FlyerTalk Forums - View Single Post - The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico [Master Thread]
Old Nov 23, 10, 9:08 pm
Join Date: May 2001
Location: New York, New York
Posts: 1,600
Arrow The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico [Master Thread]

Just returned from the weekend at the Bahia Beach St. Regis outside of San Juan, and I hope I can answer a number of questions that some of you have about this hotel. Overall, this already is a superb property and will get better as the staff gain more experience. Upon completion of our stay, we decided that we needed to again stay at this property (see below).

We had planned to stay at the hotel for two weekend nights and made our reservation with the Platinum concierge at the end of August, even though we did not know that the hotel was to open on its planned date, Nov 4, We posted on this board on another thread about the property and called the Platinum concierge on a number of occasions and was assured that the property would open. Despite Cheap Elite's recommendations, we did not have a back up plan if the hotel did not open, believing that some how Starwood would get us into the W in Viegues if all failed.

Based on the discussion on the board of the expensiveness of the hotel picking up hotel guests or a taxi at SJU (over $100), we rented a Dollar Car
for less than $25 per day using the AA website. However we arrived at 8:15PM and neither our Garmin GPS, the rental car company, or the hotel directions provided error proof routes for us to the hotel. Garmin did not list the hotel, as the address was State Road 187 rather than a street number, and when we got lost (see below), my wife's cell phone did not work in P.R.
I thought about RTWStarAlliance's directions for how to reach various hotels in Japan, and thought how unfortunate he was not here earlier to provide his specific, detailed directions that are the standard for us to follow. Needless to say, the supposedly 30 minute trip from the airport took us 2 hours to complete because we got lost a number of times. To arrive at the hotel, route 66 from near the airport is listed on the hotel directions, and one travels to the end of this toll road to route 3. Make a right on route 3 to route 187, where one makes a left. Route 3 is easy to find, as just 4-5 car lengths before it is the second overhead crosswalk over route 3.
Route 187 is a nightmare, as one follows the route signs into Rio Grande. Route 187 becomes one way in two different directions and we continued following the signs--big mistake--as we missed the turnoff. We went over route 3 again as it looped around Rio Grande, and then decided we needed to come back into Rio Grande, again crossing route 3. Fortunately we saw a police office in a car, and after flagging him down at almost 10 PM, got directions to make a right about 2 minutes up the road. In less than 2 minutes, we saw a sign for Bahia Beach, and followed Route 187 until we came to the resort on the right side of the road. We were stopped at the gate for our ID and told to enter the property, continue up the road, and make the first right at the fountain. We followed directions, but the first right led us to the end of the property, so we retraced our route back to the fountain and made the second (2nd) right. In about 3 minutes we came upon the hotel. I have spent too much time on the directions on how to get to the hotel, but in our view, signage and directions to the property are the most important problem that needs to be rectified immediately. Others at the hotel had acknowledged that many guests have had this problem, so beware. Also make sure if you are planning to stay at the hotel you print out the directions and map for the hotel's web site, as this was the best aide we could find (although not very easy to understand) to get us to the hotel.

When we drove up to the hotel, I had a hard time trying to decide where I needed to drive to be in front of the hotel. For those driving, be sure not to go along the koi pool in front of the hotel, as I predict that within the year, some guests will drive their car into the koi pool, as it is poorly differentiated from the driveway in front of the Main House.

The hotel is situated around the Main House with 4 "Casas" located to the left of the hotel and 8 "casas" located to the right of the hotel. The Casas were located in a semicircle around the Main House and are numbered from 1 to 12, and are either 2 or 3 stories high, with the two story high properties located at either end of the arrangement. The pool, the major attraction near the hotel, is located behind Casas 5, 6 (our Casa) and 7. Casa 1 and 2 were not located with a view of the ocean, but rather had golf course views, and were not open during the time we arrived. It also appeared to us that Casa 3 was not opened as construction trucks were parked behind the hotel, in woods. The 2 story Casas did not have elevators, whereas the 3 story Casas had either 1 or 2 elevators.

We turned our Dollar Rent a Car over to the doormen who took our luggage and directed us to the lobby of the main house, where two clerks sat at desks awaiting guests who arrived. We were congratulated on being one of the first (not the first when we pressed the clerk) Platinum member staying at the hotel. Our butler appeared who showed us to our second floor the room in building 6. Yes, we were upgraded to a suite, and we took the elevator which served just 4 rooms on floors 2 and 3, to our floor. The Casa also has a second elevator which serves the rooms on the mirror image other side of Casa 6. Our room was immense with an entry foyer containing our second bathroom, a closet and a bar. The entry foyer connected to the living room and on the right of the living room was our bedroom. Toward the front of our bedroom was the bathroom that contained a superb shower that covered a 6 feet by 6 feet space. There also was a balcony extending along the bedroom and living room that overlooked the pool, and ultimately the ocean. We would highly recommend this suite, but the best suite on the property was rooms 322-324 in building 3 containing the "Governor's Suite" (My wife and I are willing to anoint each of you traveling to this property as a "Governor" so that you may qualify for this 3600 sq foot suite).

The hotel's food serves some notice, as the restaurant in the Main House is a Jean-Georges restaurant, a very famous chef that we know well here in NYC and other locations throughout the world. This restaurant, named the Fern, far exceeded the hotels other dining facilities, and if you follow our lead, we would recommend the Fern for all meals (Remember to ask for a table outside the restaurant around the walkway of the Main Lodge). We disliked the food at the pool, as on one occasion, we ordered the Cioppino as the appetizer and found it even more substantial than any other entre that one could choose. I also thought that some of the wine selections were very over priced, being marked up approxiamately 5 fold over what I usually purchase in the high rent district of NYC (For example, I remembered Summarocca Cava at our wine store at less than $10/bottle, and the pool restaurant's price was $48. I checked with our wine store on return, and they told me they usually pay about $8 for this Cava). For one breakfast, we were sent by the hotel's front door staff to Molasses, the restaurant at the golf club, that required the shuttle for transportation. Upon arriving, we were told Molasses was closed for a birthday party of an 8 year old. We had the staff call the shuttle to return us to the hotel for breakfast.

What were the other problems? Well upon checkin, we were promised a bottle of wine as well as newspapers and neither arrived, although a card from the manager of the property along with a small plate of chocolates were left in our room. At night it is hard to tell one Casa from another as the signs announcing the buildings are not lighted and are nearly invisible.

The property is stunning with elevated boardwalks extending though the forest near El Yunque, and the vegetation carrying labels of their names and origin. Most guests spend significant time near the pool, the beach, or the first-rate spa. The staff mainly is young and inexperienced, but there are key personnel with previous experience in opening a St. Regis, another non Starwood hotel, or working at another upscale P.R. hotel. I noted that the hotel manager spend significant time talking to guest, looking to find out what the shortcomings might be so that improvement could occur. Like other St. Regis manager that I have met over the years, he was extremely personable and well liked by the hotel personnel. Overall the staff appeared young, inexperienced, but energetic and interested in the guests satisfaction. I suspect they will get better in a few weeks, and will somehow coordinate their questions to guests about the adequacy of the service they are rendering. One of the staff members told me he was excited about working at the hotel, as one of the perks was 5 days at other St. Regis properties that were free, and it was chance for him to travel and to see how other properties did his job, and what he could learn from these other properties.

Based on the recent discussion on this board, I must mention that there is a Resort Fee of $55/night, as well as a tax on the Resort Fee. My wife was ill with the flu during our stay and I asked to stay until 4 PM on Sunday. I was told that it may not be possible, but the would check on it and call me, as the hotel was fully booked for the evening we were checking out, and their guests were expecting to have a room on arrival. When I re-inquired on Sunday morning, I was told that late check-in at 4 PM did not pose a problem.

Needless to say, we were impressed with our stay, and on our flight back to JFK, we talked about revisiting the hotel in the near future. However, the next night when I began checking for weekend availability, I came up empty for the next 6 weekends other than the holidays. I then began looking in March, and also came up empty so I called the Platinum desk. The agent told me that the hotel was almost completely booked, but on the weekend was considering suites were available. I asked how much the suite was that I stayed in, and was told $1583.33/night, but if I wanted a larger suite, it was available for $1733.33. If I choose to use points, it was 60,000/night.

I could have discussed other issues about this property, but in my view these were the most important issues to members on this board. We look forward to the reviews of others of this property.
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