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Marriott Resort & Casino San Juan, Puerto Rico
Sunday, December 11, 2011  
San Juan Marriott Resort & Casino

San Juan, Puerto Rico, is a perfect candidate for a pre-/post-cruise extended stay. Since many flights do not arrive in San Juan until late in the day, why not spend a couple of nights and explore one of the Caribbean's largest and most interesting islands?

Room Features
  • 250sqft/23sqm-275sqft/25sqm
  • Air-conditioned
  • This room is non-smoking
  • Connecting rooms are available (for some rooms)
  • Outdoor spaces: balcony (1)
  • Outdoor spaces total size 65sqft/6sqm
  • Windows, soundproof
  • Windows, floor to ceiling
Bath and Bathroom Features
  • Bathtub
  • Lighted makeup mirror
  • Bathroom amenities (Bath and Body Works)
  • Hair dryer
  • Robe
Furniture and Furnishings
  • Chair, with ottoman
  • Alarm Clock (Sony)
  • Safe, in room
  • Desk, writing/work, with ergonomic chair, and electrical outlet
  • Iron and ironing board
Food & Beverages
  • Room service
  • Bottled water, for a fee
  • Coffeemaker/tea service
  • Instant hot water

On a recent visit to the island to embark SeaDream II, we decided to spend two nights at the Marriott Resort & Casino located on prestigious Condado Beach. A five-mile taxi ride from the airport to the Marriott cost us approximately $20 for two people with three pieces of luggage (yes, the taxis charge by the piece for luggage). Our American Airlines flight left DFW over an hour late so we did not arrive in San Juan until 8pm on Thanksgiving Day and did not get to the hotel until around 9pm. We were a little disappointed upon arrival to learn that the lobby renovation, which was supposed to have been completed days before our arrival, was still under construction. The construction did not cause any inconvenience, but we really wanted to see the newly decorated space.
Since the renovations were ongoing, the hotel offers its Rewards guests extra points and two airline-size bottles of local rum and a can of Pepsi to take to your room.

Our oceanview guest room on the 17th floor (rack rate of approx. $219 per night) was 275 sq. ft. and included a very nice, large two-level balcony, with two chairs and a small table, overlooking the beach and ocean below. The room was comfortable with a firm bed and good pillows and linens.
There was a nice-sized desk with ergonomic desk chair and a framed mirror above it and a dresser upon which sat a large, flat-screen HD TV. A nightstand between the beds had a telephone and a lamp and there was an occasional chair beside one of the beds, complete with a small table and a floor lamp. New fixtures in the bathroom made it look new. The bathroom has a spacious vanity and a lighted makeup mirror attached to the wall. The tub/shower combination featured a great shower head. However, the "bones" of the entire room were showing definite signs of age, most notably, the walls, "popcorn" ceiling and carpet. We had trouble regulating the air conditioning. It was either freezing cold or non-existent regardless of how we set the thermostat. Also, the room was poorly insulated against sound and, on Thursday and Friday nights, the party-ers next door to us were in full swing!

We found an electronic safe in the closet, but when we tried to program it, some of the number buttons did not work! We finally found enough numbers that did work and set a code. We always had trouble opening/locking this safe. Two bottles of water were placed on the bathroom vanity so we assumed that you were supposed to use the bottled water and not the tap water for brushing teeth and drinking. We were not charged for the bottled water which was replenished each day by housekeeping.

My biggest gripe? Internet service was $18.95 per day! Wow, I cannot remember the last time I paid that much for Internet. In fact, I never have. There was a Starbucks right across the street from the hotel with free high-speed Internet. So, for the price of a bitter cup of coffee, it was a no-brainer. The hotel advertises wi-fi in public areas as well as in guest rooms, but we never got a chance to try it out.

There is a 12,700-square-foot Stellaris casino in the lobby of the hotel with every game imaginable and lots of slots. We made a donation there. Even though we did not dine on the property, there is a nice selection of impressive-looking restaurants. The recently renovated La Vista Latin Grill and Ocean Terrace (open for breakfast, lunch and dinner for casual dining) is located on the lower level with views of the ocean and available outdoor seating. Ristorante Tuscany is an award-winning Italian restaurant open for dinner. There is even an Asian noodle bar, Wan Chai Noddle Bar,
with a nice menu located inside the casino and open for dinner only. La Isla Grill and Pool Bar is just steps away from the ocean and serves American cuisine for lunch and dinner. Sandy feet are welcome there! The Coffee Merchant & Bake Shop serves freshly-ground, mountain-grown Puerto Rican coffee, specialty drinks and lighter fare such as sandwiches and pastries during breakfast, lunch and dinner.

A well-stocked gift shop offers sundries, clothing and local souvenirs.
There is a concierge desk that can assist you with arranging activities or taking tours of the city. We had originally planned to do a zipline excursion with Yunke Zipline Adventures but, unfortunately, Chris hurt his back the day before we left for San Juan so a zipline excursion was out of the question.

The property's strong suit is its beautiful swimming pool and beachfront. Guests are only steps away from a soft and sandy beach with waves lapping away. Beach chairs, towels and umbrellas are available. The pool is huge (actually, there are two pools) and features a swim-up bar, spiral waterslide, hot tub and special children's pool. The Marriott is also home to the Ocean Club Spa which offers spa treatments such as scrubs, wraps, facials, manicures, pedicures, massages and even massage lessons. The Ocean Club Fitness Center has yoga and aqua aerobics classes, tennis courts, personal trainers, cardiovascular equipment, free weights and saunas.

Lots of shops and restaurants are within easy walking distance of the hotel and there is a large Walgreen's, which also has a grocery store, about two blocks away in case you need some last minute sundries. We found an excellent Turkish/Middle Eastern restaurant across the street from the hotel (behind Starbucks) for lunch. If you stay at the San Juan Marriott, treat yourself to a culinary experience at Ali Baba. You won't regret it!

A  taxi ride costing about $18 (plus charges for each piece of luggage) will get you to the Port of San Juan in Old San Juan (about 10 minutes) where most of the ships dock.
Taxis are readily available on the circular drive in front of the hotel and a bellman will be happy to summon one for you and load your luggage.

The San Juan Marriott Resort and Casino offers a good value and is reasonably located for cruise guests. By the time you read this, the new lobby construction should be complete, offering an even more pleasant experience. The hotel is large enough to accommodate large groups (511 guest rooms and 14 suites) and has an amazing beach and pool area. If you are embarking or disembarking in San Juan, spend a couple of days here and take in some of the attractions that San Juan has to offer.

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