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The Ritz-Carlton, San Juan 4.5

Isla Verde, San Juan, Puerto Rico

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This hotel is currently closed for renovations.
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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Pretty city beach setting close to San Juan's airport
  • Fun pool with cushioned lounge chairs and daybeds
  • Friendly and attentive staff and service (especially at the beach and pool)
  • Five bar and dining options with upscale options
  • Rooms have quality linens and marble bathrooms
  • Free in-room tea, coffee (with to-go cups), and bottled water
  • Stocked minibars with Robert Mondavi wines
  • Bright and spacious spa and fitness center
  • Two tennis courts and access to a tennis pro 
  • Large meeting and event facilities
  • Late-night casino and live music on weekends
  • Free Wi-Fi throughout

Cons

  • Prices for food and drink add up fast
  • Automatic resort fee added to the bill for amenities
  • Room decor is a bit bland
  • Most rooms do not have balconies or windows that open 
  • Neighboring room and hallway noise might be heard
  • Check-in is not until 4 p.m.; check-out at 11 a.m.

Bottom Line

This property was significantly impacted by Hurricane Maria in September 2017 and is currently closed until April 8, 2018. We will update our review as soon as we have more information. Marriott’s top-tier hotel in the capital of San Juan offers 416 rooms and suites and is an easy five-minute drive from the airport along Isla Verde beach. Rooms are contemporary and upscale if a tad generic, and most are without balconies. Most guests spend their time on the sand, or at the lively outdoor pool where attentive service is a focus. Just watch out for the super-pricey cocktails. In the evenings, the lobby bar is the place for small plates and pre-dinner cocktails before dressed-up guests (and some locals) make their way to their reserved tables at on-site restaurants BLT Steak and Il Mulino. The hotel attracts a mix of post-cruise goers, conference attendees, and leisure guests on long weekend getaways. Wi-Fi, tennis, and a fitness center is free, unless you count the 18 percent luxury resort fee added to the bill. 

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Scene

A slightly watered-down version of the luxury brand

Volleyball net at the pool, which has a party atmosphere in the afternoon

The hotel’s understated signage might be hard to spot on the highly trafficked road near the airport, but once turned in, hints of Ritz-Carlton luxury are recognizable with an elegant fountain and palm trees leading to a circular entrance with uniformed doormen. Friendly staff are waiting at the front desk with a welcome champagne cocktail — though guests should not expect to check-in early (4 p.m. is typical). The sleek marble lobby has muted colors with an assortment of large colorful abstract paintings on the walls that lead to bronze elevators. 

During the day, business meetings take place in the lobby area, but most guests — long weekenders or perhaps those coming off a cruise ship waiting to go home the next day — can be found using the pool and beach in front of the hotel. Several sets of doors lead to this area adorned with more fountains — many with the brand's trademark lion — as well as brown cushioned chairs, orange umbrellas, and daybeds. The pool might have a lively party atmosphere in the afternoons with a volleyball game taking place in the pool's center. Attendants are on hand for food and drink orders, or guests can wander up to the outdoor bar and grill next to the beach. 

For more space and peace and quiet, guests can head to the beach where they will be greeted by attendants to assist with towels, lounge chair set-up, and flag-up drink service. This stretch of city beach is entirely public and guests are able to take long shoreline walks in either direction past neighboring hotels. 

At night, beachwear transforms to dressier duds for those with reservations at BLT Steak and Il Mulino restaurants — both on the first floor. Some guests choose to have pre- or post-dinner drinks in the lobby bar, which sits front and center for prime people watching. There is a casino off the lobby that is open nightly until 4 a.m. and live music Thursday through Sunday. 

Overall, the hotel's ambiance hits enough luxury marks to garner the prices, especially for short-term stays. This particular Ritz-Carlton, though, can feel a bit bland and will not likely leave a lasting impression. 

Location

A beachside hotel just a hop, skip and a jump to the airport

Map of The Ritz-Carlton, San Juan

San Juan is the thriving capital of Puerto Rico and a city known for traffic jams. Those looking for convenience often choose to stay at the Ritz-Carlton, which is located a five-minute drive away from airport along pretty Isla Verde Beach. Guests can self-park in the garage next to the hotel for a daily fee, or spend a little more to have valet service upon arrival. 

For those arriving to the hotel by taxi cab, there is an Enterprise car rental office available in the garage for day trips to places such as El Yunque National Forest. As for city destinations, it takes about 20 minutes to get Old San Juan — the 500-year-old historic district within Puerto Rico’s sprawling capital. This is a medieval walled city that is as old as the Spanish conquest, and history buffs will be spoilt for choice on things to see and do here. Condado, on the other hand, is a newer part of town with several restaurants, shops, hotels, and nightlife options. Parking is a challenge in both areas and taking a taxi cab is recommended. 

Within walking distance to the hotel along a busy road are convenience stores such as Walgreens, a few restaurants, and a cockfighting rink. Nightlife is pretty null and most choose to stay on-site for the upscale restaurant and bar options, as well as the late-night casino with live music on weekends.

Rooms

Nice bathrooms and luxury linens help make up for lack of balconies and/or views.

Robert Mondavi wine and Banana moon snacks in the room minibars

This spacious hotel offers 416 rooms and suites in nine different categories. Rooms start at 400 square feet and most are in the standard City View category; the Pool View and Ocean View rooms are identical to these except for (you guessed it) the view. These rooms all come with either a king bed and sofa bed or two double beds. Other options include Pool View Junior Suites, Executive Suites, and Garden View Suites. The largest type is the Ritz-Carlton Suite, which has a separate king bedroom and living/dining area, two full bathrooms, and three balconies. Other than this particular suite, do not expect a balcony unless upgrading to the Ocean View Balcony or Oceanfront Balcony rooms, of which there are 45 on property. 

All rooms have similar neutral decor and carpeting that some might find generic or even slightly outdated (the cheap stucco texturing on the walls, for example, brought the look down a notch). Furnishings include work desks, flat-screen TVs, Frette linens, goose-down pillows, and stocked minibars with Robert Mondavi half-bottles of wine and Banana Moon snacks. Free coffee, tea (with to-go cups), and bottled water is provided. Marble bathrooms have tub/shower combos, great water pressure and counter space, Asprey London bath products, and terrycloth bathrobes. Rollaway beds, empty fridges and microwaves are available for an additional charge. 

Guests have the option to upgrade to the Club Level, which offers full-day access to the Club Lounge for additional amenities, free food and beverages throughout the day, and additional concierge services. There is a balcony in the Club Lounge for those who do not have one in their room.

Walls are a tad thin, and neighboring room and hallway noise might be a nuisance to light sleepers. 

Features

A large spa, fitness center, and beautiful stretch of beach make this a great airport hotel.

Tennis courts available for use and tennis pros for private lessons

The pool and beach areas both have attentive staff to hep with towels, chairs, and food and drink orders that can be charged to the room. Free sunblock, water, and fruit are available at the towel huts. Next to the pool are the fitness center and spa. The bright cardio and weight area has big windows with have treadmills facing the pool, and towels, water and apples are provided. Group lessons are available such as yoga, cycling, and kickboxing for no additional fee (this is included in the automatic resort fee). The spa has 11 treatment rooms. 

There are two hard -court outdoor tennis courts and a tennis pro available for private lessons. 

Families are welcome, and a Ritz Kids program is available with full day activities with a daily rate. 

The casino is open daily from noon until 4 a.m. and offers casino games like roulette, blackjack, and Let It Ride. There are over 300 slot machines, and live music on the weekends. 

Weddings and business events are accommodated in meeting spaces and the large ballroom. Parking is either self-park for a daily fee in the garage (you pay the attendant) or available through valet service and added to the room bill. There is a hospitality room for late check-outs (arrangements should be made in advance) or guests will have to pay half or full day rates depending on the time. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout.

Food

Five restaurants, including two fine dining options where reservations are strongly recommended 

Quality fine cuisine at NYC chain steakhouse BLT Steak

The hotel's restaurants are popular with both guests and locals who are entertaining business clients. BLT Steak, like its home base in NYC, has a trendy atmosphere and serves quality steakhouse cuisine such as aged meats and prime seafood. Il Mulino, another New York restaurant, serves high-end Italian food from the Abruzzi region, along with a big wine list. Mares restaurant is the casual yet modern restaurant next to the pool with indoor and outdoor seating — this is where most partake in the extensive breakfast buffet with all-you-can-drink mimosas and specialty coffees. Ocean Bar & Grill is the restaurant between the beach and pool with a selection of salads and sandwiches in an outdoor setting (Beware -- sometimes the steady sea breeze brings in sand.) The lobby lounge serves small plates and cocktails, and there is live entertainment on the weekends. 

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Address

6961 Ave of the Governors, Isla Verde, Carolina 00979, Caribbean

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