My GF and I are planing on a trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico during September (15-24) for our one year anniversary, 2 years ago i went with a buddy to PR and we stayed at ritz and i loved it there. The employees were very friendly and nice, somehow i was impressed that they knew our names even tho we didn't really talk to them much.
Okay... so i have been thinking where to stay at, my two options are Ritz Carlton or La Concha- my first pick was Ritz but I felt like i should try something new thats when I found La concha. At La Concha I was going to get a Jr suite but yesterday when i was ready to book the trip all the Jr suites were taken, I was also reading that La Concha is kind of noisy and that the employees there arent that good with customer service. I was going to get a cheap room and just hope for an upgrade but I have been roaming around forums and others are saying that its not that easy getting any upgrade from them- that just made me lean more towards Ritz again.
Last year i went to Hawaii and stayed at the Waikiki Marriott- I was a silver elite back then but they sure knew how to spoil me- the elite lady who helped me upgraded my basic room from floor 5 to floor 30 that was facing diamond head with partial ocean view, she also gave me free coffee cards to use at a coffee shop in the hotel(**** load of them), and breakfast (28 value) free!! but had to pay for my GF meal ** Im sure that upgrade was a good $600+ (8 day stay..)
A month ago i was approved for the Ritz Carlton CC and remembered that i have 3 club level upgrade certificates- I have been trying to read more about them, but to me it seems like its just a lounge with free food and drinks.. hopefully im wrong
If i book my trip and stay with ritz and also use those certificates...
Does my room get upgraded?
What is Club Level?
Has any one stayed at SJ Ritz using the upgrades/ Club Level??
what do you guys recommend?
Another thing that I found out about the SJ,PR Ritz earlier today is that during our trip the pool will be closed... My trip dates Sept 15-24th
I stayed at Vanderbilt Condado which is right next to La Concha. Didn't love the beach there, but it was ok. Better beaches elsewhere in Puerto Rico. But Condado has good shopping, restaurants, and nightlife. I'd call the Ritz and ask about the club level and certificates. One of the RCs in Puerto Rico is a Reserve and I don't think it allows use of those certificates, but I could be wrong!
I have been reading about the bad beach at La concha, Im leaning towards Ritz right now. I was checking the prices now and the price bumped up $200 more to stay at La Concha- the only issue i have with Ritz is the pool will be closed all September.
Im going to call ritz later and ask them if i can use the certificates. I talked to my friend yesterday who i went with 2 years ago- he told me that he booked the cheapest room ritz had, once we got to ritz they upgraded him to pool view, BUT there isnt going to be a working pool to view (hahhahaha). I also asked him about the upgrade certificates and he told me that he wasnt able to use them because the Ritz phone rep kept having issues.
The beach pic above is right along La Concha, and you can see the Marriott Stellaris in the background. Also you can see some of the run down, shelled out concrete buildings along the Condado beach area. The beach area is very urban with lots of high rise condos and hotels along the strip and some very sketchy looking areas mixed in with the nice hotels. It's not secluded and didn't feel particularly relaxing to me, but it's great if you want to be in the middle of the action for shopping, nightlife, etc. The weather can be bad during hurricane season (June through Nov) so buy trip insurance. I was there in Sept and got the gray ugly weather you see in the pics. It was hot and muggy. I was also there end of April and got gray skies on the main island but sun on the outer islands.
I really like the Ritz Carlton. Used to work their back in the late 90's. And yes, we memorized guests names as a sign of respect, show of friendship, and welcoming to our hotel, beautiful people, and island. I hope you can switch dates so you and your GF can enjoy the pool. Since the Ritz Carlton is part of the Marriott chain, you can try to see if they are willing to let you use the Stellaris swimming pool as a courtesy... But, I rather go to the the beach instead and enjoy it... . Last time I was in PR was for a wedding at La Concha Hotel few years ago and the service can NOT be compared to the San Juan Marriott and the Ritz Carlton... Just saying!!! Have fun in PR and Happy Anniversary! Cheers!
@ Clebert Thanks for the photos!
@ Jorgeh Ritz has my vote when it comes to customer service in the hotel- its awesome!
I called Ritz to have my reservation upgraded to club level but was told that there arent any more spots for club level. the first rep when i called wasnt being helpful and kept telling me that i am not able to use the upgrade certificates in San Juan. Then hours later (felt bugged) i called again and a rep that was more helpful told me that i can use them in san juan but not the reserve. but either way all club level spots were taken for my dates.
Most people are telling me to go it Ritz carton, and im going to go with ritz... now my only issue left is how to book my trip.
My booking options:
Airline $ 1,043.60
Total - $3263.32
Pros- get Marriott points and nights
Cons- too expensive compared to Expedia and even Vacations by Marriott
Booking with Expedia
Airline and hotel (ritz)
Pro- Super cheap compared to Marriott and Vacations by Marriott
Con- no credit for nights nor much points.. but will get some points with my Ritz Card
Booking with Vacations by Marriott
Ritz and airline
Pros- 5,000 booking points (nothing more)
cons- Expedia is cheaper
What do you guys suggest?
I tried cabs during my first visit to PR, but as with other places in the Caribbean, the cabbies don't speak English, only take cash, don't use meters, and don't give receipts. As a business traveler, I need receipts. So now I rent a car and drive myself. Again, as with other Caribbean islands, PR has insane drivers. So if you do drive yourself, be prepared to be cut off, honked at, etc. Maybe have the RC send a driver for you if you are willing to shell out the bucks. I am sure the RC has its own fleet and offers that service.
I have been to PR twice, the first time my buddy and I rented a car. while we did have the car, the hotel charge for parking was not cheap. Also, the drivers there arent the best and even the police doesn't do anything (depending on the officer).
so the 2nd time i went was with my GF (like the post), during this time UBER was launched at the island. I made plans to only use UBER while there but days later it was shut down due to the taxi people being too violent.
so days before leaving California i found out that uber was relaunched due to the taxi people and uber coming up with an agreement. so back to my plans with uber.
when i got there had no option but to get a taxi since uber is not allowed to pick up at the airport ONLY drop off. ($15-20 from the airport to Ritz Carlton on a taxi NOT CHEAP). unless you manage to have the Uber driver pick you up somewhere outside the airport, then when the driver calls you just let him/her know where you are inside the airport. JUST pretend to know each other if taxi people are there.
***not sure how the uber taxi thing in PR is right now***
so while in PR My GF and I would request Uber from Ritz to take us anywhere we wanted which was cheap compared to renting the car (hotel parking fee, car fee, gas insurance fee,looking for parking). I ended up going with uber and use the parking fee to use uber
instead. all the uber drivers that helped us were very friendly and very helpful to the point where on day i forgot my phone on the back seat of one of them. I freaked out when i noticed my phone was missing. so i called uber and then uber had the driver contact me on my Gf phone. i told him how i had left my phone on his back seat. he told me that he was going to look for it (he found it under the seat) then he said that he will go back to where he dropped us off to give me the phone but that first he had to pick up another client. so while waiting for him my Gf and i started to walk around to kill time but then got busy. we headed back after a while and noticed that a car was driving slow (it was him) he gave me back my phone and told me had been looking for us for the past 20 minutes and even walked around for a bit. I tried to give him money as appreciation but he would not take it. he said " youre in my homeland youre visiting please enjoy your stay here in Puerto Rico and use that money to have fun, it was no issue for me to bring back the phone besides that i like to work for my money".. I say go with uber!