilage you could see water so not so bad. The a/c worked extremely well, had to keep turing it down. Room was a little dated like artwork and bed, though tv, desk and two large room chairs with table were updated. The room was really spacious, bathroom less so though clean and lots of amenities. The best we had in PR.

The best thing about this place was the nice glamorous resort feel when walking up, big nice open air lobby, lots of activity and shops. The pool and beach areas were incredible, I think some of the Vegas hotels only wish they could have this nice an area. Great paths to walk out on the water and see nice views of the ocean and Condado area. It was really nice and tranquil and very large area, probably more than any other hotel in San Juan.

One thing that was kind of not so great was that it is definitely obvious that you got the room thru Priceline. They gave us cards I guess to use the facilites and such that said for company/group or club say "Priceline" and it seemed to be the reason we could not change rooms, though the hotel seemed fully booked and when walking back from Condado one night almost all the rooms were lit, so who knows, she did try and we did check in early. She was nice but in my other 3 priceline experiences it was never so obvious.

Maybe if I paid the rack rate I might not be as pleased but overall a great value, I don't see how anyone paying less than $100 a night for this could not be happy. It is a tremendous value.

The location was good depending on how you look at it. It was away from everything else on its own private peninsula which I thought nice, but you'd have to walk or taxi a time to get to anything else or other dining options. We walked but I always walk a lot of vacation for the fun of it and to relax.

If I go to San Juan again I hope I get this place on Priceline. I'd be very happy and satisfied. It was really nice.
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nbptravel
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Joined: February 4th, 2004, 7:11 am

April 12th, 2004, 7:17 pm #19

We (husband, 2-year-old and me) stayed there 2/23-2/27/04 and paid $80 with Priceline. We got to the hotel around 3pm. There were no guests at the front desk so we were taken care of right away. No mention of Priceline from the desk clerk but we did get the little cards that identified us as Priceline guests. However, we were never asked to show the cards when we would get beach towels, etc... We did ask how much it would be for an upgrade and were told and additional $100..we passed on it.
This is a convention hotel so there were conventions... meaning lots and lots of people in the open air lobby. We felt like we were constantly fighting our way to our room building.
ROOM: We had a room on the 8th floor of the Tower Building. We were given a standard room with two beds (non-smoking which was the most important thing for us-we had called ahead to request that) with a view of the parking garage, the highway, another hotel tower, and another tower in the process of being built, and some water in the middle. The room was a bit on the small side. The bathroom was surprisingly big with 2 sinks, a vanity, a tub, a separate shower and a separate toilet. There was a small balcony with 2 chairs and a table. We usually like to sit on the patio after the baby goes to sleep while on vacation, but didn't do it this time because the view wasn't so nice.
So at 7am, the construction work would begin on that other building nearby. Lovely...But we're early risers thanks to our son, so it wasn't such a big deal to us. We were also lucky that we weren't in the Garden Tower. If you can, try to avoid being in that tower. There are rooms right next to the construction. It had to be incredible loud for those guests.
One negative to our room (and not sure where else in the hotel this happens): We could hear people in other rooms flushing their toilets! And it was loud! Just like I'm sure they could hear us flushing! Great plumbing, huh?
The sliding door to the patio was also really hard to slide open and close. But the best part was that when the people in the room next door decided to go on their patio in the middle of the night (twice), it actually sounded like someone was trying to get into our room via the patio! I almost had a heart attack!
BEACH/POOL: The beach is just okay. The sand is golden brown, the water is clear, the surf is gentle. There are rocks further out arranged to break the rough surf. There are also hammocks on the beach, as well as beach chairs.
There are several very nice pools. There's a swim-up bar. The water from that pool cascades into a 2nd pool with a basketball hoop. The water from that pool cascades into the larger 3rd pool. There's a small pool 1 ft 6in deep for little ones (and a playground).
RESTAURANTS: We had the buffet breakfast every morning at "Las Palmeras" at the hotel. It was more convenient for us because of the baby. $17.40/person. Standard buffet you'd find at any big resort (fruits, all sorts of pastries, omelettes on request, cereal, etc..). The food was good. Nothing to complain about.
We had lunch one day at the "Atlantico Pool Bar & Grill" by the hotel pools. The burgers were good.
Our first night, we had dinner at the "Madrid-San Juan Restaurant & Tapas" at the hotel. We were both disappointed. The food wasn't awful, but it wasn't that good.
BOTTOM LINE: We thought the resort was all right and the staff was really nice. We'd be fine with getting this resort again with Priceline, but we wouldn't pay regular price to stay there.
We did not get charged a resort fee, but there was $1/night charge for a Puerto Rico reading program. $5 is certainly nothing but we didn't like the fact that we were automatically charged the fee (kinda cheesy). There's a flyer in your hotel room telling you they're charging you for this (we of course didn't notice it until we were checking our bill the day we were leaving). You can tell them to take it off (but that'd be cheesy on our part...and I think that's what they're counting on). I don't know about you, but my husband and I like to know who and what we give our money to. All we hope is that all of it or most of it do go to the reading program and not a quarter to the hotel and a quarter to the state government and so on and so on, with only 5 cents to the reading program.
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anthonysjennings
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anthonysjennings
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Joined: July 10th, 2004, 2:32 am

November 18th, 2004, 10:09 pm #20

My last stay at this hotel in early September 2004 was not as bad as some of the reviews I've read here and elsewhere. A few bullet points on my stay:

-- I found this hotel to be quite nice, especially the open-air lobby. It was a vastly different and positive experience from previous stays in San Juan (at the Embassy Suites in Isla Verde, the Wyndham Old San Juan and at the Radisson Ambassador).

-- My room was in the Priceline wing ... uh, I mean the Garden Wing. I had about a square-inch view of the ocean! I considered myself lucky though. Off the balcony I had a full view of the tropical garden, which was lovely. The downside was the garden fully blocked my view of the ocean. I was amazingly able to sleep with the balcony door propped open all night for four nights without getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. My luck ran out the fifth night. If I'd gotten a room across the hall, I would have had a full view of a parking garage. If you find yourself in the Priceline wing, do what you can to request a view of the garden itself. Keep in mind large swaths of the west end of Condado are under still under construction. Its being revitalized with high-rise condos and such. Walking around this part of Condado is fairly hazardous -- high speed traffic, construction, and a crumbling bridge to the other side of Condado. Also the little geckos running around everywhere freaked me out a bit !! We dont have them where I come from. :-)

-- Service was good. I was largely ignored in the poolside dining areas, which ticked me off. However, I was treated with excellent service in the interior restaurants. I found the whole complex so nice, though, that I cancelled planned side trips to Dorado and El Yunque .. I'll save them for another trip.

-- I hated paying that education fund fee they charge you, but I figured since I "pricelined" the entire stay, I could afford to help pad the pockets of some Latin fatcat this time around. I'll object to it on any future stay.

-- My iPod went missing on this trip and every hotel staffer I asked about it said they didn't know what an iPod was ... What planet is Puerto Rico on anyway??

-- Across Condado lagoon, the Park Plaza Normandie has alternate dining options if you want some variety without having to hop in a taxi. Otherwise, outside of the Caribe Hilton, you're limited to a little bodega, and the promise of a Subway sandwich shop.
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