We first came to Puerto Rico for Thanksgiving five years ago. Silas was five. I needed to get out of town in the worst way for a few days. Way out of town. We came to the Caribe Hilton in San Juan. It was fabulous. It was so fabulous we came back the next year for Thanksgiving and stayed a few days longer than on our first trip.
The third year we decided that, even though we loved the Caribe Hilton, we should try something new. We went to the El Conquistador resort in Fajardo, out on the eastern end of the island. It was a great place and we enjoyed ourselves, but it was just too big a resort for us. You had to walk a long way to get from one activity to the next. You had to catch a boat to get out to the private island beach. It was too much.
Year 4 circumstances prevented us from going to Puerto Rico over Thanksgiving. But as much as we appreciated spending it with our friends the Haags, we couldn’t wait to return to “the isle of enchantment.” We booked at the Caribe Hilton back in March.
We arrived on Friday afternoon, checked in and headed out for the pool and beach. Alas, the poolside bar is closed for renovations. The lobby restaurant is closed for renovations. We made our way to the towel stand. They were out of towels. We decided to check out the life-size chess board that Silas learned to play on five years ago. It was gone. The whole lawn has been torn up as part of the renovations with construction fences all around. Part of the beach is off limits as part of the renovations. We went to try out the hot-tubs Silas loved so much the first two years. The water was cold.
Yesterday morning, we went to the Palmeras, an in-house restaurant, for breakfast. The service was lousy. It took us 15 minutes to be seated, and another 15 minutes before the waiter even came by to offer us coffee. Whoever was in charge of making sure there were scrambled eggs on the buffet left the pan empty the entire hour we were in the dining room.
It rained on Saturday. We know, it’s not the hotel’s fault that it rained. We’re not holding that against them. As a beach alternative, Silas and I went to check out the game room. It was closed. We went to the front desk to enquire about it. They said, “Yes, it’s closed because it’s raining.” This made no sense to us. The game room is indoors. They handed us a paper with “Rain activities for kids”. There was a room upstairs where something was planned every hour. “Fun Beads” and “Survival Spanish Lessons”.
“I don’t want to do that,” Silas said. “That’s like school.”
“I agree,” I said, “It sucks.”
A while later we were hanging out in the lobby wondering what to do next. The last two times we were here they had water in the lobby. The water had tropical fruit in it. Fruity water. It was lovely. We went to get fruity water, and it was just plain old ice water.
It’s a little thing to complain about the lack of fruity water. I know. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t amount to anything at all. Had we never been here before, we would never have known the difference. We would never have missed the fruity water. But it’s the little things that count. All the little things, one after the other, that have disappointed. Corners cut. Service slacked. Anticipated amenities missing.
We are checking out of the Caribe Hilton this morning. We’re going across the bay to another hotel for the rest of our week. We’ve never been to this new hotel before. Brooke’s doctor (who is Puerto Rican) recommended it a while ago. We don’t know if it will be any better, but since it comes recommended we have reason to hope so. Maybe they don’t have fruity water either, but if not at least we won’t be saddled with the disappointment of having expected it.