San Juan Stories and Tips

More Than A Lobby

And the Band Played On Photo, San Juan, Puerto Rico

The Marriott has done some interesting things in this lobby which are not found in its other locations; the first is the gambling Casino, as it needs to keep up with the Joneses. There you have a mini-rendition of let us empty your pockets slot machines. I never even went near them as there was always something better to do. To the right of the casino is a well placed Lobby Bar. There is ample seating which is positioned around the bar which is the focal point of the lobby. Supporting that placement looking straight ahead from the door is a dance floor with seating, and band instruments which come alive every evening around 7 PM. The Marriott is one of 3 hotels in Condado that offer live music, and Chuck and I took a spin around the floor and tired before the band did.

On weekend nights, many of the locals come for the band, the bar and to "hook up". They tend to overdress here in San Juan as in most Latin American countries I’ve visited. I also wondered if they use more durable thread here to keep their seams from exploding: the tighter, the better. The band plays soft jazz, latin tunes, and lots of slow dancing airs. At times, it gets so crowded that you can’t breathe on the dance floor. The bar is always active, even early in the morning. People are friendly, and men usually stare intently. Enormous arrangements of bird of paradise flowers grace the entrance to the lobby. In addition, the staff was busy decorating for Christmas, and on our return stay to the hotel, we found some incredible talent by way of edible houses made of cookies, sugared mini wheats which served as roof tiles (ingenious!), cakes, icing,-totally fantastic.

There is a W. H. Smith on the premises which you should patronize only in dire emergency as the prices are outrageous. Imagine paying $10 for the New York Times?? They’re good to have around for emergency items, however, there is a Walgreen’s less than a block away. I found the local paper, the San Juan Star , to provide excellent coverage of world news. I later found out that they were the recipient of a Pulitzer; well deserved indeed. Across from the gift shop is the tour desk which was offering excursions to almost all the places we were intent on seeing on our own. The only thing I regret is not having been able to go to Vieques or Culebra island for a day. There are ferries which depart from Fajardo on the northeast tip of Puerto Rico and return at 4pm.

And then there is the concierge service; they come in handy but you can also browse at an enormous album that sits on the counter and gives you suggestions on activities, places to dine etc. They are all bi-lingual so if you don’t speak the language, no problem.

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