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The Ritz Carlton San Juan, Puerto Rico
October 29, 2013
It took just 10 minutes and $14 to arrive at our destination, the Ritz Carlton San Juan. Check-in was flawless (no line!) and Emily, the front desk agent, was welcoming and efficient. We had booked one run-of-house room at $339 and one ocean view room at $539 through the American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts program. The program gave us complimentary buffet breakfast everyday, a $100 resort credit and the possibility of an upgrade if available. The ocean view room was immediately upgraded to an ocean front room with a balcony. A small snafu, the second room had a king instead of the two beds requested. Though the bed situation couldn't be rectified for the first night, we received an upgrade to an oceanfront with balcony for the rest of the stay.
The rooms and the property were lovely, but not as luxurious as other Ritz Carltons we have stayed at. The breakfast buffet was fine, but the lunch and poolside offerings were mediocre. The Ocean Bar and Grill, the beach side concession, is under construction, so maybe the menu will improve when it reopens.
That being said, the luxury of staying here is the beach; it's easily accessed, the sand is powdery soft, the water warm and plenty of staff to take care of you. At many resorts, you have to get up at 5 am to claim your lounge. Happily, this was not the case. Even when we got to the beach at 11, attendants had us choose our spot and cheerfully set-up umbrellas and ulta-cushiony lounge chairs. Waitstaff roamed by consistently, ready to take a beverage or food order, bring a cup of water and offer an occasional complimentary snack. The beach was wide, the ocean floor free of rocks and vegetation and the water very gentle. Perfect for young families and midlife folk, maybe a bit too calm for tweens and teens.
The Ritz also gets high marks for service. From the bellmen to the front desk and waitstaff, they were all friendly and efficient. The concierge, Dominick, apologetically informed us that two iconic activities in Puerto Rico, the El Morro Fort and the rainforest, were closed due to the government shut-down. No worries, Dominick came up with a charming walking tour along the waterfront of old San Juan and made three nights of dinner reservations for us that were all winners. He chose Cafe Puerto Rico for us to sample local cuisine and Marmalade and Pikayo for chic global fusion cuisine.