Hotel Review: Condado Lagoon “Villas” at Caribe Hilton San Juan

Apr 5, 2013

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In celebration of my best friend’s upcoming wedding, I recently spent a long weekend in San Juan, Puerto Rico, with a tight-knit group of friends. I had looked into renting a house, but the date was fast approaching and many of the options I found were either wildly expensive or in a bad location, so instead I suggested that our group rent out two villas at Condado Lagoon Villas at Caribe Hilton San Juan.

Hilton Ext
The exterior of the Caribe Hilton San Juan.

The Caribe Hilton San Juan is located right between Old San Juan and Condado so it was a perfect location for us to spend the day at the pool/beach and later get to experience the San Juan nightlife.

View of Condado from right outside the resort.
View of Condado from right outside the resort.

The beach right outside the hotel was small so we opted to take the short drive to Condado Beach, which was much nicer. We also spent a lot of time hanging out at the resort pool since it was in such a relaxing setting, surrounded by palm trees with a great view of the ocean.

My friends Peter and Stacia enjoying the beautiful weather and some afternoon cocktails.
My friends Peter and Stacia enjoying the beautiful weather and some afternoon cocktails.

The villa I stayed in had two bedrooms, one with a king bed and the second with two queens. This villa was $701.10 per night, but there were also additional charges for resort fees and taxes which amounted to $556.11 for the three nights(!), so for our three-night stay, the two-bedroom villa came out to be $2,659.41.

I booked a two-bedroom “villa” at the Caribe Hilton for $701.10 per night.

Using points the same room would have cost an outrageous 206,919 Hilton HHonors points per night for a grand total of 620,757 points. In this case, it was a much better deal to pay the rate of $701.10 per night since I was able to use my Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card and ended up earning 10 HHonors base points per dollar plus my Hilton Diamond 50% bonus on base points for another 5 points per dollar plus the 10 points per dollar my Reserve card gets me and 1,000 Virgin Atlantic mile since Virgin is my Double Dip Points + Miles partner choice and I have chosen Fixed Miles which usually makes sense for me since my stays are short and under $500 (these miles equates to 2,000 Hilton points at the 2:1 transfer ratio between airline and hotel) for a total of 26 Hilton HHonors points per dollar – so on this stay I earned 54,575 HHonors points.

This room
The same villa would have cost over 200,000 points per night.

Aside from the bedrooms, there was also a small kitchen and living room with a pullout sofa with a balcony overlooking the water and two full bathrooms.

Small kitchen in our two bedroom villa.
The small kitchen in our two-bedroom villa.

While the grounds of the hotel were well-kept, the rooms could definitely use an update. I think the term Villa is highly misleading, I mean, per dictionary.com:

vil·la

[vil-uh]

noun

1.
a country residence or estate.

2.
any imposing or pretentious residence, especially one in the country or suburbs maintained as a retreat by a wealthy person.

3.
British . a detached or semidetached dwelling house, usually suburban.

The second bedroom in my villa which had two queen size beds.
The second bedroom in my villa, which had two queen size beds.

The “villas” we rented were nothing like the above definition and were merely regular hotel rooms with a very basic living area and kitchen attached, with a small balcony. I think the hotel should seriously consider rebranding this property or at least renovating the “villas” with furniture from the 2000’s. Apparently many of the main Caribe Hilton rooms were renovated, so I think next time I’d opt for those rooms instead.

Living room with outdated furniture and television.
Living room with outdated furniture and television.

Diamond Treatment?
The hotel doesn’t offer much in the way of Diamond recognition or treatment. I got a coupon for free water bottles and daily coffee at the on-site Starbucks. I believe there was a buffet, but I was never up early enough to take advantage!

Spa
I booked a 50-minute massage one day at the spa and the therapist was fine, but they opened the doors to let the breeze in, and inadvertently, the noise from the nearby beach came in and at one point a couple tourists unknowingly almost walked into the room, until the therapist had to shoo them away. Not exactly the most relaxing massage, but it was satisfactory. The facilities are basic and the locker room was bare. I probably wouldn’t come back if I do visit the resort again.

Overall
The location is great and the grounds are nice, though I wouldn’t recommend the Lagoon Villas. It is a hike to get to the main resort and the rooms are in desperate need of a renovation. San Juan was fun for a weekend – we had great meals at Aguaviva (the grilled snapper and lobster mofongo was excellent) and Bar Gitano (tapas) in Condado. The weekend was a blast and it was an easy long weekend, especially since there’s no customs/passports when flying to Puerto Rico, so it was easier than most other Caribbean destinations.

Though this property isn’t one of Hilton’s most expensive, if, like me, you have a Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card, this could be a good one to use your free weekend night certificates since it tends to get pricy during high season (like right around now) and rooms go for upwards of $400 per night.

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