Weekend getaway at the W Retreat & Spa Vieques | Vieques, Puerto Rico | Just back from a lovely weekend at the W Retreat & Spa in Vieques, only 30 minutes away by plane from Puerto Rico main island. We came to celebrate Rubin’s Birthday, and to relax from the hustle and bustle from New York city, and we certainly did. Three days two nights was the perfect timing to enjoy the Retreat in full, and to discover the Island of Vieques.
Video above of our Ocean Front Escape Room (638 Square Feet / 59 Square Meters) with stunning, relaxing and soothing beach views. Rooms are wide and comfortable, with a very funky style. For a different point of view, revel in a palette of rich and tropical colors and Caribbean prints mixed with dark wood stone, exclusively designed by the eclectically stylish Patricia Urquiola. Pick a flick from the always-hip W Library and watch it larger than life on the 42″ LCD TV nestled in the chill chair, where couch meets bed. Take a wireless whirl with High Speed Internet Access or call cordless on the dual-line phones at the oversized desk. Easily converted into a dining table, it gives new meaning to eating at the desk, especially when accompanied by delights found in our smile-inducing Munchie Box. Enjoy and float on the signature W bed available in double or king configurations, complete with pillowtop mattress, crisp 350-thread-count sheets, goose-down comforter and pillows.
Their promotional line is: Dive into the bioluminescent bay or discover lush mountains on horseback. SWEAT® it out, dip in WET® or unwind at the AWAY® Spa. Savor exquisite cuisine by Alain Ducasse or sip a cocktail at sunset. Serene sanctuary or vibrant adventure, R&R W-style. There were a few UPS and DOWNS during our stay, and also a few TIPS I would like to share, but overall the final experience was BRILLIANT.!!!
Let’s begin with the DOWNS and then move to the most favorable points. Lets agree on this, Service is not their best strength. And this is a bit of an issue when you are staying at a Resort enclaved in a tiny island. The hotel, over the weekend, was sold OUT and that affected the level of service in general. Over and over, we heard the employees, from several outlets at the hotel, apologizing to their guests and saying… sorry but our services is going to be rather slow, or we run out of this dish… so please be patient.!!! You know what, that is not an excuse. If you know your are going to be sold out, then schedule more staff, and stock your kitchen and don’t make your guests suffer through it. We experienced this at the MIX on the Beach Restaurant and with the Housekeeping service in our room, a few times.
Second point was that the hotel was overflown with Families and Kids, and that was another issue for both, us as a Gay couple and some of the Straight ones that were commenting on the same. We came to the island to be away and relax, not to be in the middle of a kindergarden. The explanation provided to us, well that they are promoting a new weekend package for families, and apparently is being VERY successful. I also must admit that there were quite a few other gays at the Retreat, but unfortunately not the ones we would enjoyed spending time with. Yes, me dear readers, even fellow gays can be annoying sometimes, when in summer group break, with a few drinks on them, getting loud, inappropriate and sloppy at the main pool and beach.
The Cuisine and Drinks experience at the hotel, including the breakfast, I would rate it as average. MIX on the Beach is the restaurant, which in a way has the signature of Alain Duccase, but in the end we found out he is only involved in consulting and planning the menu. Beach Restaurnt, Caribbean Menu and Casual Sophistication. The setting is beautiful at the outdoors terrace overlooking the beach, but the food was not quite up-to the expectations.
The W Pool WET looked amazing, but unfortunately it was so overcrowded, that we chose to move away to the Adults Beach, and enjoy a peaceful time. If you need to stay connected while away, the hotel offers FREE WiFi access, but it was quite intermittent, not working properly 24/7 and in all areas.
Now lets move to the UPS and positive aspects which were many and fully made up for our stay and experience. The Beach is stunning BEAUTIFUL!!!! and this made our stay so worth it, that the rest was not so important. The sand, the temperature of the water and the fact that they offer two private seashores, Adults Only and Main Beach. Both with the service of Beach Ambassadors, umbrellas, chaise lounges and towels, food and beverage service. Although to be fairly honest, in the three days we were there, we never saw any beach ambassador in the beach. The W Away Spa, was one of the best I have tried lately. After spending so much time in Asia, I have got very spoiled with Spa Treatments, and I cannot help to always compare. I must say that I was greatly impressed and surprised by their service and professionalism. I took a 60 minutes Alpha Male Facial, and its was sensational.
Our Room was comfortable, huge and had a balcony overlooking the beach, we could not ask for more. Hiram, our W Insider (aka. Guest Relations) was fantastic, on the spot with his recommendations for attractions, restaurants and tours. He in a way made our experience unforgettable.
The SWEAT Fitness Center 2,000 square feet, state-of-the-art, fully-equipped opened 24hs. The W Lounge at Vieques Airport is the perfect welcome and farewell spot, just seat down, relax and let them take care of you from there on, including transfers IN/OUT.
As I began my post, the final experience was SATISFACTORY, but I would like to share a few TIPS to guarantee a most enjoyable experience. Weekends, as per our experience, I would recommend avoiding weekends at the W Retreat & Spa. We stayed from a Saturday till a Monday, and the top of our stay was Sunday late afternoon and the full Monday. The crowd was completely different, it was less crowded, and lets put it this way much more civilized. 03 days/02 nights is the perfect length of a stay, to be combined with a pre or post stay at the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort in Puerto Rico. Get AWAY from the retreat, try restaurants in the island, like El Quenepo or Next Course, therefore you will enjoy different gourmet options. Same with the activities, rent a JEEP and tour around the island.
MUST do is the Bioluminescent Tour at Mosquito Bay. The hotel arranged this for us and it was MAGICAL. It is a two hours tour on a Kayak. Hidden along the Caribbean coast is one of the most spectacular Bioluminescent Bays in the world. The mysterious blue-green light is created by micro-organisms which thrive in an environment uniquely suited to their needs. Unfortunately I was not able to do more photos of videos, since you get wet during the trip, but trust me WORTH doing it. (approx. USD 30 per person).
How can you move around the island, well there are several companies renting JEEPS. We chose Island Car Rental, which is just outside the W Retreat.
How do you get/from to Vieques ? Well there are several ways to do this, but after my full research I found that Vieques Air Link, offers great connections and half of the price from any of it competitors. From Isla Grande Airport in Puerto Rico to Vieques Island on a 20 to 30 minutes flight. (USD 60 each way approx.)
We came to celebrate Rubin’s Birthday, and I rest assure that was a great option, when you are restrain by time and not willing to travel too far, in search for great beaches and relaxation. But I would also recommend W Retreat & Spa, for friends reunions, honeymoons and Gay Weddings. During our stay a wedding took place (see photo above) and despite I was not quite stunned by the concept and deco, I found several spots in the property to make this happen in style. So keep it in mind if you are planning to say I DO.
Our absolute favorite spots in the hotel were….. the Gardens of the AWAY Spa. I would say featuring the best views of the hotel. Serene, lush and quiet. The Adults Beach, specially the little tip that connects this beach to the main beach, but be careful with the stones and reef.
The chairs overlooking the beach, right of the main terrace of the hotel. We would come here after lunch and fall asleep by the sweet gentle breeze and the sound of the waves. Well maybe over a few drinks too ha ha ha.
The Lounge Bar overlooking the main terrace of the hotel. Although the Dirty Vodka Martinis need some improvements, the Bloody Mary’s were perfect and spicy.
The Retreat offers several activities both at and out of the Beach. Snorkeling, kayak, horseback ridding, tennis, yoga and fitness center.
I am sure that following my TIPS and comments based on my own experience, you will truly enjoy the W Retreat & Spa Vieques. Come and visit and send me your comments and feedback. Carlos Melia Luxury Travel Curator – www.carlosmelia.com
(*) To book your own travel experience, do not hesitate to contact me either by email email@example.com or phone # 917.754.5515. Also check our scheduled Small Travel Groups at Coups de Coeur. I am an experienced Travel Agent with over 25 years of experience, member of LGTNetwork, First in Service Travel, TZELL Travel Network. www.carlosmelia.com