I first stayed at the Ritz Carlton San Juan in 2008. I was living in Germany and came to Puerto Rico for a family wedding. I treated my mom to a weekend stay before we met up with the rest of the family. For frequent travelers like myself, many hotel stays can quickly turn into a faint memory. However, this experience is one I still think of. Several weeks ago, I was in Puerto Rico touring the east coast of the island. The last stop was in San Juan for a wedding of a dear friend of mine. All about the hotel:
The scene: Isla Verde (the main area of San Juan) is lined with hotels and condos which cater to tourists. The hotel is located in the furthest end of Isla Verde in a secluded area, immediately giving you an air of exclusivity as you enter. Upon checking in, you are welcomed with champagne by a friendly staff member. Compared to larger resorts in the area, I appreciate the more personal vibe of the hotel without taking away the amenities of a luxury resort.
The room: Our deluxe ocean view room was large and airy with the perfect light coming in. The décor was luxurious yet minimalistic. We loved the Asprey London toiletries and the ample size of the bathroom. We also enjoyed how quiet and peaceful the room environment was. We barely heard any noise of other guests. It truly made us feel completely relaxed after a busy road trip along the east coast of the island.
The food: We had brunch at BLT Steak, which had a special mother’s day buffet which was decadently abundant. We noticed most of the guests were locals there with their families celebrating Mother’s Day. There were several stations available: seafood, sushi, pastries, cheese, and a hot food station. The executive chef does an excellent job at merging the flavors of the island along with an international selection. For breakfast, we enjoyed the continental buffet at Las Brisas. We sat poolside with a café con leche and quesitos (traditional Puerto Rican puff pastry filled with cream cheese) reflecting on a great trip to Puerto Rico.
The service: The friendliness I experience but also observed from the staff was exceptional. During our brunch, we noticed a waiter helping an elderly woman select her food from the buffet. I noticed a staff member entertain a child while the parents were trying to place their order. The front desk receptionist noticed my Dutch last name and we struck a conversation about living in Europe (she grew up in Germany).
Pool and Beach: The pool area is smaller than the other larger resorts in the area but the way it is designed makes room for everyone. However, if you have a vast ocean in front of you, you might as well take advantage of it! We loved the attention to detail in the pool area: dispensers with sun block and aloe vera gel. The beach area is great as it is secluded from the main beach area of Isla Verde due to a natural barrier. It’s quiet enough to lounge, have a cocktail, take a dip, and read a book.
The verdict: If you’re looking for a luxury escape, beach views, great service, and good food, this is the place for you. The gem of our stay was the service. Not only for us, but how we observed the staff treating other guests. That is what makes a stay unforgettable. Tip: the Ritz Carlton honors government rates depending on availability. If you are military/government, look into those rates while booking. (I used the government rate on my first visit and saved 25%)