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Buenos Dias from Vieques Island, Puerto Rico

by on November 14, 2011 · 10 comments

in Starwood, Trip Reports

Several months ago, I had a poll asking where TPG readers wanted me to go on a long weekend. Macchu Pichu ended up winning, but Vieques was second garnering a lot of the vote. Well a couple friends of mine were vacationing in Vieques at the W Retreat and Spa and it dawned on me that I had two more Free Resort Nights from Starwood’s promotion earlier this year that I needed to use before December 21. Additionally, I’m in the process of doing an Executive Platinum challenge on American, so I need to fly 20,000 miles by January 15, so I decided to do a last minute Miami to Vieques trip.

I’ll do a full report after I leave here on Tuesday, but so far I’ve been impressed with the island, but not so much with the W. While the new resort is stunning and sharp from a design perspective, the service leaves a lot to be desired. It really feels like the resort opened up yesterday – I’ll save all the details for my review, but the Platinum upgrade they offered was for a room with a view (my friends who are Starwood Gold got the same exact room) and the room was not ready when they promised and I had to fight to get a room at 4pm, which is normal check-in time.

On a brighter note, the weather has been spectacular. Check out a couple teaser pictures.

My Cessna for the short San Juan to Vieques hop

Relaxing by the pool.. surprisingly empty

 

Snapshot from my kayak tour of the bioluminescent bay


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  • Akleger

    We stayed at a beautiful guest house, with a small pool and a kitchen for use, fresh coffee every morning. You could use their snorkeling equipment and beach chairs. The host was so kind and provided so many local places to eat and which beaches to go to. Don’t stay at the W, stay LOCAL, rent a car and go to the many many beaches of Vieques…
    http://www.casadeamistad.com/

  • Anonymous

    So strange, we had a vastly different experience (used FWN nights over a weekend in Dec, so hardly low season)…check in was actually initiated over rum drinks at the airport lounge and not only was the contact there able to check us in, he was able to see what platinum upgrades were avail and blocked us an extreme wow suite, facing the adult beach, on the ground floor. Our keys were waiting for us by the time we got the airport and we were greeted by the FD manager and the concierge (who arranged the bio bay tour on the spot, in addition to facilitating a jeep rental). We have stayed in PR a few times before and thought that – apart from some meh service at the pool/restaurant – the FD desk/concierge/service team were head and shoulders above we were expecting. Sucks, I’m sure I was one of the commenters extolling the W’s virtues! Hope you enjoy the rest of the trip and def go out and see the island!

  • Anonymous

    Wow- a completely different experience. My name was checked off a list at airport arrivals and agent just told me to sit as we waited for everyone else’s luggage to arrive. No coordination with the front desk and no upgrade at all- my room wasn’t even ready for hours- even though they said it would be 1 hour.

    Tons of smaller service flaws too- no towels, no turndown, no water for the whole resort this morning, no room service late night.. Just met two other TPG readers and they are experiencing the same :-(

  • Anonymous

    That is crazy – you would think they would have the kinks worked out by now. It’s also probable that when we stayed, it wasn’t nearly as full as it is right now (your lack of any upgrade would support this?), so the staff wasn’t quite so overwhelmed. i’ll be curious to see your full report; we are using our FRN at the st regis bahia beach in a few weeks and we’re sort of bracing ourselves for that one too!

  • T-Man

    Actually, they had 99 empty rooms last night, according to the FD, and about the same again tonight (I’m one of the two TPG readers mentioned earlier). I checked in on Saturday, when they were really rather full with two large conventions here, but both groups left by 2 PM on Sunday. The FD staff couldn’t give me a Plat upgrade on Saturday, but suggested I ask on Sunday since they were so empty. When I asked on Sunday they moved me to a Spectacular room around 5 PM (no suite, so I didn’t take your upgrade TPG :) ) with an ocean view on the Pool side of the resort.

    Service at the restaurant (MiX on the Beach) for breakfast has been really clumsy, with the food not cooked as ordered (crispy bacon advertised on the menu was NOT crispy either morning), not delivered complete (pastries ordered with jam/nutella did not have either and it took forever to finally get them), and not delivered timely (i.e. you order tea and you get it in the middle of or after your meal). I almost never complain at restaurants but I definitely noted this to the restaurant manager the first day and the hotel manager the second day. Interestingly enough, one of the answers I got was that it’s a struggle to train the locals who work at the resort, which is one of the issues note in the FT threads for the hotel.

    Overall, the service so far has been very inconsistent, and is the the biggest flaw for the hotel.

    BTW, mwilson77, we stayed at the St. Regis Bahia Beach for two nights before coming here and it was AMAZING. Definitely miles ahead of this W, IMO; the pool, the service, the room, the food, and the experience were all awesome. It’s my new go-to resort for the Western Hemisphere :)

  • Anonymous

    Interesting – well good to know re: St Regis. I’ve definitely read some mixed reviews, so good to know you had such a positive experience. It’s certainly easier/cheaper to get there than Vieques, so hopefully we have a similar stay to yours.

    Re: Vieques, I can’t believe they weren’t able to move you to a suite, given the occupancy. Were there suites avail on SPG.com? I wonder if they have changed their Plat upgrade policy since last year, because I seem to remember hearing that suite upgrades were somewhat common.

    Re: service, I hear ya and I think we noted similar issues at the pool and at MiX – just kind of uneven service all around….lots of small things, but definitely noted. In the end, our amazing room upgrade and the great treatment we got from the concierge/FD management more than made up for some small hiccups in restaurant service, so we left with an overall positive impression, but I can see how no suite upgrade + annoying back and forth about a room change with the FD + uneven service = bad stay at the property.

  • Ryan

    We had a long weekend stay at the W Vieques over Halloween, and unfortunately our experience was quite similar. The property is gorgeous; but most of the staff was downright awful and the overal experience was inconsistent. I felt like they took “Whatever, Whenever” the wrong way.

  • LA Dave75

    I stayed at the St. Regis over Labor Day weekend using my 2 Free resort nights. The staff there was fantastic and upgraded me to an Ocean Front Rooms (2 categories above what are is standard) for my Gold membership. All the staff there was very friendly and were very accommodating. The property is huge and you do need a golf cart or car to get around. I was wary of booking the Vieques resort because of having to fly out there and the St. Regis looked like a very nice stay. I highly recommend it for anyone staying in the San Juan area.

  • AS

    Slightly off topic, but I’m curious what happened to “I refuse to give any business to American Airlines” per the following post written about 3 months ago. Was there some compensation involved?

    http://thepointsguy.com/2011/08/15-off-american-airlines-coupon-for-dealfinder-installation/

  • Anonymous

    No comp. but I wrote a couple weeks ago why im matching- I moved to Miami and you just can’t avoid the convenience of flying AA. I figured I’d give them another shot..

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