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“Relaxation - beautiful scenery, fresh air, nature sounds to the max, peaceful vibe”

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Casa Grande Mountain Retreat
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Utuado
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersSilver level
Reviewed 24 March 2012

The place and location is very peaceful. It's nestled in the mountains, with great views and a non-stop chorus of birds and frogs. Each room has it's own deck with chairs and a hammock to relax and enjoy. Room was pretty bare - you definitely want to spend time outside. The morning yoga class was a wonderful way to start the day. The restaurant was very good - breakfast was great - and it has great views.

  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled as a couple
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Thank worldgirl97
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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261 - 267 of 503 reviews

Reviewed 21 March 2012

The idea behind this resort, at least on paper or a computer screen, is very appealing but....

I have mixed feeling about our stay at Case Grande Mountain Retreat. The view from the main building is truly amazing. It's a lush mountain side facing you. Early in the morning as the sun rises and starts to crest the mountain, the sunlight begins to bath certain spots on the mountain side making for a great scene! That is truly a nice experience!

The food in the main dining area was better than anticipated, fairly priced and portions were good. No one went to bed hungry. Especially if you order one of their rice dishes such as Chicken and rice. The dining on the patio of the main building was also relaxing and enjoyable. The wait staff was also very nice and aimed to please.

The food and staff really made our stay more enjoyable.

The other positive point I want to share is that at night there was a very nice breeze that create a wonderful sound in the surrounding trees and helped cool the room that made for good sleep.

So why only 3 stars?? The rooms are REALLY basic, the location is WAY OUT of the way, and location didn't support tourists well.

Let's start with the room. It was very basic and furniture and beds were simple low-end pieces. The lighting in the room was a simple bare bulb and a second reading light over one of the beds. The walls are rather thin and you CAN HEAR your neighboring guests quite clearly. So if you can hear them...they can hear you. We were fortunate that the visitors around us were generally quiet. But it was uncomfortable to hear them going to the bathroom.

The cost to stay here was over $130 a night, that's not cheap. In my opinion, it's too much for the accommodations. There are no added amenities for that room rate either. Yoga is offered every morning and taught by the owner of the location. But at an added cost of $12 a class per person. I think it should be included in the room rate and not an added cost. There is no gym, if you chose not to take the morning class. There is an outdoor pool, that is billed as a "fresh water pool" . It's roughly 30'x15' and rather deep on one end at 8'. But it's heavily chlorinated. So not sure about the whole "fresh water" pitch.

The location is a SOLID 45 minute drive AFTER you get off the main highway (26). It's a narrow, local mountain road and a good part of it is WHITE KNUCKLE driving as locals scream down the mountain and around blind corners in the middle of the road!! So if you are coming from San Juan, it's a solid 2.5 to 3 hour drive EACH WAY. The last portion of the drive had us wondering if we were lost and worrying what had we gotten ourselves into. The roads are not well maintained and hitting one of the many huge pothole could easily happen and would put a real damper on your vacation. If you are coming from Aquadilla, it's a short ride but a fair amount of stop and go lights before you get to the highway portion and THEN the 45 minute daredevil climb up the mountain road.

The Casa Grande Mountain Retreat is also not isolated. It's neighbors are lower income homes nested on the sides of the mountain. So you see a fair amount of poverty on the drive up. The other real issue that I did read here but couldn't quite comprehend is that the road that takes you to Casa Grande continues just below the resort and about a 3 miles up ahead is some sort of water plant. Early each morning, large trucks would rumble by and constantly honk their horns as they drove by. It was rather noisy and disruptive. Definitely broke the calm of the night. My guess is the drive honks as he may be approaching a blind bend in the road and letting oncoming cars, pedestrians know he was there. Believe me, they don't slow down. They fly up and down these road like Rally car drivers and will ride you tail. Not fun!

To take full advantage of the area, you need to hire an adventure guide. You need to plan that prior to your arrival. We looked into a few and found that they wanted $109 for a 4 hour tour that included zip-lines and repelling and some kayaking. It was a bit high for us as we had done these activities already outside of San Juan and also on a recent trip to Costa Rica. So we just wanted to hike on our own. There's a short trail that starts on the property. It's a short 20 minute loop. It's decent and enjoyable. The office person told us of another more difficult trail down the road. We couldn't find it. The trail wasn't marked as "a trail" but by a "thrown-out couch" which we missed.

So outside of the pool, the morning Yoga class and the short trail, there's not a whole lot to do on the property. One of their staff leads a 3 hour hike for $25 a person but you need to book it at least a day in advance. We missed on that as we first tried to hike on our own ans when we realized that we could find the trails, the staff person was committed for the day. Understandable but a bummer.

The bottom line for my family and me was as we drove away we all felt it was generally pleasant, very basic and the food was good but too far out of the way from the rest of the island's destinations. We all agreed a similar experience with better hiking and more food options are available near or by El Yunque Rainforest, much closer to San Juan and Luquillo Beaches.

The Case Grande Retreat is the idea of transplanted retired New Yorker looking to have a place he can draw an income from, do something he enjoys (Yoga) and sustain a certain lifestyle without out of pocket expense. I think we'd all like to do something like that. Clearly the location gives a few locals an income and may draw tourist dollars to the area that would otherwise never get anywhere near here. So if you are looking to relax, get away from the heavily congested tourist and city destinations, don't like the ocean, like to drive twisty mountain roads like a rally car driver and want to travel the road 'less traveled'...this may be a place you'll enjoy.

We will not do it again on a return trip to Puerto Rico and would tell our friends, "It's OK but not worth the drive."

  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled with family
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4  Thank Zeus S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
proprietor44, Owner at Casa Grande Mountain Retreat, responded to this reviewResponded 30 March 2012

Thank you for your comments. Our website describes the guest rooms in detail so the informed traveler will be aware that there are "no frills" to be found here. The place is remote and most of our guests choose to stay here for that reason. There are no "bare bulbs" in the rooms as all bulbs are encased in fixtures. For one day only day we had to use chlorine instead of the usual salt when our filtration broke down. Almost all our guests and visitors find the drive challenging and adventurous. Some call it "fun". Then there are a few who wouldn't return because of the drive even if you paid them.

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Reviewed 17 March 2012

Simple rooms without TV or phone but with a concert of wild animals at night, in an incredible green scenery. Feels like sleeping in a tree house. Just wonderful ! Dinner in the restaurant was fine, international menu and a small but good wine list. Perfect breakfast on the terrace and helpful staff.

Room Tip: We had N° 10, from the terrace you don't see any other buildings, only nature
  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Travelman-Tx
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 March 2012

My husband and I can't express it better than he did.

When we looked out from our balcony to the mountains that reach 11 o'clock in the sky, instantly all stress from our lives vanished. The view says it all, the pictures do not and can not capture what you will feel and see. The view is everything but other things are important as well. The rooms are charming and reflect the tranquility of the place, they are clean, beds are heavenly - not too squishy. They have high wooden ceilings, fan (AC is not needed), no TV - it would spoil the experience. And the hammock, did I mention the hammock. The breeze, no bugs, beautiful flowers, heavenly.

The food is great and you can sit on the veranda and stare at the mountains. The staff and owner couldn't be more helpful.

Yes, it's near a road below but we only heard two cars- one at 10 at night and the other around 6 in the morning and we were one of the closest rooms to the road. Would that stop us from going back next year? The only thing I would do differently would be to stay more than one night. This was one of the best days we had in our two week vacation to Puerto Rico which included a cruise.

What I can't understand is any complaints made about this place, sure the roads in the interior are narrow and winding, they are much better than years past. The directions are very easy to follow and #10 from Arecibo is a great highway. So you have some 15 minutes of roads you are not accustomed to driving.... Ask yourself. Do I want a spectacular view and utter "aaaaaaah"?

You won't find it in San Juan. It's all what you are looking for. We found it and we're going back.

  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank bicycle53
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
proprietor44, Owner at Casa Grande Mountain Retreat, responded to this reviewResponded 10 March 2012

Sometimes, we hit a grand slam home run. I'm jubliantly rounding the bases now heading for home plate. Thanks for sharing and we'll look forward to your return.

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Reviewed 8 March 2012

First of all, the resort is amazing. The little houses are situated in a very calm and beautiful area, very far away from everything. I found the whole complex very romantic, especially at night when you hear all the birds, frogs etc. very clearly. The rooms are basic but spotless and everything is very well maintained. If you like to take a rest for a while this hotel is your thing. Please note that for the nearest town, Utuado, you will have to drive 30 minutes. Therefore Casa Grande is not a good base for exploring Puerto Rico. You will have to drive a long time time to get out of the mountains (I went to Ponce and St German, very nice but I had to drive a long time).

The resort is difficult to find. I am good in navigation but for the first time in my life I had to ask the way. The route is explained very clearly on the site of the hotel but due to the long distances I was sometimes in doubt whether I was on the right road or not. Take the first exit to Utuado, after the Mc Donalds turn left, this is road 111. Follow this road for a long time and take road 140 (along the lake), after road 613 continue straight on, after a while you will have the turn 612.

The only comment I have about the resort is that the staff of the restaurant and reception (there was a angry guest when I arrived) are laid back. Every night I had to ask for my drink twice and the waitresses are not very interested in taking your order. It irritated more guests as I heard others speaking about it. The food is good though (a good cook, he is a hard worker). I think it might be better if the owner is there at night instead during day time so he can keep an eye on them.

  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled solo
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1  Thank Aquarius74
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
proprietor44, Owner at Casa Grande Mountain Retreat, responded to this reviewResponded 10 March 2012

Thank you. After 16 years owning and operating Casa Grande I still consider the place to be "amazing" just as you do. The website directions specify the amount of travel time on Road 111, 15 minutes; Road 140, 15 minutes; and Road 612, one minute. I've taken note of your comments about the service and will be addressing the issue with the staff involved.

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Reviewed 8 March 2012

Before writing my review, I looked over some of the other comments and the one from sunsetkeysusie made me wonder if we were talking about the same place. We were there five days later and found most of her assertions to be far from the truth.

The property was immaculate and beautifully designed, the landscaping exceptional with many varieties of plants identified, the pool sparkling clean (see my photos) and delicious to swim in. At the main house, the dining area, small bar, large veranda for dining or relaxing and an open patio for same were lovely with marvelous views of the mountain greenery.

There are several multi-unit chalets on the property designed with admirable simplicity. Our room faced the pool, had a little porch with a hammock, was clean, comfortable and sufficiently equipped. The breakfast and dinner offerings were of good wholesome quality with meats, seafoods, vegetarian choices, fresh fruits and vegetables.

I think it is not a place for people like sunsetkeysusie who need infinity pools, hot tubs, etc., but a good place for people of the more contemplative sort. There is an early morning yoga session, trails for walks in the woods, pleasant areas for reading, writing, conversing, bird-watching. The twisting mountain road one must travel to get there just adds to the aerie-like feeling of lofty seclusion.

It is true that a nearby road with infrequently passing traffic detracts from that. It is also true that the walls are thin, but once you understand that voices are lowered and there was a general feeling of respect.

We had a very pleasant experience, found the staff to be considerate and courteous, and the spirit of the place to be calm, the surroundings beautiful.

  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Rasha36
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
proprietor44, Owner at Casa Grande Mountain Retreat, responded to this reviewResponded 10 March 2012

Thank you for sharing your Casa Grande experience with the travel community. More and more people are relying on TripAdvisor and similar sites to make their travel decisions. I'm delighted to learn of the positive nature of your experience here at the retreat.

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Reviewed 4 March 2012

Other than having to yell at our late-to-bed and early-to-rise neighbors to "BE QUIET!" on our first morning, our stay at Casa Grande was wonderful. I had read the reviews here and knew to come equipped with our travel coffee-maker, shampoo and a big bar of soap. My wife requested an extra towel which was no problem for the helpful and friendly staff. The bathroom was spotlessly clean. At night we closed up the window blinds tight so that we wouldn't be cold. My travel clock has a thermometer on it and the indoor temperature at night stayed between 70 and 75F - no need for extra blankets but no need to use the ceiling fan either. I should mention that our neighbor apologized profusely for the noise - she seemed to have forgotten that the walls are thin.

We were actually offered lunch while we were there although I understand this is not the norm. I thought the food was great and enjoyed speaking with chef Michael about the challenges of running a restaurant in such a remote location.

We did not get lost on the way to Casa Grande - asking for directions in Utuado helped. We did drive by the entrance to the resort however, as the gate with its name had been blown shut.

Casa Grande's owner Steven was cordial and ever-present. We knew we were in good hands should something go wrong. If we ever visit Puerto Rico again, we will surely return.

  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Thank Craig B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
proprietor44, Owner at Casa Grande Mountain Retreat, responded to this reviewResponded 5 March 2012

Thank you for your write-up. I'm glad you enjoyed your stay so much that you'd like to return.. The bathrooms are equipped with two dispensers. The one next to the sink contains a mild hand soap and the other in the shower contains a combined bodywash-shampoo.

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Additional Information about Casa Grande Mountain Retreat

Address: Road 612, Km. 0.3 | Barrio Caonillas, Utuado 00641, Puerto Rico
Phone Number:
Region: Caribbean > Puerto Rico > Utuado
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Parking Restaurant Spa Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Utuado
Price Range: $141 - $153 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:2.5 star — Casa Grande Mountain Retreat 2.5*
Number of rooms: 20
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Set in a valley in Puerto Rico's central mountains, Casa Grande is an oasis of peace and tranquility. 20 rooms scattered up the mountainside, each with private bath, balcony and hammock. Freshwater pool, restaurant and bar. The Café serves comida criolla, contemporary dishes and vegetarian options. Fully equipped yoga facility offering morning class, birder's paradise, botanical gardens and woodland hiking trail. Near Camuy Caves, Arecibo Observatory, Caguana Ceremonial Park, Toro Negro and Rio Abajo Forests. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Casa Grande Mountain Retreat Hotel Utuado
Casa Grande Mountain Retreat Puerto Rico/Utuado

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