SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico The glass-enclosed curtain of water
plunging down the elevator wall was my first clue. The second was
the old-fashioned dispenser with jelly beans in glowing shades of
blue. (If only I’d had a nickel).
By the time I’d found Wet, the rooftop bar at The Water Club, a
year-old designer hotel, it was easy to see how Puerto Rico’s
capital is changing.
“We hold our Sunday afternoon champagne parties here, with lots
of blow-up animals in the pool and a DJ,” said David Kurland, the
hotel’s partner and managing director.
If you thought this vibrant city of 1.5 million was best known
for its Bacardi rum factory, 500 years of Spanish-influenced
history and comely beaches, you’re not wrong.
But, Kurland explained, “What’s finally happening is this next
generation of entrepreneurs is developing restaurants, nightclubs
and other venues to go after a more sophisticated traveler that
doesn’t want to be trapped in a hotel.”
Not to say he doesn’t want them in his hotel.
Water is everywhere in the 84-room hotel, a revamping of the old
Colonial San Juan. White walls in common areas are lit by indigo
neon and a surf soundtrack fills the air.
“We want the hotel to be elegant and sexy, with an element of
surprise and shock,” Kurland said. “Well, not too much shock.”
Design that clamors for attention can be tricky. At the
restaurant Tangerine, the lighting is balmy and golden; the Pacific
Rim cuisine is flavorful. But the all-white décor is marred by a
too-cute orange chair at each table and plastic tangerines on the
entrance shelves. Fortunately, such overstatements are the
The Water Club succeeds with its good-looking room concept.
Interiors have a whitewashed look, with blond faux-wood floors and
king-size beds angled toward the water views. I liked the swivel
TV/CD stand and the “desires” board, a glass pad and pen for
guests’ requests. But bathrooms won’t be renovated until summer and
rooms don’t have a real closet, just a recess in the wall with a
The trim staff of young Sanjuaneros seems to have been hired as
much for looks as talent and they all rush around with
walkie-talkies as if they are coordinating a presidential
On Friday and Saturday nights they might as well be. A line of
cars prompted in part by visits from the likes of Giorgio Armani
and Marc Anthony clogs dead-end Tartak Street as the city’s
trendsetters arrive for drinks.
Water Club doubles start at $199 high season, $169 summer
months. The Big Bang Package, $398 for two nights’ accommodations
for two, includes cocktails, desserts and water pistols filled with
spirits on your pillows.
888-265-6699, 787-728-3666; www.water clubsanjuan.com.