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Pros-Great Location, Good Value, Picture Perfect Pool, Beach Access, Good Food, Modern Rooms, Cool Atmosphere Cons-Inconsistent Service
San Juan Condado Trip Report
San Juan Condado Trip Overview
American Airlines Boeing 767-300 Economy PHL-SJU Review
AC Hotel San Juan Condado
Avianca VIP Lounge
American Airlines Boeing 737-800 Economy SJU-PHL Review
American Airlines A319 First Class PHL-DCA Review
All of our meetings in San Juan were in the Condado neighborhood so Christina and I decided to stay at one of the Marriott properties along Condado Beach. This turned out to be a great decision since we were able to walk up and down all of the Condado Beach strip to check out all of the hotels, restaurants, and bars. As Marriott loyalists we appreciated that this area featured three Marriott hotels but since La Concha and the San Juan Marriott were sold out we decided to stay at the AC Hotel San Juan Condado and this turned out to be a great decision.
Uber and Lyft are not allowed to operate at the San Juan airport so we took a taxi from the airport to our hotel which priced at a flat rate of $17 and was about 10 minutes away. As we pulled up to the AC Hotel it had a cool South Beach vibe with AC spelled out in lights on top of the driveway.
We arrived at the hotel around noon and were greeted warmly by staff members as we exited the car. We entered the lobby and there was a line of people waiting to check-in and no Marriott elite check-in line. After a long wait we were finally served by a surly check-in agent. She did not greet Christina as a Marriott Gold (now Marriott Platinum) and said our room was not ready. We were disappointed but this was understandable since it was about 12:30 pm and the check-in time was 3 pm. However, the agent handed us wrist bands to the San Juan Art Museum which came with the package we booked. Unfortunately, we did not get an opportunity to visit the museum during our stay. When I asked about the two drink vouchers included in our rate she clearly grew annoyed and rudely told me that they would be provided once we completed check-in. I thought this was a very strange check-in process and wondered why she wouldn't provide everything to us at once. We then asked the agent where she would recommend eating and she gave us directions to a restaurant, we later found out the directions were incorrect. Thankfully this was not our experience with most of the other staff members during our stay.
Before we left for lunch we walked around the rest of the lobby which was decorated with art. The lobby also had several couches and two Mac computers. Overall the look of the lobby was very modern something we would notice throughout our stay.
When we returned from lunch our room was still not ready so we headed to our first meeting and a few hours after originally attempting to check-in we returned to the hotel and our room was finally ready, even through we got no alert on the Marriott app, right around the normal check-in time of 3 pm. At this time we were handed the rest of our check-in items including our two drink vouchers for a cocktail at the bar and $30 vouchers for the casino at the San Juan Marriott. The agent explained to us that the hotels has a partnership with their Marriott sister property which allows guests as a part of the resort fee (18% per day or $25 per day for award redemptions) to use the beach and pool facilities at the San Juan Marriott and guests are provided vouchers for free play at the San Juan Marriott's casino. The resort fee also included complimentary access to wireless internet at the hotel.
One Bedroom Suite
As we headed to our room (609) for the first time we had no idea what to expect. This was the third AC hotel we stayed in and after our horrible stay the AC Hotel Irla in Barcelona we were nervous. However, as entered the room we were very pleasantly surprised as it turned out we were upgraded to a one bedroom suite with a balcony!!! We were very happy since this Christina's first upgrade as a Marriott elite and also surprised since the check-in agent made no mention of a upgrade. This room was about $100 more a night than the standard one bedroom king room we booked so over our four night stay we got about $400 value. This showed us great potential value of hotel elite status.
The AC Hotel Condado opened in April, 2017 and was only about 1 year old when we stayed and this was obvious in the room which looked brand new. This was our third stay at an AC Hotel and in general they all have the same basic grey tones which are sleek and modern.
The room was large (427 square feet) and the living room had a couch, desk, 32 inch TV, and a table. The living room also featured the same awkward ottoman we had at the AC Hotel New Orleans which sits underneath the TV obstructing the view for anyone watching the TV.
The bedroom also had a coffee machine with complimentary coffee, a safe, two drawers, and a smart mini-fridge which only turned on when it detected an item inside. While I appreciated having the mini-fridge it did give off a bright blue light when there were items inside which can be very annoying when sleeping.
The bathroom was generally standard AC Hotel with the one exception that it was much larger than our previous bathrooms. The bathroom had a sliding door and a cart with towels and bath amenities below the sink. The amenities were the standard AC brand which are fairly basic. Now on our third stay at an AC Hotel Christina noticed that none of the AC hotels have provided lotion as an amenity which she found odd.
Our favorite part of the suite was the balcony which had two chairs and a table along with a partial ocean view. Most of our waking hours in our hotel room were spent out on the balcony enjoying the beautiful weather and the view.
During our stay we had a chance to check out the AC Kitchen, AC Lounge, and the bakery attached to the AC hotel Saboa. Every AC hotel we stayed at has had a AC Kitchen but this was our first time trying the AC Kitchen. The AC Kitchen was up on the 9th Floor Penthouse.
We had breakfast there on our second day at the hotel and liked it so much that we went back on our third day. The breakfast was served buffet style and featured a traditional Iberian breakfast. This included cold cuts such Iberian ham, cheese along with bacon, torta (egg dish), fresh fruit, and ham. The breakfast buffet also included drinks including, orange juice, guava juice, iced coffee, and regular coffee. Guests could eat breakfast inside at the tables or outside with a view of the ocean. The food all tasted good and I was quite impressed that this was a hotel breakfast. Even more impressive was the price only $15 which I thought was a steal. I would definitely recommend trying the breakfast at least one day at the hotel.
The AC Kitchen also featured a bar but it was closed most of our stay because of a special event at the hotel.
However, on our last night at the hotel we were able to check out the AC Lounge. It was located on the ground floor of the hotel just off of the lobby. It was a beautiful space which featured both indoor and outdoor area.
The indoor space had a bar, a variety of seating, and a cool glass TV which was usually showing sports. One of the coolest features was the ceiling which had a nice wood pattern piece of artwork. I was really impressed by how well the AC Hotel used its spaces including the penthouse, lobby, AC Kitchen, and bar. The layout is very good and featured a beautiful design.
The AC Lounge had seats outside which are right off of the street. We enjoyed our welcome punch along with the hip music outside and relaxing atmosphere outside we really enjoyed it. The AC Lounge offered sliders and appetizers which we tried and were decent. One of the coolest parts about sitting outside was that were able to enjoy a musical performance happening next door at Sobao. This was a really nice space which allowed us to feel the energy of San Juan right at the hotel.
On our final day at the hotel we went to the Soboa for breakfast which was attached to the hotel and could be accessed through the AC Lounge. Soboa is a bakery which featured a traditional American breakfast with a Puerto Rican twist including offering Puerto Rican desserts.
For breakfast Christina ordered ham with a side of the mallorca (sweet bread) and it was very sweet and topped with powdered sugar but very good. I ordered a ham an cheese sandwich which had the cheese melted over the ham along with powdered sugar and was amazing! We really loved our breakfast and I would strongly recommend trying the breakfast here.
When we checked in were told that the hotel offers access to a variety of amenities at its sister property the Marriott San Juan as a part of its resort fee. This included access to the beach and pools and vouchers for free play at the Marriott's casino. Christina and I took advantage of the beach access and casino vouchers during our stay.
The San Juan Marriott has access to Condado Beach which is about two blocks from the AC hotel. Condado Beach is a nice stretch of beach shared among a host of hotels and restaurants. We never formally asked for beach towels or explored the San Juan Marriott's pools but having easy access to the beach was a great AC hotel amenity. The casino at the San Juan Marriott was fairly basic and included the standard table games such as Black Jack and slot machines. I would say that if you are not into gambling play your free 30 dollars and leave.
The amenities within the AC hotel are primarily located on the Penthouse level. This is where hotel's gym and pool are located. We did not use the gym during our stay but were able to check it out and it looked impressive for a medium sized hotel. The gym featured the modern AC Hotel look with ambient lighting. The gym had free weights, treadmills, and ellipticals. I also really appreciated that it had free bottles of water and a Brita machine to refill reusable water bottles.
While the gym was nice the most impressive amenity of the hotel was the rooftop pool. Wow what an amazing pool! The pool was split into two sections a regular pool for swimming and a second section with a wading pool for lounging. The most impressive feature of the pool was the lounging chairs which allowed you to be half in and half out of the pool. Christina and I spent most of our time at the pool lounging in these chairs. We also found it convenient that the wading section of pool had tables to rest your drink. The pool really was picture perfect.
The rest of the Penthouse featured a wraparound balcony with complimentary cabanas and a few sections of tables and chairs to relax and take in the ocean views. All in all I was impressed by the hotel's amenities and wish I had even more time to spend in the pool and relaxing on the Penthouse level.
Overall service at the AC Hotel San Juan Condado was inconsistent and definitely the weakest part of our stay. When we exited our vehicle we were greeted warmly by the hotel staff but at check-in we encountered a long line, slow processing of check-in, and a surly agent. It really left us wondering what service we should expect from one day to the next.
Unfortunately, this inconsistent service continued throughout our stay. Another example was the bartender in the AC Lounge. When we went to turn in our vouchers for free drinks he was unfriendly and seemed annoyed that we were bothering him. However, when we went to the AC Lounge to enjoy tapas on another evening the wait staff were very friendly and attentive. For example, we asked the waitress if they had flan and she said unfortunately they did not. After sharing with her that we have been waiting our whole trip to get flan but had been unsuccessful, unprompted she went next door to Saboa to see if they had any left. She came back and said they in fact had one last slice left and were holding it for us and even offered to bring it over if we gave her the cash. It is clear that the staff at this hotel have the ability to provide excellent service but the hotel management should work on making sure this service is consistently provided.
This was our third stay at an AC Hotel and certainly our best. This hotel offers an amazing location in Condado, with great amenities, beach access, and a hip pool which creates a cool atmosphere. When you add in the good food and modern rooms the AC Hotel gives good value for money in San Juan. The one area of improvement for this hotel is the inconsistent service which I believe the hotel can improve with additional training. I wouldn't hesitate to stay at this hotel again and would recommend it to anyone looking for a beach stay in San Juan.