Following the impact of Hurricane Maria in September 2017, the hotel partially reopened to house relief personnel on December 4. We will update our review as soon as we have more information. With a storied past showcasing performances by Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole, the luxury, 1950s-built El San Juan is considered a local icon. And thanks to a $60 million renovation in 2016, the legend continues. Now, the old exists with the new, so the grand chandelier lobby remains, but everything else is chic and contemporary. With four pools, five restaurants, seven bars, a nightclub, and a state-of-the-art three-story fitness center, this place rivals any all-inclusive in the area. Quality is high across the board, but dining prices are as well. Its 388 rooms, suites, and villas are sophisticated with coastal elements, and most guests -- a mix of families, couples, singles, and business travelers, leave impressed. The nightly entertainment is a big hit, too. Those seeking luxury with an on-site casino, could try the nearby Ritz-Carlton San Juan.
Historic property with Old World elegance and chic contemporary additions, plus a cool beach scene
A spectacular $60 million renovation in 2016 has brought a chic, contemporary coastal vibe to El San Juan, which has dazzled since its heyday. Designed by legendary Art Deco architect Roy F. France, of Miami fame, El San Juan was opened in 1958 and became legendary as an entertainment venue starring some of the biggest acts on earth, including Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Sammy Davis Jr., and Liza Minelli. That mid-century glamor is still on display -- particularly in the decadent Old World lobby. It was created by a team of 15 Puerto Rican artisans that hand-carved the cherry mahogany panelling that envelops the expansive space, which was paired with Pinot-red Carrera marble floors, elegant furniture, and a giant oval chandelier worth close to three million dollars. Three bars in the lobby alone hint at the good time on offer here -- after all, there’s a legacy to uphold. Excellent entertainment livens up the lobby at night, while El San Juan Beach Club (encompassing three pools and the beachside restaurant), becomes a happening party scene come weekends.
Couples, singles, business travelers, and families all seem to happily coexist here; the property is quite spread out with Tower Rooms located in the main structure, above the lobby, and villas and suites set in two-story structures around tropical gardens. With long-standing features like the huge 300-year-old Banyan Tree and retro-domed Cana restaurant, plenty of original hallmarks live on in this glamorous mix of old and new.
Right on Isla Verde Beach, a few minutes from the airport
This hotel sits between the famously wide, white-sand Isla Verde Beach and Isla Verde Avenue -- the neighborhood's main thoroughfare. This boulevard, lined with luxury hotels and numerous restaurants, takes guests straight to the glitzy Condado area and historic Old San Juan to the west; and to Juan Munoz Marin International Airport to the east. Guests can reach Condado in around 10 minutes by car, while it’s 13 minutes to Old San Juan, and just six minutes-or-so to Luis Munoz International Airport. Guests also appreciate being able to walk to the nearby Walgreens or CVS to stock up on snacks (especially given the property's expensive on-site dining).
Variety of spacious rooms, villas, and suites all exuding coastal sophistication and luxe details
Available in Tower Rooms, Suites, Villas, and Specialty Suites, guest rooms were all overhauled in the property's 2016 renovation. The result across all categories is lovely and spacious rooms with a sophisticated coastal aesthetic. Color palettes blend cloud-white, soft gray, and cerulean blue textiles with blonde or brown timber furniture. Elegant details, such as brushstroke artwork and geometric patterned rugs, give a final polish to the spaces. Beds are incredibly plush, and all rooms are equipped with big flat-screen TVs, coffeemakers, minibars, and ample tech plugs. Closets contain bathrobes, irons, ironing boards, and safes. Bathrooms are just as modern and chic, dressed in white-and-gray marble tiling with frameless glass showers and a good selection of delicious-smelling Modern Apothecary bath products.
Room categories continue to expand their size and furnishings as they move up in level. Tower Rooms have chaise lounges and corner chairs in soft suedes. Villas add lounge settings and dining tables for two into expansive open-plan layouts, with stunning huge bathrooms featuring big twin vanities and designer bathtubs. Suites upsize even more with separate bedrooms. Views and outdoor spaces also vary: Tower Rooms offer up a wall of windows showcasing their views (Pool, City, or Ocean), while Villas have huge floor-to-ceiling glass doors to private patios.
Four pools, cutting-edge fitness center, five restaurants, seven bars, and a beautiful beachfront
Features at El San Juan more than meet the expectations set by an iconic luxury establishment. The selection of five on-site restaurants is on par with an all-inclusive in terms of choice, and the quality across the board is exceptional (though their prices reflect this). Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Cana blends Puerto Rican with international flavors and whips up delicious cocktails. Aquarelle on the Beach serves French Caribbean seafood and cocktails in a stylish open-air setting. Meat Market Miami is a chic contemporary steakhouse serving prime cuts of meat and seafood. Marea offers Mediterranean in a modern space off the lobby. Trattoria Napoles is a family run restaurant serving casual Italian meals, pizza, and espresso. It’s open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in The Shops area of El San Juan. The decadent, Old World lobby is a feature in itself, and contains three bars (Wine, Champagne, and Gold) plus a cafe with great espresso coffee. Chico Cabarat (also in the lobby) provides evening entertainment, and the on-site nightclub-meets-lounge-bar, Brava, is open until the wee hours. Room service is available as well.
Apart from dining, the pools are a major highlight -- the Well & Being pool neighboring the gym is great for laps, and it's where water activities, like pool yoga take place. Meanwhile, the San Juan Beach Club pool area is divided into three freeform pools, with oasis-like palm landscaping, and a palapa pool bar. The beach and pool area offer plenty of deck chairs, but comfy daybeds for two and luxe cabanas (with butler service, mini-fridges, and flat-screen TVs) can be booked in advance. Collectively known as the El San Juan Beach Club, these areas can become a happening scene of music and fun on weekends.
The hotel also has in impressive 24-hour fitness center that holds state-of-the-art equipment on three levels plus a spin room and an outdoor rooftop area featuring TRX, sunset yoga, and boot camps. Well & Being spa provides a range of massage, body and face treatments; volleyball, kayaking, surfing and jet skiing are all on offer; and a range of meeting and events spaces caters to all manner of functions and corporate needs. Free Wi-Fi is provided.
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