Submitted on 05-05-2016
Staying here is essentially like being on a dated cruise ship -- or in some enormous mansion that has every amenity you can think of. I'm not sure how I feel about this because there is zero sense that you're in Puerto Rico (aside from the amazing sounds of the coqui frogs everywhere you go, but you'll never see them) -- definitely a sense of being on vacation in some tropical place, but it could really could be anywhere in America because it is so Americanized down to all the restaurant options...
Staying here is essentially like being on a dated cruise ship -- or in some enormous mansion that has every amenity you can think of. I'm not sure how I feel about this because there is zero sense that you're in Puerto Rico (aside from the amazing sounds of the coqui frogs everywhere you go, but you'll never see them) -- definitely a sense of being on vacation in some tropical place, but it could really could be anywhere in America because it is so Americanized down to all the restaurant options, the massive arcade that you are forced to walk by all the time, the movie room. There's no nightlife outside of the hotel, and within it they have a big open 'party' room with a live singer on evenings singing poor versions of Justin Bieber songs, pool tables, air hockey tables, an empty bar that overlooks it, etc. It feels like one bad wedding. Random boutique shops and well-stocked convenience stores all around (again, so you'll never leave the premises!), a Starbucks. Again, all super cruise-shippy. No doubt a gorgeous hotel overall but the only things to do outside of the hotel are to drive to some of the close-by restaurants (recommend El Estacion and Kasavista), drive to the ferry, and do the biobay. Note that the geographical location isn't the hotel's fault so no thumbs-down for this -- it makes an excellent home base for east-coast PR, but onto the hotel itself...
Most of the rooms have breathtaking views of the ocean/marina/sailboats/pool/etc. and the design is wonderfully modern, light and super spacious. At first glance it's incredible, and no doubt extremely clean and super comfortable. The enormous, brad spanking new flat screen TV was a huge plus. However, for a Waldorf-Astoria, the rooms look like they haven't been cared for since the late 90s/early 2000s and are pretty dated. You get this nostalgic sense even on your walk to the room -- the elevators have that ugly green carpet, run-down feel and the cemented/painted walkways have some irreparable stains, but you're thankfully distracted by the amazing flora in the courtyards. In your room, there are paint cracks all over the delightfully large bathroom that includes an unnecessarily huge closet (no complaints), really faded decorative tiles, old and seemingly recycled shampoos/conditioners (from Salvatore Ferragamo??), colored spots on the beautiful modern white pleather L-shaped couch, and a toilet with no tank (yes, it has a foot pedal like in a public restroom. Nbd, just awkward when you notice it). The platform king-sized bed facing the ocean view was like a dream. Quiet, but the hotel was also relatively empty so I can't speak to the noise cancellation. Essentially, this hotel is a total gem and looks faaaantastic whem dimly lit on the inside and even better at dusk/evening on the outside.
No doubt that your kids will have a BLAST since they don't pay attention to these things. The 'party' room downstairs will make them feel like little adults where they can go hang out by themselves, there are 3 caged parrots they keep onsite during the day that's pretty cool (one is about 40 years old!), plenty of room to run around, the waterpark (that we didn't even see this because the property is so massive) and a tram-type thing that goes up and down to the marina even though it's a trek to get to (Kasavista is a 15-minute walk only once you get down there; it's more like 25 minutes).
Valet is ~$20/day but I would definitely choose this over self-parking because you may need your car more than you think you do. Staff was really friendly except on one instance, they GAVE US THE WRONG CAR!!! I had thought the empty Snickers wrapper in our cupholder was negligently left by the parking attendant.... until I realized halfway down the road that we actually didn't have a GPS screen on our rental. Hilarious, and even more so because THEY DIDN'T APOLOGIZE -- literally handed me the keys to our actual car and pointed to our parked car in one of the valet spots in front of the hotel. We're good-humored about this, but I couldn't even believe we could've easily driven away with someone else's car and they didn't apologize and made us go get our own car after that.
Overall, a charming hotel/docked cruise ship to just chill out in. If you want to feel like you're in Puerto Rico, leave the premises and drive down to the cluster of restaurants where Kasavista is and enjoy the view of the lagoon/park that they sit across from. If you go to Kasavista, get the paella and/or the whole snapper and the fried Puerto Rican cheese with guava sauce (and DON'T go to the Chops Steakhouse -- pricey meal for strange service and a mediocre steak). Better yet, get the snapper at El Estacion. It has a fun good vibe.