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The Marriott La Concha Renaissance San Juan Resort is one of the most famous resorts in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Built back in the 1950s at a time when San Juan underwent rapid industrialization, it’s now a modern resort offering all of the amenities you’d expect to find at such a place. From the multiple pool areas, the fine dining, and it’s location situated directly on Condado Beach, this resort has little bit of everything. Here’s my review of my recent experience at the Marriott La Concha Renaissance San Juan Resort.
The resort is located on the western end of Condado Beach, one of the top beaches in San Juan Puerto Rico. It’s a pretty beach with plenty of umbrellas and lounge chairs to relax on and while we were there, the surf was very manageable and didn’t feel overpowering. However, there are some reviews stating that the currents can get quite strong at this beach so proceed with some caution. Some beachgoers will drive east over to other beaches to relax, such as Isla Verde where the currents are said to be weaker.
The hotel is also right on Ashford Ave, where you can find plenty of places to dine and indulge in some shopping, including high-end stores like Gucci. It’s also a very popular street for joggers and in the morning, you’ll witness hundreds of fitness-goers making their way up and down the avenue.
The hotel is about a 15 to 20 minute ride from the airport (SJU) and a taxi ride will cost you about $20. It appeared to us that most taxis only take cash and if they do take credit cards, there’s a minimum $30 fee! Expect about the same time to get to Old San Juan, but a little lower prices ($15).
The resort is bigger than I expected but I really loved its layout. It’s very open and utilizes superb cross-ventilation, which allows breezes to flow throughout the lobby and bar area, creating a cool and fresh atmosphere when you arrive and while you’re spending time downstairs.
The bar sits in the middle of the open lobby area and has plenty of seating. It did seem to pick up during the evening time and the hotel sometimes throws events at the bar, so don’t be surprised if there’s a fair amount of traffic there at times.
The bar is also where you can opt for the continental breakfast. We took a look at the breakfast and weren’t impressed so we just ventured a few places over to enjoy or more filling breakfast. Outside of the bar area, there are plenty of areas to lounge around at in the cool lobby.
Large oversized glass panels (doors?) swing open to to the courtyard and pool areas from the lobby, creating a brilliant natural lighting throughout the lobby.
The pools at this resort aren’t huge like I’ve seen at other resorts but there are a few of them. I counted a total of three pools (plus a hot tub) as we walked around. (The smaller pool and hot tub had families in them, so naturally I didn’t take any photos.)
All around the pool areas, there are tons of lounge areas with plenty of shade and cushions to relax on.
One of the pools is open to the beach area and surrounded by palm trees (pictured below). I think there’s also a pool in the suites tower that is exclusive to adults. I’m not sure if we would’ve even had access to it but we didn’t check it out regardless.
I came away very impressed with the gym. It’s very big and has everything you’d need to have a solid work out. What’s more, you’ve got great views of the beach and lush palm trees when you’re in there. Compared to some of Caribbean resorts I’ve stayed at recently, this hotel definitely ranks as one of the better gyms.
There are a handful of restaurants at this hotel and we definitely did not have time to check them all out. However, we were able to try out the fine dining at Perla Restaurant. According to the website, “Perla is a luxury seafood restaurant serving happening American cuisine.”
The building housing the restaurant mimics a large sea shell with it’s white exterior, folded like the grooves of a clamshell. Surrounding this shell, is a large sparkling pool that almost gives the restaurant the appearance that it’s floating.
To get in, you don’t have to dress up like you’re attending your wedding, but you likely want to at least go with some blue jeans and a collared shirt if you’re a guy so you fit right in.
As soon as you enter the restaurant, you get a sense of its chic furnishings and ambient atmosphere. The glass walls that open up to the beach and the hand-blown Murano glass lamps softly illuminate the interior of the giant clam create an interesting scene that sets up for a unique dining experience.
As we arrived and sat down, a storm quickly moved in over the beach and we watched as tourists scattered along the beach. One guest, reluctant to move, actually just rolled under her chair to seek shelter from the rain and high winds. Having the storm roll in was kind of perfect and listening to and watching the rain spatter just added to the tranquil atmosphere of Perla.
Perla has more than 4,000 bottles with over 1,000 labels in their wine cellar and they offer by-the-glass offerings with 30 wines to choose from. Thus, if you’re a wino, you won’t be disappointed with the options. Since we’re not big drinkers these days, we just ordered one glass each and we certainly enjoyed them, along with our sparkling water.
Our server was outstanding and what you would expect from such fine dining. Speaking of which, the prices at the restaurant are high so be prepared. You can take a look at the menu here to get a sense of the prices. I went with the swordfish steak and loved everything about it and Brad went with the filet mignon and felt the same. We didn’t have any room left for dessert but some of the options looked very tempting.
We’ve had great luck with our last few stays of getting upgraded due to elite status. In fact, I’m not even sure I can remember the last time when we didn’t get upgraded. Well, we finally got taken back down to reality with our stay at La Concha and did not receive an upgrade.
However, the room was still decent, and I only have two complaints of the hotel (and they happen to almost be identical to the complaints I had at our recent hotel experience in Roatan, Honduras).
My first complaint was the stench in the elevator (in Roatan the stench was in the room so it was much worse). I still have no idea what the stench was but it had a pungent musk to it. At first I thought it was coming from two gentleman who joined us in the elevator and I was doing my best not give them a sneer, but I soon figured out that it was just the elevator, (though it did get worse when you added in a handful of sweaty bodies). The odor got so bad that at times I was holding my breath, counting down the seconds that the elevator doors would slide open so I could be the first one out.
My second complaint had to do with noise. As I experience more and more hotels, I’m starting to figure out that unwanted noise is just a part of the hotel experience a lot of the time. However, sometimes there’s an issue that I feel can easily be fixed and this is one of those times. I’ll explain the noise issue.
The corridors to the rooms are open to the outside as you can see in the photo above. It’s a nice architectural feature but in order to shelter the rooms from extreme weather (my guess), there is a door that opens up into a mini-hallway for your room and a neighboring room. This means that you go through two successive doors to get in your room but it also means that your neighbors get to slam two successive doors each time they come and go. In my opinion, the doors need some kind of mechanism to slow down the door closing because in the evenings, we had to listen to doors slamming again and again and again… and it got pretty frustrating.
Those two issues aside, we really loved our room and couldn’t not have asked for a better view of Condado Beach.
One thing I thought was cool about the window is that it opened all the way up. Most high-rise resorts I’ve stayed at only allowed for a small sliver to open but this entire window could slide over. Just keep in mind that the AC has a feature on it that won’t allow it to be on when the window is open. Thus, when you close the window make sure it’s closed all the way, otherwise the AC unit may still think the window is open and cut off your AC!
The bed, pillows, blanket, etc. were all amazingly soft and fresh. No complaints there, whatsoever. While there is no microwave in the room, there is a mini-fridge.
The bathroom was a bit compact but still very reasonable. I think the highlight of the bathroom was the ambient lighting that you could put on in the shower.
If you stay in one of the oceanfront rooms you’ve got to wake up early enough to catch the sunset over the ocean. All you’ve got to do is rise a little out of your bed and you’ll be able to catch it so there’s no excuse for missing it!
This hotel was another positive experience in the Caribbean for us. I think this landmark hotel is great for both families and couples and can serve as a great base for exploring the nearby areas, including Old San Juan.
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. His content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.