Room Key: Condado Plaza Hotel & Casino, San Juan

Address: 999 Ashford Ave., San Juan, PR 00907

Telephone: (787) 721-1000

Reservations: (877) LXR-XOXO (597-9696)

Web:www.condadoplaza.com

Managing Director: Raul Bustamente

Rooms: 570

Rates: From $139 to $329 per room, per night, double through Feb. 28.

Facilities: Redone guest rooms, public areas and lobby; Wi-Fi and Internet in all guest rooms and public areas; expanded casino; new look to ballroom and meeting areas; three pools; private beach; five restaurants and bars, including a Starbucks and a Tony Roma's.

Review: The guest rooms are refreshed, updated and modern. Pool and beach areas are a pleasant surprise in an urban part of San Juan. Navigating the two-building layout, joined by a pedestrian bridge, can be confusing to the first-time guest.

I stayed in the 570-room Condado Plaza Hotel & Casino in San Juan about a year and a half ago, just after the Wyndham flag was taken down and right before LXR Luxury Resorts & Hotels, which took it over (along with several other former Wyndham properties in Puerto Rico and one in Jamaica), began its $60 million-plus  renovation.

In fact, at that point LXR had not so much as emptied a wastebasket or dusted an armoire.

It's a different story now, although some of the renovation and expansion projects remain works in progress.

The once-drab rooms -- with their floral bedspreads, bulky furniture and showers with no water pressure -- have been updated with cleaner, leaner furniture lines; plush, white bedding; two telephones; flat-screen TVs; and superior plumbing.

Complimentary Wi-Fi Web access will be available in all rooms by December and throughout the resort, including the pool and beach, shortly thereafter. The Royal Ballroom's new, three-tiered European chandelier, floor-to-ceiling windows and vibrant colors were unveiled this fall. And the casino reopened at the end of October with new carpeting and an additional 90 slot machines.

The main lobby and driveway entrance are slotted for completion in early December, said Raul Bustamente, managing director.

The Condado Plaza will not have a concierge floor. "We have a new culture of service here," he said. "We treat every floor as if it were a concierge floor and every guest as a VIP."

Bustamente, who was general manager at the Caribe Hilton for 12 years, knows about guest service. After his Hilton gig, he bought the 100-room San Juan Beach Hotel, a few blocks from the Condado.

He sold that hotel in February 2006 and started up at the Condado Plaza later that year.

Being acquired by LXR, whose parent company is the Blackstone Group, "was very important. There is a good market mix in Puerto Rico, and the LXR properties tap into that mix very well. It's a good time to be a hotelier in Puerto Rico, and with our new look, we are in a position to capitalize on both the leisure and corporate business," Bustamente said.

He noted that the nearby Marriott and InterContinental properties began their renovations shortly after LXR did.

"This transmits confidence in the destination and shows visitors a new face in the Condado area," he said.

To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].

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