Margaritaville Vacation Club by Wyndham Rio Mar
Margaritaville Vacation Club by Wyndham Rio Mar is in Rio Grande, PR. Going to the islands is always exciting. Traveling having booked through TZort is even more so. I get more excited because I know that if TZort represents the resort and helps people book with them, it is a top resort location.
Video by THELIFEOFCB
Day One Travel & Arrival
For me, travel would consist of an easy flight with one short layover in Miami. The flight is less than 10 hours and you fly into San Juan, which is less than 20 KM from the resort. Once in San Juan Airport arranging a car to the resort was easy, and I could have rented a car but I just did not want to mess with it on this trip.
It is worth noting that the resort itself recommends a rental car since most off-site locations require transportation. For many visitors, the rental car will be the way to go. Every major car rental company you can think of is represented at this airport. I found a car service recommended by a friend and hired them to pickup from the airport and my return trip 3 days from now as well.
Arriving at the resort, I was happy with my choice because the resort location and amenities are both amazing. On many vacations I like to travel to the island or area I am in. But over my few visits to PR, I have found that the nicest places on the island are the resorts by far. The resorts and the casinos are the best locations and other than shopping or visiting one of the forts for me, there is not much reason to leave the resort. Here, the resort feels like a 5-star experience but yet the island outside the resort may feel like a 2–3-star experience.
One thing I may do it go look at watches one day in San Juan but I can do that on my way out. There are reputable jewelers here that will sell watch brands like Rolex for thousands less than in the United States.
Now for my villa at this resort I have booked a 1 Bedroom Deluxe Ocean View. At the resort, they also have some 3-bedroom villas and studios. Another option which many choose is a mountain view because they are also amazing here. My room is over 900sq ft so for a 1-bedroom that is very roomy and more than I need.
Oddly, the list the bathroom was a .75 and I guess what they mean by that is that there is a nice shower but not an actual bathtub. However, if you need to soak, you can do so in the pools and hot tubs here so not sure why that is labeled that way. Maybe it is a thing more common to PR?
I found the bathroom a decent size and the shower large enough for me, so it can fit any traveler I imagine. I am 6’4” and too many pounds, so space is often a concern, and I was fine.
- Wi-Fi Internet Access
- Cable TV
- In Room Safe
Then the resort itself offers all of these options.
- Activities Center
- Beach (On-Site)
- Business Center/
- Concierge Services
- Fitness Room
- Hot Tub
- Swimming Pool (Heated/Outdoor)
- Internet Access
- Casual Dining
Whenever I have flown a distance, I want to unwind after I check in. Often, this means getting a drink or several and a light meal. Right here at the resort, I was able to accomplish both quickly at the poolside bar. A few Mai Thais later and a burger, and I was feeling better. It is funny. I drink just about anything, but I am such a tourist that I love to drink fruity or sweat drinks when I am in a tropical environment. It just seems like all is right with the world when I do.
If I was at a mountain resort, I would likely be drinking bourbon or whiskey. What can I say? I am a creature of habit. Another thing that often tastes wonderful near a beach is a good margarita. They just taste and feel festive.
Whenever I stay at a resort with a casino, I tend to be more careful when gambling. Which is odd because the opposite is true when I am on a cruise ship, there I might play free and take more risk. Maybe at a casino resort I feel a higher sense of caution just because I am also staying on the resort and lines of credit seem to pop up as available very easily.
Here the casino limits are low, which is one way to stay in control, I imagine. Table stakes start at $2-5 and top out at $100. There really are no high roller options at the onsite casinos. However, there are plenty near the resort if that is your thing.
After my few drinks and a snack, I stepped into the casino for a bit until I got a little tired just to check things out for myself. On a vacation, I do not gamble much, but when it is an option, I do enjoy it for a day or so during a trip. The casinos here are 18 and up versus the 21+ you would find back in the states.
Day Two on the Beach
There is a ton to do here, but for my dollar it is hard to beat the beaches. Here the beaches are at your feet. My view from my room meant that I saw a perfect sunrise and woke with a fresh sea breeze coming in from my balcony.
I know I should not have, but I kept my balcony door open to hear the ocean through the night. It did mean as people starting moving this morning, I was up with the dawn but it was worth it for the sounds of the sea as a slept.
One of my personal goals I am working towards is a place at the beach. I would also have a condo somewhere already if I did not want it large enough to have guests and family come stay. I just love the look of the ocean that much.
I start my morning off with their breakfast buffet at the resort. They have steam tables or food warming station set up with eggs, toast, pancakes, waffles, and all kinds of sausages and meats. In addition, there are stations or tables with fresh yogurt, cereals, and pastries as well. It is an impressive display of offerings. There are also many more tables of sides and options. If you can not find it here, you likely are looking for something outside of breakfast.
After a hearty breakfast, I went back to the room to refresh and prepare for the beach. These days preparing for the beach is more about getting sun block and sunglasses than anything else. Gone are the days when I need to prepare myself to suck in my gut and do all I can to look great in my Birdwell bathing suit. I remember when I was younger, doing a few pushups and sit-ups before hitting the beach just to make sure I looked a little pumped up before I hit the beach with my shirt off. Now these days it is about comfort. So, a Hawaiian style shirt, some comfortable shorts, and some shoes that will not carry the sand with me wherever I go. That is about all I need.
I was planning a long stay on the beach today, which meant I also put on a coat of sun block SPF 30 and had a hat and sunglasses as well. At my age, the sunglasses are less about blocking the sun from my eyes, than they are getting caught looking crazy as some younger lady passes by. You still look when you are older, just differently. I think I can drift off down memory lane at a moment’s notice and that may just make me look strange. So, the sunglasses just help control how much the world sees. Which is good because you recognize beauty still but instead of staring you might look at first, but then drift off thinking of someone you once new 20 years before.
Here though, the ocean and the sand meet so perfectly that the scene itself is as attractive or more than any other psychical form you might see. There are lovely people here, especially staff, but that all pales in comparison to nature.
Hours pass like minutes here on the beach. Next thing I know is that sun block or not I am getting burnt. Time to retreat back to the room to shower and change for a late lunch or early dinner. It was, however, a perfect day at the beach.
The tables here in the casino are nice because they are low stakes. That takes mental pressure off. Even if you like to gamble when someone around you is playing for larger hands, it can influence your play.
I recall my first cruise when I went gambling on the first night at sea. I was having a blast and got just drunk enough to get silly and talk a little too much at the blackjack table. I had the dealer and, more importantly, the pit boss feeling like I could read the cards or something. All the while, an older gentleman next to me was playing for 6-8 thousand a hand. He did not mind my , but I did worry that I might impact his play with my little $50 hands. Here at the resort with the table bet limits it felt more fun and less serious as you played. You could win or lose more than you paid for your trip, but no one here on their best day was going to go home and purchase a new car, or a beachfront condo off their winnings. This casino allowed you to play with real money, but it was more like a casino night with a large party your company threw than serious gambling.
I enjoyed my time playing and with the table limits, the benefit on this night was that it limited my losses. Often at lower stakes play, you find a dealer that is less skilled and you can read their face for tells easily. That was not the case with the blackjack dealer tonight. It was still fun.
Day Three Island Fun
Since I did not grab a rental car, I thought it would be good to go with a group to see the rainforests and a waterfall. One of the largest outfits for tours is the group Caribbean Breeze Adventures. They offer an all-day tour of the rainforest region and have a solid reputation.
Now this is a full day (7hr) tour that goes into the only US territory rain forest. This is the real deal, and does involve a level of fitness and ruggedness. However, they do have planned breaks for refreshments, meals, light shopping, and other efforts along the way. For my trip, I wore comfortable clothing and had an extra pair of shorts/shirt, so if I wanted to switch out in a bathroom for something dry, I had that option. When you are traveling like this, do plan well with good shoes. I would not wear water shoes because they have zero arch support or impact resistance. Instead, some kind of like hiking shoe, or athletic tennis shoe but with a good traction sole is likely a good fit. I had a pair of Rockports that looked like a hiking shoe but were really just well-made walking shoes with great support. They worked wonderfully.
The buses here had little lockers you could lock, but I would not put in the family jewelry here. Just think of them as temporary storage for your change of clothing, or small items like a local purchase or something. They are not the place to put your Rolex. If you are not wearing that, put that in the safe back in your room, or the casino safe.
El Yunque Rainforest
El Yunque felt much like the rainforest on St. Croix to me, only larger and better maintained. Going with the guided group, you got to see much more in the day than you would if you stumbled around yourself in a strange area. Sometimes on group tours I get the feeling that I would make better time on my own. This was not one of those tours. They kept you engaged and happily busy throughout the trip. There was much to do and see, even when the focus was just on nature.
Here you have access to a direct few moments during the day with nature. This includes an amazing waterfall, and a relaxing time in the tidal pools below it. The guided tour also pulls on over 20 years of experience that many of the guides have and the business has in the area. This means you get to spots that you likely would never have seen off-road if you went in solo.
Day Four Heading Home
Today my flight was in the afternoon. I had returned from the rainforest drained last night, but still found time to gamble a little more. At least until the point where I felt like a winner. This meant that today on the way back to the airport, I did want to do a little watch shopping for a new Rolex if the local Jewelry stores had what I wanted. I already own a Presidential I purchase in the islands years ago on a cruise. This time I was looking for a Yacht-Master. I do not know what I like about them the most, but the face and the dial work are impressive.
When you buy at such a great price on the islands, you can always resell for a profit state side if you choose to do so later. One could easily make a profit in the private sale of a watch stateside that could pay for your entire trip if you wanted to do so. The prices here are that good and they have fully licensed dealers on the islands. Only purchase from a licensed dealer. There are some fakes in the area and some are quite good, good enough to fool many people. These days, the newer Rolex watches have many features to beat the knock offs at their own game.
A Rolex is likely the most faked watch in the world. However, when you know what you are looking for and at, it is easy to spot the fakes. First there is the weight a real Rolex will feel heavy. That is because of the metal used and the 25 jewel movements. If you look closely now also you will see that the hands sweep very smoothly, yet they go up and down at 6-12. This is a very hard movement to fake. So when looking at a Rolex watch the sweep of the hand for a very smooth movement with a slight raise at the half hour and hour.
You will also notice markings like the micro etching on the crystal face of the watch. These are made with a laser and are easy to pick out. Another area that is a quick one to notice is the Cyclops or the magnifying lens over the date window. The date number will fill that window almost side to side. On fakes, usually it will look smaller even if it is magnified. This is because of the quality of the magnifying lens on the crystal face.
Armed with my watch buying knowledge, I searched for the perfect watch and several gifts before heading back to the airport. My driver was back that took me to the resort and was perfectly happy to get me where I wanted to go, and even made a suggestion for another spot for more tourist like gifts that was helpful.
This vacation was one I did not want to end. The resort here is likely one of the best Wyndham has anywhere in the world and one not to be missed. Book your vacation at TZort and save.