El San Juan Resort and Casino
6063 East Isle Verde Avenue
San Juan, 00902 PR
(North San Juan area)
By: Dave Grossman, Hotel Magician
Following a recent $52 Million makeover, this hotel is seeking to reclaim its former glory as the place to be in San Juan. And it’s doing a pretty good job of it.
As of May 2008, not all the rooms have been renovated. Since the pictures you’ll see online are all of renovated rooms, that is what you’ll picture and it’s what you want to be sure to ask for. Specifically request a renovated room in the tower.
The renovated rooms are sleek, with modern furniture, flat panel TVs, iPod docking stations, and modern bathrooms, it feels a bit like a W Hotel (including the overpriced Voss water in the rooms). As an added bonus WiFi is free in the rooms and, at least in our room, worked quite well.
The El San Juan Resort offers everything you need for a warm weather getaway – beach access, beach chairs and towels, a massive rambling pool with a waterfall and loungers all around – even 4 hammocks tied to palm trees if that’s your thing.
By the pool, assorted extras were offered for free, ranging from yoga to Spanish lessons. These were a nice touch. And if you’re so inclined, you can get an outdoor massage (extra charge, of course).
Not one but *two* Starbucks Coffee’s are in the hotel along with a range of restuarants including a Palms Steakhouse and Coco, a wonderful upscale Caribbean restuarant (try the crispy porkbelly!). During the day you can order food out by the pool, but this is one area that service was sorely lacking even if the food was OK (and reasonably priced for a resort).
One complaint in the food and beverage area is the lack of a quick service option besides Starbucks. There’s no place to really grab a quick snack on the premises.
The nightlife scene here on the weekends is very lively. The entire lobby is turned into a bar (which during evening hours serves some excellent food) and people from all over gather here to socialize and drink. Past the lobby bars, a dance club doesn’t even get really moving until midnight – and attracts the younger crowd (ladies free, guys $16 as of May 2008 but free for hotel guests).
There is also a sizeable casino on the premises which is a nice diversion, although in all the nights there the table games were always understaffed leaving many tables empty while others were overcrowded with people waiting to play. The slots were your typical older array of mostly video slots; nothing exciting – it’s not Vegas afterall.
(Pictured Below: The one of the lobby bars)
Up on the 10th floor is a spa where you can get treatments for a fee or use the modern fitness center.
Overall, the El San Juan Resort and Casino earn very high marks. While it doesn’t have the service or panache of the nearby Ritz Carton San Juan, it does now look far nicer than the often pricier Intercontinental San Juan that is the El San Juan Hotel’s direct neighbor. The Intercontinental looks tired in comparison and often sells for $100 a night more than the El San Juan.
Hot Tip from the Hotel Magician: If you want to rent a car for a day or two, check out Charlie Car Rental (http://www.charliecars.com/). They came recommended and we rented a compact (booked in advance) for $21.95 a day. Can’t beat that!
Other recommended hotels in the area (from personal experience – this is not just a list!)
In Old San Juan:
In Rio Grande (40 mins east of San Juan)
In Fajardo (50 mins East of San Juan)