The Gran Meliá Golf Resort in Puerto Rico was our first stop on a week-long vacation for our family of three. Traveling with a toddler can be difficult, which is why it’s so important to have good amenities and service when traveling. This is our experience staying three days at the Gran Meliá Golf Resort.
I received no compensation for this review.
The Gran Meliá Resort is in Rio Grande, about 30 minutes by car from the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport near San Juan. You can rent a car at the airport, take a taxi or schedule a hotel transport. We rented a car with a child safety seat provided by the car rental company so we could freely travel around the island. Puerto Rico is notorious for unreliable service from Google Maps, and sure enough, I couldn’t bring the resort up on my iPhone. After several tries, I was able to bring up the resort by getting directions through Trip Advisor instead of searching or typing the address manually. The drive was easy enough, with only a few “can you believe that guy?” moments brought on by erratic Puerto Rican drivers. Once we passed the gate into the resort property, we were amazed at how large—and stunning the grounds were. The rolling green golf course dotted with palm trees, fountains and ponds were a welcome vision.
There is plenty of self-parking available on the property for $15 a day. Valet is only $5 more, but the short walk from the parking lot is hardly worth it. The front desk is located in a breezy open-air foyer surrounded by ponds teeming with koi fish. There are plush chairs, beautiful potted plants and even a parrot. It’s a breathtaking entrance.
Then there’s the wait. First we waited in line about 30 minutes. Even though I called in advance, our room did not have the requested crib or mini fridge. The attendant was very friendly, and upgraded our room so we could have a refrigerator. After giving us our keys, we were a little lost at what to do next or how to get to our room.
After asking around (one of the busboys gestured us over to a guy in a large golf cart loading bags out front), we found out we would be driven in one of the golf carts to our room. In all, it was over an hour–with a very tired mommy, daddy and fussy baby—before we stepped foot in our room.
At first sight, we were thrilled with the room. All of the rooms are suites at the Gran Meliá, but this one was equipped with a full kitchen. The bedroom with king bed had a sliding dividing door from the kitchen and dining area—perfect for traveling with a toddler. The bathroom was spacious with a large tub. Our room was a “Garden View” with large sliding windows that opened to a grassy area and allowed the cool breeze to flow through the room. “Red Level” rooms come with butler service, breakfast, access to the lounge and complimentary happy hour. “Ocean View” suites have a terrace with personal outdoor whirlpool tub.
Our room was a little stuffy—so much so, we kept the windows open most of the day. During the first night, it rained and I thought I heard water dripping on the floor in the room. When we woke up, there was a big puddle of water next to the bed. Water had leaked from the bottom pane of the closed window onto the floor from the rain.
Much of the room was a little worn. There was some mildew around the window, and around the tub. The furniture (especially the couch and decorative pillows) had seen better days. They were shabby and had stains on them. There was a beat-up scale in the bathroom that weighed me in at 80 pounds (about 30 pounds off).
The room was clean, but not REALLY clean. I found long black hairs in my baby’s hands from the floor. Our feet also got dirty from walking back and forth on the tiled floors. If it wasn’t such a hassle, I may have asked for another room, but I was afraid it wouldn’t make much of a difference. In all, having a kitchen was worth staying where we were. The sheets were clean and I tossed the pillows and coverlet in the closet.
The Gran Meliá has two world-class 18-hole championship golf courses and hosts the PGA Tour event on the island. The golf courses are stunning, but that’s not what we came for. What sold us online were the photos of the large pool that wraps around the center of the property. It features built-in seats, a swim-up bar, kiddie area, hot tub and volleyball net. There are different levels in the pool, perfect for kids and little ones to play on. Optional poolside Bali beds were large and came with drink specials.
Other activities included daily yoga and Pilates classes or dance lessons. Kayak rentals, horseback riding, rain forest hikes, tours, fishing, snorkeling and other activities can be arranged by the hotel. The beach is right near the hotel. The water is very calm, and the beach was mostly deserted. It was gorgeous.
There are five restaurants on the property, along with two bars—quite a selection. There is also pizza and fried chicken delivery (along with a regular room service menu). We only ate at the resort once during our trip, at the poolside bar. From looking at the menus, the food choices were standard hotel fare—sushi, steak, pasta, and burgers at a premium. Instead, we braved the local restaurants and markets surrounding the resort to enjoy some of the best food during our trip.
I had a chance to peek in the Yhi Spa on the hotel property. It’s a beautiful facility with its own private pool with outdoor massage areas and Bali beds. The adjacent fitness center is open 24 hours and open to all guests.
While I would have loved one of their many treatments, a busy toddler kept me from enjoying the spa, which brings me to another amenity: babysitting service. I didn’t use their sitter service during this trip, but I did witness one of the staff playing with a little girl in the kiddie area. The sitter was very friendly and fun, patiently playing a learning game of cards with the little girl. I would have no problem leaving my child in this person’s care.
Besides the check-in process, we did not experience the poor service at the Gran Meliá I read about in other online reviews. Our only issues were the slow check-in and having to call several hours after check-in to make sure our pack-n-play was delivered. Staff was generally helpful and friendly and housekeeping was punctual, if not thorough.
I need to mention their policy of having guests wear wristbands. We were all given a wristband to wear during our stay, which I found very annoying. Requiring guests to wear wristbands seems ridiculous to me. They are also very strict with the towels at the pool, requiring a card exchange for every towel. If the towels were located at the entrance to the pool, this would be easier, but we had to make a trek to get them each time–which is so hard with a toddler and stroller and everything else we need to carry. I found this to be an inconvenience.
Despite the issues during our stay, we would love to visit the Gran Meliá Golf Resort again in the future, preferably in an Ocean View suite where we could spend a little more time on the beach. If we visit again, I would like to take advantage of the Yhi Spa and childcare services so we can leave the room after the baby goes to sleep. There is a lot to explore in the area and the beaches on the property are stunning.