by Michael Blanding
The good news is that the Courtyard Isla Verde is located right next to the airport. The bad news is that it’s located right next to the airport. It couldn’t be more convenient to take a 5-minute cab ride upon arriving to San Juan and being checked into your room only a few minutes later. Once there, however, it’s hard to ignore the fact that you are located at the end of a runway, with plane traffic flying in and out regularly overhead.
That said, there are a lot of reasons to recommend this resort, which also happens to face out on the far end of San Juan’s beautiful white sand beach, located just a few short steps from the lobby. The resort also has a great pool area with two separate pools for the kids and some extra perks, like an in-house ice cream parlor that’s a godsend for the little ones on hot, sunny days. The 260 rooms are standard Marriott corporate hotel rooms, but they are clean and stylish, and all of them feature balconies, some with incredible ocean views.
What really sets the hotel apart, however, is the staff, who are welcoming and accommodating from housecleaning to management. Guests rave about the high level of service from the staff members, who go out of their way to make recommendations and set up itineraries.
Learn more about Courtyard by Marriott hotels.
Our Editor Loves
- Easy access to a large pool and beautiful beach
- Helpful staff that goes the extra mile for guests
- Convenient location next to the airport
- Free Wi-Fi
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Anyone familiar with the Marriott Courtyard brand will know what to expect from the rooms at this hotel. They might not win awards for originality, but they win points for consistency and comfort. The hotel was originally built in 1989, and as with any older hotel, rooms sometimes show their age in the corners. But for the most part, this is a modern, stylish hotel that lives up to the Marriott brand standards. In particular, the beds are standouts, thick and soft, with big fluffy pillows and down comforters. All of the rooms are slated for renovations in 2013.
The hotel offers several sizes of rooms, including a basic size, a larger "Deluxe Oceanview Room," and junior and regular suites. The regular and deluxe rooms come with two queen-size beds or a king-size bed and a foldout queen-size sleeper sofa. Junior suites have two queens, while full-size suites have a king and a queen pullout. All rooms include mini-fridges and flat-screen TVs with cable (including movie channels), and some also have iPod docks as well. Suites also have CD/DVD players and microwaves. Cots and cribs are available for a $25 charge each.
What a pleasant surprise. This hotel has the most swim friendly beach. Great swim up bar in the pool. Super service and the casino was small but really nice. I won so it was really nice!!!! Super easy to Uber from and parking is $25 per night. Here comes the BUT.... the airport is across the street. You can here the take offs. I still loved the place and booking another stay there soon.
Very friendly and profesional staff, clean and spacious rooms, nice beach and pool, great location, close to the airport. It has very good restaurants and bars and also a casino that is open 24 hours.
Guests at the Courtyard Isla Verde wake up each morning confronted with a vexing question: beach or pool? Thankfully, the resort makes this decision simple. Since both are located side by side, getting to both the pool and the beach is extremely easy. It's also difficult to make a bad choice. The pool area was totally renovated in the fall of 2012, with four separate pools. The largest, a freeform pool, is 68 feet long, meandering through a back patio area with depths up to 5 feet and several waterfalls and a swim-up bar. The second largest pool is 50 feet long. Then there is a kiddie pool that is 12 feet long and 3 feet deep, complete with a water slide. And finally, there is a small round toddler pool that is only a foot deep.
A two-minute walk away, the beach stretches for half a mile in either direction, with white sand and palm trees swaying on the beach. The beach faces the Atlantic side of the island, and seas can get choppy at times, so supervision for small children is a must. During the high season, the hotel offers programming for kids on a drop-in basis, including coordinated water sports, beach volleyball games and kids' cooking classes. The staff is also particularly helpful working with local vendors to arrange other activities, including kayaking, surfing, scuba diving and deep sea fishing expeditions, as well as expeditions farther afield, like trips to El Yunque National Forest. Old San Juan, with its forts and museums, is a 20-minute, $21 cab drive away.
The hotel also has a game room with video game machines, and a small sundry shop with beach toys, sunscreen and other essentials. A kids' package is available that provides a beach pail, shovel and Frisbee in the room upon arrival.
The resort has four separate restaurants, all of which are casual and familyfriendly. The signature restaurant, Salsa, offers a menu of Puerto Rican-inspired dishes. For a more upscale experience, Sirena looks out on the ocean and serves up a bolder menu of Caribbean fusion. The atmosphere, however, is still causal enough to bring the kids, especially during the earlier part of the night. Both Salsa and Sirena are only open for dinner.
For lunch and late afternoon snacks, the Papaya Oceanfront Grill serves a typical pool bar menu of sandwiches and salads, with plenty of kid-friendly favorites, such as chicken fingers and burgers. In addition to the convenience of a swim-up bar, the restaurant also employs a back-of-the-chair flag system that makes it easy to order without leaving your lounge chair. Finally, the most popular restaurant with the kids is the Banana Ice Cream Parlor & CafÃ©, which offers a full range of ice creams and sundaes for that post-pool indulgence. In addition, it offers some convenient grab-and-go items at all times of day, from pastries and bagels in the morning, to sandwiches at lunch and pizzas at night.
At all restaurants, kids eat 50 percent off.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
The resort has an onsite fitness center with cardio machines and free weights. The resort can also arrange for in-room massages, including solo and couples' massages.
Wireless Internet is provided free of charge both in the rooms and in the public areas of the hotel.
Babysitting is not available.
The Art of Smart Timing
Puerto Rico has an almost perfectly consistent climate, with temperatures hovering around the 80-degree mark year round. The biggest crowds and highest prices are between Christmas and late March, while rates drop in late spring and summer. Even August can be surprisingly crowded however, since that's when many locals take their own vacations. Puerto Rico has a rainy season from about April to November, when showers are possible, though for the most part, they don't last long. Days in which it rains all day are few and far between.
Flights to Puerto Rico arrive at Luis MuÃ±oz MarÃn International Airport outside of San Juan. Rental cars are available at the airport, but most of them are located off-site, which means taking a 10- or 20-minute shuttle to pick up the car. Alternatively, you can take a 5-minute cab ride to the hotel, which is located just at the far end of the airport area. A further consideration is the $15 daily charge for parking versus the $20 or so charge for a cab into the downtown area of San Juan. If you are staying mainly in the city, it will likely cost more to rent a car.
For Mom and Dad
Right off the lobby, the Casino del Sol features 14,000 square feet of slot machines and table games including blackjack, roulette, poker, craps and baccarat. The resort also has a high-energy lobby bar called Picante, which transforms the lobby into a dance club at night with live bands playing salsa and meringue music from Thursday through Sunday. For the uninitiated, the bar offers free salsa lessons every Thursday night at 8 p.m.