Long Weekend in San Juan, Puerto Trip Report – Courtyard Marriott Isla Verde

1) Introduction
2) Flights: American Airlines Business Class JFK – SJU & American Airlines Economy Class SJU – JFK
3) Hotel: Courtyard Marriott Isla Verde
4) Activities & Dining

As mentioned in the introduction, this was actually my second stay at the Courtyard Marriott Isla Verde. The first time we stayed there was way back in 2008 on my first ever trip out of the continental United States (I’ve come a long ways now) and we had quite an enjoyable stay. Looking for hotels on this trip to San Juan, we wanted a hotel right on the beach and was close to the airport to minimize our driving time.

Many hotels of the hotels we were considering were ranging from $135/night to $225/night, including the San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris CasinoInterContinental Hotel San Juan and the Courtyard Marriott Isla Verde.  Points for these hotels ranged from 35,000 to 50,000 a night but with cash rates so low for the hotels, it didn’t make sense to redeem points for our stay. Instead, I had a $500 Marriott Gift Card I purchased for 19% off (for a total of $405) during the American Express Daily Getaways, so my preference was for a Marriott hotel. In the end, we went with the cheaper option at $135/night for the Courtyard Marriott Isla Verde.

View From Our Balcony

View From Our Balcony

In doing some research on the hotel, I noticed it was undergoing a renovation in which rooms on the top few floors were completely renovated while the middle to bottom floors remained untouched. About a week prior to our stay, I emailed the hotel requesting a newly renovated room and they responded they would do their best but could not guarantee it. Our flight landed around 9:30pm, and since the hotel is only a 5-7 minute drive from the airport, we were at the hotel around 9:50pm after making our way out of the airport and finding a taxi.

Upon walking in to the lobby, the check-in area was deserted (not surprising considering it was almost 10pm) but an agent quickly checked us in without any issues. We were assigned a partial ocean view room on the 8th floor, but as you can see in the picture above, the partial ocean view was actually quite nice and not just some small sliver of the ocean. Our room also happened to be a newly renovated room and you could tell what a difference that made as everything was brand new with no marks, scuffs or scratches anywhere on the furniture.

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The room was modestly sized but had some character to it with the painted wall behind the bed and new wood cabinetry and furniture throughout the room. It was well designed, as the TV could swivel out depending whether you were on the couch or the bed and the mini-fridge could actually hold several large bottles of water and snacks. I forgot to take a picture of it but the room opened up to a nice balcony outside which had a small table and two chairs. Each morning, we would run downstairs to the little coffee shop in the lobby and come back to our room to have breakfast on our balcony.

Our favorite part of the hotel was the wide stretch of white, sandy beach right behind the hotel. As I stated in the introduction to this trip report, I think the beach here is nicer than the beach in front of the Ritz-Carlton. My reasoning behind it is even though it is the same stretch of beach (you can just make out the blue cluster of Ritz Carlton chairs in the top photo), the beach gets much narrower by the Ritz and the cluster of chairs makes the beach feel much smaller. Additionally, there are large apartment complexes or hotels on each side of the Ritz, crowding the beach even further, while the Courtyard Marriott Isla Verde is the last hotel on the strip and has a lot more privacy. Each morning, you could walk down to the beach and helpful hotel employees would set up an umbrella and chairs wherever you liked on the beach.

In addition to the umbrella and chair setup, their was food and drink service on the beach which is something that was non-existent the last time we went 6 years ago. Service was generally good though it sometimes took a while to get a drink since they came from the pool bar which was usually crowded. Speaking of the pool, it felt like a standard hotel swimming pool with a nice swim-up bar but the pool was always too crowded for our liking. The food and drinks from the pool bar were good with frozen cocktails averaging $8-$10 a drink and sandwiches/burgers/salads ranging from $10-$12 at lunch. I’m not sure what the prices are at the Ritz down the beach but I guarantee they are much higher than those prices.

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There were also several other features of the hotel we didn’t get to experience including the fitness center which was large and overlooked the pool area. We didn’t have an opportunity to eat dinner at the hotel but we noticed on Sundays, they had a Puerto Rican dinner buffet complete with a whole roasted pig. There was also a small casino inside the hotel (right off the lobby) that had several blackjack, roulette, and craps tables in addition to tons of slots machines.

For a long weekend of 3 nights, I think at this price point (<$150 night), this hotel can’t be beat. It’s close to the airport yet only 15 minutes from Old San Juan (stay tuned for the next post in this series) and has a great beach which is definitely the highlight of this hotel. The renovated rooms are nice though I’m sure I would have been disappointed with a non-renovated room as they are probably still the same room we had 6 years ago. The staff is generally friendly and the drinks/food at the pool bar were good especially when they could be delivered to your beach chairs for no additional fee.

Feel free to ask me any questions about this hotel, I’d be happy to answer them. I’ve included a few additional photos of our room and the grounds.

 

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