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A review of any hotel is never objective. So much can flavor the experience. Take for example the above review of the Sheraton Old San Juan. I was excited to visit Puerto Rico for the first time as well as the excitement about boarding the NCL Dawn and a 10 day cruise. That impacts you. But the hotel was a real treat (other than location for where the Dawn was docked, that is).

My visit to the IHG Intercontinental San Juan was coming off yet another simply amazing cruise with stunning service from everyone onboard. The hotel had a tall task to live up to that! So did it?

Let me state right away that we had a marvelous stay. The staff is top notch and really, I mean really, try to make sure you are pleased and enjoying your stay. I would return in a heartbeat to this hotel (if points or cash was no object). With that in mind also keep in mind that IHG status means very little at Intercontinental hotels (it really means little at ANY IHG hotel but that is a topic for another post).

Parking is not cheap. It is not discounted or waived for IHG elites. I detest all “junk fees” and always try to OPT-OUT no matter what they are called. Including parking fees.

We got to the hotel early, too early for check-in, but the staff had no problem storing our bags so we could go enjoy the hotel.

This really is a nice property. There is a bar inside across from check-in and one outside.

Under the outside bar is a games area with ping pong and much more.

For sun and pool fans you will love this place. The property is well cared for and super clean.

The only gripe I had was what you see above. When no-kids is the policy it should be enforced and it was not any of the days during our visit.

It is not like there is not ample space for little ones to enjoy after all. On to one more gripe.

While there is ample seating all around the pool area, there are also a number of cabanas – but you have to pay more to use them. Considering what it costs in points or cash to stay here, yet another fee just rubs me the wrong way.

There is yet another bar at the end of the pool area that also serves food. While I did not sample the offerings, the guests seemed to be enjoying what was provided.

On to an interesting way of providing towels. Your room key is a wrist band that also opens the self-service towel locker. It was well stocked and worked great.

At this same stand, in addition to citrus water, you also have 3 different SPF sunscreens provided at no extra cost. A nice touch (as well as bug spray). Now on to the real star for me.

I am a beach fan. Give me a good chair (with an umbrella) and my book and I am happy all day long (well, plus maybe a drink or two).

This beach alone is worth a visit to the hotel. Nice chairs and umbrella service as well as security (local law enforcement on ATVs as well).

Just inside the gates to the beach (they do check for your armband when you come back) are outside showers to rinse your feet of sand and convenient lavatories.

In the same building is the hotel spa and well equipped gym (the gym is included but spa services are extra). On to our room.

I requested a high floor room but one on the ocean side was not offered (if you look at the top photo in the post our balcony is the one right under the last “L”).

One upgrade with this room, over a standard style hotel room, is a dedicated closet area outside the bathroom. Also a mini-fridge. A nice touch.

The bathroom itself was compact but clean.

Same goes for the shower and tub. Nothing special but functional and clean. On to the room.

The king bed was nice — but not as soft as the Sheraton we visited on the outbound leg. Sofa was comfortable and everything in the room worked i.e. power, wifi etc.

The balcony was compact and “felt” a bit scary (I am afraid of heights – I know – silly). But the view was oh my impressive as an AVgeek as you had a clear view of arriving jets and part of the airport. Take a look (worth a full page click FYI).

While I would rather have had a view of the ocean, this was not a bad runner-up!

I am a frugal traveler. I rarely ever pay for anything in a hotel and a vast majority of the time I stay on either points or a free night cert from a hotel credit card. More on that in a bit but you see the prices for the mini-bar and room service above.

Speaking of frugal, the only perk extended to me as an IHG Platinum was a free drink coupon and a discount coupon for the hotel restaurants (#ProTip: There is an excellent and affordable breakfast restaurant in the strip mall caddy-corner across from the hotel). Now to nitpick a little bit about the room.

The room, while clean, still had some lingering damage from the hurricane the year before. I hesitate to gripe about this after all the recovery work (and again the hotel looked fantastic) but wanted to be honest and open about the full experience.

In addition to the above, a rather loud blower / dryer was in use most of our stay just outside our door. It really did not bother me much but was worth a mention.

How did we pay for our two-night stay? When we booked this we could still use our Chase IHG Rewards Club credit card for a free night stay at any hotel in the IHG system. They have devalued the certs in two ways since then:

1) You can only stay at hotels that cost up to 40,000 points

2) You have to complete your stay during the year the cert is issued (before you could stay up to a year past the expiration date).

There is still real value with the certs but you can no longer use them for this hotel. The other night we burned 50,000 IHG points. Our only cost out of pocket was for parking for our stay.

Overall this is an impressive property and one I would return to. The things I would fix are:

  • offer free parking for top IHG elites
  • offer an airport shuttle (they do not have one)
  • free continental breakfast for top IHG elites on paid or point stays.

Yes, I know, I will not hold my breath on any of these but they would make this hotel a must-visit vs. just a good place to stay. – René



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