Old Reviews – Hyatt Hacienda Del Mar

We just returned from a week at the Hyatt Hacienda Del Mar in Dorado, Puerto Rico (3-34 – 3-31) My wife and two children, ages 9 and 11 and myself had a great time. We arrived on a friday night around 5pm and took the Dorado Tours shuttle bus from the airport to the resort. I was going to rent a car as most of the reviews I read recommended doing so. I opted to take the shuttle, which was $25 per person to get a feel for the roads and for the traffic and then rent a car later from the hotel. As it turns out, friday night is the worst night for driving and we ended up being in the shuttle bus for an hour and a half only traveling about 30 miles from the airport to the hotel. It ended up getting dark and I don’t think it would have been an easy find in the dark on totally unfamiliar roads. Booked the entire trip on Expedia and that whole process was very smooth. No problems with tickets or boarding passes. Our seats on the return trip were not together but the ticket agents managed to get our two children seated together as the flights were full. Weather was in the 80’s everyday and most days started out cloudy, then got very sunny and 5 of the seven days ended with cloudy skies and light rain. By then we’d had enough sun and it felt pretty good. Our room was absolutely great. It’s not a new room or resort by any means but appears to be nicely maintained. The room we had was a two bedroom two bath timeshare condo. The setup was perfect as the kids had their own room with a queen bed, tv, private bath, mini bar area with refrigerator and a private porch overlooking the Atlantic. (views in almost any room had to be nice) We were on the sixth floor and were high above all the palm trees that were scattered about the grounds. The kids room had a door so it could be shut and the kids could sleep in while we got ready for the day. The other part of the room was a large kitchen with snack counter, dining table, and living room with tv and door to another private porch. There was an in room stack washer/dryer which was great as we came home with only clean clothes to put away. The main/master bedroom had a king size bed with patio doors to the porch, another tv and was open to a nice bath with dual vanities, shower stall and two person whirlpool tub. We took a taxi ride to a nearby grocery store and only ate out twice while we were there. Amigos was the grocery store and had a nice selection of seafood which was the nightly tablefare. Kitchen had everything you needed to make all your meals. (pots, pans, microwave, silverware, etc.) The large porch had a table with four chairs and we ate every evening dinner outside with the sound of the waves and the local cocquis(night frogs) singing loudly in the background. The property is surrounded by lots of jungle type vegetation and there were constantly birds and frogs and God knows what making all kinds of noise, which was pretty cool. The overall feel for resort was very nice. Not crowded and we were down during Wisconsins spring break so I figured it’d be very busy. There was no problem getting lounge chairs at the numerous pools or on the beach. At other resorts we’ve been at in Mexico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic it always seemed like a footrace in the mornings to claim a spot for the day. The kids made lots of friends as did we. Very friendly guests with many actually being timeshare owners at the property that had been going there for years. The kids had lots to do with the lazy river, waterslides, several pools, swimup bar, ping pong tables, tennis courts, basketball court and an arcade. There is a casino on the property which we never went to, but was supposedly pretty nice. Very quiet at night with not a lot of people out and about. Most nights we had the pool or the hot tub to ourselves. There is a small store on the property for essentials but prices are what you’d expect (high) The property is very private and there were no beach vendors selling hair braiding or wood carvings or drugs. (hair braiding is available at the on site salon for $6. a braid) The beach is about 3/4 mile long and there is a reed about 200-300 yards out where the waves would break. Regardless of whether it was windy or not, there was always some pretty good size waves. Our kids preferred the pools so we swam several times in the ocean but mostly walked the beach and ended a few days with a private happy hour on the beach watching the sunset. Both nights by 5:30pm we were literally the only ones on the beach. The staff was helpful and courteous and there was no language barriers as we don’t speak Spanish. We did do a trip to Old San Juan and to the El Yunque Rain forest. My wife found lots of things to buy and the city is very old and for the most part feels safe, although we didn’t veer too far off the beaten path. Lots of jewelry stores. The ferry ride was the best value in San Juan at $.50 a piece. I think if you spoke Spanish, you could do much better at negotiating the rates for cab fare. It was $100 for the four of us to be taken from the resort to the downtown area to the ferry and then taken back. Our other trip was to the rain forest and that was a full day that you can either do with the Dorado Tours for $45. a person or on your own. We opted for the same cab driver and he charged us $50 a person but the trip to the rain forest is close to two hours away and then you could come and go as you pleased versus waiting for a whole group. The rain forest was very pristine and yes, it did rain while we were in it. There are several neat waterfalls for pictures and one that takes about half an hour to get to. The kids swam in that one and we took lots of pictures. We were a little disappointed that there was not more wildlife to see. They talk about some endangered parrots which we never saw in the rain forest. We did however see two of them one morning on a walk around the neighboring golf course.

The native plants there are what we in the states buy as houseplants. If I’d do it again, I’d opt for day snorkeling trip instead. There was some snorkeling off the resort although not a lot of people were doing it. Most days it was rough and water clarity wasn’t great but they did rent all the necessary snorkeling equipment right on site. Our goal for this trip was to find a place that had nice water views from the room, was not all-inclusive, had things for the kids to do and was not in a big hotel/resort district. This place definitely lived up to those expectations. I figure I could have saved $100-$200. if we would have rented a car, but the traffic most days was busy and I didn’t feel the roads were that easy to navigate, so for us, the extra money was worth it. Evidently golf was about $150 for a round and the courses looked very nice. I’m a golfer, but this was a family trip and I just never got out to play. The Medulla light beer was very good. Dorado light was not. Tried several Puerto Rican wines which were good. The Puerto Rican food in the city was very good and we drank the water when we were out and at the resort. None of us ever got sick which has not been the case in Mexico. The water and beaches here are not as pretty as other places we’ve been but the views were great and I loved the laid back atmosphere with the lack of busy nightlife. Lots of small lizards or gekkos wandering around the grounds which were fun to see. Saw some very large ones (about 3-4 feet long) off the property on our day trip to San Juan. There are a couple of restaurants on site, but we only ate at JohnnyRockets one day which the kids really liked. Basic burgers and fries and such. Supposedly the Cerromar which is the adjoining hotel is being revamped into timeshares starting in June. No hard sell by anyone to sit through the timeshare spiel, but if you did there was some kind of $50 credit. We were asked once and had not been approached again the rest of the week. The place was nice and really worked well for our family vacation. If anyone has any questions about this resort, they can email me at jeffm@bytehead.com

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