Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Hotel Review: Sheraton Presidente, El Salvador

Over the Christmas holidays we went to visit my husband's family in San Salvador, El Salvador.  Usually, we stay with his parents, but this time was different.  Not only did my immediate family go, but my parents, my sister and my niece went too.  Too many people to bunk with the in-laws.  Instead, we decided to stay at the hotel where my brother-in-law was having his wedding reception. 

The Sheraton Presidente is a well known hotel in the country, from an internationally respected chain of hotels.  This particular hotel is the go-to for visiting Heads of State, government officials and other notable guests.  Even so, the room rates were reasonable, starting at $99 US per night. 

The building is a little bit older, but much of it has been remodeled.  The lobby, restaurant and grounds are beautiful, with a large pool located in the heart of the grounds, surrounded by the hotel, a mini golf area, and conference facilities.  This sets it away from the main road, and makes it feel as though you are on a resort.  There is also a shallow kid pool right off the main one, where our kids spent their time.

Just one small part of the pool
Part of hotel lobby

The building itself is made of concrete, as are most buildings in El Salvador, since wood is expensive and buildings need to be earthquake safe.  This can give the inner hallways the feel of being in a compound, but that changes once in the lobby area or the guest rooms.  Our room was a standard room with two queen beds.  The hotel advised us that at Christmas, there are many events held out by the pool area, which could be too noisy if we were trying to put young children to bed early.  Instead, they suggested a room with a back patio that led to a terrace, with a walkway down and around to the pool.  We accepted, and I'm glad we did.  We would open up our wall of sliding doors and let the kids run around outside, where they weren't bothering anyone.  The view was a city one, but it was never loud.

View from our hotel room

What really stood out for us at this hotel were the service, and the food.  Let me begin with the service.  Yes, it's a big hotel, so good service is to be expected.  Having travelled quite a bit, I know that it's not always the case.  I have no complaints about the service we received at the hotel.  Everyone was courteous and polite, and employees went out of their way to help us when we needed it.  An example of this was during the wedding we attended.  My son can't have anything with gluten, and my brother in law hadn't ordered him a special meal for the dinner.  My husband asked one of the servers if he could order him a plate of something that my son could eat, and he did that for us immediately, no questions asked, rather than tell us that they could only provide what was already on the menu. 

Another example that comes to mind is the last night we were there.  Members of my husband's family were dropping by the hotel to say goodbye.  We were having coffee and dessert at one of the on site cafes, which closed at 9pm.  The employee offered to stay open later for us, even though not everyone stopping by was ordering anything, and even though we told her we would leave so she could close up.

In case you're wondering, tip is included on bills.  No one asked for a tip, and there weren't any tip jars to be seen.  Everyone on staff was courteous and professional, clearly well trained in the hospitality industry.  All staff we spoke with had a working knowledge of more than one language, as well.

Finally, let's discuss food.  This blog revolves around my son's inability to eat anything containing gluten.  That often makes traveling difficult.  We did get a room with a mini fridge, so that we could keep some food on hand for him, but we were surprised to find items that he could eat on the menu.  The room service menu is available 24 hours a day, for reasonable prices.  The prices are higher than if you bought the food at a regular restaurant in the city, but that's pretty standard of every room service menu.  Still, for $10, sometimes less, you could get a meal delivered to your door, and the food was incredible.  There were a few items that were safe for my son, and after a few questions of the kitchen staff, we were comfortable ordering him food.  He didn't get sick once.

We added on the $10 breakfast buffet to our room.  Children eat free, so it was just the extra for my husband and I.  I was a bit wary at first, because most breakfast buffets at hotels are pretty limited, especially for my son, but this one was incredible. It had:
1- Pupusa Station: Pupusas are kind of the national food in El Salvador.  They're a soft corn tortilla filled with meat, beans or cheese, served with a type of coleslaw and tomato sauce.  I love them.  They were made fresh every morning.

2- Fruit, Cheese and Meat: There were platters of fresh fruit every morning.  Strawberries, pineapple, kiwi, oranges, papaya etc.  Alongside the fruit were platters of sliced meat and cheese.

3- Cereal: A variety of cereals were available next to the fresh juices and yogurt.

4- Omelette Station: A cook stood waiting to prepare your eggs however you liked them. 

5- Prepared dishes: Pancakes, bacon, potatoes, plantains, beans, hash browns.  The dishes offered changed a little everyday, but they were a mix of traditional Salvadoran breakfast items and more American items as well.

6- Pastries: In addition to various breads and rolls, there was an entire table filled with pastries of all kinds.

Needless to say, for $10, the daily breakfast was definitely worth our while.  Our son could eat something different everyday if he wanted.  We were generally so full that we didn't bother with lunch.  The breakfast hours were from 6-11 am, so no one was rushing to get down before it closed. 

Like every place, I'm sure I could find something to complain about if I wanted to, but honestly, I don't feel like being nitpicky.  The hotel was clean & comfortable with good amenities and great service.  Wireless internet was included in the price.  It was well located within the city, served good food and offered enough entertainment for the kids that they didn't get bored.  All for a great price.

I recommend it to anyone looking to stay in San Salvador, El Salvador.

Hotel Sheraton Presidente
Av. La Revolucion, Col. San Benito
San Salvador, El Salvador

A Few More Hotel Photos:

Hotel grounds

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