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Just east of Old San Juan, the San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino is in the Condado neighborhood, an upper middle class area of the city with an established mix of hotels, condominiums and older homes. The Marriott is perfectly positioned if you’re searching for a hotel that’s part of the hub of San Juan.

The San Juan Marriott renovated rooms and public spaces in 2006-2007, and there will be renovations to food and beverage areas beginning in 2013. That’s certainly important to business travelers, but equally or likely more important is its address. This Marriott is located on Ashford — beachfront. It also offers pool and ocean view rooms offer an amazing view (tip: ask for a room on a higher floor facing the ocean).

I stayed here in June and it was my first trip to San Juan. Here’s what you need to know about the San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino if you’re traveling here for business, planning a meeting or simply want to enjoy the hotel:

Guest Rooms

The San Juan Marriott has 21 floors, including 511 guest rooms and 14 suites — all come with balconies. I stayed in room 2008, a standard king (about 250 square feet) that is one floor below the penthouse. It’s also located just next to the corner room (not bad if you’re looking to avoid the upgrade charge to a corner, but that may actually be worth the additional fee). The room has a fantastic view of the ocean and pool, and it also has a 180 degree skyline view. Of course, it has all of the comforts and room amenities that you’d expect at a Marriott.

Pool and Beach

Space for outdoor pools is a challenge for many city hotels, but the San Juan Marriott has been able to design comfortable seating for two swimming pools and a bar. I chose to sit next to the beach for a couple hours in the afternoon on my arrival and the morning of my departure (relaxing). It offers a nice view of the stretch of buildings along the ocean.

The Casino

Many of San Juan’s hotels include a casino. While it’s certainly not the large casino you expect in big hotels in other cities, Stellaris Casino has a nice sized casino off the lobby. It has 26 gaming tables and 470 slot machines. A fun fact is that this casino has the highest betting limits on the island. I always enjoy spending a little time in any casino, so I stopped there my first night and opted to play the penny slot machine. After a short while, I was ahead by about $60, and decided that smaller casinos are not so bad — and the hotel became even more appealing to me after the winnings. I walked away a small winner on the other nights as well, and one local woman won more than $6,000 here during my stay!

Dining Options

Breakfast is served at La Latin Grill (with beach view), offering a nice range of breakfast items including eggs, toast, bagels, fruit and meats. The chef will make omlettes, waffles and other egg requests to order — I liked that. La Isla is the bar outside the restaurant on the terrace. In the lobby just next to registration desk and the casino is the Red Coral Lounge (Latin music in the background) — it was renovated in 2011. This is a great spot to gather or just take a break to enjoy a beverage in Puerto Rico … I enjoyed grabbing a seat at the bar.

Meetings and Events

It seems that the San Juan Marriott is a nice spot for small to mid-sized meetings, offering eight meeting rooms and board room options. There’s a also 7,000 square foot ballroom, so that helps makes the Marriott a great option for larger social occasions (holding up to 800 people), such as weddings and other events. I had a chance to check out the setup for a prom and the space was special for the function.

Other Amenities

The public areas on the main floor of the hotel have free wireless access, so feel free to take your laptop there if you’d like to leave your room and try to complete a little bit of work (as I did). For those needing it, the hotel has on-site accessible parking (self-parking fee or valet parking fee options). And there’s a fitness center. Pets are not allowed.

The Verdict?

The Marriott brand tends to cater more to the needs of business travelers, and the San Juan Marriott certainly delivers. The lobby has been renovated, and that’s a welcoming site after spending time on the plane to get there. My experience was that the staff and guests were friendly and open. Many people choose the Marriott because of its location and the popularity of the Stellaris Casino in its lobby, and I’ll admit that it was also something that caught my attention when researching San Juan options. The Marriott is a good base where it’s easy to access various neighborhoods and venues in San Juan, and not so far from the highway so that you can easily explore other areas of the island.