bellesie

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  1. Has the 3.5* been identified yet? I'm looking for Dec 11-13, and the rate is posted at $104 a night.
  2. Dave B! What an awful experience- to be breakfast, lunch and dessert! :) I am very glad that I was fortunate enough to avoid them then. Got plenty bitten up, but I was definitely attacked at the beach in the evening. Amazing, they offered 3 free nights where that you were tormented... I'd have told them to shove it too! Glad I didn't read your review before I went, but I was definitely checking the mattresses.
  3. Great review LoneStar. My boyfriend and I spent 6 nights in Puerto Rico, 3 of them at the Westin Rio Mar, 3 of them at the Courtyard Miramar in San Juan. (March 27- April 2, 2006) First, the Westin was beautifully maintained. We got a first floor room which was ok, and we didn't have a great view of the beach or anything, but our balcony overlooked a garden which was nice. The "heavenly" bed was not all that comfortable (hate to say it but the Courtyard had more confortable beds). The room was large and clean with tile floors and nice decor. I was not charged a resort fee. The lobby area was nice with a fountain, the lounge downstairs had a piano player in the evening that was wonderful, mixed drinks were about $8, with beer around $4. There were always fresh tropical flowers in the lobby which were beautiful, and there was a great view of the pools and beach. At night, candles were lit to give the place nice ambiance. Check in was quick. We paid $10/day to self park with an Avis car, but we didn't think to tell the concierge it was from Avis, and maybe the $5 parking is only if you rent from the Avis that is onsite. The concierges were very helpful, with a lot of pre printed directions to popular sites, although they made us chuckle a bit... "go down 7 traffic lights and turn left. At the next light go right." No street names, so a good road map is a must! My boyfriend came down with strep throat while we were there, and the pharmacies there do not accept phoned in or faxed prescriptions because the law is different than in the US. The Westin has a doctor on call that can write prescriptions for $50, and the hotel will have it filled, pick it up, and deliver it to your room at no charge, which I thought was above and beyond service. The pools were clean, there was plenty of lounge chairs and umbrellas in that area along with towel stands, activities for the kids, and a tiki bar. There were also plenty of loungers available on the beach. One tip, if you are walking the beach during the evening, bring bug spray! There are no-seeums on the beach and they will give you mosquito-like bites that itch - final count, 54 bites :) There is a bonfire in the evening near the beach with ingredients and equipment to make s'mores. Other PR stuff- not hotel related- action packed week! Definitely rent a car if you stay at the Westin. Luquillo, the rain forest, and the ferry to Culebra and Vieques are all within driving distance and having a car gives you the freedom to get around and not be held hostage to the resort, as beautiful as it is. I can not speak about any of the restaurants at the resort as we dined off site while we were there. There is a grocery store not far from the resort, so we "cheated" and went and got breakfast foods, water, rum, etc. We ate at Kiosk 2 in Luquillo the first night and the food was good with a nice atmosphere in that particular kiosk, some of it looked a little run down and we were aprehensive at first, but we didn't have any problems at all. We also dined at Antonito's by the corner of the street to turn into the Westin and had a good meal. We also stopped at some of the road side stand for "pinchos", kebobs of chicken or pork usually, with bbq sauce and a piece of bread, $2 each, YUM. The rainforest was beautiful, it's about a 13 mile drive through and we stopped along the way to hike along the trail that lead to a waterfall where you could swim. It rains there about 4 times a day, so bring something to protect your camera, although under the canopy of trees, you don't get really wet. We went horseback riding at Hacienda Caraballi- beautiful Paso Fino horses and a 2 hour ride through the foothills of the rainforest, along a river, and through an area with gorgeous horse farms and houses. They also rent 4-wheelers. The bioluminescient bay out of Fajardo was INCREDIBLE! We did not kayak (had a problem getting in touch with the guy we made reservations through), but did take Cpt. Suarez's little boat. The tour through the mangroves at night was the coolest thing! Huge iguanas in the trees, egrets sleeping, etc. The actual bay is phenominal. A must to go swimming in. I admit, I was a little hesitant at first, it's pretty dark and the water is 20 ft. deep. After one of the children on the tour jumped right it, I figured I couldn't be shown up by her, so followed right after! :) The ferry out of Fajardo to Culebra is the way to go. It's about a 45 minute ride. Unfortunately, there were problems with the boat after we left the dock, so we had to turn around and they ended up cancelling the ride out and refunding our $2.50 ea. Later in the week, we caught the Hi Speed Island Ferry out of San Juan, which was 1 hour 45 minutes long, and considerably more expensive ($68 RT per person). The boat had a shop to get drinks and sandwiches, which the other ferry did not have, and they showed a movie. My suggestion is to take some dramamine before you go, even if you usually don't get sea sick, there were some huge swells on the ocean, and probably 1/3 of the passengers got sea sick. Culebra is a beautiful island, you can get around to the beaches by taking the cabs that pick up at the doc, $2 per person was a great deal, and they pick you up and get you back to the ferry on time too. We went to Flamenco Beach and it was beautiful and clean. They have changing areas and rest rooms (bring your own TP) and some stands that sell water, ice, empanadas, pinchos, and batidas (I think? frozen fruit drinks made with fruit, ice, milk and sugar). All of the prices were reasonable. Casa Bacardi was pretty "touristy" but interesting, and you get 2 free rum drinks- great daiquiris for sure! Rum there is about $.05- $.10 more there than at the duty free at the airport, but they have some varieties that are only available in Puerto Rico and one that is exclusive to the gift shop. There was no charge to go on the tour. I was surprised that the gift shop was not over prices. $12- $18 for nice t-shirts and hats, more for polo's. Old San Juan was interesting, lots of brightly colored buildings and I loved the blue paved streets. Picoteo's is a Spanish tapas bar that we dined at one evening, and it was very good. It was by El Convento hotel. We decided next time we'd rather stay over by the Westin and make San Juan a day trip. Definitely less traffic. We did not need the rental car in San Juan, and we took the bus down town to the boat docks and to Old San Juan.
  4. Happy to report, no bed bugs at the Westin Rio Mar PR. :) No seeums on the beach, different story... :)
  5. Guess I'll be bringing a flashlight and inspecting! The Westin is a 4*, and plenty of people stay/write reviews for that place on Trip Advisor, so I'm hoping it's not true as there's just the one review. I travel frequently for work and haven't had an issue, but I guess I'll start looking now! Itchy just thinking about it! :) It would be terrible to bring them home, read some of the TA reviews and it's horrible how hotels (are claimed to) ignore this information!
  6. Has anyone heard anything recently about bed bugs? I was on Trip Advisor and one hotel guest mentioned that she was bitten up pretty bad in a hotel in Puerto Rico and assumed it was bed bugs. Surprisingly, the manager of the hotel read her response and had called an exterminator, etc. and found that there were no bed bugs, but that she had probably been bitten up by no-seeums on the beach. Upon reading a recent review of the Westin Rio Mar (where I am staying next month), another reviewer claimed that she had a bunch of bites, had only been in her bed and the one in the hotel, and when she got home, had gone to the dermatologist and he told her that she had been bitten by bed bugs. The whole thought of this completely grosses me out! I'm sure if I called the hotel they'd tell me they don't have a problem. To add to my paranoia there was recently an article, I believe on CNN.com, that mentioned these creatures are gaining popularity again. I definitely don't want to bring them home. Any thoughts/suggestions on how I could check it out before I check in?
  7. Juliet124- the 4* in Rio Grande- Humacao is the Westin Rio Mar... I bid on it last month, and will be heading there in 4 weeks (from today!) Not sure about the others... Hope this helps.
  8. :) I think these fees should just be added into the rate instead of tacked on as a percentage, can't wait to pay mine at the Westin in Puerto Rico next month.
  9. Just booked the 4* Westin Rio Mar Beach Resort Casino for $128 a night. Price on their website for our stay is $299 a night, better than 50% savings! (and I clicked through Savingsbarn.com) It's a "Best Value". Looks gorgeous, can't wait to review it when I come back! Apparently used to be a 4 1/2*, but is now a 4*. Hurry up March!
  10. Yes, the 4* also has a pool. There's one in that area that is a 4.5* but it's all inclusive and is much pricier at $475 a night on Hotwire. I'll be sure to book through SavingsBarn.com and report back when I'm rested and relaxed! :)
  11. Good to know, was also looking at that one if we decide to stay in San Juan. :)
  12. Sorry, the total amenities are: Resort, Beach front, casino, restaurants, airport shuttle, fitness center, golf nearby, business center, spa services, tennis near by...
  13. We are going March 27-April 2, and are flexible on whether it's the first 3 nights or the last 3 nights that we are looking for another place to stay. Today, the price is $131, but it's a 4* and it is a resort, beach front , casino, airport shuttle, restaurants, pool, fitness center, and spa. All of those match what El Conquistador has, but after checking on tripadvisor.com it said that the property had recently been sold (within 6 months), is kind of run down (not updated since the 80's) and that people feel like they are "hostage" to the resort because they make it difficult to leave.
  14. Hello, I'm planning a trip to Puerto Rico March 27- April 2, 2006. Have Marriott points and am staying at one of their properties for 3 nights, then looking elsewhere, because with resort fees, taxes, etc, it's about $300 a night. Do you know if the Wyndham El Conquistadore in Lss Croabas is still the 4* property? If so, it's a great deal at $128. There had been nothing posted in the reviews since 2004, so would like to know. Any assistance that can be offered is much appreciated! Muchas Gracias!
  15. :) I too booked this hotel, can't wait to go! Got the same rate, $47 USD. Be aware that parking at the hotel is $28 CAD per night, but there's parking across the street at City Hall (not sure of the price on that...) Room taxes are 12% on the price too...