Search for

Travel Insurance

Get a FREE no obligation quote!

Visiting the Caribbean? Find Deals, Compare Rates, & Read Hotel Reviews on TripAdvisor

Follow us:    
  Books & Guides
  Car Rental
  Dining Reviews
  Hotels & Resorts
    Hotel Reviews
  Travel Forum
  Villas Caribbean-On-Line
  Books & Guides
  Car Rental
  Cruise Lines
  Dining Reviews
  Hotels & Resorts
  Magazine Rack
  Sailing & Boating
  Villa Rentals

Puerto Rico Hotel, Resort & Villa Reviews
Hilton Ponce & Casino 03/24/2003
Reviewers Rating: Great
We stayed at the Ponce Hilton from 3/15/03-3/20/03. I won the room on Priceline for a $109 per night bid.

We were given a room in the West Wing (rm. 228) - Turned out this was a smoking allowed room (I was later told that non-smoking rooms were all located in the East wing). We didn't mind because the only evidence that the room was a smoking room was an ashtray and matches in the bath. The room didn't smell AT ALL of smoke. It was either extremely clean or no one had smoked in there in a LONG time. We felt no need to switch rooms. The room we were given had a King bed, as well as a desk and a comfortable sitting chair. The room was very large, I thought. The room was decorated in a yellow & teal & bamboo theme that seemed a little dated, but perhaps these colors/materials were chosen so the room would seem 'Caribbean'. The mattress, sheets and towels were all of good quality. There were four feather pillow provided, too, which was a nice touch. There were two phones in the room: one near the bed and another on the desk. All rooms in the hotel faced the pool/beach area and had a decent-sized balcony w/sliding glass door. We were far down on the West wing, so our view was of a grassy area with the beach beyond. No pool view (you'd have to be in Rooms 201-212 probably to see the pool area from your balcony). There was plenty of drawer space as well as closet space. We had a stocked mini-bar and a large closet with a dark-wood sliding door. There was also a safe in the closet.

Bathroom amenities included Neutrogena products. Other nice features in the Bath were a wall-attached dispenser with a berry-scented shampoo and a forest-scented shower gel. I thought this was a real treat. I hate using shampoo and bath gel from those mini hotel-provided bottles. It was nice to just push the dispenser on the wall for unlimited quantities of these products. There was even a wall phone in the bathroom. My only minor complaints about the bath were (1) the dark teal accent tiles in the shower (again the color scheme seemed dated), (2) the pull cord/drying line was too short. When you pulled out the drying line, it wasn't long enough to fit into the anchor on the opposite wall, so it was completely un-usable and (3) the wall-mounted dryer wasn't very powerful. Bring your own travel dryer.

The grounds at the hotel were average to above average. The pool was a little smaller than I expected, but the hotel wasn't busy, so it wasn't like the pool was crowded or anything. A couple nice features of the pool area were (1) a bamboo "hut" of sorts that contained all sorts of floaties, pool toys, blow-up rings, and noodles free of charge for guests and (2) there were nice, teal-colored, cushions on every pool lounge chair. A nice touch instead of those plastic slatted chairs that leave marks on the back of your thighs. Truthfully, the lounge chairs were those plastic slatted kind, but they had full-length sunbrella-fabric cushions that were a real treat. There was a 3-4 person jacuzzi and other amenities near the pool, like a paddle tennis table and lots of tables with chairs and umbrellas if you wanted to sit & talk or eat, instead of lounge.

The beach was a little disappointing. It was a black sand beach (more of a dirty gray color) and it was fairly narrow. The beach was a public beach (not property of the Hilton). The Hilton did make an extra effort to make the beach enjoyable, though. Where the Hilton property turned into the beach, there was a gated area. On the Hilton side, there was a shower/foot rinser as well as a large cooler filled with cold water & cups. The Hilton had also built a large cement slab overlooking the beach and had put out 4 of those teal-fabric cushioned lounge chairs as well as large shade umbrellas, so you could lie out on the cement patio, since the beach itself wasn't wide enough for a chair. The beach, since it was public, was quite dirty (there was a lot of trash on the beach - milk jugs, old coconuts, paper cups, etc). I guess the Hilton was not responsible for keeping the beach clean. But we still walked on the beach in the mornings and although there weren't many shells, we found some beautiful stones and pebbles and many intact pieces of coral.

I had read in a guide book that the Hilton lobby looked like the inside of the San Juan Airport (not exactly a compliment). It's true that the lobby had high-ceilings and that the buildings and hallways were made of cement, but the Hilton did their best to make it warm and welcoming. It was an open aire lobby and there were wonderful, comfy, brightly cushioned chairs scattered throughout the lobby. It added some color and warmth. The lobby had nice amenities like a Mexican bar and even two nice, elegant black lacquer pool tables and lots of plants. There was also a game area off the lobby with more pool tables (the more commercial, coin-operated type), video games and an Air Hockey table. Coffee was provided every morning in the lobby on a festive coffee cart. There were 3 restaurants on site: an open-aire restaurant called La Terraza, an elegant sit-down restaurant called La Cava and a sports-themed beach/pool bar & grilled called El Bohio. We ate/drank at El Bohio 3 or 4 times. The food was burgers, chicken sandwiches, wings, etc. and it was average. We ate dinner at La Terraza two nights and were pleased with the food both nights. La Terraza had a theme each night: BBQ night, Lobster night, Prime Rib night, etc. but you were also able to order off of a menu. Included with the theme special as well as the menu items was a salad, soup & dessert bar. You could even order just the salad, soup & dessert bar for $14.95. I did that both nights. My husband ordered off the menu the first night and had one of the best plates of Sea Bass (that was a usual menu item) he's ever tried. On our second visit, he tried the theme special (the Prime Rib) and again found the quality/taste to be well above average. We didn't get a chance to eat at La Cava, because it seemed pretty dressy and my husband hadn't brought any khaki's along.

All I can say is they were very accommodating. In our off-site adventures, we found that few locals in the Southern part of Puerto Rico were willing to speak English. So it was a huge relief that the Reception staff, the casino staff, the bartenders and the waitstaff at the hotel spoke English. The waitstaff was excellent, accommodating, and friendly. Same with most of the bartenders. The reception desk staff was superb the times I dealt with them. During the stay, we often asked the reception staff for directions to area sights and they were eager to provide maps and English directions. They were willing and able to answer all of our questions.

There were lots of bar options, but most were only opened on Fri & Sat nights. The lobby Mexican bar is only opened on Fri & Sat and a dance club, La Bohemia is only opened on Thu, Fri & Sat. We arrived Sat & left Thu, so we didn't get a chance to try out either place). There is a full-service casino on site, which we patronized 2 or 3 times for some slot machine play (we're not serious gamblers). They had 5c slots & 25c slots and lots of table games. There was also a neat-looking sports bar with a dance floor right inside the casino, but the only night we visited the casino (other visits were during the day), that bar didn't open until 10pm and since it was our day of arrival, we went to bed before it opened.

Christine Brandt

Read more Caribbean Travel reviews at TripAdvisor

These reviews are provided by Caribbean-On-Line for entertainment purposes only, and we can not be held liable for any results from the use of this information. All user reviews become the property of Caribbean-On-Line LLC upon submission.

Caribbean-On-Line does not assume and does hereby disclaim any party for loss or damages caused by errors, omissions, misleading information or any potential travel problem caused by information contained in this Web site, even if such errors or omissions are a result of neglience, accident, or any other cause.

Please see our legal page for more details.

Search for


About Us | Advertising | FAQ | Feedback | What's New? | © 1995-2012 Caribbean-On-Line

Caribbean-On-Line Virgin-Islands-On-Line Bahamas-On-Line