After working remotely from home for more than one year, I was bleary-eyed and more than ready for a nice beachy vacation. At the very end of April, we went to Puerto Rico for four nights – our first real vacation since the start of the covid-19 pandemic. We chose the Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve Puerto Rico because, first, Puerto Rico counts as a domestic US trip so I wouldn’t be required to quarantine upon return to work, and second, I wanted to go to a beach resort where we could relax and gaze at the ocean and palm trees.
The Hotel is a category 4 World of Hyatt hotel (it was a category 3 when I booked it). It is located in the Rio Grande area of Puerto Rico, about 30 minutes from San Juan Airport (unless you mistakenly set your GPS to “no tolls” and there is a torrential downpour). Grand Reserve is actually an area with at least two beautiful golf courses and other hotels. (We walked along the paths by the golf courses for exercise each morning).
I must admit that I’d heard mixed reviews about the hotel prior to my visit, but overall, I loved it and will gladly return. My only disappointments were that: (1) we didn’t get an oceanfront room (but our garden view room was still quite nice); (2) the Regency Club was closed (Covid); (3) We didn’t like the breakfast served at the hotel restaurant; (4) because there was a curfew in place, it was difficult to get into restaurants for dinner (not the hotel’s fault); and (5) the shower floor (marble) was beautiful but terrifyingly slippery (but the hotel provided a rubber bathmat at our request).
Granted, the hotel is not a Park Hyatt, but the grounds are quite lovely and the staff is very friendly and attentive. That’s good enough for me.
The Front desk is in an open air lobby. We arrived late (due to the previously mentioned rain and GPS issue), so we didn’t have to wait to be helped. Prior to entering the main desk, we were asked to provide proof of our negative Covid-19 test and had our temperatures checked. I was greeted and checked in by Danelis Matos, the hotel’s Rooms Controller. She gave us the keys, a hotel map, wristbands to wear during our stay and a few bottles of water and we were on our way.
(I should note that we had read that the check-in and check-out procedure can be quite slow and that errors were not uncommon. I made sure to keep checking our bill throughout our stay, so we did not experience any undue delay. However, when we checked out, there were a lot of people disgruntled by the delay).
We were in building 19, which, in my opinion, was one of the best locations – not too far from everything, and close to the ocean. We had, what is described as a Deluxe room, because it has both a tub and a shower in the shower room. Although the room isn’t a suite (we were told that there were no suites available because they are all being renovated), it really was very nice and we didn’t feel at all crowded.
We had a balcony with two chairs and a small table. This was our view.
Since there was a curfew, we ate dinner in the room most nights (two nights of the nights we ordered room service, one night we brought in from El Verde BBQ and another night we brought dinner in from Ekelekua). Having the table and couch was really helpful in this regard. Also, there was a refrigerator in the room as well as an espresso machine.
We bought some rum and wine and beer and other refreshments at a nearby supermarket called Ralphs.
The shower/bath had a glass window such that you could see everything from the bedroom area. Needless to say, we kept the curtain closed.
Due to Covid, there was limited housekeeping. Each day, the beds were made, the garbage was emptied and towels were changed. That seemed fine.
The grounds of the hotel are quite beautiful. We enjoyed mojitos from the hotel bar a few of the nights. (the hotel wasn’t quite as empty as these photos seem – certainly by the weekend, many more guests had arrived).
The beach was very pretty and there were enough lounge chairs.
What’s better than sunset on the ocean?
There are two pool areas at the hotel. One is exceptionally beautiful but very busy with music blaring. We liked the second pool – it was quieter and more relaxed.
The second pool:
Because the lounge was closed, we had breakfast in the Water’s Edge Cafe. The choice was between limited items on the menu or the buffet.
On the first day, Dave ordered eggs and bacon and I ordered the breakfast wrap. The coffee was good, the servers were nice, but the food was somewhere between eh and uch.
The second day, we tried the breakfast buffet. Due to the pandemic, the food was located behind glass – you pointed to what you wanted, and the server put the food on plates. I hate to say this, but the breakfast buffet was atrocious. The eggs were powdered eggs. It went downhill from there.
I complained about this to someone at the front desk. I was told that, if I wanted, instead of breakfast at the restaurant, I could choose a sandwich or wrap from the little market deli on the hotel grounds. So the next two days we had sandwiches from the there – and they were delicious!
The fitness center will be reviewed separately as will the villas. The VILLAS! THE VILLAS! I’m obsessed with the villas! Stay tuned.