Puerto Rico has had a challenging past few years, to say the least. From hurricanes to earthquakes, it’s easy to see why many travelers opted to cancel their trips to the Island of Enchantment. Given their tourism-based economy, however, the island desperately needs visitors. And with no shortage of hotel options across the island, it’s easy to find an excellent points redemption offer with any of the major chains. One new option, The Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve, presents incredible value and unparalleled service, and will always be my property of choice on the island.
The property was born as the Gran Meliá Hotel, and was subsequently transformed into The Resort at Coco Beach, a Hyatt affiliate. In 2019, a massive renovation turned it into the hotel it is today: The Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve. Boasting 480 guestrooms and 98 suites situated in bungalow format, a variety of restaurants, a 12,000 square foot spa, golf courses, plus beach access, it’s got nearly everything you could ask for.
Booking at the Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve
Hyatt offers a variety of hotels in Puerto Rico, most of which are limited service Hyatt Place and House brands located in the San Juan city center. All of these properties are category three, except for the category two Hyatt Place San Juan Bayamon.
If you’re looking for a full-service property, your choices are limited. The category five Olive Boutique Hotel and category three Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve are the only ones. Those with timeshares or enough luck to find availability may also choose the Hyatt Residence Club Dorado.
As a category three property, the Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve costs 12,000 World of Hyatt points per night. Holders of the category 1-4 certificates may also use them here. Because this property is the exact same cost as limited-service, city-center hotels, I believe it’s a steal.
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Cash rates at the property vary quite a bit. Around our dates, nightly rates ranged from $200 to $300 per night. At 12,000 points per night, this gives a valuation of 1.6-2.5 cents per point, among the best on the island.
I’ll start with the one and only problem with this property: the location. The property is located in the Northeast quadrant of the island and takes around 30-40 minutes to get to/from San Juan and Luis Muñoz Marin Airport. One benefit of this hotel is that it’s just a 15-minute drive to El Yunque National Rainforest, the only rainforest in the United States. Near the hotel, there aren’t many restaurants (shoutout to Ekelekua for a great brunch).
Because of this, I’d say the ideal hotel guest at this property plans to spend lots of time in El Yunque or wants to enjoy the property without ever leaving. After all, the property boasts a beach, massive pool area, and several restaurants, so you really don’t need to go anywhere.
We landed in San Juan around 3 pm, picked up our car, and were at the hotel by 5 pm. On-site parking costs $15 per day (waived for World of Hyatt Globalists) and valet parking costs $25 per day. For those without plans to rent a car, you can arrange transport with the hotel for $88 round-trip per person, with children at half price.
Pro Tip: Pre-pay for tolls with your rental agency if you’ll be doing significant driving on the island. Most efficient roads require tolls!
We arrived at the main entrance and were told that self-parking was free for Globalists. The bellman collected our luggage and we drove the 20 seconds to the very empty lot. We walked back to the front entrance of the property, where the bellman greeted us again, this time using my name. He told us he would take us to the Regency Club where we would check-in. The property itself was mesmerizing, with bright white pillars and tile throughout the open-air lobby. Surrounding the walkways were fountains and over-sized candles which provided for an excellent ambiance at night.
We arrived at the Regency Club, where a lovely woman wearing a teal dress stood up, walked around the desk, and shook our hands. She welcomed us to the property in what I can only call the warmest greeting I’ve experienced. We sat at the desk while she went through the check-in, engaging us about our trip every step of the way. She informed us of an upgrade to a 2nd floor ocean-view room, which was a lovely surprise. She informed us of all the Regency Club details, including the special access to the private club pool.
Then, she placed our room keys on our wrists, a first for me!
Traveling To Our Room
We went back outside, where the bellman had a golf cart ready to take us to our room. First, though, he showed us around every inch of the property, explaining the restaurants, pool area, and all the other need-to-know information. He took us to our room and gave us a tour of that too! The Regency Club receptionist and the bellman really left the most incredible first impression.
The property is set up in a long corridor of bungalows. We were just a five minute walk from the lobby, but many guests could be up to 15 minutes away. Obviously, significant walking is not part of many beachgoers’ vacation plans, so they offer 24/7 golf cart service property-wide.
Our Room at the Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve
We ascended the stairs and entered our room. It was simple: cream tones, tasteful wall art, and sparkly clean. Despite having two beds and a small seating area, the 520 square foot room felt incredibly spacious.
There was no shortage of the Hyatt Regency signature hexagons and pentagons throughout the room, including mirror wall art and a cleverly-designed lamp.
There was also a small espresso maker with locally-sourced Puerto Rican coffee. The same coffee was available in the Regency Club, and it was delicious.
The bathroom was somewhat strange, as the shower and bathtub were in the same room, separated from the bedroom area by clear glass. Though there were curtains for privacy, it was still quite strange to see a bathroom like that.
One thing I adored about the bathroom was that the towels had classy black stripes on them. Overall, the color scheme in the room was intentional and well-done. The toiletries were individual Pharmacopia toiletries, which is typical in Hyatt Regencys worldwide.
Of course, my favorite part of the room was the balcony with ocean view. Imagine stepping out into the morning breeze with an espresso and these views!
Overall, the room was nearly perfect. The subtle, Caribbean-inspired color scheme and beautiful view made it a perfect home base for two nights. The bed was incredibly comfortable (though flying in on a red-eye certainly helped that!) and we had absolutely everything we needed.
The Regency Club
Access to the Regency Club comes from Globalist status or the use of a Club Access Award (given to Explorists). Guests who book suites automatically have access to the Club as well.
As my experience with the Regency Club check-in showed, the staff there were simply phenomenal. They routinely checked up on us and asked specific questions about the room and our plans. The club lounge decor was also quite nice, with golf tee-inspired decorations as an homage to the many on-site golf courses. The seating was varied and allowed for a dining or lounging experience.
I also adored how this lounge had a spacious outdoor seating area. The area was walled off and had a water feature at the end to ensure that guests could only enter through the main entrance.
PRO TIP: Don’t leave your food unattended on the patio, unless you want to share with the birds.
The food and beverage service in the lounge left quite a lot to be desired. It was one of the smallest spreads, for both breakfast and canapés, that I’ve experienced in a lounge. To make matters worse, alcohol wasn’t free, as the club had an honor bar. There was only one hot item out with each service; the rest was predominantly fruits, vegetables, and cold cuts. I certainly did appreciate how they featured local items (Puerto Rican cheese, empanadas, etc.)
Delicious cookies, granola bars, cereal, and trail mix were also available all day.
A unique offering for Regency Club guests is exclusive access to the Regency Club pool. Nestled in between two bungalows around seven minutes’ walk from the lobby, the Regency Club pool is a quiet respite. Guests also have complimentary access to the Bali beds. The pool is open from 8 am-6 pm, while the main pool is open 7 am-10 pm.
True to its resort name, the property has a variety of restaurants and amenities to offer.
The restaurants are as follows:
Water’s Edge: Three-meals-per-day restaurant; if you don’t have Regency Club access but want a hearty breakfast, this is where you go!
Nori Asian Grill: Japanese/Latin American fusion restaurant
Prime 787: Steakhouse restaurant
Lobby Bar: This is the only restaurant we visited, as they have live music on Friday and Saturday nights. They have a great signature cocktail list and, like the rest of the property, phenomenal staff.
In addition to the great restaurants, the property offers its own beaches and a large pool with swim-up bar. The pool bar has its own set of signature cocktails, which you can bring back to the underwater lounge chairs. If you’re hungry, there’s a food truck serving Mexican food right next to the bar.
The 12,000 square foot Rainforest Spa is also available for treatments. This part of the property is currently under renovation, with an anticipated end date of summer 2020.
Because of the category of the property, I really wasn’t anticipating the incredible experience we got. The property itself was actually stunning and new, and is continuing to renovate to make itself even more attractive. The rooms, too, feel bright and clean with no shortage of space.
Without a doubt, this was the friendliest hospitality I’ve experienced at a hotel. In fact every step of the way, staff members, from club staff to groundskeepers, asked how we were and if we enjoyed our stay. When we left the Lobby Bar on our last night, the bartender shook our hands and said he hoped we would return soon. The staff bring this beautiful property up to new heights.
When we’re looking for a Caribbean getaway, Puerto Rico often slips our minds. But having the Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve at only 12,000 World of Hyatt points per night should put it at the forefront of your vacation plans (not to mention, no passport required!)
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