Review: Sheraton San Juan Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino

I was in Puerto Rico last weekend, and spent the first night at the Sheraton San Juan Puerto Hotel & Casino. Last time I was in Puerto Rico I stayed at the Sheraton Old San Juan Hotel & Casino, which is a property in a great location with great Platinum recognition, though the hotel could definitely use a refresh. But it’s walking distance to everywhere in the Old Town, which is really convenient given that taxis in Puerto Rico are a bit of a pain.

The Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino is somewhat the opposite — it’s a beautiful, modern property, located near the convention center and marina. It’s extremely close to the Isla Grande Airport (not the main one in Puerto Rico, which is Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport) as well as one of the two major cruise ship ports, though aside from that there’s nothing in the immediate area, so you’ll have to take a taxi everywhere.

Anyway, I decided to try out the Sheraton for my first night, since I was arriving off a redeye and really just wanted to sleep.

  • My rate was ~$150 including self parking (which usually costs $16 per day).
  • The Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino is a Category 4 Starwood property, meaning a free night redemption would cost 10,000 Starpoints.
  • A cash & points redemption (if available) would cost 5,000 Starpoints plus $75.

The exterior of the hotel is really nice, definitely one of the more beautiful Sheraton properties out there.

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino exterior

The lobby was spacious with high ceilings and bright decorations, and just off the lobby is the neon-lit casino.

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino lobby

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino lobby

While there was a queue in the general line, the Starwood Platinum/Gold desk was empty, and I was promptly assisted by a friendly associate. I asked about the possibility of an upgrade, and he said it wouldn’t be possible because they were oversold and were apparently already going to have to walk people. I guess that’s not surprising given that I was staying there over a Saturday night, when most cruise ships arrive and depart, if I’m not mistaken.

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino check-in

Once I had my keys I headed towards the elevator, which I took to my room on the 10th floor.

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino elevators

The hallways felt “fresh,” and I quickly found my room, 1015, which was about halfway down the hallway on the left side.

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino hallway

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino room entrance

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino 10th floor directory

The room had an entryway with the bathroom to the right and a closet to the left.

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino king superior room entryway

The room itself was the perfect size for a standard room — not too small, but not really big either. It featured a king bed, lounge chair, desk with office chair, and TV.

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino king superior room

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino king superior room desk

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino king superior room lounge chair

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino king superior room TV

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino king superior room

As an airplane nerd and former cruise ship nerd, I sure liked the views of the Isla Grande Airport runway and cruise ship port.

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino king superior room view

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino king superior room view

The bathroom was also a decent size, with a sink, toilet, and shower.

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino king superior room bathroom

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino king superior room shower

The toiletries were the Sheraton brand standard amenities.

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino king superior room toiletries

After checking in I walked around a bit to check out the property, and was quite amused by the signs the room attendants placed on the doors as they were servicing rooms.

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino room attendant signage

I first checked out the gym, which was located on the third floor and featured plenty of modern equipment.

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino gym

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino gym

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino gym

The pool area, which is located on the fourth floor, was nice, in part for the facility itself, and in part for the fact that a plane was taking off every couple of minutes from the airport just half a mile away. 😉

The deck space was huge, though I feel like the pool itself could’ve been a lot bigger.

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino pool

With the pool it kind of seemed like they were going for a Marina Bay Sands-like infinity pool design, given that it was essentially looking over the “edge” of the hotel. I don’t think it works quite as well on the fourth floor of a hotel vs. the 50th floor, though. Then again, it didn’t seem like people were really swimming, but rather just standing in the water boozing it up.

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino pool

Since it was a Saturday there was some DJ playing loud music at the pool, and it’s probably worth noting the music was so loud  I had a hard time sleeping in my room.

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino pool

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino pool

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino pool

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino pool view

The hotel’s club lounge, which I had access to on account of my Starwood Platinum status, is located on the 12th floor. The lounge serves breakfast daily from 6:30AM till 9:30AM and hors d’oeuvres daily from 5PM till 7PM. Maybe it’s just me, but I always wish that vacation destination hotels would serve breakfast past 9:30AM. Surely I’m not the only one asleep at that hour, especially when the hotel is located in the Atlantic time zone, meaning it’s really 1-3 hours earlier for most guests visiting from the US.

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino club entrance

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino club hours

The club lounge is spacious and well-appointed, and even features a huge outside terrace, though for whatever reason it was closed when I was there.

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino club lounge

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino club lounge

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino club lounge business center

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino club lounge view

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino club lounge terrace

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino club lounge terrace “out of service?”

US club lounges in general are among the worst out there, so as far as I’m concerned an “average” club lounge is one that’s about as good as a domestic airline lounge in terms of food. Anything better than that earns bonus points.

In this case the evening spread was definitely better than average. There was pita bread with hummus, pasta salad, tomatoes and onions, artichokes, plantains, apples, granola bars, and a couple of desserts. Certainly not a dinner substitute or comparable to anything you’d find abroad (like at the Sheraton Salzburg), but compared to club lounges that serve just week-old veggies and ranch dressing, it was a good spread.

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino club lounge evening spread

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino club lounge evening spread

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino club lounge evening spread

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino club lounge evening spread

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino club lounge evening spread

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino club lounge evening spread

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino club lounge evening spread

The breakfast spread was quite decent as well, and consisted of fruit, pastries, croissants, toast, yogurt, cheese, meat, and cereal. There weren’t any hot options, though in my experience when a club lounge has a single hot option it’s rarely edible anyway.

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino club lounge breakfast spread

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino club lounge breakfast spread

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino club lounge breakfast spread

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino club lounge breakfast spread

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Sheraton San Juan Hotel & Casino club lounge breakfast spread

Anyway, there’s no doubt this Sheraton is nicer than the Sheraton Old San Juan, but the downside is that it’s a 10+ minute taxi drive each way to get into the Old Town, and there’s something to be said for just being able to stroll out of your hotel straight into the Old Town vs. taking a taxi.

I suppose if you want to disconnect for a day or two by a pool in Puerto Rico this is a nice option, but ultimately there are nicer “resort destinations” to go to. Whether or not this hotel is a good base for “exploring” San Juan probably depends on how much you value a modern hotel vs. having to take a taxi a few times a day.

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Comments

  1. @ Ben — “how much you value a modern hotel vs. having to take a taxi a few times a day”. I find this to be a much bigger issue in San Juan than other places, because the taxis there suck. And, the buses, well, good luck getting one without waiting an hour. San Juan could really use uber…

  2. @ Gene — EXACTLY. Other places I’d gladly take a 10 minute taxi ride, but in San Juan they do suck so much that I’d rather choose an inferior hotel if it means I can walk…

  3. I stayed here a couple weeks ago and booked my reservation through priceline for $100. When I asked about an upgrade they said no but thanks to my Diamond status with Delta they put me in the King Superior Room anyway. Like you said, I found the pool to be a little below average and the hotel far away from everything but I definitely didn’t have any qualms with the quality of the room for the price.

  4. What is the issue with San Juan taxis? I will be staying at the Sheraton Old Town in December, and had visited it once earlier in this year. But, I never had to take a taxi so I don’t quite get that reference about taxis being a pain.

  5. @ Cory — They basically have a taxi mafia. There’s no meter and the price is basically whatever they want it to be. All taxis seem to be eight passenger vans, so don’t be surprised if they take along other passengers as well and make stops. It’s kind of like Super Shuttle, minus the predictable pricing.

  6. We almost always use this hotel as a base when in San Juan for the very reason that it’s away from OSJ, unless that’s all you want to see I think this is a better location provided you have a car as 2 highways are within 2 blocks of the hotel to take you almost any direction you want to go on the island. There’s street parking nearby and some good restaurants just 2-3 min. drive away. We also always have a rental car because the taxi system is a disaster.

  7. It doesn’t really seem as though “we’re oversold and going to have to walk people” is a reason for upgrades to be unavailable. Were they oversold in the suite category? If not, it would seem all the more reason why they’d need to fill all the suites with Plats so they would have enough regular rooms for everybody else.

  8. Thanks for the review! We will be staying at this hotel for one night next May. Conveniently there is a car rental facility at the hotel which we will be using since we can pick up from the hotel and drop off at the SJU airport to save $20 taxi fee.

  9. @lucky Did you walk to the taxi booth at SJU? I live here, so I rarely take a taxi- but last month I had to. I walked to the taxi booth, told them where I was going, and they gave a paper with the taxi fares to different places (looks like it’s online at http://www.cabspr.com/). It was late, and I was the only one in one of those big shuttle taxis.

    Public transportation around here is almost non existent unfortunately, so you’ll need a car (or several taxi rides) if you want to do something and are outside the Old San Juan/Condado area.

    Let me know if you need a translator next time you are around! 🙂

  10. You were so Lucky to get the best room attendant in Puerto Rico.

    As a current cruise ship nerd, I’ve been on the two ship in the forefront of your pics. (Jewel of the Seas and Celebrity Summit) Reviews/pics to follow. 😉

    Best practice in San Juan is to negotiate your taxi rate up front.

    Quite a comprehensive review. Thanks!

  11. I agree with what Peter said. We asked the hotel we stayed at about taking taxis and they always said ask what the rate is before you get in and for a couple of our destinations they gave us an amount that it should be so we knew what to expect. They are expensive for what you get though.

    Do not even attempt to take the bus. They are actually fairly nice buses but never on schedule and it’s difficult to find route information. We got lucky the first time we waited for the bus and every time we tried after that we gave up waiting and took a taxi.

  12. Interesting, Ben. I have generally found that hotels in San Juan are sub-par, and am constant search of a new one. I have found the loud DJ/music issue at many hotels there, too, and it is VERY annoying. I noticed it at the Conrad, and was very disappointing. What should have been a relaxing day at the beach was turned into Puerto Rico’s greatest hits — no thanks.

    I’ve found that rental cars are super cheap in Puerto Rico, and as long as you’re getting free parking, they are a better deal than the taxis, generally. I should note that I’ve never had an issue with the taxis in Puerto Rico, but perhaps that is because I speak Spanish. If you do rent a car, Puerto Rico’s roads – and drivers – are pretty unsafe, so certainly something to watch out for. I’m interested in trying out the Starwood properties. I’ll tell you that I generally have been disappointed with Hilton’s properties.

  13. Lucky,
    Thanks for this review. Now, I know of a decent hotel near the cruiseport! Does this hotel offer free pickup at the airport? More importantly, does the hotel offer pickup or drop-off at cruiseport?

  14. Have stayed at this hotel many times since it opened and have visited PR upwards of 40 times in my life. This is a great hotel option but you need to rent a car. Rental cars are generally inexpensive and there is tons of free street parking right outside the hotel. It’s nice to be (slightly) away from Condado and Isla Verde…but, still close by. Drivers in PR are a disaster so be careful. Just remember that the left lane is the slow lane. There are plenty of great restaurants in Old San Juan and it’s a beautiful place. The hotel itself is nice and the staff is friendly, though for the most part incompetent. The gym looks nice in the pictures but it is small and mostly cardio-focused. There is one rack of dumbbells and two benches. If you have questions, please ask.

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