Monday, December 23, 2013

Review: Gran Melia Golf Resort, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico

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It has been years since I've been to Puerto Rico.  And then it was always for a night or two before embarking on a cruise.  My brother in law and sister in law go there all of the time for the shows and to gamble.  We're not into that but we are into golf.  And Puerto Rico has some very nice golf courses.  The weather outside has been frightful so we decided to take a little trip to San Juan to play golf.  After doing some research, I came upon the Gran Melia Golf Resort.  Since we're talking off season there, the prices were astonishingly good.  We got a junior suite, king bed, ocean view for $199.00 plus taxes.  Taxes ended up being $158.00.  This included a cocktail greeting, private check in, full breakfast buffet daily and a wine/champagne/appetizer party every evening.  You also have free use of the internet as well as the use of a private pool area with great Bali cabanas.  There is also butler service.  All of this is called their Red Level Service.  It is well worth paying a few extra bucks to get this because the buffet breakfast alone is $22 per person.  Read more...

We paid the hotel to have a van come pick us up.  It was $72 for both of us one way.  The hotel prides itself in being close to the airport.  It is but it depends on traffic.  Getting there took about 45  minutes but going back was a short 30 minutes (Thursday mid morning).  The property itself is 400 acres on the north eastern coast and is owned by a wealthy Puerto Rican.  The hotel is owned by the Melia hotel chain which is headquartered in Spain. The hotel has 450 rooms and is really spread out so they have golf carts that circle the complex picking up and dropping you off at whatever destination you wish.  You can call for one if you wish.  Our room was only a 5 minute walk from the main building so we walked.  Here is the view from our ocean "view" room:

As far as golf?  Well, the best laid plans of mice and men....Puerto Rico and the Caribbean as a whole experienced a calmer than normal hurricane season.  Good for them.  Unfortunately for us, the rains decided to come in what is normally a dry season, except for the occasional afternoon 15 minute downpour.  It had been pouring every night for two weeks and the courses...unplayable.  Now they would still let you go out and my husband and I gamely gave it the good old college try but there wasn't even a place to find a good lie.  The water and mud almost sucked my shoes off of my feet.  I had only brought one pair of shoes...designed for dry weather and not water proof.  The pro shop cancelled our 2nd 9 as well as our next day tee time at no cost to us.  Sometimes these resort courses will offer you a voucher.  Since the cost was $160-210 per person per round, we were very thankful for that.  So what did we do?  Well, we'd been to Old San Juan many times and my husband isn't into outdoorsy type of activities, except golf of course :)) We spent our time lounging in the Bali cabanas and read.  Not bad, not bad. The resort has 4 nine hole courses 2 of which are TPC, Tournament Players Course, for a PGA event.  The TPC course is a Trump International.   It simply has his name attached for the "name" identity.  What we saw of the course was beautiful.  Unfortunately for us, we didn't play the portions that were on the ocean.  Bummer.  After 9 holes of slogging through water, we should have stayed in the cart and driven the course.  It's a shame we did not.  Rumor has it that these wet conditions have occurred during the PGA event and the owner of the course had his private helicopters hover a few feet off of the ground to disperse the water.  Rumor has it :))

Here are our thoughts and some facts:

*The resort is very nice but  the rooms lack the polish of an upscale resort.  We never did have a pot for the coffee maker (we didn't bother to call) and the trim along the baseboards in the bathrooms hadn't been cleaned in awhile (dusty).  But otherwise everything seemed very clean.

*  There are three main restaurants: A Japanese sushi tappanyaki restaurant, an Italian/Steak House and a Puerto Rican/Caribbean themed restaurant.  They were mediocre.  The breakfast was very good as well as the food out at the pool.  I had one of the best Greek salads I've ever had at the pool restaurant.  We did not leave the hotel to eat because being 30 minutes outside San Juan, we just didn't want to mess with it.

* The spa is OK.  Again, there were small things that needed looking after but hadn't been fixed i.e. light bulbs out, peeling paint etc. I had a hot stone massage for 75 minutes for $200+ including tip.  I liked it.  My husband said his massage was tepid at best.

*  There is a casino but my husband and I didn't step into it.

*  There is very little beach but a HUGE pool area.  If you want swimming in the ocean, there are warning signs about undertows.  So, pool it better be...And there is that private Red Level pool where children under 9 are NOT allowed :))

* The staff was very friendly and accommodating.  That is not always the case at Caribbean resorts.  Sometimes it was difficult to get someone to answer the phone, but all in all, we were very pleased with the resort and would go back.

For you golfers, here are some facts:  The slope/rating/length for the gold tees are 75/134/6984 yards, the whites 75.9/135/6026 yards, green 71/9/122/5345 yards.  There are also 5 other golf courses within a 30 minute drive from the resort.

Here are some optional activities in case you get caught with no playable lies:

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