Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Where: La Concha Renaissance San Juan Resort , 1077 Ashford Avenue, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 00907
When speaking to other guests at one of the two infinity pools overlooking Condado Beach at La Concha Renaissance Resort in San Juan, Puerto Rico, your conversation always turns to where you stayed B.L.C. (Before La Concha). You will get a variety of answers, yet everyone agrees that with the renovation of La Concha, San Juan finally has a chic, 21st-century-style star on the hotel scene.There was a lot of hype about the landmark La Concha Renaissance Resort re-opening in 2008. It now is considered the newest upscale hotel in San Juan, but its beginnings date to 1958, when it first opened during what was called the Tropical Modernism Movement. So, my family and I decided to stay at this Condado property for a week during our most recent trip to Puerto Rico this summer.Initial Reaction: When we pulled up to the perfectly located La Concha, it was rather unassuming, yet clearly had maintained the traditional characteristics of Puerto Rico's architecture. Once inside we found a beautifully designed lobby pulling us in three directions. To the right is the check-in and the seaside Casino del Mar, to the left are the plush couches of the lobby lounge and beyond that, you can follow the staircase to the large, open courtyard called El Batey (the Taino Indian phrase for an open recreational area), which contains a multi-level infinity pool (there are four pools total at the resort) and Jacuzzis, casual seating and a tapas restaurant called Solera.Check-In: Check-in was not so much of a breeze. This is where you can clearly feel the difference of staying in a five-star resort in the U.S. versus a small Caribbean island. The English speaking staff is polite, and accommodating, but they operate on "Puerto-Rican time"...a.k.a....slowly! Also, room service and housekeeping were slow on cleaning the rooms in the morning and bringing you fresh new towels when you called for them. However, these are really the only negative things I would have to say about our stay overall.

Room Reaction: Once we crossed the threshold of the ocean view room, we found an open area where our attention was immediately directed to the unobstructed view of Condado Beach. The combination of modernism and comfort creates an ambiance of total relaxation, while the blends of whites, blues, greens, and oranges, couple with the panoramic view of the beach and sea make these rooms the ultimate seaside escape. All rooms have iPod/MP3-player-compatible alarm clocks, 37-inch flat screen LCD TVs, digital on-demand entertainment and high speed Internet access.Note: When staying at La Concha, room selection is very important. There are 248 spacious, modern guestrooms all with spectacular ocean views in the original La Concha building. There is also a newly constructed building that has suites. The suites are beautiful and ultramodern, but not every room faces the ocean (who wants a city view when you are staying in the Caribbean at the beach?) In addition, the building itself is very hot temperature-wise because the hallways are enclosed (not like in the original building, where the hallways are open and overlook the pool.Where to Dine: La Concha's six restaurants include Perla, the signature seafood restaurant of well-known chef Dayne Smith, resting under the resorts trademark beach side shell dome. Solera is a pool grill by day and tapas bar by night. Level 25 serves breakfast and dinner, offering Pan-Pacific food and prime cuts of beef. Aroma, in the lobby is a great place for coffee and pastries in the morning. Sidewalk Cafe is a casual place that serves breakfast and lunch. Komokai is a sushi bar located in the lobby.
Bottom Line: La Concha Renaissance Resort in San Juan, Puerto Rico is by far my favorite hotel in the San Juan area, and with a couple of tweaks to service, it could be one of my top ten favorites in the world! By the way, when we were staying at La Concha, so was Carmelo Anthony from the Denver Nuggets, as well as Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and the cast of The Fast and the Furious because they were in Puerto Rico shooting The Fast and the Furious if it was the choice for all of these celebs, I guess it wasn't a bad choice for the Jet Set Smart crowd either! Room rates start at $239 per night.


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