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I have been in the hospitality business for 12 years now, this is what I do and I am very passionate about delivering excellent guest service.This has always been a family owned and operated business, we invite you to come enjoy our hospitality!
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El Hotelito is a great experience for those that want a laid back environment and a little adventure. It is somewhat remote, tucked into El Yunque, up a winding, narrow road (that is a dirt road for part of the way). The hotel has 7 rooms and 7 dogs, so the feel is very intimate and down to earth. When you are there, you feel like family. The rooms have shutters but no glass panes on the windows. (There is netting over the beds, but there may be a frog in your room). The hosts (Rafael Sr. & Rafael Jr.) are accomodating, but very hands off. If you are looking for a unique travel experience, an eco retreat, want that outdoor feel, and your are an independent type traveler - this is a lovely place, with great food, great cocktails and a comfortable, hospitable host. HOWEVER, IF YOU ARE A TOURIST, USED TO CHAIN HOTELS, AND WANT EVERYTHING DONE FOR YOU, DO NOT COME. THERE IS NO CARPETING, AIR CONDITIONING OR A SPA.
Very magical place, quiet and open. We sleep with the song of the coqui frogs who were a very loud and beautiful chorus the first night, happy, due to the short but strong downpour in the middle of the night. What a treat for us as well, the rain landing on the tropical leaves outside the open windows. Beautiful tile work in the bathroom, the most comfortable bed of the whole week, a lovely view from sunrise to sunset and great muddy adventurous endless trails among the bird of paradise and bromeliads into the rainforest. Drive your vehicle in second gear slowly up, up, up and you will be rewarded.
Very beautiful place! Upon arrival, we didn't see anyone to check in with, but eventually saw Rafael's father outside. Rafael was sleeping, but he woke up only after a few minutes of us arriving. Which wasn't a big deal at all because the place and views are so amazing to look at that it keeps you occupied. The pictures are true and even better in person. You can see the other Puerto Rican islands in the distance and from our room the South side of the island and ocean. The drive up there is on a windy, paved road which can be a little narrow at times which I guess is why other reviewers said it was scary to drive on. The roads turns into a dirt gravel road but we had no issues going up or down it although we only drove on in during the day (we had a Kia sedan). The property is on a dead end so there are not any other houses nearby that we could see.
Dinner was delicious and Rafael made it family style with a skirt steak, simple salad, and some type of Puerto Rican root vegetable that had the same consistency as mashed potatoes, but all the guests including ourselves really enjoyed it.
Rafael was very attentive, and would stop what he was doing to fix any issues. Contrary to other reviews, there were lights on the property and in our room and bathroom so perhaps this is a new addition or just specific to our room. The shower got very hot, but the water pressure was not that great. There are no screens in the bedroom, but there didn't seem to be any mosquitos. I was hot in our bedroom but we kept the window shutters closed because I was afraid for mosquitos. The other guests said they left their windows wide open and had no issues which would've being too warm. The only thing was that the shower curtain needs to be changed since there was mold on it which is likely to happen in high humidity areas. also the bathroom rug seemed to be dirty since after I showered, I had a bunch of stuff on my feet after stepping on it. Also, the pool seemed to be a little dirty so we had no desire to go in it although it was close to 5pm anyways so it wasn't that big of a deal for us.
I would definitely recommend this place. It is like being in the rainforest, the views are beautiful, and the place is like no other.
We enjoyed ourselves during the three days we visited. Continental breakfast was included with our stay, and there was the option for dinner and cocktails nightly for an extra charge. Rafael prepared dinner for us the first night, which was set out "family style"and was very good. 3 hiking trails lined with tropical flowers, frogs, and birds, provided a nice 1.5 hour adventure down the hill and back up. I didn't pack hiking shoes, yet still managed. There were 6 dogs ranging in size and personalities, all very friendly. Only one of them would like to bark in the middle of the night. During the day it was peaceful reading books in their library and looking out to the ocean.
This is an interesting place that really could be a great fit for some travelers, and not for others. Most notably, the view from the top of the mountain was wonderful! Looking out of our private patio into the lush forest was really lovely. Moreover, the Raphaels (senior and junior, father and son who run El Hotelito) are very friendly hosts! And they provide a simple breakfast (coffee and cereal) each morning to get you started, which is great to eat as you look out from the open patio across the island landscape.
There were a few things that are important to be aware of when considering a stay at El Hotelito:
1. Open structure: The building is an open structure, which means no sealed windows (or air conditioning, of course), just wooden shutters on the windows and doors throughout the building, so little critters (small bugs, frogs, lizards, etc.) were a common sight in our room. This didn't bother us at all but it might be a concern to some. Also, because the air is so moist in the forest, the towels/sheets/etc. in the room can have a slight damp feel.
2. Noise. Because of the open structure, you can hear a lot of what happens in and around the building. This was lovely in terms of hearing the rainforest at night. But there are also 6 or so dogs on the property and there wasn't a single night we weren't woken up by them barking at some point. You can also hear people chatting in the common spaces in the morning (there are 7 guest rooms in the house), so there isn't much of a sense of privacy.
3. Maintenance. The first two items were actually mostly fine for us, but this one bothered us a bit. There were lots of little things that could be kept up better at El Hotelito (leaking/broken water fixtures, general dusty-ness of the common spaces and rooms, etc.). I think some serious efforts at fixing those items would make a big difference in the quality of the experience. Some people have complained about the dirt mountain road to get to El Hotelito -- it is muddy and very bumpy. We had a small rental car and it was fine so long as we were careful about the really big potholes.
All in all, it was an interesting experience for us. Hopefully those who opt to go have a great time!
The Rainforest Experience Farm is an amazing ecolodge in Puerto Rico that defied our expectations. It runs solely on wind and solar power, so of course you won't have your precious air conditioning, and THANK GOD! We absolutely loved the breeze blowing through our windows at night, the sounds of the rainforest right next to us, the view of the ocean, and the eco-friendly nature of the place. You charge your phone downstairs in one location which prevented us from using too much power and gave us a chance to relax and put away our phones. The entire downstairs is open and very comfortable. We sat in the chairs reading and looking out onto the beautiful view. We were cooked a delicious Picadillo by Rafael, who was a personable and interesting host. The dinner was intimate and nice - it felt like eating in a home kitchen, which we loved. We also thought the drive up was amazing! So much fun to drive along the winding rainforest road. Additionally, the bed was very comfortable and clean, as were the towels. The bathroom was very nice and there was soap and shampoo provided! The eco-lodge experience may not be for everyone, but if you like adventure, relaxation, and gorgeous views, this place is worth a stay!
My girlfriend and I stayed 4 nights here. The hosts at El Hotelito were fantastic and made sure our stay was very pleasant. This is a beautiful place to stay and the description they provide is completely accurate. Please make sure you read the description because this is not a typical hotel and you need to realize that before booking. The negative reviews could have been avoided if people would have read the description. I loved having the dogs around. They were all very very very friendly. They are part of the family to the hosts and it shows. The dogs stay in the main lobby area and seem to be trained to not follow you to your room.
The road to the hotel is a dirt road for the last 1-2 miles but it is completely do able. We had a small Toyota Yaris and it had no issues on the dirt road even in heavy rain. This is a perfect place to stay if you want to disconnect from your normal routine and be part of nature.
El Hotelito is simply magical. Rafa is really cognizant about his carbon footprint but nonetheless an awesome host with a warm spirit. He definitely made us feel welcome. The space is lovely, relaxing and definitely worth the visit.
Do read the house rules about electricity - the place is designed to help you invoke the pause in your life.
El hotelito is a pretty magical place. We loved the dogs and the openness of everything. It was extremely relaxing. It is pretty imperative to rent a car to travel here however. We were nervous that we weren't able to find a car as the demand for New Years was very high. Fortunately, at the last minute we confirmed a car. I would advise to plan in advance and confirm a car if you're planning on staying here. Loved the natural beauty and surrounding area!
fantastic place!i absolutely recommend it! much better than what the picture shows..
Everything was great
Easy going and very friendly. Fantastic guests!
Rafael made a long trip to get to our little town of Wilmington for his friend's wedding day! Kudos to you Rafael for your long travel!
Rafael and his guest were very respectful of the house rules and care of our Studio. Thank you both for choosing us to host your Vermont visit. Hope we can someday get to Puerto Rico!
Rafael was open and communicative right from the start. When he arrived he treated the villa like it was his own home away from home and left it in great condition. He definitely made the best of his stay in the villa and on the island! He is invited back anytime he wants to return.
Mr Benitez was a great guest.
He was easy to communicate with throughout the booking process.
Look forward to hosting him in the future.
Thank You, Sanford Goldberger