Review: Caribe Hilton

I just wrapped up a four night stay at the Caribe Hilton in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  This was my second trip to Puerto Rico and my first time staying in San Juan.  Before I get into my review I should mention that I am a Hilton Honors Gold level member and I focus much of my hotel nights at Hilton Properties.

Now for the review, the Caribe Hilton may have a Four Diamond AAA award, but this is no four diamond hotel. The property isn't bad, but there is no attention to the guest. The staff is not on point with the level you would expect at a four diamond hotel.  I've stayed at the El Conquistador, A Waldorf Astoria property in Puerto Rico and that was a four diamond hotel.  The two are night and day different in terms of service.

When you arrive the Caribe Hilton has an impressive entrance.  The open air lobby is large, but very comfortable.  Overall the property appears to be well maintained, but as I will explain in this review, service needs help.

I found this to be the case the moment I arrived.  My taxi pulled up, but none one came over to open the door or offer to assist with my bags.  The hotel was not busy at the time I arrived and there were several bellman standing around.  The lack of service continued to the front desk.  My wait was short, but the desk attendant was not helpful.  I was given my keys, an envelope, which turned out to hold my Hilton Honors breakfast vouchers, and sent on my way.  No welcome by name, no thanks for staying with us, no directions on how to find my room.

I stopped at the concierge to get directions to my wing of the resort.  I booked an ocean view king room.  I was given a room on the sixth floor of the garden wing of the resort.  The room was actually quite nice.  It was updated, spacious and included a coffee maker, refrigerator and safe.  The view, was not really ocean view, but it wasn’t terrible.  I looked out at palm trees, the hotels’ garden and I had a slight view of the water to the east.

I was pleased to see the updated room since I had heard some of the rooms were quite dated.  I did not get a chance to see the tower rooms, so I can’t say how they appeared.

The hotel property is actually quite nice.  There are several pools, a swim up pool bar, a nice crescent beach and an area filled with hammocks to just lay around and relax.  Condos are currently under construction on the property.  They are supposed to include new shops and restaurants.  This will be nice, since the nearest non-hotel restaurants are over by the Conrad, a fifteen minute walk away.

Food options at the hotel are plentiful, just don’t expect authentic Puerto Rican food.  The hotel is home to an Italian restaurant, Asian spice bar, Mortons Steak House and a few lunch/breakfast options.  There is also a Starbucks in the lobby.  Take the time to walk across the bridge towards the Conrad.  There are numerous restaurants, hotels and shops just a short walk from the Caribe Hilton.

While the hotel has a great beach, don’t expect stellar beach service.  There is hardly any service on the beach or around the pools.  By the end of the day the place was a mess each day. No one was cleaning up cups, towels, etc.  Not what you would expect at a four diamond hotel.  I’ve stayed at numerous four star beach resorts and an attendant is usually not hard to find.

Be warned, they charged me a 16% resort fee (not a fixed fee). I'm fine with a resort fee if it actually pays for something.  I was surprised it was a percentage and not a fixed amount.  When I inquired at checkout what the fee actually covers I was told access to the pools.  Really?  If you wanted non-motorized water toys, snorkel, even a pool float you had to pay.

In summary, I give this hotel three stars for the beautiful location and grounds. The beach and pools are nice. Just don't expect stellar service.