Puerto Rico/San Juan - Caribe Hilton Resort*

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Puerto Rico/San Juan - Caribe Hilton Resort*

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January 19th, 2002, 5:09 pm #1

Just stayed 3 nights at this resort 1/14-17. It's located on the beach about a 10-15 minute drive west of the San Juan airport. The minimum fixed taxi rate for this distance is $16 one way. It was about a 20-30 minute walk to Old San Juan, but there were plenty of taxis waiting around, so I'm sure it would be easy enough to grab a cab. From the website, self park was $10, valet was $20.

The resort has rooms in 3 buildings as far as I can tell, the Main Building, a Garden Wing and a Tower Building. There are meeting/business facilities, tennis courts, a health club with cardio equipment as well as free weights and weight training equipment, and a spa. I tried the health club and thought it was fine. One side of the building has windows looking out towards the ocean, so you can have a nice view as you run the treadmill. The spa is right next to the health club, and a small (overpriced) health food bar in between. There are several restaurants including a Morton's of Chicago and a poolside bar/grill. Room service was a bit pricey, but prompt. The lobby is a large open air space, with corridors leading off to the various buildings.

There's a large pool area next to beach. Lots of lounge chairs, a few hammocks, a towel desk where I think you could also rent other beach equipment. A large outdoor chess board outside as well - maybe 12 feet by 12 feet?

I had an early flight out of NYC, so I got to the hotel around 1:30pm, before the 3pm official check in time. The clerk looked at my reservation and noted I had a garden view queen. I asked if there might be a better view. She didn't mention priceline, but she said to the effect that a better view required a higher rate. She also mentioned that the hotel was full. She then said that my room was not yet ready and that I would have to wait. She couldn't tell me for how long. She said there was a room available, but it was a 1st floor room with no balcony that I probably wouldn't like. After lounging in the lobby a while, I sincerely doubted that the hotel was full. I went back up to the front desk at 3pm and a different clerk was there. He gave me a room in the Tower building on the 7th floor. The tower building has 20 floors, including some meeting rooms, and has 13 rooms on each floor. The room I got had a king bed and a pretty nice view and balcony over the hotel's front entry and beach area, so it seems that he gave me a better room than the original clerk was going to give me.

The room was a good size, king bed, bureau, desk and chair, two chairs, a footstool and table, long closet with louvered doors, tv, mini bar. Furnishings seemed a little old, but it was comfortable. Bathroom was roomy, with double sink, separate tub and shower stall, separate little room for toilet (same size as shower stall), Neutrogena products, coffee maker. The faucets in the shower and tub had a constant drip, which I couldn't hear in the room, so I didn't complain, but I left a note on their "comments" form about it. The room was perfectly fine, but it didn't strike me as a "resort" level room.

Only problem at check out was that I had two charges on my bill which were from the previous guests in the room. It took a few minutes for the front desk clerk to retrieve the signed slips for the charges (which clearly had someone else's name), but there was no problem removing them from my bill.

I wouldn't mind staying here again through priceline. I'm curious to see how others fare at check in. Although priceline was never mentioned, I felt that I was going to be put in a "priceline" room as is the case with other Hiltons. When I ended up with the better room (which I'm imagining was available at the time I first checked in, since the hotel was clearly not full), I was a little annoyed that I had to wait around. I guess it depends on the clerk at the desk.

Update: Forgot to mention that there is a $3 resort fee per day.
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airlinerob
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airlinerob
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Joined: January 21st, 2001, 2:29 pm

January 19th, 2002, 5:47 pm #2

It could have been that the hotel was full the previous night (very possible), and they had to clean the rooms before allowing others to check in.

Robert
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Guest
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January 19th, 2002, 11:28 pm #3

They cleaned rooms fairly early in the morning. They may not have had "priceline" rooms available, but I think they had other rooms available that they didn't want to give away for the lower rate. There was hardly anyone in the lobby, it's not like they had a lot of late checkouts either.
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KarenRif
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KarenRif
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Joined: January 28th, 2002, 6:50 am

January 27th, 2002, 11:50 pm #4

We stayed one night at this hotel on 1/18 - the night before we were sailing on a cruise. What you described is almost identical to the experience we had - the wait for a decent room to be ready, the new room location, description of the room, the erroneous bill, etc. etc. etc.

I would underline that I also didn't think the hotel quality lived up to it's designation as "resort class", although it was adequate for our needs. I'm glad we didn't have to pay any more than we did for the room.

I would add that the bed linens were also not very good quality, and that, although apparently the hotel was extensively remodeled in the past 2 years, whoever did the work could not be commended for their attention to detail. It looked like they were happy to upgrade the big surfaces, but stopped short of connecting points such as corners, adjoining walls, bathroom details, etc.

I would stay there again for the same purpose (i.e. pre-cruise) and same price, although I might prefer to find something within walking distance of Old San Juan.
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wmfell.e
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wmfell.e
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Joined: February 7th, 2002, 6:30 am

February 6th, 2002, 11:30 pm #5

We stayed here Jan 31 - Feb 5. Arrived at the hotel approx 1:30PM, were immediately given a room on the third floor which had a nice view of the ocean/beach area (as well as the roof!). Our room had a balcony, king sized bed, mini-bar, plenty of hangers in the closet and the bathroom had new fluffy towels. We thought it was a great deal for $75 + $3 bonus/night. The beach is perhaps 150-200 yards long, but is in a protected cove which was nice because the winds averaged between 15-25 mph a couple of the days we were there and the waves in the ocean were pretty stiff. The two-level pool was nice. We ate at the pool restaurant and Palmeras restaurant inside the hotel. Service was quick and efficient. If you like Pina Coladas, try them at Palmeras, they were the best I've had (better than what was served at the poolside bar). If you don't mind walking, it's about 35 minutes to walk to the middle of old San Juan. Didn't try to use HHonors card based on previous discussions.
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tozz
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tozz
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Joined: February 7th, 2002, 9:23 am

February 23rd, 2002, 6:18 pm #6

We stayed there from 2/13 to 2/18. Arriving late we got the dreaded "Well, I can give you a choice of two rooms..." spiel from the desk clerk at check-in. That generally means the choice will be between terrible and awful, and is only used to shunt consternation away from the hotel. The choice was 1) King bed ground floor non-smoking in the garden wing, or 2) two doubles 3rd floor smoking (building unknown). I asked if an upgrade was available, the clerk disappeared to consult some mysterious all powerful poo-bah behind the desk, returned, and informed me that the hotel was full. He was accommodating enough, and said that he would put me on a list for tomorrow.

We picked #1. The room was newly renovated, new fixtures, new airconditioning, quite large. It opened up into the tropical garden. However, it didn't seem particularly private (kids were running across the patio all morning), so we opted to try an upgrade.

Again, the clerk seem somewhat flummoxed, disappeared twice to consult with the man behind the curtain, but then returned with a seventh floor ocean view in the Tower building. When we arrived at the room it was a smoking room with a pretty heavy smell. However, we didn't want to press our luck again. We just left the balcony door open 24 hours and it wasn't too much of a bother.

This seventh floor tower room was smaller, but was exactly as described in the top of this thread. Although the furniture was identical to the newly renovated room, the fixtures, trim, AC control unit and plumbing were old, but servicable. We heard grumbling on the elevator on two occasions about room problems (AC and plumbing) from other guests, but ours worked fine.

All in all, it was a great buy at $75/night.
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susjc
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susjc
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Joined: February 28th, 2002, 9:45 am

February 28th, 2002, 2:45 am #7

I just returned from a 2/23/02 - 2/26/02 stay at the Caribe Hilton San Juan. We arrived right around 3:00 pm and had requested a king room but those were not ready yet so we decided to wait instead of getting a double room. We were traveling with three other friends who also had rooms (one double and one king). The double was ready but when our friends went to the room, there was a leak in the bathroom the staff was already aware of and they were switched to another room immediately. Room 1768 - nice ocean view. We waited maybe 30 min and our room was ready. Room 761 - this room overlooked the parking lot and a bit of the lagoon. I didn't really care about view since I wasn't planning on spending a lot of time in the room. Our other friend wanted a king but did not want to wait so he took a double (room 762). The first night we were there, we were awakened around 5:00 am by a loud noise above us. It sounded like someone was running a cart over cobblestones and was very loud. This continued for over an hour and finally my husband called the front desk and they said they would call security to check into the noise. I think it eventually stopped and we went back to sleep for awhile. The next night we were getting ready for bed around 11:30 pm and started hearing noises again and we decided to request a new room. (It turns out our room was right next to the service elevators and I'm sure they are used to getting complaints about noise.) So around 12:30 am we moved all our stuff to another room - this time room 1767 (coincidentally, right next to our other friends room). This had the nice ocean view and the room seemed a bit nicer (and quieter). I'm not sure if this was an upgrade or not but I was satisfied. The next two nights were much better! When it was time to checkout, there was a charge on my account from the mini-bar from the 1767 room that we didn't use. I noticed the seal was broken the night we moved in there and a few bottles of booze were missing and also a juice and water bottle had some liquid missing from it (that's gross!) They removed it promptly from my bill without and question. Also try the pina coladas - they are yummy! Overall, I was satisfied with my stay (with the rate of $80/night). The staff was very friendly and accommodating. The resort itself is very nice with nice amenities. The rooms are bit worn however. I don't think I would have been happy if I had paid the rack rate and was wondering what percentage of people staying there did and if all the rooms were like the one's my friends and I stayed in.
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spoogy1
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Joined: January 25th, 2002, 11:25 am

March 15th, 2002, 10:26 pm #8

STAYED FIVE NIGHTS 3/2,UPGRADED TO OCEAN VEIW USING HONORS GOLD ,VERY NICE ROOM ,RECENTLY RE DONE.FREE COT BREAKFAST, DRINKS AND SNACKS WAS ALSO GIVEN HLTON HONORS POINTS FOR STAY.GREAT DEAL FOR 74$ A NIGHT.
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JillNorsk
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Joined: July 20th, 2002, 2:30 am

July 25th, 2002, 2:54 am #9

We stayed at this hotel for 1 night-April 14, 2002 (SUN) (pre-cruise)and totally enjoyed it! I was unable to get this hotel for the night before for two rooms for some friends and us and so we stayed at a cheaper motel in San Juan-Isla Verde area called the Green Isle Inn that had kitchenettes for maybe more than we paid on Priceline for the San Juan Caribe Hilton ($75 for one room and our friends won their bid at $91). So the Caribe Hilton was a major upgrade from that. So after that dump of a place, we thoroughly enjoyed the Hilton. We loved the beach area, it was just a little paradise all to itself. Our room was comfy with a king bed and ocean view (our friends got a lagoon view). and modern furnishings with a neat headboard. We found the food at the resort to have sky-high prices and so found a nearby bakery that served meals and even had liquor. There was even a liquor store where we bought cold beers and enjoyed our view from the balcony. I can't remember the room number, but it was in the Tower section (which I had read before on a cruise board) to request one there as they were newer. The check-in desk seemed to have no bias being PL customers and honored our request for a tower room with no hesitation. I would stay there again in a heartbeat and hope I end up there again someday. If you start looking at the prices for hotels in San Juan, I am sure you will agree, that the prices that have been accepted for this hotel can't be beat.
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Charles2529
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Charles2529
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Joined: January 13th, 2002, 12:38 am

September 12th, 2002, 5:36 pm #10

Stayed at this hotel 9/8/02 to 9/11/02.

Jenniann's description is very accurate, so I won't add
to it, other to say that the Resort* status is not what
I would rate it. The grounds were beautiful, but the
rooms (I was in the tower) seemed to have a very
"tired" feeling about them. Little things like bathroom
tile being moldy, sinks cracked, locks on balcony doors
missing or broken and so on.

But at $65 a night, it was a huge value.

Please let me recommend one experience that should
not be overlooked by anyone traveling to Puerto Rico.

It was recommended to me that I take an evening
kayak trip to see a phenomenon called Bioluminescent.
This experience will forever rate on the top of my
list as a "once in a lifetime" adventure.

It would take too much space for me to describe this
exciting experience, in short, you kayak to a lagoon
where the water "glows" when disturbed. After reaching
our destination, I went for a swim (remember, this is on
a dark, moonless night) and as I swam, my body lit up
like a giant glow stick.

There are four major places this phenomenon happens, one
in Australia, the remaining three in Puerto Rico.

Below is one web site I found for a better description.

www.biobay.com/island_adv...index.html

It cost $ 70, including the transportation from and to
the Caribe Hotel.

Puerto Ricans are very friendly. It would be my suggestion
to avoid the touristy haunts and explore the lesser known
cafe's and shops. The Pueblo Extra grocery store
was the best value for coffee and rum. It seemed to be
25% cheaper then anywhere else.


Best regards, Charles
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